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Eprahim's blog

9:01 AM on 06.28.2012

Radical Dreamers: Goodbye, Videogames

I am a traveller. Of any kind you can think. I've been in many places in the world, each unique in its own right. But I've also travelled through worlds, and different stories. I've been in London. Paris. New York. I've explored the Mojave after the bombs fell. I've fought for survival in Pripyat against horrors I can't define. I've also been a runner in a dystopian government, and became a master of parkour. I've climbed the ladder of a modern vampire society. I've been to a different dimension in the South Pole, a soldier who fought against demons who threatened to invade the real world. I've been to Chiron, a planet so hostile and yet so full of natural beauty, and I've been in several zombie movies with three other people whose name I can't really recall. And after my entire body was almost completely changed through mechanical augmentations, I decided the fate of technology in a world that didn't yet know what it wanted to be.

One of the special features in the DVD in Inception was a documentary on lucid dreaming. Strangely, I've never dreamed that much. Sometimes I would have an extremely vague idea of what I lived during the night, a few rare times I would remember my dreams perfectly, most of the times I wouldn't remember anything at all. But this only made me treasure so much more the times when everything would live through my memories. One of the things that caught my attention during that documentary was a research that apparently showed that hardcore gamers would have far more lucid dreams than an average person. And how can that be wrong? Videogames for me were never about the gameplay, at least in the traditional terms. Videogames were me, in a world. Escapism? Initially, yes: I didn't have what I'd call a "good" childhood, and it's been just a year ever since I managed to put everything behind completely. But after that, I still felt hungry. I wanted more. At that point for me videogames had evolved into something else. It was no more worlds to get lost in, but worlds to briefly go to, for that hour or two that would allow me to take a break, relax, and live in. To dream of. The only shame is that this dream would soon shatter due to the current state of the game industry. And after picking up the pieces, this led me to my blog post, which will be my final blog post. I'm leaving videogames. I already uninstalled everything and gave away to friends my Steam and GOG accounts. Why am I doing this?
Because you no longer represent what I'm looking for, videogames. I just no longer have fun with you. Because I can't get immersed in you anymore. There has recently been a massive turn in game design towards pure gameplay. Some might say "everything is dumbed down now!" but that's not really the case. It's the fact that I no longer can ignore the huge HUDs screens reminding me that it's just a game. That every time I join a respectable multiplayer games I get greeted by people with absurd names that could never exist in real life OR a fictional world.

You remember Far Cry 2, right? Horrible, horrible game. It was buggy, it had severe gameplay faults, it was downright terrible. Yet I loved it. Because even if for just a moment, I was there. In Africa, fighting enemy soldiers, hunting for diamonds, even crashing my jeep because I pulled out my map while cruising at 100mph. Boom. Bang, bang.
Another thing that is one of the reasons for which I'm leaving videogames is peculiar, and I know some of you won't like me for this accusation, no offense. If the more "conventional" games have this obsessive spike towards gameplay, the more nichè audience received games made to cater more to their OCD than their immersion. An old friend of mine would sometime brag that he played through the Thief games so many times that he basically knew all the levels perfectly, and would always complete all levels without ever getting caught or seen. I mentioned Thief because it has a particular predisposition to this: it has quick-saves, the speed at which you go through the level is directly related to how many times you played it, supplies are sold before the level (good luck understanding which ones you'll need and which ones you won't) and all the other things you learn is through experience. See, when I'm playing a game, I don't want to remember that walking on wood is silent, even though you hear the noise. I don't want to remember that the exit is on the top floor and that by using a slow-fall potion I'll be able to get out without alerting the guards.
When I'm playing video games, I want things to go wrong. From me, from the game, from anything. I want to accidentally trip over some item, hear it clanging, and hear a guard ask "what was that?" to then come investigate while I tell myself "shit!". I want freedom to say whatever the hell I want. Because that's what would happen into a dream.
Imagine this: you're dreaming of a particular situation. Only you've dreamed of it again. And again. You know precisely what's going to happen, and once you explore how you can make the dream go different, your fun is pretty much over. The pleasure of dreaming is gone. This is what they deliver in video games. A few really good moments, and once you realise it's all the same it's over. You get a list of upgrades you can research (Mass Effect, Civilization, take your pick). You know EXACTLY what they're going to do. Why is it even called research at that point? Why are we in the classical age and we already have plans for a ship to Alpha goddamn Centauri? It doesn't help that once you replay it (everybody generally agrees that you're supposed to have at least two games to make it last your while), the tech tree is the exact same. Yeah, it does make sense but no, it's not helping me to get inside the game. And I understand it. Hardcore gamers who also happen to be dreamers are rare, too rare for developers to invest their time with them. And why should they? Why should they deliver something shiny new every time you start a game? I understand that what I want is impossible, and developers are frankly awesome to already follow us to the point of even mentioning true immersion. Keep up the good work, devs.

