After the demo we were let lose on the vehicle editor. And it would be fair to say that Nuts & Bolts could live or die by how this feature is implemented. Granted, we had a Rare employee standing behind us explaining exactly what to do, but within ten minutes we'd made some sort of giant shopping trolley / monster truck that was great in a straight line, but not so good at cornering.
A quick press of the d-pad and we're almost seamlessly back in the editor making changes before having another go at cornering. Or if you've had enough of the road, stick a set of propellers on the top and fly. Or lose the wheels altogether, add some ballasts, and go for a dive. How you approach the editor will depend on what your immediate goal is. But the game's open enough that you're not stuck with any one design.
The editor basically uses blocks that you place together on a three-dimensional grid. You can flip the blocks over any way you want to, making it easy to create a variety of vehicles in just a couple of actions.
As long as you have a fuel tank and a seat you're good to make anything you fancy. There are loads of accessories you can stick on there too, from giant, monster truck wheels to comedy fists on springs to hoses that fire dry ice at your enemies. It could even freeze a waterfall so Banjo could hike his way up there. We've yet to see how much freedom Rare's going to give us.
Unfortunately we weren't allowed to have a crack at solving a task our own way as we only got to play around with the level editor before jumping into multiplayer. How you're assigned these blocks or unlock accessories in the single player game remains to be seen. But even though we only played with the editor for a short time, it was easy to figure out the basics and get building stupid stuff.
It's safe to say you won't spend too much of your Banjo time building vehicles if you don't want to. But the depth's there if you're so inclined.
So our multiplayer session was filled with all attending journos driving into each other in the contraptions we'd made an hour earlier. Rare is pretty excited about multiplayer this time around thanks to Xbox Live, and there's some real potential if the game modes hit the spot. We were let loose in a game of deathmatch that saw us using vehicles to chop, freeze, ram, slam and destroy each others' rides. The person who causes the most destruction wins.
What Rare's got planned for the full multiplayer experience is still under wraps, but it's safe to suggest that how well you can use the editor will go a long way in determining your online success.
Threeie Time's a Charm
So Banjo's back and what we saw looked great, even if it was only a tiny portion of what's in store. There are still a lot of questions we'd like answered and we would have liked to see how intuitive the whole user-generated content element of the single-player game really is. But it looks like we'll have to wait until Microsoft and Rare gives us some quality time with the quest to find that out for ourselves.
Rare hasn't simply chosen to remake the original collect-'em-up in glorious HD and for that we applaud it. It takes nuts (and bolts) to try something new these days and if Nuts & Bolts was nothing but a remake of the first game, there would have been many critics come review time ("but it's just Banjo again").
We've seen and played new Banjo and haven't lost a single night's sleep worrying about the direction the bear and bird are going in. You shouldn't either.
Below: Gameplay B-roll vid
Courtesy of CVG.
May 13, 2008