Edinburgh Interactive Festival 2010

At the Edinburgh Interactive Festival, I was lucky enough to be able to take some upcoming big name titles for a spin, and see the future of gaming in action.

First of all, in the Nintendo booth, I was able to spend about 10 minutes with Metroid: Other M. It is a departure from the first person perspective used in the Prime series, instead handling more like developer Team Ninja’s very popular Ninja Gaiden. The player controls Samus exclusively with a sideways Wiimote which can be pointed at the screen to go into first person mode for some more familiar blasting. Moving Samus around in this way tends to be a little awkward at first, as using a D-Pad to move about in 3D space so often tends to be. It helps that the game eases you in through a series of exquisitely rendered cutscenes and the mandatory training sections.

The storytelling aspect of the game is more prominent than ever before in a Metroid title. There hasn’t been much thought put into exploring Samus as a character in the more recent adventures. Other M aims to fix all that. Elements of her past only previously hinted at (such as her relationship with Adam in Metroid Fusion) are fully expanded. The game has a lot of promise in the story department that I couldn’t really enjoy in my quick demo. Although the plot may be predictable, the effort that has gone into it will surely enhance the game as an experience. Other M promises to be a top title.

In the Sony lorry I was treated to a variety of up and coming big releases. First up was a few laps on Gran Turismo 5 in 3D. I have to say, as someone who previously played down the importance of having 3D in the home immediately, I was completely blown away. Playing this for the first time really made it clear that games stand to benefit most, making the experience that bit more involving.

The HUD is placed on the ‘surface’ if you will, with the road dropping away beyond the screen. When you’re playing, you really feel the difference between the layers. It un-clutters the display whilst still showing you everything you’d need. During the demo, the camera angle was kept at the in-car mode “to fully show it off” as was explained by the attendants. I didn’t want to argue with them, playing it like this was fantastic. GT5 is launching worldwide in early November.

The next two rooms in Sony’s lorry were dedicated to the upcoming Move controller, which will be in UK stores September 15th. We got to try a very dull fly swatting game before having a real go at the sword duelling part. The fly swatting honestly felt like playing on a PS2 EyeToy while being forced to hold a remote. Even the camera quality disappointed, barely feeling like an improvement over it’s predecessor. The second game was a big step up, providing enjoyment in a fairly accurately traced sword duel. Slashes made by the player were well replicated in-game and it didn’t take too much practice to really get into a good fight. However, given the price of the kit, it didn’t do enough to convince me to buy it if I owned a PS3, and certainly not enough to make me buy a console for it. Judging by the reactions of other people in there with me, I wasn’t alone in this thought.

The final room, Killzone 3, was the most popular by far. The wait was the biggest, with everyone trying to get as much time with it as possible. Again, playing in 3D was a revelation. It became the best looking FPS I’ve had the fortune to play. Gameplay was solid and Killzone 3 doesn’t look likely to disappoint fans or people with big shiny 3D TV’s when it hits February next year.

And finally, we come to the Kinect. Nick Burton, senior programmer at Rare and resident cool guy, was on stage showing off Rare’s Kinect Sports. My first impression upon hearing the title was that it would be a dodgy collection of minigames (something any Wii owner will be all too familiar with). However, I came away regarding it as the Wii Sports of the Kinect, and not just because of the name similarities. Nick told us a bit about the game before showing us how it played, the journey Rare went on to make it. It was obvious that a lot of thought and effort has gone into this, and we all know that when Rare put their minds to it good things happen.

He then went on to invite people on stage to trial a few of the sports. After being treated to seeing the football, long jump, bowling and sprint games, I believe the football looks the most fun. It seemed that the most time was spent designing how the football would work; they needed to make it as football-like as possible without making it very tiring or complicated. The end product is a game that allows the player to stop with the ball rather than running, taking their time choosing which of their team-mates to pass to or making a crucial shot on goal. The defensive aspect of the game seems the most fun however, having to quickly respond to the opposition’s passes and also stop shots as the goalkeeper. Throughout the screening, Kinect itself was very impressive. Nick also spent some time telling us why it was so special. As it is able to see the depth of things in front of it, Kinect can more accurately let you interact with it. He recounted how they’d made a disco ball that would appear to be in your room on-screen. The amazing thing was, Kinect worked out the layout of your room, and the light reflecting off the ball would realistically move over the landscape and across walls ect. The buzz about Kinect is definitely well deserved.

After the Kinect screening, I was able to nab a couple of shots of a debug unit up close. It looked very plush indeed, although it should be noted that the packaging is not likely to be the same for retail units. Kinect will be available to buy in the UK on the 10th of November.