But this is also the reason for which I'm leaving videogames, and not coming back until these games start getting made. Thanks, devs, for those rare times I actually got something that gave me exactly what I wanted (see those at the beginning). Thanks, you guys, for giving me food for thought in this world. I bid you farewell. Maybe some day I'll come back. Maybe.

P.S. I'm so watching Wreck-It Ralph.   read

4:10 PM on 07.27.2011

Motion Control: One with the world

No matter how long you search, you'll never find a true definition of what motion controls are. The general idea of the term is "flapping your arms around like a 10 years old kid with a serious epilepsy problem", but how accurate is that sentence? Motion controls arrived to the mainstream with the Wii, but a more accurate research shows that they've existed for a long time. Or have they? There's this underestimated problem in the gaming industry: we don't know what a "motion controller" is yet. Sure, the EyeToy was a motion controller, but what about those driving setups with pedals and steering wheel you'd find in the big video game shops during the early 2000s for computers? Would those have counted as motion controls as well? It is like playing Mario Kart Wii after all, only this time around you've got pedals and it doesn't feel so clumsy. Or perhaps are motion controllers "anything that isn't your average console controller or mouse and keyboard"? I've been thinking a lot about it, and I recently came to the conclusion that motion controllers have always had the main goal of immersing you completely in the game world, and that's what should define them apart from other controllers.

Let's go back to the driving set we mentioned earlier - remember seeing it and wondering "That really costs a lot. Who would want to buy this stuff"? Well, back then you probably also didn't know just how many people want to emulate driving a real car. The entire Gran Turismo series is based around that (and is probably the reason for which the driving sets exist on consoles as well). People would buy those driving sets for the only reason that it would make them far more immersed in their driving experience than a simple mouse and keyboard or even a joystick/controller would. They wanted to become one with the game.
Railway shooters? Who doesn't love railway shooters? Remember those long sessions at the arcade playing House of the Dead? You were kept constantly on edge just for two simple reasons: you couldn't pause... and you had the gun/shotgun in your hands, forcing you to always be ready to aim at the right spot. Just how easy was it to get lost there, thanks to the game forcing you to focus on it?

Immersion is a deeply underestimated factor in video games, one that has got far less importance from developers as technology progressed (and most importantly, as multiplayer started getting the upper hand on singleplayer). But at the same time, we don't want to completely abandon immersion. It still exists, but as a ghost in our minds - sure, 95% of the people played Modern Warfare 2 for the multiplayer, but are you really sure it's that rare to find someone that while playing the rather short 5-hour-campaign thought "Damn, I wish I was there"? Was the main appeal in Fallout 3 tons of areas to explore and to loot in the name of honest good old OCD... or was the main appeal of it being placed in a post-apocalyptic world where you would be free to do whatever you wanted and live the adventure you've always dreamed of?
The ancestor of role-playing games Dungeons And Dragons is completely centered around living a fantasy adventure.
So on one side, immersion is getting less and less attention from developers because they think it's not important since gamers don't care anymore (or seem not to). On the other side, technology is advancing a lot allowing us to get rid of the infamous immersion breakers. And when developers manage to create a compelling atmospheric and immersive experience (to make a recent example, Bioshock) the critics and the public will love it.

