Finally, a spare moment to take a breather. It's been nonstop madness since Monday morning, not that I'm complaining -- I adore the energy of E3. Hope you're having fun.
So, which company won this year's show?
Microsoft kicked the week off with a solid press conference featuring games -- The Master Chief Collection, Phantom Dust, Crackdown, and Scalebound, to name a few -- and not much else, as promised. A respectable but not necessarily stellar showing. It helped that Kinect is now optional.
Next was Sony, and while its press briefing went on for far too long as per usual, the games themselves delivered: Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, LittleBigPlanet 3, No Man's Sky. That said, gosh, not much in the way of PS Vita love. Some Gravity Rush 2 would've been nice.
Finally, Nintendo aired its prerecorded Digital Event this morning, which I found to be a nice mix of silliness and fun-looking games. That's all I ever want from Nintendo, anyway. For games, we had Xenoblade Chronicles X, Yoshi's Woolly World, Mario Maker, and talk of a new Zelda. There's also amiibo toys for Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, and other titles.
Who won? It's a total cop-out, but I'd say we all did.
Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo had new software to get excited about for their respective consoles. We're a customer base with a diverse taste in games, and we're always wanting more -- especially when it comes to "surprise" announcements -- but this has been a good E3. Very good indeed.
I was mostly satisfied with MLB 14 The Show's initial PS3 and Vita release. Hitting ahead of the PS4 version led to some (perhaps overdue) improvements, from the UI overhaul to PS3/PS4/Vita cross saves to a universal The Show profile to franchise carry over into the next years' installments.
Coupled with little touches like a new dynamic camera angle, the addictive weekly challenge, and even more gameplay options (Quick Count and Player Lock), it felt like a worthy send off for the best baseball series of the last generation.
The problem, of course, is when the PS4 version hits (now), none of this is new. It just looks better. And somehow loads slower.
I messed up plenty playing Galak-Z as well. It took a while just to unlearn Luftrausers flying controls, though that constant fear from imminent danger remains from a multitude of enemies. Peons, Gundam-esque mecha, space spiders. 17-bit's Jake Kazdal explains that Galak-Z has the best AI around.
It's certainly aggressive, with a little bit of wiliness.
Anyone that has even the slightest bit of familiarity with Hotline Miami knows what defines it. The neon-swathed visuals, the gratuitous violence, the quick and unforgiving gameplay, and the blaring soundtrack all made the game as loved as it was. With regard to a sequel, any deviation from this formula would result in something that just wasn’t Hotline Miami.
So, Dennaton Games isn’t going to.
Judging by the build of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number that was at PAX East, the pieces are in place to give fans of the original more of what they want. The two stages on display showed off the exact style that many have come to know and love, but also expressed how Dennaton is ready to offer something a little new.
I was ready for last year’s The Show to be its PS3 swansong, I was feeling it. It’s not that it wasn’t good. It was as good as it ever was. But there were signs of age. The same old horrifying fan models in the stands with crooked limbs and dead faces. The same bone dry commentators. It felt like the right time for The Show to be transitioning to PS4.
But this is sports, or at least sports games. When is the last time someone went out while they were ahead in sports? But hey, if the Red Sox can give David Ortiz -- a designated hitter in 2014; an endangered species – a $16 million contract extension for what he’s meant to Boston over the last 12 years, I can give The Show on PS3 another ride for being the only good baseball series. Especially since the PS4 versions isn’t even out yet.
I mean, I owe the Giants’ first World Series to a platoon of antiquated weirdo journeymen and a weirder, sappier story than Space Cowboys. This isn’t just “another year, another Show,” either. This is a franchise in clear transition to the next generation, which has benefited the current generation.
Sony discovered the 12 person team's game as part of its Latin America, Incubation Program and has been "instrumental" in getting it exposure, flying Palacios out to GDC to rep the game, and technology, giving the team dev kits.
Palacios discovered me, hustling to take advantage of his good fortune, while I shambled, eyes glazed over, trying to remember where I was going and where I had been. I'm glad he did, because chatting with him and playing To Leave perked me right up.
I still remember the first time I ever laid eyes on a Dynasty Warriors game. It was a cold winter afternoon in 2000, and for whatever reason, one lone copy of Dynasty Warriors 2 was calling my name at a local Blockbuster. I picked it up and subsequently played for days on end -- I was hooked.
Now here we are fourteen years later with Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends (also branded the Complete Edition on the PS4 and Vita), with a brand new Lu Bu storyline, among other features. Like DW8 proper, fans will definitely want to pursue this one.
GDC has come to a close, and it's certainly been a busy week for news. Sony announced Project Morpheus, their entry into the virtual reality race, as well as some crazy eye-tracking tech. The second Oculus Rift development kit is up for pre-order, Ubisoft announced their Frenchest game yet,Assassin's Creed: Unity, which might be accompanied by another AC title, "Comet." There's a rumor aboutFar Cry 4 involving yetis and elephants, and we got our first look at Borderlands 2 on Vita.
Sony Computer Entertainment America has announced its president and CEO Jack Tretton, who has been with the company since 1995, will step down as of March 31, 2014. His successor is Sony Network Entertainment International executive VP and COO Shawn Layden, another long-time PlayStation employee. He previously served as president of SCE Japan.
This departure comes as "a result of a mutual agreement between Mr. Tretton and SCEA not to renew their contractual relationship," according to an SCEA press release.
Calling his time with the company "the most rewarding experience of [his] career," Tretton said "Although I will deeply miss the talented team at SCEA and the passion demonstrated every day by our fans, I'm very excited about starting the next chapter of my career.
"I want to thank the employees, partners and customers for their tireless commitment to the PlayStation brand and, of course, to our fans who have pushed us to new heights of innovation and entertainment over the past two decades. I leave PlayStation in a position of considerable strength and the future will only get brighter for PlayStation Nation."
If you came up to me and told me I could be this turned around, bearingless and disoriented, on a two dimensional plane of movement, I would say, "Gee, that's oddly specific, why are you telling me this?"
And then you would flee into the unbearable flatness of space under cover of a blinding vector graphic laser light show with explosions and flowers and bulls and I would try really hard to shoot you with my pointy little crab legs.
Earlier this month, I caught up with Media Molecule's Rex Crowle, lead creator on one of my favorite games of last year, Tearaway. My main goal was simple: to thank him for such a fantastic Vita game. But we ended up chatting about Tearaway's reception, as well as some of the challenges that Media Molecule had to work through to bring us the final release.
I also repeatedly told him that they should make another Tearaway game.
The new PlayStation Vita will be launched this spring, coming in a Borderlands 2 bundle. This was confirmed today at a PlayStation media event in Santa Monica. It will include the game with six DLC packs (Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty, Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage, Psycho Character Class, Mechromancer Character Class, Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 1 and the Collector’s Edition Pack.), an 8GB PS Vita memory card, and will all retail for $199.99.
For this new model, battery life is now 4-6 hours for gaming, and a new LCD screen replaces the current version's OLED one. Its shape has changed a bit -- it's more rounded and a bit more portable.
The M rating lists “Fantasy Violence, Language, Mild Blood, Partial Nudity, and Sexual Themes” in the content descriptors for the game's 3DS iteration. Currently the Vita version's rating has yet has to be published.