Archive for June, 2010

E3 – Day Two – Sony

Posted in Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by halbard100

Here’s the big one for me, I’ve really made no secret of my love for that giant black console and all of its ancestors. I might not be a die hard Sony fanboy, but I do love that console and all the fun it holds. Baring that in mind, I do try to be objective.

Sony:

As have all the Sony press events from the last 3 years that I can remember, this one started of with a music video montage of game footage, some Kevin Butler clips, and all the glitz that accompanies these opening. I personally love them, sure it could just be Sony showing off it’s financial power or what not to producing, but I love the mood they set for the whole event, and typically, Sony does seem to have one of the more fun and well staged presentations. Starting off Jack Trenton came out, along with a quick shot at the Natal/Kinect poncho cult thing as well as a mention to Kevin Butler, to bad he couldn’t be the MC for the event. While he really has a great presentation ability, it doesn’t help the traditional charts and graphs talk without the charts and graphs. I wish they had made some with Little Big Planet 2 like they did last year. Kazuo Hirai came out next and spoke to the innovations with 3D as well as mentioning a Wipe Out HD 3D and many others. There’s a lot of 3D down the pipe line and Sony is obviously pushing it; looking at it as a big step into the future of gaming. Following that came Killzone 3 complete with 3D demo. Killzone 3 has been made with full 3D integration from the ground up and has been made with it in mind, so there’s no tacking on of the 3D just to push the product, and by all accounts it’s actually quite good. 3D aside, the graphics look absolutely gorgeous, even by PS3 standards, and it’s promised that there will be more variation of environments shown of by the engine, such as the wintry arctic level shown of here or a mention alien jungle. The gameplay is intense and fast, and the jump pack sections look like a joy. To cap it all off, Killzone 3 will be fully Move compatible, instantly ending my worry that this motion controller fad was going to be casual market only and that Sony is keeping hardcore gamers in mind – whether or not they can physically last a long play session with it. Kaz Hirai came back out to push 3D some more throwing out that Motorstorm Apocalypse, the Sly Collection, and Gran Turismo 5 will be completely 3D ready as well and continuing into more Move capable titles. The second music video of the event came show casing the combination of Move and 3D would be the future of immersive gaming and with Trenton calling it a “more immersive realistic gaming environment” and it does sound like a compelling idea. We got a shot video giving a developer’s standing on the Move, talking about the immersion and precision of the controller, along with a few bits from Kevin Butler for good measure. Then Sorcery came out showing what a Move title would be like and honestly I like what I see. It’s a third person game utilizing a flick of the Move to fire bolts of magic. It shows off what the Move can achieve and in a way I can see everyone playing. Controlling movement with the sub-controller looks relatively smooth, but still the big thing is the Move. The ball changing color relecting what is going on in the player’s hand, like picking up a green potion turning the ball green. It needs to be said, while I am talking a lot about the controls and Move, the game itself looks pretty solid. Some cool spells and cool interactions between them. Whether this will be the must have title for the Move or the one that, well, moves the hardware is yet to be seen, but it’s a solid game and I really can’t criticize it to much. Next came sports games, and though these are my cup of tea, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour demo did show of no just the one to one movement but also a little of the feedback of the swing like a slight buzz when hitting a ball from the rumble, a nice touch indeed. But, it is motion golfing, and we’ve seen this from the Wii in some shape or form. After was a trailer for Heroes on the Move (a very working title) combining Sly Cooper and Bentley, Jak and Daxter, and Rachet and Clank, into a move driven platformer. A lot of flagship characters all coming together, but ultimately it will be the gameplay. Back came Trenton to show a new ad campaign with Coke complete with the ability to win a PS3 or Move. Then, part way through, out comes Kevin Butler (carrying a Coke no less, and I do love Coke). Honestly, I’d nearly say Kevin stole the show. Complete with some Natal/Kinect event shots, some pop culture references and capping it off with a final speech to the gamers. There’s tons of videos of the bit on youtube and I encourage you going out and watching. This guy’s a great ad campaign and will probably be remember as an icon for a while – or at least I hope so. Once Trenton took the stage back we got more info on the Move, as well as pricing and bundles. While not the cheapest thing to get, a Move controller alone will be about $50, which isn’t bad, but you’ll need the PS3 Eye to use it, so there’s another $50. There will be a $400 all in one bundle of a PS3, Move and Eye, but it all seems like a tad steep entrance ramp, but the software looks like it could be there so I could just be being pessimistic. Afterward was a THIRD music video, this time for the Move exclusively. Sure I like these, and it wasn’t bad, but this might be getting to be a bit much? Or at least wear out the special fun the open vids can have. Next came the next push for the PSP, starring Kevin Butler’s new side kick Marcus Rivers. Looks like it will have all the tongue-in-check mock-seriousness that made the Kevin Butler ads so great, complete with some healthy one liners (KB: “Favorite snack?” MR: “I consume a healthy amount of suckers online every day” KB “Daaaaah…Like that answer”). The PSP line up looks like it