Ubisoft tips hand at Ubidays 2008
Publisher's second annual event kicks off with gameplay footage of Far Cry 2 and EndWar, teaser trailer for a new Beyond Good & Evil.
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PARIS--Following on from a successful debut last year, Ubisoft's second Ubidays preview event takes place today in the Louvre. The company is expected to show off new content from Tom Clancy games including Hawx and EndWar, as well as Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway and previously unannounced games.
GameSpot will be reporting live from the event itself, which is due to start with a presentation by UK TV personality Vernon Kay. Watch the live blog below to read about all the announcements as they happen, then stick around for preview coverage of all the big games.
[10:01] Welcome to Paris! Ubisoft's Ubidays press conference is about to begin here in the French capital, and we'll be bringing you all the news as it happens. There are some 1,000 people gathered here at the event today, from all over Europe and even the US. Tonight, Ubisoft is putting on a press conference where we'll hopefully find out their plan for the next 12 months, and tomorrow we'll get to play some of them here in the Louvre.
[10:07] Security guards are beginning to erect photo frames on the stage (we're in the Louvre, after all). It's doing little to attract the attention of the huge number of people here, who are chatting away regardless.
[10:08] The presentation is starting! There's an animation showing characters and environments from Ubisoft's upcoming games, such as Far Cry 2.
[10:11] Our presenter Vernon Kay shouts about the fact that he's into games! Woo! The Ubisoft executive director for Europe is on stage now, and he wants us to have some fun!
[10:12] They're talking about art--Ubisoft's games are nearly as popular as modern art, apparently. The market grew by 25 percent last year and should continue to grow by 15 percent this year. People are playing everywhere, and as far as Ubisoft is concerned, they want to offer everybody an experience that is great fun and that exceeds their expectations.
[10:16] The Far Cry 2 team has jumped on stage alongside the Brothers in Arms team. We'll see a demo of the former shortly, but the team is emphasising the relationships in their game, which will drive the action, the car chases, the gun fights.
[10:17] The developers of the latest Prince of Persia want to do like master paintings and draw you into their worlds. There's a brand-new art style, alongside a new "support character," which we'll be hearing more about in a moment as well as over the coming months.
[10:19] Randy Pitchford is on stage to talk about Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. Again, they're emphasising emotional connection to the characters. The game will launch in August 2008.
[10:21] In the Far Cry 2 trailer, a reporter talks about wanting to show Africa as "a land of shadows, a land of light." One shadow the game will focus on is "The Jackal," and you'll need to descend into his world to stop his reign of terror.
[10:23] We're now being shown a new demo in action. It takes place a couple of kilometers from the area in the video we just saw. The game looks spectacular, with a map that you physically pull out in the gameworld and a complete lack of HUD.
[10:24] The player jumps on a hang glider and flies through the trees. After landing, the player pulls out a scope and looks at the zebras. We're going to see a camp being raided, and we can see how you can use the binoculars to add local details to a map.
[10:28] You can mark key elements such as ammo dumps and vehicles on your map, letting you plan your assault more effectively. Using procedural fire, he starts to burn down the village and take out the villagers. He also occasionally injects himself to replenish health.
[10:28] We'll be able to play the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 versions of Far Cry 2 tomorrow.
[10:29] Prince of Persia next, and it's set to be a reset of the franchise. There's no relation between the universe in this new game and the previous games released by Ubisoft.
[10:36] The Prince of Persia developer says the team has taken out the Sands of Time gameplay mechanic, and though they know it was a controversial decision, they stand by it 100 percent.
[10:37] Instead of the Sands of Time feature from the previous games, this Prince of Persia will feature a new character called Elika. Vernon Kay: "She looks hot!"
[10:39] The Colonel is on stage for Brothers in Arms, and he's getting the crowd to shout out an army mantra. The crowd is begrudgingly accepting.
[10:42] We'll get to play a new build of Brothers in Arms tomorrow, but until then we're going to see a new trailer. All in-game footage, the new trailer looks impressive and shows off rag-doll physics as the various soldiers get blown to smithereens.
[10:44] We're now moving to something "completely different." It's the Games for Everyone line, which is Ubisoft's casual-games label. Vernon Kay, meanwhile, invites the women in the room to "take their pick" from the other journalists in the room.
