Game Buzz is a weekly opinion column designed to take an irreverent look at one of the biggest news stories to break in the past week. Every Friday we’ll be bringing you another slice of reaction to topical gaming news, and inviting you to agree, disagree, shout assent, vent rage, scream and complain to you heart’s delight. This week we sound off about what we're most looking forward to following E3 2010.
Another year, another E3 and what a show it was this year! As with all bombastic press events, the days, weeks and months that follow will no doubt be filled with raging arguments over who 'won', but we'll leave that to the polls. We're just happy that there's a wealth of awesomeness on the horizon, so let's focus on the games and the hardware. Here's what we're excited about following the festival of future fun...
To be honest, we've heard so much about the new hardware and been bored to tears by constant updates on motion control over the last few months that E3 was never really going to be about the hardware. Apart from the hugely impressive 3DS, I found myself oddly uninspired by Move and Kinect, with Sony's 3D posturing of even less interest. Thankfully, though, this made for an E3 that allowed games developers and publishers to really show off their wares and, although we can only pick three highlights each, there was a staggering array of upcoming awesomeness on show. It's telling that all of our lists are somewhat different, such was the high level of quality and ambition on show this year. Without further ado, here are my three Best Picks of E3 2010:
Chell and GlaDOS are back for a sequel to 2007's inventive mini-masterpiece from Valve and I couldn't be happier. Far bigger and more complex, although not necessarily more difficult Valve have stressed, than the original, Valve's been chucking in things like tractor beams, catapult floor panels, gigantic vacuum cleaners and the ominously titled Thermal Discouragement Beam to make for a game that promises to again raise the bar for imaginative game mechanics and unique gameplay. 'It's been a long time, how have you been?' asks GlaDOS in the teaser trailer, well we've been waiting hungrily for this. And it looks like it's going to be everything we've been hoping for and more.
I didn't expect to be impressed by this at all. In fact, I didn't expect to be impressed by anything Wii related, but Nintendo really pulled it out of the bag this year. Kid Icarus, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Metroid: Other M and Zelda: Skyward Sword (ignoring the technical hitches) all looked fantastic, but Epic Mickey stole the show with its ambition, scope and attention to detail. This Warren Spector-led platformer showed that you don't need to be a Nintendo character to cause a stir on the Wii. The story looks fantastic, The Wasteland is a wonderful concept in itself and this is going to be an absolute must for Disney fans. But it's the simple inventive gameplay that comes about thanks to the paint and thinner mechanics and the heroic-vs-mischievous morality system in the game that look most impressive. There would be many characters who could stand up to Mario on his own console, but Mickey Mouse might...just might...be one of them.
Post-apocalyptic wastelands seem to be enjoying a bit of a golden age at the moment, but it wasn't Fallout: New Vegas that really got my eyes popping this time around, but id Software's RAGE. Every single time new information or assets drip from Bethesda's fountain of knowledge I get increasingly more excited about this one. There's so much to the game - corridor shooting, vehicular combat, side quests, open world elements, a vast array of unique, intelligent enemies and clans and Borderlands-esque upgrades. Sticking the best bits from BioShock, Fallout 3, Far Cry 2 and Borderlands into a big pot and having id prepare something spectacular sounds absolutely fantastic to me. And boy is it gorgeous! Check out the G4TV piece here. How the hell they've managed to squeeze so much out of the Xbox on this one is beyond me.
Predictably, E3 was all about Nintendo for me and I was massively chuffed to see a return to classic form with excellent looking new instalments to staple series such as Kirby and Donkey Kong and intriguing new IP like Epic Mickey. However if I absolutely must trim my list of E3 treats down to just three then, after much internal debate, I would have to say the following:
There were a few interesting developments from Camps Sony and Microsoft but as usual, it was left up to Nintendo to truly bring us something innovative and new. The 3DS sounded too good to be true and many E3 write ups have reported that it is rife with issues but, ever the optimist, I remain hopeful that these problems will be ironed out as development continues. Nonetheless these reports did dampen my spirits slightly and it was down to the list of games that will be gracing the machine to lift them. There was a lot that got me excited but really it comes down to six words: Ocarina of Time remade in 3D.
I loved Capcom's Okami and believe it deserved far greater commercial success than it received. So I was thrilled when I heard that a sequel was planned and delighted to see that said sequel does not appear to have lost any of its beauty in its move to a handheld. Furthermore I imagine that stylus control can only be a boon for the painting segments of the game. My girly side squeed incontrollably at the new pup protagonist and I am intrigued to see how the new cooperative elements will work out. The game looks gorgeous and I am confident that it will be just as charming as its predecessor.
