Tuesday, July 22, 2008

E3 - What Looks Good

This year's Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) has come and gone, and I understand that I have to make at least a passing reference to it in order to maintain my status as a gaming blog, so here's a round-up of some of the more interesting titles that have caught my attention.

New Pikmin Game: Presumably Pikmin 3, presumably for the Wii although a DS title isn't out of the question. Nintendo didn't have a lot to announce at E3 so Shigeru Miyamoto's vague comment that "We're making Pikmin" was really the most interesting thing coming out of The House That Mario Built.

Animal Crossing: City Folk: Definitely for the Wii. Lots of WiiConnect 24 usage for exploring other cities and receiving special holiday gifts. Those without the internet can download their town onto a DS to take it travelling to Wiis owned by their friends. No retro games to collect this time (which is sad but unsurprising) and for those who care you'll now be able to design shirts which have a front which is different to their sleeves and back. I still don't know why I love these games so much but I'm nevertheless looking forward to once again clashing swords with that no-goodnik raccoon Tom Nook. Oh yes, vengeance will be mine.

Left 4 Dead: I've mentioned this one before. Valve (Half-Life) is involved in the development, it has zombies, and it's got four-player co-op. The playable version at E3 looked reasonably good although I have to admit it's really only Valve's participation that has me trusting the game will make the jump from "average" to "awesome". Coming to PC and 360, I understand.

Portal: Still Alive: While we're on the subject of Valve, there's no Portal sequel until next year at the earliest, but XBox 360 users can tide themselves over with Portal: Still Alive, coming to Live Arcade. It's the original Portal as a standalone game, plus some extra non-plot-related puzzle levels based on the 2D Flash version of the game that did the rounds a few months ago.

Final Fantasy XIII: Did I mention it's coming to the XBox 360? And how I totally called it? I did? Excellent.

New Prince of Persia: I was initially not optimistic about Ubisoft Montreal's new Prince title, but the latest gameplay trailer has sold me on it. It's got storybook-style visuals reminiscent of Okami, it features a new Prince and a new storyline, and it looks like it's got everything you expect from Prince of Persia, with the possible exception of the last trilogy's time-related powers. Coming to XBox 360 and probably some other platforms.

Lego Batman: The fourth of Traveler's Tales' Lego games is based on the Caped Crusader and seems to draw more from the comics and the 90s movies than it does from the recent Christopher Nolan interpretations. I know we all love Lego and we all love Batman but based on the downward trend of this franchise to date I'm going to disappoint you by calling this one in advance as bollocks.

Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway / Call of Duty: World At War: I don't care what you say: as far as I can tell these are the same frikkin' game. Admittedly there's only so many ways you can portray the nightmarish devastation of the Second World War, and also bits of World at War are set in the Pacific theatre and voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, but to all practical purposes they look interchangeable. Interchangeable, but really, really, good. Both coming to practically every next-gen platform under the sun. (Maybe not the Wii.)

Guitar Hero: World Tour: Big track list, includes drums and vocals.... *yawn* I mean, it'll be great and all, but it still looks kind of like Rock Band Lite. Although there's a good chance that Australians will be seeing it on shelves before the original Rock Band finally gets here. Real versions coming to 360 and PS3; crappy ports heading to Wii and PS2, more than likely.

Rock Band 2: Which looks more awesome than words can describe, but will probably suffer the same fate as it's predecessor and get lost somewhere in the Pacific Ocean on its way Down Under. Again, real versions for 360 and PS3 and cheap knockoffs on other platforms.

Dead Rising Wii: You can't say that Capcom doesn't listen to its fans. Dead Rising is coming to the Wii but it's a completely different game. You've still got the same open world but the time-limit nonsense is done away with in favour of structured missions. Also the rubbishy photography minigame is gone and the save system is fixed. This could well end up being the definitive version of the game.