will be strong with God of War: Ghost of Sparta, and while Invisimals isn’t my thing, it still looks cool. However, this does bring up something I was curious to hear news about, the PSPGo and PSP 4000. Now, it’s been hinted and rumored that Sony was working on a new PSP version but nothing was shown so I doubt we’ll see anything this year, even come the Tokyo Gamin Show. The PSPGo seems to have been all but swept under the rug; it was in some of the PSP images but ultimately it was not even specifically mentioned. I really love the form of the PSPGo and every time I see a used one sitting in Gamestop (Yes! They have them here) for $169, I almost have to bite. It was a serious misstep for Sony sure, but I hate seeing such a nice device full of potential being nearly forgotten. Sure it was probably marketed poorly and could have done with being the PSP2 to help differentiate itself from the PSP, but I hope that Sony hasn’t forgotten it entirely. There was a rumor about images of what looked like PSPGo parts but with a UMD space. If that’s true, I can’t wait. Now I might an outlier, sure I love the style, shape, and potential of the PSP but all I have for my 1000 is Hellboy, House of Flying Daggers, Hero, and a single game, Untold Legends, so the jump to a download only PSPGo wouldn’t hurt me as much, but there is something about physical media that I just like. This will be an article later on but I wanted to throw it out there. Moving right along, there does look to be a good line up coming down the pipe line with games like Kingdom Hearts and the 3rd Birthday. And comes a fourth music video, this one for the PSP, one of these days, this might start to get old, but luckily they are all different enough not to get annoying and I guess they make a nice segue point. All of this PSP is making me want to hunt down the charger and start looking into some of the $10 classics, so I guess all of this is doing its job. We then got some PSN talk. Showing off how connective the PS3 is. Now, here is the big kicker that I love, utilizing Playstation Home, the complete Sony E3 booth is recreated there along with digital swag for everyone to visit and enjoy. This is not just genius, but shows off what Home can do that few other things can. Media Molecule followed with Little Big Planet 2 in tow. I loved Little Big Planet, though I haven’t gotten a chance to really pick around and build stuff with it, but it’ll be the first thing I get my grubby hands on when I decide to stop mooching off friends’ PS3. LBP2 seems to not just be following suit but going above and beyond offering more tools than ever before for players to build their own stages. After showing off some fun stages and the breath of amount of game types, they showed some footage of games made by some of the designers at Media Molecule given only 24 hours, LBP2 and the simple instructions of make a game. LBP2 looks to be building and expanding on what LBP started and doing it quite well. Only other thing I can say is this: The creatornator, hat-o-doom. Following that we got a look at PlayStation Plus, the new PSN subscription service. I honestly don’t know what to make of this; I understand the desire to compete with Xbox live, but they are essentially charging us for free stuff, like demos and early beta access. It’s on Sony’s shoulders to convince us that we need this service without pissing of current PSN users or taking away features. Next came the EA portion of the show, along with the teased conclusion to the Dead Space 2 demo started yesterday. All I can say is that I echo what I already said in my EA blurb, Dead Space 2 looks great, scary, and beautiful and a much anticipated sequel. We also got more Medal of Honor which was just more of the same really – but that 24 person live demo was done on PS3s… just saying. As the event keeps rolling, we get our second big event…show?… GLADoS takes over the event. Out walks Gabe Newell to announce not only Portal 2 with Steamworks support on the PS3, but that it will be the best version of the game. A big announcement to say the least, coupled with Gabe’s previous comments against the PS3 and Sony, makes this even bigger for Sony. The bit itself was well done too, I suggest everyone looking for it on youtube. After Portal, Final Fantasy 14 was shown with some game play shots intermingled in the trailer. The game looks to be coming along nicely but nothing to report on yet really. Another showing of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood can next along with the announcement that the beta for it will be PS3 exclusive on the PSN. At this point, it seems like Sony is holding a lot at their booth, which I hope means lots of playable games. There is yet another music video, making 4 thus far, showing off simply PS3 games. Now comes the Gran Turismo 5 trailer, presumably with game play in it, along with a long, LONG, awaited release date of November 2. This game has been shown since the PS3 debut, so either the game is going to be amazing, or there are going to be some very disappointed fanboys… but considering who we’re talking about, it will probably look and play amazingly. After GT5, is Infamous 2. There looks to be a lot of changes from the last game like environment and the look of our lighting throwing protagonist. Coupled with the fact he’s wielding what looks like a cattle prod on super steroids and that it’s hinted that there might be new ice oriented powers, make it look like a must buy for fans of the original. To cap off the show we get a trailer, heralding the return of Twisted Metal. Out comes David Jaffe accompanied by a Sweet Tooth driving his demonic looking ice cream truck. Not only do we get live game play, but there is game play available on the floor. The game truly looks like nothing we’ve seen this generation which shows all kinds of vehicular combat, including helicopters and flaming-chain-saw wielding bikers, and I think I saw a Sweet Tooth mech. If there was a way for Sony to close a show, Twisted Metal was it.

