So, the last day dawns, and we are faced with the end of this intrepid excursion. But we are not ones to buckle before our looming flight departure, and so we wake as early as we dare, grab some toast, and jump on the tram for one last outward journey, camera, dictaphone and tablet in hand.
Expecting a reprise of yesterday’s over-abundance of fellow gaming enthusiasts we braced ourselves for the worst, but exiting the tram we find a far calmer, more serene environ and so are able to enter not by yesterday’s concealed path but gladly by the main doors once more, a fan’s entry into the biggest of fan events.
But this is no empty GamesCom, not by any means. Within are still swamped stands, endless queues and blocked corridors. All ringing with the sound of those more keenly searching for the information, swag and game time they need in light of this being their final chance. Thus, fewer in number but stronger in will, the energy swells as strongly as ever before and the atmosphere remains as electric as it has been all week.
But time is shorter still for us and so we scry more keenly than before, taking it all in in one final gulp of gaming oxygen before we plunge back into the mundane depths of Gamescomless life.
So how better to draw this journey to a close than to use the opportunity to reflect on the overall impact of GamesCom and the state of play it leaves behind it. Whilst we have played many, many games, absorbed more than our share of presentations, delivered a surfeit of interview questions and indulged our desire to create video in tribute to them, we must all shuffle back home leaving only these very words behind to mark our passing.
So what will I carry away for the weeks and months to come? Well, something a little like the following; Battlefield 3, a game changer to be sure, stole the show at GamesCom 2011, it must have accounted for around 20% of the words spoken, time queued, energy expended and the buzz generated by the whole of GamesCom. Whether it is people going prone, commo rose revelations, co-op reveal or 64 player maps, it has, with good reason, emerged victorious in more ways than one over and above all other games on show. But when all is said and done, player to player, is it really worth the hype? Yes. Yes, it is. Battlefield 3 will change the online military shooter landscape forever. Bringing a whole new set of features to bear on a genre which had been stagnating for too long. This should mark a generational boundary in the genre’s evolution if such a thing existed. A very strong contender for game of the year 2011.
But it did not have it all its own way at GamesCom, because several other titles fought it out for our attention and did so very effectively.
Another huge title which really shone was Star Wars: The Old Republic. For MMO fans everywhere this game, above all others, brought something fresh to the table and promised to drive the genre into 2012 and beyond. With its mix of plush graphics, sharp combat, original game modes and deep lore it certainly ticks all the boxes for those amongst us who love some joint questing and substantial boss fighting. Definitely one to make sure you don’t miss.
But if you seek the wheeled variety of game above all others then the one to watch has to be Need for Speed: The Run. Bringing big improvements in visuals, storytelling, social gaming, playability and just plain old fun, The Run should be top of any racers list for 2011. Personally the prospect of pitching myself against each and every one of my friends in avalanche infused mountain-top challenges at the end of a long day in the office just promises more pick-up & play fun than any other game I saw this week. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get the chance to take you on?
Rounding out the games you may have expected to rock my world this week is Mass Effect 3, and let me just kick off by saying “Wow”. To say this game excites me is to vastly under-state it. This one now has it all; intense shooter type action, squad based fun, (very) emotive story, deep weapon & skill customisation, new meaty melee combat, improved environments & visual feel, increased epic scale, and far, far more. Without spoiling anything, or going over ground I’ve already covered I’ll just ask you to keep an eye on this. It’s going to be an epic end to the series.
So, my last shout out goes to a game you may not have previously heard much about; Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Now I’ve had my eye on this for a few months now, but it really broke cover for me this week. With an all-star cast behind it, including the legendary Ken Rolston leading from the front, this has got “Breakout hit of 2012” written all over it. With so much more to find out I’ve surprised myself by starting to look for the best value pre-order I can find. It’s a proper “I wish list” type game for me, you know; “I wish RPGs had better combat”, “I wish games had richer item variety”, “I wish action games were far deeper”, “I wish I could have effective weapon & magic usage in one character”, etc. etc. For these, and many other reasons, I eagerly anticipate Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning to satisfy my need for all the above!
So, I guess my usefulness to you as eyes and ears in GamesCom 2011 is over. But rest assured I’ll be around. Doing my best to keep you informed. Peace out, and happy gaming my friends… fare thee well until we meet again. It’s been an honour and a pleasure to serve you in the best way I know how…