Tag Archives: video games

Game Review: Batman: Arkham Knight (Console Version)

Batman: Arkham Asylum’s release back in 2009 was an amazing surprise that changed the way action elements in games were made, evident in releases like Shadow of Mordor and Witcher 3. Arkham City in 2011 tweaked and expanded the original foundation, fitted then with an open-world structure, enough to give the game a unique feel without stripping the formula of what made it so engaging in the first place. Now, this year’s Batman: Arkham Knight has done the same thing, offering more welcome tweaks and a big expansion in the form of the Batmobile’s offerings of high-speed travel and tank battle. Those gameplay evolutions along with the most interesting story of the trilogy, one that is sure to please even the most hardcore comic book readers, makes Arkham Knight a fitting conclusion to Rocksteady’s three games, even though it is troubled by some technical hiccups and downright embarrassing portrayal of women.

arkham knight

Scarecrow takes over for Joker as the main antagonist this time around, but don’t expect anything nearly as memorable as the Clown Prince of Crime. Unfortunately, he serves mainly as a catalyst for getting Gotham evacuated again to give players a very video gamey playground to mess around with, as well as a catalyst for the developers to play around a whole lot with fear toxin as a plot device. Because of everything done with his fear toxin to create disturbing and exciting hallucinations, his disappointing role as the lead villain is easily forgivable. Sometimes the fear toxin leads to some cheap, that didn’t really happen! cop-outs, but it’s mostly great stuff. It also helps that there is certainly no lack of villains to go around, the titular Arkham Knight, an interesting riff on an established character that ties in thematically to the arc of the whole Arkham series, being the other most notable.

As a whole, the narrative is great. As always, the voice performances are top-notch stuff, making this game indistinguishable from the most high-profile animated films in that regard. There are constant twists and turns until the very end of the game, keeping one guessing the entire time. It’s a lot like The Dark Knight Rises in that it constantly punches Batman in the gut time and time again, testing his psychological and physical strength ruthlessly. Arkham Knight takes advantage of what’s become a common storytelling strategy in superhero stories in the modern age, that being displaying a hero’s strength by forcing him to overcome conflicts that exploit his greatest weaknesses. Along the way, players are treated with some truly high-concept, abstract, and daring segments that offer some of the most killer story beats in games the past few years.

Sadly, the biggest problem with the game cuts away at the narrative, one of its strongest facets. Almost point-for-point, Arkham Knight does a hugely disappointing disservice to the most prominent female characters of the series. Oracle, Poison Ivy and Catwoman, characters that at their best serve as some of the most fascinating and empowering female characters in superhero fiction, are treated miserably in this game. Oracle and Catwoman are stripped of any agency for the vast majority of their screen time, captured and in need of saving. Poison Ivy’s role is particularly laughable, serving as the first villain to challenge Batman at the start only to almost immediately give in and aid him in whatever he asks throughout the game. Not to mention the fact that the prison guards throw her in jail with mostly just underwear; it would be a shame to give up that eye-candy, after all.

553e34670056a

Things get a bit better towards the end of the main story, what with advancements like Harley Quinn’s inclusion in the plot featuring legitimate agency, but let’s be honest here; a character whose defining character trait in this series being her obsession with a man getting some decent screen time isn’t exactly a shining moment for feminism.

The PC version has secured Warner Bros. into quite the media spectacle, thanks to its prominent technical issues. I played the Xbox One version, and I can attest to an experience free of any regular framerate drops or similar glitches. The game did crash around three times, and another time Batman got himself stuck in the environment (even though he visually wasn’t touching anything, frustratingly) so bad that I had to restart to the last checkpoint. Thankfully, the game saves very frequently, so this isn’t too alarming of a problem.

On a more positive note, Rocksteady has done a tremendous job creating a Gotham to explore. This is truly a current-generation video game not possible on the PS3 and 360, with a gorgeous and massive city. There is a tremendous degree of draw distance and complex lighting and smoke effects, helping its world feel more and more alive. Great care was also taken to recreate iconic scenery, like Wayne Tower, Ace Chemical and the GCPD Building.

Grappling, gliding and swinging around in this world has never been quite this joyful. Like Metroid Prime 3 did for the Prime series, Arkham Knight doesn’t make players re-obtain abilities that were already available by the end of Arkham City. This not only means that the player is able to feel instantly powerful, but also means that the rest of the game is able to up the ante more and more. Upgrades to the boost ability after grappling to a surface make for a particularly pleasurable experience that feels almost like true flight. It works so seamlessly and quickly that it makes for an absolute blast. I don’t remember the last time I had so much fun screwing around in an open-world.

