GamesCom 2009 Preview
Having first opened its European doors back in 2002, the Games Convention (GC) in Leipzig, steadily grew in size and stature to the point where it was rivalling its North American equivalent E3 in terms of attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, a multitude of heavyweight industry players, and a fair few of us ever-willing journalists.
Much like E3 before it, Germany's GC has gone through something of a rebirth in 2009, shifting its geographical placement within Das Fatherland to Cologne (Koln) and changing its name to GamesCom. However, unlike E3, the newly revamped trade fair isn't about to lose any of its colossal scale or impact and, come later this week, the Kolnmesse will play host to more than 400 international exhibitors eager to pedal their gaming wares across 120,000 square metres of floor space.
Luckily for you, but perhaps not the soles of our feet, your humble team will be dutifully pounding the show floor and reporting on every last mover and shaker, whether that be PlayStation or DS, gadget or gimmick, booth babes or looted merchandise - we're there for you (at least indirectly).
Given that event organiser BIU (Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhalungssoftware) represents more than a dozen of the world's leading videogame companies, it's perhaps no great surprise to learn that industry giants such as Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Activision will be vying for attendee attention from their respective booths when GamesCom's doors officially open on the morning of Wednesday, August 19.
But, in looking to spare you the monotony of a complete exhibitor parade (leading lights include: Bethesda, Capcom, Eidos, Konami and Ubisoft), let's jump straight to the show's core component by casting a curious eye over the potential software highlights of Cologne's inaugural GamesCom trade fair.
Firstly the big guns, those flagship titles and franchise sequels crawling slowly along the developmental pipeline that we've all grown pretty familiar with and are now growing increasingly anxious to play - a desire Luke, Jason and I can hopefully quell next week.
Sony has confirmed that PlayStation fans can look forward to spending a little GamesCom time with the likes of interactive investigation Heavy Rain, truly massive multiplayer MAG, adventure sequel Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and platformer Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time.
Interestingly, Nintendo's software presence at the event still isn't set in stone, although a host of images plastered on the Japanese giant's press invitations would suggest the appearance of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Professor Layton 2, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, and New Super Mario Bros. for Wii. There's still no sign of a new Wii-based Zelda or more information regarding the confirmed Metroid re-imagining.
Similarly, Microsoft's first-party offerings have not yet been confirmed, although its Wednesday press conference is likely to contain much of the content already rolled out at E3. Ubisoft's line-up also remains a mystery beyond web rumours that point to the likes of Assassin's Creed 2, RUSE, Red Steel 2, Silent Hunter 5, Rabbids Go Home, Academy of Champions and Avatar - a list that concerns us due to the omission of potential big hitters such as Splinter Cell: Conviction and I Am Alive.
Arriving in the form of super heroics, grandiose gunplay and flashing fists, action-themed gameplay will be in plentiful supply during GamesCom, with Electronic Arts offering Army of Two: The 40th Day, Dante's Inferno and Mass Effect 2, and Capcom set to laud Lost Planet 2 and Dark Void while Namco Bandai provides a platform for Tekken 6 and Champions Online, and Bethesda Softworks sprays down WET.
Pausing only for breath... Eidos will be looking to push Batman: Arkham Asylum and the shamelessly cute Mini Ninjas out of the shadows, while Square Enix continues banging the drum for Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIV, and games legend Hideo Kojima will be in attendance to help hawk the likes of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for Konami. Oh, and there'll also be a little game called Modern Warfare 2 on show too, but who's ever heard of that?
From a European sporting perspective, fans of the leather-clad bladder (that's soccer to our American chums), can expect iconic Konami developer 'Seabass' to provide an eagerly awaited premiere for Pro Evolution Soccer 10, as will Electronic Arts (EA) for main genre rival FIFA 10. Meanwhile Activision will be motioning for snot-nosed attendees to 'pull up their pants' and show some adoration for Tony Hawk RIDE, which may even involve seeing the game's interactive skateboard controller in action.