Sorry it's taken so long to blog - the Leipzig Games Convention was a cracker, but very nearly wiped us out (Dan D spent bank holiday sweating feverishly while a kaliedoscopic whirl of games danced over his tired eyes).
But - pah - our bodies are just shells for the absorption of new games, and - like a newborn, er, sponge in a, um, waterfall of... let's just stop right there, eh? - we were able to soak up a fair bit. Now, squeeze us as we squirt opinion, leak facts an... the awards? Right.
Viking: Battle for Asgard - Sega
Good news: it's by the Creative Assembly, who make the acclaimed historical strategy games Rome: Total War on PC and, recently, Spartan: Total Warrior on PS2. No? The graphics engine was used in the BBC's Time Commander series, with thousands of on-screen centurions.
Better news: this is a full-on arcade-style strategy mash-em-up, with hyper-brutality (the muscle bound hero literally cleaves foes in half, leaving their spines protuding. Ugh.) and literally *thousands* of full 3D soliders involved in pitched battles to shame Braveheart. The universe is open-world (think God of War's bold 3D meets Oblivion's open fields), and you can tackle missions in any order: scout an enemy town, recruit an army, then charge in by any route you choose. There's strategy, too, with loads of character upgrades, but mid-battle decisions - killing giant enemy champions earns you tokens (or pips) which can be traded in for dragon smart bombs. But when to use them? Decisions, decisions. Forget all your pre-conceptions about Lord of the Rings-style strategy brawlers, this is a true next-gen battler with an incredibly diverse world and epic set pieces. Much more in PSM3#93.
Special mention to...
Midnight Club: LA
Twist? It's set in the daytime. And, er, the night too, with realistic lighting cycles. Graphics more impressive than you'd think - redolent of the hyper-chunky models of NFS: Pro Street with amazing smoke effects - plus the usual selection of respect accruing free-roaming street races and hidden jumps across a pseudo-realistic LA. More in PSM3#93. Again.
//GEORGE PUMPIDOU'S WHIFFIEST GAME AWARD//
Er... the standard was fairly high, but we're a bit baffled by Tom Clancy's Endwar - the real-time modern warfare strategy game you control *with your mouth*. Or, more precisely, your voice. Bark into the headset, and the game locks onto preset phrases like 'Unit 5... Enagage... Sector 3' (from a grid of hundreds of permutations), and your little 3D army trundles about its business. It looks a bit like Command and Conquer: Tiberium in isometric 3D, but - and this may be because the demo was too short to explain the nuances - too confusing for our small brains. We're being naive here, but the combination of voice/pad command, however technically accomplished, didn't get us excited. Time will tell, and, as ever, we're willing to retract a grovelling apology (PSM3... Activate... Humility... etc)
Oh, and again it was super early, but VU's Wet - think Uma Thurman meets Grindhouse meets Lara Croft in the Matrix (sigh) - was just like Stranglehold. But with less destruction and, at this obscenely early stage, not as good. Come Time! Heal! Muzzle us in your perplexing remedial haze! Etc
//SHINIEST GAME IN THE UNIVERSE//
We sat for an hour with GT5 guru Kazunori Yamauchi, who demoed the stunningly detailed new car interiors, and waxed lyrical about the benefits of 60fps, 1080p - even though it was hard to actually see. Car models are 50x more detailed than GT4. Even the light case covers feature individual twinkling polygons. The demo's out on the PS Store before the end of the year (price TBC), and looks, well, like GT in super shiny vision - and everything exciting, and predictable, that suggests. 50 cars. 5 tracks. And it'll be way better than GT HD. The game also links to Home, but we weren't told how. Plus there'll be a TV-style broadcast option on the menu for manufacturer videos, Polyphony TV updates etc