54e504c0956d7

The other method for quick travel in this game is the Batmobile, this game’s big new toy. The car is able to go blisteringly fast, forcing players to be wary of how much pressure they apply on the trigger to drive it, making for an intricate and dynamic driving experience. It has become a common complaint that the car is unwieldy, but I’d say with the proper amount of effort controlling the Batmobile is quite rewarding. It integrates into the rest of Batman’s antics without a hitch, too. There is a really remarkable satisfaction to diving off a building only to pull up toward the ground, calling the Batmobile to pull up underneath to catch Batman after the momentum from the dive has worn off.

Holding the left trigger instantly transforms the Batmobile into a tank: a necessary step Batman had to take to deal with the vast numbers of enemy tanks to deal with. There is a bit of a logistical hoop to jump through concerning Batman using guns, given his iconic, strict policy against firearms formed through the trauma of his parents’ death by gun shots, but it works. The plot conveniently pushes Batman into a corner, and he still refuses to kill. It’s worth it for the tank combat, because it’s a ton of fun. Dodging enemy missiles and taking down tanks to charge up a bar used to execute special abilities like missile barrages is sweet. Battles are intense, challenging and add much needed diversity to the Arkham formula.

That isn’t to say that the tried-and-true gameplay of the Arkham series isn’t enjoyable anymore, because that certainly isn’t the case. The hand-to-hand combat and stealth sections have only gotten more complex and challenging, adding another layer of nuance and satisfaction. Arkham Knight’s challenge is refreshingly respectful to players, expecting them to be caught up with the series enough to skip over introductory and boring sections at the beginning, without going too fast or forgoing any optional resources for newcomers or lapsed veterans.

Additionally, this installment features a bigger emphasis on puzzle-solving, and it is all rather clever. The environmental manipulation and use of gadgetry required to best these challenges offer some intellectually-rewarding bits that thankfully manage not to cause the pacing to suffer, like in other action games such as Uncharted 3. If the player finds him or herself particularly wrapped up in these puzzles, there are tons and tons of optional Riddler trophies to find, as always. The bulk of these collectables are hidden behind inventive little puzzles throughout the game’s world.

54f634cfe9483

I really love Arkham Knight and still find myself excited to tackle its side missions despite having already beaten the main story. Prompting these side missions does make one feel a lot like the Dark Knight, either stumbled upon by exploring (patrolling) the city or deciphering intercepted audio from crooks around the city that automatically plays, with directions to their whereabouts.

The most positive thing I can say about my time with Arkham Knight is that I was always excited to start it up again, really. It’s an exciting game, with a story that impresses so much that it doesn’t feel out of place in discussion of great Batman stories, despite its dreadful problems with women. Exploring the city is a blast, whether it be through swinging and grappling around or driving, both at breakneck speeds. Tank combat finds itself a welcome addition alongside the still engaging fisticuffs and stealth. Batman: Arkham Knight successfully ends one of the most beloved triple-A game series of the last decade.

Check out Matt’s online portfolio here

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday? Anyone read anything they really enjoyed? Anything you hated? While you decide on that, here’s some news and reviews from around the web you might have missed.

Around the Tubes

Kotaku – Iron Man Looks Very Fancy In Leather – Beautiful.

GamePolitics – Report: WBIE knew the PC version of Batman Arkham Knight was broken – People are surprised?

Kotaku – Batman: Arkham Knight‘s True Ending Has A Cool Easter Egg – That’s pretty cool.

GamePolitics – Calif. anti-video game law author Leland Yee pleads guilty to racketeering in federal court – This guy was one of the leaders against “violent video games.” Good riddance.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Capsule Computers – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

CBR – The Omega Men #2

CBR – We Stand on Guard #1

CBR – The Wicked + The Divine #12

Around the Tubes

We’re getting closer to San Diego Comic-Con! We’re still getting our plans set, but we’ll be there covering as much news as we can!

While you wait for the convention, here’s some news and reviews you might have missed in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

San Diego Jewish Journal – IDW Publishing Opens San Diego’s First Comic Art Gallery – Can’t wait to check this out. But, Lenny Bruce!?

Newsbusters – First Abortion Graphic Novel Illustrates ‘Funny,’ ‘Humorous Look’ – Oh, this is one I have to read.

