E3 2013 — I’m back in on videogames, guys.


I Almost Went To E3 2013.

It was just about two months ago I wrote about my lack of interest in where the videogame industry was. My oh my, how things can change in two short months — or, more accurately, four days. Before I jump in to the convention itself, let me give you some context for just how big this E3 was for me.

About 3 weeks before the convention, I was offered the opportunity to attend the show (I know a guy who knows a guy). While I was initially interested in the idea, I ultimately turned it down, largely due to conflictions with work and class, but also because recent changes in my life led me to question whether I really cared about games all that much at all. I’ll spare you the details, but essentially my disinterest stemmed from a sense of stagnation in the industry, and a rather sinister notion that games were becoming a little too big — that gamers (and developers) were getting short shifted by console manufacturers in favor of  publishers and retailers hitting their projections and bottom lines. As much as I was interested in Xbox One and PS4’s next steps, at the time I couldn’t muster enough enthusiasm to actually go to E3, despite the offer I was given.

It goes without saying but holy shit did I make a huge mistake.

A Shot In the Arm; A Shot To The Head

E3 2013 was without a doubt the best E3 I’ve seen since I began following the event about 10 years ago, and arguably the most impressive convention since its inception.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that, if you’re reading this, you saw the conferences, read the previews, and watched and re-watched trailers over the past week. You witnessed every moment I did, and are probably excited about many of the same games as me — no need to recap the news or highlights. But I’d like to take a moment and talk about the things that really mattered to me.

Sony and PlayStation 4

playstation-4-controller-sensor

First and foremost, Sony. God damn, Sony. I was already interested in the PS4 after the February event (and even more so after the Xbox One reveal last month), but let’s be honest, Sony — no, ‘scuse me, Jack Tretton — slayed Monday night. I’ll admit, the always online and used game ‘controversy’ surrounding the Xbox One didn’t affect me, and in fact I found the entertainment-slant of the system to be far more offensive. Still, Sony’s showing of good faith towards gamers resonated with me. Sure, I’ll probably be mostly buying my games digitally from here on in, but the fact that Sony are keeping the option to buy and trade physical copies is a positive. Not to mention they’re launching at a whole $100 cheaper, despite being the more powerful system. I’ve heard some say that in those five minutes where the used games, PS+ cross over, no online restrictions, and price were all announced, that Sony won this new console war. Whether or not that’s how this all ultimately plays out, it was enough to completely change my feelings on console games, so much so that I preordered the PS4 the moment the press conference had concluded.

The Games

No matter how awesome any console is on its own, it’s nothing without games. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you guys, but damn were there some amazing looking experiences on show this year. Here are the ones that really caught my eye.

 The week started out strong, with Microsoft opening their conference with what was my personal favorite of the show, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Open world Metal Gear, featuring Keifer Sutherland as Big Boss, and some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen in a game? Yes. A thousand times yes. This is shaping up to be something of a reboot for the series as well; while it’s clear MGSV will maintain Kojima’s brand of goofiness and absurdity, the trailers shown at E3 also feature some of the darkest moments in the series by far, including torture, child soldiers, and a (literally) gut-wrenching scene in which a package is removed from Paz’s body cavity. Between the gameplay demoed and the the themes being explored in the story, MGSV is steadfastly affixed to the top of my anticipated games list.

Not only did Monday begin with a bang, it ended with one as well. Bungie’s gameplay reveal of Destiny was one of the first moments of the show where I started to really see the potential of this new console generation. Sure, it was a sci-fi FPS, but the scope of the world, the polish of the multiplayer gameplay, and the (again) the graphical fidelity on display really captured my imagination. Bungie has never let me down before, and I have high hopes for Destiny.

The third big surprise for me came in the form of Final Fantasy XV. I have always had an interest in the Final fantasy series, but the past half-decade for the RPG franchise have been rocky at best. After years in development hell, Final Fantasy Versus XIII has emerged as Final Fantasy XV. Yeah, it looked really Japanese — in a way that would usually turn me off from a game. But the speed of the gameplay, the design of the characters, and the setting the trailer took place in really grabbed me in a way few JRPGs (or, frankly, Square Enix games) have since the PlayStation 2. While at this point I am maintaining cautious optimism, I can see this becoming one of my most anticipated games.

Finally, in terms of “next-gen” games, The Witcher 3 sounds like it’s shaping up to be the fantasy RPG to play. It’s more than a year away, but early impressions from the show floor have been so overwhelmingly positive, with many stressing that the game is the best example of “next-gen” on display this year, my already-high expectations have only been bolstered. The previous games in the series are some of my favorite of the previous generation, and I look forward to closing out the trilogy with what sounds like will be a groundbreaking role playing experience.

But those four games weren’t everything; Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag secured itself a spot as my PS4 launch title of choice next to Infamous: Second Son. Sony’s support of indie developers was one of the PS4’s biggest selling points for me, and Super Giant’s Transistor was the highlight of their indie showcase; I’ve seen that trailer dozens of times, but it never fails to give me goosebumps. And, despite my tepid response to the Xbox One in general, Titanfall looks like an immensely fun multiplayer game, and I’m thankful I’ll be able to play it on PC as well. Finally, these will come as no surprise to those who know my taste in games, but Dark Souls II and Rayman Legends. That is all.

