Get your game on
Ahead of one of the biggest festivals, a game designer gives four exciting picks a workout
We are inside an almost stranded office that belongs to a games distributor. A life-size Lara Croft greets us into its environs and the empty tables inside are adorned with various other action figures, too. Gaming controls and wires lie idly strewn across polished tables in the centre of a spacious conference room.
Its walls are lined with several accolades and awards. But our eyes are fixed on the large screen connected to a PS4. We are here to preview a few games that will be on offer at the Indian Games Expo, 2018, touted as India's largest gaming hub, and our guide for the evening is 30-year-old game designer Nikhil Taode, for whom gaming isn't just a profession.
ON: November 24 and 25, 11am to 6pm
AT: Indian Games Expo, Nesco Compound, Goregaon East.
LOG ON TO: gamesexpo.in (to register)
Hitman 2 is the seventh series of the popular role playing (RPG) and stealth video game developed by a Copenhagen-based company. Players have the option of choosing levels wherein they are typecast into the game's protagonist, Agent 47.
At all levels, the agent is on a mission to chase and hunt shadow clients in a bid to oust their militia. "The level I played was called Murder in Mumbai. It was a lot of fun," Taode shares, adding, "I loved the attention to detail and the way they have portrayed Mumbai. There were kaali-peelis and the NPCs (non-playable characters) were quite realistic.
They had dialogues like 'eh bhidu' and they even staged an accident to emulate chaos on Indian roads, so it made me feel like I was really in Bombay." Though a lot of fun, Taode cautions that this one's a tad difficult and thus ideal for skilled gamers who enjoy being challenged in different ways. "I noticed that the sniper did not have auto-target, so I had to use the controls to aim manually. In this version, you can also create distractions. For example, the player can orchestrate an oil leak in one of the vehicles in order to remain inconspicuous. The head-up displays (HUD) were great too," Taode elaborates.
Fact check: The game has elusive targets and the first one to be announced is Sean Bean aka Ned Stark from the epic fantasy series Game of Thrones.
Taode isn't a fan of sports games. Naturally then, WWE 2K19 isn't the highlight of this evening. Even so, he's willing to give credit where it's due. "The main challenge for a good sports game is to predict, on the basis of what the players are doing, and nail the commentary. In this version they seem to have done a pretty good job of that.
Also, in the previous editions, the crowd in the game primarily served as the background, but with this one, they have put more thought into it, assigning each attendee different actions to boost the player's morale. It seems to me that the designers conducted intense research by attending actual competitions and observing the crowds at the arenas," he shares, adding that a game like this is best enjoyed with two players. "For me, the biggest drawback was that I wasn't aware of all the moves in this version and you can either master it by studying and researching or by playing rigorously to perfect them," he adds.
Fact check: This roster is the largest in the series. The updated line-up of superstars includes current wrestlers and women from Raw and Smack Down, and superstars from NXT. It also features legends and Hall of Famers from WWE,WCW, and ECW.
An epic affair
Another RPG, Assassin's Creed is a world-famous action-adventure video game wherein the players get to slip into epic characters. Speaking about the latest version of the game, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, Taode tells us, "This version is different because it has multiple elements of role play. The older assassins would do things to change the course of history, but with this assassin they have added newer role-playing systems. They have re-designed and re-structured the game to imitate the fantasy action film 300."
For Taode, one of the most intriguing features of the game, as a designer himself, is the addition of the open-world aspect. "They have done a spectacular job with the sound. When I was swimming I could actually hear whales. It's mind-blowing," he explains, adding, "It spoke to the player and put them directly in action, guiding him on how to use the weapons. They have also upgraded the costume to a proper armour." However, a hand dagger that appears out of the cuff and allows the player to stealthily kill opponents is a key feature of the game that Taode didn't notice. "Another interesting element was the option to choose between a male (Alexios) or a female (Kassandra) protagonist which wasn't there before because the game followed a very different format, but this is being touted as the best version so far," he reveals.
Fact check: If you get the broken spear of Leonidas, King of Sparta, you get access to abilities so you can upgrade and adapt them according to your style of playing.
Even for non-gamers, Lara Croft, the protagonist in Shadow of the Tomb Raider - possibly one of the most popular action-adventure RPGs out there - is a common name and an iconic female action figure.
"The graphics in this game are spectacular. Even though the previous version had a PS4 variant, this one is way more balanced," Taode tells us. "The format follows a linear path leading you to hidden objects that aid you in the different missions in the game. This helps build excitement as you proceed through the levels" he elucidates. While for many the craft in the game is what's exciting, it's the action that kept Taode tied to the chair which points toward how this edition has more elements of stealth that allow Lara to use the environment to her advantage.
Fact check: In SOTTR, Lara Croft explores environments across the continent of South America.
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