I used to be very skeptic about the Wii U. I considered the tablet-controller a useless gimmick that would only look well in the living room of a fourty-year-old-woman who wants to look trendy and not technologically inept like the rest of her friends. Then the internet made me rethink everything. While lurking I found a thread on a board where screenshots of well-known games were "adapted" to become Wii U games. In particular, one image that stuck with me for weeks was a screenshot of Fatal Frame where the tablet took the place of the camera. At that point I just sat back and thought: "Okay, I was wrong. That would be pretty damn awesome, actually". And the rest of the images gave me a similar vibe too - if developers are going to take the Wii U in the right direction, it's going to become an amazing console.
The same could have happened with the Wii, if only it came out later and with a few different design choices (mainly in console power). Where did we go wrong with the Wii? How could the possibility of having your own hands play the game fail (from a game-developing point of view, certainly not from a sales point of view)? How did we get to the infamous "waggling"? Simple. Let me tell you a story - I had to go to my vacation home, and so I brought my laptop with me. Once I got there, I realised - I had forgotten my mouse. So I had two choices: I could either use the trackpad or I could... experiment. I took my mother's drawing pad and connected it to my PC. I used it to play Morrowind. I didn't last long, sadly - I wasn't used to a drawing pad (I normally use my right hand for the mouse and hold a pen with the left, so trying to manage the keyboard with my right hand was terrible) so I couldn't move it swiftly like my mother could. But the experiment got me thinking either way: why couldn't I shake off the feeling that if I had the abilities to use the drawing pad, I would have enjoyed Morrowind far more than with a mouse? Because it would have increased a whole lot more my immersion. Just as the driving set's increased immersion was the main reason for people to buy it, motion controllers have the great occasion to restore the role of immersion in video games- but I'm not talking about a simple PS Move Killzone 3 feature added in. I'm talking about completely reworking player physics. Something that couldn't have been possible in this generation but will be possible in the next. I'm talking about having complete control over the player character's hands. As long as the only "motion controls" developers can think of are just a bonus "move your aim with the controller" or "flap your arms like a penguin to shake off the enemy", motion controls are headed full-steam-ahead towards a dead end - but if developers manage to make each game unique through motion controls, if they manage to make the player character reaction in the game the exact same as what the player just did with his controller, then motion controls are set to become the future.

And you know what? As a player who grew up breastfed with mouse and keyboard, I'll happily accept this future, because it means I'll finally be able to become one with the world of the videogames I love so much.   read

11:41 AM on 07.01.2011

DOS Days: Star Control 2

Star Control 2 is good. Damn good. There is a reason for which it became one of the most celebrated DOS games of all time - it kicks ass. In this day and age, however, memories might have faded a bit: many people might not have played it at all and some people might not remember it quite as well as when they first got their hands on it. So let us hop onto the bandwagon to celebrate this great game ourselves and say why it inspired so many modern games - this is DOS Days.

Star Control 2 is the sequel to the relatively unknown strategy/shmup hybrid Star Control. Designed by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, this space adventure completely blew away gamers back in 1992, so much that it was chosen by IGN as the 17th best game of all time. But what was the winning formula that got the game to reach for the stars (forgive the awful pun)?
Well, for starters the gameplay is quite difficult to describe. It belongs to no conventional genre - instead offering a strange mixture of space simulation, RPG, adventure game and shmup. A mixture which quite actually works and ends up providing a great vintage cocktail to enjoy on your PC. The writing is superb- Star Control 2 is the only game which got me to laugh several times like a hysterical chimpanzee in front of my computer, simply because the dialogue is just that hilarious.
There is also a huge amount of story events in the game (the majority optional) which greatly increase replay value. But we'll get to all of this later.

Something went very wrong here.

