Tagged: E310

E3 2010: The Third Parties – EA and Konami

I caught most all of the Electronic Arts, Konami and Ubisoft press conferences from E3, and in a timely manner no less, so here’s a little two-post roundup thing.

Electronic Arts
Clearly they aren’t speaking to me with this stuff. Besides the sports games which I’ve never cared about, Medal of Honor, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dead Space 2 and The Sims all washed right over me. EA’s social network, Gun Club, seems cool but if it revolves around their online shooters it’s also a wash for me. I can’t wait to see what EA Sports Active 2 for Kinect is like, Crysis 2 and Bulletstorm are both right up my alley, and maybe I’d still get into APB if my PC can even run it. Of everything they showed, Criterion’s reboot of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (watch above) was the only game to ping my radar. And even that didn’t look all that fun, but it’s still early and they already nailed the exotic-cars-in-interesting-locations vibe of the original.

While I agree with the consensus that Konami’s presser was the “Train Wreck of the Show” I came out more excited for several of their games than I was going in. The localized version of Otomedius Excellent was a great surprise and I’ve always wanted to play a ‘-dius’ shooter that didn’t require importing a $90 cartridge. Adrenaline Misfits gets a pass only because there’s a slim chance that a kart-style racer might be fun using Kinect and I’m still open to Castlevania: Lords of Shadows somehow being fun.

What really won me over was Iga’s presentation of the other Castlevania, Harmony of Despair but I talked about that already. Metal Gear Solid Rising looked zan-tastically datsu-m (sorry) with controller-based sword play that seems more precise and fun than all that cludgy junk on the Wii! A break from the traditional Metal Gear Solid gameplay while still getting to hang out in that world seems perfectly timed for me. I wasn’t all that crazy about Ninety-Nine Nights 3 before but after Tak Fujii’s awkwardly casual intro and his fantastic dreadlocks I’m willing to support anything the guy does. But even his play for applause wasn’t as uncomfortable as the DanceMasters presentation.

DDR Producer, Naoki Maeda and Thomas Nagano pretty much pretended to play the game as a video of it was displayed on the screen in front of them. At several points you see shots of them in the game and they’re wearing different clothes than they are on stage! They did let people play it on the show floor so I’ll forgive the deception but mostly because Naoki is amazing engrish man (VERY EX’CISE!!) and I never got to play ParaParaParadise.

E3 2010: The Sony Stuff

Trying to wrap some of the little chunks of games and things that looked interesting from E3 into fewer, larger posts here’s a rundown on as much Sony stuff as I can cobble together. Third Parties to follow. Here’s what I thought of Nintendo and Microsoft.

The Press Conference
Once again I preface that I didn’t see this show in its entirety but I did manage to get home in time to see about an hour of it live. I didn’t pick up on it myself but Maxx pointed out the awkwardly raucous applause for obscure things like turning into a rat in Sorcery, the presenter’s numerous mulligans in Tiger Woods and a new season of The Tester. Clearly some of those seats were pre-paid by Sony. But that didn’t dampen things too much; there were loads of montages that always do the trick for me and I love the imagery of all the PlayStation products and peripherals that served as transitions. Man, they’ve made a lot of stuff over the years!

Having been to two Sony press conferences myself I can tell you that surviving them is a test of all that it means to be human. Slow, protracted, and filled with figures and bar graphs, I was thrilled to see most of that put aside this year for some actual personality. But then the weirdest thing happened when The Kevin Butler interrupted with his best Stephen Colbert impersonation… only Kevin Butler is a script-reading actor, not even a real person. His skit went on way too long and the planted crowd went nuts for every word he uttered. It was unsettling to watch online, I can’t imagine the discomfort he coated the walls with.

There were also loads of demos of things I have no interest in. Like Microsoft and Nintendo’s shows, I seem to fall well outside of the target market and things like Killzone 3, 3D TVs, The Sly Collection, Medal of Honor and inFAMOUS 2 just hold no interest. One of the few moments of E3 where I genuinely got all tingly, though, was when Gabe Newell came on stage, admitted the spiteful comments he’s made about Sony, and then proceeded to say the PS3 version of Portal 2 would be the best. I don’t know if the tingle was from this peculiar E3 moment or the return of GLaDOS but I can’t wait for any version of Portal 2!

I love the tech but most of the Move demos rolled right off my back. Killzone 3: blah. The Shoot: I guess everyone needs minigame collections. Heroes on the Move: I sure wish I liked any of those characters! What stuck with me the most from the conference (besides the bitchin’ Move montage music, watch above) was the pricing. I’ve already got a PlayStation Eye but for most that’ll be $30, then another $50 for the wand and $30 more for the navigation controller; that’s $110 total. There’s a $99 bundle but it includes the camera which I don’t need. It does come with Sports Champions and a demo disc but that doesn’t seem worth the extra bucks. We’ve known how it all works for a while but it didn’t really hit me until their presentation; there are a lot of pieces required just to Move.

