The Aftermath of E3 2012

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.

Tomb Raider

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.

PlayStation Plus

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.

Watch Dogs

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.

Agni’s Philosophy

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.

Advertisements

When the Challenge Goes Out the Window

We’re all familiar with those boss fights that make us want to pull our hair out, and yell in frustration. We employ the use of strategy guides, videos from other successful players, and even word of mouth in order to overcome this foe that’s halting our progress. Whether you’ve seen the Game Over screen ten times or a hundred, sometimes you’ll get that voice in the back of your head:

This doesn’t make sense. How am I losing so often!?

Provided that you haven’t thrown your controller against the wall in a curse-filled rage yet, it may be possible that you are indeed doing everything you should be doing. Perhaps you are doing exactly what should be done in order to win, but you’re stopped dead in your tracks time and time again. For SOME reason, the skills that you employed to make it through every other hurdle thus far simply don’t work here. In this situation, we may be quick to blame the boss itself. We’re quick to get laughed at for crying that our opponents are cheating, and we’re only pushed to say this when we’re the ones losing. Ridiculous accusations like that run rampant in fighting games, even amongst the most casual of matches.

This doesn’t happen to me very often, but when it does, I’m left just as dumbfounded as many of you are. I recently had to tangle with forces greater of my own, and even now, I’m still not even sure how I was able to get through it.

The second endgame boss in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep is the newest member of this society of extremely tough bosses. He comes out of the blue, and leaves just as strangely as he came. I mention him here, because there’s nothing I can really spoil – He’s freaking UNKNOWN, so that’s what we’ll call him. Unknown is just the kind of boss that whose sole purpose is to make you suffer. Each of his attacks can either kill you, or critically injure you. Provided that you somehow survived within an inch of your life, chances are you’re too frazzled to keep your guard up. Before you know it, you’ve already made a mistake, and are paid with another visit to the Game Over screen. Some of his attacks ARE blockable, but it’s easier said than done.  Okay, that sounds pretty standard for an endgame boss. I mean, for an Action RPG, there probably aren’t too many things that can really stand in your way if you’re strong enough to dish out some hefty blows yourself, but damn, all of the confidence I slowly garnered from beating every tough battle in the game up to this point was shattered after my first five losses to this guy.

For all of you overachievers out there, the first person who managed to defeat the Unknown (and upload it to Youtube) had to cheat and give themselves infinite HP just to make it through. Even then, it still seemed that he had a tough time.

I’m not talking about old school Capcom/SNK style bosses that were made to be very difficult to keep people popping in as many tokens as humanly possible, nor am I talking about the vast majority of the types of encounters that made Demons Souls the difficult yet rewarding game it’s known for. I’ll go as far as to put the Unknown in the “Nice to meet you, YOU LOSE” category.

Simply staying alive while going head to head with the Unknown is a feat in itself – You’re perpetually mashing the Square button to dodge roll, because whenever you dodge, you’re granted invincibility frames that render you impervious to any attacks he lets out on you. While you’re doing this, you’ve got to think of when its safe enough to try to strike back without him retaliating. On paper, I’m sure this kind of scenario was a cool idea, but when its actually happening, this isn’t very fun, because despite my best efforts at trying to dodge for 5 to 10 minutes straight, whenever I died, I was more pissed off in the way I died, rather than the fact that I was able to deplete one of his four life bars.

In the end, I would say that it took more retries than I had expected in order to defeat him. Getting a few Game Overs here and there are okay, because I was learning what not to do the next time around However, too many deaths is a little excessive. I would have a couple really good rounds against him, but too many factors would be working against me – If he used his “rope” too many times, or his full-screen attacks (which are really difficult to dodge or block) without giving you a chance to heal, it was only a matter of time before I would eventually die yet again. There were too many “stupid deaths” as opposed to losing fair and square.

This is not the way an optional super boss should be. Yes, I’m all for being hard as hell, but give me some kind of strategy; some set of guidelines that I can follow that would lead me to victory, as opposed to jamming my thumb till I lose feeling in it, only to die in the dumbest way possible. Even when I won, I didn’t feel accomplished at all. I got a useless Keyblade, while Unknown just nodded and disappeared the same way he came.

How anti-climatic.