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Micromania Game Show: round-up

Since 2002, every year in France are organized the Micromania Game Shows. Micromania is in France the equivalent of Gamestop (and they eventually have been bought by Gamestop in October 2008), the biggest french video game retailer. Considering the huge profits and growth they make every year, they decided to create the Micromania Game Show, a similar event to E3 with few differences. The show is open to everyone and you can try on individual video game cabinet many games, especially upcoming ones with exclusive gameplay demos. Publishers can also have their own show area to give goodies, organize contests and present games.

This year, many games have been available. I spent all the day to test and watch many of them and I'll give you my impression on what I've seen and what I've tried. Games are classified in the alphabetic order:

- Alien versus Predator
(PC, PS3, Xbox 360): We've not been able to play it, it was only a demonstration made by presenters, but it was enough I guess. We had a preview of the Predator campaign and the Marine campaign. On Predator side, we still have the good old normal / human / alien vision, with several weapons including the infinite stealth camouflage, the claws, landmines, etc... But no longer that artifact that could heal your power. Now it's only boxes you find frequently on the ground. The Predator have many great and gory finishing moves and he can collect heads for gameplay purposes. On Marine side, it's still the same creepy game, with only your eyes and your radar which only detects movements, it's impressive to throw a flare and see an alien waiting patiently on the ceiling. However, on both sides the game is plagued by huge AI problems, with blind and deaf enemies. According to the presenters, it will be fixed in the final version. I hope so.

- Assassin's Creed 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): The game is a major disappointment. If people disliked the first one, then the second one risks to be worse. You don't see any technical improvement, I even have the feeling the game is lower than the first. Ok, you can take a gondola and swim, you can have a 10 second wet effect, but you don't feel so much improvements compared to the first. The ones who loved Assassin's Creed will love the second one as well, the ones who hated it for its repetitiveness and its challengeless gameplay will hate this one as well. Ubisoft also plan to air several short movies in France scheduled for the next month, where we will learn the story of Ezio's father.

- Avatar : The Game (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): Adapted from the upcoming Avatar, and as 95% of movie adaptation in video games, it's lame. You've played Lost Planet 2? Then you've played Avatar. Avatar is just a low Lost Planet-like, you even have mechas. The game is full of bugs and aliasing. You even have a dinosaur boss where you just have to wait under a tree and the boss will be blocked because of roots. Avoid it at all costs.

- Battlefield Bad Company 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): Very impressive technically, that's the first thing you say when you see it. The game has some aliasing on console versions, but the maps are huge, you still have a great equilibrium between vehicles and soldiers, environments are destructible... It will certainly be an awesome online game. As we only could play a LAN, I can't say much about the solo gameplay, but only for its online experience, it's worth a try.

- Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): Same as Battlefield Bad Company 2, we only had the right to play a LAN on one map, so I can't say much about the solo, but from what I've played, we feel exactly like in Modern Warfare. The game is smooth, even on consoles, but not technically impressive. I didn't notice much aliasing but I know it will be a great online game. We find back what we loved in Modern Warfare with some improvements, too bad the game haven't evolved much technically.

- Dante's Inferno (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): EA's God of War is a God of War made by EA. Really. You could put Kratos instead of Dante, you wont see the difference. The game is polished, no aliasing or collision bug, as always flying enemies are the worst to kill, you have HUGE bosses, the chara-design reminds me Dead Space, with many tortured and disgusting enemies, but not as much "psychology-oriented" as Silent Hill series. However, I felt the game was quite hard. Not as hard as Ninja Gaiden series but you shouldn't do mistakes if you want to live. It can be a great game if it's not too short.

- Darksiders : Wrath of War (PS3, Xbox 360): It's been a while I was waiting for it. Darksiders is another God Of War-like where you are one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a little guy with a huge sword in a hellish world. And honestly, I really love the design. The characters, the enemies, the weapons, the levels, the special effects, everything. The game is absolutely not original, where you win powers that are absolutely not original either, but like Brütal Legend, its charm is mostly due to its very detailed design. I've not been able to play it but I'm still pumped about this game, disregard a so long wait.

