Ok, since the embargo has ended, I guess I can spill some beans on Banjo and VP2 as well (besides what you already know from GI).
Banjo (slated for November):
- Building vehicles is basically like playing with LEGO. You can <i>always</i> jump in and out of the vehicle editor and come right back to the game with the new design.
- Parts are easily placed and moved around. You don't have to worry about connecting the motor with the wheels for example. Just place everything so they stick together and don't get in the way.
- Vehicle designs can play a large role in missions. We saw one where you had to collect coconuts from a field and got a small truck that could suck them up. Unfortunately you couldn't fit all the coconuts in the truck and had to back and deliver them in a large barrel. We were then shown how you could create a helicopter with a hook, that could pick up this large barrel, fly to the coconut field and fly low to scoop the coconuts in the barrel.
- Physics are awesome in this game and everywhere! With one design I placed the foot-in-a-box weapon behind a propella, and when I tried to use it, the foot/boot couldn't get past the propella... well, until I used it enough times to actually kick the propella off the vehicle!
- Pixel art... imagine the possibilities (Rare already had an example of this, paying homage to a certain plumber)
- Multiplayer is great fun with the ability to either chose from pre-fabricated or own vehicle designs. It still needs some polish here and there, but showed great promise.
VP2 (slated for September):
- I will only touch on one feature here, as GI already touched on many of the more traditional improvements. This feature is extremely cool though, in two ways.
1. VP2 uses the Vision Camera in combination with physical cards sorta like Eye of Judgement. It basically scans a small code on the card, when it's being held up in front of the camera, and this can both insert custom designed pinatas, unlock buildings or abilities, change the weather and many other things. We were told how Rare had designed a moose that got a big, red nose only around christmas time... and this could be passed around with these cards.
2. So the game also got a photo mode. Cool, but that's not the best! This photo mode is able to interpret the pictures and create the above-mentioned code based on the picture. Basically, you will have a card generator available on the internet! Imagine this: you have created this really cool pinata and instead of the tiresome task of sending it only to selected friends on Live, you can take a picture of it, get the code/card generated and share it on a forum. Instantly everyone will be able to get the pinata in their game and since the camera can also read from LCD screens, ipods, zunes etc., there is little to no hassle. Now THAT'S sharing!