The paid subscription plan of PlayStation+ seems like it may eventually be cool for some far-off exclusive demo but they’re going with the troublesome structure where as soon as you stop paying all the exclusive content you “own” on your PS3 gets locked up. On second though, not even a demo of The Last Guardian is worth that. And then there were some more games I didn’t care about and one that I’m not sure if I can care about; Twisted Metal. With a sloppy, topless, clown-masked actor sitting in an ice cream truck, series frontman David Jaffe, proceeded to play a demo of the game. Nostalgia hit me first with big destructible environments and classic weaponry but as he explained new modes and the multiplayer focus, reality hit me. I don’t play online multiplayer games. I only enjoyed Twisted Metal with my neighbor or against the A.I. in “Story Mode”. That’s not liable to keep this new $60 reboot playing for long and I had to ask myself, is this even something you want to play anymore? Maybe car combat feels the best in my memory… and then the show ended with Sweet Tooth’s demon man-boobs flopping out of his ice cream truck. Ummm… way to end a press conference Sony!

PlayStation Move
The Move hardware has always looked closest to actual 1:1 motion tracking and it always seemed to be fast and responsive. The games, though, aren’t doing much for me so far; I was more impressed with last year’s tech demos. Tiger Woods, yes, that’ll be an amazing experience for people who like that kind of thing. Sorcery looks like a playable (if ugly) faux-Harry Potter adventure that incorporates a lot of the stuff we saw in the original Eye Toy demos but it also looks pretty simplistic. Sports Champions might be fun but the realistic look of the character models reminds me of the lifeless PlayStation Home. Like Kinectimals, EyePet has me worried over how long its cute critters will entertain me. SingStar Dance was little more than a confirmation but the idea is promising. LittleBigPlanet 2 is a foregone conclusion in my book, as is Echochrome ii where you use the Move controller like a flashlight to create shadows for your manikin character to navigate. Brilliant stuff. Finally there’s Kung Fu Rider (read this!) and the retro-fitted PAIN, both of which make me wonder if I wouldn’t just rather play them with a controller.

Grim as that all sounds I really am excited about Move even without a must-have title. I’ve always had a soft spot for the EyeToy and its creator, Dr. Richard Marks, who is wholly behind Move, I just need developers to start making really crazy stuff. Once Journey is finished I expect thatgamecompany to do something incredible and am looking forward to the insane experiments of both Hideo Kojima and Keita Takahashi.

The most astounding thing about the PSP at E3 is that Sony chose to support it at all. I think we were all expecting a PSP2 announcement but what we got was a Kevin Butler for the urban youth market named Marcus. His debut showed off the PSP lineup which reminded me once again that I don’t ever want to use the PSP to play games. It’s sad, too, because there are some games I’d love to play like Peace Walker, The 3rd Birthday, Ace Combat Joint Assault and Invizimals but I can’t cope with that form factor any more. I can only hope they’re swiftly ported to PS3 so I can get some Trophies and play with a real controller.

The PlayStation 3
This is getting long so here rest of the PS3 exclusives I’m eagerly awaiting. thatgamecompany’s Journey looks like the kind of game I’ve been dreaming about. Abstract, artistic, and heavy on personal exploration. Umm, that’d be personal exploration in the go-wherever-you-want sense, not the introspective analytical sense. Pixeljunk Shooter 2 is a gimme, totally stoked for that. Eat Them (read this!) looks like it could be great fun with build-your-own-gigantic-monster, city-smashing gameplay.

In closing…
…this was the best press conference I’ve seen from Sony ever, despite the planted crowd and unnerving make-believe celebrity/marketing shill. Like Microsoft, there’s not an overwhelming amount of exclusive PlayStation stuff I’m waiting for but I really like Move and can’t wait to see what developers do with it. Also, The Last Guardian and the Team ICO collection should both show up at Tokyo Game Show so I’ll pre-award Sony with ‘Best of Show’ for that!

E3 2010: The Xbox Stuff

Trying to wrap some of the little chunks of games and things that looked interesting from E3 into fewer, larger posts here’s a rundown on as much Xbox stuff as I can cobble together. Sony and Third Parties to follow. Here’s what I thought of Nintendo.

The Cirque Du Soleil Show
I like to think that this performance art/interpretive dance/marketing stunt wasn’t aimed at me. I’m sure with some footage of a kid on a robot elephant cut with b-roll from the show floor and some Kinect demos the general populace was really impressed but I’ll take my artsy-fartsy imagery in my games, thank you very much.