Silent Hill 8
Coming up with just three highlights has proved ridiculously hard and I can't quite believe that I have allowed Konami's latest instalment in their survival horror franchise make the grade, considering its recent output. For me, Silent Hill is like the rubbish relationship that I just can't seem to leave behind: no matter how badly it disappoints me I just can't let go of the hope that some of that old magic will make a reappearance and so I just keep going back for more. I was, of course, massively sceptical but the trailer has once again suckered me in, along with the promise of a return to the series thought-provoking roots.
This year's E3 has provided very few true surprises thanks to the unprecedented accuracy of the rumour mill. A fairly weak showing from the Big Three (especially Microsoft) suggests that most of the big reveals have been left for Gamescom- but these last few days have still been a rollercoaster thrill ride. We're clearly in for a fantastic year of gaming!
3: Metal Gear Solid: Rising. As a fan of third-person swordplay and the Metal Gear franchise, I was always going to dig this one. Frankly, the amazing physics and staggeringly impressive trailer were just the cherry on the cake. Cut, cut, cut!
2: The Nintendo 3DS. Here's a list of four things that I love.
Lylat Wars/Starfox 64
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater
Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I'd never accuse Nintendo of creating some sort of mind reading ray... to assess my deepest desires... in order to build my perfect console... but the evidence is mounting up. However, I'll need to witness the 3D effect firsthand before I completely buy into the concept.
1: Child of Eden. Since I took over writing the Dealspwn news roundups, I've never missed an opportunity to rag on motion control; and after this year's E3, I feel absolutely vindicated. With one exception.
Tetsuya Mizuguchi has been working on a worthy successor to Rez for years... and it's finally going to happen. With a controller, Child of Eden will be absolutely amazing: mixing deep, meaningful themes with masterful visuals and frantic rail shooting action. On Kinect, however, it will be something very special indeed. Imagine conducting an orchestra that's made of eyepopping neon lasers. The very idea frequently moves me to tears of unadulterated joy.
Kinect's lineup is looking shaky as hell, and it was certainly never going to figure into my Top 3. But will I be buying it to play Child of Eden? God yes. And so should you.
Metal Gear Solid: Rising
When the trailer began, with a typically cybernetic brute wandering a bullet-riddled industrial complex, only for (badass) Raiden to appear and slice him in two, absorbing his spinal column for good measure, I was somewhat underwhelmed, to say the least. It was, like most CG trailers, an elaborate tease of visual quality and features we'd ultimately never see as refined nor polished.
Or so I thought. Then actual gameplay footage ensued, glimpses of Raiden chopping the columns of a flat-top overhang, dropping the rubble and masonry onto the soldiers huddled beneath it. I literally gasped, and whispered a profane utterance, as Raiden hurled a soldier into the air, slowed time (as you do), and with the help of a fancy targeting system, sliced his legs off, then separated his legs from his torso. A nondescript van stood in Raiden's way. Drivable vehicles? Nope. Just another excuse to chop stuff up. The subtitle should be: Metal Gear Solid: Cooking Mama Evolved.
My PS3 is currently gathering a fine coat of dust, but last summer it was churning away to produce Cole's electrified adventure. I loved Infamous, despite its myriad of flaws and shortcomings. Like Crackdown, Infamous understood that the city a superhero inhabits should be a playground, not an office. Surfing railway tracks, grinding cables, shuffling along skyscraper windowsills. The morality system was binary, but rewarding if you're only looking to pursue angelic or demonic goals.
Infamous 2, by the looks of trailer, appears to rectify many of its predecessors problems. The city appears more diverse than a never-ending concrete sprawl, the powers appear varied and more powerful than ever. It seems Cole also develops the ability to manipulate ice, too. Freezing innocent bystanders only to shatter them with a bolt of lightning? Yes, please.
I'm a Fable fanboy. I love the series, I love the team, I'm even fond of old Molyneux with his irrepressible spirit and bald noggin. But I'd had doubts about Fable 3. Rumours of a switch to turn-based combat, or an over-reliance on simulation, had me clutching my chicken suit and fourth wife with horror. But it appears I needn't have been so worried. Ruling the kingdom appears to be a far more intimate experience, and numerous videos have emerged of heroes or heroines farting incessantly in townsfolk's faces. Wonderful.
As long as I can run around in a chicken suit, impersonating my animal namesake through exaggerated gestures and committing heinous deeds that stain the sanctity of marriage, then I'm fine. Bring on Fable 3. I wanna be Henry VIII.
Dead Space 2
Resident Evil 4 gave the survival horror a much needed boost, but its sequel showed Capcom had run dry once again. Dead Space 2 however looks set to build on the success of the last game. The EA and Sony conferences really showed off the viciousness and atmosphere of the game with evil childlike aliens, a Resi-style creepy church and huge boss fights. Hell, I was happy to see that Isaac was sticking with the awesome plasma cutter, even if his new outfit is a bit on the feminine side (it’s the new mask). Buy the Special Edition and you’ll get the PS Move version of Dead Space: Extraction too.