I have mixed feelings about the Sony event. It’s hard to argue that Sony didn’t have the best staged show, like with Kevin Butler, and Jack Trenton has some very good stage presence and presentation ability. There were some great announcements too: Portal 2 and Twisted Metal. But from all the glitz and glam, the show felt a little empty and shallow. Maybe I’m a little upset by the lack of any more infromation of the Last Guardian or that the PSPGo has been all but swept under the rug. All and all, though, it ranks a solid 2nd of the press events and gains extra points against Microsoft for actually having some hard core support in their motion controller.

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E3 – Day Two – Nintendo

Posted in Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by halbard100

The second day of E3 is started off by Nintendo. Of any of the Big 3, I’d say Nintendo has the biggest history of revealing announcements out of no where, coupled with how tightly they keep secrets and keep leaks from happening, make it a hotly anticipated event. This year we saw what was possibly the closest thing to a chink in the armor of Nintendo’s vault of dreams, when the 3DS was announced out of nowhere with little to no information in an attempt to circumvent a media outlet from spilling the beans. Whether or not it was how they wanted to announce the device, it made for one of the most anxious waits for E3 to see what this mystery platform would be like.

Nintendo:

Nintendo’s event started off with a bang showing off not just images but full live game play from the man himself Shigeru Miyamoto on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. This is the first Zelda title to be designed from the ground up, specifically for the Wii. Miyamoto said that when he first saw the capabilities of WiiMotion Plus he knew how he wanted to make the next Zelda game. From the looks of it, it plays as you would expect and seeming fairly intuitively, swing the WiiMote in a specific direction to execute a slash in that direction and raising the nunchuku raises the shield to block. It looks like a nice game, but the thing that really stood out for me was the art style. I don’t play that many Zelda games or own much Nintendo stuff these days, but I have interacted with many of the big one and I do love the presentation and style of Wind Waker. While I can understand Twilight Princess’s draw, I still find Wind Waker to be the bolder game and the one I will remember between the two. That said, art style of Skyward Sword looks like a fusion of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker, the lines of Twilight Princess with the bolder coloring of Wind Waker. Now will it work out for Nintendo? I don’t know, my emotions of it was lukewarm at best. I really applaud when a company like Nintendo does something bold and while the latest Zelda offering will satiate the fan boy and Nintendo-phile, I’m sorry than what seems like the general hating on Wind Waker may have completely negated the possibility of seeing another like it on consoles. Then again, it seems like more and more pro-Wind Wakers are coming out of the woodwork, so we might yet see another stylized dream scape like odyssey in the future – besides, I think it would be a prefect fit for the Wii. Before I digress into what could be a while post, the next game was Mario Sports Mix. This sounds like what it is, Mario and friends doing the Wii sports thing more or less. Probably will be a nice casual or party game, but that combined with Wii Party makes me wonder if they are over saturating that market for themselves. Wii Party really looks like Mario Party presumably minus the gaming board. Just Dance was shown with just a trailer, but again, more of the same from what I could tell. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn came next, and it looks good. I’ve only played Golden Sun once, on my GBA, loaned from my brother, but I did really enjoy it and this looks cool. Some game-play was mixed into the trailer but nothing to ground breaking. Then was a new GoldenEye featuring Daniel Craig but seemingly holding all that we loved of the original intact plus some hand to hand stuff to show off Craig’s more personal and violent 007. I hope it holds true to the original and it looks like it should, almost down to the graphics, but no word on the golden gun. Epic Mickey followed but I couldn’t get a read on it from what was shown. I’ve been looking forward to this game, but the tone doesn’t look as dark as I expected though that might come across later on. There wasn’t much of the paint and thinner mechanic shown which is one of the key things about the game that’s cool. The other, though, is that it’s a Warren Spector game, and it’s the progression of character and story that are so great about his games, so something like that can’t be shown on in a quick trailer or demo; I still hold hope that it will live up to the hype. The next game; however, was the big stand out for me: Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The art style and presentation is absolutely adorable, with everything looking like patches of felt or lengths of yarn to an amazing degree (later I learned that the team actually scanned in the pieces of yarn to wrap around the polygons). The game-play looks like it will play nicely into the art style with Kirby using a whip-like piece of yarn to pull zippers, buttons, and enemies. Kirby also morphs during particular actions, like into a parachute when falling, a sub under water, a little car when running, etc etc. There’s coop and the whole thing is played with a horizontal WiiMote  (my favorite) . I fell in love with Kirby with Super Smash Bros but never played a Kirby game but this has about sold me on buying a damn Wii immediately – it’s just great, adorable platforming. Next we got another glimpse of Metroid: Other M, and while it’s nothing new game-play wise, the music struck me this time as being very, very creepy, which is awesome. Another big fanboy surprise was the return of Donkey Kong with the aptly named Donkey Kong Country Returns. My friend has been wanting another DK game for a while and it’s really pulling at the fanboys’ heart. My cynical remark to this though was I felt like I was now seeing the same game nearly 4 times with just different images. This, Rayman, etc., though I liked Rayman better since it looks like it will have coop. Now this is when they revealed the 3DS in all its Nintendoy, 3D, juicy glory promising stereoscopic glasses-free 3D and apparently it does it quite well. The first game we get for it is Kid Icarus Uprising and even without 3D it looks great; I shutter to think about it with all the brightly colored laser shots flying out at you. The show ended with a list of titles that will be available on the 3DS and there’s a surprising number of more hardcore, mature titles, like MGS and Resident Evil 5, along with developers’ reactions to the 3D effect. After the closing, the 3DS was paraded out into the crowd so everyone in attendance could get a first look for themselves, as well as Skyward Sword being up front on stage. While it wasn’t them giving the thing out, I’m sure everyone were happy as clams.

If there was one word to sum up the Nintendo press event, I would say it was “Fans.” Everything released was aimed at those Nintendo fans that have been growing up with the company for the past 15 years with nearly every game being a new iteration in a classic franchise. If you’re a Nintendo fan at all, this press event won the event hands down, but if not, there wasn’t that much that was “new” or super innovative. It was very throwbacky with all the classics coming back and nothing really super fresh. Epic Mickey looks like something new and different, but Nintendo knows their fan base and they know that they have been calling out for more hard core classics, and by God, Nintendo delivered in full force. The big announcement of the 3DS was met with all the enthusiasm you would expect, though I’m still curious to see if it will revolutionize hand held gaming the same way the original Game Boy, or DS did. But considering it still has the DS moniker, I doubt that they were intending to. The 3DS is more like what they thing customers want, similar to Sony and the PSPGo, but as Nintendo has shown us in the past, nearly anything they put their name on will be welcomed with open arms.

