Last year a new kid came to town. Competing against well-known and long-established conventions like E3 and ECTS, the Games Convention in Leipzig took place for the second time this year. And after this year's convention nobody can doubt that in the future Germany will host one of the main events for every gamer.
Gamer?s Hell was there and during our three day stay in Leipzig we saw, heard and played what the companies had to offer. But you are waiting for the games, aren?t you?
On Thursday morning Nokia invited us to their Press Tent in one of the yards of the convention center. There we had the chance to take a close look at their upcoming gaming handy, the N-Gage and talk with the Product managers for the German territories. Two things really surprised me. On one hand I expected a way more bulky unit but in fact the unit is quiet neat and can be stored away in every pocket of your trouser. And the second surprise was the unit's graphical powers. Going 3d on a handheld normally means unidentifiable pixel heaps moving around the screen, but after playing Tony Hawk for the N-Gage I realized that it can be different. Of course the viewing distance is limited and you can still can count every pixel if you take a close look, but way to go Nokia!
Also interesting are Nokia?s plans for the N-Gage. People seem to believe that Nokia is planning to compete against heavyweight players like Nintendo but this is not the whole truth. Nokia thinks that the N-Gage will especially interest people who want to have an all-in-one-solution - after all the N-Gage is a mobile phone AND an mp3 player AND a gaming unit. Even if they are only occasional players who while not play as much as a person that gets himself a GBA, having all these possibilities might be of interest to the targeted audience.
Another group of people that will likely love the N-Gage are hobby programmers. Nokia promised us that there will be free development kits available shortly after the initial launch in October that put the full power of the N-Gage into your hands. You heard right, the full power ? even the advanced 3d functions will be availiable for your home brewn experiments.
The N-Gage while launch worldwide on October 7th with a lineup of 15 games provided by well known developers like THQ, Eidos, Sega, UbiSoft and Activision and others. Before 2004 Nokia plans to bring at least another 22 titles on its way.
For technical details, the multiplayer possibilities and information on the soon available games check out http://www.n-gage.com.
First Impressions: Excellent
From hardware we moved to software. Vivendi Universal was waiting for us. We hoped for info on Half-Life 2 or World of Warcraft, but sadly all we got was a ?it?s not done yet?.
Not that there aren?t many other interesting games coming from Vivendi this very year - here are some that we've managed to playtest.
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero:
As squad leader of an elite counter-terrorist operative, use specialized maneuvers and weapon skills to complete over 20 new missions, each containing numerous objectives. Drop into challenging scenarios -- from harsh jungle environments to severe arctic terrains, from unforgiving deserts to dangerous international city streets. Rescue hostages. Escort VIPs to safety. Locate and defuse bombs.
People waiting for Half Life 2 will also love Counter Strike: Condition Zero. What started as a mod for the original Half Life is continued now and with crisp new graphics and a single player campaign for people who want more than online battles. We played a level from the single player campaign and the scripted sequences are really good.
First Impressions: Very Good
The Simpsons-Hit & Run
?is a very fun game that will remind you of games like GTA 3. Controlling Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge and Apu you have to solve various objectives in a detailed replica of ?the real? Springfield. The developers worked closely with the team doing The Simpsons for TV and even in the international versions the voice acting was done by the original actors you know from TV. While exploring the virtual Springfield you will meet many of the characters you know and love. Featuring the signature humor of The Simpsons, this is a must-have title for every Simpson fan.
First Impressions: Very Good
SWAT Global Strike Team
? is a lot like SOCOM for the PS2. As always it is counter-terrorists fighting evil terrorists. Fans of games like counter-strike will love the fact that the voice recognition is a lot better compared to the competition.
First Impressions: Good
We also caught a quick glimpse at other upcoming attractions, like Ground Control 2 and The Hobbit, but our time was up and we had to move on. Keep checking Gamer's Hell for the rest of our GC coverage!