My Near Death Experience at THQ

Question: What do you get when you combine a Cold War with Death and mix ’em up with a Stick of Truth?

Answer: Another great media event at THQ!

 

 

A Cold War…

Winter is Coming

With the feeding of the journalists and mingling aside, the first order of business came in the form of a video presentation on the pre-alpha build of Company of Heroes 2. The video focused on the ColdTech system; the innovative technology of Relic’s Essence Engine 3.0 showing off, in intricate detail, the harsh weather-effects that will be encountered in the game.

This sequel to the highly acclaimed real-time strategy game tackles the devastating Eastern Front of WWII in all its brutal glory. In the words of the developers, their most important goal was “Capturing the authentic experience and providing players with more choices and new experiences.” and from what we’ve been shown, I say its Mission Accomplished!

The game accurately portrays the severe winter conditions as encountered by the German and Soviet troops during The Great Patriotic War. With soldiers being exposed to -40°C temperatures, they were fighting against the environment as much as they were against their enemies. This is incorporated in-game where infantry units can eventually freeze to death unless the player mitigates the cold effects by taking shelter in buildings, building fires, and so forth.

With blizzard conditions making the troops suffer, gamers are forced to play in new and different ways. Buildings become an important factor in play, both as a resource as well as a hazard. Players can use them to shield their soldiers from the harsh winter elements, but so too can the enemy. Players must choose between keeping the buildings for shelter, or destroying them in order to prevent the enemy from doing the same.

Let's kick some ice!

Snow also plays a big part in troop movement, for as it accumulates, infantry will find it more difficult to navigate through, affecting movement and speed. Tracks left behind will stay on the map, making it easier for other troops to wade through until fresh snow covers them up once more. Ice becomes a dangerous and dynamic surface, affecting not only movement, but also the way you play the game. Vehicles can cross frozen rivers but risk the ice being destroyed by the enemy thereby sending your men to their watery graves. However it’s not only the enemy that players must worry about, they have to consider the extra weight of the bigger tanks, like the T-34, these can’t spend much time on the ice otherwise they’ll fall through, so movement and strategy must be changed accordingly.

While I’m not a big fan of Real-Time Strategy games, I am very excited by the historical portrayal that was shown in this video presentation. I only lament the fact that this will not see a console release, though still cross my fingers that it will play on a Mac!

 

Will you seize the destiny? Or will you be a disappointment like Butters?!

The Power of Diabetes: both a gift and a curse (but mostly a curse)!

Up next was another video presentation, the one we all came to see: South Park the Stick of Truth! You know you’re in for a good time when the whole audience erupts into laughter within seconds of the opening scenes.

While there are many humourous examples that stick in my head, I will try and refrain from giving away any spoilers, for that would rob you of the experiences this great game has to offer. Essentially, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a traditional Role Playing Game with the basic combat being turn-based while mixing in arcade elements (perfect block results in a counter-attack, perfect strike gives bonus damage, etc).

You play the New Kid who has just moved into town, walking around you encounter Butters who ends up taking you to ‘The Kingdom’ (which bears a striking resemblance to Myuna Farm) to see the Wizard-King (Cartman). Within the Kingdom are Stables (cat in a sandbox), The Pool of Vision (an inflatable pool), The Rock of Insanity (LOOK AWAY!!!) and other imaginative structures. As you are given your first quest of securing Kung Pow Chicken, The Kingdom is attacked and you are propelled into battle.

SEINFELD! FOUR!!

Thanks to the talents of Trey Parker and Matt Stone who are writing the script and providing the character voices, the game looks to be a seamless transition from the classic television series to an interactive video game. From what I could tell, its as though you are engaging in an actual episode of South Park as opposed to just playing a game based on the series.

I will leave it at that as I don’t want to give away too much as I do believe it’s worth finding out for your self just how fun and entertaining this game really is. I say this as a fan of both South Park and Role Playing Games in general, and particularly turn-based ones. From all that I have seen, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to any fans of the show! So keep an eye out early 2013 for this one.

 

Dead men tell no tales

The game all were dying to play...

Following the South Park experience, we were given the chance to have some hands-on time with Darksiders II. Having already played some of the game at a previous THQ event, I hesitantly picked up the controller and gave it another go. I say hesitantly as I have been trying to avoid the game so as to save myself from spoilers before getting my hands on the finished product.

Having loved the first Darksiders game and immersing myself in its world completely, I chose to keep as much of the story of the sequel as secret as possible. While this may sound strange coming from a games reviewer, it is testament to just how much I enjoyed the first game in this series and look forward to this eagerly anticipated follow up!

For those wanting to find out more on the great looking game I recommend you check out the New Game Plus interview with Jeremy Greiner, Creative Director of Darksiders II, as well as the New Game Plus exclusive trailers of the game.

 

Death keeps no calendar (but you mark down Aug 16th)

With the night coming to a close, we gave our thanks, bid our farewells and left the building… only to extend our goodbyes for another hour outside the building’s doors in typical Eastern European fashion (with @TotalMK, @gamefreak431 and @themasething).

So what did I learn from this event? Darksiders II looks as amazing as ever and I eagerly await its release! Company of Heroes 2 is so historically rich and beautiful that it makes me want to get a gaming PC for the first time in my life (please oh please be playable on Mac)! As for South Park The Stick of Truth, it’s looking so amazing I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes an early contender for Game of the Year 2013! All in all, a very strong showing by THQ.

If you would like to know more, keep an eye out on New Game Plus for further exclusives, follow me (@Serblander) on twitter, and make sure to follow @THQANZ for the latest news and updates for all these showcased games and much more!