E3 – Day One – Ubisoft

Posted in Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2010 by halbard100

For Day One, I give my award to Ubisoft, nearly hands down. Following the trend seemed to be set for this E3, just about everything had gameplay in some shape or form, but the reason I give it to them is probably best exemplified by one of my Tweets during the press event: “the Ubisoft press event seems to have the pattern of: Awesome, Awesome, wtf, wtf, great new things, and some crazy things out of nowhere.” Ubisoft didn’t just present simple video games, they brought out things I never thought I’d see at an E3 main press event. Read on:

Ubisoft:

The event started off with a demo of Child of Eden. A beautiful, synesthesia shooter from the mind that brought us REZ. Even if you’ve never played REZ, most gamers who know their history have come across it at some point. The game is done using Kinect and is probably about the best thing I have seen for the controller to this point. It is really the type of game that lends itself well to not having a controller while fully immersing the player in this onslaught of color and sound. This is what I want to see from Kinect, not games that look like Wii games with a face lift, but something that uses Kinect to transcend what a gaming experience can, could, or has to be. Obviously I’m taken with it, luckily it can be played with a controller and I hope we get a Move port or I’m going to be getting an Xbox Short (its not all that slim, looks more stumpy) or swiping my brother’s, Kinect just looks like such a cool way to play it. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood was the next game we got, they did show anything multiplayer related at the press event, but we got a glimpse at the first player content. The AI will be more aggressive and the combat system has been redone to accommodate more combat but all the stealth and acrobatics that made the series is still there. After ACB came Shaun White Skateboarding, and initially I was about ready to tune out; with SKATE and Tony Hawk, what do you do differentiate yourself. Apparently, that was the first thing White said when offered the opportunity to make a game, and it really shows. My first impression was something of Saboteur meets SKATE, as you skate through the initially gray environment and pull of tricks, color returns and brings “fun” back to the world. Honestly, it’s a really cool take on the skateboarding genre and looks like fun. Additionally, as you bring back color, you can also create your own set pieces to use for tricks and expand your environment. Half pipes form out of no where, and rails grow and snake around as you please; they all look like they are powered by the green lantern but the effect is really cool. As you rebuild, reshape, and color your environment there will eventually be full scale changes, like buildings breaking down and rebuilding themselves into trick worthy surfaces. It’s dynamic, colorful and different, to hell with realism, it just looks like hella fun. And now is when Ubisoft took a turn into the “WTF” area, all of a sudden people started popping out of the audience with laser tag gear and blasting away at each other revealing BattleTag. I honestly don’t know what to make of this, my brain nearly started shutting down and doing back flips. I’m a little skeptical of trying to sell more hardware these days and 2 guns, 2 harnesses, gun reload packs, and score markers seems like a big and expensive package. That said, it presents some cool ideas and look at where Ubisoft sees the industry as moving or where they would like to be. The system will be integrated to a console some how to show match data. 5 or 7 years ago, for what ever reason I wouldn’t bat an eye and for some reason it seems like it would click, but these days I don’t know what to say – could be fun? Following BattleTag came another out of left field: Innergy. Using a finger placed cardiac sensor, using guided breathing rhythms, the player controls a little avatar through a fluctuating path. It looks very relaxing and I can’t help but think of Nintendo’s Vitalisensor shown off last year; I guess Ubisoft beat them to the punch, but I’ll be interested to see where it goes: Will Ubisoft have more games for it, will Nintendo’s be more of the same when it comes out or can it differentiate itself besides being a Nintendo product? Time will tell. But the trend of integrating games into your every day life is becoming more and more apparent, and if that wasn’t enough it was followed by another showing of Your Shape Fitness Evolved. We already saw it at Microsoft and it was pretty much the same demo; if not exactly. Seeing it a second time through did cause it to grow on me a little and I can see how this can be helpful and only doable in this capacity on the Kinect. I hope the thing has a good price point or a nice pack in deal with the 360 or I fear game wise it might flop. Following was a trailer for Raving Rabbids Travel in Time. No gameplay, so I can’t say anything, but hey, the Rabbids are back, right? Then came Ghost Recon Future Soldier, seeing this game in action has pretty much sold me. It looks awesome, I’m a sucker for a third-person shooter these days since I can’t get Gears, and the optical camouflage looks awesome and there doesn’t seem to be a limit on it at all. The cover and environments look to be destructible to some degree plus four player coop; I can’t wait for it to come out. After that, Driver San Francisco was shown. Apparently, the main character is in a coma but doesn’t realize it and coupled with that comes the ability to jump to a different car, with a certain range in the environment, to continue his pursuit, called “Shift”. Looks to be a cool mechanic, but it has to be recharged to be used over and over again. Then came Project Dust, again, another that was just a trailer, but it gave me a possible Black and White vibe. We’ll have to wait until later to see what it’s all about, but the trailer has gotten me interested. Next was a short presentation of the UBIART Framework that lead up to the reveal of Rayman Origins. It’s a platformer-side scroller that has playful 2D hand drawn graphics made entirely with the UbiArt Framework tool set, and it looks like it will be could be 2 player coop. While Rayman looks great, I’m more interested in this UbiArt Framework. They said only 5 people worked on Rayman using these tools, so I’d like the opportunity to wrap my hands around them or at least learn a little more instead of the quick mention it got. Afterward came ManiaPlanet, a PC system that would allow users to create their own content under one of three groups: TrackMania for Racing, ShootMania for Shooters, and QuestMania for RPGs.  Not only will users be able to make their own content, but also to share it with friends and allow others to play together with them or choose to play by themselves. I love anything user created, but we really have no idea how this will work until the betas for each start releasing. The first for TrackMania is due closer to the end of the year. The event was capped off by dancers from Michael Jackson’s This Is It tour dancing to ‘Beat It’. There will be a Michael Jackson dancing game that will help people learn the dances he did and will be released towards the end of the year. I assume it will use Kinect since there’s really no other way to do it in my mind.

