Here's the Game Debate report on the miscellaneous delights coming out of the Ubisoft spigot over the next 12 months, fresh from the Ubi press conference here at E3.
First up is Driver San Francisco. Flowers in your hair are not required in this frenetic and cinematic car chase game. John Tanner is once again pursuing his arch-enemy Jericho, this time through the famously hilly streets of SF. Expect to see Tanner's 1970 Dodge Challenger catching plenty of air as it sails over the crests of these hills, and from what we saw in the demo the story takes us up to leafy, suburban Marin County, bustling Chinatown, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. We've been promised Ferraris, Lambourghinis and Aston Martins to stack into each other at enormous speeds, and 'ground-breaking multiplayer'.
It's not a true A-list movie without a videogame tie-in, and Ubisoft announced their Tintin tie-in this week. Expect branching storylines that expand on those of the movie, as well as cooperative play, although whether this means multiplayer or a single player jumping between characters (or both), we don't know. Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock will all be playable characters, with different skills to overcome different obstacles. The demo showed Tintin fistfighting, Snowy crawling through air ducts and other tight spaces, and Captain Haddock grumbling about things. Perhaps that's not actually his special skill.
Later, we saw a motorcycle chase, with Tintin shooting at the villains from a sidecar while Haddock drives. It all looks to be good wholesome fun, if a little simplistic.
The first Ghost Recon game was set in the near future: 2008. That should give you an idea of how long the Ghosts have been in our machines. The next game in the series, Future Soldier, seems to essentially be more of the same - which, for those of us who love the games, is a good thing. That said, the series has had its ups and downs, and every new Ghost Recon game is an unknown quantity. So let's take a look at the video.
"If you've ever wondered what it'd be like to be one of the most badass special forces soldiers on the planet, play Future Soldier" said Tommy Jacob, Ubisoft Redstorm Creative Director. Them's some big words. Roll your VT and let's see what you've got.
And we're in Nigeria. A small village surrounded by marshy swampland where the Ghosts make their entrance. We can see the local militia executing the villagers - through the power of having played many, many videogames I predict that the Ghosts are going to rescue the hostages! There are a lot of innocents around. This village has a lived-in feel, with innocent civilians staring at the Ghosts wide-eyed as they infiltrate the village. The Ghosts give whispered commends to the civilians to get them to leave the soon-to-be firezone. And then it all goes shooty.
The thing that really stood out with the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier demo was the sheer number of Clancyisms in it. There seems to be a persistent world here that incorporates all of the other Tom Clancy games as well, including Endwar, Splinter Cell and presumably HAWX. Let me give you a couple of examples. The demo concludes with the deployment of a thermobaric attack which knocks a pair of helicopters out of the air - thermobaric weapons you may remember as the Russian WMDs from Endwar. Mission objectives appear written along the walls of the shanty huts in the village, in that slick way that was so effective in Splinter Cell: Conviction. Speaking of old Sam Fisher, we saw the Ghosts shifting between cover in a way that was very familiar to anyone who played the last Splinter Cell game, as well as a couple of white chevrons above the heads of the bad guys that looked suspiciously similar to Sam's 'mark & execute' feature. New features included team takedowns, advanced room-clearing tactics, close combat techniques... oh, and lots and lots of shouting. Everyone seems to be constantly shouting at one another over their radios. Ghost Recon: Future Shouting.
Ghost Recon online was announced at the same time. Not exactly the same game as Future Soldier, this seemed to be a stripped-down, free-to-play companion game, much like Battlefield Play4Free that we saw earlier this year. There are promised links between Ghost Recon Online and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, presumably in the form of achievements and unlocks. Ghost Recon Online is in Beta now.