Quick Hits: Mafia II, Brink, Gothic 4
Hi gang! It's been an incredibly busy E3 by any standard this year. I have a ton I still need to cover but it will have to be disseminated over the next few days as I collect my thoughts and find some time to write. Ruminations on the PlayStation Move, The Witcher 2, id's Rage, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and more to come.
Years ago, I was a big fan of the original Mafia on the PC. It had style and grimly clung to odd open world tropes like having the police come after you if you went over the speed limit. Years later I'm surprised to find Mafia 2 continues that tradition. We're so used to acting like maniacs in these games, it may seem like a step backward to have a toggle button for locking the car's gas to the speed limit -- but little controls like this force you to stay more grounded in the world they're presenting. This isn't the kind of game you play for cheap laughs.
While the shooting, cover mechanics and movement are all above average for the genre, it's the environment and the story that steal the show. Their eye for detail is impressive, with most object blowing apart under direct gunfire and bits of the wall crumbling under a hail of bullets. The voice acting and cinematic cutscenes show flashes of greatness, but whether or not they sustain their narrative punch for the duration remains to be seen.
Mafia II is showing all the signs of being a proper sequel to a great game from the previous generation. If you have a choice, consider the PC version, it's looks quite a bit better than its console cousin.
It's really too soon to tell if Brink is going to live up to its lofty goals for a truly dynamic multiplayer mode that brings first person parkour online. We were told it was "pre-alpha" in response to so many questions I don't think a fair shake was possible with this demo. It definitely had a Borderlands flavor with experience points tumbling off enemies as you shot them; but the demo we had available wasn't really highlighting the better features of the game.
I mention Brink only because I saw it and it's a "big" game at the show. I hope we see a beta somewhere down the line so we can give it a proper test.
ArcaniA Gothic 4
This is the first Gothic game not done by the original developers. One of two things lead them to thinking this demo should be on the show floor. One, they figured a buggy game with a poor framerate, stunted animations and poor graphics was better than nothing. Two, they actually think it was ready. The second possibility is chilling, given how buggy and poor Gothic 3 turned out to be.
They have a lot to prove.