E3 2012 wasn’t the greatest show in its history, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. This year in gaming is the perfect example of the time where next-gen consoles are guaranteed, but the time to reveal them has not yet come. It is years like this where we get to see developers make games that take full advantage of the hardware of current consoles.
I’m the kind of person who tunes in for the games. New consoles are great, but it’s hard to look at a pricey $500+ box that may not launch with compelling games that are worth the sticker shock. Because of that, I’ve highlighted a handful of titles that I feel are going to make the second half of 2012 and into 2013 great. Now that the dust has settled and the near future of video games has been shown to us, here are my picks for games that struck a cord with me. Along with a few words, enjoy the videosfrom IGN, Gametrailers, and Youtube I’ve attached.
I honestly never played Tomb Raider. Back in the PS1 days I didn’t get into Lara Croft’s adventures probably on account of being too young. Over the years, she was also the victim of shoddy sequels that demoted her from a well regarded video game character to the biggest joke in the industry. This reboot to the franchise looks really promising, as it gives Lara a new origin story and shows how she became the femme fatale that many people fondly remember her as. It’s a great feeling to see a game character age as technology improves. Lara has evolved from a rigid, wirey-framed girl with a big polygonal chest to a realistically proportioned young woman. Watching Lara make use of both the limited tools she has with environmental hazards to take out the bad guys makes her out to be a very resourceful heroine. The preliminary footage of this new Tomb Raider is very promising, and if all goes well, I’ll be waiting in line to pick this up when it drops on March 5, 2013.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Need for Speed is constantly fighting against the likes of other racing franchises like Forza and Gran Turismo, but between the three, I’ve been enjoying Need for Speed the most. When Criterion started reimagining Need for Speed starting with 2010’s NFS Hot Pursuit, they succeeded in making a racer that didn’t have to be super-realistic, but still was very fun. However, the original Need for Speed: Most Wanted from 2005 is still my most beloved Need for Speed title. I can still remember climbing up the Blacklist 15, starting with a junky Fiat Punto and eventually blazing through the highway in a Porsche Carrera GT. Seeing it remade will satisfy the racer in me. With the Autolog, Most Wanted will monitor almost everything the player does, such as recording a new best time in a race. To fuel competition, this information can be broadcasted to other friends. Although it will be out on October 30, 2012, I’m willing to bet that the price for it will definitely drop just in time for Black Friday.
The Last of Us
After finally seeing some real gameplay footage, The Last of Us definitely has me interested. Naughty Dog has taken a bold step to create a harrowing experience where the combat isn’t just about taking cover and shooting a couple of times and moving to the next objective. Sometimes, you gotta get dirty. Combat appears to be more desperate, putting players at the edge of their seats. It was a nice touch to see that your enemies react to the sound of the player’s gun running out of bullets. Hopefully these struggles aren’t completely scripted, and the player can fail if they aren’t actually pressing a button. If the game is full of moments like the end of the demo, then I’m sold. This game is the perfect example of showcasing an exclusive game that Playstation owners can show off to their buddies who are missing out. The dreary atmosphere reminds me of The Road, but hopefully after playing this I won’t feel as depressed once it’s over. We’ll see more of the post-apocalyptic world in The Last of Us when it is released sometime in 2013.
Although it isn’t exactly a game, the indirect value that PlayStation Plus offers continues to sweeten the pot for PSN subscribers. Many digital downloads for games are offered at discounted prices, and more often than not, for free. As of Sony’s press conference, inFamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2 and MotorStorm: Apocalypse are free to download and own for Plus members. More free games are going to be offered every month as well. Barring any discounts, a full year subscription to PlayStation Plus is cheaper than a year of Xbox Live Gold. For those of us multiplatform gamers out there who have Xbox Live but haven’t gotten PlayStation Plus, we might really be thinking that our PS3’s aren’t being put to their fullest potential.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
While I don’t have a Playstation Vita yet, Assassins Creed III: Liberation looks to be one of those titles that will help put more copies of Sony’s handheld into the laps of more people just like me. Admittedly, the change of setting to the New World has renewed my interest, and most importantly, this game stars a female African-French assassin. I dare you to think of how many games in the last ten years that have done this. Details are pretty scarce at this point, but by its October 30, 2012 release date which also coincides with Assassin’s Creed III, we’ll know much more.
One of the disappointments of this year’s E3 was that almost everything that was shown was either leaked prematurely, or we’ve known about it for months. When you actually reveal a new game at your press conference like Ubisoft did, you create real E3 moments. Posed as a high tech Frankenstein of features from both Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell, Watch Dogs thrusts players in the near future, where every piece of information about us exists as data. In the hands of the capable, this data can be exploited. The gameplay video explains it all. I would love to carry around a smartphone like that. When people are wondering if this is a current gen title, or something for the next batch of consoles you know you’ve made an impact. Couple that with an open world third person shooter and you just might have the highest acclaimed game in the show. Watch Dogs will be out in 2013.
Star Wars 1313
In my opinion, I have yet to see a Star Wars game on the same level as Jedi Outcast. Contemporary Star Wars games have tried to deliver on so many fronts that when taken as a whole, they simply failed to reach their mark. Star Wars is a legendary IP and presents a universe where thousands of stories have been told beyond the movies in the form of games, novels and television shows. It appears that Jedi, Sith, and other aspects of the Force in general are absent. The player is a Bounty Hunter, and well, shoots stuff. This premise might fall into the mold of “just another third person shooter,” but I’m really hoping that it doesn’t. Although the cover based shooter style is tried and true, 1313 could spice things up by taking advantage of the various tools that bounty hunters like Boba Fett had. Jetpacks, flamethrowers, grappling hooks anyone? This “mature” take on the Star Wars universe got many fans watching with great interest. Also, this game looks absolutely amazing. Details are also slim, but more information is likely to be on the horizon.
The idea of next-generation consoles permeated the air of this year’s E3 like the subtle aroma of breakfast in the morning – we all know it’s coming, but can’t really do anything until it emerges on the table. Everyone whispered and speculated, but Sony and Microsoft had nothing to talk about. Square-Enix had a rather dismal offering in its RPG department – Final Fantasy Versus XIII was absent for yet another year, and as much as I like Kingdom Hearts, its handheld outings have not done much to move the story forward at all. Enter Agni’s Philosophy, Square-Enix’s tech demo showcasing the graphical potential a next gen game engine could be able to produce. While this is just an exercise in eye candy and graphical muscle, let’s play the what-if game for a minute. What if Agni’s Philosophy could be a starting point for a new style of Final Fantasy, where dragons and other creatures are really monstrous? Not everything is as elegant and pretty, yet the world is a perfect mix of gritty environments married in with locations where magic and technology go hand in hand? If this is a taste of what Square-Enix is capable of, faithful fans will be frothing at the mouth to play their new stuff. That is, after get around to finishing the numerous projects that have been announced but have yet to materialize.
There’s tons of games and new technology to get excited for, and there are a number of other titles, peripherals and software not mentioned in this article, this is just a taste of what’s to come. I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with a controller once these great titles finally release.
Video Credits – Gametrailers.com, IGN.com, Youtube, and all of the developers and publishers who showed of their great titles at this year’s E3.