Yeah, yeah, I'm aware I only really cover XBox 360 games rather than multi platform titles but I only have one console and I'm not willing to trade organs for a PS3, and I'm not entirely convinced by the Wii's move from button mashing to frantic pointing. These are all based on the preview versions available on XBox Live, and may not reflect the final products entirely.
Anyway, on to the games. First up:
At first glance, this game looks really rather promising. Clive Barker is involved, as he was with the PC game Undying and that was one of the scariest games ever made. Actually that's about it for first impressions, the rest looks dreadful - yet another game using the Unreal 3 engine, big shoulder armour, bad voice acting (some of the worst since House of the Dead) and enemies that look like Marilyn Manson.
Add to this a nonsensical plot where you play as a dead agent that can transfer his consciousness into the body of one of six super heroes, all of whom are hunting a mysterious creature called First Born. The crux of the game is that you change between characters to deal with whatever the situation at hand is, in a similar fashion to Killer 7. The problem is that the playable characters are all too powerful for the enemies to be scary. When you have a character wearing a Gatling gun as a gauntlet who can also throw fire balls, a repetitive line of medieval zombies running around just doesn't cut the mustard.
The one thing that this generic corridor shooter does is have occasional scripted sequences where you have to fight one of the many undead/demon oppressors off by pressing the buttons in time to defend yourself. These actually add some tension, rather than the rest of the action sequences when the player is safely on the other side of the room shooting away with a psychically guided sniper rifle. Sadly, even these are done better in many other games such as Shenmue and God of War. Whether the overarching story can pull this from the quagmire or mediocrity is yet to be seen, but it isn't looking likely.
This was actually due out last year, but the developers were strangely given an extra year of development. In which time, they've changed a hell of a lot. Gone is the original steam punk setting, and in is the ruined dystopian look found in every first person shooter these days.
Also gone is the main character, he's now a faceless silent soldier designed to have no personality so it feels like you're in the game. No offence to the development decision there, but if I were faced with a forty foot robot with a missile launcher, I'd just curl up and cry. Seriously. This means that the originally intended personal relationship between the hero and the villain has now been completely removed. Remember, this makes the game more immersive... ahem.
On the plus side, the graphics do look rather splendid, but then again so does the rest of the 360 line up so it doesn't make it stand too far from the crowd.
In fairness to the makers, the game was faintly unplayable when I played the original demo a year ago, but that was mainly due to my PC not being able to handle the third dimension very well. It might not have been that bad originally, but from my own personal experiences, the gameplay itself has jumped on a few thousand steps. The game is incredibly fun, with the time abilities making up most of this, the best being able to stop time, steal a gun, create a wall of bullets then allow time to restart. It'll be interesting to see where this goes in the future...
*Incidentally, I'm aware both of these games are now out, this article was written ages ago just never posted*