I am from Mississippi, and I have been an avid gamer for years. I love the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, Twisted Metal 1-4, Dragon Quest VIII, Super Mario Bros, Super Mario World, Professor Layton games, Zelda: Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, and Phantom Hourglass, Uncharted 1 and 2, DJ Hero 1 and 2, Viva Pinata, and the Tekken games. I like anything else that doesn't suck. I don't trade games, and I am a big collector of retro games and consoles.
I have seen people on forums all day today complaining because they couldn't access the PSN store, they had issues downloading their freebies, etc. I would like to take a moment of my time to vent some frustration that a lot of people don't seem to understand.
1. We do not pay for PSN. What did you lose by the PSN outage? Some of you lost PS+ for a month, but that is being made up for by giving you TWO free months. The rest of us only were inconvenienced by not being able to play games online. You don't pay for the service, but for some reason many people are acting like they lost tons of money by the outage and are enraged for multiple reasons. Truth is, it is free. So quit whining.
2. "I already have all the games on the freebies list". Well, too bad. Refer to point one.
3. We are lucky to be getting anything at all, frankly. Sony doesn't really owe us anything but extra security for the outage, and they are fixing that by offering free Debix services for a year. So if it take you a few tries to get your free download, or the server is busy, just log off and wait a few days. You have plenty of time to get the entitlement that you didn't really deserve.
4. "I did lose out. I only bought a PS3 for the free online." Bullcrap. NO ONE buys a PS3 for PSN. It is inferior to the XBLA marketplace. I still love my PS3 more, mind you, but please be honest. You did not spend $300 because of the PSN when you could get an Xbox 360 with a year of Xbox Live for $250.
5. "They do owe us because we can't trust their security now!" They took care of that. They could have simply given us the Debix service with no games, and they honestly wouldn't owe us anything else.
6. "They owe us because they caused this by provoking the hacker(s)." Not really. We don't know who did the crime. It could have been anybody. But, the likely case is that it was a hacker mad about the jailbreak lawsuit months ago. Let's take a moment to examine this possibility. Sony took someone to court for hacking their system to play pirated games. That's not provoking; that is protecting their rights as a manufacturer. Not to mention that by jailbreaking the system, the Terms of Service is violated. Second of all, this hacker I can guarantee was not some 30-year-old hard working adult with a job and a life. It was 90% likely a 15-20 year-old kid who was mad because they think they should be able to do what they want regardless of the law of the ToS they agree to when they turned on their console, and thus decided to attack Sony. Why is Sony the bad guy here? How did the criminal hacker become the victim? That's bullcrap. WE are the victim. SONY is the victim. Why do people support the actions of these criminals? It is terrorism in a way, and honestly, if you think that we and Sony deserved this, you don't deserve to get freebies or anything kind of "Welcome Back Package". You should sell your PS3 and find a new hobby (maybe hacking?) because we don't want to play or talk with people who support terrorist-like actions that victimize millions of people and put them at financial risk.
With that said, how about we be thankful that we get anything at all? Sony is under extreme pressure right now, and they are doing their best to keep us around and make us feel safer. They didn't have to have the store up when they did, and they didn't have to offer us free games. Why can't we quit complaining because we don't get enough free stuff for an accident that wasn't Sony's fault? Why can't we quit complaining because everything isn't picture perfect on day one?
Why don't we start pulling together to put pressure on the internet gaming communities to find and seek out the criminal responsible for this? We should be thankful we are consumers of a company willing to give us free games and services because THEY were inconvenienced. I would be OK without free games, a month trial of PS+, or Debix service if that meant they found and convicted the criminal responsible for this.
I did an E3 post a few days ago, but it was pretty long winded and was more publisher focused. This time, rather than be analytical of the publishers and companies, I am just going to keep it short and simple by creating a "wish list" of sorts. Some of these would be big surprises, some are things we kind of know about. Onward!
1. Microsoft and/or Sony mentions their next console.
I agree that the longer we can hold off on new hardware is better. But, it has been 5 years now, and we haven't heard anything from Microsoft and Sony. If they came on stage, did all of their game announcements, and then used their final 20 minutes to simply say, "Hey, here is what we have got so far. We want to release it next holiday, but here is a glimpse of the hardware and specs we have so far.", it would be amazing. They don't have to even have a name or official casing. Just a prototype would do. Thing is, with Nintendo dropping the details on their new console, Microsoft and Sony need to catch up. They don't even need playable demos; that could wait for next year. It would just be awesome to know that they are making progress.
2. Zelda: Ocarina of Time remake for 3DS is also coming to "Project Cafe".
The only reason thus far that I want to purchase a 3DS is because OoT is my favorite game of all time. I spent countless hours on that game when I was younger, and for them to release that remake for their next home console would be outstanding. It wouldn't have to be a full-priced release. Maybe a $30-40 game. They updated graphics and new boss mode would be perfect.
3. "Agent" gets a gameplay demo at the Sony conference, and they say they are aiming for an early 2012 release.
With the way Rockstar handles their games, the release date probably isn't likely. They usually work on game for a good 2-3 years (or more) before dropping them. But they have also been pumping out spring games for 4 years now every April/May. I think Rockstar's best work is what they do outside of GTA, and this game has the potential to be a bombshell.
