UbiSoft Demo Day

I spent several hours with the crew over at UbiSoft on Thursday and Friday and played a whole lot of games. I also met a streetball player named Escalade. I'm like a twig next to him - he's a foot taller than me and twice my weight. Nice guy though.

CSI Three Dimensions of Murder
This is the first 3d CSI game and as such it is much closer to the TV show than previous versions. The opening full motion video is just like the show, and the crime lab is a reproduction based on the set. There's more interaction with characters, then environment and evidence. It's not just pixel hunting anymore. The environment is more complex which means more complex clue hunting. You recreate each crime, process your own evidence, get warrants, in short you do everything. There are 5 cases and the game will ship in March 2006 for PC.

Splinter Cell Essentials
This will ship for PSP in March. There are 9 missions, of which 5 are new. They tried to create the same control system on the PSP, light/shadow meter, danger meter, circle controls the camera, the stick moves Sam, box crouches. The missions are set from when Sam become's a Navy Seal in 1992 until the present day. There's a jail level that is similar to the jail level of Splinter Cell Double Agent (see below). You can save at any time. There's a lot of hiding and shooting. In ad hoc mode you can play spy vs. spy. As always, it is your choice whether to kill or simply immobilize. Content is different on all platforms.

Splinter Cell Double Agent
Same is having a tough time and he's in jail in this forth of the series. In the past, gamers tended to view Sam as a soldier, and the developers really want him to be perceived as more of a "bad ass super spy". He's on NOC - non official cover and if he's caught that's it our governement has no knowledge of him or his mission which is to infiltrate a terrorist cell as a double agent. As a double agent you have to balance the consequences of your actions, balance the good with the evil. For example, should you murder or be discovered? There are some tough moral decisions - the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few. All versions are the same storyline but the missions are different. Escape prision, join terrorist cell, following the storyline exactly or going off on little side explorations. There are some coop elements with NPC companions where you have to help each other over barriers and such. It's a mix of action and puzzles and a design goal was that you shouldn't get frustrated by repetitive trial and error.

And 1 Basketball
This started as a clothing company with the Mix it Up Tour where they filmed streetball and then dub in hip hop tunes. Now it's grown into a streetball tournament with style. There are open runs where anyone plays in the tournament, then a main run where the 5 best players take on the And 1 team. It's authentic in that they mo-capped real players and everyone in the game is based on a real player except for your character. You create your character and then he's in all the cut scene which is a cool attention to detail. In story mode you play tournaments until you earn an And 1 contract. The new control system uses both analog sticks to sort of dial in a move. There are three levels to each move, the setup dribble, the showboat and the ankle breaker. There are 10 national and 4 internation tournaments. There are 13 exclusive tracks on the soundtrack. When you win the game you unlock a special Mix It Up tape. There's online play for PS2 and Xbox and the game ships in the end of March

Meet Mr. ESC, an escapologist who is a master in the art of escape for hire. Each level is timed, has specific objectives and usually has companions to save. The game ships with 100 levels and there will be another 100 available for download when it ships in February. The game really had a strong classic Prince of Persia feel to it. I liked it.

Blazing Angels
This flight arcade game comes out for Xbox and Xbox 360 in March with very similar content for each but with the 360 version tweaked with better graphics and sound. You play as an american with 3 wingmen in the squadron flight combat game. Each wingman does something different - one repairs your plane while you're in the air. On Xbox Live there can be up to 16 player battles, either co-op or dogfights. There are 40 authentic aircraft and you can fly axis and allie planes. The storyline follows WWII and there are 18 missions in places ranging from London, Pearl Harbor, Berlin, and Paris. Missions are a mix of air to air combat and bombing.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
I played a level or two of GRAW and loved it. There's a good balance between strategy and tactics. It seems awfully realistic and looks great. They're using the horsepower of the 360 well. It's easy to get the hang of the controls although the HUD takes a little getting used to. I have to say that I really enjoyed hunting down the enemy.

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