Friday, June 24, 2011

E3 2011 - Part 2

Wasn't this a driving game a few years back? Apparently Id has decided to go back to what they're best at and make an FPS. While I'm looking forward to this game, don't mind me if I'm a little underwhelmed. It's not that anything about it looks bad, it's just that conceptually and even technically there's nothing ground breaking from what I've seen of Rage. What I have seen looks like an incredibly tight FPS, very much in the style of play I expect from Id. What does that mean though "style of play"? For Id the style is a throwback to the genre they adopted as a zygote and raised to maturity, where variety of weapons, waves of baddies, and a bit of creeping horror were par for the course. From everything I've seen of Rage it seems to be progressing in this direction, which is a nice break from the quick time event laden cover shooters we're being exposed to non-stop from every other direction. I'm looking forward to a thoroughly modern experience that at it's core adheres to the gameplay tropes I've come to revere from Id games for the last 15 years.

I'm not going to talk much about Bastion except to say that it looks like it's finally coming out. All told, the game that got everyone talking about the gimmick of the on-the-fly narrator seems to have become something more than just that and I'm looking forward to exploring what appears to be a visually interesting game world with enough unique narrative touches to create a compelling experience beyond graphics and gimmicks.

Batman: Arkham City
The first game (Batman: Arkham Asylum) was simply amazing, a 3rd person action adventure title with excellent, uncomplicated controls that had just enough arcade brawler and just enough Splinter Cell to leave me feeling like I was Batman after each session. Arkham City looks to continue in that vein with a host of improvements, a larger, more open world, and a playable Catwoman. These guys can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, so they might as well already have my money.

Aliens: Colonial Marines
There hasn't been a really good Aliens game since Monolith's Aliens vs. Predator 2 in 2001. The one thing anyone who grew up watching and re-watching Aliens in the 90's has ever wanted to do is to simulate being a colonial space marine. James Cameron's sci-fi action film gave us just enough reference to feel what this would be like and subsequent games made it real, while sharing play time with Aliens and Predators of course. This time around we get to be the Marines 100% of the time and as a project that's been cooking for a while I can only hope it's been time well spent. This could be the game to revitalize a franchise from the slow, painful death brought upon it by progressively worse AvP films.

Sonic Generations
I haven't been a fan of Sonic since the game moved away from 2D as it's primary view and as most will tell you, there hasn't been much recently to be a fan of. With last years Sonic 4 however and the upcoming Sonic Generations it appears as if Sega is rebooting everyone's favorite speed demon in a way that everyone can enjoy. So far what I've seen of Sonic Generations is reassuring. There's no narrative fluff clogging up this game, no crazy powers, no dumb sidekicks, just Sonic in 2D and 3D doing what he does best: go fast!

Tomb Raider
Looks like they're rebooting Tomb Raider and I may actually be interested for the first time ever. I never got into the Tomb Raider games mainly because the thing I was best at in them was dying due to shitty controls. Add to that experience a save/continue system that made me want to throw controllers across the room, and I never did more than casually play a friend's copy here and there. This new game looks interesting though. At the very least, controls and save mechanics have evolved and standardized to a point where I'm less likely to be hindered by them. What I've seen so far has promise, but one thing needs to go ... Lara Croft needs to shut the hell up. The videos they showed at E3 were rife with unneeded gasps, grunts, and comments by the player character. This is all great for a demo video, but in a game where I may have to redo sections of a level, it's going to get old fast. Leave the gasps to the player and keep Lara's input to a minimum. Main characters in action games are better off seen than heard.

BioShock: Infinite
I remember distinctly playing the demo for the original BioShock. I did so on the Xbox 360 because there wasn't a PC demo (or the Xbox one was out first, I don't remember) and the combination of gameplay, art direction, and narrative sucked me in instantly. I remember posting some sort of amazing praise online immediately afterwards begging my other game dev friends to check it out and that this was what "good" looked like. The footage of Infinite brings back the same memories. I am simply blow away by the style of their game world and the pace of their game play. It is going to be a treat to delve into another BioShock world again for the first time. Columbia is the new Rapture.

Elder Scrolls VI: Skyrim
Just give me system requirements already. I built the PC previous to this one to meet the requirements of Elder Scrolls V: Oblivion and I'll alter this one for Skyrim most certainly. Something the crew at Bethesda has been fantastic at since Morrowind is simulating worlds and while one can certainly argue about the repetitive core game play of Oblivion and some "lifelike" systems that weren't quite there, you have to agree that there is something wonderful about an open world that's ripe to explore. I think they really got it right in Fallout 3, a game that I logged 60+ hours on and that had me scouring the wastes on and off for several years. Skyrim looks like it's seeking to combine the lessons learned from Oblivion and Fallout 3 and make a better game all around, at least that's what I hope.

Quick Shots:

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
I mentioned being interested in this one last year and it looks like it's finally on it's way out. For all intents and purposes this has all the earmarks of a fun, stylistic indie game and I'm always a fan of that.

Modern Warfare 3
At this point I may not even get MW3. Let's face facts. BF3 comes out a month earlier and gives me all features for free. Unless it turns out to be less than what it appears to be (which is "awesome") then I may not even consider picking up MW3, BF3 will be "the game".

There's nothing much to say about this game except it's curiously moving and I haven't even played it. There's just something about the presentation that evokes a sense of loss, but also a sense of wonder and adventure. Thatgamecompany has made a name for themselves by being atmospheric and Journey looks to be taking that a step further and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Mass Effect 3
I won't say much about Mass Effect 3 being that I work for BioWare and I'm not going to say anything bad. I've been a fan of the series since the start and I'm very much looking forward to how this space epic is going to end. I honestly don't know anymore than anyone else out there right now and I wouldn't want to. I'm very much looking forward to completing my Shepherd's adventure next year though.

Not having been a big console gamer for a long time I never developed the same affinity for developers like Insomniac that others have. I will say this though, I'm aware of Insomniac's resume and Overstrike looks like good fun. All I've seen so far is pre-rendered though, so time will tell how it all actually plays. I expect to be pleasantly surprised.

From Dust
It looked good last year and it looks even better this year. The "god" game has really been dormant for some time (Black and White aside) and this looks like the kind of resurrection that I can really get behind.

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