Star Control 2 was probably one of the very first non-point'n'click heavily plot-based games. Instead of the background of the game being explained in the game manual with you following a linear path which will make you accomplish... something, the events before the game are explained neatly in the game opening. You are part of a long-lost scientist expedition which got stuck on a planet 20 years before in search for ancient Precursor (an ancient, technologically advanced race which dissapeared thousands of years before) artifacts to help humanity fight its war against the Ur-Quan, a race of bloodthirsty green and black alien spiders. After a Precursor spaceship factory is discovered, you are sent with the skeleton of a ship to the solar system, hoping that Earth might have the materials to finish it. Sadly, things don't go as planned when you discover that the war ended shortly after the departure of the expedition and that Earth is now submitted to the Ur-Quan and placed under a red "slave shield" which prevents humanity from travelling to space. The only facility connected to space is a station needed to drop off Ur-Quan supplies.
You soon discover by talking with the commander that the station is in critical conditions, due to it not recieving any supplies in years. After getting the station back to normal, the commander explains what happened to Earth- the Ur-Quan managed to win the war thanks to a secret weapon and everyone fighting them got to choose between being annihilated, becoming servants of the Ur-Quan or being placed under a huge slave shield covering an entire planet. For some reason, however, the green caterpillars dissapeared a few years later.
After convincing the commander to get a revolution started (not "kick it into overdrive", that's another SC2), you start a huge journey lasting 4 years attempting to recover anything that might help against the Ur-Quan and gaining many old and new allies. And I'm going to stop here, because I don't want to spoil the awesome plot to any people reading this who might want to play the game.

Knife included in the costume?

The gameplay is split in three different parts working together to provide a seamless experience.
You've got dialogue, following the footsteps of adventure games. Here you'll be entertained by geniunely funny dialogue, will buy new items and will get new alien races to join your cause. It's a pretty standard dialogue system: while most of the time the dialogue is linear (with some notable exceptions), it doesn't stop the optional responses from being geniunely funny and entertaining.
Occasionally you'll have to present some objects gained through space exploration to the different alien races to proceed with the plot (to fulfill a mission or to bring them proof of something), but aside from an Ultima-8-like level of bullshit at a certain point absolutely impossible to figure out without a walkthrough (and let me tell you because I want you not to ruin the game with a walkthrough - Admiral ZEX's beast is at Delta Lyncis, coordinates 570.4, 979.5) the game keeps the pacing going quite well, by also providing very interesting characters which include but are not limited to: pterodactyl warriors, space kamikazes, terminally depressed mask-wearing... things, talking plants, the best representation of the internet I have ever seen in a video game (blob-like aliens which will first crown you king and thirty seconds later attack you just for the "lulz"), red spiders who believe that their two gods of death occasionally come on TV to chat about destruction, hippie tucans who believe in the power of love, and many more.
Oh, and the game also features a gratuitious alien sex scene at a certain point.


The second part is centered around space exploration, and endorses different genres in the process. The game uses a top-view system which works fairly well (it was 1992, after all). There is an absolutely huge map you can explore as much as you'd like (keeping in mind that you do have a 4 years timer you must follow if you don't want the bad ending).
You can enter any solar system on the map. Once there you'll find different planets, and you'll be able to quickly scan the surface for minerals (you'll need them to upgrade your ship), energy traces (special plot-based events) and biological traces (lifeforms which you can kill to get biological data and credits from the alien traders Melnorme). Once scanned (it takes a simple tap of a button) you can send your lander to the planet, where it'll be able to hunt down lifeforms and collect minerals through a shmup-esque minigame. Be warned, though: your lander will be exposed to earthquakes, lightning bolts, high temperatures and animals which just want to eat your crew currently on the planet.
So there is a (pretty high, actually) percentage of risk involved, which you can reduce by investing in research with the Melnorme or by being careful not to go on planets with a Tectonics or Weather level higher than 6 before you've upgraded. You can see how Mass Effect 2 took heavy inspiration from this, with the only exception that this time around the minigame is actually fun.

