This marks my first entry on this blog. Actually, this marks my first entry on WordPress in general. In fact, this marks my first entry… in any blog… ever! How Murlocs and Musings came to exist is an enigma to this day. Now before you go running off to read that at the mere mention of its name, you should stay and read– actually, never mind. Go and read Murlocs and Musings. All of it, in fact; you can come back and read this later. Now that you’re done (which I know you aren’t, but I’ll just have to make do) I can continue. In this short opinion piece I’ll run down my list of standout games from the show of three “E”s this year. Why keep the topic so limited? I’ve gone from predicting the Wii U’s failure to making exaggerated mocking of Sony’s apology to accusing Microsoft of running child labor sweatshops, and I figure the negativity is about played out by now. Just like motion controls! Now the negativity is played out. Also, something I’ve neglected this E3 is just old-fashioned jawing (or written jawing, which is quite an art form, you know) about the games. With that in mind…
Far Cry 3
I’ll admit I don’t know much about this game, and maybe the rose-colored tint of ignorance is what’s keeping me so optimistic, but what I have seen looks, in a word, spiffy. Both the premise (being stranded on a remote island with a population of insane people) and the presentation (gorgeous sunny-island themed visuals and immersive sound to boot) pique my interest, which is a rarity for shooters these days. I appreciated how Ubisoft showed the game off, leading with an atmospheric description of your character’s dire situation and jumping straight into the action without even announcing what title they were showing off. Sure, the observant viewer would’ve heard the rumors beforehand and would catch on after seeing the lush tropical landscapes, but the sense of mystery and immersion helped to better showcase the work, the actual content of which was promising. The shooting looked sharp, the scenery was more than impressive, and the action was exhilarating, but what better to top it off than a monologue from one clearly insane captor? I guess having that clearly insane captor kicking you off a cliff with a rock tied to your feet would qualify. My qualms with the game so far are minor, though there isn’t enough known to really rant about anyway. Their promises to simplify and streamline the experience is unfortunate, but if I wrote off every game that mentioned that, the lineup for me would be very small indeed.
(Note: From this point on all this stuff is re-written. For some reason WordPress ate my entire post except for what’s before this. Am I angry? Yes. Will this affect my writing? Probably so.)
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
There wasn’t a dearth of sci-fi shooters being shown at the… show. You’ve got Gears of War 3, Resistance 3, Star Trek, Starhawk, Dust 514, and Halo 4, just to name a few. (Actually, that’s more than a few. But less than a gaggle!) Even with all these, it took that special magic of a distant decade that is Halo: Combat Evolved to get me truly excited. It’s not that all of the mentioned games are bad (One may say some of them do look that way, though. Not me, necessarily, but One… he’s a pretty mean guy), but rather that Halo is just so good. And their treatment of it is no half-baked re-release; rather, it is a fully baked cake with a texture that is both moist and firm. (And tasty.) The frosting on this delicious treat is the ability to toggle between the old and new versions of the game on the fly. As one obsessed with comparing the graphics of games between versions, this is quite a boon that will save me the trouble of hooking up my old Xbox and driving Stephen crazy as we try to make it through the game. (Plus, it’s just cool.) But who starts by expounding upon the frosting? One who does not know the meaning of good article structure. Hm. I guess I qualify, so this all makes sense. Onto the cake, then! Halo Anniversary (which is what I’ll be calling it for short) went all out with this package, not only updating the graphics and music, but also putting the whole multiplayer mode into Reach’s engine and gameplay structure. This part is a double-edged sword for me, as I loved the balance of Halo one, despite its quirks, and I’m not dying for more Reach. However, it’s looking like it may be possible to revert to original settings for the multiplayer, and the ability to use the maps with the rest of the Reach multiplayer experience is quite the boon. So now that this cake has been properly examined, I shall just await the moment when I can consume it. It will be a happy moment.
