Back after six years, the Hitman franchise made a big, bloody splash at Eurogamer 2012. The "King of Chinatown" level was available to play, and you can read our full write-up here. In short, this is classical Hitman, tweaked and polished to a current-gen sheen, with the awkward maps and menus trimmed down.
Io Interactive was also showcasing 'Contracts Mode', a slick, organic level editor that lets players set their assassination targets and rules of engagement. Torben Ellert and Christian Elverdam were on hand to walk us through 'Contracts', and also gave out some flashy red Hitman ties and mini-plastic 47s. You shouldn't have.
Assassin's Creed III
Another major attraction at Eurogamer, Assassin's Creed III had two whole demo booths, and two whole demos, all to itself. The first was standard Creed, albeit a lot smoother and better looking.
As new hero Connor Kenway, it was up to us to infiltrate a British held fort and lift some precious MacGuffin from an abandoned prison cell. A navy attack and an escape from a burning building added to the gorgeously designed, satisfying to play mix.
Demo number two was the real show piece, though. An enormous maritime battle between British galleons and Connor's rickety pirate ship, this was Assassin's Creed as never before. Ubisoft are in Game of the Year territory with Creed III; read all about it here.
By opting for a relatively small number of demo consoles, Microsoft and 343i managed to drive demand for Master Chief's latest adventure through Earl's Court's roof. But IBTimes UK was lucky enough to play Halo 4 a few days earlier, at the much more peaceful London Film Museum.
Louder than ever, and with a renewed focus on exploration rather than straight-up shooting, Halo 4 is set to kick start a brand new saga in Bungie's enduring first-person series. It's a strong first game for 343i, held back only by a clumsy new multiplayer mode called Spartan Ops, which, at the moment, isn't making much sense. Hopefully things will become clear on 6 November, when Halo 4 hits the Xbox 360.
We only got a short go with Crysis 3, CryTek's latest, glossy, sci-fi shooter. But what we saw was enough to get us interested. The new multiplayer mode, Hunter, has an emotional drive like no other online FPS. Players abruptly change sides, switching from normal soldiers called CELL, to the invisible, bow-and-arrow wielding Hunters.
One minute you're the prey, the next you're the predator, and it forces you to change tact constantly. In the space of a single match, you go from a scared pack feeder, dependent on your team, to a lethal lone wolf, raking in kills by the score-limit load.
It's a breath-taking pace of multiplayer, hopefully accompanied by an as per-Crysis sprawling campaign mode. If the early screenshots of CryTek's redesigned New York are anything to go on, we have nothing to worry about.
Another one we got to play pre-Eurogamer, Forza Horizon is a sleek, open-world racer with bags of style. The game takes place during a global car festival called 'Horizon', which, like the real-world Gumball 3000, features dozens of different car classes competing across different types of terrain.
That means four wheel drive off-road rallies, late night street races; even some wacky, novelty 'Showcase' events, like a Ford Mustang racing against a Mustang fighter plane. Lead designer Ralph Fulton clued us in on Forza's setting and soundtrack, and our extended playtest was the most fun we've had with a racer this year.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter
Despite the admirable decision from Danger Close to showcase Warfighter's campaign mode, rather than its multiplayer, the short section we got to play was very disappointing. Like its predecessor, the also underwhelming Medal of Honor from 2010, Warfighter is hampered by cut-paste set pieces and suicidal enemy AI.
A late comer to the current console generation, this rebooted Medal of Honor franchise needs to do more than jump on the modern war bandwagon if it's going to make waves in October. As big fans of the PS1/PS2 games, we're still rooting for MOH, but Warfighter so far has been a major let down.
Nintendo Wii U
If you got anywhere near the Wii U stand (queues for Zombi U ranged from two-and-a-half to three hours) then you no doubt had a play with the new GamePad, a lightweight tablet/3DS thing that lets players interact with Wii U games in several different ways.
Rayman Legends was our game of choice at Eurogamer, and as the GamePad user, it was our job to drag obstacles out of the way and poke enemies to help the other player, on the Wii-Mote, get through the level unscathed. Lots of fun, but Nintendo's latest is still looking out for the casual market. That's fine; it's what the company does best.
Fable: The Journey
Can this new, Kinect friendly Fable game appeal to so-called 'core' gamers? Absolutely yes, if this awful, patronising trailer is to be believed. But marketing bumph aside, The Journey is actually not bad. After an afternoon at Lionhead Studios, a fortnight before Eurogamer, we came away thinking we'd been a bit harsh on the Kinect.
Fable: The Journey's magic-slash-melee combat feels surprisingly tactile; the story's pretty good, too. Designer Ted Timmins explains things better, but compared to just a few months ago, Fable: The Journey has us interested.
Undoubtedly the best game at Eurogamer, Tomb Raider has done a number on the classic adventuring franchise, and its leading lady. As a naïve young woman, stranded on a tropical island, the new Lara Croft is scared, alone, but nevertheless capable and strong in the face of danger.
Exactly the kind of emotional balance that women characters have been missing, Lara is supported by Uncharted-style platforming sections, and a survival orientated, semi-sandbox game world. We loved it, a lot; March 2013 can't come quick enough.
And the rest
Proteus, The Button Affair and mysterious exploration game Dirac all made an impression at Eurogamer's indie section, showcasing the best in homemade development talent. Hotline Miami, another indie darling, picked up Rezzed's Game of the Show award, for its blend of crisp retro graphics and video-nasty violence. The since critically panned Resident Evil 6, and inexplicably adored Borderlands 2 were also available to play, as were Aliens: Colonial Marines, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and Dust 514. Replay Events was kind enough to bring along some old consoles like the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64, as well as some Goldeneye multiplayer and original GameBoys. Cosplayers, too, made the effort this year; a few of them posed for our slideshow.
In all, a very good year for Eurogamer: The biggest releases are looking tight, and there were plenty of surprise hits, and inspiring talks from the development teams. The expo returns 26 - 29 September next year, and will once again showcase the latest, greatest, and not-so greatest in the computer game industry. Be there.
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