If it's crap ... We'll tell you
(In random order)
Okay, no more "We'll save this discussion for later" shenanigans! Now we get into the stuff that I really want to talk about (for the most part)!
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (August 28th 2012, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
‘Transformers: Fall of Cybertron’ is of course the sequel to High Moon Studio’s ‘Transformers: War of Cybertron’ (sounds confusing, I know). In this latest installment it is the ‘end of days’ for Cybertron, Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobot faction gear up (get it?) and attempt to overtake Cybertron against the Decepticon army (led by Megatron). However as every Transformers fan knows, eventually this story ends up with both factions leaving Cybertron. In other words, this is more about the ‘journey’ than it is about the ‘ending’.
However what’s different this time is that instead of two separate campaigns (Decepticon and Autobot), High Moon Studio’s decided to merge all these stories together into one single campaign. As to how they play out? From what I’ve gathered it seems like these events take place in real time, rather than displaying some long 'cutscene after cutscene'.
What’s really fascinating though is the inclusion of several fan favorites such as Grimlock, Cliffjumper, Jazz, Shockwave, and a humongous Transformer called Metroplex. But the best part is that you get to control all of them, and each of them plays differently. Cliffjumper for example relies on a cloaking ability, while Jazz’s ability is using this unique ‘grappling hook’ that can get him to higher platforms. While Grimlock is a Dinobot that can only transform into a fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex if he builds up his ‘rage meter’ high enough, honestly do I need to explain why this is fucking cool?
Multiplayer returns as well, along with a horde mode called ‘Escalation Mode’. I would describe it as ‘Gears of War’ crossed with ‘Black Ops’ zombie mode. Meaning in order to unlock certain sections of a map, you have to use money (or is it Cybertronian money? Like data-chips or gigabytes?) In ‘Escalation Mode’ you get to choose what faction you want to play as (Decepticon, Autobot, and possibly Dinobot), but each character in that faction plays a specific role. Like Megatron is the ‘tank’, Starscream is the ‘scout’, and Shockwave is the ‘medic’ I assume.
Although the most interesting news regarding multiplayer, seems to be the fact that you can customize your ‘own’ Transformer. High Moon hasn’t shown anything yet, but this definitely has the potential to be something really cool.
‘Fall of Cybertron’ definitely looks like a step-up from ‘War of Cybertron’. In not only just the visuals but the gameplay, level, and character design.
Tomb Raider (March 5th 2013, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
Lara Croft returns, but in probably the most brutal game I’ve seen at E3. 'Tomb Raider' is a ‘reboot’ of the famous/classic PS1 franchise by Crystal Dynamics (published by Square Enix). Personally, I prefer to compare this reboot to something like ‘Batman Begins’ in the sense that it brings back the character to its gritty roots (not that 'Tomb Raider' on Playstation was gritty, you get the point…….giant triangle breasts and all). An origin story basically.
Essentially Lara gets stranded on an island with all sorts of dangerous creatures, environments, and other monstrosities. She has to find a way to get off this island, but along the way she attains some, um, I don’t think ‘bruises’ is the proper word here. More like ‘stabbings’ or heavy injuries that involve specific body parts.
I think what grabs me most about this game is that it’s not about some muscled ‘bad-ass’ carrying a big gun and shooting the shit out of everything. With this game we have a flawed female protagonist who has to go through some pretty rough events in order to become the figure we all know her as today (an excellent cook?)
Let me get this out of the way, the game looks magnificent! The lighting, facial expressions, animations (aside from the hair physics), and everything involved with the island look really great.
I think the thing that grabbed me the most though is the sense of ‘exploration’ that Crystal Dynamics wants to get across with this game. And I’m not talking about some linear game here; I’m talking about a genuine ‘adventure’ title (emphasis on the adventure part, in case I wasn’t clear enough). Specifically they mention these hub worlds that you can explore in, and that there’s apparently an XP system. Very interesting, hopefully they reveal more as the year goes on.