And so closes Ubisoft and the first day of E3. Like I said, Ubisoft had some of the most out of nowhere stuff with BattleTag and Innergy, and for the shear fact of innovation for those I’ll give day one to Ubisoft, plus I’m loving Ghost Recon.

E3 – Day One – EA

Posted in Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by halbard100

Given the length of my Microsoft review, I’m going to try and pair this one down a bit to more of the nitty-gritty. G4tv.com has the press events archived for you pleasure and convenience so make sure to stop by. And now, on with the show:

EA

EA started off with a demo of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. I love what they are doing with the franchise and the competitive multiplayer with police on wanted races. The social features also look great and while similar tools are looking to be par with everything these days, I love the interface and EA looks like they are trying to do everything they can possibly think off instead of simply saying when your friends are beating your time or want to challenge you. The next treat was gameplay from Dead Space 2. As opposed to the cramped spaces of the dilapidated space ship from the first game, 2 will take us to much larger and open vistas. The architecture looks beautiful and a little space-Gothic which I think will marry well with the Dead Space brand of horror. The demo was intense and cut short, telling us it will be finished in the Sony presentation. Since a lot of the stress of Dead Space is those confined spaces and having to work in them while still dismembering enemies, 2 looks like it might throw more and bigger enemies your way –  as a friend of mine aptly put it “RUN ISAAC!”. The new Medal of Honor was shown with a full 24 person multiplayer live demo.  One thing I want to note is that the entire thing was done on the PS3. Medal of Honor is going to take a lot to differentiate it from Modern Warfare 2 and the latest Call of Duty, but the multiplayer looked solid, large, and frantic. For the map they showed us, we’re told camping will be dangerous and being in one place too long is a sure fire way to wind up with a bullet, grenade, or some other means of death flying at you, and it had been designed with close combat in mind. I hope that the other maps follow suit as have a dynamic map that encourages movement and hurts campers to be a lot more fun. After, we got a glimpse at Gun Club, the new rewards program from EA. The first bite of it we get is everyone who preOrders Medal of Honor gets early beta access. Sounds like some nice freebies for preOrders, but it sounds like it will extend to playing the games as well. Don’t know if it’s a subscription based model or not but if everyone can sign on for free and get cool guns in the game, it kind of defeats the purpose in my mind of having a rewards program. Though I don’t like having to shell out more money, I have the feeling it will work it way with the code EA is implementing to keep used game sales down, and new up. We got a quick, quick trailer of Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam but nothing to get a feel off of. Peter Moore came out and showed us EA MMA, while not much about the game, we did get a look at the social features. There’s going to be some simulation of professional fight events that players will be involved in, including making their own smack talk videos, be watched by thousands online, all leading up to a fight for real world rewards. I have no idea how this is suppose to work, and I’m a little skeptical on how it will play out. They also said that real world announcers involved, so it’s obviously going to be a big thing. I can’t wait for a bigger explanation on this, cause the whole thing sounds three steps from insane, but if this can be done the way they say it will: Kudos. (insert random shot at EA for brushing White and the UFC off a few years back here) EA Active 2 came out and said it would be for all three consoles. Again, lots of social features here to share and compare your work out and progression. Madden 11 rounded out the EA Sports line up – complete with Joe Montana. I’ve never been a football game player since Blitz way back in the day, so I will glaze over this a little. The only big thing they talked about was the ‘Game Flow’ system that suggests calls to you and makes the game more accessible. Also the 3 v 3 coop online feature. The Sims 3 followed showing off the new and improves AI and free will that it will exhibit making for the most life like game yet. In addition, for the first time, the game will be playable on consoles. I’m curious as to how the interface will be laid out and if motion controls will be compatible. Cytec then came out and showed off a level from Cyrsis 2. Set in the urban jungle of New York, they’re boasting it will have the smartest AI of any FPS. The level they demoed looked beautiful, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the AI will work together and against you. I can’t believe they’re going to put this thing on consoles without even the PS3 starting to chug. Considering that it’s coming out for the PS3, 360 and PC, and with the muscle needed to run the first one on high with multiplayer without hiccups isn’t completely available even now, I wonder if the console version will be toned down a little just we won’t see graphic and frames seizures. We got a play through of Bulletstorm from Creative Direct of People Can Fly, Adrian Chmielarz. So far so go, it looks like it’s going to be everything Dude Huge has touted, maybe not bringing the fun back to the FPS, but definitely making a crazed, happy-go-lucky gun and murder spree and with Steve Blum as voicing talent to boot – fun, fun. The event closed with The Old Republic and being the only thing not to show some inkling of gameplay. They did mention that there would definitely be group gameplay and raiding, as well as revealing Alderaan as a PvP battleground.

A good showing from EA. While there was nothing very surprising about the show, there was gameplay for everything. It’s starting to look like the old trend of just showing off pre-rendered is coming to and end, with just about everything having gameplay being shown off. A good change to be sure, whether or not that gameplay is available on the floor.