So many questions about the next gen were answered this week, and for me, the answers we got were beyond my expectations.

What Next?

Of course, in light of all my excitement, this does bring up personal questions: will I start writing about games again? Does this invalidate many of the statements I made just a few short weeks ago? Well to be honest, no, not really. I was compelled enough to sit down and knock out these E3 reactions, but I’m only now beginning to feel excited about games again after almost a year of struggling to stay interested enough to even play them. A lot of that was caused by forcing myself to pay attention to aspects of the business I really dispised, and try to play or be interested in games I had no interest in. I think I need to just enjoy videogames as a hobby for a while. However, that said, this E3 has sparked my interest in an ENTIRELY NEW aspect of the industry and games press. I’ll expound more about that soon, but I guess it’s worth saying that I’m not quite ready to write off the gaming industry as a possible career path, certainly not like I was a couple months ago.

Ironically, about a week before my “epiphany” that maybe games weren’t for me anymore, I finally bought a Playstation 3 and PS+ membership. Tomorrow, I will purchase and play The Last of Us and finally put some real use into the system. For some, the game represents the swansong for this console generation (they forget Dark Souls II is still several months out), but for me it’s the first step into the next generation, and I can’t wait to experience it.

Guys, I’m really excited about videogames again. It feels awesome.

Advertisements

Shootin’ the Shit – November 2, 2012

Where the hell were we this week? So much happened, so many big pieces of news hit the internet. But we weren’t here. It’s possible we were just busy with Halloween stuff.. or perhaps there are other forces at work and secret plans being hatched… hmmm….

We weren’t completely silent though; we had an awesome new Halloween-themed episode of The Low Down featuring Casper, the friendly ghost! And I reported on my weekly gaming with this week’s Gaming Journal entry. But that’s not all that happened on the internet this week…

Things I Read

Obviously, first and foremost: Disney bought Lucasfilm, and the entire Lucas empire(Skywalker Sound, Light and Magic, LucasArts), for like a gajillion dollars; with the aquisition came the news that an entirely new trilogy — episodes VII, VIII, IX — were on the way, with Episode VII scheduled to hit sometime in 2015. Included in this annoucement was the news the George Lucas would be only filling an advisory position.  The internet went fucking NUTS over this news; People’s reactions have ranged from ecstatic  to scared, to pissed, to totally ambivalent because ho my god, Star Wars is old news. Personally, I’m kinda interested in three news movies. I like Star Wars, I dig the fiction and the universe, and I I’m excited to see what some new minds could do with the property. We’ve got no word on what to expect from this trilogy-trilogy, and probably won’t for a while. I wonder if it will be anything as good as KOTOR, though…

I read a bunch of Halo 4 reviews. I’m really looking forward to the game, and the universal praise is both reassuring and exciting.

Early PS4 dev kits have reportedly hit developers this week. Word is, Sony is insisting on calling the system “Orbis” instead of the somewhat obvios “Playstation 4.” I’ve already talked about my feelings on a new console generation, but between this, Microsoft “Durango” devkits being leaked a few months ago, and the Wii-U hitting in just a couple weeks, we might as well start getting excited for this new round of hardware.

Things I Watched

I watched the finale for the Halo: Forward unto Dawn live-action series. It was awesome. Watch the whole series here, and peep the finale below.

Speaking of Halo, the latest episode of Red vs Blue ONCE AGAIN knocks it out of the park. What’s gonna happen next? What do Church and Carolina have planned?

Converge, who released one of the best albums of the year last month, gave us a tour of one of the most disgusting venue bathrooms ever.

I watched a baby do kung fu and kill his stuffed dragon.

Awesome games that came out this week

The big one is Assassin’s Creed 3 — The reviews have been decent-to-good, and seeing as how I’ve only been marginally interested in the series before, I’m probably gonna hold off on this one until next year. Still, if Assassin’s Creed is your jam, pick it up!

Painkiller HD Painkiller is the modern-day DOOM. Guns, monsters, and non-stop action —  no more, no less. It’s over the top, and insane, exactly my kind of shooter (unless it’s Halo or Half-Life, of course).

Misc

There isn’t really all that much more to report on. Like I said, some big news but we’re nearing that part of the year where announcements slow down, games start coming out non-stop, and we start thinking about year-end lists, and our plans for next year. And my oh my, what plans we have…

See you next week dudes!

 

E3: The Good

E3’s now a week behind us, and big reveals and press conferences even further back than that. E3 2012 was a strange year — a year of transitions and wheel spinning, and estrangement. That’s not to say it was a bad show this year, or that there were no great games. On the contrary, there were some great presences from several titles, and numerous developers and publishers wowing us enthusiast crowds with some damn good looking games.

