Generally we tend to frown at the notion of "mystery appointments" at E3. Our time at the show is precious. There is much to see, and spending even just half an hour on something unknown that could be anything is a gamble we can ill afford. But sometimes you have to chance it. Our appointment behind closed doors with Microsoft for "[email protected]" was one such gamble and it paid off.
As we sat down we learned the 30 minute slot was actually set up for two separate games. The first Storm in a Tea Cup's Nero was a dream-like adventure with a great story (that unfortunately the developers couldn't say anything about), but the second game was the one that really got us excited. After a bit of fiddling around with technical issues eating into the 15 minute slot The Farm 51's Kamil Bilczynski finally got his set up working and showed us the ambitious concept of Get Even.
The Farm 51 hasn't exactly given us plenty to be excited about in the past. Most recently Painkiller: Hell & Damnation and Deadfall Adventures failed to hit the marks, but Get Even is something different. Something wildly ambitious. Something that regardless of whether it succeeds in delivering what it proposes or fails could point us towards where video games might head in the future.
The first trailer shown of Get Even was basically a technology showcase of the eerily realistic photo-scanning technique The Farm 51 uses for the game. The idea is to blur the line between reality and video game, an ambition idea, but what you need to note here is that it's not done just for show, instead it ties in with the theme of the game.
There are two campaigns in Get Even, nothing out of the ordinary with that, but it's how this interact with eachother that's novel. It's an adverserial take on Journey if you will, where you may be facing a real player online at any point during your campaign. The game is designed to be played online at all times. One campaign sees the player take the role of Black - a clean-up man who gathers evidence and cleans up messes left behind by the elite. Some missions will involved CSI-esque evidence gathering, while others will feature straight forward shooting scenes. We jump back and forth between memories and realities and apparently we will also be able to alter outcomes. This is where we get a glimpse of the other campaign supposedly as players will jump into the games of other players (Agent Smith style) and assume the role of grunts facing Black. The exact nature of the story in this other campaign are vague (at least we didn't find out more during the presentation), but as Get Even attempts to place different layers of realities on top of each other your guess is as good as ours.
It's the kind of concept that sets your mind spinning and it took us a follow-up question or two to really get our heads around what The Farm 51 are doing. Naturally they are also looking to support Virtual Reality devices, even if the inclusion in the [email protected] programme suggests the concept isn't hinging on it.
We got a brief glimpse of what Get Even aspires to. It's a brave attempt at doing something that hasn't been done before and for this The Farm 51 needs to be applauded. To be honest we didn't see gunplay that was out of the norm and the gloomy industrial locales of the investigations did little to whet our appetites, but the concept itself. The idea of facing random players inside of our own singleplayer campaign is certainly enough to make Get Even a game that we need to pay attention to.