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Games Convention 2004: An Overview
Myrthos, 2004-09-27

This year I visited the Games Convention in Leipzig again. It is, as far as I know, the biggest of its kind in Europe. This year it attracted over 100.000 visitors, which might not be much compared to something like E3, but by European measures it's a lot for a games show. On the Saturday it was a mad house - The Leipzig fair was simply not suited to handle the massive amount of visitors on that day. It took close to 10 minutes to go from one hall to the other, due to the very small entrances and pathways. I knew I shouldn't have gone on the weekend as that is always the worst time to visit these events, but this year it could not be arranged in another way.

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It was so crowded that it took close to 10 minutes to get from one hall to the other.  

There were a lot of games on display but as usual only a few of them were RPGs and due to some bad preparation from my side (I decided to go only a couple of days before the fair) and lack of time, I did not have that many appointments. This meant I didn't have too many articles to write, which in a sense turned out to be a good thing as my vacation started right after the fair. Besides articles about The Fall, Saga of Ryzom, Knightshift 2 and a series of screens from World of Warcraft there were some other noticeable games that are listed in this article. But before we get to that….

The Games Convention has its share of booth babes. I'm not going to bother you with a series of pictures of them as I am sure that you are not interested in them ……... So instead I present you with a photo of the Neocron 2 poster and some booth dudes that looked like they stepped out of a movie.

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No... the poster behind her... Neocron 2 is here. There were also some booth dudes...

There were several adventures to be found but I doubt any of the publishers had more on display than DTP who are one of the few that believe there is a big market for adventures of high quality. Two of them have already been discussed in previous articles from Gorath -- The Moment of Silence and Sherlock Holmes. In addition to these two they also publish Ni-Bu-Ru, an adventure made by the creators of The Black Mirror, where an archeology student plays a leading part. The game is not to be released earlier than 2005 and only in the German speaking countries and half a year later in other countries, if all goes well.

As to the other two adventures there is not much more that I can add to the articles from Gorath, except that The Moment of Silence might be released on DVD only, which is a step not many publishers take at the moment.

Dungeon Lords
DTP is also the publisher for Dungeon Lords, a game based on a world and stories created by D.W. Bradley. For some more detailed info you can check this recent article by Gorath. Dungeon Lords tries to appeal to both the hard-core RPG fan and the player that is more interested in the action part than fiddling around with the parameters. As far as these parameters goes, Dungeon Lord tries to achieve this dual approach by implementing a one-click button that distributes the acquired points to the various stats based on the class the player chooses at the start, for those that just want action and not a RPG. Whether this actually works out, remains to be seen. The game looks very interesting though and I only hope that the mixture of an RPG with an action game doesn't end up with being an action game with some stats thrown in.

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Microsoft had a big lineup of XBox games.
Naturally, there were many console games on just as many consoles - mostly PS2, XBox and GameBoy - but RPG's were hard to find on them. I could have missed one or two, due to the large amount of console games present but as the combination of consoles and RPGs always have been troublesome it is not very likely. Atari showed Demon Stone on a PS2, which is apparently also being ported to the PC.

Microsoft had three RPGs for the Xbox on display. First in line was Sudeki, a game that has been for announced for some time and has been released in some territories. However, Sudeki plays more like an action-adventure than an RPG, as the description suggests. Sudeki has a team of two male and two female characters. The female characters dress in the typical anime style, which means life is not only hard on them but must also be very cold with so few clothes to wear. The story is even thinner: it's ‘save the world' time again.

The graphics of the games are very good and is especially noticeable in the battles - perhaps the best part of the game. I doubt the die-hard RPG player will find much of interest in Sudeki: the RPG parameters are too few and not too interesting. Still, if you like a good action-adventure with some RPG elements, then Sudeki might fill up a couple of evenings.

The Bard's Tale
Another interesting title on the Xbox was The Bard's Tale. Old time RPG players most likely played the original and generally speak with high regards about it. Now it has been brought back to life by inXile who are making not only console versions but also a PC version of the game. The idea of playing a rogue whose most interesting ability is to lay his hands on someone -- not to heal them but to kill and rob them -- sounds like a fun idea.

Unfortunately I couldn't get the game to play for more than 2 minutes: it crashed frequently and always at different spots. This kills the fun quickly and it is a mystery to me why Microsoft decided to make this game available for people to play, as it is bad advertising. Fortunately the fine looking ladies on the stand could do more than just look handsome - they at least were able to unlock the door behind which the Xbox was hidden and reset it, so that I could have a few more tries with it. Still I wish I could say something meaningful about the game instead...

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Darth Vader made his presence. Luke parked his wings here too.

And then there was Fable: Peter Molyneux's long awaited title for the Xbox. The game was shown on 6 big plasma widescreens and on one small screen - I have to say that it looks awesome on a widescreen. The graphics look great and the game plays well, too. There was not enough time to play it for too long, but I guess I have enough time to play it at home, now that it is released.

The game starts out with you as a boy, who is living happily with his family in a small village. You get your first quest in this early part, which consists of buying a birthday present. You raise money from others by performing some good deeds, allowing you to buy the present but before you can hand it over, the home of your family is raided and everyone, except you, is killed. A stranger, who leads you to an academy where you will be trained in combat and other matters, eventually rescues you. While there you learn the controls and grow older from a young boy into a young man, while performing several quests. You can be a good person and finish the academy or behave badly and eventually get thrown out of the academy. This is as much I played but I can say that the game plays very smoothly and had me hooked to the screen for a long time, longer than I could afford as I was late for my next appointment, making it impossible to play both as a good and a bad boy or grow up very much. It must, however, be very interesting to see the boy grow up and eventually even get married and have children. How often do you see that happen in a game?

Dungeon Siege 2
Another RPG on the Microsoft stand was not an Xbox game, but a PC game named Dungeon Siege 2. I was eager to find out first hand if this game was more of an RPG than its predecessor. Unfortunately it crashed too frequently to find out - besides the great looking graphics and the focus on combat there is not a lot I can say about it. Again it made me wonder though why Microsoft chooses to have the game shown in this state at a fair visited by so many people. I'd rather wait a while for a playable version before commenting about it and finding out if this second version actually is an RPG or not.

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One of the most popular games is 'catch what I throw'.

Wrapping things up
At the end of the visit the only thing waiting for me was a 6-hour drive home. I toyed with the idea of queuing up for another go at Fable but that would make it midnight before I made it home, so I decided not to do that again. I don't doubt that Fable will become a hit but I also hope that The Fall from Silver Style delivers what it promises and finds a large number of people wanting to play it.

As to new online games, there was of course World of Warcraft, another game that will probably be a hit on the day it is available. I also saw Saga of Ryzom and was impressed with that game (a bit more than I was with WoW). I must admit I didn't play the online games myself and only saw them in action while being played by others but I do hope the friendly guys from Nevrax are actually delivering the game I expect them to make from the impression they gave me.

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