Technically this could be defined as a re-post. This was originally the latter half of my E3 coverage, however I thought it would be better to grant it a separate post. I found the last one to be far too long to read it one sitting for most. And I'm sorry if it seems like I'm looking for more exposure, I really just think it's for the best.
part one can be found here
Here is where I'll discuss some titles in excess detail, if I haven't covered them enough in the last post. First I'd like to elaborate upon my views of the top 3 games of the show, then I will contribute a bit of what I've missed.
Hands down, this is my most anticipated game of all time. Never before have I had this firm belief of how absolutely immaculate a game could be, and to know, almost for sure, that a game will take the place at the top of my lists upon release. Call me raving, but I just can not tear myself away from the thought of playing this game, and every detail released has the power to call forth saliva from my gaping jaws.
Anyway, let's get into those details shall we? We could talk about environments, the specifics of two-handed combat, maybe some dra....DRAGONS! Holy shmoly those beautiful things, probably the only enemy type to make me evoke this much enthusiasm for a video game, and then you're pretty much related to them, and then you can use their powers after killing them! That alone is breathtaking, and that's just one race. I'm looking forward to exactly how they tie into the plot as well.
My first thoughts during the E3 demos shown was about the world around the player, and how much of an improvement I instantly recognized in it. Although Oblivion had trees, forests, and various shrubbery, it was still too empty for a fantasy world. Mountains were just mountains, and now we have the Throat of the World, the tallest of them in Skyrim, and former home to the Nords. Anyone who's been to the deep country has seen the rolling hills of Oblivion, and Skyrim shows that Bethesda and their new Creation Engine, can do more than that.
I loved first-person view in Oblivion and Fallout 3, but I may have a tough choice ahead of me in which side I wish to take. Third-person was something I used sparingly in those games, usually only when I wanted a quick look at my armor,or if I didn't want enemies sneaking up behind me. Now, with Bethesdas completely redone engine, it comes complete with third-person as a feasible option. This is most certainly not hindered by the far more detailed equipment featured in Skyrim, especially on the Elvish set shown briefly in the menus.
Not too far in, Guardians stones were discovered and detailed a bit, specifically in how they affect the development of your character. This goes along with the perk system brought in and improved from Fallout 3, now incorporated into skill trees. Reportedly, there are circa 280 perks. They've made it that much harder to play the same character on your next playthrough, and believe me, I will have no shortage of them.
The town shown, Riverwood, was certainly a step up over the copy and paste homes in Oblivion, and seeing townsfolk wander around and doing real work, not as aimlessly as the previous entry, was awe-inspiring. Next came the horse-riding and boy did that run as smoothly as the rest of third-person. Once they got to Bleak Falls Barrow, I was having trouble containing my utter joy. The interior here put Oblivion to shame, and they revealed that each dungeon would be handcrafted, as they should be, and there were at least 150 in the game. Combat here was spectacular and looked incredibly fun, with magic, swordplay, and dragon shouts being deployed to much effect.
Finally came the Tundra, it brought us Whiterun, a city very much reminiscent of Rohan in the Lord of the Rings, and then three things occurred which were just awe-inspiring. Firstly, mammoths and giants! This was the first time I had seen either of these in action, and just the thought of giants shepherding mammoths brings me to a fantasy high, but it didn't stop there as next came a dragon who was avoided before entering Bleak Falls Barrow. He came back, and the first thing he did was pick up a giant and toss him a mile into the air, which is flat-out awesome any way you look at it. After defeating the damned lizard, and absorbing it's soul which is a grand affair, a new more powerful version, aka the frost dragon, comes in and lands atop a guard tower. As you fight this one, you use a dragon shout to create an area that, upon being entered, will strike down your enemies with lightning.
Anyways, didn't mean for this to drag on so much, but maybe I'll grant this pseudo-preview a bit of an extension and give it it's own blog post, who knows. But for now, 11.11.11 is most definitely my favorite date this year, and I simply can not wait.
Gone is my interest in the Call of Duty series as of this E3, and the honor of it's removal belongs to none other than Battlefield 3 and it's remarkable Frostbite 2 engine. A lackluster showing of Modern Warfare 3 compared to the stellar prospect of a new and proper entry in the BF series are to blame. I wasn't all too impressed with the Bad Company spin-offs, mostly because the material therein wasn't enough for me, and the multiplayer was nothing but push and pull in every gametype. Although it remains to be seen if BF3 has remedied this gripe I have.
