Saturday, July 14, 2012

E3 and OUYA

 Wow it has been quite some time since I posted.  I need to get into the habbit of posting more regularly... I've been quite busy with a lot of stuff.  There's a lot of things right now that I want to cover, mostly because I haven't put one of these up in a long time, however to keep things at a reasonable size, I'll just go over 2 subjects.



Was expecting more.
 Another year another E3.  E3 has come and gone this year and ultimately left me feeling a bit empty.  E3 was EXTREMELY underwhelming.  All 3 console companies had pretty piss poor conferences and EA's was... why?  The only conference that actually had a pretty consistent showing was Ubisofts which was good but not amazing.


Big stage but it lacked big exclusives and variety.

Microsoft's conference had little to no new big titles and it felt like they were beating a dead horse with Kinect.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty will sell and do well but there needs to be more, something that feels fresh.  I will say what they shown of Halo, I was impressed, I feel they're evolving the series and they're taking it in a new, fresh direction.  As for game of the show, South Park actually ended up being the show stealer, a licensed series, and as expected, they did have me laughing.  Over all, the 3rd party's is what made Xbox's conference worth watching.  Both Splinter Cell and Tomb Raider looked great and had a great showing.  Lastly, Smart Glass was announced which looks like a cool tech innovation as it gets your phone/pad working with the 360 but ultimately, I don't see myself or many others using this.  I understand the idea of a second screen, I use 2 for PC gaming, I have a DS and 3DS, I like the idea of the Wii U's controller and using the Vita as a controller for PS3 seems fun however I want buttons AND the screen in my hand at the same time.  Having to put down 1 controller and pick up the screen constantly throughout gameplay doesn't won't make the experience more engaging and will ultimately be more cumbersome.

Halo 4 got a nice facelift and seems to be evolving!

They also had some downloadable and Kinect games shown off but nothing looked really impressive.  They had an on stage demo of this horrible Angry Birds esc Kinect game called Wreckateer that really did not deserve to take up stage space.  Very underwhelming conference over all though the 3rd parties looked pretty good.  They could of used other 3rd party games up there, like Borderlands 2 though I should mention Resident Evil 6 which looks decent.

Smart Glass and running with a newly announced XBLA title Ascend: New Gods.


Splinter Cell Blacklist is looking very impressive!

Ubisoft's conference was easily the most well executed and the most exciting conference shown.  Gameplay was shown off for Assassin's Creed 3 which looks epic though, the Sony conference had the better of the trailers.  Splintercell Blacklist was also shown in more detail and it looks really amazing.  Even though it doesn't have the same voice actor for Sam Fisher, the gameplay in it looks fantastic and the animations are top notch.  The animations are good enough to the point they could dethrone the Uncharted series.  A really awesome trailer was shown off for Farcry 3 that displayed the hectic gameplay it'll have and gave us a little more narrative.  It was more mature and had nipples, definitely not for kids, but the game looked really awesome.

Farcry 3!  It's good to see a different, non military or scifi shooter in the mix.

There was also a very awesome demo shown off for Rayman Legends which is a Wii U exclusive.  It was easily the best on stage demo of E3 and shown off the frantic fast pace multiplayer with the Wii U interactivity.  Basically, the players playing as the actual characters use normal controllers while the Wii U tablet is used by a player who controls a helper sort of character that interacts with the stage which ultimately makes the game have an even larger emphasis on coop.  One stages displayed, that had a music theme, shown off very fast pace cooperative action and displayed a very tough, very core feeling.  The crowd was pretty hyped at it and the sounds of the demo started getting drowned in the sounds of the cheering!  This got me very excited to try this one!  I really can't wait to try it!

Rayman Legends made the crowd go wild!

The last game, easily the best ending to any of the conferences and easily the game of the show, was a new IP reveal called Watch Dogs.  The game has a modern scifi sort of theme that revolves around hackers and networks.  It shown a guy basically hacking his way into a club by using a mobile phone and getting all sorts of knowledge about the people around him using his phone alone.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "there's an app for that".  The action looked pretty fun as well as the theme, while not original, is a nice change of pace from most of the games at E3.  I also liked the fact it didn't feel overly dark and felt more like an action suspense.  Around the end it gave the impression that the game is going to have online multiplayer and connect via this hacker network.  Nothing else (as far as I currently know) has come out about this explaining more details however it was extremely impressive and a great way to end a conference.

This game easily stood out at E3 this year.


Wake me when it's over....

