Thursday, June 9, 2011

E3: Highlights & Lowlights

Ahh, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. What can you say about it? Well, "Electronic Entertainment" means video games, and "Expo" means... well, Expo. And that concludes our intensive three-week training course.

E3 is the most popular - and arguably most profitable - press event for developers to announce and detail their latest and greatest to-be hits, whether it be in massive halls with 60-second reveal trailers, or in their Comic-Con-esque stalls where people can sit and play demo versions of the in-development games. This year, a few cool things were announced at E3. Also, a lot of not so cool things were announced and detailed. I thought I'd name, fame and shame a few of my personal highlights and lowlights as E3 closes its doors and winds down after a hard three days of talking videogames. Read on, won't you?


Do you remember Metro 2033? I do. I wrote a "What I Think" piece on it after playing it for an hour, and awarded it honourary Reader Game of the Year. It was a first-person survival shooter from some of the minds behind the similarly vodka-fueled S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, set in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, in which the surface has become inhabitable and citizens have taken to the metro tunnels for their own safety. It had a claustrophobic and suffocating atmosphere, incredible attention to detail, and a pretty diverse and intriguing plot at a methodical pace.

Well, 4A games are working on a sequel, Metro: Last Night, which was revealed with a damn well edited trailer showing of some awesome concept art and a taste of some of the gameplay and graphics enhancements. All this game has to do is refine the Metro 2033 experience - which it will no doubt achieve - and this could end up being one of the best horror shooters of all time, just like its predecessors.

Do you like Ratchet and Clank? I do. Back in the days when I owned a PlayStation 2, Ratchet and Clank was some of the most fun I've ever had. So I've followed Insomniac Games closely... despite them releasing all their Ratchet and Clank and Resistance titles exlcusively for PlayStation 3, I a system I don't own. With Insomniac teamed with EA now, though, they can bring gamers multi-platform shooter and adventure experiences. Thus, comes Overstrike. From the trailer, it appears to be a four-player team-based co-op adventure set in the future. Not convinced?

It also looks to be deadly funny. Like, Pixar funny. The animation and character design already sort of resembles The Incredibles, and with a violent yet kid-friendly-ish bent on the humour: "Then how do you explain the collateral damage your team leaves in its wake?" "Enthusiasm?" This looks to be a fun, funny, evil robot-fighting romp with teamplay and cartoon humour. Easily the most exciting new IP to come out of E3 this year.

Hold still while I blow your mind - I love TrackMania Nations. It's the simplest arcade racer available for PC. It's also free. It also has the most comprehensive and robust track editor of all time, coupled with possibly the greatest social racing online component of any game. And the sequel - revealed several months ago with this awesome reveal trailer - looks to be insane. There wasn't a lot of it at E3, it seems - all I could dig up was this article by Gamespot - but what it lacked in leaving an impression, it made up in reaffirming several of the pretty scant details.

For one, the track editor will be more powerful than Nations', only without being made any more complicated. Two, the graphics are looking amazing, especially when compared to Nations capable yet lacking rendering engine. And three, we'll be able to cut, create, and edit our own movies. For example - the trailer itself was cut, filmed, and edited in-game by some fans who playtested the thing. That's what fans can do - imagine what them professional machinima guys can cook up. This is easily going to be an amazing online experience and an awesome racer in and of itself, with TrackMania's typical insane options for custom tracks and vehicles. It's gonna rock.


Nintendo, I know you're proud of the 3DS. It's pretty cool tech and I can't say I'm not incredibly intrigued by the graphical grunt the handheld packs. But... okay, let me see here. Do you have any original games coming out for the damn thing? Yes. 3D is cool. It's a gimmick, yes, but it's a cool gimmick. I'm glad you agree. But why must you take the Nintendo 64 titles of yesterday and run them through a 3D filter? New character models and improved textures and water effects and improved polygon counts down mean squat - your first-party line-up so far is Nintendogs again, and the your N64 back catalogue. Not impressed so far.

Also not impressed with the Wii U. The machine looks like an Xbox 360, and if reports are right the HD will be great. But I take issue with the touch-screen controller and how... not cool it is. It just doesn't make sense. Why do I want a screen on my controller, when I have a 50'' screen right in front of me called a television? The launch line-up, however, is less offensive. Batman: Arkham City, a new Super Smash Bros. - I don't doubt Nintendo will be clever bastards and make this work, but from where I stand, this is... not impressive tech yet. I guess I'll wait for Nintendo to prove me wrong. At least it's in HD, right? Eh.

There wasn't a lot of bad announcements at E3. Not really, anyway. There were a lot of mediocre ones - as Extra Credit's James Portnow paraphrased, a lot of it was "the motion control experiment worked!" More Kinect games and Move games were announced and they're largely inoffensive. What might be considered offensive is the return of Final Fantasy XIII.

Yes, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is right around the corner and it looks to have all the "kawaii," girly charm of FFX-2, with the fucking... fuckity fuck fucked fuckness of FFXIII. I don't think anyone was clamouring for more of Final Fantasy XIII, even those who enjoyed the bloody thing. And certainly they didn't expect the thing to have... quick time events. I don't know which is worse, the fact that Square Enix thought this would be popular, or the fact that, because it's Final Fantasy, that it will sell. If Square wasn't publishing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I'd consider firebombing their headquarters. Easily, FFXIII-2 is E3's worst of show. Even Fruit Ninja Kinect has more redeeming features than this.

1 comment:

  1. Top Story of the Day: 2 million units of Nintendo's new console, Wii U, were sold in the first hour of release! In other news, broken TV rates rose to 400%...