Gamescom 2011: Our Top 10 Games of the Show
Written Sunday, August 21, 2011 By Dan Webb, Richard Walker & Lee Abrahams
As Gamescom 2011 draws to a close and the 60,000+ members of the public pour out onto the streets of Cologne, it’s that time again, where we have a fiery debate about what blew our minds and what just blew at this year's show. Again, it's been one hell of a show, so arriving at a top ten we could happily agree on was quite a task, as always.
But after hours of sumo contests, arm wrestling and name-calling, the three of us managed to shake hands, silently nod at one another and get to writing our top ten games of the show feature. There's sports, action, action, action, action, action, action and more action in this year's 10, which shows you which genre of game was really out in full force at Gamescom. Clue: it's not horse racing sims.
10. FIFA Street
FIFA Street for EA in the past has been nothing more than a shameless cash-in. It’s almost been a blight on the FIFA name since EA Canada did a U-turn with the franchise.
That’s all about to change and it shocked the hell out of us at Gamescom this year. Utilising the FIFA engine for the first time in the franchise and focusing more on authenticity, FIFA Street has proved to us that it’s not too late to turn a franchise around… someone needs to tell Sonic this!
9. Saints Row: The Third
Unhinged, insane and unashamedly crass, we revelled in the many excesses of Saints Row: The Third with our hands-on at Gamescom 2011, featuring missions where you have to escort a tiger, the return of the ever-popular Insurance Fraud, punching pedestrians in the balls and an “awesome button”, which unlocks bodyslams, karate kicks and the ability to dropkick your way into vehicles via the windscreen.
Going on a rampage has never been so much fun, and with an opening mission involving the most madcap and outlandish bank job ever, Saints Row: The Third seems to have all the key ingredients that the previous game had, plus a lot more besides.
You thought Saints Row 2 was mad? You really haven't seen anything yet!
8. Batman: Arkham City
The Bat is back, bigger and better than ever, with a plethora of new enemies, allies and kick-ass abilities with which to batter a whole city full of nefarious super villains.
Rocksteady is keen to blow your mind (and your eyes!) with a whole cityscape for Batman to explore and a fully furnished challenge mode that you can make even harder – should you have masochistic tendencies.
Even the question marks over Catwoman have been assuaged by our hands-on, and she certainly brings a new dimension to what is already a stunning sequel.
Sadly there's no option to roundly mock Robin at any point, but then you can't have everything.
7. Assassin's Creed: Revelations
A brand spanking new demo for Gamescom this year, we got to see what happens when Ezio lays his hands on one of the game's five 'Keys of Altair', transporting him back to one of the assassin's memories as Ezio retraces the footsteps of his ancestor in a quest to recover the valuable artefacts.
It's Assassin's Creed, which is really all you need to know, with action and stealth by the boatload, and a great new addition to the assassin arsenal with the game's bomb crafting mechanics. Grenades have never been so good and from the looks of this year's demo, neither has Assassin's Creed.
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
What can we say that hasn't already been said a million times over about Modern Warfare 3? It's more Call of Duty and it's likely to shift more copies than The Bible.
Everyone knows exactly what to expect here, with breakneck action sequences, explosive set-pieces and more military hardware than you can shake an M-16 at.
Spec Ops took centre-stage for our hands-on and boy, is it ever back with a vengeance. If you enjoyed buddying up and beating objectives in Modern Warfare 2's Spec Ops, then you're going to eat up MW3's Spec Ops with a massive miltary grade spoon.
5. Mass Effect 3
Although Mass Effect 3 took home our E3 award with its showcase of high intensity combat and its ability to tug on the ol’ heartstrings, it must be said that BioWare’s showing of the title at Gamescom this year was rather… lacking.
Coming armed with the same E3 build and only a smidgen more, the only delight we really took home from the conclusion of the trilogy at Gamescom this year was that we actually went hands-on with it.
Yes, it plays great and we did get a more in depth look at the RPG aspects – which is why it's placing at number 5 in our top 10 - but honestly, we expected more.
What do you get when you take the co-creator of Deus Ex, the man behind Arx Fatalis and the Visual Designer on Half-Life 2, then shove them into a studio together?
The answer is Dishonored, Arkane Studios' whale oil-powered, Victorian, industrial steampunk-styled FPS in which you play as an elite assassin framed for the murder of the kingdom's empress. Cue a mission of vengeance as he embarks upon a quest to eliminate those who smeared his good name, using a combination of supernatural powers and swift, brutal combat.
There's an endless number of ways to tackle situations using spells and weapons, such as bending time before moving an enemy in front of his own bullet or firing several crossbow bolts in suspended animation before letting time return to normal, causing a simultaneous gratifying bursting of heads. Amazing. Did we mention you can possess rats too?
3. Battlefield 3
DICE and EA’s focus with Battlefield 3 at Gamescom this year was most definitely the game’s co-operative campaign – which tells a completely separate story to that in the single-player campaign.
Sure, they may have busted out the 64-player multiplayer on the show floor, but we all know the consoles won’t be getting that, so we can’t really focus on that aspect.
The co-op was addictive though, throwing fast-paced action at you from every angle and some impressive destruction effects to boot. And although it didn’t really visually meet our expectations – far from them actually – it handled like a dream… a wet one if you want to get crude!
2. Borderlands 2
Everybody’s favourite franchise is back and Gamescom marked its debut to the world’s press… and boy did we lap it up!
Whilst maintaining the trademark humour that the franchise is known for, Borderlands 2 has taken the solid foundations from the original and built a frickin’ fortress on it. Refinement isn’t just the name of the game here and Gearbox is looking to fix everything that held the original back from greatness, whether that’s by throwing in a better story or by adding more mission variety.
With a new cast of characters, more unique weapons and new skills promised, Borderlands 2 is shaping up to be the sequel that fans have been screaming for.
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim brought about mixed emotions for us at E3… on the one hand, we’d seen most of it at Bethesda's BFG showcase earlier on in the year, but then on the other hand, there were dragons and mammoths galore – a palaeontologist’s dream!
At Gamescom though, Bethesda came armed with 45 minutes of brand spanking new content with a focus on the freeform free-roaming experiences you can have whilst you’re knee deep in Skyrim's vast world.
We watched Dovahkiin wander into mines and plough through the snowy mountains of Skyrim, just for shits and giggles. It was our first glimpse at some of the enchanting and forging that we’ll be partaking in this November, but Bethesda’s Pete Hines was on hand to give us a hell of a lot more insight into some of the other stuff we’ll be doing later on this year.
Sensational is an apt word to describe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and it's a more than worthy Game of the Show.
Keep it locked to X360A in the coming weeks to cast your eyes over a veritable tidal wave of Gamescom 2011 coverage, with awesome interviews and some delectable previews. Miss it and miss out! Be there, or be square! Erm... Look, just don't miss it, ok?