- Dragon Ball Z : Raging Blast (PS3, Xbox 360): I think Spike wanted to give a similar experience to Budokai 2. The gameplay is a Tenkaichi, yes, but they also give characters and events that don't exist in the series. How can Gogeta fights against Vegeto in Story mode, seriously? Vegeta and Broly Super Sayan 3? Why did you do that? Why not Nappa or Radditz Super Sayan? However, I think Raging Blast is still the closest to the series. The animations, the kameha duels, the techniques names (it's a typically french problem. In french DBZ series, "kameha" has been translated to "wavy wave", "makkankosappo" to "magic needle attack")... And I pretty much enjoyed it BUT I still advise people to wait to see the full roster. So far, only 20 characters were unlocked and half of them were useless (you know, Krilin, 3 character slots for Gohan, Yamcha, Tenshinhan,...). So I'd rather wait to see who will be available before trying to be interested in the game.

- Fairytales Fight (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): You probably never heard about that game but it had a bigger show area than Dragon Age : Origins. But even with that, forget about that game. Really. The concept seemed cool, with fairytale characters killing people à la Fat Princess with huge amount of blood, but the blood is probably the only quality of the game.

- Final Fantasy : The Crystal Bearers (Wii): Square Enix gave us a quick look at their upcoming Final Fantasy game. I really like the main character, but the other ones feel a bit generic and their chara-design is somehow quite special. The game seems very action-oriented, with mini-games everywhere and hollywood-like scenes (like navigating a high speed ship in a canyon or a chocobo chase) but the exploration seems plagued by camera difficulties. Backgrounds are nice, even if the game isn't the best Wii can do but seem a bit generic. However, in 15 minutes, i haven't seen any battle. It's a Final Fantasy, where are my random battles !? So i can't say anything about it, sorry.

- God Of War III (PS3): Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome. How much is it awesome? It's awesome. It's been so long I haven't played a God of War, but still I've kept the player mechanics. The game is beautiful, smooth, bloody and gory as hell, it's a God of War. It surely doesn't bring much to the series, but it's far enough good and beautiful to not care about feeling it could be on PS2.

- Gran Turismo 5 (PS3): There were very few ways to play GT5 as Sony only installed driving simulator machines and no gaming cabinet, so I don't know how does it play, but according to players' smiles, it felt really awesome. Visually, the game is smooth, very well detailed, great lights,... As for the damages, I don't know, all the games were in cockpit view, but according to the players I've interviewed, you do heavily feel the damages when driving. Everyone was fair players, so unable to talk about the physics limits (for barrel rolls for example).

- Heavy Rain (PS3): For the first time we have been able to play it, feel it, see it. So let's begin with the graphical part: it's not as much wonderful as the hype wants. Yes, it is beautiful, the art style is good, but it's not a Crysis on PS3. Only a game visually superior to the average. In terms of gameplay, the game is separated (so far) with two kind of progression. On a side a (probably too much) sophisticate Matrix-like investigation, on another side the (in)famous Quick Time Events. You know how it works, what is awesome is that you can miss the button or the combination, but the scene will continue and consider you only failed it. It can be a great story-telling game, but be careful; the gameplay is very... special.

- Just Dance (Wii): Yes, it sounds weird but I really wanted to talk about that game, mostly because there was several booth babes sweating on this game, giving us a great show... So basically, It's a Guitar Hero with your body. Will we see similar game at Natal launch? I don't know. You have a character in the middle of the screen showing you the choreography to execute on the song, and you have to reproduce it. But somehow, even if I know I will never play it, it was pretty interesting. You have a daughter that loves dancing? Then Just Dance will be great for her, and the soundtrack was really good as well (at least far better than Band Hero. My god, I can't be possible to put so much crap in a game).