4. A surprise remake/reboot from Rare is announced at the Microsoft conference.
Rare has been under a lot of bad press lately, and Microsoft has been getting hit by people because of their apparent lack of holiday releases. I would love to see a Jet Force Gemini sequel pop up. It certainly sold well enough on the N64 to have an audience. I would also not be opposed to a Perfect Dark reboot. So many people loved that game, and when Perfect Dark Zero was screwed up, people moved away from the series. There is still an audience, though, and a reboot would do wonders for that franchise, so long as it was done by someone who actually knew how to do modern day FPS. Another Viva Pinata would also be loads of fun, and, for an even BIGGER reboot, I would like to talk to you about a little game called Killer Instinct...
5. Grand Theft Auto 5 does not get announced, but rather another Rockstar project does.
Let's face it: GTA is getting old. Very few franchises can pull off a fifth installment, and even fewer people actually finish a GTA game. I have personally loved all the new content flowing from Rockstar in the past 2-3 years. They are great are engaging storylines and vivid open worlds, and I would love to see them decide to flesh that out in another new, interesting IP rather than just crank out another GTA game.
6. A big new Sony surprise!
This could be a number of things. It could be a PS3 Patapon game. a Syphon Filter reboot, Sly 4, a new Jak and Daxter game, or even getting to showcase Respawn's new project (which could happen, as EA would love to throw that up on Sony's stage hours after Activision shows of Modern Warfare 3 at Microsoft). Anything of those would be spectacular. Also, how about another new "Play. Create. Share." title? Sony has a lot of potential to drop a surprise this year and steal the show.
7. Nintendo also has a big shiny surprise.
Again, I would love to see one of my favorite properties get shown off. Even if a reboot didn't come until the "Project Cafe" was launched, it would still be very welcome. I would enjoy a new F-Zero game, a new Star Fox title, a Star Wars Rouge Squadron sequel, or Viewtiful Joe 3. Those would all be just excellent.
8. Contra...in 3rd Person!
Imagine a Gears of War-like game, except it is Contra. Same over the shoulder, 3rd person gameplay. But with Contra. Oh my...
9. Timesplitters 4
Anyone who played one of the first three games would be foaming at the mouth if this got announced.
...they have something. They always do. Sure, they may not be at the conference, but they have all the power in the world to show a trailer at the Sony or Microsoft press conferences.
There ya have it. My hopes and dreams all flailed out all over the internet. If even half this list came true, no one will hear from me again because I will probably have had a stroke. It would be an overload of excitement.
I have been pretty behind on my backlog, and this week I recently decided to just plow through it as fast as possible. I have been struggling for something consistent for my blog, but I think I found something. I am going to start a new weekly bit called "After the Fact". It will be game reviews, but older ones, stuff I have yet to play and finish. It's not original, I know, but it will serve its purpose well. This week, I have finished Fable 3.
Fable 3 was promised to be the game of the century by Peter Molyneux, as all his games are. It was supposed to involve becoming king, refined combat mechanics, and a deeper story element than ever before. He said several times that he wanted us to have a cavalcade of emotions. The game fell infinitely short.
At least it looks pretty...
To sum up the story, the player controls one of two siblings, children of the hero of Fable 2. There is the "evil" son, Logan the king, and the "good" son/daughter, the player. Logan is described as an evil tyrant, imposing policies on the people that force them into poverty and suffering. It is revealed that the player is a "hero" like his father, and he/she is tasked with going to several different cities and villages and gaining the trust of the leaders of those areas by fighting hordes of enemies with usually a really big one at the end (as expected). After these leaders are acquired, they aid you in a revolution to take the castle. The king surrenders without a fight, and then basically informs you (for the first time in the game) that an evil darkness is coming to attack Albion, and you can either make the people happy, lower taxes, rebuild areas, etc. or be like your brother and force people into poverty in order to raise money to fight against the evil threat. You have a year from when you take the throne to prepare for the threat.
Here is the problem, though. There are apparently 6.5 million citizens of Albion. Every citizen costs essentially 1 gold to save. So, in order to save all 6.5 million people, you need to raise 6.5 million gold. To save 4 million, you must raise 4 million gold while the 2.5 million left will die, and so on and so forth. You can either be an ass and force people into work and to pay higher taxes, which will make them hate you but save more of them, or you can be nice and turn child labor factories into schools, lower taxes, etc. to give the people a good life but sacrifice bringing in a lot of money. You can also donate your own gold to the treasury to help save people, though making 6.5 million gold on your own is nigh impossible unless you leave the game on for a night or two (gold is not produced when the game is off, disabling the clock cheat from the last game).
In other words, Lionhead is essentially trying to force us to have an emotion by making us choose between being good and having tons of people die or being evil but saving most everyone. This feels like a cheap and lazy tactic when it happens. Why can I not have more control over my story? It is a weak attempt to wrap up the game. Why could I not have different groups of people (like in the first half) that I could recruit, and I can only pick a certain number of allies to get to help me defend Albion and they each have their own strengths? They could seriously have taken a lesson from Bioware's Mass Effect 2 in having multiple endings. Rather than give me control, it is more or less just trying to say "Oh, looks like a big morality choice is going to affect your end game! What are you going to do?". There is an achievement for being completely 100% good, and I don't care about these fake people, so I am going to go that route. There is no dynamic factor to the story in the 2nd half whatsoever. They tried too hard to make it emotional. Anything would have been better than the extreme linearity and forced emotional response that they chose to go with.