The single player portion shown this year could've been viewed in very different lights. On one hand, it was pretty damn boring honestly, but I'm sure playing the game with a healthy respect for realistic warfare can fix that. Second was the sound design, which by the by is just perfect as my eyes. Then there are the visuals, and they were striking. Tanks moved gracefully, or as far as that goes, and it really looked better than Crysis 2 to me.
They also showed a multiplayer sizzle reel, which although brief still gave away a lot of details if you watch some analysis footage. Most of which was still a pleasure too watch even in slow motion or frame-by-frame. Weapons were mostly standard fare, but were a good selection, and were all detailed incredibly well. Explosions and general particle effect-infused gameplay were done well also. Vehicles in shooters are something I really only ever liked in Halo, and albeit looking interesting in the trailers, only time will tell if they really do work for this game.
Altogether the multiplayer looks wonderful, and is the real reason I'm getting the game. Luckily, we'll have the chance to test the waters in the September open beta. If they can fix the gameplay from the previous titles and keep the single-player campaign interesting, it will be a surefire winner. Now we wait and see if it can really outsell Call of Duty, which should be an MJ popcorn endorsed adventure.
The last installment of this PS3 exclusive, Uncharted 2, is truly one of my choices for game of the last decade, and for good reasons. It was an inconceivable amalgam of platforming, storytelling, spectacle and gunplay. For those four reasons, it proved itself over the original, which even having included these things, wasn't polished enough. Uncharted 3 certainly has a legacy to fulfill, but it hasn't disappointed yet, from what I've seen so far.
Multiplayer in UC2 was a labor of love for myself, because I loved how platforming worked in versus matches, but I didn't like how each match played out. Having Naughty Dog go in with a mindset of making the MP the gold standard for the PS3 was awesome to hear, and from what I've seen it really could be. Generally, the matches shown were executed fluidly and looked like spiderman with guns. In the co-op mode, grabbing treasure and attempting to get past the AI looked like a hell of a lot of fun, and one of the best parts was how you could toss said treasure great distances. This by itself was very entertaining, and doing this is versus will most likely prove to be even more so, having clutch tosses to gain the win.
There was a sequence of the single-player shown, that right off the bat set itself apart from past Uncharted titles. This was the cruise ship sequence in which Drake goes stealth mode in the middle of the ocean. Apparently, whatever he was looking for wasn't there, and in true Nathan Drake fashion, he manages to sink the boat he's on. The dark blues of the open water set the tone miraculously well for this particular scene and looked great while doing it. The gameplay was true to the last game, and tight as ever.
Mass Effect 3
My opinion on Mass Effect 2 is a bit different than most others, as I prefer the original. I thought that ME2's mission structure to be invariable, and although the idea of gathering a team was great in theory, actually doing it began to feel akin to a chore. Now, I'm not declaring it a bad game at all, but it certainly could've wavered a bit in how you created the ultimate crew.
What I've heard about the terminal entry of the trilogy is what I was hoping for. Of course, since the reapers are attacking earth, the bastion of humanity, there won't really be time to assemble yet another team, and doing so would defeat the purpose of having your team survive and carry over from ME2. The gameplay looked eerily similar to almost any of the previous games' set pieces, except for one key point, fighting what was originally thought to be a reaper base. This base just happened to be the real thing, and you set off on an on-rails sequence with naught but a turret.
I'll be honest, I hated that part. It in no way screamed Mass Effect to me, and I would have preferred conversations to something like this. Undeniably, the reaper itself was swell, and the sounds it was making evoked War of the Worlds to me. Unfortunately, fighting it couldn't be less exciting for me. Hopefully, things like this don't pop up often, or anymore for that matter, throughout the game.
Gears of War 3
This one's a bit different since, like most people, I have already gotten the chance to play the game in multiplayer form via the beta for pre-orders and Bulletstorm epic edition owners. And incidentally, I loved it, so I can confirm to myself that it's a selling point on the game. However with Gears comes two other things which make the game an all around solid piece of gaming. These consist of co-op campaign and the vastly improved horde mode.
The co-op in the inaugural Gears of War was the first next-gen game I ever played, and being able to play through it with a good friend of mine left a big impression on me. I came away from it with a very positive outlook on the whole of the new Xbox and went into the sequel with the same ideas in mind. I had just as much, if not more fun playing with the same friend through the co-op. But what also came in the package was to be the birth of wave-type modes, horde mode. This coupled with a great multiplayer component made the game very special.
