On Wednesday 12th March we had the Video game BAFTAs, held at the London Tobacco Dock. This year was a bit different as well as the awards ceremony was opened up for members of the public to attend. The whole affair was split into two sections. First up was the Inside Gaming event during which you could get to have a go on some forthcoming big titles and talk to some of the developers. Amongst the titles to play were Titanfall, Metal Gear Solid : Ground Zeroes, Murdered : Soul Suspect, Infamous : Second Son, and Elite : Dangerous. Even better were the queues or rather, the lack of queues.
First up, I had a go on Second Son. Having only played the first Infamous for a few hours a while ago, I had only a fleeting glimpse of what I could expect from this fourth outing in the Infamous franchise. To be fair I’m not totally sure on what build we were playing here as the game that I’ve heard so much about graphically, didn’t quite look like the PS4 loveliness I’ve come to expect from other titles. That’s not to say it doesn’t look good because it does. It just didn’t wow me as much as I was expecting. I’ll reserve true judgement however until the games actual release as this could still have been an earlier build. Game play wise however, yes, it does seem to handle quite well. We got the cut scene with the two brothers arguing over what is to be done with Fetch, a conduit. There’s a choice to redeem or corrupt her and then came the actual mission. First you go to some docks, identify some buildings so Fetch can launch conduit hell upon them and then both beat up some bad guys. All in a days work for most superheroes. Devlin can take various powers from the area around him, such as neon lights and smoke stacks for their related powers. So it’s not just electricity this time. Second Son promises to be quite big with more than enough to do and keep you entertained for a while, and to be fair this demo did a good job at hinting at that. There were a couple of downsides that I had found. First was if Devlin somehow managed to land in the water (which I managed on several occasions), he couldn’t seem to swim. A quick press on the touch pad had him respawning on the nearest shore point. This was a particular confusion for several other players too. I did see one particular guy hand the controller to someone else stating that he thought it had crashed on him. I’m guessing he just didn’t see the touchpad icon. But to the point, why can Devlin Rowe not swim? At least let the shoreline respawn be only an option if you’re bored of treading water. The second down point was the use of duplicated cut scenes. I had to mark 3 different buildings and each one had the same shot of Devlin spray painting the “camera”. Two of the buildings had people inside I needed to set free before I could mark them. We then get a duplicated cut scene of opening a door and letting out some ladies of ill repute. Neither of these down points are game killers by any means, it just would have been nice to have mixed things up a little with those cut scenes and give swimming lessons a chance. I do have to reiterate, this could have been an earlier build of the game. I’m still looking forward to this Friday to play Second Son properly, regardless.
Right after that I joined the queue for Titanfall, despite it being released a couple of days later there was a lot of interest. Playing it I can see why. I won’t go into it too much here as I’m sure by now we all know enough about it. It’s a good solid FPS designed to be played multiplayer so you can trash your friends with a stonking great mech. What is not to like about this?! The parkour elements felt nice and natural to me, even though I only really did about 30 seconds worth of wall running to avoid a mech trying to teach me how to breathe through my forehead. The mechs themselves are huge chunky death machines that are still quite ponderously slow, so if you’re not in a mech you still have a good chance to get away from one. In general I really liked Titanfall, and would consider buying an Xbox One for it. If you haven’t already had a blast on it, you can do far worse for an FPS.
My final queue for the afternoon was for Metal Gear Solid : Ground Zeroes. Before I comment on the game I do have to point out the cool touch of having the gamers sitting on cardboard boxes whilst playing. Well played there. Anyway, Ground Zeroes is the precursor to the forthcoming Phantom Pain, in case you didn’t know. I overheard more than a few people in the queue also comment on how it seems to be little more than a demo or a tutorial session for Phantom Pain. Those comments did have me thinking about this. We all know about Hideo Kojima’s penchant for long cut scenes in the MGS games. Is it possible that Ground Zeroes was originally just a demo or a tutorial that had grown big enough to be a game of its own accord? Regardless of its origin though, Ground Zeroes came across as a decent game. *The section we were offered had us “sneaking” into a military compound. I say “sneaking” but in my case I got caught by a spotlight from the word go and ended up going full Rambo on anything that moved. Turns out I wasn’t the only one either. Two other players I spoke to after had a similar issue. One found a tank and went on a rampage while the other just went on a run and gun cover to cover play. I found a mini gun turret myself so I was happy for a bit. What this tells me though is that the game will not go easy on you when it comes to hiding. For me that’s an upside as I think there’ve been too many games of late that have guards who must be in comas judging by their inability to see my character running up to them. Ground Zeroes looks incredible as well.* I tend to find myself judging a game’s graphics on how well it handles water and this time I wasn’t disappointed. The rain flows from Snake’s clothing leaving it looking as wet as it would in real life. It’s easy to get to grips with the controls too, the demo was instantly playable without loads of “press x to jump” kind of messages. All in all this new slice of stealthy action is something I think I can easily recommend to people.
I did have a quick look at Murdered : Soul Suspects and Elite : Dangerous but as the afternoon was moving into evening I didn’t get chance to play. Both do look like easy contenders for next years BAFTA nominations though.
Which brings me to the ceremony itself. Hosted by Dara O’Briain, it was shown on Twitch Live but should also be appearing on Challenge in the UK. As a host, Dara makes a good choice for these awards as he is a genuine gamer. His choice of jokes throughout the evening go to help prove this rather than Dara coming out and announcing he’s a gamer, unlike the hosts of other shows. With Hideo Kojima in the audience as well, it made for some very amusing moments. There have to be clips of his question to Mr Kojima about MGS out here in the interwebs somewhere.
All in all, there were 3 games that cleared up most of all. The Last of Us bagged 5 awards, GTAV and Tearaway following it with 3 each. Rockstar deservedly walked away with the Fellowship award, presented to them by Mr Kojima, who has to be considered some kind of gaming royalty himself. Other winners on the night included Brothers : A Tale of Two Sons, winning the award for Innovation. Bioshock Infinite won best original music. If you want to check out the full list of winners and nominees then go here –
The vast majority of the awards were well deserved. A couple could have gone either way and the majority would have been happy enough with the result. Every time Tearaway was mentioned in the nominees video packages, one side of the room went crazy. Media Molecule were clearly one of the most popular developers in the room that evening. The one award win I didn’t really agree with was Fifa 14 winning the sport category. In my opinion NBA2k14 had much more to offer. However, 1 out of about 15 categories isn’t too bad. There were a few games who I thought were strangely absent from the nominations as well. Batman : Arkham Origins and Saints Row 4 didn’t get a mention. Both were surely worthy contenders for action and adventure of 2014. Still, that being said, the whole event was a great testimony to gaming.
Predictions for next year are maybe a bit early to tell for sure but I’d put Titanfall in there as a nomination across the board. If it ever gets a release Watchdogs will surely have to find a place there too. As will Batman : Arkham Knight if the footage we’ve seen so far is anything to go by.