Braid: It's a platformer based on time-control that's heading to XBox Live Arcade. The achievements are apparently already on the network so it should be out any day now. The visuals look nice enough but the brilliance is apparently in the puzzle design. Somehow the thing's won awards before it's even released, so there's got to be something worthwhile under its hood. I reserve judgement, though, as platformers and I have a long and contentious history and this may end up being another supposedly "clever" timed jumping nightmare a la N+.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion: I loved Ultimate Alliance; it's one of the most thoroughly worthwhile four-player co-op titles I've experienced. It might not have made you feel quite as heroic as Justice League Heroes but it did a pretty excellent job of having each of its 30+ licensed Marvel characters play differently. If the sequel delivers more of the same I'll be a happy man. I'm a little worried, though, about this "fusion" concept which apparently involves giving powers from one character to another. It feels like a watering down of the pure Marvel-ness of the title. I want to play Spider-Man or The Hulk, not some kind of Spider-Hulk. ... actually, that sounds kind of awesome. I have the distinct feeling that we wouldn't like Spider-Hulk when he's angry.

Rune Factory 2: Given how poorly reviewed the first installment of this franchise was I'm surprised they're making a second. Apparently someone out there has an appetite for dungeon-crawling Harvest Moon clones. *shrug*

Bayonetta: Oh man, this has Bullet Witch written all over it and is likely to be just as appalling, but you can't help but be impressed by its moxy. It's from Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya and he's worked out how to go one-up from his own two-guns-and-a-sword DMC formula. How can Devil May Cry possibly be any cooler? Well, what if the protagonist was a hot chick and instead of having guns in her hands she has guns in her hands AND feet and instead of killing things with a sword she instead uses her magical teleporting hair. That's a recipe for awesome right there. Presumably coming to 360 and PS3.

Halo Wars: Yes, it's a Halo real-time strategy, but did you know it has a three-player co-op campaign? No? Well, it's got a three-player co-op campaign. Alright, Bungie, fine, you win, I'm interested in Halo Wars now. Serve me another helping of your derivative and frustrating franchise like the rabid fanboy that I am.

Afro Samurai: The Afro Samurai anime was a tremendous victory of style over substance, and the game appears to be more of the same. It looks gorgeous, with a fantastic cel-shaded aesthetic that you can't help but be enthused by. Plus it's got Samuel L. Jackson reprising his voice acting. But the actual combat, while not awful, seems a little short of what we expect from the games that it's clearly imitating, such as God of War and Devil May Cry. Still, they've got time to improve it, right? Coming, I think, to all next-gen consoles.

Madworld: I want this game to be good so much. It's this ultraviolent black-and-white thing for the Wii which crosses the look of Sin City with the plot of The Running Man. I'm a sucker for anything that stands out of the crowd a little, and this game looks like nothing else out there, but my hopes were dashed to the ground and stomped on when I saw that the developer was Sega. *sigh* Oh well.
UPDATE: According to commenter Matthew, Sega are the publisher, not the developer, and it's instead being created by former Clover Studios staff, now calling themselves Platinum Games. I loved their work on Okami but I was less thrilled with Viewtiful Joe so although I'm doing a happy little jig right now, I'm doing it cautiously.

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood: Speaking of Sega, it seems like the only way to get a decent Sonic game out of them is to have someone else develop it. The Dark Brotherhood is Mass Effect developer Bioware attempting to do for the World's Fastest Hedgehog what Squaresoft did for Mario with Mario RPG. The Dark Brotherhood is a western-style RPG for the Nintendo DS - featuring blue hedgehogs - and by all accounts it hasn't yet been tempted into a one-way trip down Awful Lane. I'm cautiously optimistic.

That's my off-the-cuff list out of E3. PS3 owners will probably be glad to get another Resistance title too, although I can't quite get excited by it. Plus obviously there's a new Gears of War, but I'd had about enough of that franchise by the time I finished the first one, which was only a month ago, so it'll probably take a while before my enthusiasm for more Gears builds.

What about you? Have you spotted anything coming out of E3 or the surrounding events that got you interested? Leave a comment, let me know.


Matthew Gallant said...

RE: MadWorld.