- Left4Dead 2 (PC, Xbox 360): You've played Left4Dead? Then you already have played Left4Dead 2. On both PC and Xbox 360, there was no gameplay or technical improvement, there's still much aliasing on Xbox 360, you still feel playing Half Life 2, there are the same zombie mechanics and the new bosses are not really innovative. And honestly, playing on sunbathed maps deletes all the few creepy moments you could have in Left4Dead. But people who enjoyed L4D will love L4D2 as well, as it's only more of the same. But paying 70€ for this? No thanks.

- Muramasa : The Demon Blade (Wii): Not released yet in Europe, the game has been developed by Odin Sphere creators, and you feel it. It's 2D, it's smooth, it's beautiful but -aw- it's hard. I didn't get why my sword always broke and how to avoid those filthy bamboos, but if you loved and completed Odin Sphere, then you're hardcore enough to get Muramasa.

- Splinter Cell : Conviction (PC, Xbox 360): My biggest disappointment of the show, to be fair. Ubisoft only gave us a gameplay presentation but it was long enough to see what's wrong with the game. So Splinter Cell is no longer "infiltration action", it's "action infiltration". First, the game is ugly. There's a huge load of aliasing, the level-design is very linear (disregard what Ubi say about "the open space") and not really original. The game is also plagued by huge AI problems. For example you want to kill an enemy, but he've seen you just before you kill him. He shoots then he dies. But his buddy just behind him didn't hear anything, as he have been killed silently. There can be a gunfight on a room, guards on the other room wont hear anything. And in order to explain lack of AI, Ubisoft also implemented a sneak feature. Remember the agro, in Army of Two? It's the same in Conviction. An enemy see you and shoot, then you move around sneaking, but thanks to your silhouette he will still believe you're over there and he wont move, only shoot. And the "mark & kill" tag method is the worst feature i've seen in a game. You select up to 3 people, you kill silently one of them and automatically Sammy will silently kill the other ones with his gun. Splinter Cell Conviction became very casual.

- Tekken 6 (PS3, Xbox 360): As we say in France, it's "mi figue, mi raisin" (half fig, half grape). I love Tekken series but it didn't evolve much. Tekken 5 was awesome as it gave customization, online play and 1080p display, but Tekken 6 doesn't even reach 720p, you have a load of aliasing. You still have customizations, fighter ranks and new characters (Alisa Bosconovitch is the most unfair character I've ever played) and you have a story mode similar to Tekken Force, which is almost unplayable. But honestly, when you remember when Tekken 6 was announced for the very first time, when we saw a gorgeous Jin sweating and fighting in the dark, and now when you see this... You can only be disappointed by such downgrade in the series.

- The Saboteur (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): I've been waiting for something about this game since 2 years. And what I've played was a cruel disappointing. One of the most disappointing game I've played in the show, with another one.... So basically, it's an open-world game set in World War II in France. You have to deliver territories from Nazi occupation. The game is mostly in black and white, excepted Nazis which are displayed with a massive red aura, and the background get colors only if there is no longer Nazi threat around. It seemed cool but it's just meh. A bit like The Godfather 2, yes it's eventually a nice game but it's far below our expectations, disregard the black and white filter. You just feel playing another generic game.

They were there but not enough:
- Lego Indiana Jones 2;
- Blur (or was it Split/Second? Or Crash Time 3?);
- Dark Void;
- Rogue Warrior;
- Just Cause 2;
- Final Fantasy XIII;
- Dragon Age Origins;
- M.A.G.;
- EyePet;
- Invizimals;

Final thoughts:
- Edge (the wrestler) is far smaller than on TV, he seems pretty common actually;
- I won a Halo 3 Legendary Edition during a video game knowledge contest;
- Sony's PSP Go promoting way is pathetic, seriously;
- There was a booth babe in God of War area and i still don't know why;
- The Madison booth babe was lovely ?
- Square Enix are the worst in terms of communication and masses attractiveness;
- I won a limited edition Zelda figurine for Spirit Tracks;
- I won a snooker game on PS3...... greaaaaaaat...........

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