The NextGen Player team was at the Xbox X'08 CANADA event that was held a few days ago to preview and demo some of the hottest games coming out for the Xbox 360 later this fall and for the holiday season. We've sacrificed our time (ya, right...) so that we could share all the goodies with you...our valued readers.
The next game I checked out was Naruto: The Broken Bond by Ubisoft. For any of you who are anime fans will know Naurto and most definitely will know or probably have played Ubisoft's first Naruto game called Naruto: Rise of a Ninja. Broken Bond is the much awaited sequel to the original game and more importantly continues the Naruto storyline as you play through it. Stephane Cardin who is the producer took the time to walk me through a demo of the game and point out some key features and improvements. The same great 3D cell animated graphics are back and look better than ever. In addition, the environments are vast and more explorable. Aside from being able to run around in the village of Konoha, you can now explore the forests outside of Konoha as well as another village. Another key change is that teamwork is now part of the game. You get to take control of 3 characters and can switch between them when playing. This is useful of course as certain characters have certain abilities that will come in handy when advancing through the game. In battles, you can pull of special moves that require assistance from a teammate for greater impact. Finally, a big new addition is that all the original voice acting and music from the anime have been incorporated into the game. A huge plus for Naruto and anime fans looking forward to this game. Naruto Broken Bond is scheduled for an October release.
Next up is Tomb Raider Underworld. The game's graphics seemed fairly similar to that of Legend. The demo took place in the Thailand level and immediately the richly detailed and vast environment brought back memories of the original Tomb Raider game. As soon as I was done reminiscing, Lara was being attacked by a couple of tigers that she had to eliminate. Oh...more flashbacks. While battling the tigers, Lara's new gun play mechanics were demonstrated. You can now use both guns to lock on and shoot separate targets. Very cool. While hanging off a cliff or ledge, Lara can shoot at enemies as well. Another key addition to Lara's repertoire of moves is the ability to perform wall jumps. Think Super Mario. Some new weapons such as the sticky grenade were shown off. Lara can also further interact with the environment around her with introduction of "portables". Portables are items that Lara can pick up and use as a weapon or as a means to solve a puzzle or to help her get to an out-of-reach spot. All in all, this latest iteration of the Tomb Raider franchise looks to be promising. Look for it in mid November.
Lastly, the big game everyone is waiting for...Gears of War 2. I was able to get some much important time in the multiplayer mode. The type of game that was going on was similar to capture the flag where the objective is to take control of the flag for as much time as possible. While playing, all of the basic game play from the original was easy to get used to and a few new features such as using an injured enemy as a shield or a chainsaw battle between lancers added so much more enjoyment. Graphics are stunning and audio is crisp and clear. And as before, taking out the enemy is spectacularly gruesome. With the first Gears of War having been executed so well, it is probably safe to say that the folks at Epic Games have another winner on their hands. I guess time will tell later this fall.
There are much others that I haven't touched on, but doing so would have me take up more real estate on this page than I can afford. That said, NextGen Player is confident that the fall 08 line up of games for the Xbox 360 will be strong one. So save up your hard earned cash as you'll likely ante up for many of them when they come out.