Microsoft wasted their conference by showing the hardcore games journo crowd a load of casual shovelware, at least Sony showed some ‘gamer’s games’. Of course the crap will be out there too, but at least Sony is openly making an effort to integrate it into more traditional titles. The Sorcery demo seemed to have potential and the Tiger Woods demo really showed off the subtle movements the controller has over Kinect. The only problem I can see if how expensive the full kit will be, especially as all the great looking games seem to need two motion controllers (the bulb one).
Little Big Planet 2
When the developers started saying how we would be able to create any game type I thought they were probably over-estimating themselves. Turns out they weren’t. Side-scrolling 2D shooters, top-down kart racers, and even RTS games were all just some of the ideas that were created in the 24 hours that Media Molecule gave to some of their favourite LBP community creators to test out the new game with no tuition. Naturally platforming games are still a big part of the game with sackbot AI and grapple hooks being amongst the new additions. It’s just an unbelievable feat already; this really does look like a game that could last forever.
The New Xbox 360 250GB Slim: Yes, Kinect looks pretty cool (and it’s a much better name than Natal) but it’s the XBOX slim that’s got me salivating. Well, not salivating, just happy that it takes up less space AND loses the silly wi-fi aerial in favour of proper internal gubbins. You know, like the PS3’s had since blooming launch. A 250GB hard drive as standard is also welcome. The big question though? Will it be quieter than the current models? That’s what’ll please my wife more than anything, a complete lack of whirring.
GoldenEye 007: For gamers of a certain age, just the word Goldeneye can send them into blissful reverie. It’s the title that we all roll out when discussing the exception that proves the rule that film tie-ins are pants. And what do Activision do at E3? They announce they’ve updated it, brought in Daniel Craig’s more menacing Bond and made it playable with both the old style control set-up and a bit of frantic Wii controller point-and-shoot. “The game delivers an all-new adventure that seamlessly integrates nostalgic GoldenEye moments with innovative FPS gameplay and unique multiplayer action that is unrivaled on the platform,” explained David Pokress, Head of Marketing for Licensed Properties, Activision Publishing. Yes mate, just deliver it soon, alright?
Portal 2: Do I need to say more than that? Valve’s just plain brilliant puzzler on the Orange Box was funny, challenging, original and all sorts of other good things. And what gets announced at E3? Portal 2 is coming in 2011 with the best version, apparently, on PS3. According to early reports, you will once again play Chell and have to make it back through the lab, which is now run down and overgrown. To assist you’ll have Wheatley, a British-accented “personality sphere” with a fine line in dry humour and you’ll need him as the game is twice the size of the original. You’ll also have a range of new toys from the tractor beam-like Excursion Funnel to something more deadly called a Thermal Discouragement Beam. You also have to love the sound of Repulsion and Propulsion gels which allow you to bounce great distances and build up incredible speed respectively. There’s also a two player co-op.
The Old Republic
So far both trailers for The Old Republic have displayed battles of epic proportions that not only have been a joy to watch, but may also be among the best I've seen for a video game. The wait for a new game set in this period of Star Wars history has been a long one and I can't wait to get my hands on this, as KOTOR 1 & 2 were a complete joy to play with very little to fault. There are a number of light side and dark side classes that you can choose from for your character, and after initially being sceptical about how it was going to play out as an MMORPG, I'm now looking forward to it, as it'll be much more of challenge to compete against real people instead of AI characters.
I've been hooked on Mortal Kombat right from its beginnings and the new game looks like an absolutely savage fighter the likes of which we've never seen before, even from the previous titles in the series. All of our favourite characters have been brought back with their characteristic set of moves and they've been given a shiny new coat of paint. The multiplayer appears to include more than 2 players at a time, so they'll probably be a few furious online modes as well as local split screen. Fatalities seem to be the goriest of the series so far and it's worth looking out for Kung Lao's finishing move at the end of trailer because if it's anything to go by they'll be worth the hours you'll have to spend learning the button combinations to pull them off.
Fallout: New Vegas
Looks like this is going to be another cracking title right from the start, as your character's shot in the head, dumped in a ditch, and then has the rest of the game to find out why. This time around you get to stumble through the Mojave wasteland that contains the remains of The Strip, which still has a few neons lighting up the night sky and appears to still be turning a profit although the casinos'll probably be collecting bottle caps instead of dollar bills. There's not much that Bethesda really needed to do to improve on Fallout 3, but I'm glad to report that some of the extra features to the gameplay are pretty exciting. You'll be able to upgrade and modify your weapons as well as making your own ammunition, which means you can add larger ammo drums to your guns, or you can opt to convert a machine gun so that it can fire grenades! Companions can also be easily controlled using the new companion wheel, which should make encounters with raiders or super mutants a little easier.