E3 2010 – Day One – Microsoft

Posted in Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by halbard100

So the first day of E3 is official over, and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Here’s whats happened so far, with a press event by event break down:

Microsoft:

We’ve been expecting a lot from Microsoft and the 360.  While we didn’t see anything unexpected from what we already knew was coming, we did get to see a lot of gameplay – never a bad thing. First we got some gameplay from Call of Duty: Black Ops. With everything that’s happened with Infinity Ward, the COD franchise has fallen back to Treyarch, while everyone still has Modern Warfare 2 on the brain, Black Ops looks like it’s not just going to honor the roots but embrace what we got from the Modern Warfare branch. Gameplay looks solid as you’d expect so unless there’s anything super-dooper ground breaking, it will fall to how solid the multiplayer system will be (which is where MW2 seemed to start having hiccups) and how the story will play out for those of us who still play the campaign of this series. I’m looking forward to the era jumping a lot and it should be cool to see that works and how the weapons transition from conflict to conflict; the whole premise really has me excited. Will we get a “No More Russians” caliber or type of level? I don’t know, but this looks to be shaping into an awesome game – if there was any doubt. Next, Kojima-san walked out and after passing the torch to Shigenobu Matsuyama we got a trailer for Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Following with the stunning level of quality we get from Kojima Productions, the graphics look incredible and right on par with what we got from MGS4. The only gameplay we got was showing off the cutting mechanic. And when I say cutting mechanic, I mean it looks like everything can be sliced multiple times over. Environment, enemies, watermelons, everything can be sliced and diced. Looks like there’s going to be some kind of bullet time mechanic that allows for precision slicing along a plane chosen by the player. The possibilities seem limitless but given his roots and being a robot samurai-ninja, I presume that Raiden will have some stealthing, but considering that the tag line is “Lightning Bolt Action” that might not happen. Before the trailer, Matsuyama-san gave a description of the gameplay showing the term Zan-Datsu meaning “cut-take”, part of the prerendered trailer showed Raiden dicing up a robot and then yanking what looked like a glowing spinal cord from the remains and then absorbing something. Since the gameplay only showed the Zan part of Zan-Datsu, we can only guess as to what Raiden is taking. My guess is something like energy or life. But it could be more Mega-man-ish and give him abilities from who he already killed. Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m excited beyond all reason for it; the cutting mechanics alone sold me and I’m getting a headache just thinking about how someone would code that. After Rising, they told us that everything else was a 360 exclusive, but they could have just gone and said Kinect exclusive too. Before I get to that, there were some awesome gameplay videos shown with some Halo: Reach campaign play which looks gorgeous, Gears 3, a sprinkling of Fable 3, and a Crytec 360 exclusive going right now by Codename: Kingdoms that looks like a gladiator game. Reach look absolutely beautiful. It’s got great music, the gameplay 360 owners got to see with the multiplayer beta, and just to put icing on the cake, the end of the trailer showed us space ship combat. It’s almost crazy that Bungie can still pull some surprise gameplay mechanics out of their hat after the beta, but damn it looks good. There’s not much to say about it besides simple oggle. I’d be even more surprised if they end up having multiplayer spaceship battles, but I won’t count them out entirely. Gears 3 gave a glimpse of the 4 player co-op, weapon swapping, and a bayonet charge on the old gun. I’d like to see more gameplay of the female Cogs but so far so go and at this point I think Cliff can do no wrong. They also told us of a new mode called “Beast”; everything is still up in the air about it but some think you can be one of the giant monsters in the game while your friends try to murder you. Fun times. Fable 3 looks very intriguing, I don’t know if it is possible, but I got a serious vibe about a dual story, since it seems to follow two separate countries of the continent. We saw some gameplay and again, looking great. Now, for the rest of the event we get Kinect, Kinect is Natal’s official name (and when i first saw it I kept thinking “Kinetic”). As a device, I have no qualms, it looks amazing, voice activating, hand-motioning, video chatting goodness. However, as a gaming hardware, I’m not a 100% sold yet. The applications do show promise, but as one of the G4 hosts aptly said everything looks like what Nintendo already did and if I might add, minus the cute charm that came with the Wii. While this isn’t a bad thing I guess, it doesn’t really seem to show off the power of the system on its own. Now, from the 3rd party developers, that looks like where the Kinect will start to shine. Ubisoft is bringing what is essentially a more robust and deeper WiiFit called Your Shape Fitness Evolved. Some cool applications and it has grown one me somewhat. Really the only thing that super stood out for me was Harmonix’s offering to the dance game, Dance Central, which actually looks fun. I’ve never been much of a DDR player, and I doubt I’ll play DC, but it does look cool and seems to really utilize Kinect to its fullest for something devoted to purely fun. I also think it will be more accessible that DDR since the coordination seems more natural than the flailing about on a giant D-pad, but we’ll see. We get a release date for the thing but no price point. The rumor at one point was that it would be $150 which I think throws it out of the price range for the casual audience Microsoft wants to attract, especially if they don’t already own a 360. Unless it’s somewhere in the $50 range I don’t see mobs of people lining up to grab the thing and an Xbox along with it. The biggest thing that made me drool though was what was shown next: Star Wars. I’m a Star Wars nut and the fantasy to swing a lightsaber around since the Wii came out is still there. It looks like we’re getting a rail-shooter type game where you control a Jedi. It was just a video so you couldn’t see what motions correlated to what was going on screen, but if a game made me buy Kinect, that might be it: Star Wars Kinect Lightsaber game (Yep, they don’t need a better name than that to sell me. Told you I was a nut). All and all, Star Wars aside, nothing really made me want to buy the Kinect game wise. Everything just looked kind of ‘meh’ to me. The technology looks cool enough and I love the applications of working a 360 with voice commands and minimal hand gestures – I mean who wouldn’t? Connectivity through Xbox Live and the camera on Kinect also shows some cool possibilities (as long as your friend on the other end has it too) for networking and video chat. But as a gaming platform, I’m not biting, not yet at least. It also raises a point that Sony used when the Move popped up: Sometimes you just need a controller. The game’s with driving left me a little bewildered as to how you control speed. Speech commands can only go so far before they get annoying and none of this looks like something I can last playing a long time. Sure quick games are nice, but that’s what my iPhone is going to be for, sometimes you want a meaty game to sink into and not only did I not see it, I’m not sure I could last playing a game like that on Kinect for very long. I’m not sure when or if we’ll see that type of game either. With the controller already established, I see Kinect as falling to number 2 unless a developer sees it as a means to something they couldn’t do before, like Harmonix. I’m interested to see where this tech goes, cause it really is cool, but it looks like it should come as a pack in, not something I want to go blow extra money on as opposed to a second controller and a copy of the latest Gears or Halo game. The final bomb from Microsoft was the Xbox Slim, they aren’t calling it that but that’s what it is. The shape is kind of growing on me, it matches the sleek shiny black of Kinect, but it’s just not there for me – course this isn’t a beauty contest. 250GB HDD and the latest in WiFi do make it a pretty nice package and a $299 price point should move units handily and possibly give the PS3 a run for the top seller position. And to cap the whole thing off, everyone in the audience got a slim for FREE. If you never wanted to go to E3 before, you sure as hell will now.