However before I end the discussion, one of my favorite parts of the demo (that I saw on Gametrailers.com, check it out) is Lara trying to hunt a deer. But the intriguing part was that she had to kill it with three arrows, which leads into an emotional moment with Lara. She comes to the realization that in order to survive she has to do some pretty vicious stuff.
This probably has a chance of rivaling 'Uncharted', but at the same time I think this has something much ‘deeper’ and ‘different’ going for it. Definitely check this game out.
Borderlands 2 (September 18th 2012, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
If you have a fetish for guns, then boy do I have something for you! ‘Borderlands 2’, which is being developed by Gearbox Software (published by 2K Games), has a ton of guns! So much so, that I imagine there’s probably a gun within a gun - within a gun in this game (Bwaaam!)
The story takes place on Pandora (leave your 'Avatar' jokes out of this dammit!) Then something happens, honestly I don’t know simply because there wasn’t enough story information floating around at E3.
What I can tell you however is that the main four characters have had several changes to them. The ‘Gunzerker’ (Salvador) can wield up to two heavy weapons, so if you want a rocket launcher and shotgun simultaneously go have fun. The ‘Siren’ (Maya) can suspend enemies in midair; she can be utilized as either great ‘crowd control’ or a good ‘medic’ on the field. The ‘Assassin’ (Zer0) can trigger stealth mode with the push of a button, and can deal a heavy amount of melee damage with his glossy looking sword (probably my favorite class so far). While the ‘Commando’ (Axton) can operate a turret that falls from the sky and modify its appearance/stats through an upgrade tree.
From what I’ve seen, it seems like Gearbox is really adding a lot more environments. Not simply just some expanded desert hub or a small western themed town, but an actual futuristic city with a gorgeous visual design to it.
Co-op is definitely still on Gearbox’s checklist, though I haven’t encountered any major changes nor have I seen anything that struck me as “awesome!”
The main goal of Borderlands 2 seems to be “more cool shit!” More vehicle customization options, more RPG elements, more weapons (of course), and an actual villain (whose name is 'Handsome Jack' by the way). Last I heard, the game was probably going to be added into the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ for the “most guns” in a videogame. If that doesn’t make you at least curious about this game, then I can’t help you……..bastard.
Resident Evil 6 (October 2nd 2012, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
I’m not sure if ‘6’ is the magic number, but on a cinematic level that seems to be the case for 'Resident Evil 6'. 'Resident Evil 6' takes place ten years after that ‘little’ incident that took place at Raccoon City. Bioterrorists start appearing, the President of the United States is trying to make a big announcement, and most importantly of all…….zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.
I’m not going into further detail due to the risk of spoilers. However somehow Leon S. Kennedy gets brought into the President’s mess and Chris Redfield is dealing with a bioterrorist attack in China. The third character (in which you can see in the debut trailer) is a nameless protagonist who is related to someone in the 'Resident Evil' universe (I think most fans know at this point), and mostly seems to centralize himself around melee combat.
As you can see each of these three characters bring something to the table. Leon S. Kennedy’s storyline seems to resemble more of the classic 'Resident Evil', Chris Redfield’s playthrough seems to have that 'RE5' mentality, and the nameless guy seems to be a mixture of action and quick-time events (from what I’ve seen). From the reports I read and heard, the clear favorite seemed to be Leon S. Kennedy mostly due to the slow pace and rising tension that occurs in his storyline. The worst on the other hand seems to be Chris Redfield, and this is where the controversy comes into place.
Capcom recently stated, here, that they are moving toward an action game market. Which began with 'Resident Evil 5' and seems to continue on with this one. In particular, what seems to be wrong with Redfield’s storyline is that it sounds very generic and has bland level design (You love climbing ladders kids?)
Another problem for old-school 'Resident Evil' fans is the inclusion of co-op. Which seems to be in full force here by allowing not just two, but four people to randomly pop-up during single player. So expect a lot of jumping around to be happening in co-op for this game.
