Ubisoft Ubidays 2008 (Paris)

Unless you happened to be lucky enough to be in Paris and get an official invite from Ubisoft, you may well have missed the great announcements and shots of the new games we can expect from this publisher later in the year.  Naturally, there’s quite a list and I’d actually say that there’s something for everyone here.  So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what was shown under the Louvre.

Soul Calibur 4
A game that should appeal to purists and newbies alike, Soul Calibur 4 is set to be one of the greatest beat-em-ups of this generation.  What makes it so special?  Well apart from mechanics that have been finely honed ever since the original Soul Blade, along with extremely well-balanced characters (Link and Spawn aside from the previous gen games), this time around you’ll be able to play as (depending on which console you own) Yoda or Darth Vader.  Yes, it’s geeky.  It is though extremely cool.

Soul Calibur 4 is set for an August 1st release this year for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.  Once again, the developer duties were handed to Project Soul, the team behind Soul Blade and Soul Calibur 1-3.  New characters such as Mitsurugi will do battle with newcomers including Scheherazade.  Action looks to be frenetic as ever and it should be a great compliment to anyone’s game collection.

Endwar

Tom Clancy continues his relationship with games this year, with Endwar being the highlight.  There’s a rumour that this could well revolutionise gaming in the way that Half Life 2 did (though not with physics this time around, but more in a gameplay way).  What makes it so special is that you can use voice commands to perform various actions on the battlefield.  This ranges from driving your units forward into battle to actually taking control from their first person perspective.  It looks to be shaping up to a special release indeed.

H.A.W.X.
Apart from being a real pain to type, H.A.W.X. (High Altitude Warfare Experimental Squadron) is a dog-fighting game (again from a certain Mr Clancy) that puts the theatre of war firmly in the skies.  Naturally as it is on console there’s a tendency toward arcade style action over realistic flight sim styling – but that’s fine with me.  H.A.W.X. could well be the first big-selling jet fighter game on PS3 and Xbox 360.

The game is set in 2014 and centres on the work of PMC’s (Private Military Companies).  It is set in the same world as Ghost Recon so unfortunately for Captain Scott Mitchell he has another battle on his hands.  There are over 50 planes to pilot and you have access to an ERS (Enhanced Reality System) that gives you access to a radar, anti-crash system and all manner of support.

Far Cry 2
Arguably one of the biggest first person shooters set for this year, Far Cry 2 provides a big number of improvements over the original.  Now, you’ll get one map (think Crysis), fewer loading times and an environment that will adapt interactively to how you play the game.  Continuing the comparison to Crysis, you get to approach the battle how you see fit – whether that’s charging in all guns blazing or using a more considered approach along with a sniper rifle!

Apparently, gameplay will include detailed elements such as mapreading on the same screen as your gun arm (so you can move and view your location details at the same time) as well as the ability to set traps and start fires.  New to the game is the ‘safehouse’ idea – something that I’ve no doubt we’ll see more of in these free-roaming first person games that combine elements from both GTA 4 and Crysis.  Don’t get me wrong Ubisoft, I’d certainly recommend taking the best from both of those worlds…

Shaun White Snowboarding

For sport fans, don’t think Ubisoft are neglecting you.  Shaun White Snowboarding is coming in the holiday season for some great white fun.  There are various characters to choose from and a number of locations such as Alaska, Park City and Japan.  You can be joined online by friends as you pick your own route through the mountainside slopes.  As it is based on the Assassin’s Creed engine you should be pleased by the visuals.

Overall, Ubidays 2008 was a great event, with some other games of note shown including Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway, the new Prince of Persia and of course Rayman Raving Rabbids 2.  It’s a real shame that this wasn’t a consumer event as I think people would be even more hyped by what was on display this year.

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