EA's show.......  Dead Space is coop... taking one of the last few "scary" series's and turning it into basically Lost Planet...  Crysis still looks gorgeous but unfortunately it's still in New York and not the Jungle....  Battlefield 3 is getting a horrible premium service....  Medal of Honor looks like a poor mans CoD....  Oh and then the usual sports and racing updates.  Huzzah...  The somewhat interesting news was Sims is going to have curvy roads, no I'm not being sarcastic.  Apparently the series never had them (I haven't really played it) and people have been wanting them for a long time.  The other somewhat interesting bit of news is SWTOR is still getting updates and Bioware has big plans for the future amidst all the controversy (I'll speak more on SWTOR in another blog).  This conference shouldn't of even happened, it's a waist of time, money and space.

Biggest news from EA.


Mr. Sony himself, Kevin Butler!

Sony actually had some pretty big announcements and some pretty big exclusives however, many of the announcements and news were not original and few of the things that they shown felt new.  They had Playstation Allstar Battle Royal which is a game that takes Playstation characters in pits them against each other in a 4 player free for all in stages that have themes from various Playstation games with Smash Bros like floating mechanics, camera style, and launching mechanics.  The game is a clear Smash Bros clone but instead of admitting it or saying that they were inspired by it, the game is getting pushed as something "new" and "original" which is pretty annoying especially considering how big Smash Bros is.

Inside the development studio behind Playstation Allstar Battle Royal

With that said, it was one of if not the best looking exclusive they shown and I'm admittedly excited about it.  Parappa the Rappa kicking, punching, and chopping Kratos and Sweet Tooth?  Fat Princess and Sly Cooper facing off smack dead in the middle of the Ratchet and Clank universe?  Yes plz!!  I should mention that when they shown the game off, it was a battle on stage using both the PS3 and the Vita playing cross platform.

Playstation Allstars Battle Royal is looking good!

Outside of Playstation All Star Battle Royal, I felt there was a lot of let down.  Like Microsoft they actually touched their motion controller which like Kinect, still hasn't proven itself to the core.  The game they shown off for Move was Wonderbook, a very bad looking story book game that was even more unimpressive then the Angry Birds esc Kinect game.  It just didn't look responsive, it looked nearly unplayable.  They shown off more of the new multiplayer God of War game.  No offense, I think they need to leave this series.  Don't get me wrong, I like it but it's a story heavy game and they already ended it.  Also the game outside of multiplayer doesn't look like its really evolved much.  There needs to be new direction if they're going to continue it and maybe a new protagonist.

No lie, this was on stage.  Why?

The other 2 major exclusive titles they shown off were The Last of Us which is made by Naughty Dog and Beyond Two Souls which is made by the people behind Heavy Rain.  Neither of these games look bad but neither of these games look original in theme and style.  Beyond Two Souls plays a lot like Heavy Rain and basically follows a girl who allegedly is possessed or can see spirits.  Thing about it is because it plays like Heavy Rain, that means you hardly play it and more or less watch it as the game is more about graphics and story.  Another problem I have with this game is the fact is it gets to that really dark, kind of more violent sort of theme that a lot of games have but it's all around a child which I find disturbing.  The other title, The Last of Us, has a very post apocalyptic theme (this style theme is getting old) but Naughty Dog somehow made the games environment absolutely gorgeous.  Also unlike Beyond Two Souls, the game is a REAL game that you actually play.  Problem, like Beyond Two Souls but even more so, the game has dark and violent theme that plays out in front of a kid.  This game however is pretty violent, like the killing and fighting is on par with what I saw from Splinter Cell.  The difference here, you're doing all of this ultra violent stuff right in front of a kid.  Not going to go elaborate on it but needless to say, though a lot of people are super excited for both of these games and the crowds went while in the Playstation conference, I was more disturbed.

A bit too disturbing for my tastes.

Over all, it felt like 3rd parties, in particular Ubisoft, stole the show at Sony's conference with 2 showings for Assassins Creed, 1 on PS3 and the other on Vita and a pretty awesome looking Farcry 3 multiplayer demo.  Also I'd like to go ahead and say this, I think Farcry 3 is a nice contrast to what most FPS's are doing and because of this, I want to play it a lot more then most the games getting pushed.  Also, I was a bit disappointed there wasn't more emphasis on Vita...  I was also saddened by the lack of Warrior's Lair which appears to be MIA.

Not enough Vita, Kaz Hirai, or Riiiiiidge Racer!


Nintendo's new mascot!  Nonspecific Action Figure!