Since this post ran a long, I’ll be breaking it up. EA and Ubisoft will be up next, look for them later. Enjoy the rest of E3 and follow all the press events at G4tv.com

The Road to E3 – The Casuals

Posted in Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by halbard100

So E3 is right around the corner. I’m not much of a prediction maker, so I won’t start rambling on what I think will be coming out from the Big 3 (though hopes aren’t out of the question).  Instead I’m taking a look at really what the big build up as been on leading to E3.

Looking back on the last few conferences that have happened, it’s becoming more and more evident that this is going to be the year of motion gaming or casual gaming. I put these two in different zone, because to me, they really are in different camps. By the end of this year every console should have a motion controller of some sort and everyone is talking about the casual gamer and how their new controller will bring these customers into their respective folds. A question that I have been posing lately (and trying to get on Feedback for the last few weeks – awesome show/podcast, watch it) is if these companies are on the right track. Flash back to when the Wii, then the Revolution, was first shown, that weird little controller was what everyone was ogling about. 5 or so years ago, everyone thought that gaming was going to the more-immersion camp and leading to things like Virtual Reality, so a controller like the WiiMote would naturally garner a lot of attention. But back in today, the biggest thing that seems to have moved the Wii units is accessibility. The price point was nice, but coupled with the WiiMote, the easy, fun, quick, software was what people ultimately were snapping up. I can’t count the number of times friends said, “Dude, lets go play WiiBowling! You can touch my Wii!” Should probably ignore that last part, but phallic jokes aside, at a time before Smash Bros Brawl was out, people couldn’t stop playing those simple party games. Though those games lent themselves really well to the WiiMote and the controller made it much easier for non-gamers to understand  how to play, it was still the software that made everything a lot of fun. As we get closer to E3, I’m becoming more and more worried that the new motion controllers are a misplaced effort. I’m all for something that adds to gaming in some way, but for me the big 3 things that I consider when I look to buy a console is the games available, how long it will last/reliability, and price point. That’s why I love the PS3, especially now, the thing has some great games, LBP, MGS4, to name a few, especially now, the price is awesome at $299 for the slim, and I’ve always had good experiences with Sony and repairs, I’ve never heard of a PS3 failure like I have for 360s, and my PS2 is still kicking it next to me – the original one, big, thick, and gotten Christmas after it launched. I don’t think I’ve ever EVER considered the controller when buy a system. Sure, when I played Twilight Princess on the Wii for class I thought I was going to get carpal tunnel or something, but I still rock the lone WiiMote for Brawl, I’m a fan of the PS3 controller, but I wouldn’t curse the 360 controller by itself. How many people really think about how they are going to play games as opposed to what games they are going to be playing? (And don’t bring up the Mouse+Keyboard vs Controller argument, I don’t care)

Look at games like Little Big Planet, that’s a great casual game! I love that game, just because the first time I played with friends we spent 10 or so minutes slapping each other silly doesn’t change that it’s a great experience and not to hard to figure out. I think companies are become confused by what exactly ease of entry is. You can design software with a very simple mechanic and control scheme without having to design a new controller all together. So I guess my main opinion/message is gear your software to casual players with out calling them to make a new investment. Making the leap of only buying a game is a lot easier than a game and a $100 piece of hardware on top of their current $300 investment.

Also, where does this leave us hardcore types? Everyone looking forward to Gears 3, Killzone 3, those playing Mario Galaxy 2, and everyone but me that’s up to their waste in Red Dead Redemption (Thank you R* you all are GODS), where do things like Natal and Move leave us and what are they going to give us? Sony has been showing us Socom as a “Hey guys, Move is for you too! BUY IT!” Ok that might be a little harsh, but we’re being reassured that these are something for everybody, not just Mom, Dad and Grams that can’t make the leap to pushing the analog stick in some way or pressing a combination of buttons causes their character to jump or swing a bad or club. I can’t speak for everyone, but I play games to sit on my duff and have a good time, not to jump, flail, and make obscure hand gestures, at least not all the time. I know I’d LOVE Galaxy 2, God I know I’d love it, and other offerings on the Wii but with the controller, the Nunchuku and WiiMote floating in mid air, I have a problem playing some games, it just gets uncomfortable for prolong plays, and I love my 4 or 5 hour afternoons of just playing games on the weekends. I don’t think I can do that with something like the Move or Natal, hell the WiiMote would be a stretch. And that’s not saying I’m naturally lazy or unfit, ok I might be a little, but I just don’t feel like being really active at that time. I have nothing against these new controllers, I really don’t, but they just don’t seem like the right move to me (NOT A PUN), especially when the financial environment is still in the pits (I’m still trying to save money for my own PS3, and I’m an unemployed college student). It’s the same as my opinion of the PSP: It doesn’t need a new analog stick, just software that takes advantage of what is there and isn’t a PS2 port or a spin-off of a PS3 game that needs that camera analog stick. But, on the flip side, that same principle can be used to be these new controllers’ saving grace. I touched a little on it, but the games that use the WiiMote, like WiiSports, do it awesomely, at least many of them and those are the fun ones. If the software comes, and it doesn’t just feel non-gimmicky, but also offers an experience that truly enhances the controller and is enhanced by the controller, then we’ll have something truly good. BUT, I still don’t see those games as being hardcore gamer games. Hardcore games are intense and deep, and back to my marathon gaming, something than the initiated will play for HOURS on end, and these motion controls just don’t look like they are manageable for those long bouts.

