Ubidays 08: The Good, the Bad and The Evil

May 29, 2008 at 15:24 (News, Rants, Video Games) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

And lo, there was news…

It’s been an underwhelming few weeks in the games business. Not an unusual turn of events at all considering the calm that typically precedes the media storm of E3, but, to tip the Ace Gamez hat at just a few of this year’s highlights, with the release of Burnout Paradise, a new Devil May Cry and GTA IV, what, I wonder, has been typical about 2008 thus far? Nonetheless, embargoes across the internet lifted yesterday on the assorted revelations of Ubidays 08, and around the world, Tom Clancy franchise fanboys wondered in unison where the prolific French developer had hidden the latest iteration of Ghost Recon.

Other than that strange oversight, the news thus far has proved well worth a look. Before we get our teeth into the good stuff, though, let’s get the relative non-events out of the way. HAWX has a rather ridiculous acronym for a name but looks solid enough otherwise; the new Brothers in Arms I could honestly care less about, although it’s worth saying that the transition to next-gen looks to have gone very smoothly, without losing the unique squad mechanics that sold the series to its many fans in the past; and the less said about Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party and Easy Way to Stop Smoking the better.

To my surprise, newcomer Shaun White Snowboarding looks rather promising. On the Wii it’ll feature full balance-board intergration, making the expense of that accessory in Europe a little less outrageous. On the PS3 and Xbox 360, meanwhile, the über-powerful Assassin’s Creed engine looks to be performing better than ever in the trailer.  We can only hope it proves to be the sport’s Skate rather than another Tony Hawk-inspired button-masher – I expect SSX has that covered already, anyway.

More groundbreaking, however, is Far Cry 2. Take the much-discussed setting of Resident Evil 5, open the world up in the mold of Grand Theft Auto, throw in the excellent, if somewhat extravagant FPS mechanics of the original Far Cry – and what do you have? Pure awesome, perhaps. We can only hope.

Despite talk of an Earth-shattering new paint job, the trailer for the relaunched Prince of Persia looks strangely familiar, and for all the talk of revolutionary new gameplay, the dark/light angle has been done too often already.  So it’s certainly no Okami, nor worlds apart from the previous instalments in the series, but distinct enough all the same to get a little excited about. If you ask me, it’s been too long since we wall-crawled our way to winning our very own Arabian princesses anyway.

But none of these games can stand up to the highlight of Ubidays 08: Beyond Good and Evil 2. Yes, you read right. Music to these ears, and plenty more besides. Despite rock-bottom sales of the first game, creator extraordinaire Michel Ancel is bringing back the critically-acclaimed Beyond Good and Evil for another go-around. One of the most singular experiences I’ve ever had with a video game, or indeed in any media, I was next to inconsolable when its abysmal sales figures came through to seal the unfortunate fate of an often sung but obviously not often bought piece of brilliance. That this sequel could be greenlit boggles the mind (in a good way!) and reassures some of the more serious concerns I have about the industry that regulates our entertainment of choice. What could possibly be next? Metroid Dread at last? A follow-up to Wii adventure gem Zack and Wiki?

At least on the latter count, I’ve certainly heard as much. Readers: rejoice!

***
Read this blog post on Ace Gamez here for embedded videos and other such shenannigans – WordPress won’t let me embed from gamevideos and I’ve got better things to do than hunt down the clips again…
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