The combat is pretty much a clone of Fable 2. Y shoots your gun, X uses your melee weapon, and B shoots your magic spell. You can hold any of them to charge them up. This time around, you can get an upgrade that allows you to have two magic attacks at once (e.g. Fireball and Force Push create a strong fireball that knocks enemies back, or Vortex and Ice Storm will create and ice tornado, etc.). This can be fairly useful, though it doesn't double the damage of the spell, just adds to its duration, distance, effects, etc. This was actually a nice addition that encouraged the use of magic more often. The combat has a whole, though, is stale. There are no combos or anything rather than spamming the same attack over and over again until something dies. Blocking requires you to hold the X button, and the enemies move so fast that by the time you stop blocking to attack them, they have already started another attack themselves, and EVERY enemy attack will cancel out your attack no matter what. It is a major balance issue. It is tiring and very stale. There are also a lot of sequences that were modified in very cheap ways in order to fill space. These moments and battles can be annoying and quite boring.
In order to get upgrades of your melee, ranged, or magic weapons or to unlock things like new magic spells, expression packs (e.g. a "Mean pack" that lets you growl or yell at people, a "Parenting pack" that lets you do expressions with your child, etc.), and other world features (e.g. the ability to buy houses, the ability to buy businesses, different levels of jobs, etc.) are bought and unlocked in an area called the "Road to Rule". After each person recruited in the first half of the game, a new areas unlocks that has 5-6 chests with these upgrades in it that you can purchase using "Guild Seals" which are earned by doing favors for people (fetch quests or escort missions usually), and a small number is earned from combat. Frankly put, this sucks. The ability to buy businesses is not made available until half way through the first half. If I have enough gold, I should be able to buy a house to rent out or a pie stand to make money on. Second of all, these guild seals are annoying to earn. They are completely boring missions that equivocate to "go get this, bring it back" missions. Third, why do I have to buy expressions? That makes no sense logically.
The next point I want to mention is what is called the "Sanctuary", A.K.A. the solution to the menus from Fable 2. Basically, every time you hit start, you go to the Sanctuary, and you can walk into your armory (to change weapons), dressing room (to change outfits), "Sanctuary Shop" (to buy DLC), a portal to save your game, and last and definitely least, your map. The map is a little circular diorama of the Albion world. You can select it, then it shows all 10 or 11 cities/villages, and you can zoom into them to either fast travel or select a quest or building in the city for your yellow glowing trail to point you towards. Here is the problem: the map is a total pain to use. Finding things are difficult, and nothing is to scale. It looks like a 5th grader's geography project. It is awful. There is also no icon for what would essentially be "You are here", so you have no idea where you are in relation to your objective. This can cause many headaches, as fast traveling does NOT mean you travel to within 100 feet of where you want to go, but rather you travel to the extreme edge of an area and have to hike to where you need to go. It is tedious and boring. The times when I quit playing were when I was about to have to travel across an area and decided I was too bored to do that, so I would cut off the game, play Mortal Kombat, and pick it up the next day when I had more patience. Overall, the Sanctuary is laggy and it is really just as big of a technical hassle as the menus were in Fable 2.
The game is rendered nicely, with wonderful backdrops and lighting effects. However, it stutters quite a lot, sometimes right in the middle of combat. The camera isn't terrible, but there were several times where it got in the way.
The Sanctuary issues compared to the menu issues from Fable 2 cancel each other out. No really improvement nor hindrance there. The map is worse, causing confusion and headache. Combat is the same, though the dual spells tweak is a nice addition. Enemies are the same ones from the last game, with the addition of the evil darkness people at the end. The story starts out pretty well, but I could not overlook the ending. I would even maybe suggest just playing the first half of the game. I will add that the final person you must recruit in the first half (the last "mission" before taking over the castle) is brilliantly done. It involves your first encounter with the darkness that is threatening Albion. Story and presentation wise, it is outstanding. It is not overly frustrating of a battle, either. The first half finishes strong, but the second half was mediocre at best.
Should you buy it? At $20 or less, absolutely. The first half is a good 7-10 hours in length and is pretty good. It is about the same as Fable 2, if you liked it. The second half is, again, mediocre. It is not worth the full retail price tag.
I am sorry for posting twice in one day. I won't post again today or tomorrow, I swear. But I had to get this off my chest while it was still fresh. That's what she said.
I first got on to CheapAssGamer.com back in April of 2009. I thought it was awesome. They kept track of deals every week, had a price/trade-in value database for all the major retailers, had a pretty funny and interesting podcast, and they had a trading forum. Over the course of these past two years, I have embraced the trading forum. There are set standards for trading, a feedback system, and even a banned trader list. It is a tight knit community (or was). If you are unfamiliar with it, you create a "Trade/Sell List" in the trading forum, list everything you have to sell or trade and a list of "wants", and then just wait for someone to message you or check out other people's lists.
