(NOTE: As this post turned out to be a lot longer then what I had originally intended, I’ve decided to separate this feature into two articles. This one will talk about the best of E3 this year, while the second will talk about the worst).
Another year, another E3. All of the games, the gizmos and the gals (booth babes) were again on full display, giving us a clear view into the future of the interactive entertainment industry for the year to come (well, the booth babes were giving us a clear view of their cleavage but you get the point). As always, E3 treated us to a number of great upcoming titles and platforms which will no doubt have us saving up our shiny red pennies in order to purchase each and everyone of them while simultaneously ensuring that we remain dirt poor for the rest of our lives. But E3 also gives us a clue as to what we should NOT be looking forward to; to what we should cast aside and spit on as we snub our noses at the poor shmucks unlucky enough to have fallen for the game developer’s promises of glory. So here they are: the best and the worst of E3 2011. Mind you this is just my opinion of what was great and what was not so great but as we are all well aware of my opinion is always right and those that disagree with me are just plain wrong. Thus, after reading this article today, I hope to bestow upon you just a small semblance of my wisdom which will no doubt make you a much more enlightened (and far more attractive) individual.
The Role Playing Genre
Of all the many genres on display at this year’s show, it was the RPG genre that I found to have the greatest breadth and depth of quality. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim made an impressive showing, showcasing its beautiful vistas, improved combat mechanics as well as its fantastically realised fantasy world and amazing looking creatures (dragons in particular come to mind). Mass Effect 3’s presentation, complete with holographic omni-tool blades and the promise of a large scale intergalactic war, was also very impressive and should prove to be an excellent conclusion to the great Mass Effect series. Also of note was the cybernetically enhanced Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the Monster Hunter-esque Dragon’s Dogma and the spiritual successor to the criminally overlooked Demon’s Souls, the uber-punishing Dark Souls.
With so many sequels looking like clones of their predecessors, it’s refreshing to see a game series take such a bold new step in a different direction. Set in the flying city of ‘
Originally subtitled ‘Deadly Descents’, this newest entry in the SSX series looks like a ton of fun. It features all of the over-the-top snowboarding mayhem from the original titles but throws in even more insanity with courses that have you jumping off of cliffs and into incoming helicopters, flinging yourself across chasms using ice picks and outrunning oncoming avalanches. Sounds good to me!
I never thought that out of all the games on display at this year’s show it would be Prey 2 that perhaps got me the most excited. I remember playing through and enjoying the original Prey but I never really felt like the game was quite good enough to warrant a sequel. So when the game was announced earlier this year (5 years after the release of the original) I could only think about what an odd decision it was to make a sequel to such a long forgotten game. Prey 2? Really? People weren’t exactly screaming for a sequel back in 2006 and they certainly didn’t care much for one now. Of course, it didn’t help matters that the game looked like a Deus Ex/Mass Effect rip-off starring yet another generic main protagonist in yet another sci-fi, interplanetary first-person shooter (because, you know, we just don’t have enough of those). However, after seeing the game at the show and hearing from the developers about what it has to offer, I can happily say that Prey 2 is now firmly on my radar.
In the game, you play as an American sheriff who, after being abducted by the same alien race from the first game, is forced to live on an alien world filled with various alien societies. Why exactly is he being forced to live there? I’m not quite sure. But the premise is certainly intriguing. And while the idea of playing as the only human being on a multi-racial alien world definitely has my attention what’s even more interesting is that your character has decided to make a career on this planet as a bounty hunter. A bounty hunter with gadgets. According to the developers they’ll be around 40 gadgets in all by the time the game ships but the ones on display here, like the electric bolas, jetpacks and anti-grav grenades all looked really, really cool. But what made the combat mechanics really stand out for me though were the parkour-style chase sequences. You see, once you find your target you’ll have to chase them down which means a lot of ducking, sliding and hoping around various obstacles all the while taking out various bad guys on your way to the bounty. It sounded and looked just like that of the Assassin’s Creed’s on-foot chase sequences, only good. And did I mention that you play as a bounty hunter on an alien planet? I did? Well, did I mention that there are gadgets?