I guess my ending summary would go something like this: Are motion controllers a misplaced effort? To me, yes. Are they really necessary for casual games? I don’t think so. I think Sony and Microsoft are getting confused when they look at Nintendo’s success and owing it all to that little WiiMote instead of what the players are playing. Yes, the games might work awesome for that handle of plastic, but they were designed to work with them. I’d rather see the companies build casual software for what customers have already bought.

So E3 is right around the corner. I’m not much of a prediction maker, so I won’t start rambling on what I think will be coming out from the Big 3 (though hopes aren’t out of the question).  Instead I’m taking a look at really what the big build up as been on leading to E3.

Looking back on the last few conferences that have happened, it’s becoming more and more evident that this is going to be the year of motion gaming or casual gaming. I put these two in different zone, because to me, they really are in different camps. By the end of this year every console should have a motion controller of some sort and everyone is talking about the casual gamer and how their new controller will bring these customers into their respective folds. A question that I have been posing lately (and trying to get on Feedback for the last few weeks – awesome show/podcast, watch it) is if these companies are on the right track. Flash back to when the Wii, then the Revolution, was first shown, that weird little controller was what everyone was ogling about. 5 or so years ago, everyone thought that gaming was going to the more-immersion camp and leading to things like Virtual Reality, so a controller like the WiiMote would naturally garner a lot of attention. But back in today, the biggest thing that seems to have moved the Wii units is accessibility. The price point was nice, but coupled with the WiiMote, the easy, fun, quick, software was what people ultimately were snapping up. I can’t count the number of times friends said, “Dude, lets go play WiiBowling! You can touch my Wii!” Should probably ignore that last part, but phallic jokes aside, at a time before Smash Bros Brawl was out, people couldn’t stop playing those simple party games. Though those games lent themselves really well to the WiiMote and the controller made it much easier for non-gamers to understand  how to play, it was still the software that made everything a lot of fun. As we get closer to E3, I’m becoming more and more worried that the new motion controllers are a misplaced effort. I’m all for something that adds to gaming in some way, but for me the big 3 things that I consider when I look to buy a console is the games available, how long it will last/reliability, and price point. That’s why I love the PS3, especially now, the thing has some great games, LBP, MGS4, to name a few, especially now, the price is awesome at $299 for the slim, and I’ve always had good experiences with Sony and repairs, I’ve never heard of a PS3 failure like I have for 360s, and my PS2 is still kicking it next to me – the original one, big, thick, and gotten Christmas after it launched. I don’t think I’ve ever EVER considered the controller when buy a system. Sure, when I played Twilight Princess on the Wii for class I thought I was going to get carpal tunnel or something, but I still rock the lone WiiMote for Brawl, I’m a fan of the PS3 controller, but I wouldn’t curse the 360 controller by itself. How many people really think about how they are going to play games as opposed to what games they are going to be playing? (And don’t bring up the Mouse+Keyboard vs Controller argument, I don’t care)

Look at games like Little Big Planet, that’s a great casual game! I love that game, just because the first time I played with friends we spent 10 or so minutes slapping each other silly doesn’t change that it’s a great experience and not to hard to figure out. I think companies are become confused by what exactly ease of entry is. You can design software with a very simple mechanic and control scheme without having to design a new controller all together. So I guess my main opinion/message is gear your software to casual players with out calling them to make a new investment. Making the leap of only buying a game is a lot easier than a game and a $100 piece of hardware on top of their current $300 investment.

Also, where does this leave us hardcore types? Everyone looking forward to Gears 3, Killzone 3, those playing Mario Galaxy 2, and everyone but me that’s up to their waste in Red Dead Redemption (Thank you R* you all are GODS), where do things like Natal and Move leave us and what are they going to give us? Sony has been showing us Socom as a “Hey guys, Move is for you too! BUY IT!” Ok that might be a little harsh, but we’re being reassured that these are something for everybody, not just Mom, Dad and Grams that can’t make the leap to pushing the analog stick in some way or pressing a combination of buttons causes their character to jump or swing a bad or club. I can’t speak for everyone, but I play games to sit on my duff and have a good time, not to jump, flail, and make obscure hand gestures, at least not all the time. I know I’d LOVE Galaxy 2, God I know I’d love it, and other offerings on the Wii but with the controller, the Nunchuku and WiiMote floating in mid air, I have a problem playing some games, it just gets uncomfortable for prolong plays, and I love my 4 or 5 hour afternoons of just playing games on the weekends. I don’t think I can do that with something like the Move or Natal, hell the WiiMote would be a stretch. And that’s not saying I’m naturally lazy or unfit, ok I might be a little, but I just don’t feel like being really active at that time. I have nothing against these new controllers, I really don’t, but they just don’t seem like the right move to me (NOT A PUN),