At first, it was awesome. Back when I started, people were giving good trades and there was a definite sense of value. People wouldn't message you unless they were certain they had something fair to offer for what they wanted from you. Usually, Amazon's sale and trade in prices were the standard for value. It was great. I even held my own "lowball sale", or an eBay style sale where you list everything you want to sell, and over time people bid on them starting at $1. No setting $50 start prices, no limits, it was great. Even better if you had a ton of older or retro games to sell. I could find pretty much anything.
But over time it has gotten worse. Now, I went back for the first time in about 8 months, updated my tradelist with my new games and new wants, and began to search other people's tradelists. It seems that the trading base has segregated itself. There are the old timers (those with 100+ positive feedback) and those who don't. What is sad is the old timers have put themselves on this pedestal of greatness because apparently no one else is worthy enough to trade with them. The guys who don't seem to be going in the way of junking up the trading forum. I went through the most recently updated threads this morning. I opened about 15 of the 20 threads on the front page and began to go through them. 9-10 of them were nothing but maybe 5-6 Xbox 360 games, a couple terrible puzzle or movie games from older systems, and then floods of anime movies, comic books, Blu-rays, or even just crap from their house. Somebody was trying to sell an iPad on there? Why would you think that belonged there? This other guy's tradelist didn't even have games, but rather just three paragraphs of text and unedited ginormoous pictures of a collectible Dallas Cowboys watch he wanted to sell.
Then, there is the other problem that the people who ARE there to trade games have decided that they all want to be like Gamestop now and try to get the most for the least. Now, mind you, there use to be a fairness there. But apparently in the 14 months between my last trade and now when I came back to the site, that went out the window. Some guy offered me $10 for Castlevania: Lord of Shadows (PS3) and $25 for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (PS3), which are both lower than the trade-in value for those games at Amazon. Another guy offered me his copy of Twisted Metal Black (PS2) for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and then he tried to get offended at me when I (politely) told him that the offer was offensively unfair. I could get that game on eBay for $8 and keep my $60 MvC3! Then there was someone last night who sent me a message saying that he would trade Trauma Team (Wii) for Bulletstorm (PS3) and/or his Muramasa: Demon Blade (Wii) for my Epic Mickey. I have a decent feedback number (79 positive, 0 negative), so I don't see why these people (all of them under 25 feedbacks) think I am some noob to try and undercut.
What is this place turning into? Where did the people I used to trade with go? I have used Amazon's trade-in service in the past couple of months a few times, and it was quick, painless, and I got some good credit for the games. But I liked CAG because it was a fun community, and I would much rather trade a game through the mail and get one back then just sell it. If I trade, then we both get what we want, and I don't feel like a cheap hooker for selling you something on the internet market. eBay is just boring. I have to wait for someone to bid on it, then wait 6 more days for the price to stay the same and people to bid at the last moment on it. Then, I have to wait for them to pay, wait for PayPal to not be assholes and remove the hold on the transaction. Not to mention that about 25% of the time on eBay selling games, the people think that "excellent condition" means "shrink-wrapped", but are too...good word to use here...um...ignorant...to read the description to find out that I am not selling you a brand new game for $40. Then, when selling multiple stuff that is sometimes heavy and requires really expensive shipping, they expect "free shipping" for it? Right. So I get to lose $20? Nah. If you just had bought the one item, it would only be $10 less!
The point I am ranting about is it used to be easier and more fun on CAG. You put a game in the box on a set date, and 2-3 days later (sometimes sooner) there is a game in your mailbox. Not to mention many times you became friends with the people you traded to. But now the place has turned into a flea market in a backwoods Mississippi town. I am allowed to say that because I live here. The site itself is making some cool changes and adding new features, like the price tracker that emails you when any retailer sets their price on a certain game at or below whatever amount you specified to be notified at. The trading forum, though, is going to garbage.
Thank you for reading my rant. I don't say this much, but I appreciate the reads on my blog posts, even if you don't comment or fap. It is just nice to know that SOMEONE out there is reading my thoughts on stuff.
With Nintendo's imminent "Project Cafe" announcement next week, I think it is proper to begin thinking about the next generation of consoles. More specifically, I think it is the right time to start stirring up conversation about what we should expect and wish for from the next cycle of fancy plastic-enclosed machines that we pay a lot of money to own. This isn't completely technical specification related, but more features and the like.
1. HARD DRIVES
A hard drive change would be nice. I loved Sony's option of having a changeable drive, whereas Microsoft had the awful and overpriced proprietary drives (which were only available in 250GB at the most). Don't forget that Nintendo didn't even have more than 512 MB, and it wasn't upgradeable at all. The lowest option for all of the next consoles should be at LEAST 160GB, if not much larger, and be a standard 2.5" notebook drive. I want to be allowed to upgrade my hard drive. This actually works in their benefit because if I want to download some more online games, but my hard drive is full, I could spend $50 or a little more and upgrade the drive. Then, I could download all I want. I have had the problem now, though, of running out of space and wanting to buy some arcade games, and I refuse to buy a proprietary drive that is $80+ just for some downloadable stuff. So I usually either clear off space with stuff I have already purchased (which is inconvenient when I decide to play those games again) or just refrain from buying it. Unfortunately, the solid state technology is still very expensive to manufacture, so I would be perfectly OK getting more space from an optical hard drive rather than get a tiny bit of space out on a SSD.