Kotaku – Batman: Arkham Knight Mod Makes Everybody Playable In Free Roam – That’s pretty cool. How long before a Batman vs. Superman mod?

GamePoltiics – Rocksteady working ‘like crazy’ to fix PC version of ‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ – I hope so!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Green Lantern: The Lost Army #1

CBR – Justice League 3000 #1

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here. How’s everyone spending it? While you decide that, here’s some news and reviews you might have missed from around the web?

Around the Tubes

The Beat – SDCC ’15: Comic-Con is staying in San Diego! Plus next year’s dates and this year’s wristbands – Interesting news.

Kotaku – Warner Bros Suspends Arkham Knight PC Sales – Not surprising?

The Straits Times – Second sell-out success, third print run for controversial Sonny Liew graphic novel – This is what happens when you try to ban something.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – Black Widow #19

CBR – Grayson #9

CBR – Howard the Duck #4

BlogCritics – Louise Brooks: Detective

Comic Vine – Planet Hulk #2

Batman News – We Are Robin #1

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d everyone get that you liked? Anything that you didn’t?

While you decide, here’s some news and reviews from around the web you might like.

Around the Tubes

Kotaku – Batman: Arkham Knight Is Full of Superman Easter Eggs – Cool to see.

ICv2 – Confessions of a Comic Book Guy–And That’s a Good Thing – A good read.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – Age of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies #1

Talking Comics – Black Canary #1

Flickering Myth – Bullet Gal #12

CBR – Fight Club 2 #2

CBR – Jem and the Holograms #4

Comic Vine – Superman #41

CBR – We Are Robin #1

Marvel Mighty Heroes: Age of Ultron Ep. 2 Begins Today

Today DeNA announced the second episode of an eight part in-game evnt series for Marvel Mighty Heroes, a real-time co-op brawler available now on the App Store and Google Play. Marvel Mighty Heroes allows players to assemble a team of iconic superheroes to battle evil villains from the Marvel Universe. Following the successful first episode which wraps-up today, the second Age of Ultron episode will run from today through June 24.

In the second episode, Hydra has delivered the genocidal artificial intelligence Ultron to their scientific arm, A.I.M., for study. Players are tasked with stealing the artifact from A.I.M. and stop the villainous M.O.D.O.K. before he figures out a way to wreak havoc with his new toy! The latest episode also introduces new heroes and villains including Moon Knight, Taskmaster, and Black Widow.

Marvel Mighty Heroes - Age of Ultron key art

PC Gaming Show E3 Update Live Reaction

This year, for the first time, AMD and PC Gamer magazine have come together to give an E3 show dedicated to gaming on the PC. It will be interesting to see the feel of this show and see what games are shown. Our coverage will start with the show at 9:00 PM ET.

This page will not automatically refresh. I will put the latest update at the top of the list, so if you join us late, scroll down. Here is the full E3 coverage schedule, this is the last live update as it is the last press event. However, check our coverage of all the previous press events.


Update 36: That’s it. 2 1/2 hours is a bit long. The host, Sean “Day[9]” Plott was very good. He kept it moving, but there was way too much overlap from previous announcements. I give this one a C+. With the conclusion of this, we conclude our live updates for this year’s E3. Thank you for reading.

Update 35: Confirmation that it is coming to PC as well as PS4. This game of massive scale is made by a team of about 10. They use AI bot testers. That is pretty cool.

Update 34: Nope, No Man’s Sky. I will now be a hypocrite and say bring it! More of this game is fine!

Update 33: The prologue missions are free to everyone, but early access only for pre-order holders of Legacy of the Void. Time for the final guest. Is it Gabe?

Update 32: Blizzard Entertainment take the stage. Start off talking about Heroes of the Storm, the Blizzard MOBA. Here we are talking about the first expansion for the game. Deckard Cain needs your help. Diablo characters are coming to Heroes of the Storm in Eternal Conflict. The treasure goblin will show up and offer bonus gold at the start of the stage if your team kills it. The Skeleton King is coming. He hangs out on the battlefield as a wraith after death. He can’t deal damage, but he can do other things. The monk will also be coming as a support character. Also, Star Craft II: Legacy of the Void Whispers of Oblivion. It will finally finish the story line that has been ongoing. We got a pretty movie. 3 prologue missions with a beta in July.

