Early E3 2012 Impressions

I should actually make this post about my impressions about Sony’s pre-E3 conference this year, but I want to talk about at least one game that had nothing to do with Sony’s conference so I decided to just make this about E3 showings in general… Although I own an Xbox 360, it rarely gets turned on, I just use my PS3 a lot more than the 360 and enjoy it more as well. I’m a PlayStation man, what can I say? Needless to say, I didn’t watch the Microsoft pre-expo conference.

Nonetheless, the game I want to mention that wasn’t covered in Sony’s conference is Dead or Alive 5… I had absolutely no idea until today that it was in the works and I have to confess I’m really excited that it’ll be one the PlayStation after the franchise’s long absence from the platform. I’m even more excited that Team Ninja is responsible for bringing it; although I haven’t had the opportunity to play too many of their games in recent years, I always remember the fun I had with my buddies playing the original Dead or Alive on the original PlayStation! Now, I’ll confess there was the legendary breast physics that drew me to the game at that time and has left a huge impact on me since, but the characters were fun to use, and I’m amazed by the interactive fighting stages in this latest installment! While I’ve mainly been a Street Fighter kind of guy for the last few years, I think DoA 5 will fill that gaping hole that Soul Blade/Edge/Calibur left in me with it’s previous installment: when Soul Calibur V was announced, I found I just had no interest in the series any more. IV let me down that much despite not doing a thing wrong… But, I digress… DoA 5 appears to be the pseudo-3D fighter I’ve been waiting for on PS3, and I’m eagerly awaiting the chance to play it!

Being a Sony guy, I have to confess I was let down by Sony’s conference. The Wonderbook for PS Move is interesting and all, but I wouldn’t have made a fuss about it in today’s conference. Even the audience at the auditorium was less than thrilled by it. Now, I know they were excited because they get to have a tie in with J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore and Harry Potter universe, possibly as an exclusive, via Wonderbook, but frankly, that’s not the sort of announcement that I, as a 40 year old gamer, was looking for. I have the Move, and I’d consider getting the Wonderbook and Book of Spells as something to do with my five year old, but that did not get my heart pumping… Especially when the captions, purposefully or accidentally, indicated that the gameplay was not live and the speaker specifically stated moments later that it was. For me, the demo players looked like they were having difficulty getting the game to do what they wanted, when they wanted, which could very well mean that it was pre-recorded footage that was out of sync with the players demonstrating it on stage. If it was indeed live, then the application (because I wouldn’t really call it a game) was laggy, and it’s still not something that should have been demoed prior to the official start of E3.

There were some games demoed that did get me excited and interested, however. The first is Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls, which, simply put, looks amazing. That alone is nothing out of the ordinary for that studio… I never played Heavy Rain, but every little bit I saw of the game looked amazing, and I regret never having had the money to spare for it. The Kara technology demo was also amazing and I suspect heavily laid the groundwork for Beyond. It’s still way too early to see what Beyond is going to be, but I’ll tell you now that I’m excited about it! I love a game with a great story line, and this is going to be one that has so much to reveal! 15 years in a character’s life?!?! Holy shit! Even more remarkable is that the lovely Ellen Page will be voicing the game’s main character, Jodi Holmes.

I love role playing games as much as I love air, but when I want to truly unwind, I like to kill things in first person shooters. I won’t even begin to cover the FPS games I’ve played, loved, and mastered over the last 20 years, but today’s press conference had me eager to play Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3. This is a franchise I never played beyond a beta or demo, so I don’t know anything about the story line, characters, or quirks that make it any different from any of the others. But the 4 player co-op caught my eye… In some ways, this game’s co-op mode reminds me of Valve’s Left 4 Dead series (the primary reason I bought my 360), and in others it reminds me of Insomniac’s Resistance 2‘s co-op mode. Considering I love both of those games, I got pretty interested in the game play on Far Cry 3 and I could see myself buying the game simply for that if three of my PS3 owning friends also get it… I did a bit of reading on IGN’s web site about what they thought of FC3‘s co-op mode, and it was hardly favorable, but I think it’s something that I’ll keep my eye on. According to IGN, the game is 3 months away from release and they were pessimistic about the chances of it improving before then, but I’ve seen a lot change in a final release in shorter time. Not to mention that the game as it exists at E3 today may very well be weeks or months old code.

There will be those that are extremely excited over God of War: Ascension but I saw it, more or less, as desperation. The God of War series has been an amazing seller for Sony, and it has done some pretty amazing things over all, especially with #3 which included combat on the back of a titan climbing mount Olympus, but this new one really didn’t seem to do anything particularly groundbreaking. Maybe I’m just not that into Kratos and his adventures — as a matter of fact, I’m not, I’d much rather see a follow-up to Heavenly Sword than another God of War entry — but it really looked like Sony decided to make another GoW game to keep money flowing into the coffers while they prep for the next generation. By this point, I was fairly disappointed in Sony for only having one strong, original title in the line up prior to the official start of E3, but then they reminded me of exactly what I needed to be reminded of…

Naughty Dog has been impressing me since the day I bought my PS3. Before then, actually, because I saw video and screenshots of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune long before I had the money to buy my PS3. One of the first games I bought was Uncharted, and I still play it and its sequels on a regular basis! I still haven’t found all of the treasures in any of the three games, and I’m not about to stop looking! (I refuse to use a guide for most games, and especially these.) Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, sadly, felt like a goodbye to me, that Naughty Dog was ready to move on to bigger and better things. If that’s the case, then I can think of nothing more suitable as a follow-up than The Last of Us. There’s no need for me to describe The Last of Us because I’m sure there are a thousand blogs out there doing just that, and a couple hundred game magazines doing the same in print and electronically, but it looks to be just the kind of game I’ve been waiting for. As I watched the demo for the game tonight, I was reminded of playing the original Resident Evil game on my PlayStation back in 96 when I would get creeped out to the point that I couldn’t play the game at night. While Last of Us may or may not involve zombies, genetic engineering gone bad, and betrayal like RE did, it frankly looks like another amazing work of art weaving extreme attention to detail, an engaging and thoughtful storyline, and brutal realism from one of the premiere PlayStation developers. In my humble opinion, this is a game worth buying a PlayStation 3 to play!

Between Beyond and Last of Us, I think Sony could have let a team of monkeys throw poop at the audience and still pulled off a positive conference this evening. The other games didn’t hurt [much at least], but those were the two stars. The PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale looked interesting, and got even better when it was revealed that Nathan Drake (from the aforementioned Uncharted series) and the Big Daddy (from BioShock) were going to be gracing the game as playable characters, but I was unusually uninterested for most of the conference.