While E3 2011 features nearly every major game publisher, one company that regularly bypasses the big Los Angeles trade show is 1C Company. Instead, the Russian-based publisher has an annual US-based press event where it shows off its upcoming games and makes a couple of announcements. Earlier this month, Neowin was invited to attend the annual 1C Company event which was held at the official Russian consulate offices in San Francisco. Yes, for a few hours we were officially on Russian soil while we got to play a number of upcoming PC games.
The affair is unique in that 1C Company truly tries to make the show like a mini-E3, complete, as you can see above, by booth models. However the clear emphasis is on the games and we got to see everything from first person shooters to historical RTS games to off road simulators and more.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad - The biggest highlight of the 1C Company press event was checking out a new build of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad. The game was the only one shown at the event that was developed by a US team, Tripwire Interactive. The sequel to the cult hit WWII shooter will showcase the very real battles in and around the Russian city during WWII. The 1C Company event was also the first time that Tripwire had allowed members of the press to see and play the game's single player campaign. There will be two separate campaigns for the Allied and Nazi Germany sides.
We got to play one of the missions where the Russians raided a number of different locations and freed them from the Nazi's control. The basic premise is a Capture and Hold scenario where you and a number of AI army members try to enter a building or area and take out the enemy positions. Once that's done you move on to the next building or area until the entire level is captured.
The game's single player mode is pretty straightforward and fast paced. Don't expect any in-game cut scenes to slow things down; instead they are shown as films in between the campaign's levels. All you need to do in the game is to take out the bad guys. The AI seems to be a work in progress at this point. The enemy AI sometime takes you out quickly while other times enemy soldiers seem to ignore your presence for several seconds before firing on you. Tripwire still has some time to improve the AI before the game is released in late August.
We only got to play a few minutes of Red Orchestra 2 but it still looks very promising. In particular the game's art design and textures are highly detailed. This game is aiming to look and feel more realistic than most WWII shooters and at the moment Tripwire looks like the sequel will be as good, if not better, than the original.
Royal Quest - Officially announced at the event is Royal Quest, which is 1C Company's entry into the already crowded fantasy free-to-play MMO game genre. Developed by Katauri Interactive, who previously created the King's Bounty game series, Royal Quest is already looking like it will be a highly addictive gameplay experience.
The game's biggest draw is the various monsters and creatures you will encounter. Katauri has done a great job making these monsters look unlike any we have ever seen; from giant bugs to air bound jelly fish to a boss creature that looks like a cross between a lizard and a man wearing a Chinese hat. The early build of the game that we got to play at the event showcased these creatures to great effect.
You will get to pick from one of several character classes in the game. In our press build our character could ride on a winged lizard like mount and use special abilities to take out foes. It's pretty typical gameplay for this kind of MMO title; kill creatures and pick up gold and other loot that are dropped by the dead enemies. Since Royal Quest will be free-to-play the key with this game will be if the developer will be able to give players enough solid content to continue to pay for things like in-game items. The game itself isn't due for release until mid-2012.
Men of War: Condemned Heroes - Also announced at the 1C press event is the latest game in the Men of War RTS game series. This new entry has an interesting back story. It tells the true story of the penal battalions that Stalin set up during WWII. They were not only filled by Soviet soldiers who were court martialed. In fact any person who was convicted of a crime, even crimes like being critical of the government, could find themselves placed in these penal battalions. The battles that these military groups took on for the government were usually considered to be suicide missions. Basically these groups were the real versions of the "Dirty Dozen".
The game itself will have the same kind of tactical real time strategy gameplay that the other previous entries in the series have had. However the very different premise of Condemned Heroes should make it stand out from the crowd when it is released sometime in 2012.
In addition to the new game, 1C Company showed off some upcoming DLC packs for the recently released Men of War Assault Square at the press event. It also showed off a new build of Men of War Vietnam which was previously announced and is now scheduled for release sometime before the end of the year. One thing that will make this game different from other Vietnam War-based titles is that it will depict not just the US, North Vietnam and South Vietnam sides but also the Russian advisors to the North Vietnam.
Ghost of Moscow: Death to Spies - The Death to Spies third person stealth action game series has seen two previous entries, both set in WWII. The newest game (previously known as Death to Spies 3) was shown in playable form at the 1C Company event. This new game will move up ahead in the timeline to the Cold War era. This time you will get the option to play as one of three playable characters in the spy organization SMERSH, each with their own special abilities and skill. in a storyline that will involve using spy gadgets and mini-games that will involve things like lock picking and more. The storyline is truly global as you will have missions in Europe, Cuba and the United States centered on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Due out in 2012 for both the PC and Xbox 360, this game is looking like it will be for people who like to think before they shoot.
Other Games: One game that was shown during the 1C press event that is actually due for release next week via download here in the US is IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover. This is just the latest game in the WWII flight stimulator game from developer 1C Maddox Games. The game was previously released a couple of months ago in Europe but had some post-release bugs and issues. We have been told those problems have been fixed for the US version.
Other games we got to see but did not play during the press event include Off Road Drive, a highly detailed off-road racing sim that's due out later this year; Real Warfare 2: Northern Crusades, an historical strategy game set during the Middle Ages; and Star Wolves 3: Ashes of Victory; the latest game in the space-based RPG series.
The 1C Company lineup is quite varied with a selection of games that, if they turn out as advertised, should greatly please hardcore PC gamers.