The Press Conference
Like all of the pressers at E3 I didn’t get to see it all and didn’t get to see it live but, for me, it didn’t start out very hot. They didn’t sell me on Call of Duty: Black Ops or Halo: Reach which I find interesting only because both of them are cramming in vehicles as if to say “what more can we do with an FPS?”. Gears of War 3 was also not for me; I can’t believe how drenched that game is with dude-bro spunk. I felt dirty just from watching it.

The Kinect demos were definitely the highlight of the show for me. The robotic dialog and corny presenters aside, the tech looked amazing. From the dashboard interface (can’t wait for another new NXE) to the video chat stuff and the games, which I’ll say a little more about below. Then they pretty much wrapped up by showing off the new, slimmer Xbox 360, giving one to everybody in the audience and announcing it was shipping that very day. It worked because Katy and I went out Saturday and bought one. No more ‘idling jet engine’ console for us, and hopefully they’ve finally gotten over that nasty Red Ring hardware defect!

Kinectimals looks so damn cute but it doesn’t seem like there’s more than $20 worth of “game” there, and that I put game in quotes makes me question how long it could possibly be entertaining. Kinect Sports and Adventures were clearly torn out of the Wii’s playbook but at least a few of the games in each look fun. I want to love Kinect Joy Ride because I’ve been waiting for it since it was first announced (sans Kinect) but all that I hear is that it’s not much fun. Lackluster as these first-party titles sound we’ll probably buy at least one of them at launch, for Achievements sake, of course.

Surprisingly, it’s the third-party games that seem most appealing. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved looks like a promising and pleasant piece of software as long as it lets you get to your workout in short order. Pretty interfaces and animations are great until you’ve wasted a lifetime sitting through them every time you just want to exercise. Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Child of Eden looks like something out of the future, waving and triggering attacks at gorgeous (and insane) worlds while falling into the rhythm of another amazing electronic soundtrack. I can’t wait for this!

Now, you guys know me and dance games. I’ve loved DDR and Pump it Up for over a decade now and have played about as many rhythm games as anyone but it still surprises me that my Kinect “Game of Show” is Harmonix’s Dance Central. It plays exactly like Just Dance on the Wii but has style and a soundtrack to make it more than a passing diversion. Obviously I didn’t play it but word is that they’ve got Kinect working at its best here, tracking your moves reliably and not trying to map them awkwardly onto a 3D character. More than Your Shape or EA Sports Active, Dance Central may be the exer-game for me. Konami followed suit with their own dance/rhythm title, Dance Masters, headed up by the DDR team. It doesn’t look any bit as expertly crafted as Dance Central but watching DDR Producer, Naoki Maeda, play and talk his way through it (in amazing engrish) convinced me it might be just as much fun. Plus it totally makes you Para Para dance!

Xbox 360
One of the things I love best about Kinect is that when you get tired of moving around you can hop back to the Dashboard and play any number of controller-based games from the comfortable sitting-ass position. Some of the Xbox exclusive highlights from E3 that I’m anticipating include the fantastic looking Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (har har, the acronym is HD). Six player, online, co-op in a massive 2D Castlevania sounds stupendous but I’ve got a few concerns; nothing a pre-purchase Trial won’t remedy though.

I’m so pumped that Otomedius! Excellent is finally getting translated. I’ve always admired the Parodius series but never spent the cash to import any of them, I just hope I still enjoy bullet hell shooters enough to appreciate this latest anime-girl-wearing-a-ship experience. Comic Jumper continues to look all kinds of stupid fun, Fable 3 is a guaranteed purchase (maybe not on Day 1 though?) and Crackdown 2 is close enough it barely needs mentioning. The Summer of Arcade this year looks like a great lineup too with Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light presenting an interesting isometric adventure, Hydro Thunder Hurricane rekindling some crazy arcade racer love, the silly-awesome Monday Night Combat and the grimly gorgeous Limbo.

In closing…
… I’m pretty surprised how few actual, exclusive Xbox games I’m looking at here. If it weren’t for Kinect there would only be a few Live Arcade titles on this list but there’s still a load of multi-console releases that I’ll definitely be playing on 360. And once again I’m really excited just to use the Xbox, with the Kinect interface and a refreshed Dashboard running on our super quiet new slim 360 it’ll be fun to simply poke around.

E3 Stragglers: Eat Them! (PSN)

This is one of those games that had such a minuscule showing at E3 that I don’t think anyone who was actually there even saw it. All the coverage I’ve seen has come from fan sites and forums, not a little unlike this one! The name is what first grabbed me and it’s not too shabby of a mission statement. At the start you create a monster from loads of parts and then rampage around a city trying to cause as much damage as possible. The catch is that your power is constantly draining and you can only refill it by devouring the skittering humans at your feet. Striking a balance between devastation and dinner sounds like it might be fun and the up-to-four-player competitive and co-op modes could make Eat Them! a new party game favorite. Oh yeah, it’s offline, split-screen play only.