Update 31: Cliff has started a new studio which is developing a first person 5v5 team game. He likes stuff. Now being demoed on the stage is Enter the Gungeon which is a “bullet hell dungeon crawler.” Each room is hand designed, but the floors are procedurally generated. They are showing off the co-op mode. Over two hundred weapons in the game.

Update 30: Two hours in and we are still trucking along. Now showing a space survival game: Take on Mars which started as an ARMA mod. Hey! Look who it is! Cliffy B!

Update 29: DayZ is on the stage now. The game that helped create the zombie survival genre which has been in early access for a long time. They are pushing for a feature complete beta that will include a solo play mode and will let modders test locally and not require Internet to play the game. They will also release the tool to set up their own DayZ servers. Look, something with actual information. That is pretty amazing.

Update 28: Now on the stage, a horror game from the makers of Amnesia titled Soma. A horror game set under the sea. Being a horror game, I will never be playing this. Dark halls, strange noises, unexplainable stuff, out this September.

Update 27: Next up, Tacoma, yet again, a game that was in the Microsoft briefing. It is a first person exploration game in a near-future space station setting. I’m tired of this show being filled with stuff Microsoft is clearly helping push.

Update 26: A game called Dirty Bomb which is a shooter based on mercenary teams. Different characters with different abilities. You can play for free.

Update 25: Indie title Beyond Eyes is on the stage. This is an exploration game. This was also shown in the Microsoft briefing. Coming summer 2015. The protagonist is a blind girl who is exploring her world. Audio is crucially important. It also focuses on how perception can be wrong about your environment and that multiple senses come together to give you information.

Update 24: Showing an expansion for ARMA III. It is footage of an island. Tanoa- a new terrain for the game. 100 km squared of a Pacific island. New setting, new architecture.

Update 23: Nine new cards were announced today. The flagship Radeon Fury X R9 will cost $650. They also are showing off an uber gaming rig for VR stuff. Now they are showing a “dual VG GPU card” whatever that means. The crowd seems to like it.

Update 22: Another word from our sponsor. The CEO of AMD takes the stage: Lisa Su. I believe we are going to get new hardware announcements.

Update 21: Okay, back, and still on Hitman. It seems this is going to be a digital release first.

Update 20: Hitman again. I’m sorry, I’ve already seen this twice. I’m going to take a bathroom break. BRB.

Update 19: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns on stage. It is the forthcoming expansion which has a new “guild halls” feature. The guild halls are the customizable social spaces you can decorate and host brawls and launch adventures from. These are maps that guilds can own.

Update 18: David Braben, CEO of Frontier Developments, creator of Elite: Dangerous is on stage to announce a new game. Woo! Planet Coaster, a new theme park simulator.

Update 17: Strafe with a live demo on stage. This was another Kickstarted game. It is an FPS with procedurally generated persistent levels. Next, the first expansion for Pillars of Eternity, the Baldur’s Gate style RPG. The expansion is called The White March and is the first of several planed expansions.

Update 16: Ion is on stage again to talk about early access. This was also in the Microsoft briefing. It focuses on what happens on a space station. It will use a semi-isometric camera set-up. No time frame yet. The idea is before the prototype is released, they want a polished core which can be built upon.

Update 15: VR time. We start with EVE: Valkyrie. This is a VR space combat sim in the EVE universe. VR takes some getting used to, but it allows for more situational awareness for the player. This game is the first AAA looking VR game I’ve seen so far. While they share a universe, they are very separate experiences.

Update 14: American Truck Simulator announcement! PC gamers like strange things. It is exactly what the name suggests. It is a trucking simulator. Better get your loads across the country on time. It features data from Google Maps. Get your pre-orders in now.

Update 13: The Coalition takes the stage to announce Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is coming to PC as well. 4k resolution support, unlimited refresh available on PC.

Update 12: Oh good, more info on Guardian. This was the cartoony game that just had a video at the Microsoft presser. Okay, so 5 on 5 team shooter/MOBA. Each team has an AI controlled guardian. The heroes are designed so players of different skill types can find a champion that will fit their play style. Each character has branching upgrade trees that further give options. Closed beta in August with open beta later in the year.

Update 11: Fable Legends is coming to the stage with a new video for the game. It is Xbox One and Windows. Does have cross platform play. Why free-to-play? They want everyone to play it and make up their minds. They are planning for “years of content” and put out new quests, creatures, and heroes.

