Saturday, June 9, 2012

E3 2012 - Part 3

I'm back with the penultimate installment of my E3 coverage. First up, another game about zombies:

ZombiU (video link)
Nintendo (like mobile phone game developers) is largely trying to entertain an audience that is not me. Because of this fact I believe I should be forgiven for thinking that the Wii U was simply a Wii add-on for the past year. As it turns out, this is a new system entirely and as with most Nintendo systems, I have found it difficult to muster any enthusiasm for it. That is, until I saw ZombiU. While it may not be the best example of the Wii U out there and it may not even be that great a game, ZombiU is the kind of demo that gets someone like me interested in something like Wii U. It seems that Nintendo has realized that while motion control is cool, people still like real controllers. That tactile part of gaming is still very important to us and until we start using haptic holographic displays like in Mass Effect, it is likely going to be. The Wii U seems to combine the good parts of motion control with the tactile usefulness of a controller and the augmentation capability of a second, personal touch screen. ZombiU appears to put all of these elements to good use and while the trailer is very heavily produced, I'll at least keep an eye on it and the Wii U over the next several months.

XCom: Enemy Unknown (video link)
I actually knew about this game a bit before it was announced last year. A co-worker knew someone at Firaxis working on it and spilled the beans. Make no bones about it, I can't think of any developer better suited to finally bring us a real XCom game than Firaxis. For one thing, they understand that turn-based gaming is a choice and not a relic of the past. For another, they have a track record of releasing top-quality products such as the Civilization series. From everything I've seen of this new XCom it looks to be both a faithful adaptation and a much needed modernization for this series. I am very much looking forward to playing this and saving the world again like it's 1994.

Company of Heroes 2 (video link)
I had some really good times with the original Company of Heroes, most of it in multi-player. While my circle of friends were waiting for Relic to release Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II (a game we thought we'd all spend a lot of time with but didn't) we played a ton of CoH. As far as multi-player RTS games go, CoH is easily my favorite of all time. Where other games rely on gimmicks and require non-stop micro management and twitch RTS skills, CoH was a decent meld of old and new. With tactics, area control, approach, and timing all being crucial factors, CoH reminded me of the old days of Age of Empires II albeit with a much more modern approach and an excellent supply line/control point system. There isn't much on display from CoH 2 at the moment, but I have to hope that it will follow closely in it's predecessor's footsteps.

The Unfinished Swan (video link)
I don't think it was until day 2 of E3 that I actually checked out the video for this game. The name spoke to me in a way that turned me off. "The Unfinished Swan", it just sounds like one of those obtuse Japanese games meant only for native or serious otaku consumption. Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I took a look. What I found at first glance looks like some kind of first person version of the PS2 game Okami or Epic Mickey for the Wii. The Unfinished Swan is a game where (at least initially) you are presented with nothing but a blank white screen. Without any visual cues, there is no way to know where you are going or even if you are going anywhere at all. The player can throw globs of paint at the world though and when they do, the shape of the level is partially revealed. Apparently there is more varied game play later on, but initially it's a concept that's intriguing and one I'm surprised we really haven't seen up till now.

Aliens: Colonial Marines (video link)
Aliens is the movie that made me an unapologetic James Cameron fan. I probably watched Aliens more than any other movie during high school and I was very much into the extended universe that could be found through books and comics. To my adolescent mind the world of Aliens had so much more going on than what was being shown and I wanted to explore those Stygian depths. Aliens: Colonial Marines is more or less a direct sequel to the Aliens movie. From what I can gather (and based on my knowledge of the film) the titular marines are likely the rescue party that Ripley and the others were going to have to wait 3 weeks for on planet LV-426 until it was revealed that the fusion reactor for the atmosphere processing plant was damaged and was going to blow. Gearbox has been working on this game for quite some time and I have to assume they've just been shifting around resources between it, the Borderlands games, and Duke Nukem Forever because it seems like this should have been out a year ago. Still, the game looks great and I trust Gearbox quite a bit so they can go ahead and take their time to give me the best xenomorph extermination simulation around.

Next: Mechs, Mines, and Mutants!

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