There need to be HDMI ports out of the box this time around (looking at YOU, Microsoft!).
Take another note from Sony here, and include both wireless and wired ethernet built-in. In fact, I want to just take a moment now and address the problem of all this proprietary accessory nonsense and say that it should be a fad that dies out in the next generation like the "Rachel" haircut from "Friends".
4. UPDATED ONLINE COMPONENTS
I like what both Sony and Microsoft have got going on with their online services. They offer everything in a somewhat easy to use manner on their networks, whether it be music, movies, demos, DLC, or downloadable games. But when the new consoles come out, I think it would be a perfect time to completely overhaul the online stores and networks. They can call it snappy names like the "New Xbox Live Experience", "Playstation Network 2.0", or the "First Real Nintendo Network". There needs to be release date access to downloadable copies of at least first party games, if not all games. On first party games, digital distribution copies should come with all of the pre-order bonuses and be slightly cheaper. There is no retail store to make money on, so that should be passed along to the consumer. The reason they should encourage digital distribution rather than physical copies is because it is a more convenient option for us. I don't want to put on pants to go get Halo 7 from Wal-Mart. I want to pre-download it (like Steam does with their pre-orders), and at 12:00 A.M. where I live, the game be unlocked for me to play. Second of all, Nintendo needs to get rid of friend codes. The issue of sexual predators hasn't been as big of a deal as they feared. They should adopt friends lists and the basics that the other two companies offer. Third, Microsoft needs to keep charging $9.99 for theirs, and Sony and Nintendo should stay free. Sony needs to beef up the Playstation Plus stuff and make it worthwhile. Cross game chat shouldn't even have to be asked for, and Nintendo has no business going and charging for online. This new "hardcore" system will be the first thing they have had that will garner the games and people that would play online, and if they charge for it, they will turn some people off.
5. GAME PRICES
...need to stay where they are or go down. I personally can barely afford to drop $60 on a new title, much less $70 or $80. There is also NO excuse for digital copies of games to be $60. They should always be at least $5 cheaper (because standard retail mark up on new games is $4.99; the wholesale cost the stores pay is $51-$55).
6. UNDER THE HOOD
We need more RAM, for one thing. The Xbox 360 and PS3 only tote 512MB and 488MB of RAM respectively. That means extremely long load times (worse on the PS3 side, usually). The processors in both of them run at 3.2GHZ and rely on floating-point performance. The problem with this, though, is neither processor relies on multi-threading. If you are unfamiliar with multi-threading, imagine a one-lane highway (one lane in each direction) and sending 500 cars through it. This is what a single threaded processor is like. Multi-threading is the use of multiple threads to process data flow. The i3/i5/i7 PC processors have 4 threads (like an eight lane highway). See the difference? This results in games like Fable 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Red Dead Redemption having choppy and laggy moments. So hopefully, in the next generation, Sony and Microsoft will either go with an AMD or Intel based processor that has multiple threads on the die or develop one that does have multiple threads. Graphics aren't too big of an issue, really. They can make some minor tweaks.
Nintendo just needs a processor and some RAM, period.
7. DISC DRIVES
Blu-ray. Blu-ray. Blu-ray. Blu-ray. Should I even have to mention L.A. Noire or Mass Effect 2? Multiple discs suck, and if the performance bar is going to get raised, the multiple DVDs are going to get even worse. The BR drives are cheap enough to make that move. Plus, the number of flat screen owners is substantially higher now than in 2005-2006, making high definition a bigger priority. It is just good business to want your console to be all a person needs, rather than your "Xbox 3" and a Blu-ray player. This worked really well for Sony this time around.
Also, slot-loading is nice. :P
8. BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY
I think it is time to let the PS2 backwards compatibility go. We all complained at first, but let's just move on. It is 10 years old, and by now most of us who care about playing PS2 games have a PS2. I think that the new consoles should be completely BC with Xbox 360 and PS3 games, but PS1, PS2, and Xbox games should maybe just be let go. We can NOT expect our industry to move forward and still support all the old stuff. There is a point where we have to realize that some games and their systems are collector's items now, and I believe the Gamecube, PS2, and Xbox should be let go. I will still keep my PS2 and Gamecube and will buy an Xbox when the next Microsoft console comes out. Let's move forward.
Wii games should be remade over the course of the "Project Cafe"'s life cycle to be controller friendly and become downloadable. It seems like the only smart way to combat the motion controller issue.
Kinect and Move support is not hard to incorporate into the next console. It will take some tweaking on the software end, but it is 100% doable. Maybe release a new camera for the Move, but that isn't even necessary. Nintendo can find a hardware solution to work in their existing remote technology to the next console, as well. I am not a hardware extraordinaire, but rather a software whiz (code monkey) myself. But I can imagine that since the remote works on IR detection, similar to the wireless music game peripherals, that an updated sensor bar model could work as a solution. This is all assuming, though, that motion control is a priority for any of the companies.