The third part is an improved version of the shmup combat (called "melee" combat) from the original Star Control, one of the very little things kept in from the predecessor. While exploring space you may encounter alien races. Some will be friendly, but others will probably want to fight you due to you violating Ur-Quan laws (they're the "servants" we mentioned earlier). Combat may ensue, and you'll be able to choose between different ships - you can either use your main Precursor vessel (provided you upgraded it enough for it not to get wrecked by the first spaceship passing by), or you can use one of the ships of your alien allies.
Your Precursor ship is the only one you can actually upgrade - you can add Crew Pods which will enable you to increase your crew (which acts as your health), a more powerful cannon, auto-aim systems, faster battery recharge (You need battery power to attack, and each attack consumes some power if not all of it) and more. While the upgrade system isn't incredibly deep, it'll keep you scavenging minerals for a while and will leave you VERY satisfied once you'll become able to destroy those pesky probes in one shot.
The alien ships are usually weaker by the lategame, but they're pretty quirky - each ship has one standard attack and one special attack. For example, the Yehat (the pterodactyls we mentioned earlier) have a ship that is pretty good for mid-close range attacks, which has a shield that if timed correctly will prevent most of the damage done to it. The Pkunk (the hippie tucans) have an attack that goes in three different directions, can only recharge battery by taunting the enemy (their special attack) and sometimes when killed will revive in a glorious "HALLELUJAH!" (yes, I laughed the first time that happened). It's a system that works, and stays pretty fresh for most of the game.

The graphics are pretty great. Every alien race has some pretty great art done for it, and this helps create just the atmosphere you'd expect from a space drama. Soundtrack is fairly good - not the kind of music I hum to myself after I close down the game, but the tracks always fit the situation (aside from the final boss, but the final boss fight is underwhelming in itself)

By reading this you probably realised just how similar Star Control 2 is to many modern games, namely Mass Effect. Bioware got inspired a lot by this game, and it shows. Is this a good thing? Hell yes, it is. I'm not a Mass Effect fan, but the aura of Star Control 2 in ME1 and 2 are probably what got me the most to get through them.

Let us conclude. What words could be used to describe Star Control 2? Many. Memorable. Unforgettable. Funny. Addicting. Charming. Flawless? Nah. It could be improved on in certain points. But is it the kind of game where the flaws obscure the merits? No, it's not. It's a fantastic game, and it deserves some time from any modern gamer. It helped shape the modern gaming world, so why not give it a try and make your own opinion? You can find the freeware open-source port The Ur-Quan Masters, or you can buy Star Control 1 and 2 off GOG for 5,99$.
Good luck, captain.   read

7:32 AM on 09.21.2010

Beauty And The Buff

(or: How I learned not to worry and why buffing is underrated)

Buffs. In our video gaming life, we have all, at a certain point, at least heard of them. People who play MMOs and RPGs in particular. In the first case, buffs tend to have a very high level of importance in them. I heard a lot of people who play World of Warcraft mention how they are essential in team events, mainly when facing a hard dungeon or a boss. But I don't play MMOs, so I'd like to go in deeper in the second genre. RPGs. Any fan of the RPG genre knows what a buff or a debuff is - think about The Witcher, where you can obtain consistent advantages by drinking potions you bought or made yourself (it should be noted that when selecting a difficulty the game classifies as "essential" alchemy on hard). Or maybe you could go more tactical, just think about Baldur's Gate 2, where you can cast spells to hasten your party, or even shapeshift into different forms (Gaining strength and losing agility by becoming a bear? Even that, if you think about it, is a buff). I could go on forever, but in most WRPGs it is clear: buffs can be a great help to the player, especially on the higher difficulties. But are these buffs an increase in complexity or are they simply an extra nuisance to take care of?

I personally haven't really bothered about buffs until lately. I would summon creatures to help me where I could, but would ultimately avoid the world of "increases your party's strength". And while in WRPGs the art of enpowering your party and weakening the enemy party is not essential, but appreciated, it goes just a bit differently in JRPGs. And here pops in the reason for which I never really bothered about buffs and debuffs. Simply put, in JRPGs they're completely useless.

