X06: Round Up

The latest on Call of Duty 3, Viva Pinata, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Fable 2, Shadowrun, Forza 2, NFS: Carbon, Project 8 and Half Life 2...!

Apart from Assassin’s Creed and Gears of War which, for me, were the two stars of the show a number of other titles are worth keeping an eye out for, here’s a round up of the best of them.

Call of Duty 3 plays very much like the previous two titles. Graphics have received their compulsory spit and polish, animation is more fluid than ever and the sense of chaos so prevalent in COD one and two is even more intense.

What contributes latter factor is the noticeable increase in non-playable characters with battlefields teaming with troops on all sides. The feeling is that you are just one man caught up in something far greater which – considering the setting – is far more credible than being a one man army.

The demo on show was limited in scope but I was told we can expect a wider variety of missions including Commando raids, parachute drops, sabotage missions, new vehicles and more. A more open-ended approach to missions is promised too though I didn’t get a chance to experience that in the close quarters section we were given to play. That said, it is shaping up to be a truly worthy successor to a stunning series.

Making a completely plea to your heart is Viva Pinata. Based on the hit animated kids TV show which is coming to the UK next year, players are challenged to create a island paradise where they can nurture over 60 species of Pinata animals. Naturally an array of predators and environmental factors aim to hinder your progress.

I didn’t get any playing time on Viva Pinata but Microsoft reps tell me it will be promoted heavily in Q1. It also looks like the kind of title the Xbox 360 needs to crack the Asian market.

Further proof of this was provided by Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. The former is an epic RPG developed by Mistwalker, the studio formed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and centres around Kaim – a man sentenced to live for 1,000 years. The turn based strategy follows Kaim’s life across the generations as he fights, falls in love and enters massive conflicts in a time where magic is all around.

The game was shown to us in a presentation, but not on the floor itself. Turn based games are not really my thing, but a group of Japanese journos near me were clearly impressed.

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