[10:47] Citing Wii Fit, Ubisoft is just scratching the surface of what games can become. They cite Tim, a 10-year-old dog lover who can't have a real pet because they poo, they die, and are, according to Ubisoft, a general nuisance. Video games are the answer!
[10:48] Tim's cousin, meanwhile, is 8 and she's looking for role models. When she's a bit older, she'll want to build a network of friends, which she can do with Ubisoft's new game Imagine My Secret World, which will be a secret journal.
[10:50] We'll be able to play the Games for Everyone lineup tomorrow, including Petz and My Health Coach.
[10:53] Vernon Kay announces the 10th anniversary of Tom Clancy games. Ubisoft bought the Tom Clancy name outright this year, and has Hawx, EndWar, and a new Splinter Cell game in production, all bearing his name.
[10:54] Vernon Kay is berating the Tom Clancy developers for the time he's spent apart from his wife through playing their games. The crowd laughs politely.
[10:56] We're going to see two new games from the Tom Clancy name. Unfortunately, not brand-new as we just thought when he announced that, but Hawx and EndWar. We're now being shown a demo of Hawx, which is a new flight sim being developed in Bucharest.
[10:58] In the game, you have to fire on land targets such as tanks by flying in at specific trajectories and launching a missile strike. You do this by flying through gates in the sky that are mapped out by your HUD.
[11:00] The demo is shown in what looks to be Rio de Janeiro, and features a dogfight in which the camera pans out to show both the target and the attacker engaged in combat. It looks very neat and sounds incredible, receiving a warm round of applause after the demo.
[11:03] EndWar next, and it's World War III in Paris! Everything that can be done in the game can be done via voice command, something which is being demoed onstage. The voice-command system seems to be working well, with commands such as "calling all gunships, retreat" controlling entire squads at once.
[11:06] Everything in the world is destructible, and supplies are delivered into the world via helicopter. The person giving the demo then launches an air strike to topple a group of enemies. Graphically, the game isn't as impressive as Hawx, but the voice-command element is an intriguing prospect. Ubisoft promises we can go hands-on and "mouth-on" with the game tomorrow.
[11:08] There'll be some crossover between the EndWar and Hawx universes, with units from Hawx available as support units in the strategy game. We're now being shown a trailer of the game that features more units and environments.
[11:09] That's it for the Tom Clancy games--Splinter Cell: Conviction is notable by its absence.
[11:10] But wait...it's the Raving Rabbids! What Ubidays presentation would be complete without them!? Maybe we'll find out next year...
[11:14] The demonstrator is using the Wii Fit board to show off Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party, the new game in the series. You ride a wildebeest down an ice run, shifting your weight on the board to move left and right. Tricks are performed by using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and moving them in different directions. You'll be able to post your scores online.
[11:16] We're now being asked to stand up and dance along to the music in the game. We would join in, but this live blog won't write itself.
[11:21] Next up: Shaun White Snowboarding. Shaun's onscreen talking about re-creating what it actually feels like to snowboard.
[11:23] The Ubisoft Montreal team is using the Assassin's Creed engine to build the game. We'll be able to play the game tomorrow on the PS3, Xbox 360, and the newly announced Wii version, which will use the Wii Fit Balance Board.
[11:25] Next up is Soul Calibur IV, which is coming to Europe via Ubisoft. We're looking at a new trailer, which shows the usual cast of characters alongside Yoda and Darth Vader.
[11:27] That's it for Soul Calibur IV--no mention of playable code at tomorrow's event. That's also it for the show, apart from one final guest: the CEO of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot.
[11:33] Guillemot says that we can expect to see James Cameron's Avatar--the publisher's first game using new 3D technology--in the middle of next year. We're ending on a trailer for a new game, one with an impressive graphics engine, particularly when it comes to the water reflectivity. A woman with an umbrella sits atop a broken-down hovercar in a desert setting. On the other side of the car, a resting man-sized pig sniffs in a fly, with thunderous noise echoing through the auditorium.
[11:35] It's apparently Beyond Good & Evil. The pig is presumably Pey'j, and he's counting the number of flies that he's snorting up through his nose (he's up to 51 by the end of the trailer). No confirmation on the game, just a short trailer showing off the game engine, which looks very advanced.
[11:37] That's it, folks! The Beyond Good & Evil teaser is the biggest new news of the event, although there's no announcement of release date, platforms, or even a title.