Actually Sega is only the publisher, the game is being developed by PlatinumGames, formed from the key members of Clover Studios (Okami, Viewtiful Joe, God Hand.) The fact that it's the ex-Clover team developing it is a big part of the excitement for me!

Greg Tannahill said...

That's awesome. Thanks for the heads-up, Matthew. The post is accordingly updated.

Anonymous said...

If inFAMOUS weren't being developed at Sly Cooper's house (Sucker Punch), I'd likely be ignoring it. But it is, so I'm paying mildly excited attention to it.

(Sly himself was only able to sustain my interest for about half a game, but that's mostly due to my own antipathy for the gameplay. The presentation and production values were great.)

I have to confess that I'm likely to throw myself at the world of Fable again. More for the opportunity to co-op than anything else.

I want to be interested in Fallout 3, but I'm having a difficult time believing in it.

Other than that, I think you pretty much nailed it.

GregT said...

Oh, I completely forgot about Fallout 3, largely because for me at this stage the fight is to get it to Australia at all, rather than how good it looks.

Fable 2 I also neglected; I keep meaning to play with the original Fable but I've got this Pavlovian flinch reflex whenever I see the Lionhead logo after my experience with Molyneaux's other ambitious but ultimately tiresome games.

Nismo said...

As much as I really want the game, I get the feeling that Australia won't be seeing MadWorld.

After Fallout's banning it would seem the OFLC didn't care about violence while they focused on 'drugs', with obvious violent games like Ninja Gaiden 2 getting through without a problem. But then, I remember that Dark Sector got banned here too. Dark Sector for crying out loud. That is nowhere near as violent or gory as Ninja Gaiden 2 and hell, I'd argue that even Gears has more gore than DS does. That inconsistency right there makes me think that MadWorld won't release here. Time will tell I guess.

As for E3 as a whole, like many I was disappointed in it. Not necessarily for the lack of big-time announcements though but moreso because everything shown was what we already knew about (even if only through rumour). The biggest surprise was FFXIII's announcement but even then, it was always rumoured so it wasn't as big a surprise as it perhaps should have been. I don't care about the surprises (or lack thereof) though as what was shown was still rather good and it's nice to know that games like Fable and Resident Evil 5 have co op now. Main reason why I was disappointed though was my own fault, as I had hoped and almost expected some games to be there and unfortunately for me, absolutely none of them were.

The games? Alan Wake, Heavy Rain, F-Zero Wii and Team ICO's next game.

None. Not one. That right there ruined E3 for me, but unlike a lot of the complainers out there, at least I can see that it was my own fault for hyping the possibility of their appearance at the show too much.

Greg Tannahill said...

Actually, you know what made me momentarily want to buy a PS3 more than any other game showing at E3?

Wipeout HD. Man, I love that franchise. Every time I sit down with a F-Zero game I just end up wishing I was playing Wipeout.

I don't think I've seen enough of Madworld yet to make an advance guess as to the OFLC's position.

Nismo said...

Wipeout wasn't there though, was it?

I can't remember...

Greg Tannahill said...

Wipeout HD is, I understand it, coming to the PlayStation Network. I certainly saw coverage of it over the E3 period but I can't testify that it was necessarily at the show.

Quasar said...

There was quite a bit of interest though nothing really new.

A short list would be: Little Big Planet,Dragon Age, Total War: Empire, Infamous, Colonisation, Ratchet & Clank, God of War 3, Spore.

GregT said...

I missed Infamous; does anyone have some media on that which they want to draw to my attention?

Dragon Age doesn't yet excite me but it's got time.

Little Big Planet charmed my socks off; probably the only interesting thing in the Sony keynote from my perspective. But it's still basically a platformer and I'm not sure that can hold my interest.

At this point I'm overhyped on Spore. Wake me when it's awesome.

And I've just never clicked with Ratchet & Clank. Is anyone interested in explaining why I should pay attention to this franchise? I'm interested to hear a fanboi view of it.

Anonymous said...

Infamous trailers: http://www.gametrailers.com/game/5157.html

GregT said...

Awesome, it's Crackdown for PS3s! With, uh... force lightning?

You lucky overspending sods.