This is a tough one to disfigure. Because I would assume the Leon S. Kennedy storyline to be more in line with the old 'Resident Evil' feel, but judging from the demo at the Microsoft conference it seems like they are going full force with the whole ‘action’ theme. Bad news if you’re a horror fan, and probably decent news if you’re a fan of big action set-pieces. So overall I say it will probably be alright, but does it have potential to do better? Absolutely.
Oh, and did I mention you can shoot zombies in this game?
Splinter Cell: Blacklist (TBA, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
Sam Fisher and those cool looking goggles are back! Developed by Ubisoft Toronto, ‘Blacklist’ seems to be bringing back all the past 'Splinter Cell' mechanics (specifically Conviction). In this latest installment Sam Fisher is brought back (‘back’ seems to be the common word here) by the President to counteract against a group of terrorists and their countdown of attacks known as the ‘Black List’.
Not much has been shown of ‘Blacklist’ aside from the demo at the Microsoft press conference. What I will say as someone who really enjoyed ‘Chaos Theory’ and has never played ‘Conviction’ is that this looks unsettling. For me it’s the 'action' over 'stealth' aspects that I’m kind of not too fond of (lock and shoot mechanic is brought back). What made ‘Splinter Cell’ so great was the night themed setting and the slow pacing. This on the other hand looks like they took a page right out of 'Assassins Creed', and just incorporated a modern ‘Ezio’ instead.
One more thing as well is that Michael Ironside will not be returning as Sam Fisher, due to Ubisoft wanting someone with an agile body for the motion capture. Instead it will be played by Whitney Fordman from ‘Smallville’ fame.
Aside from all these negative things I’ve been saying, I think the game still looks good. The stealth mechanics are still there, and now with the inclusion of Kinect there are even more possibilities with making distractions. If you’re new to the ‘Splinter Cell’ franchise, don’t take what I said as a bad thing. This is something I think if you’re a fan or a nonfan, you should still take a look at simply because Sam Fisher has some dope moves.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown (October 9th 2012, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
I’m not going to lie; this is probably in my ‘Top 5’ list of E3 games I’m really looking forward to. So what is ‘XCOM’ you ask? Well ‘XCOM’ was a PC strategy game that was released in the 90’s and became a critical hit. ‘XCOM: Enemy Unknown’ not only takes that original concept, but evolves it.
Developed by Firaxis (produced by 2K Games), ‘XCOM: Enemy Unknown’ is about a secret military organization called ‘XCOM’. You are in charge of ‘XCOM’ and all its resources, along with a group of soldiers that you get to customize and upgrade.
Where ‘XCOM’ strive in is its combat mechanics and strategy layout. You send a small squad in these alien territorial maps in order to recover something of importance or to just blast em’ all to hell. Here’s what you should keep in mind though, if one of your squad mates die, they aren’t coming back. It’s a very ‘choice and consequence’ based game with an extra management mechanic thrown in there.
That management mechanic comes in the form of your base, which the developers described as an ant farm crossed with a G.I. Joe toy. The base is where you can start certain engineering or research projects and alien weaponry, even conduct missions for certain nationalities. Each of these choices you make can have a consequence, and you can only build up to a certain limit of facilities. This means, from what I heard the developers say, more replayability.
Another thing I heard is that the gameplay is very fluid; you can easily get to a specific location in an instant. And while some people may not like the cinematic shots and the ‘glam cam’, the developers have confirmed that you can turn all that stuff off.
There is a lot good stuff here, whether you’re an ‘XCOM’ fan or not this is something that should be on everyone’s radar. Though I hope the game doesn't come with an alien carcass, I have no room for it!
The Cave (TBA, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
Not a big fan of caves, however Double Fine seems perfectly fine with the idea in their latest upcoming title called ‘The Cave’ (published by Sega). ‘The Cave’ features seven characters; however you can only pick three to go on this adventure with (Knight, Hillbilly, Scientist, Time Traveler, Twins, Adventurer, and the Monk). Depending on who you pick, the game plays very differently for each playthough. Ron Gilbert, developer of ‘The Cave’, said that the game is ultimately an adventure-story based game. It’s probably one of the most creative and imaginative games I’ve seen at E3, keep an eye out on it.
