- More than 270,000 people are attending Gamescom in Cologne, Germany
- Exhibitors from 40 countries are displaying games due out in coming months
- Marvel's "Deadpool" and a new Capcom heroine in "Remember Me" stand out
- Quirky: You're a headless puppet in "Puppeteer" and in paper world in "Tearaway"
More than 270,000 gamers from throughout Europe and beyond have converged in the beautiful city of Cologne for the annual Gamescom video game festival. The show, which is more than twice as large as San Diego Comic-Con, offers attendees the first hands-on opportunities with some of the biggest games coming this fall and later.
Activision is using one of the 10 massive halls at the Cologne Convention Center to allow gamers to play through four multiplayer maps from Treyarch's "Call of Duty: Black Ops II." Fans wait in line for hours for the chance to experience the games they likely already ordered for this Christmas.
Gamescom is growing at a rapid pace. More than 600 exhibitors from 40 countries are displaying their games -- 20% more exhibitors than two years ago and 40% more countries connecting with the European gaming audience.
While there are literally hundreds of games playable at the festival, the following five games made their world premieres this week and are worth checking out when they hit a console near you over the coming year.
Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel (Electronic Arts/Visceral Games, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, March 2013)
Electronic Arts knows that two shooters are better than one. "Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel" is the third game in the bestselling franchise that sends a pair of heavily armed private military operators south of the border on a deadly mission. With plenty of drug cartel henchmen to go around, this co-op game has been designed from the ground up for two players to collaborate as they navigate a serpentine plot of danger and corruption.
This game introduces plenty of weapons to equip and extensive customization options for soldiers Alpha and Bravo, putting a personal stamp on the action. Visceral Games promises the experience will put players in the middle of a blockbuster Hollywood movie experience. And given the nontraditional Mexican setting, this game should serve as a nice diversion from the crowded shooter genre.
Deadpool (Activision/High Moon Studios, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, 2013)
Although he's appeared in video games like "Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2" and "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" before, the comic book antihero Deadpool has never stood on his own. Until now. For those not familiar with the wise-cracking "Merc with the Mouth," Deadpool is about to leave a very lasting impression. High Moon Studios, which has done a great job with the original Transformers games, is delivering a Mature-rated adventure that features the brilliant voice acting of Nolan North.
The game allows players to slice and dice through enemies or go in guns blazing (with some very big guns). All the while, Deadpool is in on the fact that he's starring in a game -- even breaking the fourth wall regularly. The game also highlights the character's insanity by allowing players to hear the multiple voices in his head. Which one you follow is completely up to you, but expect a funny, gory ride that's nothing like other comic book games.
Puppeteer (Sony Computer Europe/Japan Studio, PlayStation 3, 2013)
"Puppeteer" looks unlike any other game you've seen. This original action game takes place within a magical puppet theater. Rather than sending the hero, who in this case is a boy named Kutaro who's been transformed into a puppet, all of the action takes place on the same stage. In other words, the game world revolves around the character. This makes for a very unique world.
Also adding to the gameplay is an assortment of special heads that Kutaro, who's headless, can pick up and use, along with his weapon, a magical pair of scissors. Although this looks like a kids' game, it's actually very challenging. This boy-turned-puppet could be the next Pinnochio.
Remember Me (Capcom/Dontnod, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, 2013)
Capcom has been at the forefront of introducing gamers to strong female protagonists, which is one reason the "Resident Evil" franchise has succeeded both in game and movie form. The Japanese game publisher has debuted a brand new heroine, Nilin, the star of the new science-fiction action game "Remember Me" from Paris development studio Dontme. Nilin is not your typical action hero. Sure, she's well-trained in the martial arts, and looks good in heels. But she can also hack into people's minds and steal or alter their memories.
The game opens with Nilin's own memory erased, setting her off on a quest to reclaim her identity that will ultimately change the world. And you can expect plenty of futuristic fighting action along the way.
Tearaway (Sony Computer Entertainment/Media Molecule, PlayStation Vita)
Media Molecule, the developer behind Sony's cross-platform franchise "LittleBigPlanet," is at it again with this interactive world made completely of paper. "Tearaway" is a new adventure game that was designed to allow players to become part of the universe. Using the PS Vita's rear touch pad, players can see their hand enter the game world. Or they can shake the device and see the world crumble, or even turn upside down.
Players take control of Iota, a messenger from a paper dimension whose envelope head contains an urgent message that he must deliver to you. Each message inside the envelope is different, providing a unique experience for the gamer, who becomes part of the experience. As the godlike player, it's up to you to help Iota get that message to you. The struggling PS Vita needs more killer apps like this, which could lure more gamers to this portable player.