Update 10: Phil Spencer, head of Xbox is now on the show. I guess this explains the sponsorship. Oh, the Xbox division is now in charge of all gaming at Microsoft? Windows 10 and Direct X 12 as cross platform tools and helping developers by making a more cohesive ecosystem. Also announces that Killer Instinct is coming to PC.

Update 8: Next  up Total War. New title Total War: Warhammer a RTS with the Warhammer setting. This will appeal to a lot of people.

Update 7: Same talking points from the Square Enix presser. Giving a bit of the setting rundown. Now we are getting into talking about the Dawn engine and Direct X 12 and how they can put more objects and detail on the screen.

Update 6: Oh yeah, there is a reminder why- the card alone is nearly $300. Now time for more Deus Ex talk.

Update 5: Star Citizen update. They seem to be motion capturing presently. This game was Kickstarted. No real new info. Now a message from our sponsors. The AMD “Chief Gaming Scientist” is on the stage. New Radeon graphic cards were announced: R7 360 and R9 380. I haven’t built a machine in 7 years, so I have no real concept of what he is talking about now. I mean, I get the concepts, but not how good these are in relation to anything.

Update 4: This game is available in early access. It is a FPS against waves of zombies. You can play solo or co-op, it allows player created maps, offers a free “Incinerate and Detonate” content pack add-on. Now they are having a discussion of the gore technology involved. Never has gore used so much technology to be gory. The content pack will have 50% more content than what the game ships with. They just announced that early access players will not have their player progression reset at launch. They also show a world premier of a new game. Seems to be set in the Vietnam War. Involves infantry and air support. Rising Storm 2: Vietnam.

Update 3: We start with a video of a player building his/her rig with an AMD chip. Goes into a reel showing tons of games new and old. Because there are a lot of games and mods on PC. First Guest is John Gibson from Tripwire Interactive for Killing Floor 2.

Update 2: Here we go!

Update 1: The stream is live. Still 47 minutes until the show, but they are showing PC gaming trivia questions. Why is Xbox a sponsor of the PC Gaming Show? I would understand Microsoft, but Xbox specifically?

Square-Enix E3 Live Response

Square-Enix has the last publisher specific presser before the E3 show gets fully underway. While we had a lot of Square-Enix at both Microsoft and Sony, expect more on Hitman and Final Fantasy as well as a showcase of Just Cause 3.

This page will not automatically refresh. I will put the latest update at the top of the list, so if you join us late, scroll down. Here is the full E3 coverage schedule, so stick with us.


Update 14: Wow, this was a really uninformative press conference. I’m glad I could be the one that watched this for you so you didn’t waste your time. This press conference gets an F. The games will probably be pretty great, but that did not give us 90 minutes of excitement or entertainment.

Update 13: Looks like a Deus Ex game. A really polished first-person action-RPG. Set for release early next year. There is a Final Fantasy Portal App coming soon. It will have…things? I dunno, they didn’t tell us. Just that it is coming. They are announcing a new RPG product from a new studio. The studio is called Tokyo RPG Factory. They show some concept art of a snow covered world. A forest, and a village, and a weird cave made up of optics and clock faces. You can see them at Tokyo RPG Factory.

Update 12: I’m not going to lie. This press event is boring me a bit. Very little information being shared. Oh good, time for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. It was seen in a few videos yesterday, but not talked about. It is using a new game engine. It takes place 2 years after the last game. Augmented humans are being segregated and persecuted. Again, a lot of telling, not a lot of showing. New powers, choices change the story, etc. Here we go, first in game trailer.

Update 11: Reel for Hitman Sniper, Triade Wars, and Final Fantasy XV. Another video for…a new Star Ocean? Yup. Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness. Sheesh, little heavy handed with that subtitle. Confirmed for NA release on PS4. Here comes a game play trailer. Looks like a Star Ocean JRPG. Six member parties. Coming 2016.

Update 10: Io Interactive takes the stage. Hitman time. Release on December 8th. They will release new content after release. Example: Have a target that is available for 48 hours and you get one chance to finish it.

Update 9: World of Final Fantasy trailer from last night again. Now the director of the game is coming to speak. He is talking about the challenges that they had. Again talking about the game without telling us anything about it. You can form a tower with the players and monsters that change the effects of the attacks. That is a bit of news, but he doesn’t go any further into it. Coming 2016.

Update 8: Kingdom Hearts III time. First a message from Walt Disney Animation people about the game. Oh, they are proud, and there is a lot of collaboration. Apparently we are getting into the new properties like Tangled for this installment. Time for a game play video. It looks like Kingdom Hearts. Very bright and clean. Yup, there was the tower from Tangled. No characters really revealed outside of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Sora.