Aliens: Colonial Marines (February 13th 2013, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U) –
In space, everyone already knows that tagline to ‘Alien’. However if there’s one ‘Aliens’ fan who seems to be the most excited for ‘Colonial Marines’, it would have to be Gearbox Software (2K Games). Gearbox is known for contributing to many fantastic PC games such as ‘Civilization’, ‘Half-Life’, and is also involved in the upcoming ‘Borderlands 2’.
After seeing several demo’s and interviews, it’s clear that these guys are genuine Ridley Scott and James Cameron ‘Alien’ fans (though I’m not sure how they feel about the later sequels). From the creepy and atmospheric lighting to the character and level designs, it feels 100% like an ‘Aliens’ game.
Although I bet you’re wondering “So what’s it about?” Well ‘Colonial Marines’ is about a group of U.S. colonial marines (surprise, surprise) trying to prepare themselves for an onslaught of ‘Xenomorphs’ (small and big). The game seems pretty cinematic, which is why I’m betting Gearbox is keeping most of this stuff under wraps until the release date.
Expect to see pulse rifles and flamethrowers in there, hell they even threw in a secret weapon that was only seen in the director’s cut for ‘Aliens’!
However I’m sure one of the most pleasant surprises of the game is going to be multiplayer. What makes the multiplayer stand out is that there are two teams, humans and Xenomorphs. Sound typical though right? Well what really sells this is the suspense and terror when playing as a human character. What makes it just as fun for the Xenomorph side is that you have multiple classes, the brute class (which of course has thick armor) and the stealth class (one hit kill, one hit death).
Gearbox also stated that there is 4-player co-op. So if you’re not a big ‘Aliens’ fan, I suggest giving this game a shot simply for the creepy atmosphere. And if you are an ‘Aliens’ fan, then you know what to do.
Or you can just go watch ‘Prometheus’ for the time being.
Dead Space 3 (TBA, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
In space-okay, I’m done with that bit! ‘Dead Space 3’ on the other hand looks it’s still around, but at the same time is causing quite a stir on the internet (when do things ever go well with the internet?)
This time Visceral Games (produced by EA) have decided to implement co-op! How does it work you ask? Well it’s a ‘jump-in, jump-out’ feature, there is no AI following you or in the cutscenes. It’s just ‘you’, or ‘you and some other friend’ (Isaac Clarke and John Carver).
Snow plays a part in ‘Dead Space 3’, as Isaac (and Carver supposedly) journey to a planet called ‘Tau Volantis’ in order to quell/end the Necromorph disease. As you see in the trailer, things don’t go smoothly as they crash on the planet and also have to look for Ellie (I thought she was dead?)
Other than co-op, the new setting, and improved enemy AI there is not much else to say about 'Dead Space 3'. I’m sure it will be a fine game, but until then I can’t say I’m particularly enthusiastic about it. Mostly due to the setting, increased action sections, and the loss of claustrophobic tension (‘Resident Evil 5’ syndrome). Not to say that I thought the previous ‘Dead Space’ games were scary, however at least they were very suspenseful and somewhat eerie.
‘Dead Space 3’ on the other hand, just have to wait and see. Better luck next time you 'Necromorph' scum!
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (October 30th 2012, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PS Vita) –
Criticize me all you like, but I’m sorry this game looks like a ton of fun! First off it’s made by Criterion Games (of ‘Burnout’ fame [produced by EA]), and second it looks like ‘Burnout Paradise’ times 10!
Let me explain my excitement for ‘Most Wanted’, it’s an open world racing game with destruction and chaos. There you go.
Though I’m sure some of you want a more elaborate answer, so here you go:
Most Wanted is described by some critics as a spiritual successor to 'Burnout Paradise', which is an open world with destructible environments and a lot of neat shortcuts (but this time with cops). Although Criterion Games seems to be taking that sandbox mechanic and improving every inch of it, including the ‘arsenal’ of cars (which I think is appropriate here).
