Last month EA Games Australia held a showcase to preview all of their upcoming titles for 2013. Aside from every game looking expectedly stellar, after less than half an hour with Fuse, SimCity, Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3, I wanted so much more.
For those who don’t know, Fuse is a squad-based four player co-operative third person shooter developed by Insomniac Games – the creators of Ratchet & Clank. Each of the four alternate characters available has their own special perks and weapons, all of which have been created using an alien technology called ‘Fuse.’ The team, known as Overstrike 9, are made up of a mercenary with an energy shield, a thief with a cloaking device, a scientist with a mass bubble gun and, my personal favourite, a detective with an electric crossbow. Regarding character choices, the creative director of Fuse, Brian Allgeier, said, “When it started out, the inspiration was Mission: Impossible. We liked the idea of this specialised team with their own unique skill-sets, so when we started going down that path we started coming up with some really innovative weaponry and really pushing the limits of where we could go.”
What I played of Fuse was basically a horde mode with very ‘Gears of War’ style cover and revive systems. I played as Jacob Kimble, the sassy detective, and shot down endless waves of robots with my Fuse-powered crossbow, which acts much like a sniper rifle. The crossbow could be shot into the ground in front of enemies to be used like a mine, or you could just classically aim for the head and watch it explode in a flurry of light.
Outside of the wave mode, there’s also a relatively strong story focus, as mentioned by Allgeier: “When we started developing Fuse a few years ago, we noticed there were a lot of co-operative games that didn’t really have a deep story… So we really wanted to take our expertise with developing some deep, story-driven campaigns and apply that to a four-player adventure.”
Next to the Xbox setup for Fuse was an enticing corner of PCs, headsets and loaded up copies of the fan-favourite: SimCity. The SimCity reboot has all of the same features you’d probably remember from the original games like power stations, industrial areas and water plants, but with a whole lot more. One of the first things I noticed in the small (and honestly slightly dull) tutorial is that you can see what absolutely every citizen is doing, along with watching houses being built up from the ground. On top of that, things like low-education areas of abandoned buildings can increase crime, which will force you to be aware of every inch of your city. It feels ever-evolving and remarkably alive with constant multitasking required to sort out things like power-outages or house fires.
The biggest change overall is probably the new Glassbox Simulation Engine, which Maxis producer, Jason Haber, said simulates absolutely everything in the game, even if it’s in a small way: “We start by simulating some of the small elements, like each Sim that’s driving a car, walking around or in the buildings and then we put those all together to make the city simulation as a whole. In addition, now, this game is online conducted so that we now have multi-city play. So, the actions you take in one city will actually ripple out and effect other cities in your region in the SimCity world as a whole.” This basically means that you control one city in a region online, and can trade between the other cities. Alternatively, you can play one region by yourself and control up to 16 cities.
The tutorial was single-player only and taught the basics of the game, so I didn’t get a chance to experience the online play – or much of anything else, really. My tiny little city did get hit with meteors, but Haber continued to say that there are plenty more disasters to ‘look forward to.’ For one, there are UFOs: “There’s a couple of different things they can do, they can attack buildings and slice them with a laser, or they can actually come and steal resources. They’ll either abduct Sims or outright steal resources like coal or oil from some of your buildings.” There’s also a special edition that includes a superhero and a villain who will cause chaos in your city as they so please!
Then there’s a franchise I’ve watched others play, but never actually played myself because I’m an absolute scaredy-cat when it comes to games: Dead Space. Dead Space 3 was hugely interactive, the environments were constantly changing and the lighting was perfectly suited to the abandoned ship I played on. While I was a little disappointed since the game’s atmosphere didn’t outright scare me like others had, there were a tonne of jumpy moments to make up for that. I can’t see too many changes in the Dead Space franchise with this new addition, but it plays smoothly, you always have an objective and it’s always uncertain. I think Dead Space 3 will be the first Dead Space game I actually play myself, if I can manage to be brave enough. Otherwise, there’s always the new co-op to give you a kick of bravery with a friend.
Last but not least: Crysis 3. I didn’t get a hands-on with Crytek’s new game, but I did get to absolutely grill Mike Read, a producer at Crytek, about everything we can expect. Their new game looks absolutely amazing; compared to Crysis 2, there are a tonne of obvious improvements, though it’s on the same engine. “It’s a lot of little tweaks,” Read said, “with lighting, with grass technology, with AI systems – when all of these things combine, it looks so much better.”
For those of you who’ve played Crysis 2, you might’ve been a little confused by the ending (Spoilers for Crysis and Crysis 2 ahead). Prophet, from the original Crysis, kills himself at the start of the start of Crysis 2, and then oddly comes back to life at the end, though a different man is wearing the suit. You’ll be playing Prophet again in Crysis 3, and Read says, “I’m not going to say that [the ending] it’s fully explained, but there are a lot of little hints throughout Crysis 3’s story elements.” When asked if there would be reference to Alkatraz (the man you play is in Crysis 2), Read was more-or-less stumped, and said he really couldn’t answer without giving too much away. “There are some really interesting story pieces around the whole thing. I mean, in the last 5 years we’ve built a really cool franchise that we can take in a number of different directions, so, there’s really a lot going on,” he commented.
Regarding the huge customisation of the nano-suit, Read claimed that the new game will hugely extend this feature. “There are definitely a lot more choices, but not only with the abilities of the nano-suit itself, I mean, we’ve built in hacking with the visor so you an interact with turrets,” he said, “with the nano-suit itself, it was never a fully thought-out system in Crysis 2, it was sort of a last minute thing. In Crysis 3 you can pick up nano-suit upgrade kits and as you collect those, you use those points to unlock skills and create your skill sets.”
“You choose what you want to unlock and where you want to go but it depends on the amount of nano-suit kits that you find, whether you’re going to be able to unlock these certain things. There’s also a lot more attachments and stuff, from barrel attachments to scope sights, special times of ammo – I mean, there’s a lot of different possibilities with the way you can play this.”
With Crysis 3, Dead Space, SimCity and Fuse alone, it’s going to be an incredibly diverse and exciting year for games. I, for one, can’t wait to dive into every single one of them! Huge thanks to EA for hosting a seriously exciting event.