Big week in demos this week. Three highly anticipated demo’s for three highly anticipated games (Unreal Tournament 3, Hellgate London and Call Of Duty 4) hit the intarwebs this week and, being the gamer that I am, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to have a crack at them.
The UT3 demo was like coming home to an old friend, only to discover that he actually looks better after all these years. The gameplay was very familiar. All the old weapons have gotten a visual make-over but are functionally identical to those in UT2004. Unreal Engine 3 shines again, and they seem to have resolved at least a few of their aliasing problems. In case you don’t know, Unreal Engine 3 doesn’t really support FSAA. It uses something called ‘deferred shading’ instead. Bioshock seems to have some issues with this, but this time only the most remote objects had any pixellation. Big thumbs up for the audio side of things. Sound effects are great and the match announcers are the best ones yet. The vehicles are also mostly identical to UT2004 with just a few modifications and changes. Center stage is reserved for the new War Of The Worlds style walker vehicle that’s equipped with a deadly heatray and the nifty new hoverboard. Overall UT3 seems to be shaping up to be the same solid, action packed online shooter we’ve grown to love.
The Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Demo has been my highlight of the week, despite it’s short length. I can honestly (and subjectively) say that COD 4 has the best graphics I have ever seen in a shooter (barring Crysis) even at the lower than max settings in this demo. It proves that there is a lot of fight left in DX9. That’s right folks, all those cool particle and smoke effects are not DX10. The way they depict night vision is just the best I’ve ever seen. The gameplay too is rock solid, recreating that typical Call Of Duty atmosphere. This one I’m gonna pick up the day it hits the stores. (I might even pick up COD 2 in the bargain bin, since I somehow skipped that one).
Finally, we come to the Hellgate London Demo, which unfortunately is the biggest dissapointement of the week. I was so rooting for this game. I first got sceptical when Flagship announced that they would be going the MMO route with monthly subscriptions for ‘Elite‘ users. Also, I read the review of the final game (from my favorite game magazine) before I downloaded the demo. Let me just say, they weren’t all that positive 🙂 . When I finally installed the thing, my suspicions were confirmed: this is the dud of the year. First of all: tech issues. You have to install a Windows Hotfix before you can even run the demo (which I hate). You also have to make sure that transparency anti-aliasing is turned off in the control panel of your grapics card or else the ENTIRE GAME will be transparent. The interface is needlessly complicated, the graphics (while secondary to gameplay) are mediocre and there’s almost no voices. Yep it’s your typical World Of Warcraft quest prompt. Not something I expected from the supposed spiritual succesor to Diablo II (which ironically, I reinstalled today 🙂 ). So all in all, a big disappointment.
Now while demo’s are fun, full games are better. Full games like the 5 included in the Orange Box which I’m planning to pick up tomorrow and play ’till I drop dead. Expect me to go missing for at least a full week. Hmm…I need to buy a minifridge