It doesn’t support 3D displays and it won’t be playable with Move but, ya know, sometimes all you need is a really simple concept to have fun. At the right price Eat Them! could be another cult hit for the PlayStation Network like PAIN or Flower.

E3 2010: The Nintendo Stuff

Trying to wrap some of the little chunks of games and things that looked interesting from E3 into fewer, larger posts here’s a rundown on as much Nintendo stuff as I can cobble together. Microsoft, Sony and Third Parties to follow.

The Press Conference
Like all the conferences at E3, I didn’t get to see Nintendo’s in its entirety or live as it was happening. I don’t get the same “Nintendo Won” vibe from it as everyone who was there so I’m probably missing something and will just stick to the games. I do think the intro with Miyamoto was interesting, him busting out of a screen in a very “3D” manner. I’m sure we’ll see more stuff like that as Nintendo ramps up the 3DS marketing. Also, Reggie is so angry all the time, I wonder if he ever loosens up. And that hitchy Skyward Sword demo? Eh, let it go fanboys and haters, everyone had demo troubles at one point or another during the show.

The 3DS
Having not been able to see the 3D part of the 3D for myself I can’t comment but it definitely sounds like the unanimous consensus was positive, to say the very least. I do have to wonder how much of that will wear off after we’ve played a dozen 3D games but the graphic hardware, the gyroscopes and all the cameras should allow developers plenty of room to express their creativity. It’s these games, stuff like Hidden 3D Image, that has me more excited than playing Star Fox 64… again… but in 3D.

More? Pilotwings Resort seems like an exploration-centric diversion and I really hope the Face Ace demo gets turned into something real. I’m uncertain if a Metal Gear Solid game would be any less awkward than on the PSP. Dead or Alive, Resident Evil, Super Street Fighter IV, Kid Icarus, and Kingdom Hearts all look great but I have no desire to ever play them. Animal Crossing and Nintendogs+Cats need to pack in way more than they look to offer right now. And maybe the greatest news is that you can turn the 3D stuff off and still be looking at a fantastic handheld game or just stick in one of the hundreds of classic DS games.

I don’t want to focus too much on the hardware since it’s not final and there’s no price or date announced but I’d pin my tail on a $200 donkey coming sometime in early-to-mid 2011.

The Wii
If you haven’t heard yet let me make this crystal clear: I am sick and tired of the flaky, uncomfortable and annoying Wii remote/Nunchuk Combo of Pain. Yes, I realize Kinect and Move are only higher fidelity versions of this but they are new and improved so I can guarantee them a pass for at least three years like I did with the Wii. So, no, I am not at all interested in another Zelda game where you have to awkwardly point at the screen or whip your arm around every time you attack. Nor am I interested in any form of minigame collection like Wii Party (or Mario Sports Mix) and Kirby’s Epic Yarn only looks great in art and design; it’s not something I ever intend to play myself.

What amI looking forward to? Metroid Other M might still be fun, Disney Epic Mickey will hopefully be so jampacked with self referential stuff that I won’t notice I’m playing another platformer (Asterix & Obelix syndrome), Just Dance 2 and Dance on Broadway will be stupid fun as long as they get here before Dance Central, Raving Rabbids Travel in Time will probably be worth struggling over the Wii Remote to play, and Lost in Shadow looks like Echochrome meets ICO. These are all games I’m willing to deal with the lonely, low-res Wii in order to play.

The Regular Old DS
I don’t know if I love or hate Nintendo for announcing the 3DS so soon after the DSi XL’s release. I was all set to enjoy a more comfortable, big-screen DS experience but put it off once the new hardware sounded more legit.  I guess the 3DS does have larger screens (and ya know, all that 3D tomfoolery) so that’s probably where I’ll end up spending most of my time with these games.

Super Scribblenauts is a no-brainer; I hear the control is better and using adjectives provides so many more opportunities for improvised madness. I’m still not sure if I’m sold on the adventure/puzzling in Ghost Trick but the idea of possessing objects to influence, save or destroy characters in order to unravel the mystery surrounding your own murder warrants at least one playthrough. I’m also uncertain on Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove which looks like a mashup between WarioWare’s Ashley and Ouendan. The only hitch is that it’s not being made by iNiS but rather the team behind Cheer We Go, a cheerleading game that also riffed on Ouendan. I’m a helluva lot more interested in Gabrielle’s than Cheer We Go but a lot depends on how snappy the gameplay is and how good the soundtrack turns out to be.

In Closing…
…having not seen or touched the 3DS in person and being extremely tired of the Wii format and all its shortcomings, Nintendo has the most to prove to me. A few DS games and a couple Wii titles are all I’m really anticipating and that’s sure to be put aside for the new hotness on my favored platform, the Xbox 360.