I was already sold on this one back when Game Informer presented its in-depth preview of the game earlier this year but the gameplay demonstration of the title at the Microsoft conference further proved to me that this game should a great purchase come 2012. I love the Tomb Raider franchise and this reboot seems like a step in the right direction by giving the series a much more serious and modern identity. I especially love the portrayal of Lara Croft; no longer is she a character defined by her ever increasing bust size; instead, she’s someone who looks and acts like a real and quite vulnerable young woman. This more realistic take on the character is further highlighted by the games focus on survival. Every scrape, bruise and cut she’ll sustain is emphasised in both the gameplay and the visuals, giving you a real sense of being alone and unguarded in a hostile environment. The game won’t be released until spring of next year but in my mind that’s a good thing. The game looks so good that it would be a shame to rush it. Good on Eidos I say, for taking the proper time and care to make sure that this entry puts the Tomb Raider series back amongst the video gaming elite.
After a nice long break, the Hitman series is finally coming back to current gen consoles. And while we were only treated to a couple of pre-rendered teaser trailers and a brief 90 second gameplay demonstration, what was shown looks to be very promising indeed. Agent 47 is on the run from the authorities and he’ll need to rely on his numerous ass-kicking skills to get him out of trouble. On a slightly worrying note, the game seems to progress in a more cinematic, stream-lined fashion as opposed to the series’ traditional, optional approach style gameplay. I can only hope IO Interactive doesn’t make the game too linear as that would really take away from the strength of the series; that being, the ability to tackle a mission in a variety of different ways. Still, no matter how the game turns out it should be a heck of a lot better then that bloody awful Hitman movie…..
I thought I was done with modern warfare shooters. I really did. While I’ve played and greatly enjoyed the Call of Duty series, I thought I’d finally had my fair share of gritty, urban shooting and was planning to call it a day. Then Battlefield 3 was announced. It promised fully destructible environments. It’s being made with an updated Frostbite engine. And it claims to have the best Battlefield experience to date. Suddenly my resolve to not play this genre again seemed to weaken. Then E3 comes along with a slew of new gameplay footage. Tanks, explosions, drama, incredible visuals and the most realistic military combat I’ve ever seen in any game to date and………….that does it………………I GOTTA PLAY THIS GAME!!
Good golly, Miss Molly this game looks incredible! I’m not usually the sought to sing the praises of a “dude, bro” game but this title is tickling me in all of the right places. I think for the first time I can safely say that the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series has some series competition come Christmas time this year.
Star Wars: The
trailer Old Republic
I have to admit that I have next to no interest in this game. It is after all an MMO and I just don’t play those. However, I am a Star Wars fan and the trailer that was shown this year for Bioware’s upcoming ‘The Old Republic’ title looked bloody fantastic. This is the third E3 in a row that we’ve been treated to a trailer for the game and just like the ones that have come before it, this new teaser completely blew my socks off. And while the trailer was pre-rendered and is in no way, shape or form representative of actual gameplay, it was still an absolutely amazing display and was without doubt the best thing to come from Star Wars since the end of the prequel trilogy.
If there is an award for the most original and creative game of the show then it would no doubt go to this game. Published by Atlus and being developed by one of its internal teams, Catherine tells the story of a guy named Vincent who, while contemplating whether or not to marry his long-time girlfriend, is approached by a young beautiful girl who turns his world upside down. After meeting her, Vincent begins to have nightmares that feature various horrors that relate to his fear of commitment and his feelings of infidelity. This is where the player comes in. Gameplay involves navigating Vincent through his nightmare which involves climbing up a tower made of blocks. You have to move the blocks around in order to ascend the tower and break free of the nightmare. And while it all sounds incredibly simplistic, the narrative, the characters and the atmosphere all help to make the gameplay far more fascinating then a just a mere puzzle-platformer. It’s probably not a game that I would buy (or at least not at full price) but you have to give it to Atlus for creating what looks to be another ingenious game that truly pushes the boundaries of story-telling in this medium.
NEXT POST: THE MISSES OF E3 2011!!!!