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Our Favorite Gamescom Picks

Gamescom 2012 was hot and wild for editors Adam, Bryan, and Jeff. While the public days continue all weekend, we saw it all and got the hell out of there. Here are our personal favorites of the show.

Remember Me

- Bryan Vore -

I tend to be impressed by new, shiny things. So when Capcom debuted the new title Remember Me, I was pumped. It’s a little mix of everything. It’s got the futuristic platforming vibe of Mirror’s Edge, the memory altering of Inception, and the mystery of Beyond Good and Evil. In 2084 Neo-Paris, huge corporation Memoreyes, offers to install memory recorders in the populace, enabling users to buy and sell memories easily. The story follows Nilin, a hunter who steals and influences memories to her advantage. All of that changes when her memories are erased and she’s thrown into prison. Somehow she gets out and aims to find out why her brain was wiped and who did it.

I know, I know. Amnesia is overused in gaming. But memory wheeling and dealing is the central premise of the game so I’m confident developer Dontnod Entertainment can add a different spin on things. In the gameplay shown at Capcom’s press conference, we saw wild platforming as Nilin was chased by a helicopter at night, a seemingly solid one-versus-many melee combat system, and an intriguing puzzle system similar to Ghost Trick.

Nilin jacks into the memory of a target that she needs to eliminate without suspicion. In the normal memory the guy has an argument with his wife and she leaves him. But through a series of environmental manipulation tricks, she gets him to believe he picked up a gun and accidentally shot his wife. When he comes to, he’s overridden with grief and shoots himself. Ghost Trick was all about manipulating the world for good, but it seems like Remember Me isn’t afraid to go darker. The best part is that players can rewind and fast forward events at will, quashing the boredom that ensues when repeating scenes over and over again to experiment.

Surprisingly, Remember Me is already committing to a May 2013 specifically for release on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC when most others past January, February, and March go with a vague 2013. It may not hit that, but I appreciate the early confidence.

Far Cry 3

- Jeff Cork -

For me, Gamescom 2012’s standout game was an easy pick. Ubisoft debuted Far Cry 3’s open-world at the show, and it was fantastic. Previous Far Cry titles have done a great job of conveying a sense of physicality to the action, and the third installment is no different. Whether I was gliding down a hill on a hang glider, spraying a pirate outpost with bullets, or tearing around dirt roads in a compact car, I was continuously impressed at how great everything controlled. Protagonist Jason Brody doesn’t behave like a military specialist (because he isn’t), but he isn’t an awkward mess, either. Instead, when I explored the gorgeous tropical island, I felt like I was a regular guy trying to make the best of a completely messed up situation. A lot of games tout their everyman heroes, but Far Cry 3 actually delivers on that promise. When I bailed off that hang glider, for instance, the world spun in a sky-ground-sky loop that made me feel a little woozy—in contrast to the perfect 10 landings that a lesser game would call good enough.

The island itself is a massive playground, with loads of optional content to explore and participate in. There’s more than a touch of Assassin’s Creed in one activity, where Brody has to scale a radio tower and disable it to clear out a portion of the map. When he succeeds, the camera quickly pans over points of interest, filling the map with tantalizing icons. These side missions include game-hunting, assassinations, driving challenges, and more. Unlike Far Cry 2’s continuously respawning checkpoints, pirates will generally stay out of the island’s many sections if you manage to take out their outposts. That’s easier said than done—the bad guys are usually well protected.

I wasn’t terribly excited about Far Cry 3 when it was first shown at last E3. It looked as though the open-world aspect that I loved so much about the previous games was getting toned down. I’m all for a great story, of course, but the most fun I had in Far Cry 2 was tooling around the savannah, starting fires, racing jeeps, and creating my own stories on the fly. From what I played at Gamescom this year, that’s still a major component of the latest game—and I couldn’t be any happier.

Omerta: City of Gangsters

- Adam Biessener -

You can’t go to a show like Gamescom and come away without a big list of games you wish you could sit down and dump hours into right now. Company of Heroes 2, Firefall, SimCity, and Warface all deserve special recognition, and I’d be happy to name any one of them my game of the show. My personal favorite thing I saw, though, is a little Bulgarian-developed PC and Xbox 360 game called Omerta: City of Gangsters. The team at developer Haemimont has become a favorite of mine for its work on Tropico 4 and especially 4, and Omerta has the potential to outshine those by far.

Set in Atlantic City, NJ during Prohibition, Omerta is two games in one. On the strategic layer, the pausable real-time economic/role-playing sim has players recruit gangsters, run various rackets, manage clean and dirty money, and avoid (or more likely pay off) the coppers as they develop a fresh-off-the-boat Sicilian immigrant into the most fearsome mob boss in Jersey. Big jobs like bank robberies take place on a separate layer, where turn-based tactical combat reminiscent of X-COM or Jagged Alliance pits the player’s hand-picked team of gangsters against security guards, cops, and/or rival mobs.

Both aspects of the game are coming along nicely after being shown in too-early states previously. The economic sim is less involved than in something like Tropico, but still features interactions and supply chains. Even a simple task like making money off of a speakeasy requires buying or renting a building for it, putting an underboss in charge, defending it from rivals and cops, and supplying it with liquor. The role-playing element comes into play with your relationships with NPCs who can help you out (dirty cops destroying evidence against you, for example, or disgruntled soldiers who want to buy booze they can resell for their own profits to the army) but have requests of their own. Additionally, every building in the city has an owner who may or may not like you very much – distillery operators don’t take kindly to you starting your own production, for instance.

The combat is based on action points like in classic turn-based tactical PC games, with different types of shots (full auto, short burst, careful aim, etc.) requiring varying amounts of AP to use and lines of sight providing critical information. Every unit has a courage meter that depletes as he or she gets wounded, sees the battle going against them, or sometimes even shot at. Coming in hot with tommy guns blazing like a true fedora-sporting gangster is very much an option – but so is a more methodical approach with silent knives behind corners, since cops and guards don’t perceive you as a threat until you do something illegal.

Omerta’s concept melds two genres I dearly love into a single game, the studio behind it has earned my trust, and the build on display at Gamescom was in good shape. I’m ready to swear my oath of silence as soon as it releases on PC and Xbox 360 in early November.

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