Taking up a good chunk of floor space at X’08 was Disney’s presentation area for their upcoming off-road, trick racing video game Pure. After the game rep showed off a few of the tracks and explained the controls to pull off some sick aerial tricks I was anxious to get my hands on the game myself. This was one of the most fun games I managed to get some hands on time with at X’08. Large wide open dirt tracks, insane jumps that can launch you somewhere near the stratosphere, intense racing action, and about 70 tricks you can pull off mid-air, Pure seems to have all the elements one could want in an off-road racing game. The environments were realistically detailed and quite colorful. The characters, ATVs and game animations looked great. The game runs very smooth and the controls are quite friendly. With 16 players able to race online and loads of customization options this game is gonna amount to a lot of fun for a lot of people over the holidays.
Tomb Raider Underworld
I’m a Tomb Raider fan though I’ve found the series getting kinda stale in recent years. So as I approached the demo of Tomb Raider Underworld I kept my fingers crossed that this title would be able to revitalize my interest in the series. The demo of the game showed of an early build of the game but quite easily I could see the improvements the developers made. The jungle environment looked incredible lush and detailed complete with interactively moving foliage and a significant draw distance. Not since Drake’s Uncharted Fortune had I been so impressed with a rendered jungle environment. But even more impressive was how much more fluid and life-like was Laura Croft’s animations thanks to, as the game rep explained proudly, a great amount of motion capture done with gymnastics champion Heidi Moneymaker. It was just beautiful watching Laura Croft traverse the environment with such grace.
A few other features worth mentioning is the dynamic environment that “remembers” the actions that have taken place upon it. Back track and you’ll see the footprints you made, the rock you kicked over, the baddies you killed, etc. down to the smallest detail. The game rep also showed off how the new grapple hook can be deployed at anytime for any reason no longer requiring you to need a special environmental instance to be used. There will be about seven unique levels one of which is underwater and...Oh look a shark! Very cool. If you were getting bored with the Tomb Raider series I believe Underworld may very well peek your interest again.
Viva Pinata 2: Trouble In Paradise
I’m a big Viva Pinata fan and had hoped that Rare would come out with a sequel that not only solved some of the gameplay issues of the first game but also include the features I wished the original game had as well. I’m happy to say that Viva Pinata 2: Trouble in Paradise does just that. Visually the game only looks slightly better than the original but there are a whole lot more pinatas, decorative objects and environments to play with. There is a new free play mode that makes the game kid friendly while the regular mode is intricate enough to satisfy the many adult fans of the original Viva Pinata. An interesting new feature of note is the ability to travel to a new land outside your garden and lure and trap pinatas to bring back to your garden. You can also trade and pick up new pinatas by using a readable card system via the Xbox Live Cam.
Other features new to Viva Pinata includes 2 person Co-Op, the ability to take snapshots of your garden and pinatas and upload them for your friends to see, as well you can now train your pinatas to do tricks and interact with each other beyond the standard food chain. If you are looking for some peaceful downtime after long hours of chainsawing Locusts in Gears Of War 2 I say give Viva Pinata 2 a try. It’ll retail for about $10 cheaper than regular Xbox 360 titles so I think it’s worth having in your game library.
Well that’s about it for my coverage of X’08. Other games you may want to look into would include NHL 09 which has 6 vs 6 online multiplayer, the new Rock Band 2 with improved peripherals and an awesome line-up of new tunes to rock out on, and perhaps what will be one of the best XBLA offerings this year Castle Crashers.