Update 7: The PC version of VII that is currently out will still be coming to PS4 this year, as well as iOS. Lokks like Kingdom Hearts is coming to smartphones. Hercules, Alice in Wonderland, the Seven Dwarfs in a turn-based action rpg for your phone. Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key for iOS and Android will come to North America. It will provide a link to Kingdom Hearts III.

Update 6: A teaser reel of upcoming releases. like the Final Fantasy Online expansion, Life is Strange, and Dragon Warrior Heroes. Now they are showing the same Final Fantasy VII remake movie that was shown at last night’s Sony event. More info to come this winter. Does Square Enix know they are supposed to actually covey information at a press event?

Update 5: More mobile. Expanding on the GO concept they’ve already released with Hitman GO there is now Lara Croft GO. It looks pretty. Turn based adventure. Again, not a lot of information.

Update 4: More Rise of the Tomb Raider. So far only announced for PC and Xbox One, but perhaps a timed console exclusive (probably at least a year). Today we get a behind the scenes look at how Laura Croft was created for this series. No new info here, though.

Update 3: Announcement of a new game from Platinum Games. Pretty art, heavy hitters from the RPG and fighting/action game fields as senior staff. Ah, it is a new Nier game. This will be a 2016/17 release, but looks intriguing. The first game received middling reviews in the West. However, Platinum Games has a strong track record.

Update 2: December 1st release date for Just Cause 3. Awesome. If you haven’t played any of the games in this series, it is the most ridiculous action game ever. Open world, go anywhere in it. Blow up lots of stuff. Grapple a helicopter to a boat and see what happens. Ride a motorcycle off a cliff, parachute down, guns blazing, then grapple into a convertible. Just Cause 3 gives players multiple grapple lines, and has a fully destructible environment. On top of the parachute you also get a wing suit this time. Over 80 vehicles, tons of weapons.  This game looks to be a ton of fun.

Update 1: Slight technical difficulties at the beginning on my end. I seem to have missed the intro but now it is Just Cause 3 time.

Nintendo E3 Digital Event – Live Reaction

Like the graphic update? Thank Nintendo for providing a banner that I borrowed. Today, E3 actually starts. Nintendo is going to kick things off with a digital press event. I will give you updates here.

This page will not automatically refresh. I will put the latest update at the top of the list, so if you join us late, scroll down. Here is the full E3 coverage schedule, so stick with us.


Update 14: You can check out Super Mario Maker in select Best Buys this week. Details at e3.nintendo.com. Fan videos of the mario theme and stuff. More dancing puppets. The end. Time for Square-Enix.

Update 13: Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash for Wii U is coming out this holiday. It is Mario Tennis. It will be fun. Now on to more on Super Mario Maker. There is a cool look into the history of how Mario levels were designed in the past and comparing it to the freedom of the new maker. There will be an 8-bit Mario amiibo that will make him big. There will be amiibo support- again costumes. Mario will appear as the amiibo character.

Update 12: Level 5’s new 3DS game Yo-kai Watch which has been out in Japan and has the potential to be a monster success here. You capture spirits and use them to battle others, like Pokemon. Now for a new Paper Mario for the 3DS except is Paper Mario and regular Mario…Mario and Luigi Paper Jam. Cool.

Update 11: Yoshi’s Wooly World time. This game looks so nice. We’re talking about the yarn yoshi amiibos. The difficulty is set by the player in that to make the game harder you can try and collect everything in the level. It does feature 2-player co-op. Amiibo support seems to be limited to costume changes. Releases October 16th.

Update 10: Wii U 3rd person RPG. Xenoblade Chronicles? It has the look and feel of that, yup. Release date of December 4, 2015. Awesome. Sign me up. Now for some Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer. A new AC title for 3DS. It looks like AC. Build stuff, collect stuff to put in the stuff you built, help with chores and decorating. Also an Animal Crossing board game on Wii U. It uses amiibos. Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival coming this holiday season. You know, because the amiibo releases have been so good so far.

Update 9: Now a very Japanese Atlus title that appears to be an odd J-Pop JRPG that is 1 part Sailor Moon one part JRPG, and all a little crazy. It is called FE and is set for release in 2016. *EDIT* Apparently it is a Fire Emblem Shin Megami Tensei crossover game.

