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.

Mafia II

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.

Brink

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.

Comments

That's a damn shame about Gothic 4. I always felt they had really great ideas but fail on the essential "execution" part. Was hoping having a fresh developer would set things to right.

Guess I was wrong.

Mafia II is absolutely one of my most anticipated games of the past few years. Glad it's looking good.

Mafia II is a game I have been anticipating ever since the announcement trailer. It only pisses me off that it is coming out this year, I don't have enough money to get all the games for this year I wish to get.

Certis wrote:

One, they figured a buggy game with a poor framerate, stunted animations and poor graphics was better than nothing.

In my Gothic games, I am pretty used to the first two items in this list (maybe not "stunted" animations, more like odd animations). But the Gothic games have all been really nice to look at, it's too bad what they showed was not.

I'm looking forward to Brink just because I love FPS games but am so tired of the stale army man crap that currently dominates the genre.

Gothic 3 with the latest community patch 1.74 is a fantastic game.

The Gothic environments have always been top notch. I actually like Gothic 3 with the community patch slightly more than Risen. If you are a Gothic fan, Risen is the spiritual successor and is relatively bug free.

Like Nightmare said, if you are a fan of the Gothic games you are used to the somewhat buggy nature of them. Despite this, they have a rabid following and are truly great games once patched. I recommend waiting 6 months to buy it.. unless you're like me and will probably just get it when released.

The kick slide is obviously the only thing revolutionizing shooters these days. Except that like a dozen upcoming titles feature it.

Brink, however, does look like it will be able to distinguish itself.

The fact that Risen was relatively bug-free compared to previous Gothic games, and Gothic 4 is buggy makes me wonder if it somehow has less to do with the developer than the publisher.

I really hope Gothic 4 turns out to be a great game, but for me I'd rather have Risen 2. Hopefully that is in the works and won't take too long.

Yeah, Risen was really great. I'd be happy if Gothic 4 turns out well, but I'll hardly lose any sleep if it winds up being a total dud.

I really wanted to believe it could be decent, but playing Gothic 4 just felt awkward. Depending on which demo station I used it seemed like I was also playing different builds of the game. Sad thing about Gothic 4 on the 360 is that it won't benefit from the dedicated community that came together to salvage the last game.

Also something of a random comment, but when I asked if this new game would offer the ability to respec like all the cool RPG kids are doing these days I was point blank told "No, but you can save your game." Not confidence boosting.