To make the most recent example, I recently tried out Dragon Quest IX on the DS. With a somewhat decent party (Ministrel, Warrior, Priest, Mage), I got to the boss of Alltrades Abbey. The battle began and I was ready to plan out my strategy (this was after I actually started caring about buffs, mind you. I'll explain when I started looking at them with respect later). I would have my warrior test out a few of his abilities to check if the boss was weak against one particular attack, I would have my ministrel do some support, I would have my priest heal and I would have my mage attack with magic spells. Pretty elementary, right? However, I couldn't avoid noticing an ability I got on my mage just a few levels back - this spell would "increase my party's agility". I tend to bother a lot about agility - when I can distribute skill points, I always favor agility before anything else. Attacking first and being able to evade easily are two things I really like, just because it allows me to mock the boss for failing to hit me at all. So I told myself: "Before I start casting magic spells, I might as well try this out". So I did.
The message "Tomo's party agility increased a little" popped up (I use that name when there isn't enough space to type out "Doomguy" or a canon name for the protagonist, don't ask why). "Only a little?" I thought. The turn passed and the boss attacked, raining hell upon my party. With the usual healing, I told myself: "Wonder what changes if I do it again". And so, I cast the spell again. And the message "Tomo's party agility increases by a lot" appeared in front of my eyes. I told myself "Now we're talking" and started fighting. As I progressed through the fight, rebuffing when the boss debuffed me, healing and dealing damage, I noticed a fatal flaw in my reasoning.
Absolutely nothing was changing. I still wasn't avoiding any attacks at all. The attacks that I did avoid basically were the same chance I had to evade as being unbuffed, in an enemy encounter.

After losing (my party just wasn't strong enough) I retried.
This time, without any buffs. And... nothing changed. Absolutely nothing. At ALL.
To win the fight, I didn't have to use a particular strategy, no. I had to go out, and do the thing I loathe the most in all RPGs. I had to, dear readers, grind. It was my first Dragon Quest. I had heard from many people that DQ has got a lot of grinding, but in my eyes when a JRPG forces you to grind... it's not a very good JRPG. Why do I have to grind for gold to buy myself a +10 helmet to survive the boss, when I could just buff myself for the moment, and then buy a +20 helmet with the money I saved and obtained along the way? It just doesn't make any sense. Without buffs and weakness-exploting, JRPG boss fights are just a simple comparison of force. "This is my strength, this is your strength. We're even. Only I have a healer, so I win". That's not how you create difficulty.
You don't just ask the player to beat hordes of monsters that look the same so that the guy can create powerful armor or gain a few levels. Where is the skill of the player, at that point? In the dedication put into the game? Shouldn't be judged that way. Every boss should have a few difficulties that affect the player. No matter how much you grind, the boss should still be able to kick your ass. Which brings me to mention a series of JRPGs that actually does the buffing party very well - ladies and gentlemen, Shin Megami Tensei.

Remember what I told you before? About me not caring about buffs up until a certain point? Well, my "baptism of fire" in the world of JRPGs was exactly this. MegaTen. A lot of games in the series make buffing almost a necessity and most importantly, they completely burn down the necessity to grind. Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne ("Lucifer's Call" third party port for we Europeans, since Atlus doesn't handle Europe) is the most infamous example.

The game is THE hardest JRPG out there, mind you. Just because it does buffing well doesn't make it easy. There are two main rules in Nocturne. Rule number one, exploit weaknesses. Number two, buff like the fist of the north star. In common encounters you'd best have the first rule ready. If you don't, you'll have to use the second to avoid having your ass handed to you by a couple of rather weak demons. During boss fights you WILL buff, let me tell you. In particular, the Matador (see above) is the dread of many people who have played this game. The Matador is, basically, the way the game welcomes you. "Feel free to grind any amount of time you want. Grind for half an hour. Grind for three hours. Grind for a day. But you still won't get past this dear fellow".
Very quick resumè of the battle system in the game: each member of your party has one turn. Exploiting a weakness gives an extra turn. The Matador just happens to have not one turn, but two. His first move will ALWAYS be a nifty thing called "Red Capote". It brings his agility to the very maximum, making him impossible to hit and reducing your chance to evade to... zero. And to beat this guy, there is one main thing to do (there is also getting a demon that knows a multiheal spell, but that's beyond the point): bring yourself to the same level as him. Not by grinding, but simply by buffing your party's agility enough. And there you go, you now are on the same level as the Matador. Kick the shit out of him. However, ANYONE who isn't a SMT veteran doesn't know this/can't think of this, so the Matador truly is a "baptism of fire". Hell, it basically was mine to buffs.

And that's just how buffs should be in JRPGs. Not just a cosmetic, useless +1 increase to your stats (And not really cosmetic, considering it's just a simple firework), but a way to completely reverse what happens in the battle. Buffing is a test of skill to the player - plan your moves right, or you're screwed.

