Comic Con was a blast. I caught a good panel hosted by two game journo biggies Newsweek's N'Gai Croal and MTV's Stephen Totilo, who sat down to chat with game developers Ken Levine (Bioshock) and Todd Howard (Fallout 3). Nothing groundbreaking ensued, but I found both devs to be very easy to agree with in their "Look, I just work hard to make the game I want to make. I can't really comment on this other issue” approaches.
ANYWAY, there were indeed some games being shown off at the Con, though the pickings were slim compared to all the delicious fangirl/boy goodies we have coming in the near future. In what I will call Comic-Con PLUS coverage, I give you my line-up of the games any Comic-Con-goer should be aware of...starting with the Watchmen game... after the jump!
(click on game title for its trailer)
Watchmen: The End is Nigh
Don’t get your hopes too high here. The game could very well be good, for what it’s worth. It’ll be released in March as a series of downloadable episodes. The translation of “downloadable” is that the game is probably not a huge production, but rather some bite-sized downloadable pieces.
The Bad News: the game is basically just a single-player or coop brawler, wherein you play as either Rorschach or Nite Owl II and go around beating up thugs. Don’t look for anything too deep here. Also, the game features a Rage meter, which makes no sense to me…
The Good News: Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons is acting as a project advisor, so at least it’ll LOOK awesome, if nothing else. The game takes place in the 70s during the Crimebusters era. While it is not penned by Alan Moore (of course), it will be canon. Says Gibbons: “At the time the original comics came out, Mayfair games did a role-playing game that Alan helped write bits of, and it's completely canon, so this game uses a lot of that less-well known material.”
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Another brawler game here, but hell, that’s what Wolverine is for! Raven Software, who made the X-Men Legends and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance games, are developing, so we know they have history with the universe. I hear the game is spectacularly bloody and visceral, which fits Logan well. There is also a lot of leaping…because he leaps… so you can jump onto a baddy’s chest, knock him over, and stab him in said chest. This looks promising.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion
Speaking of Marvel, this sequel to the 2006 game should be what I’ve come to expect from the series (including the X-Men Legends series that came before) -- having fun with friends and using powers to kill A LOT of enemies. The game is supposed to focus heavily on combining powers (like creating a force shield with the Invisible Woman and then blowing it up with Iron Man). The cast of characters assembled on the Wikipedia page looks to be pretty exciting. Come the Fall, expect fun.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Hopping over to the DC Universe, we have this awesome-looking action game, featuring pretty much the entire voice cast from Batman: The Animated Series (including Mark Hamill as the Joker). Basically, in the game the Joker takes over Arkham Asylum, and Bats has to stomp on some bad guys. The game is said to be relatively open, meaning you can run all over the Asylum, though some areas remain locked until you advance the story. What should be special about this game are the stealth elements. I still haven’t gotten confirmation on whether you can hang upside-down and then drop on an enemy, but I'm optimistic
DC Universe Online
Also DC-licious is this upcoming MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game…think World of Warcraft). You get to create a hero, and then join the side of the JLA or the Legion of Doom. Confirmed locations are at least Gotham and Metropolis…duh. The game will feature a truckload of DC characters, which will be a kick. The real make-or-break element in my mind will be whether you as a player will really feel like a part of the same world as the JLA. Supposedly, major characters will be involved in a lot of story elements, but how DC can the game end up feeling when it’s populated by thousands of Super Bro’s that were shoddily dreamed up by your fellow players? Again, I’m optimistic, as I’ve always wanted to get into a superhero MMO…
As hopeful as I am for DC Universe Online, I think this game might win out. It’s being made by Cryptic Studios, who already have superhero MMO City of Heroes under their belt as previous education. While this game has no license behind it, it doesn’t really need one (See: possibly the best superhero game ever made).
The game features a Nemesis System, in which not only do you design your own hero, you design your own arch-nemesis, with whom you will eventually clash repeatedly. Cryptic has confirmed the ability to form super teams, super vehicles, and uber customization (“You want an energy beam to shoot out of your neck? Done.”) Fingers crossed that this one hits it big.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
While we’re on the subject of MMOs…as a huge Star Wars fan, I can’t help but be optimistic about this one. I gave the first crack at a Star Wars MMO, Star Wars Galaxies, a try, but my Iridonian dancer didn’t thrill me like he should have. I spent one day busting a move for some Jedi…and I was done. THIS game is being developed by Bioware, who made Mass Effect (play it now, please), so that bodes well for the game. The game is going to have a Chewbacca-inspired companion system, so you get to pick an AI buddy to follow you around. Hooray for Star Wars!
Star Trek Online
Wrapping up my glut of MMOs is the Star Trek variety. The game will be set a few generations after the last Star Trek film, so we won’t get any Kirks or Picards…unless they pop up out of the Nexus. You’ll play as a ship captain, and also be able to pursue a number of skill-based careers - Engineer, Tactical Officer, Doctor, Science Officer, etc. You’ll be able to pick from most of the Star Trek races, or make your own. The game is said to focus heavily on exploration, so perhaps it’ll be a fresh take on the MMO genre. It’s a long way away, though.
Definitely Not 2009
TMNT: Smash UP
Now that we’re done with MMOs…BOOM. Ninja Turtles! Game Arts, the developer who brought you Super Smash Brothers: Brawl, is making this 4-player fighting game. I don’t really know much more about it at this point, but it’s Ninja Turtles, and it’s coming this year!
Ghostbusters: The Video GameSpeaking of “Oh my God. I LOVED them growing up!”…DOUBLE-BOOM. Ghostbusters. This game is basically serving as the third movie that never was, though I’m hoping it inspires a movie…Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis (Ray and Egon), wrote the script themselves, and the main cast are all voiced by their original actors. The game takes place two years after the Statue of Liberty stepped on a police car in Ghostbusters 2. You’ll play “The Rookie”, who basically follows the guys around and tests out new equipment for them.
So that’s a wrap. Keep your eyes out for these in the coming months. I am unofficially declaring Champions Online, Arkham Asylum and Ghostbusters to be the most likely to succeed, though, really, I love all the contestants.