As far as controllers go, I like Sony and Nintendo's Bluetooth connectivity. Microsoft should drop the 2.4GHZ radio system they have now and move to Bluetooth. It provides a farther, stronger signal, and it is SLIGHTLY more energy efficient. This is really the hardest topic to hit on because it is usually the most innovative in some ways. I can't predict what the companies are thinking, but I am not opposed to the Dreamcast-like screen on the controller. If they can keep the cost down, a small screen would be great. I could call my Madden plays without my friend peeking or see my inventory in Fallout 4 on the screen as I am moving. I could tap a bumper button that would pause the action in Mass Effect, use the TV to issue orders and use the small screen to select weapons and biotic attacks on the fly. In Need for Speed, it could function as my rear view mirror. It fighting games, I could choose moves that I can't remember to be displayed for my fighter so I don't have to pause to look up a quick combo. In Metal Gear Solid, it could function as my radio transmitter, instead of popping up in the middle of the TV.
10. LAUNCH WINDOW
There needs to be a very strong launch lineup. There needs to be an awesome first party title (Zelda, Mario, Kirby, Halo, Fable, God of War, LittleBigPlanet, etc.) in the launch mix, plus at least 3-4 AAA titles from third parties (Need for Speed, COD, Assassin's Creed, Rockstar title, etc.) that can be multiplatform in order to make an awesome release and give us something to play on our shiny new boxes o' fun.
There are some things that don't make their own categories. They all need to be quiet. The original Xbox 360 sounded like a G6 plane. The Wii was nigh impossible to hear if you weren't trying. They shouldn't put out a ton of heat, like the PS3 did. They also all need much more dynamic and intuitive user interfaces. The PS3 XMB has to go. It was neat at first, but now it is slightly annoying to try and go through all the different tabs, then scroll down to whatever I wanted to find. I like the Wii's idea of just having channel-like selections. Maybe take the categories on the PS3 XMB and make them different pages like the Wii's channels are in. I wasn't a fan of all the stuff I have to sift through on the Xbox 360 just to get to the arcade games section. Also, having free Netflix and Hulu Plus support (Microsoft) with no disc required (Nintendo) would be nice. I already pay for it through those guys. I shouldn't have to pay twice; that's just dumb. Last but not least, no Playstation 4 or Xbox 720. I think it is time for some new names.
Sorry for the blunt title, and the cake is a lie. But I had to get your attention. Everyone does "E3 2011 Predictions" and yada yada yada. I have yet to see a single E3 prediction blog, article, story, feature, etc. that I actually agree with. So, here we go. I (hopefully) think this post will be slightly refreshing from what else is out there. Get ready for a long one.
That's what she said.
Now, to start, I would like to prepare you for what I call, E3 "Holy Charlie Sheen, Batman! What just happened?!" 2011. Now, what makes E3 "HCSBWJH" 2011 so different from E3 2010 is that I think this year will be the top line of this generation. If you look back since the show started in 1995, the show starts off like a Nicholas Cage movie during the first couple years of the current console generation, then it magically turns into a Tom Hanks Oscar-winning presentation in the last year or two before the release of the next console. Not in the sense in that our toys come to life and tell a story of love and purpose, but rather just because of good business. The year before a console launch has to be great for a company because you want your name to be golden when people are deciding on a new console life purpose. Case in point is last year when Nintendo pulled out all the stops and revitalized a lot of things and had a pretty good year right before the launch of the 3DS (which killed itself, but that is for another blog). So, using my savvy business knowledge that I got from Kaplan Online last night, here is my rundown of the 3 major publishers (who actually give a crap enough to hold conferences), my predictions and reasoning for those predictions, and then I address some of the popular rumors floating around.
Ah, Microsoft. The Sun never sets in the Microsoft network of Windows-based platforms. But we aren't here for that. Put frankly, last year sucked. So what about this year? Well, we know two things for sure. Gears of War 3 is coming out, and Forza 4 is going to come out either during the holiday or in the first couple of months of 2012. But what about everything else? For starters, they will have COD: Modern Warfare 3 locked up. They will get the on-stage demo, and they still have the exclusive DLC contract with Activision for this COD title. Let's stop talking about COD, though. Two sentences and I am already bored with it.
Those three games will NOT carry Microsoft this year. Some people speculate that we will see more "hardcore" Kinect games. The company will no doubt spend AT LEAST 1/4 of the conference discussing upcoming Kinect software and sales so far, but I disagree that they will show new titles. There will be plenty of games that will utilize Kinect (Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has been rumored, etc.), but it makes no sense for Microsoft to be working on Kinect-exclusive games. Why? Let me pose this question: what hardcore fans have said, "I would like a hardcore game for my Kinect, please."? None. All the "hardcore" fans are yelling about how dumb Kinect is like Christian Bale yelling at unsuspecting film crew members. No one is giddy about hardcore Kinect titles, and so we will more than likely see casual games galore.
There will no doubt be talk about Xbox Live. They will poke some jokes at the Playstation Network fiasco, and they will drop some new features. I am guessing Skype access on Xbox Live (hence them buying it out two months ago). And the Halo: Combat Evolved HD remake will probably be announced by 343 (and there is a slight possibility that they might drop in Halo 2, as well). But what will the big thing be?