Choose where to increase your skills - but be sure to be able to power yourself up just enough to be able to survive. Respond to the enemy's buff by buffing yourself, and show them that you've got what it takes. Exploit weaknesses in the meanwhile. Inflict status aliments (and higher your probability to inflict them by raising your agility). JRPGs can and are supposed to be much, much, much more complex than Final Fantasy XIII. And buffs are just a way to insert this complexity into the genre.

Start looking at buffs another way, because they're probably one of the most underrated things in the history of JRPGs.
Or go play Nocturne, that will be enough to teach you what the art of buffing is and is supposed to be.   read

6:14 AM on 06.16.2010

One good conference does not a good E3 make.

I could be talking about anything. I could be talking about the EA week on Steam. I could talk about how emulators changed the status of PC gaming. Hell, I could be talking about Nomura for all I care. But I here, have another long-winded post nobody will read on E3. I'll kick off by saying that this is pretty much a neutral comment, coming from a PC gamer. I do have an XBOX 360, but I haven't turned it on for months after I realised that the most interesting title I own is Ikaruga.

I was honestly surprised at how many people thought this was a good E3. I had a chat with some bros set up and an E3 stream for all four conferences (missed out on Ubisoft's because it was extremely late here, but apparently I didn't lose much), and was ready to enjoy some new games being unveiled. Boy, was I wrong. I didn't expect much from Microsoft in the first place. I knew they would be centering most of it around Natal (sorry, I meant Kinect). But that fucking much? Seriously, Microsoft? Two fratboy-fests, a new IP of which we only know the name (third-party even, so expect it to be multiplatform), and Fable 3 (the only interesting title, actually). Then, off we go with Kinect. You know casual gamers aren't going to watch E3, so why fucking bother in the first place? Waggling everywhere. Input delay, too. Of course, when your console only has 256MB of RAM (genius idea, Microsoft), you can't seriously expect you to be recognised in the exact same moment. Also, calling lolis to present your shitty waggling shovelware is not a good idea, no matter how cute it may sound. It's just downright stupid. And what was the big surprise of the night? ESPN.
Are you fucking kidding me? You could announce new first-party games, you could do anything, and you present to me ESPN. I'm not even american, what should I care in the first place? I know Microsoft has been pressing hard down the "a console in every house" mentality, but the 360 is supposed to be a gaming console in the first place. That's the problem, Microsoft. Try to fix that next year. In the end, Microsoft's conference was bad. And I mean it. It was laughably bad. Good job, Microsoft. Especially in the free XBOX finale, that'll help every reviewer make up their mind (read: completely reverse what they thought up to that point of the conference. Except for Destructoid and Screwattack, they acted pretty damn cool). Now, let's move on.