Nintendo had a lot to go over.  Technically they had 2 conferences for the public, 1 press specific conference, and a Nintendo Direct (as well as a second Nintendo Direct a week or so afterwards).  The first Nintendo Direct was entirely about the Wii U and they dropped some major bombs during it.  They shown off a redesign of the Wii U controller with real analogs that have the click buttons when you press down on them, the controller screen is now bigger, the design is sleeker and made for better comfort, and it has a NFC reader in it as well as all the previous features such as a built in mic, built in camera, and gyro and motion sensing.  Also a new addition is the controller can be used as a TV remote as well.  Over all the controller is looking amazing and a lot of the features that it has are actually really cool.  They also shown off the Wii U Pro controller which look A LOT like a 360 controller shell (though I'm not complaining as the 360 controller is comfy) however I'll need to try it and see what I think as the analogs are both above the buttons and d-pad.

Wii U controller redesign.

Wii U game pad pro.  Looks an awful lot like the 360 controller (which is a good thing imo).

You can control your TV with this too!

They also shown of the Miiverse which is Nintendo's take on the systems online.  I have to admit, I am absolutely impressed.  Basically the Mii's populate the screen and gather around different software and games, showing you what people in your region are playing and doing.  There's a wall system for games where people can communicate with each other in a twitter/facebook sort of fashion.  There's voice and video chat that looks like it can happen while running whatever game as the video shown the person pause the game then go run the video chat (though I won't believe true cross gaming voice chat till I see it in action).  There's also an achievement system and the ability to comment on peoples achievements, warn people of a problem ahead, and basically give little messages all over which clearly shows inspirations fromm demon/dark souls.  Furthermore, after the Wii U launches, the Miiverse can be accessed through the 3DS, PC's, and phones making the Miiverse literally Nintendo's own social network.  Over all it looks like they're taking online seriously now and look to be taking it in the right direction.

The Miiverse in all its greatness.

The Miiverse wall forum thing.

In game Miiverse

The E3 press conference that happened a few days afterwards, was nowhere near as good as the build up from Nintendo Direct and didn't have the WOW factor.  I don't think any "completely" new IP's were shown at all and there's was very little big and unexpected games shown from Nintendo.  Pikmin 3 was shown off and looks fantastic gameplay wise, though graphics kind of look like Wii in HD, however, Pikmin isn't a game that's about graphics, it's a game about gameplay.  Anyways the game has remained the same in many ways, which isn't a bad thing as its been a while since Pikmin 2 came out.  The gameplay, look, and theme are very familiar however there are a few new pikmin and you don't play as Captain Olimar, rather you play as 4 other new Captains.  Nothing was revealed as to why Captain Olimar isn't here, or course, but it can lead to some fun story elements and gameplay.  The gameplay was shown primarily with the Wiimote and Nunchuck as those controls are the most accurate with that style game which is fine by me.  One thing that I didn't like though is Pikmin 3 will have multiplayer.... but no online...  Not that previous ones had online on gamecube (or really any other games outside of Phantasy Star Online games) however that could of and should of been there.  It could hurt the games sales, especially after such an awesome online service was shown off and pushed a couple days before.

Pikmin 3 and the legend himself, Mr. Miyamoto.

They also shown off New Super Mario Bros U which while I know a lot of people didn't like New Super Mario Bros Wii, the game sold very well and is a system seller.  Like New Super Mario Bros Wii, I can see this game being a really big key title for Nintendo.  As far as looks, it is definitely the best graphics in any of the New Super Mario Bros games and the actual style of the game is very much like Super Mario World on SNES which looked awesome mind you.  The game also was the main game they used to show off the Miiverse however whether the game will have online or not is not confirmed, which in Nintendo's case, silence could mean anything.. but usually means no.  They also took a little time to show off some first party 3DS games, such as New Super Mario Bros 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.  Nothing new really.  New Super Mario Bros 2 feels a bit redundant considering there's one coming out on the Wii U and it hasn't even been a year since Super Mario 3D Land.  They also talked a little about Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, and Lego City 3DS though nothing was shown.  What was shown though was a ton of 3rd party games on Wii U.

New Super Mario Bros. U

Scribblenauts Wii U was shown and was completely unexpected.  The game looks to take the Scribblenauts idea, theme and style and expand on it greatly.  Literally, a huge world is built around your ideas and the game has strong online multiplayer.  I'm highly looking forward to it.  Also shown off and completely unexpected was Lego City: Undercover which looks to be a Lego spoof of the GTA-esc sand box city games.  It actually looks pretty fun and I'm actually interested in it.  Zombi U was also shown off which looks to be the one game to really showcase what this controller can do.  It uses it as a way to interact with the world, a way to manage your inventory, and a your go to device.  Not enough of the game was shown off during the conference though, probably because it's a more mature title however, I'm actually highly looking forward to this one.  Along with these 3 games Batman: Arkham City was shown off and Dark Siders 2, Mass Effect 3, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2, Ninja Gaiden 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Assassins Creed 3, and Rabbids Land were all talked about.  There were also plenty of the usual fitness, dancing, and ultra casual stuff.... in particular, Sing looked pretty...... gross.  A straight Singstar's clone if you ask me.  Either way, no matter the good or bad, Nintendo is making a much bigger push for 3rd party games then ever before and things are looking better for them in this area.