Luigi’s Mansion 2
I don’t even own a 3DS and this game still manages to make it on my list! Part of this is because of just how great it looks, and the other part is I figure I’ll be able to mooch of Stephen’s enough to play through it anyway. When Luigi’s Mansion 2 first made its showing during Nintendo’s press conference I was mildly jazzed (a specific state of mind that’s very difficult to explain) but not yet pumped (which is what comes next). I meandered into Stephen’s office and found him watching the trailer for it on his 3DS and it was then that I made the shift up to being officially pumped for it. The fixed camera showed off the mansion’s rooms with a distinct and vibrant depth that was the best I’ve yet seen in a game. If the theme music will just make a return I might even jump to the next level. (Hyped.)
This game is a necessity for any “Best of” list for the year’s show, and if it’s not on yours I’d suggest getting your head checked, because your sense of funness is out of whack and needs to be fixed which can probably be done by having your head checked. The colorful demo at Ubisoft’s conference bounced from one brilliant moment to the next, showcasing both stunning visuals and sound with seamless style. The highlights were many, and one (in the general sense, not that jerk who hates shooters) couldn’t help but smile at the Tetris sequence or frantic platforming action. But even with all that, my personal standout moment was the slapping.
There’s no better example of the mildly jazzed/pumped/hyped sequence than Sonic Generations. When the early teaser trailer surfaced I was indeed mildly jazzed. A combination of Stephen’s amiable chatter and the release of more info (namely gameplay footage and the introduction of Green Hill) led me to graduate to “pumped”. It wasn’t until this E3, and the showing of their latest work that I’ve become hyped and possibly beyond. (Which we won’t go into now. It’s a lot to take in all at once.) City Escape was shown. Through all of gaming’s wonderful history there isn’t a level that holds more nostalgic value for me than this classic stage from Sonic Adventure 2. (One of the seminal games in my early introduction to the medium and still one I hold to be one of the greatest games of all time.) I’ve easily played the level hundreds of times, and mastered just about everything these is to master in it. Seeing Sega at last recognize it once more and bring it back does me good, and I can’t tell you how amped I am to play through it all again with both the gameplay styles being showcased in Sonic Generations. Yes indeed, Sonic Generations has leapt right up there with my most anticipated games. I’m a sucker for the series even when it’s iffy, so what do you expect when it’s looking rad?
After On Tour and Blur I was about ready to write of the series for good, and the early look at “Deadly Descent” only compounded that desire. Things have done a 180 for the series, however, and they’re pulling off old tricks that I thought were relegated to the past. SSX is gearing up with all the conventions that made superb arcade sports games in the past, like Tony Hawk and SSX3, thrive, and looks to be doing it all with style. They’re merging realism (taking topographical maps of mountains) with crazy (throwing half-pipes, ramps, giant spotlights on mountains) and coming out with a product that looks more than promising. Whether they can ride this ramp of potential and get some air is something that has yet to be seen, and though they may pull of some nifty tricks, time will tell if they just end up wiping out.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
This is the game that truly surpasses all measurements I could give: mildly jazzed? Foolery. Pumped? That is a wild understatement. Hyped? Closer, but still inadequate. There are few games that bring as much raw potential to the table as Skyrim does, and they’re on track to not squander it. While I could run through a laundry list of my hopes and fears for the game, it can all be pretty easily synthesized, and for the sake of brevity and my rapidly diminishing time, I will do so: The game looks awesome. The game also looks streamlined. While I am bursting with thoughts about all the specifics, I will restrain myself. But the dragon fights really do look awesome. The spectacle of them descending upon a field and plucking giants from the ground is leagues beyond what I could imagine seeing in Oblivion and light years ahead of shooting at cliff racers back on old Vvardenfell. But that is all!
While there are other games worth mention that made appearances at E3, such as Paper Mario, Uncharted, Journey, and many others, none of them really struck me with their actual showing enough to bear mention. Either that or their positive aspects were tempered with enough negative ones to make it too complicated of a process to wholeheartedly endorse them. But enough excuse making! My list is a weird one, yes, but it is finished, and it is not changing. I’m just going to be stubborn about it at this point. I have had to write it twice, after all. That’s a lot, you know! It’s more than once. I think it was the better for it, don’t you? (Just say yes despite having no way of knowing. Thanks.)