By Matt Cabral
Following Itagaki is certainly a frightening feat, so Microsoft was wise to switch gears from cool to charming by bringing legendary designer Peter Molyneux to the stage. While his presentation wasn't a gorgeously gory Gaiden-like spectacle, it did offer some cool new insight into Fable 2's genre-evolving ambitions.
First up, Mr. Molyneux introduced a gambling mini-game--sort of a craps/roulette hybrid--that could net adventurers some extra in-game currency. The sweet twist here is the game can be played standalone online, and winnings (or losses) will carry over to your campaign's character. And speaking of your adventuring avatar, Molyneux also revealed that gamers could play as a female protagonist, start a family--including becoming pregnant--, and invite others to visit your in-game relatives through drop-in-drop-out co-op. In a darkly amusing example of the game's heart-tugging potential, we watched as a co-op "buddy" entered Molyneux's adventure and unceremoniously killed his spouse. Molyneux pointed out the emotional realism of this by stressing that this polygonal loved one could not be brought back--better be careful who you invite into your virtual world.
With the hardware heavyweight building the buzz on its biggest '08 titles, it seemed an acceptable time to conclude the keynote; after all, they'd already produced more game-jonesing juice than their E3 '07 press conference. But as Schappert exited the stage, and countless attendees rose from their seats, Cliffy B's chainsaw bayonet-wielding silhouette appeared, signaling what many were hoping for a half hour earlier during Epic's tech demo: the return of the Locust Horde. Other than Gears 2 arriving in the fall, Cliffy and his teaser trailer offered zero information.
However, if that pre-Gears 2 reveal Unreal engine demo is any indication of the power behind Marcus Fenix's next outing, then we can expect hundreds of Locust to crowd the screen simultaneously, incredibly destructive environments--shooting a concrete wall will reveal the the steel frame underneath--and meat cubes. Yes, meat cubes; showing off some new Unreal tech, Epic had Marcus fending off an enormous three dimensional square of gelatinous meat. No word on whether or not said beef will appear in Gears 2, but we can always dream. And there's no doubt Microsoft's GDC presence has given us months worth of dreaming about great upcoming games. We're just wondering what they're saving for E3--could an Alan Wake tattoo be in Schappert's future?
CCC Freelance Writer