There were certainly missteps, I won’t shy away from that fact. But overall I was satisfied with what I saw. So let’s get into some of the things that grabbed my attention from this year’s E3. Continue reading “E3: The Good”

E3 Day 1 Wrap Up: Games and Press Conferences

It’s heeere! The most exciting week in gaming, where some of the biggest announcement are made and the newest games shown off. Kick starting the week were 4 pressers from Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony. Here’s our thoughts on the big moments (and upsets) of E3 2012: Continue reading “E3 Day 1 Wrap Up: Games and Press Conferences”

Why I’m finally excited about Assassin’s Creed again.

Assassin’s Creed is a series I’ve always been interested in, but surprisingly let down by. The first Assassin’s Creed drew me in when it was originally announced. It was the first title that looked as if it was doing something worthy of being called “next-gen.” Unfortunately, while Assassin’s Creed was a wonderfully pretty game to look at and featured some truly innovative game design,in the end it was repetitive and suffered from underdeveloped ideas.

When the sequel Assassin’s Creed 2 was announced, it wasn’t until well into the game’s coverage on news sites that I became interested. In fact, the exact moment the game appeared on my radar was when I learned the game could be played entirely in Italian. I don’t speak Italian, but just knowing I could indulge in such an experience was exciting to me. After the game was released, and I heard and witnessed for myself the depth Ubisoft had added to the gameplay, I decided I would give it a shot. Due to whatever circumstances, I didn’t get very far in the game; whether it was from distraction from other titles or a lack of motivation, I lost interest and never went back. Not because it was a bad game, but because I just forgot. After that, and the establishment of annual sequels for the series, I became ambivalent the this world of secret societies and hidden wrist blades.

Then Assasnin’s Creed 3 was announced.

As you can probably surmise from the title of this post, this announcement has once again roped me into the hype for this series. Everything revealed about Assassin’s Creed 3 is promising to me. The setting is absolutely the most interesting the series has had so far. We’ve seen numerous images of an assassin, obviously belonging to the Brotherhood based off his attire and abundance of the “A” symbol on his weapons and accessories. The notion of playing as a Native American assassin is very appealing, to say the least.

I mean, look at this guy! He’s decked out with a tomahawk (which I believe will eclipse the wrist blade as his signature weapon), 2 flintlock pistols, a saber, and of course the wrist blade. He’s also wearing the blue hue the American soldiers wore, and his notched hood is adorned with an eagle — a symbol not only in the Assassin Brotherhood, but also in Native American spirituality. Chances are, this eagle symbolism will play a role in either the plot or characterization of this new protagonist.

Beyond that, he has fur boots, beaded jewlery, and other touches that make him visually unique when compared to the past heroes Altair and Ezio.

Obviously, because we’re playing as this nameless warrior, he is in some way related to the series’ main character Desmond. This is where the Assassin’s Creed loses me: I don’t care about Desmond. I don’t care about what’s happening outside of the Animus, or at least none of the games have shown me why I should care about the “real world” events. I don’t really see why these events which occur in these Animus missions require the Animus to tie them together in the first place. Albeit, I haven’t completed AC2 or even touched its two sequels, but from what I gather, most of the narrative in those games revolves solely around Ezio’s life and actions, not Desmond’s. I understand there are probably several reasons for this that I’m blissfully unaware of, I just wish the historical settings — which is 95% of the game anyway — was where the entire narrative took place instead of them being linked by some (admittedly cool and unique) sci-fi element. I just don’t find it necessary I suppose.

But then again, this is a videogame, and what really matters is the gameplay. I am excited to see what gameplay changes this new setting and protagonist will bring. And I’m sure that’s something we can all agree on, as the main complaint I hear leveled against both Brotherhood and Revelations is that they did little to really branch out the narrative or expand the gameplay in ways that warranted a full sequel. Now that we’re getting the next “true” numbered entry, I hope we’ll see some great new ways to assassinate wise-guy Templars and pakour over historical buildings.

It’s rumored the game with feature an open wilderness landscape (in addition to cities and towns, like Boston, Massachusetts) that will rival AC Brotherhood’s Rome area. It apparently will have climbable trees (is it sad I’m excited that this is a feature?). I would hope this means the inclusion of things like wildlife and using trees and bushes as cover/camouflage. Of course, Metal gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of my favorite games, and I’m a huge fan of Western movies and Red Red Redemption, so it’s probably just wishful thinking. The fact that I’ll be wandering the New England wilderness and possibly interacting with cats like George Washington and Ben Franklin (Da Vinci’s replacement, perhaps?) is enough for me.

Like I said, I don’t really care all that much about Desmond, or this Eden stuff, or weird supernatural/sci-fi business. What I’m really invested in are the historical events and stories that are unique to this setting, and, of course, how fun the game will be to actually play. When I need my story fix, I have an entirely different videogame threequel to go to; I want Assassin’s Creed 3 to be the ultimate sandbox stealth/assassination game.

As the months go by, we’ll see more and more on Assassin’s Creed 3, and I’m sure I’ll become even more interested. How about you guys? Are you looking forward to this game? What changes would you want to see in the Assassin’s Creed series? For me, it feels great to be excited about this series again. In fact, I’ll be going out of my way to finally pick up Assassin’s Creed 2 again and play it through to completion (though whether I’ll do so playing entirely in Italian remains to be seen). Hopefully, I’ll finally get to see what all the hype was about.