They will probably have two or three games that they try and surprise everyone with. It could be numerous things, such as a Perfect Dark reboot, Metal Gear Solid: Rising demo, or any number or things. Let's not forget that Insomniac is still working on a multiplatform title that hasn't been discussed yet. Though do NOT expect anything from EA, Rockstar, or Valve to be shown on their stage. I will explain why later. These are just some rough ideas, and I am sure they will have another couple of games and/or more filler crap like more useless Xbox Live functionality, etc. that will just kill time.
Last year, Sony rocked it. They had good gameplay demos, some pretty good trailers, and a couple of surprises. The awesome thing about Sony's conferences is also that they never have someone else going behind them, so they can spend about 1 or 1.5 hours announcing and demoing games and half an hour showing montages and talking about sales figures. This year, they already have a few things that will definitely be in the bag. NGP will get a name and will get detailed, along with price, release date, and launch titles. The Last Guardian will get at least a trailer, hopefully a release date. Uncharted 3 will get a demo, as well as Twisted Metal and a bunch more Move titles. We also can't forget Resistance 3 and Starhawk. This is the same case with Kinect, though. Expect casual games and added Move support to games, but I think they learned their lesson with Move Heroes and The Fight that hardcore games specifically for motion control do not end well.I think NGP will get some typical hashes of PS3 properties, but Sony has some real room to blow away the show with their PS3 lineup.
Why? Because for starters, they have a lot of SCE-owned franchises that could use some pumping out. Second of all, though, goes back to what I began saying in the Microsoft section. I believe it is clear that Sony has tremendous support (whereas Microsoft does not) from Rockstar, EA, and Valve. EA is obvious. Microsoft has shut them out time and time again in the shooter department. They put their Call of Duty contracts and Halo productions way above what EA worked on and hasn't even given them the time of day. Not saying all EA games are worth it, but I truly think EA is done with giving Microsoft any exclusivity. I think Valve had a good run with the Xbox 360, but they have seen that Sony will give them more freedom in how they make games for their platform. I am not saying Half-Life 3 (if there is one) won't be multiplatform. I am simply saying that I think Valve is done with Xbox exclusives. Rockstar had a good business deal with Microsoft, as well. However, after extending GTA IV to appear on the Xbox 360, they got burned by Microsoft trying to persuade Take-Two to move it back out of the holiday release to make room for their own game, Halo 3. All in all, I think the reason we are seeing Sony have a bigger list of third party support than before is that they are more open and laid back, not to mention desperately willing to pump out tons of marketing dollars.
So, here is a list of possibilities for announcements. Not all will happen, but many are feasible.
1. Agent (was announced, but this will probably be the year we get a demo and release date).
2. PS3 Syphon Filter reboot
3. PS3 Patapon
4. Sly Cooper 4
5. A new Rockstar announcement (multiplatform, but Sony will get to show it off).
6. Respawn Entertainment's new project (they have a score to settle, and EA would LOVE to put that trailer up on Sony's stage hours after Microsoft shows off Modern Warfare 3).
7. A new Spyro or Jak/Daxter game
8. New "Play. Create. Share." game
9. New God of War PS3 titles (seriously hope not).
10. New IP (YES PLEASE!)
One quick bit to add, Sony will also more than likely get an on-stage Battlefield 3 demo if Respawn doesn't announce on their stage. Though it would really sink Microsoft's ship if Sony pushed both of them up against Modern Warfare 3...Expect something to get shown exclusively on Sony's stage from EA, though.
We know several things Nintendo will focus on. The new console will be discussed and shown. The 3DS will get hoisted up as a glowing beacon of (fake) success. We will see more Zelda: Skyward Sword and 3DS titles. Trailer. Trailer. Trailer. Speech about innovation. And here we are. So, aside from the 50 gazillion rehashed Nintendo properties that we know are coming to the 3DS, what could surprise us? Well, for starters, if Project Cafe is released before June 2012, expect waning Wii support. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't announce much for it at all. Skyward Sword could also very well get another hybrid release like Twilight Princess. I honestly think it will either be Wii exclusive or a hybrid. I completely disagree that after the work they put into the Wii version that Skyward Sword would go completely Cafe exclusive. Not to mention that would mean there was only one Zelda game on the Wii. And that would just be silly.
As for the console itself, I think we see trailers for several Cafe titles, all of which the same old Nintendo properties we are starting to hate. The possibilities include Metroid and Mario, not to mention some less saturated games like Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Star Fox, Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Super Smash Bros., or F-Zero. Personally, I think an F-Zero game would look AMAZING with the supposed HD graphics the Cafe is supposed to boast. If the console is NOT releasing until next holiday, we can probably expect something to be a surprise for this holiday, whether it be one of the above franchises or something else. Skyward Sword will be a Wii only game if the console comes out next holiday.
I could try and speculate about the system itself, but I don't think it is worth it. No one will be able to guess what the details are exactly. Nintendo consoles are always somewhat surprising, both good and bad. I do think, however, that they will drop the Gamecube backwards compatibility, and there probably will not be Wii backwards compatibility.
