Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay is actually one of the games I was going to talk about, so I’ll just link the strip concerning it and then we’ll move forward like normal.
Escape From Butcher Bay (see, I told you) looks really, really good. To properly emphasize it would require the use of many more exclamation points that I am comfortable with. The fact that it’s so remarkable visually shouldn’t surprise anybody, because it’s from Starbreeze - coming up up on the mean streets of Sweden’s demo scene, coding just to stay alive, they were honing the skills that would one day be put forth in Riddick. Not only does it look good, which we could see for ourselves there at E3, the reviews we’ve read seem to imply that the period where you could comfortably disregard movie tie-ins like this is either over or briefly suspended. It’s coming out this week, incidentally. If you’d like to know more, then by all means check out this interview with screenshots over at 1up.
You may remember that I applauded the decision to go a different direction with Unreal Championship 2, the original Unreal Championship for the Xbox having the character of reheated leftovers. Now, having had some experience with it, I am utterly resolute in my affections: UC2 is completely excellent. It rides a rugged all-terrain vehicle in the valley between the Fighting and Shooter genres, with striking, all-new weapon designs and unique melee weapons for each character. The characters themselves are based on the teams we know from Unreal Tournament, but are far more stylized - they aren’t just avatars, they seem like the more defined entities you might select in a fighting game. My favorite feature is probably the same as anybody else’s: you can jump off any wall in an extended, Woo-style science fiction ballet. It kept the matches we had moving along at a good pace, and further distinguished it from its traditional shooter heritage. Videos, are, of course, available.
I had a misconception initially about how Mechassault 2 was going to work, I thought there was a sort of armored suit (like an Elemental or something) that was your default, and you could get in other vehicles from there. Not so. You are actually a tiny guy with a shiny helmet, flesh and bones, and you can look out at the battlefield and see walking tanks crest the ridge. You don’t even start in a Mech - what amounts to your “side” of the map is like the Used Car Lot of the future, with air vehicles, tanks, and battlemechs waiting for human players to leap in. Wearing the Battle Armor allows you to hitch rides on player piloted flying craft, climb up buildings, or even steal enemy mechs by defeating their pilot in a quick, “hit the right button” minigame. By accident or design, the original Mechassault put action gameplay and big robots together in a way that was very appealing to a lot of people, including our own Mech King. Playing a multiplayer round of the sequel, you can tell they have retained the pace the set in the first game - only now, everything looks fucking bad-ass and runs better.
We’ve got another day of Xbox coverage, easy, but I need to just put on the record that you could walk down the aisles there in the booth - through clumps of kiosks emulating natural formations - and not make it ten consecutive feet because there was something you really wanted to see. Silent Hill 4 was there, and if Electronic’s Boutique is to be believed it hits Playstation 2 and Xbox on the same day - that’s great to hear. Republic Commando does more to bolster the beleaguered Star Wars fan than Lucas himself seems capable of doing. Oh look, here’s Forza, a racing game that lets you hook three Xboxes together to see front, left, and right. Here’s one of the most beautiful games of the show, and it’s Conker for Christ’s sake. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting something worth looking into.
i can’t explain glacial motion