GME: Games Market Europe 2005

By Matt Bailey

You may have noticed over the last three weeks that we've been providing you with a steady flow of previews for games due for release in the months leading up to Christmas and early next year. These have all been from hands-on experience from myself and Dave at this year's Games Market Europe event at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London.

An overview of GME
An overview of the event.

Here's a look at what publishers were at the event, and what we thought of their stands and their offerings.

Buena Vista Games

Although the company only showed off The Chronclies of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Chicken Little (the latter only on one machine), they at least made an effort with their stand. A rather impressive Narnia setting was on offer with it's fake snow trying to provide some cool relief on one of the year's hottest days.

Codemasters

No themed stand, but a great offering of titles - LMA Manager 2006, Heroes of the Pacific and exclusive playable code of TOCA Race Driver 3. These impressive titles were even shown off on both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, with Race Driver 3 also making a PC appearance inside a very hot stand, with new PC signing RF Online also present.

Digital Jesters

Four titles were apparently at the show, but only behind closed doors it would have seemed. Bet on Soldier - due at the end of this month on PC - seemed to be heavily promoted in posters and trailers. A Crazy Frog Racer trailer made a very unwelcome appearance right next to the 'stand' for...

EA

Or Electronic Arts if you'd prefer. Despite being the world's largest computer games publisher, the company hardly made an effort. They didn't so much have a stand but a corridor of four titles; FIFA 2006, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, From Russia With Love, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Harry Potter was, well, another Harry Potter game. From Russia With Love had crashed before we'd got there, and the lack of an EA PR representatives meant it stayed like that the whole day. And Need for Speed: Most Wanted was rather unoptimised with a poor framerate. To make matters worse, the rest of what should have been EA's stand was given over to distributors Pinnacle Software who gave us the enjoyment of a karaoke stand for Big Ben's X Factor Sing. This is on top of the aforementioned trailer. However, there was enjoyment to be had in FIFA 2006, which an impressive offering in itself, but we were also treated to a rather generous 10 minutes of a complete game (more than you get in the recently released demo). The classic FIFA title from the Mega Drive was also on offer for those who browsed the game's near-complete menus. It may have been a relatively poor showing from such a large publisher, but at least they attended.

Eidos

Another company who treated the event as a proper show, with plenty of demo units of display, giving us the chance to try out PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of Total Overdose, Conflict: Global Storm and Commandos Strike Force. The GameCube version of LEGO Star Wars which is due out soon was also on display as the only GameCube game at the event. Hitman: Blood Money didn't make a presence because the code was apparently not ready for show. We're not sure IO Interactive would agree, considering it appeared at the recent Leipzig event, but it wasn't the only absentee with Eidos' other major 2006 game Tomb Raider: Legends also not on show. So they made a good effort, but kept the big guns hidden. Still, at least the PR representatives were extremely friendly, making sure we had more than enough information for our previews. They also liked the sites' name, but we can't argue with that...

Gem Distribution

Although not a publisher they did have this Xbox 360 demo pod on show, even if it wasn't playable. They also displayed Xbox 360 game videos to at least give the event some next-gen presence.

Xbox 360 demo pod
The Xbox 360 demo pod

NCsoft Europe

Unfortunately there was no playable code on offer - though upcoming titles City of Villans and Auto Assault were displayed rather impressively on large displays. Of course, NCsoft had their own CoV event that evening that they were probably more concerned with.

Nintendo

Nintendo didn't actually have a stand at the event, but instead had demo pods littered throughout. In terms of numbers, they had the largest presence, but this is misleading. The only game on display was a limited demo version of Nintendogs on Nintendo DS, and the machines themselves were mostly in a dire state, with missing styluses (despite being attached to a wire) and scratched screens. It was a poor showing for the company, but they were the only first party to have made an effort, and at least there was no queuing.

Nokia

The fact that the company needed a motorbike at it's stand to attract the media kind of says something for their flagging N-Gage platform. 4 N-Gage QD units were on display with four different games (we didn't care much which), but ultimately the stand spent most of its time empty. (We're not sure if Nokia themselves cared about the N-Gages - out of the two we tried, one was dead, and the other had low battery -Dave)

Rising Star Games

Although they didn't have playable code on offer directly, it was available to those who held interviews with the company. We weren't able to arrange a meeting due to problems we had before the event, but we thank them for their invitation.

Take 2

The company was supposed to make an appearance at the event - even if slightly to the side of the show floor. However, they were a no show, which was disappointing.

Ubisoft

Although the stand wasn't particularly inventive, and clearly made up of the leftovers from Leipzig, it at least offered the chance to check out two of their big upcoming titles; King Kong on a good selection of TEST PS2s and Xbox Debug Kits, and Far Cry Instincts on networked Xboxes. Prince of Persia The Two Thrones on PlayStation 2 was also demoed by an Ubisoft rep (under the somewhat strange Prince of Persia 3 working title), and a new video (well, not the E3 one at least) of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter was present, showing off a bit of their next-gen offerings.

Vivendi Universal Games

They brought quite a few titles with them, but we never got a chance to play any of them. The main part of their stand was meeting-based, with large videos of their titles being demoed. They may have been playable, but they weren't easily accessable. We did, however, get a narrated screening of F.E.A.R. in a darkened room. Unfortunately it was just the single player demo, but it was shown at its absolute best with some amazing Alienware hardware. We were also informed that multiplayer bullet-time will affect all players at the same time, in case you wanted to know.

And that concludes our coverage of Games Market Europe, until 6th September 2006, where we hope to see an even bigger GME, and hopefully some cooler weather.

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