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E3 08: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Wii Hands On

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As E3 wound down I decided to take one final walk of the small show floor in search of some me time games. I bolted over to the EA booth to check out Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on the Wii. I was most interested to check out what new features were in the game and if the game play had been improved. I’m happy to report that the latest Harry Potter game on the Wii is going to be the best Potter game to date.

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E3 08: Halo Wars In Depth Hands On

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One of the games that kind of fell off the radar for a while has been Halo Wars. Its absence at May’s gamer showcase began to stir wonder as to the state of the project. At E3, Halo Wars was playable behind closed doors at the Microsoft meeting room. Halo Wars takes place 20 years before Halo: Combat Evolved. Thus far the announced races are the UNSC and the Covenant. I played for about 30 minutes as the UNSC on the map Labyrinth in a co-op game which you will also be able to experience online. Of all the recent console RTS’ I feel as though Halo Wars gets it done right in terms of the console.

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E3 08: Tom Clancy’s HAWX Hands On

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Tom Clancy’s HAWX is the game at E3 I wasn’t expecting to find. I’ve never really been a dog fighting game fan. But my hands on time with the game impressed me so much. The game is out of this world. HAWX takes place in the near Tom Clancy future. The coolest part of the game is that HAWX’s missions integrate into other Tom Clancy games. For example, the demo MP game at Cape Canaveral where you must defend a space shuttle launch is ripped from a prior Ghost Recon title where you were on the ground in the same conflict waiting for air support. In HAWX, that’s you. The game is aiming at flight sim fans but also tossing in stuff for the fans of the Clancy game fans as well.

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HAWX will feature 18 missions and over 50 planes. There will be 4 player cooperative play over live and also 8 players for PvP games. Behind closed doors there was a multiplayer dog fighting demo of the game which I played for a bit. The visuals in the game are very well done and were redrawn from satellite mapping of the locations that are being replicated in game for authenticity.

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Flying your plane is split between two modes. In the first mode the plane flies comfortably and acrobatics are disables. This allows for novice and hardcore players to be on equal footing and is referred to in game as E.R.S and assistance modes. In the MP demo however you’ll be locking on to enemies and getting locked on to. When you are locked on to, it’s time to switch views to third person view of your plane to perform aerobatic moves to avoid missiles. It adds a lot of tension to the game to try and get away from missiles heading at you in every direction by having to quickly switch to the 3rd person view. HAWX is still in development and will be out in Q1 of 09.

E3 08: Prince of Persia Walkthrough

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One of the most startling changes to a franchise at E3 is the change in art style and overall direction of the Prince of Persia franchise. Ubisoft was on hand to demo the game in one on one walk throughs. My first question to the Ubisoft representative was regarding the decision to the changes made to the game’s art style and visuals. The PoP team wanted to try something new while remaining loyal to core fans of the franchise. From what I saw in my 20 minute demo the latest PoP is going to be the most enjoyable PoP to date.

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E3 08: Force Unleashed Hands On

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The next gen Star Wars game we’ve been all waiting for is only a few weeks away from release on September 16 and what was shown at E3 is for sure going to be a classic addition to the Star Wars game line. Force Unleashed is an original story about Darth Vader’s secret apprentice aptly code named “StarKiller”. I had the opportunity to sit down with LucasArts behind closed doors at E3 for a walk through and hands on time.

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The opening moments of the game will greet you with a surprise, a big kickass surprise. You begin the game as Darth Vader on Kashyyk killing wookies hunting down one of the last Jedi alive post Episode III. Once you arrive you dismantle the remaining Jedi only to have your light saber snatched by a small child who accidentally uses the force. As storm troopers turn their weapons onto the child Darth Vader kills them all in a flash and takes you under his wing.

Immediately as you begin the game as Vader you’ll notice how much more powerful he was than when you start out. He obviously has force lightning but Vader can also use the force to combine that with his lightsaber to get a badass lightning infused saber for a short amount of time. Boss fights are done in a rewarding manner as well. At the end of a battle you are prompted to hit a series of buttons to perform a cinematic finisher that really rewards the player for defeating a boss.

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The visuals in Force Unleashed are incredible and true to the universe. But the most amazing part is the fluidity of combat. This is a true over the top jedi experience. Moving is the left stick while looking around is the right. X will perform a slash attack and the right trigger will grab objects and/or enemies to abuse with the force. You can combine attacks with the force and it all looks natural. You run into a room with a ton of storm troopers and hack away at one once or twice then use force push to send them free falling to their deaths off a ledge. The other awesome part is when you send an enemy into orbit or kill them very cinematically the game slows down and the camera highlights in on that enemy. The emphasis is to kill and kill in style and it’s a lot of fun. I walked around my 20 minute play time plotting how to most awesome kill my enemies. Outnumbered? No problem! Just force pick up an exploding barrel and hurl easily into your enemies.

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Speaking of using the force, there are a ton of powers. But, early on you are stuck with force push and the ability to grab objects. Later in the game you receive other powers such as force lightning. You can quickly use force push by pressing B. If you want to pick up an object or enemy with right trigger you can use the left trigger to throw them around. This may read a little weird but once you play the game it all feels extremely natural and is easy to pick up and play. You can also perform cool aerial moves by pressing X and A at the same time to hope behind your enemy, push them to the ground mid air and then drive your lightsaber through their body all in one motion. On screen you have a map which will help those of us who get lost a lot in games as it makes very obvious where to go in the top right corner of the screen. Your health and force meter are located on the left. You regain force by not using it for a few seconds and when enemies dies their bodies give off energy which you capture to regain a bit of health.

Force Unleashed I can say even with limited play time is going to be a game you never get tired of. LucasArts also has thrown in the ability for second play throughs to change your skin so you can play through a second time as some of your favorite characters from the Star Wars universe. This is a game that cannot be missed.

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