Matt Kamen reports on Europe’s great gaming event
For European gamers – and several from much farther afield – no event holds as much allure as Gamescom. The German event attracts around 285,000 fans to the city of Cologne each year, promising glimpses of the latest and most exciting video games on the planet.
Gamescom 2012 proved to be of particular interest to fans of Asian entertainment. Not only was there the expected presence of Japanese gaming giants such as Sony and Capcom, but South Korea was the official partner country for the event, providing a huge focus on titles from the increasingly influential nation. Given Koreans’ national obsession with online gaming – Blizzard’s Starcraft and World of Warcraft enjoying particular devotion there – it’s little surprise that much of the focus was on massively multiplayer online RPGs, such as TERA and “anti fairy tale” Dragon Gem. There was even a hint of Blade & Soul, currently one of the most popular MMOs in Korea and China, getting a European release soon – one to keep an eye on.
But what of those Japanese titles? Namco Bandai impressed crowds with a final advance look at Tekken Tag Tournament 2, a long-awaited follow-up to the PlayStation 2 original from 2000. Boasting appearances from over 50 fighters from across the franchise’s storied history. Also on display was the upcoming PS3 RPG Ni no Kuni: Wrath of White Witch, a gorgeous-looking game sure to please anime fans thanks to the involvement of Studio Ghibli in its development.
The Osaka-based Capcom displayed more of a western influence in its offerings, however, with both Lost Planet 3 (developed by the Californian studio Spark Unlimited) and Resident Evil 6 focusing more on high-octane shootouts with sci-fi and horror twists. The re-imagined Devil May Cry, DmC – developed by the UK’s own Ninja Theory – retains a lot of Japanese flair though, with a flurry of weird ideas and striking visuals to match its zippy combat. The redesign of series lead Dante remains contentious for some but this is seriously worth a look when it launches in January. Capcom also unveiled the brand new Remember Me, an ambitious cyberpunk thriller dealing with memory hacking that seems as inspired by Ghost in the Shell as it is Total Recall.
Meanwhile, Sony injected the slow-selling PlayStation Vita with a raft of new titles, notably the potentially ground-breaking Tearaway. Developed by the same studio as Little Big Planet, Media Molecule, Tearaway drops players into a craft paper world that they can rip apart and reconstruct at will. It promises the same alluring mix of charm and innovation as its proverbial big brother, along with a raft of gameplay and content creation options that are only possible on the advanced handheld.
Above all, the most impressive sight of any Gamescom is the sheer, unbridled passion of its attendees. Unlike the American E3, the public is invited to the German show, many eagerly waiting upwards of nine hours to try out some of the most anticipated titles. Cosplayers roam the halls in abundance, while the outdoors areas of the enormous Koelnmesse centre enjoy a party atmosphere as rides and exhibitions take over. Such is the popularity and impact of the event, there’s even a street festival supporting it, boasting live music and performances throughout Cologne.
Gamescom is now the world’s largest and most successful games fair. Showcasing the limitless scope of gaming as a medium that demonstrably caters to all tastes, it’s easy to see why.