Gears 3 is doing nothing but building upon these concepts with 4-player co-op (first two allowed only 2), horde 2.0 where boss waves and building essential tools to survive add a lot more than I expected. They even managed to include beast mode, which isn't too different from survival mode in Left 4 Dead. Along with the previously mentioned multiplayer, this is one of those games that really gives you your money's worth.
The first I heard about this survival-zombie game from Techland was during 2006 when they released a proof of concept trailer, and after that it was barren on the information front until last year when it was revealed. Some people think that zombie games as a genre don't have much to offer to the industry, but when you get down to it, they're just really fun to play, and sometimes that's all you need. I'm still waiting for the genre to produce anything with a equal parts emotion, story and gameplay.
There's no telling how well they've woven their tale of infection or how hard the undertones can hit you, as the infamous CG trailer was just a hype machine, but what they're saying is it's indicative of their ideals. However, the gameplay on it's own looks to hold merit for the game as whole. I like Left 4 Dead and all, but I think zombies go hand in hand with melee combat, as long as they're the slow ones (aka the right kind).
I won't say the game is realistic in it's combat, but that's a good thing for sure. If I couldn't slice off an infected's leg with one swipe of my electrified machete, quite frankly I'd be insulted. I'm very intrigued my the co-op in here, but they haven't showed it in detail yet. I'm anticipating some real challenges for me and my buddies.
Gone is the hefty bosom of the Tomb Raider series, and in comes a game that has the chance really earn it's own popularity. This should've been the first game in the series and everything that has lead up to this I consider null and void. Crystal Dynamics made the best decision they could have and I think they'll bring us the next Uncharted in terms of quality.
Lara Croft is young and fragile, and well, she doesn't have massive tits yet. She's setting out for what she believes to be a archaeological cruise, yet this particular journey ends with her stranded on the proverbial shipwreck island. Here Lara doesn't really know what to do and is very scared, which I don't think is an emotion she used in the previous games. Vulnerability is key here, and turns the game into a full-blown survival-horror title.
The puzzle elements showcased were appropriately notable and I'm hoping for some on an even bigger scale than the Uncharted series. The mystery surrounding the island, or at least that we're being told is there, is also something I wish to be an important plot element. Anything close to what Lost gave me will make me a very happy man. I'm willing to forget the rest of the Tomb Raider series ever existed for the sake of this important makeover.
The word around the internet is that the sky-lines trailer shown doesn't do the gameplay shown behind closed doors justice. I sincerely hope so, as I wasn't enticed all too much. Upon reading previews of what we didn't get to see, I began to wonder why they thought less is more and showed the public much less than what they did last year.
I guess it was going to be hard to top anything as mind-blowing as what was on display late last year. but I didn't find anything new other than the battle zeppelins to mull over. Nevertheless, having Ken Levine explain a bit more behind the story was a treat, particularly on Elizabeth and her ability, or lack thereof, to control the tears in space-time.
I'm still not sold on sky-lines either, as we have yet to see how travel on them truly works. I still expect Bioshock Infinite to be nothing less than literary genius. However, I was left wanting more than the offering at E3.
I've heard some pals of mine telling me how there are too many post-apocalyptic games, but I for one, completely disagree. In fact, I still think we could use a few more, as desolation as a theme is still completely exploitable, in a good way. Id Software decided to try their hand at the genre in their first new IP since Quake in 1996.
I loved Borderlands mostly for it's co-op so I can't say it's the reason I'm drawn to RAGE. However, there will be some sort of way to play along with friends, it hasn't been completely disclosed as of yet. The real reason I have taken a liking to this is the technical excellence it emanates in all areas offered up hitherto. John Carmack is one of the most talented people in the industry and his megatexture ideas are definitely the direction to head in for graphic supremacy. The animation systems are equally imposing, especially when you see the mutants and the spider turret scurrying about the corridors.
Now that I mention corridors, I'm still on the fence about whether or not id can really break apart from their normal psychology on how a shooter is done, and conform a bit to today's standards. However, if the general flow of "The Dead City" is any indication, then it's a still a strong possibility. This is one of those games where, more than anything else, you want to see how it can succeed in the ways you hope for.