In the run-up to its annual Games Awards, which we will be covering live tonight, BAFTA held an Inside Games showcase at London’s majestic Tobbacco Dock.
With exclusive booths from Titanfall, Elite Dangerous (previewed on the Oculus Rift), Playstation 4, Xbox One and Sega, the event offered gamers the chance to get up close and hands on with some of the biggest console, PC and mobile gaming titles of 2014 – many of them yet to be released.
Read on to find out some of the highlights of the event and what we thought of the games being exhibited.
With a booth unto itself, it was obvious that Microsoft meant business with their exclusive mech-action FPS. Upon entering the dark, dimly lit room, gamers were greeted by a boot camp instructor who told everyone to pay attention to the Titanfall training video displayed on one of several extremely large screens. The video broke down the gameplay, explaining the parkour element, the different pilot classes on offer and – most importantly – the epic Titans.
Following the introduction, gamers were split in to two teams to battle it out on the multiplayer death match mode, Attrition. The action on the game was fast-paced and intense from the get go. The extremely responsive controls will be easy to pick up for FPS fans and casual gamers alike. The solid level design, combined with the parkour element, allows for plenty of interaction with the environment. Consequently, players can dash in to battle head-on or find convenient hiding spots to sit back and pick off enemies.
Whilst playing, pilots are notified about the status of their Titan – which isn’t available immediately. When they are unleashed on to the battlefield – after a brief waiting period – they truly are game changers (although we would hold back from using that phrase for the game itself). Both playing as, and watching, the titans in action is an epic experience as the huge mechs crush everything in their paths. Although the trial offered was short – in order to satisfy the demand of all the gamers in attendance – it was enough to display the solid multiplayer side of the title.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
Another popular title that had gamers repeatedly queuing up for a chance to play, MGS: Ground Zeroes is an impressive return for the stealth franchise. Following the poorly received spinoffs that were ??? , this was MGS back to its original best. So much so that it felt like it did when we played it for the first time on the original Playstation all those years ago. That’s not to say that it is regressive, instead it just utilises everything that’s great about this enduring series. Snake is back, and back to his grumpy gruff-voiced best, the close-quarters-combat is simple but satisfying to employ, and there’s a mix of stealth and explosive action. Best of all it looks like the original series, which is so completely unique in its own right. If the only setback is the supposedly short duration – with some commentators claiming it is nothing but an interlude until the main attraction, The Phantom Pain – then that is a small gripe when you have such a beautiful, complicated and diverse title on your hands. It would be a shame if this ended up being embraced by only the most hardcore of MGS fans.
Another of the hottest talking points at Inside Games was the presence of the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. The device was being used on Elite Dangerous, a space-set battleship FPS. Although the game itself looks like an immersive shooter, it was truly enhanced by the Oculus. With both the headset on and headphones plugged in, you really are sucked in to the intergalactic environment as a pilot of an intergalactic battleship, avoiding asteroids and craters in an attempt to track down your foes. Along with the neon joysticks, it felt like a true sic-fi experience. And what better way to experience the endless expanse of space than through the Oculus?
With the headset firmly fastened there really is no going back. We were comfortably seated so there was no chance of embarrassing ourselves by falling over, as so many people have been seen doing online while using the Oculus. The team behind Elite Dangerous couldn’t offer any new details on the Rift itself or its release date (although we did overhear someone state that it would be released in the next 18-20 months, if all the SDK problems are sorted).
It really does feel like your hurtling through space at warp speed. We would recommend a great set of headphones, if you truly want to block out the real world. And after a short period, we had to hold off from doing barrel rolls as all that spinning was starting to make us a bit dizzy. Although it might have its behind-the-scenes problems, this is definitely a device that needs to be on the market and will only enhance PC gaming for all gamers. Just don’t lose track of where you’re at.
Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed
Previewed on iPads in the Sega booth, Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed is a fun racer that is reminiscent of Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing – but neither of those titles are available on mobiles.
This was a multiplayer experience with several gamers racing against one another on the individual tablets. It definitely took the game out of its otherwise contrived origins and transformed it in to a more addictive play. Generally speaking, however, it’s a bright addition to the franchise with all the regulars such as Tails and Knuckles present. Unlike Diddy Kong and Mario Kart it offers transforming vehicles that can take to the sea as well as race on land, allowing for multiple routes to be chosen. Powerups and weapons add to the competitiveness. It runs smoothly and looks great on a tablet. No physical shift movements involved, a visible controller instead – with a user-friendly drift button that allows for easy streering around the tracks’ tougher corners. Although relatively simple for older users, it’s colourful palette, cute characters and easy controls should make it ideal for younger, inexperienced gamers.