Scribblenauts came completely out of nowhere.  I'm excited for this one!

The final bit shown off Nintendo Land which looks to be a mini game bundle, using the Mii's, based around a Nintendo Universe.  The on stage display of the game though did not really convey what the game had to offer or what it truly was about and over all felt underwhelming.  Unfortunately they ended the conference on this note.... well not before a cheesy firework session in Nintendo Land as Reggie left the stage.  It was a horrible way to end the press conference and left a feeling of wanting more.  This could also stem from the news that broke after E3 that Retro Studios had a game that they were going to show off but they pulled out at the last moment.  On Nintendo's own E3 page, they shown off more footage of Nintendo Land for about half an hour after the conference which made the game look a lot better but I didn't see this till after E3.  I was too busy watching GT TV do live demo's of Zombi U which looks freakin awesome and uses the controller brilliantly which should of been done on stage at the Nintendo conference and Project P-100 which is a Wii U exclusive that looks amazing.  Project P-100 is made by Platinum games and has a very actionriffic Pikmin sort of feel but for whatever reason though, it was also missing from the E3 conference.

My initial impression of this game is the one you get from looking at this image.

The 3DS conference that they had afterwards mostly felt like a rehash of known things.  Everything I mentioned earlier was shown off in greater detail.  New Super Mario Bros 2 while redundant, does offer its own feel with tons and I do mean tons of coins everywhere.  Paper Mario Sticker Star was shown off more and it looks great as well as Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.  Castlevania had a trailer shown and it looks pretty fun.  It brings a nice 2.5d to the table.  Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion was shown more of though, honestly, it doesn't look like a full price retail game and I personally wouldn't pay $40 for it.  Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance was shown more of as well and it looks like... well.. Kingdom Hearts which isn't a bad thing.  Though it does feels very much the same as older Kingdom Hearts, even after playing the demo, the gameplay is rock solid and what we want from this style game.  Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 was also shown off and they touched how it works with the 3DS downloadable Pokemon games.  Lego Batman 2 was also shown off as well.  Ultimately nothing was shown off that couldn't of been added to Nintendo's original E3 conference.

Not enough new to justify a second conference.

E3 Last Words

Ubisoft indeed won.

I felt over all, E3 was lacking.  I miss the days of seeing Konami and Capcom having there own presentations, which they did, just not on stage.  I miss the days of more Japanese games being shown off.  I didn't like the fact they gave less space to the indie scene and put less emphasis on it.  But even more then everything that I just mentioned, I was very disappointed with Microsoft's, Sony's and Nintendo's conferences.  Both Microsoft and Sony have been on this shooters and motion games are the only things gamers want craze and its been pretty disheartening.  Sony has a huge list of awesome games just waiting to be revived from PS1 and PS2, like Parappa the Rappa, who is arguably the most talked about character in Playstation All Stars Battle Royal, but instead of going after fan favorite series's, they keep going after more mature, gory, and many times gun-riffic titles that are getting really played out.  Microsoft, while they don't have the history that Sony has, they do have quite a few IP's that could really use a revival as well.  Some from Xbox original, some from the early days of 360 and xbox live, and some from a studio they acquired called Rare.  It is so sad to see Rare's potential go to waste.  They have a ton of REALLY BIG series's that are just waiting to be revived and the lack of using those series's is doing more harm then good for Microsoft.

This is what Microsoft has Rare doing these days....

Parappa's going to be in Playstation Allstars Battle Royal but when's he getting a new game?

Vita didn't get enough screen time... and whatever happened to Warrior's Lair?

I felt over all Nintendo's news was good but the conferences were lacking.  The best information came from the Nintendo Direct, from Gametrailer's stage, from the floor, and from things that happened afterwards.  Reggie confirmed Fire Emblem Awakening off screen, which should of been an on stage announcement.  The 3DS XL was announced in a Nintendo Direct a week or 2 after the conference.  Project P-100 wasn't on Nintendo's stage, neither was the Rayman Legends Demo nor the lengthy ZombiU demo.  These are some of the biggest announcements and demo's shown off at E3 and unfortunately none of them were in the conference.  They didn't show off Heroes of Ruin gameplay which imo, should of been there.  They didn't touch The Last Story till the Nintendo Direct after E3, which should of also been on stage.  Over all, I feel that Nintendo should of cut out the needless talking from E3, such as spread sheets and sales pitches, and put the content from the 2 Nintendo Directs and the 3DS conference into the main conference as well as shown off all Wii U exclusives in detail in the conference.  If they would of done this, there conference would of been great but because they didn't many people who only pay attention to that one conference were not impressed.

