This editor was very pleased to see the return of the Wolfenstein franchise. Todd Hollinshead of id Software introduced the new title, touting the return of BJ Blackowitz and a characteristically outlandish story about Nazis opening a portal to another dimension called the Shroud. While it will still feature a full single player campaign, the multi-player will be a major component, and heavily inspired by the Enemy Territory games. The segment ended with an all too brief trailer that showed precious little.
It should come as no surprise that the big closer for the night's events was Guitar Hero: World Tour, the new competitor for Harmonix's Rock Band. The Guitar Hero franchise has played a massive part it putting Activision on top, and it certainly isn't relishing the idea of letting their competition surpass them. As many of you already know, the latest in the series will be bringing drums, bass guitar, and singers into the mix, but at the press conference we got to see just what they had in store for these instruments.
While Neversoft's Brian Wright emphasized that the new game would be perfectly backward compatible with old guitars, there seemed to be plenty of incentive to check out the new one. The new slide bar on the fret board was the most obvious difference, allowing players to slide their fingers fluidly up and down the lower part of the neck. There is also a new tilt feature built into the controller, as well as a new knob, though we didn't get a good chance to see how they'd be used. Wright also showed off the new drums proudly. The layout with three drum pads and two cymbals seems like a step up from Rock Band, but still less ambitious than Konami's Rock Revolution. Most interestingly, he showed that the drums had a MIDI port on the back that would allow any MIDI drum set to be used in the game, as well as offering some expandability.
Things moved in a somewhat unexpected direction with a demonstration of the new "studio" mode, which turns Guitar Hero into a full-fledged music sequencing tool, allowing you to create your own music from scratch. The tools seemed robust to say the least with a huge variety of sounds, tools, and options. They also played up the inclusion of various "machines" that would allow you to fudge your way through different licks without playing every note. These would be available with plenty of customizable options for all of the instruments in the game. The studio mode packs a surprising amount of depth, though it remains to be seen if it will still be accessible enough to get anything done.
There is a very interesting battle of the bands shaping up between three giants of the music game business. We were impressed to see Activision trying to push the series forward in the right ways, but the title wasn't playable at the press event, nor at the E3 show itself (since Actvision was not in attendance) so it remains to be seen if they'll be able to reclaim their former glory.
CCC Game Journalist