Japan 2005: TGS Impressions

Right…the easiest way for me to do things is probably just to list the main stuff I played and saw and what I thought, so here goes. It’s in no particular order because I’m going through what I saw in the order that I saw it.

  • Xbox 360 – The machine itself is bigger than I expected; very similar in size to the current Xbox. The controller felt very nice, though – softer edges and analogue sticks that felt more accurate than the current ones. It reminded me a lot of the nice wireless Logitech ones. Graphical quality obviously varied from game to game, but went from disappointing (Test Drive Unlimited) through to the impressive (Call of Duty 2) and the amazing (Ridge Racer 6).
  • Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360) – I didn’t play it but graphically it was very limited. Very detailed and everything but the framerate was incredibly poor and I think I can see why it was delayed from the launch window.
  • Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) – Now holds the title of the first Xbox 360 game I ever played. Gameplay-wise there’s very little to differentiate between it and the other COD games (not necessarily a bad thing at all), but graphically I was very impressed. There were a ton of effects and detailed characters and objects around but the framerate was nice and steady. The lighting was very accomplished with the blinding effect of walking from a dark room into direct sunlight actually affecting the way you play. I’ll probably be picking this one up on launch day.
  • Ridge Racer 6 (Xbox 360) – I only watched someone play it and it looked like vintage Ridge Racer, but graphically it’s spectacular. High definition shows it off with the typical vividness and exuberance of a Ridge game, and the whole thing runs rock solid at 60fps. Absolutely gorgeous and another probable purchase.
  • Boku no Watashi no Katamari Damacy (PSP) – Looking at least as good as the PS2 version and gaining an almost current affairs-based storyline (instead of creating stars you’re now rebuilding an island destroyed by a tsunami), this is going to be worth a look. The controls will definitely need some getting used to as the dual analogue PS2 controls are replaced by dual digital using the D-pad and face buttons, but still a great game that should be ideal for short portable blasts. I want a prince puppet like the guys at the demo pods had.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3) – Obviously only in trailer form, but it looked spectacular and the resolution looked ridiculously high even on the 50-foot screen they were showing it on, and it’s definitely running in real time. It’s hard to take anything concrete from it but it seems like this will be more action-orientated that the predecessors and I couldn’t help but feel echoes of the Seoul level from Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. I can’t wait to see more.
  • Okami (PS2) – Graphically beautiful. The whole world looks like an animated painting and the gameplay, where you do things like paint a bridge over a chasm so that you can cross it, looks very unique and interesting. I’ll definitely be looking out for this one.
  • Chromehounds (Xbox 360) – This wasn’t playable but Sega gave a demonstration on a massive screen and it looked very impressive indeed. There were loads of mechs on screen with some excellent effects bringing the carnage to life, and they showed what looked to be gameplay footage (no HUD, but seemed to be a playable camera angle) which was very reminiscent of MechAssault.
  • Street Fighter Zero 3: Double Upper (PSP) – A decent conversion of one of my favourite fighting games of all time. The PSP D-pad isn’t exactly great for this so the analogue nub provides the best control, but even that’s not optimal. Even so, the GBA version was hardly true to the arcade experience so I’m probably going to overlook those relatively minor flaws.
  • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (Xbox 360) – Wasn’t playable but they were running videos on a high definition monitor where it looked stunning. I was impressed by the trailer that came out online a little while back and this one has me considering yet another game for the 360 launch.
  • Kameo: Elements of Power (Xbox 360) – Didn’t play it but watched it being played and came away impressed visually – very bright and colourful, but also very detailed. Rare need to make that $375 million investment by Microsoft worthwhile and Grabbed By The Ghoulies and Conker aren’t really doing that, so this and Perfect Dark Zero could go some way to paying it back.

Overall it was a pretty good show. Smaller than I expected and insanely busy with even 30,000 people there (the public days are supposed to have double that at least), but I got to see a lot of cool stuff and play the Xbox 360 so it was worth it. Nintendo, as usual, don’t have any presence at the show but I’ve still seen and been slightly worried by this. I’m really beginning to think that they’ve lost it completely when they can come up with a fantastic idea like having all their old stuff emulated and downloadable on the Revolution and then back it up with that.

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