The Last Story should of been shown or at least mentioned in the conference.

Heroes of Ruin should of had an on stage demo.

ZombiU deserved a lot more screen time.  It's easily the best game to showcase the new controller.

The mere mention of Fire Emblem would of also been HUGE but they waited till after the E3 conferences to announce it randomly in an interview on the floor.

The Nintendo 3DS XL should of been E3.  PERIOD!

Project P-100 was one of the biggest surprises and was one of the most awesome looking new IP's at E3, yet it wasn't in Nintendo's conference...

I felt that this E3 was very stale and that console gaming is feeling pretty stagnant.  If it was for Ubisoft, E3 would of been total a bust.  I also feel that E3 needs to showcase more foreign and indie games, not just the big titles.  Because they didn't, we were left with one of the worst E3's over all.

Ubisoft dropped major bombs on E3.  Assassins Creed stole the limelight more then once.


Here comes a new challenger!

This month, 1 month after E3, one of the biggest pieces of gaming news has hit which the announcement of this alone at E3 could of changed the entire outlook of it.  A new gaming console called OUYA was announced out of nowhere.  It's powered by the Android operating system, uses a Tegra 3 chip, and wants to bring the free to play model, the indie experience, and the modding community to consoles by making the system an open platform and letting basically anybody develop for it.  The system also is only going to cost $99.  The kicker here is the system is not being backed by the big investors nor the publishers and has gone to kickstarter to raise the money needed ($950,000) to get going.  It reached that goal in a matter of hours and in 1 day reached over 2 million dollars and made a lot of supporters.  As of right now, as I type, they have over 36,000 backers and they have gotten over 4.6 million dollars in pledges.  This is amazing considering the kickstarter has 25 days till it ends.  The splash this system made while not mainstream, is huge.

This is the console size compared to the PS3 and 360.

I'm very interested in this.  One of the major problems with this generation of systems is the fact the systems are so closed off.  There have been some major games that have come out in other regions that me and like minded gamers wanted to play, like Monster Hunter Frontier, Disaster Day of Crysis, Fatal Frame 4, Toshinden Wii, and plenty of other games that never came out in NA and some that we had to fight tooth and nail to get like Xenoblade and The Last Story which are games from pretty big name designers and design teams. 

The idea that region locking in this day and age is good for business is a complete load of crap.  Region locking is only good IF YOU LOCALIZE YOUR PRODUCTS!!!

Because 360 and Wii are region locked and you can't easily import games, you either need to get an imported console or mod your system which modding is very bad for 360 and Wii users.  On 360, Microsoft is constantly doing scans banning peoples accounts from Xbox Live (their payed online service), banning peoples consoles, and sometimes even their IP's which basically kills the point in modding as many 360 games are about the online.  On Wii it's even worse, if you mod your system, you can easily brick your system (break it) and if you don't but you're still going online regularly after modding, Nintendo will brick your system in a forced update.  To add to this, if you get around the updates but lets say you bought a ton of games in Wii's online store and your system breaks or goes out, those games you bought are now permanently lost as the games bind to your system and not an account... and well, Nintendo IS NOT going to help anybody who tampered with the system regardless of purpose.

Here's a list of the most Pirated games of 2011.  Xenoblade is arguably a much smaller name but manages to come in #3 do to taking too long to get localized (or rather players not knowing it would get localized) and region locking....

The PS3 thankfully doesn't have region locking however it also has its fair share of problems, like the crazy PSN outage that happened last year from hackers taking down their unsecure online service and the updates that take away features that were originaly put on the system.  The platform is a lot more open then either 360 or Wii but still, developers face a high entry fee regardless of console and legally, there is no modding community.

The creators of OUYA WANT you to hack and mod as it is what has been the driving creative force behind gaming for years.

This is where OUYA can easily outshine the current consoles.  Encouraging modding and hacking means user made translations for Japanese games that the developers can't (or rather publishers won't) bring over, DOTA/Tower Defense and Counter Strike like start ups except on a console, and even strong indie games and game school projects that can go straight to a console without the stupid politics and ridiculous prices of the current console companies.  The possibilities of this system are huge!  A platform like this could really change the console gaming industry and in a good way.  Hopefully, this system comes out and they do things right!

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