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Activision approaches transition year with solid games lineup

July 15, 2008

Activision approaches “transition year” with solid games lineup
Michael Lafferty

Publisher disdains conventional E3 appearance but puts on a press conference

Activision did not attend E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, but that didn’t stop the third-party developer and publisher from taking advantage of the collected media to host a press conference.

Five titles were on display at the event, which did not include any hands-on opportunities. Three titles had recently been shown at an event in Los Angeles in last June – Call of Duty: World at War, Quantum of Solace and Guitar Hero: World Tour. Additionally, the company gave looks at Spider-man: Web of Shadows and Wolfenstein.

Nelson Diaz (actor, comedian and video-game enthusiast) hosted the event. His energy was at a high level, but he quickly surrendered the stage to Activision president and CEO, Mike Griffiths, who stated that “this is a transformation year for both the gaming industry and Activision.”

“Activision Blizzard creates the world’s most profitable world-wide publisher,” he said. “We have games that appeal to hard-core games and games that appeal to mass market audiences.” He noted that with the merger with Blizzard, Activision is three times larger than it was a year ago.

Griffiths talked about new games on the horizon including Singularity, a new IP that pits shooter and sci-fi fans against the concept of time, and is being developed by Raven Software. The game will be published on all major platforms. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion features 24 major superheroes with Vicarious Visions developing it. Players can use fusion powers to create new and customized superhero powers.

Movie tie-ins continue to be a driving force with Raven, in association with Fox and Marvel, also working on Marvel Origins: Wolverine. There is a Hugh Jackman film in production featuring Wolverine as the lead character. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the sequel to Transformers: The Game.

Mark Lamia, head of Treyarch, was on hand to talk about Call of Duty: World at War and announced that Keifer Sutherland will voice one of the main characters in the game. Trailers were the order of the evening, with some of the segments featuring captured in-game video, but nothing was live, with the exception of the Neversoft guys performing with the new GH: World Tour equipment. It was slipped that the new James Bond game, Quantum of Solace, will have multiplayer, and musical celebrities joined Diaz on stage to talk about the new Guitar Hero title.

Plus 44 drummer (former drummer for Blink-182) Travis Barker, tested the drum kit in the new World Tour title and said the drums were really realistic to playing the drums. Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams, another GH fan, has a song in the game and talked about how weird and cool it was to see her likeness featured in the Neversoft title.

Chris Sholz, from Shaba Games, the development studio working on Spider-man: Web of Shadows, told the assembled media that they were working with a new IP in which New York is overwhelmed with alien symbiotes.

According to the Activision press release: Set in an apocalyptic New York City, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows gives players an unprecedented level of gameplay choices, including, for the first time, control over the game’s direction and outcome.  The all new combat system allows for truly three dimensional battles that start in the streets, continue up sides of buildings and finish on rooftops.  Gamers can instantly switch between the agile red suit and formidable black suit, choose to ally with Marvel’s honored heroes or ferocious villains, pick which of Spider-Man’s abilities to upgrade, and decide which missions to undertake in order to protect Manhattan from certain destruction.

“We feel we’ve really captured for the player what they expect how Spider-man would fight.” Scholz said.

“Another essential tenet we have is allowing the player to control how they want to fight,”
he said. “We have a robust upgrade system that allows the player to become the hero they want to be.”

“There are decisions that have to be made in the game that have consequences,” he also noted.

Wolfenstein makes its return

Todd Hollenshead, of id Software, gave the barest of trailer snippets for Wolfenstein, which is making its return. In the new title, Nazis working to open up a portal to a thing called the Shroud. BJ has to learn about and understand the Shroud. Id is working with Raven on the project and the action will center on a mysterious cult trying to open up a portal to The Shroud. The game will have a multiplayer component that is team based and objective driven.

While a lot of what Activision showed was not necessarily new, it was still an entertaining night with solid games. And the company showed that it did not really need E3 as a venue to have a successful event.

For All E3 2008 News and Announcements




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