One more go with B-K: N&B before launch …
The Eurogamer Expo, held in the good old East End of London town, concludes today. It boasts the chance for us to have a go on a few approaching releases, such as Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5, Street Fighter IV, and others ... but of particular interest to us is the chance to play Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts one more time before it is launched – now just three weeks away!
Arriving at the show I was slightly dismayed to see that the demo on offer on the Expo floor was the same Banjo Land demo from the Leipzig Games Convention we attended back in August. However, this wasn’t too much of an issue as this time around all the Jiggies were ripe for the taking (you may recall that in Leipzig all the Jiggies had been collected which left me trying to best the top times instead). Despite my initial unhappiness at not getting a new part of the game to try, I still had a lot of fun re-doing the challenges and winning the jiggies, and my opinion of the game has not changed; so far so good!
After half an hour or so, a queue was starting to form behind me so I gave up my position and had a wander around the show floor. There are some fine looking games on the way, let me tell you. Little Big Planet, RE5, Fallout 3 and SFIV all look gorgeous and a lot of fun to play. Mirror’s Edge was looking pretty good too. Imagine the opening parkour chase from Casino Royale stretched out into its own game and you’re nearly there. Whether it can keep the fun factor past the 10 hour mark remains to be seen, but all the same it’s looking nice.
The Expo included a Games Career Fair, with Rare in attendance, so I thought I’d pop over and see what was happening over there. By this stage it was quite late (6.30pm-ish and the Games Career Fair closed at 7pm) so I wasn’t expecting anyone to be around. Walking up to the booth I spotted a couple of women playing B-K:N&B! It turned out that they were Rare staff enjoying a little quiet time after a very busy day. I said hello and was introduced to Keri Gunn and Louise Ridgeway, animators working on B-K:N&B. Many of you will know Louise as the voice of Leafos from Viva Pinata, and I must say it was very surreal speaking with her and having that accent fill my head. Ahhh ... lovely.
Er ... *cough* anyway ... Keri was playing on a demo of B-K:N&B, guiding Banjo around Nutty Acres, and I have to say it really is beautiful. As she played she pointed out to me all the different characters she helped to animate. She also revealed that she did the animation for Jolly Dodger, and that the little dance he does in-game is based directly on a little jig she does herself. You heard it here first!
She admitted that games were not her stong suit and passed the joypad to me. Straight away I was off on a hunt for a green Jinjo that lay in wait across the manufactured fields of Nutty Acres. The challenge is set by Mumbo, dressed up as a farm hand in this level with a nifty straw hat, and you need to find and collect the Jinjo as quickly as possible. The graphics really are something special, it all looks amazing. The vehicle controls were a little fiddly (I spent a short time trying to get through a narrow gateway into a fenced off area, but kept clipping the sides as I did so, much to Keri’s and Louise’s amusement, but as I have already said I see this as a temporary problem due to my own ineptitude rather than with flaws with the game itself and that a bit more time spent with the game will iron these issues out. As I drove around Keri and Louise continued to point out little titbits about the level. For example; the gruntbots that chase you
around were originally going to be much larger, but they were scaled down to make it more fair.
As I played it did strike me that the majority of the challenges seen so far seem to be taking the form of races or fetch quests. Not that that’s a problem of course, but I have a sneaking feeling that it may all be a bit samey after a couple of hours and I hope that there is a bit more variety with the challenges. Of course, I have only played a tiny portion of the game so this remark may be unfair, and if I’m honest the previous B-K games were just one long fetch quest anyway. The big thing for me is the huge amount of potential in the vehicle creator. This more than anything is what has me so excited about the game, and now that a demo is now available on Xbox Live which boasts a limited offering of what the vehicle creator can do, it will be great to finally have a go with it and get the old thinking cap on about all those vehicles that can be made.
I didn’t get a lot of time to play with this new demo, but knowing that launch is only a few weeks away I didn’t feel too bad about that. I’ve been excited about B-K:N&B for a long while, and the time spent yesterday has only amplified this. Never has the short amount of time we have to wait seemed so far away ...
Our thanks to Keri Gunn and Louise Ridgeway for their time (and patience while they watched me play. Badly.).
Categories: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Previews, Rare