Ubidays 2008: The Highlights
Before I head into this feature I feel the need to inform you that I'm not a big fan of Ubisoft; in fact my "dislike" for them has increased steadily over the past couple of years. I don't think too highly of them for a bunch of reasons (and don't worry, I won't bore you with them now) but in a nutshell it's mainly their lackadaisical attitude towards PC ports and smaller markets such as ours.
Either way, I believe in giving the Devil its due and at this year's Ubidays event held in Paris, Ubi did blow the lid on many a promising game. Here's a quick look at the ones that caught our fancy.
Prince of Persia: Prodigy
With the latest Prince of Persia game, Ubisoft are planning on giving this series an entirely new facelift. For starters they're ditching the Sands of Time (which means no more rewinding or slowing down time) as well as the Prince we were introduced to in the Sands of Time for a new character who doesn't come from sort of a Royal family. He's merely an adventurer who’s trying to save the world against the corruption that threatens to engulfs it.
But this time round he's not alone in his noble quest; he'll be accompanied throughout the game by an AI-controlled hottie who goes by the name of Elika. Elika happens to be the last of the guardians who were to ensure that the corruption corroding the land stayed put. That obviously didn't work out as planned and now she's making up for it by giving her undying "attention" to the Prince. Unfortunately Ubisoft are not including co-operative gameplay in this game, so you’ll be at the mercy of their AI at all times.
Gameplay-wise details are still a bit sketchy but we do know that the new Prince will imbibe tons of Altair's Parkour abilities, enabling him to indulge in all sorts of acrobatic abilities amidst a brand new open world concept. Also, unlike previous games, you won't have to waste time fighting large groups of enemies; you'll most likely go up against a single opponent at a time – but we're dead sure it's going to be a lot harder than it sounds.
The game's being made using the Anvil engine, the same one that powered last year's Assassin's Creed, and as you can see by the screen Ubi have ditched the gritty real-world tones in favor of a more "illustrative" look. We like what we see so far.
Far Cry 2
With Far Cry 2 Ubisoft have ditched the island setting from Far Cry in favor of Africa's scorching savannas and will put players in the boots of an all-new character who's tasked with hunting down a nefarious criminal known only as the jackal. Similar to last year's S.T.A.L.K.E.R., players will be able to tackle this open world as they seem fit undertaking missions from various people, allying themselves with various factions and so on. In addition to this open world gameplay, a 50-hour single player campaign and jaw-dropping visuals courtesy of the Dunia engine, Far Cry 2 will also feature a robust MP component for up to 16 players featuring "persistent rewards and experience levels" a la Call of Duty 4.
Initially the game was to be a PC exclusive but now it's going to be released on the Xbox360 and PS3 as well sometime later this year (but knowing Ubisoft I'm willing to bet good money that this game doesn't see the light of day before 2009).
Shaun White Snowboarding
Remember EA's awesome SSX series? Wouldn't you just kill to have it in next-gen? We'll just have to wait a while for that but till then you can make do with Ubi's take on the extreme sports genre with Shaun White Snowboarding. Here are some that may make you care about this Open World snowboarding game:
Your Friends Are Always Around: Play in a world where your friends are always around. Do your own runs on mountains populated by real gamers, or join your friends for a quick session from any mountain.
More than Just Snowboarding: Have fun with your friends on and off the board! Throw snowballs, hike to access secret spots, film your friends doing ripping tricks. You can also upload your videos online to share with the world.
Ride Your Way: Express yourself through tricks, riding styles, and highly customizable avatars, both in single-player and in the online world. Use the intuitive dual analog control to pull off a huge variety of tricks that express your style.
Next-Gen Technology: Built on the Assassin's Creed engine, this game creates a massive world with gorgeous visuals and realistic NPC interactions. This is also the first time a snowboarding game is completely driven by physics instead of animation.
Raving Rabbids TV Party
It really isn't a Ubiday without some sort of Rabbid action, and keeping that tradition in mind Ubisoft have announced a brand-new Rayman game called Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party. As of now this game is a Wii exclusive and will make full use of the Wii Balance Board. Expect 65 brand new wacky mini-games in addition to an all-new party and the ability to "pimp your bunny out".
Beyond Good and Evil 2 Teaser Trailer
Even though Beyond Good and Evil didn't set the cash registers blazing, it acquired a massive cult following who’ve been praying for a sequel on next-gen consoles ever since, well, next-gen consoles were announced, so you can imagine their glee when Ubi unveiled a teaser trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2 at Ubidays 08. While the teaser doesn't shed too much light on anything, Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot claims the teaser's been made using the in-game engine.