EA's press conference. It was... decent. It started out FUCKING GREAT (and I mean it) with Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 3. I'm not really into realistic driving simulators. The only racing games I like are Burnout and, you guessed it, Need for Speed. I'm really looking forward to it.
Moving on, the original Dead Space was a good game, but it stopped being scary after around 20 enemies. It broke the most basic rule of horror games: if you want to scare, never put too many enemies inside it. The player creates expectations that a monster will be around the corner, and when it's not there the tension rises even more. Rule for which Clock Tower: The First Fear and Fatal Frame are widely considered some of the scariest horror games. Dead Space 2 also looks like it's going to be more action-based. That won't necessarily make it a bad game, but I hope they'll stop calling it a horror game. Unless they make it unfairly hard. Also, it's going to have QTEs but at least they will require some aiming. Even though shooting a limb or torso will probably be the exact same.
Then, I felt something die inside me. Medal of Honor. Medal of Honor used to be so good. I owned Rising Sun on PS2 and loved every single minute out of it. What the fuck happened here? Now, I don't even like Modern Warfare 2. But while I saw the people playing the multiplayer, I noticed that they weren't playing Medal of Honor, but Call of Duty. Apart from the audio (which was really, really good), it wasn't "inspiration". It was downright plagiarism. I was ashamed. This is not the road to travel, EA. Now, fix that abortion and make it a good Medal of Honor. Of course, what the fuck am I saying? You never will.
Crysis 2. Apart from the fact that playing on easy difficulty is not the way to show your "revolutionary AI" (and I seriously doubt it will be better than the original F.E.A.R.), it looked fairly generic. Much more generic than the first, that's for sure. It also looked more linear, but that's probably just a first impression. Just hope they don't make it Call of Duty: Future Edition just because it's on consoles. Also, I lost a lot of respect for Crytek when they said that the original Crysis was ruined by piracy. It wasn't, it sold over a million copies in a few months. Stop whining. Also, you can't seriously expect people not to test if they can run it through piracy. Learn to optimize your games better or make them less graphics-intensive and see that they will be pirated less. But we're getting off-topic. Back to E3.
Bulletstorm. Looks like the bastard child between Gears of War and Borderlands. This could turn out to be interesting, if it isn't ruined by the fratboys. I'm also looking forward to the scoring system.
The rest of the conference was ruined by massive announcements of sports games. Sports games are the same shit pumped out over and over again, why even bother? It's not worth it. Talk about some video games. In the end, EA's conference saved itself with the announcement of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 3. For the rest it was... decent. Nothing that great. And oh yeah, a CGI trailer never shows what an MMO is, so I'm not amused by Bioware's trailer.

I missed Ubisoft's conference, so I'll avoid talking about it. Must say I'm really looking forward to Rayman Origins, though.

Now, here's where the "good conference" is at. Nintendo. Reggie... is a good showman. I'll give him that. He manages to talk about how "the Wii is better" without having that extremely annoying "holier-than-thou" attitude that Sony has. They just did a really damn good press conference. I have to give them that. And let me tell you, I don't give away compliments that easily. Nintendo really impressed me. Kirby is coming on Wii, a new Zelda (poor Miyamoto, you could see him sad because of all the interferences), Metroid Other M, Donkey Kong Country 4, and the MOTHERFUCKING 3DS. Here, let me translate that for you: games, games and more games. Where Microsoft failed and Sony did mediocre. Also, they showed the 3DS which was an extremely pleasant surprise. What made me have an orgasm was the 3DS' list of launch titles. I'm a big fan of Shin Megami Tensei, so you can imagine my reaction when I found out that we would get two more titles on the 3DS AT LAUNCH. And maybe Devil Survivor will be a sequel, not a port. Also, Chaos Theory is one of my favorite games and I really liked MGS3, so the entire library of 3DS games caused me to squeal like a little bitch. Nintendo absolutely won E3, there was no contest.

And then there was Sony. It had a major issue in it. Take Microsoft's conference. Take out the "laughably bad" part. Add one more game, make them all first party. Add the extremely annoying holier-than-thou attitude I was talking about earlier. And... there you have it. Sony's press conference, ladies and gentlemen. It was so boring to watch. It was almost physically painful to sit through. And the waggling, oh god the waggling. One year they were complaining at how the Wii is a gimmick, and then they show their "Move"? Please. The Wii actually did things original, and at least Kinect, as stupid as it is, is a step up from EyeToy (partially). And everyone laughing at the bad jokes that were made. I was tempted at leaving the stream halfway through, but I wondered how far they could keep up. Most of Sony must be still asshurt from their E3 2006 conference (It's RIIIIDGE RACER! RIIIIIDGE RACER!) and now they try to feel superior to the others. Now, the games. I've tried Killzone 2, and after watching the Killzone 3 presentation... I'm not amused. It's Killzone 2 with snow and jetpacks. I wish I was trolling. inFamous 2 looks fairly interesting. Gran Turismo 5 finally isn't vaporware anymore (I hope for those interested in it). However, I'm not interested in it so there you go. I can give them credit on their PSP presentation, since they actually do have something to back up there. Oh, and a new Twisted Metal. Don't really care, but hell, it was about time. In the end, Sony's conference wasn't as bad as Microsoft, but for sure it was the least entertaining. It was downright boring.

So, from the conferences what can we understand of this year's E3? Read the title. We only had one interesting conference. Long story short? This year's E3 downright sucked.   read

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