Update 8: Another 3DS title: Metroid Prime: Federation Troopers this is a 3 player co-op game that includes Blastball which we saw at the world championships. That was a quick look. Now a video for Fire Emblem Fates. It looks gorgeous and for Wii U. 2016.

Update 7: 3DS version of Hyrule Warriors. It will include all DLC characters from Wii U version with additional characters and levels from Wind Waker. It is called Hyrules Warriors Legends. I don’t know how the 3DS is going to handle the draw issues for this game. There are generally a ton of characters on the screen that stress processing power. Maybe the new 3DS processor is more powerful than I thought. Release Q1 2016.

Update 6: The puppets are back to transition (with dancing) to The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes, a 3DS title that appears to be a new iteration on the Four Swords concept (though it appears to be 3 now). There are different outfits with different abilities. Coming this fall. Communication appears to be done through a series of cartoons. So this is a co-op multiplayer game with real dungeons. It is built of the Link Between Worlds tech. There is a totem mechanic in which the 0players can stack to reach higher places. There is single player mode in which you can switch between your Link and two “doll-like characters.”

Update 5: Skylanders Superchargers is coming later this year. It is the new installment in the series. Cool, there will be a Bowser and a DK figure and vehicles that will work in the Skylanders game but will also work as amiibo. Activision with another interesting third-party special relationship.

Update 4: Regie Fils-Aime is up next talking about Nintendo’s theme this E3 is “transformation.” The Nintendo NX (the cross device platform) will be talked about more next year. 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. Super Mario Maker will be out later this year. More new amiibo and game interactions coming soon.

Update 3: Miyamoto is talking about his various inspirations. The gyro of the gamepad can be used to control. Ah, not co-op. The screen shows a wider perspective, and the gamepad has cockpit view. The R-wing can transform into a walker. There is also a tank-like and helicopter-like vehicle. It is called zero because it is not a true sequel, nor a remake.

Update 2: Puppet Miyamoto, too! Now they are turning into Star Fox and friends! Cool! Do a barrel roll! World Premier of Star Fox Zero for Wii U. It looks like the Wii U gamepad will allow for co-op play.

Update 1: We start with muppet-like puppet Iawata and Fils-Aime getting ready. This is awesome.

Sony E3 Press Event Reaction

Most people would agree that last year Sony had the best press conference of E3. While it is too early to hand them that crown this year, their press conference was a definite crowd-pleaser. They knew their audience pretty well, and delivered exactly what would win them acclaim.

The show started with a solid cheer from the crowd as the first movie started playing and the credits came up on screen. At last, we would see more from The Last Guardian. A game that was first announced in 2009, The Last Guardian has been shrouded in mystery since. That shroud was lifted away with a game play demonstration to start the show.

This is the game that fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus have been waiting for, and the video delivered exactly what those fans wanted to see. More important, the assurances that the game was still under development were proven true. This type of fan service would be one of several themes for the evening.

The next game shown was a totally new IP from Guerrilla Games, the studio best known for the Killzone series. Horizon: Zero Dawn is set in the vastly distant future. Humans have been reverted to tribes slowly rediscovering technology. Nature has reclaimed much of what humans had built, and now strange creatures made of technology and looking like dinosaurs roam the land. The world is open and the bit shown was of a hunter going to collect supplies from the machine animals when a large predator chases her. The battle that follows showed an interesting variety in the weapons and tactics used to take down the threat. My guess is Horizon won’t be out until Q4 2016, but is certainly a title I will be keeping my eye on.

Sony has figured out that it is critically important to focus on the things the audience is most interested in: games. Specifically, new games we did not know about, or at the least new information about those we did. This was the case with the new Hitman game that Sony gave a first look of and Street Fighter V for which they introduced new characters.

However, by focusing so heavily on the new, you get a major distinction between the Microsoft and the Sony press conferences. Microsoft focused almost exclusively on their line-up through Q1 2016. The games they showed would be in consumer hands soon. While the Sony presser had its share of those- Batman: Arkham Knight, Star Wars Battlefront, and Call of Duty: Black Ops III chief among them- many of the games shown did not even suggest a release date. Sony’s strong present market condition gives them the luxury of focusing more long term. That, in turn, allows them to show more new IPs and focus on those fan service moments used to strengthen brand loyalty.