BIG RUMORS ABOUT E3
1. GTA 5?
...will not happen. If it were even in the scope of the next two years, they would be at least getting a small booth at the conference. However, I do not think Rockstar is interested in GTA 5 just yet. They are getting into an innovative phase that will probably last another year or two.
2. NEW CONSOLES?
Yes, actually. I believe this for several reasons. First, it will probably be a name drop and description with a weird prototype, though nothing totally polished yet. The final product could be showcased next year. Second, by simply building the hype right now, they will get to drop their console before Nintendo does theirs, and it will be a surprise. Third, both Sony and Microsoft have A LOT of potential to steal the next generation if one of them tries. The argument that Kinect and Move were just announced and they could never leave those behind so soon is false, as support for both technologies can easily be included in a next generation product. Sony and Microsoft also can NOT afford to let Nintendo have a year's head start on the next console generation. They might as well give a bag of crack to Charlie Sheen and say, "Now, don't get too high until we are ready, OK?" and expect him to not be in a coma by the time they are ready.
I also think Sony has an ulterior motive to their press conference movement. Why would they want to go before Nintendo on Tuesday? Only if they have something that they want to show off before Nintendo can, and that could easily be a very early prototype of new hardware. They would steal all of the "surprise" factor from the show, and they would totally crap on Nintendo's parade like a fat kid at a carnival who had too many corn dogs. Not to mention the lack of a Sony leak this year. It is a double edged sword. It either means Sony has something extremely groundbreaking (like a new console prototype) that they have kept it under lock down. Or there isn't anything for people to spill. :P
Finally, look back at the reports that EA had a Microsoft dev kit already. Those kinds of things don't just get made up by a bored software engineer at EA. It was silly that after a spokesperson came out and said that they definitely did not, everyone just kind of said, "Oh, ok. Well, PR people are always telling the truth, so they must not have anything." and everyone walked away. Should we go to back to David Jaffe's studio saying in 2010 that they "100% would not be at E3 2010"? Or how about Sony's complete denial of the PSP Go and the PS3 Slim rumors before they were announced? PR lies. The idea that a short 15-20 minute talk at the end of both press conferences showing off a prototype of the next console is not too far fetched and, in fact, would be stupid if they didn't. Every week they wait to unveil info about them digs them a deeper hole against Nintendo.
3. VALVE NOT AT E3?
...is total crap. They have something. They announce something every year. They are ALWAYS working on a project. There will be a trailer at a press conference, though nothing more.
4. BUNGIE NOT READY?
...could be true. Those guys take their time on games. There is a 40/60 chance that they will have a trailer at the show, but there will definitely not be a gameplay demo yet.
5. RESPAWN NOT READY?
...is 50/50. On one hand, those guys used to pump out games every two years, so since they have been working since April 2010, they could maybe have a trailer. On the other hand, they do not have art and technical assets to just recycle from the last game. They have to start from scratch, so it could maybe be another year.
6. WHAT'S UBISOFT UP TO?
Aside from Assassin's Creed 2: Part 3 (AKA AC: Revelations) and Ghost Recon: New Super Soldier Dudes, we will more than likely see Far Cry 3. Splinter Cell won't be back this year. It is still too soon. Beyond Good and Evil 2 would be a good hit for them, too, which could be likely seeing as how they just released the HD version of the first game a couple of months ago. I smell a sneaky French game company.
7. HOW IS EA DOING?
They are doing OK. How is your mom from last night? Anywho, I say The Old Republic gets a date with Natalie Portman. I mean, a release date. I should stop involving my own dreams into my blogs...Need for Speed: The Run will get a gameplay demo, as well as all of their sports franchises. SSX will probably get mentioned, as well as a possible Mirror's Edge 2 surprise drop. Mass Effect BETTER GET A FREAKING DEMO AND RELEASE DATE! And Battlefield 3 will be given either a trailer or a demo. Burnout Crash MIGHT show up. Maybe.
8. WILL THERE BE A BRAND NEW HALO ANNOUNCED?
Probably not. I bet there is confirmation of the HD remake of Halo: Combat Evolved. I also bet that about 10-15 minutes of the conferences is filled with green and grey light cues, video montages, and speeches all as a tribute to Halo's 10th anniversary. It will get more fanfare than Oprah's finale.
So there it all is. Some of it is wacky, some of it not. Below, I included the top 3 surprises from each of the three big companies that I personally want to see (NOT including what is already confirmed). On this, I leave you, and I invite you to share your thoughts with how much you disagree and think I am off the deep end. Farewell, friends!
MICROSOFT: 1) Give the Perfect Dark license to Crytek to make a complete remake of the series with a new story and everything, 2) Give details on the next console, and include Kinect support, Blu-ray, and full Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, and 3) Unveil a brand new IP that gives me a reason to turn my Xbox 360 on and forget about the 200 Halo games and that garbage you called Fable 3.
SONY: 1) Show off Agent, please, 2) Details on both a new console and the NGP, and 3) Make another "Play. Create. Share." game that makes me cry.
NINTENDO: 1) Don't fuck up Project Cafe, 2) A new F-Zero game for Project Cafe, and 3) Don't fuck up Project Cafe.