Gamescom, everyone's favourite Germanic video game trade show, is drawing to a close. Despite some high profile absentees - neither Microsoft nor Nintendo could be arsed to show up - there has been plenty to talk about, as Gamescom succeeded in providing a pick-me-up after the disappointment of E3 and whetting our appetite for Tokyo Game Show.
With expectations low and its main rivals out of the picture, Sony emerged from their headlining press conference, where they focussed on the Vita and announcing intriguing, if not blockbusting, new IPs, smelling like roses. Acutely aware that many Vita owners feel abandoned, Sony were careful to put their handheld front and centre, confirming new features and games while making us believe, if only for forty five minutes, that they have some sort of plan for the future.
August 28th will bring the PSOne classics patch; so far Sony has only confirmed that Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII are part of the initial roll-out, so no need to buy A Bugs Life just yet. Equally exciting, and part of the very same patch, is the ability to navigate the home screen with the face buttons, saving that beautiful screen from your greasy fingers. They also touched upon PS Plus on Vita as well as Cross Buy, a feature that will allow consumers to purchase PS3 games and play them on their portable at no extra cost. This feature is currently limited to a handful of first party games - PS All Stars, Sly and Ratchet and Clank were the three confirmed titles - but more are expected to follow. This is definitely a step in the right direction and crucial to the Vita's future health, but I’ll reserve judgement until we know how prevalent this feature will be.
Media Molecule has a brand new, Vita exclusive in Tearaway. It's great to see a game making full use of the hardware functions, though I can't say I was overly enamoured with its style. Still, I’m certainly looking forward to vigorously fingering my Vita. Killzone: Mercenary went with a live-action trailer, offering no more than ten seconds of gameplay - when will publishers learn that live-action trailers serve only to make your product look cheap and uninteresting? We finally got some footage for Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified and a release date to boot (November). I was a little concerned by talk of 4v4 multiplayer, as it suggests that competitive modes will not be consistent with the console experience, and I must say that the visuals looked decidedly average.
Sony gave the Vita its full attention yet failed to provide many new games - just Killzone and Tearaway by my count. They have yet to dispel the notion that it is short on software - most of the prominent third party developers failed to even mention the Vita at Gamescom - but it is certainly encouraging to see Sony making a full commitment, actively pushing PS Vita as an extension of, and the perfect companion to the PS3 experience.
Monster Hunter was never going to figure at Gamescom, but Capcom still had a pretty good showing. Resident Evil 6 was on hand for zombies and explosions and Lost Planet 3 has succeeded in completely distancing itself from the first two games, something that is likely to please everyone but me. DMC Devil May Cry continues to gather steam; the more I see of Ninja Theory's re-boot the more interesting it appears. Despite what the internet may say, DMC was in desperate need of a re-design and, when it comes to art direction, Ninja Theory are among the best in the business. I saw nothing remarkable in the gameplay trailer for Remember Me, merely a mish-mash of other, successful games, though give Capcom credit for attempting to break up the bombardment of sequels.
EA entertained with new footage from Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The latest trailer highlighted the different challenge types we can expect this November, events that will be very familiar to fans of Burnout Paradise. With NFS out of the way, the stage was set for EA to thoroughly embarrass itself in its quest to create the most authentic shooter experience ever. Medal of Honour: Warfighter continues to rub a lot of people the wrong way and, in its latest stunt, EA did a stellar job of further convincing the rest of the world that the US is the home of irrational gun loving and tomahawk ownership.
For the last two days, EA’s attempts to stress realism in MoH threatened to overshadow Gamescom here in Europe, as their continued partnership with real life weapon manufacturers came to a head. The MoH site offers links to a number of arms manufacturers that are featured in the game, and the home page even features comically ill-conceived editorial written by executive producer Greg Goodrich, concerned with the shootiness and killability of real-life firearms for sale. Apparently, EA were not expecting any sort of backlash from this blurring of reality and were even foolish enough to defend their position, calling it a logical move to link virtual and real-world weapons and encourage gamers to go authentic. This week, EA shot common sense in the face, though they did eventually cave to the mounting criticism, removing some of the offending articles whilst claiming that they didn't know that the TAC 50 A1-R2 was loaded.
Returning to the show, a listing for Valve's much sought after Half Life 3 had everyone in a fluster until it was confirmed as a mistake. There was a new trailer for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance but unfortunately it brought news that Platinum’s melon-slicer has slipped into the first quarter of 2013, along with every other game that was due later this year. Speaking of MGS, keep an eye open for announcements in the next few weeks, coinciding with celebrations for Metal Gear’s twenty fifth anniversary. Assassin's Creed 3 continues to dazzle, Dishonored remains a press favourite and we even got a new English trailer for Tokyo Jungle, wrapping up an eventful week for Europe’s biggest video game conference.