The ‘autolog’ system is back, along with multiplayer which seems to flow much more nicely. Instead of having to wait for a game to start up, instead what you do is you race over to a location on the map and wait until the timer winds down (which is a much easier and less boring way to play multiplayer).
‘Most Wanted’ seems like a game that was made for hardcore 'Burnout' fans (me included). Never was a big ‘Need for Speed’ fan, so I can’t say I really cared for it to stay true to the original…….blah, blah, blah.
It’s a 'Need for Speed' game made by Criterion dammit! Check it out!
Assassins Creed 3 (October 30th 2012, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
No longer will you be playing as Ezio or Altair in 'Assassins Creed 3', but instead you’ll be playing another ancestor in a different time period. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Annecy, 'Assassins Creed 3' puts you in the shoes of a Native American named Connor (real name: Ratohnhake:ton, just stick with Connor). The game’s setting takes place in the American Revolution around the 18th century, including appearances from famous historical figures that I will not spoil. Fitting with the theme of 'Assassins Creed', the game is also about the continuing war between the Templars and the Assassins (as for Desmond’s involvement? Don’t know).
The story you’ll have to experience for yourself, but the combat and movement mechanics? Those have been updated and enhanced greatly, allowing you to pull off some cool moves whether you’re climbing from tree to tree or on the sail of a British naval. One thing that bothered me about previous 'Assassins Creed' games was the lack of stealth, but I was willing to forgive that since it was more grounded in action and adventure. Here in 'Assassins Creed 3' there is a stealth cover mechanic that you can use to take out guards, and there seems to be a lot more fluidity in going to cover (sitting on a bench, hiding against a food stand).
Multiplayer seems to have improved as well, including ‘Domination Mode’. While at first glance it may retain that multiplayer feel you’ve come to expect in previous 'Assassins Creed' games, it is actually much more strategically involved. As a team, you and your fellow Assassins have to work together in order to ‘stun’ or ‘take down’ any opposing force you see (or sneak up on).
No longer are the tower-defense minigames, instead the focus is more on the side-missions and on naval combat (which you can see in the ‘Frontier’ demo). Naval combat from what I hear is actually pretty simple, line-up your shots so that you can hit the target. Although there seems to be much more variety and control with these side-missions as well. The 'Assassins Guild' is making a return, don’t know what Ubisoft is doing, but it seems like they might be making some big improvements to this as well.
Combat and animation seems stunning, the subtleties in Connor's movement and how he wields both his axes are amazing. What’s interesting is that Connor can actually carry two different weapons (one axe, and the other a hidden blade), putting an emphasis on two-handed combat. Now you can perform air assassinations with any weapon, and it seems like the creativity with these kills have racketed up. Crowd navigation seems much easier, allowing the 'Animus' to display clues whenever needed if the player is about to be caught.
One more thing I have to mention before I end this segment is that the wilderness plays a hefty part in the game. Connor can chase after wolves, kill bears, and do all sorts of crazy stuff. Some would say its like ‘Red Dead Creed’, but I think there is a lot of potential here for something much more hard-edged.
There’s probably a lot more that can be said about 'AC3', but at this point I’m sold.
Dishonored (October 9th 2012, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
Its 'Bioshock' crossed with 'Deus Ex'; do I need to say more? Fine, 'Dishonored' is made by Arkane Studios (produced by Bethesda) and is probably their biggest title yet. Its set in a steampunk-like city called Dunwall, and revolves around a bodyguard named 'Corvo Atano' who was framed for the murder of an Empress.
Right off the bat, the visuals were the first thing that struck me. As I said, think 'Bioshock' but with more of a steampunk look and a hint of 'Half-Life' (which is ironic because one of the producers of this game worked on 'Half-Life'). While it’s definitely not up to par with 'Star Wars 1313' or 'The Last of Us', the thing that makes this game much more special is its artistic style. People’s faces have a lot of character to them, while some would complain of the ‘non-realistic/cartoon-ish visuals’ I think this sort of style works perfectly for the game.