The presentation team put a heavy emphasis on showcasing games that were “better” on PS4 as the PS4 version would have some tangible benefit. Map packs, exclusive missions, exclusive betas, timed exclusivity, almost every game presented had some kind of benefit for playing it on PS4. This was particularly noticeable in the Activision Sony partnership. I thought it was odd the Call of Duty did not make an appearance at the Microsoft event. Now it is clear why. On top of PlayStation once again having exclusive content to the new Destiny expansion, The Taken King, the announcements about Call of Duty: Black Ops III with map packs showing up first on PS4.

It was a big night for the JRPG; from the new, intriguing World of Final Fantasy, which has a character size swap mechanic, to the two most cheered announcements of the press event. First, that Final Fantasy VII is getting a remake that will arrive on PS4 first. The crowd lost it at this point; this is a game that many gamers spent countless hours playing and shaped their gaming identity. Second, the odd announcement on the PlayStation stage about a new Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue III. People have wanted this game for thirteen years.

The Shenmue III announcement epitomizes both this idea of fan service and looking to the future. This is a game that the fans have been craving, but is hard for a studio to justify funding. Clearly Sony likes it, but not enough to fully fund it. However, they know they want it on their platform so they give it a prominent spot in their presser (and probably some technical and other marketing support, but that is speculation). It worked really well. As of this writing, less than 12 hours since the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, it has already broken its goal of two million dollars. That two million has been raised by approximately 27,000 backers- which kind of proves Sony’s point. That is not enough copies sold to justify a development budget, but the fans that want this are willing to pay more than $60. Four backers have paid $10,000 for this game. Approximately seven thousand others have paid $100 or more. Still, development is a world away. The campaign has December 2017 as a projected delivery date.

The game that personally has me most intrigued was back this year after the announcement of it at last year’s E3: No Man’s Sky. This game simply looks bonkers. An entire procedurally generated universe to explore however you want to. It is too big to really comprehend, and that is what is so exciting. The graphics look much better this year. However, we still have not seen a lot of player interaction Even so, this game looks to be special.

The other title that was a bit nebulous was the new game from Media Molecule. I do not know how to describe Dreams. I don’t get it yet. It is a collaborative tool of creation, that much I get. I’m not sure I understand much more about it. Here, just look for yourself:

Indies got a lot less attention this year than last. Devolver Digital, makers of Hotline Miami, got the spotlight showcasing four new games that will be on PlayStation platforms. Firewatch, a title that will make its console debut on PS4, also got the spotlight in the keynote (including a spot in the post show shown at the theater experience). Last year there was a much larger push for indies. My guess is this was largely a time issue.

The Vita got very little love. One sizzle reel, a couple of additional platform announcements, and that is it. It appears the Vita will continue to exist and be a largely ignored part of the PlayStation ecosystem. Project Morpheus, the VR headset, got more stage time even though the reality is the install base of Morpheus (which will cost a lot) will probably never eclipse that of the Vita this generation. Even though Morpheus was shown, not a lot of concrete information was shared. We know Guerrilla Games: Cambridge is developing an arena combat game for it, and that one headset can play with 4 other players on the console, but no real time frame or price point was given.

The only real non-game announcement was the expansion of the PlayStation television content platform Vue. It is expanding to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and they promised that soon users nationwide will have a selection of channels that they can purchase a la carte, including most Discovery and Fox channels. This could be a huge first step in a la carte cable. However, no pricing was discussed.

Star Wars made its appearance in the form of the announcement of the PlayStation exclusive starter bundle for Disney Infinity 3.0 which will include the second Star Wars play set a month before general release as well as a Boba Fett figure. I feel for the spokesman who came out after the crowd was hyped with a picture of the Death Star and the music cue got the crowd excited. The crowd in my theater booed when he started talking about Disney Infinity. After that, we did get footage of a new play mode from Star Wars Battlefront. It was a survival mode in which the two players playing co-op had to survive several waves of enemies.

The show ended with a new game play demo of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. There was a technical issue that forced a restart on the demo, which took a bit away from the impact, but it was still a showing from a studio that knows exactly how to design and execute major action set-pieces.

Overall, the presser was impressive. To me, it struck the right tone of we know we are leading this generation and let us share how we are going to stay ahead. Could it have used a little more focus on things coming out this year? Maybe, but I think the new Activision partnership will carry a lot of water with CoD: Black Ops III. Heck, CoD looked good enough to make me think about returning to the series for the first time in years. They accomplished the harder job of keeping the audience excited for the future. Overall, I give the press event a B+.

« Older Entries