Another thing that got me excited was the combat, which is in first person. From what I keep hearing the combat is much more focused and intuitive than something like 'Skyrim' (even though I personally did not have much trouble with 'Skyrim’s' combat). You even have these supernatural and mechanic abilities, like being able to summon rats to do your bidding, jumping and teleporting on rooftops like Nightcrawler, or springing incredibly violent traps on your enemies. Of course just like 'Deus Ex', you can’t have every cool magic trick in the game. So when you’re upgrading your skills, choose carefully.
Though if there’s one thing I have to nitpick in the demo’s I’ve seen so far (and this can also be said for 'Splinter Cell: Blacklist' and previous 'Assassins Creed' games) is that I’m not a big fan of these sudden transitions into action set-pieces (got to please the E3 crowds somehow). Now with that said, I think the pacing and combat movement seems to work great for that choice of gameplay.
I have a feeling that there is more to be seen in 'Dishonored', however I’m sold. When’s October again? When is it dammit?!
Watch Dogs (TBA, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
If you want my opinion on 'Watch Dogs', go read up on my Ubisoft press conference report. But in short, it looks awesome.
Sleeping Dogs (August 14th 2012, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) –
Speaking of dogs, 'Sleeping Dogs' is not too far away! However that didn’t stop United Front Games (produced by Square Enix) from showing this game off at E3. 'Sleeping Dogs' is about a Hong Kong undercover cop named Wei Shen. As Shen, you must track down and eliminate the Hong Kong Triads from within. Just expect some gritty and rough events to take place around Shen’s deeply pursued objective.
What’s interesting is that this began as a ’True Crimes’ game that then got tussled around to so many studios that eventually Square Enix took hold of it and gave it to United Front Games. And you can clearly see the inspiration, not just from ‘True Crimes’, but from Hong Kong action cinema (John Woo mostly).
This is a genuine action game in every way from the shooting, to the driving, to the melee combat. The shooting plays out with a ‘Max Payne’ ‘slow-mo’ mechanic that can be used at any moment (which can also be upgraded I believe). The driving has a bit of that ‘slow-mo’ effect as well, allowing you to shoot off car tires and engines which cause cars to blow-up. With melee combat, expect less ‘Batman’ take-downs and more ‘Punisher’ finishers. Causing brutal and bloody take-downs, and using the environment to your advantage (is that a plugged-in blender I see?)
There’s even some RPG elements that are said to benefit Shen in terms of how he performs in combat (movement, driving, and the amount of damage he can dish out). There’s even a morality system that plays a part in the game's story (do you side more with the cops or the Triads?)
United Front Games really put a lot of work into the environment imagery, nailing down that Hong Kong feel.
'Sleeping Dogs' looks very impressive, though if you’re not a fan of this over-the-top type of action and violence then this game may not be your 'cup of tea'. However for everyone else who wants a solid action game with a gritty feel to it, this game is for you.
Star Wars 1313 (TBA, PC) –
This was one of the games that was not shown at any of the press conferences, however once it unveiled during the middle of E3 it became one of the biggest games there.
'Star Wars 1313', developed and published by LucasArts, is about the criminal-seedy underbelly of Level 1313 of Coruscant (it also takes place between the first and second trilogy). LucasArts hasn’t fully developed the main characters yet (what you see are placeholders), instead what they have mostly shown off is the visuals/animations (which are done by 'ILM' and 'LucasArts Animation') and a bit of the combat. There is no way that this is not a next-gen game.
But on the contrary here if you take away the beautiful visuals and all that hoopla, what does this game have to offer? It’s got a decent cover system, but other than it’s just a third person/'Uncharted' clone with 'Star Wars' characters and environments. LucasArts had a big push for 'Force Unleashed' 1-2, and yet those games were kind of a critical disappointment (and kind of forgettable as well). We need more than just “Oh look! It’s a gritty version of 'Star Wars' with high-res graphics and animations!”
Hopefully LucasArts will share more information, including certain rumors like armor/weapon customization and an item system (which to me sounds more fascinating). Am I still looking forward to it? Definitely.