Best in Show – a Round-up of the Best Games and Biggest Stories From E3

That’s it, the show is over.

E3 has finished for another year, so rather than dig through every story, I figured I’d highlight the ones that are worth highlighting and pass this distilled goodness onto you.

Click on.

Games 

That’s right. We’ll start off by looking at the games that most impressed and demanded the most interest.

Watch_Dogs

This was mentioned in my previous post, but it’s still easily my ‘Game of the Show’.

What we’ve got here is some amazing looking graphics, an interesting ‘near-future’ world and some stealthy gameplay that’s unlike anything before.

I only hope that the levels don’t force you into fire fights all the time and that they’re not too linear. A bit of freedom to choose the way to tackle each level will go a long way.

The demo also heavily hints at a co-op, online element. How this all fits into the single-player segments remains to be seen, in fact, a lot remains to be seen. It’s all very exciting.

Last of Us

This is again a game that’s come up in previous posts. What you’re looking at here is Naughty Dog’s latest offering. Set in a post-apocalyptic American city, you’re in charge of surviving natural dangers, other humans, their mutated counterparts all whilst looking out for a teenage girl. No easy task.

What I particularly like the look of with this game, apart from the gorgeous graphics, is that it looks like each enemy is a REAL threat. There’s no getting around it, any enemy with a gun can shoot you down just as quickly as you can shoot them down. Luckily, it appears that your teenage companion is going to be more than just a hindrance, as gameplay footage shows her throwing bricks in your enemies faces, giving you time to smash their face in further with your fists. Lovely.

X-Com

I’ll hold my hands up to this, I’ve never played the original X-Com. I’ve heard great things of the game and understand it’s got an amazing heritage, but other than that, I have no expectations for this franchise.

So why so excited? Two things, it’s being made by Firaxis and secondly, I’ve seen the gameplay trailer.

Firaxis are the makers of Civilization, one of my favourite games of forever, meaning this turn-based tactical strategy game is in some very capable and safe hands. The cinematic cut-aways look pretty impressive and make the action seem more intense, which is a problem for most turn-based games.

Persona 4 Arena

This is another area of gaming that I’m pretty clueless on. Fighting games.

What impresses me is the animation and quality of the characters all taken from one of my favourite series of games, the Persona series. All of the characters of note from Persona 4 are in here, including their personas.

Blaz Blue’s creators are behind this fighting game and there’s promise of a comprehensive and canonical storyline within the game, so people looking to fill the gape between now and when Persona 5 is released would do well to have this on their radar.

Hitman Absolution

Thankfully that awful trailer is behind us now and we can concentrate on what is looking to be a great entry into the Hitman franchise.

The demo shown suggests that there’s variety in the way the levels can be approached. One thing that is slightly off-putting is the way that the game is full of hints. Where you’d once have to figure out that plates of food could be poisoned, or that a chandelier could be rigged to fall-down, you now have a text-box pop-up informing you so. My hope is that these can be disabled, making the game truer to its previous incarnations.

News 

You see, it wasn’t ALL about the games. With E3 comes the opportunity for other announcements to be made. So here are the ones that caught my eye.

Samsung Cloud Gaming

This was hardly shouted about, and to be fair it’s probably due to the fact it’s nothing more than a deal that’s been signed and there was no concrete information or hardware to speak about.

That won’t stop me though. Gaikai, a video game streaming service, similar to OnLive, have signed a deal with Samsung to have their service available on their TVs in the future. This means that people with high-end Samsung TVs will be able to press a few buttons and, without needing any external boxes, they’ll have instant, streaming access to a wide range of games.

You’ve got to admit that there’s huge potential here. People constantly talk about a ‘digital future’ and you’ve got to admit that it get no more digital than just purely streaming the video of the game you’re playing. It’s not being taken lightly, this game streaming service lark, with Sony (who were rumoured to be making this announcement, not Samsung) who are admitting that they’re “looking at what OnLive do”.

I’ve played around with OnLive myself, as I managed to bag a free console at last year’s EuroGamer, but for as good as the service is, there’s a huge hurdle that needs to be overcome that is completely out of OnLive’s hands. The fact is, the UK, in the main, doesn’t have quick enough internet connections for this to truly take off. One for the future though. Don’t dismiss streaming as a fad.

Next-gen ‘Sneak peek’

A distinct lack of ‘next-gen’ hardware at this year’s E3 meant that all we kept on getting were sneak-peeks and demos of what could be.

A new Star Wars game, Star Wars : 1313, looked phenominal and was reported to be running on a ‘high-end’ PC, with everyone agreeing that there’s no way it’d be coming out on this generation of console.

Then there was Square-Enix who showed off their realtime demo. Again, this looked spectacular, though I always remain sceptical of these demos until they’re let loose to the public. If this is truly what we can expect from the next generation of consoles, it makes their absence from this year’s E3 all the more disappointing.

That being said, there’s still real life left in these consoles according to the people in charge. Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft Studios said

“I think the 360 has a lot more than two years [left]. It has legs for a long time.”

With new consoles costing a lot of money, and with not many people having a lot of money, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next lot of consoles don’t appear for the next 24 month.

UFC gone to EA

Further evidence of THQ’s less than convincing financial situation, the license for the MMA promoter, UFC, has exchanged hands from THQ to EA.

I’m sure that THQ got a pretty penny for this deal, though it’s all such a shame. As previously discussed on the day it happened, it’s clear that Dana White, founder and owner of the UFC, has something of a ‘history’ with EA after they initially dismissed the UFC as ‘not a real sport’.

Further news has come out regarding this deal which kind of makes me wonder as to how sensible the deal was in the first place. Undisputed 3, which was pretty well received critically and managed to sell what would normally considered a healthy amount. UFC 3 managed to shift 1.4 million units, though according to reports, this wasn’t enough to BREAK-EVEN. It’s been suggested that the game needed to sell 2 million before it started making money. Given that MMA, as great as it is, is still a pretty niche sport, so to bank on your niche sports title selling 2 million units seems crazy to me.

Here’s hoping that EA can turn a profit from this deal and continue to support the UFC with great games. After playing EA’s MMA game (called EA MMA, funnily enough) I have no worries in my mind that UFC fans have some great games to look forward to.

SmartGlass

At first, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the idea of having a tablet for my 360. It felt like they were trying to steal Wii U’s thunder. Then I did a little more reading and it turns out that SmartGlass is nothing more than a free app for tablets, either Android, Windows or iOS.

This makes SmartGlass infinitely more accessible, which is an amazing move not only for the consumer, but to ensure that it gets support. As I’ve written about in a previous post, peripherals (which this kind of is) live and die by the support they get. By ensuring that many people have access to SmartGlass, more games will support it. The more games that support SmartGlass, the more people that will access it. See?

I could explain why I’m so excited for this app, but Dan Maher, once of Inside XBox fame (now freelance video-person) wrote this pretty good article on why you should be interested. So go read it.

End

This post is getting seriously close to the 1500 word mark, so let’s wrap it up.

I’m happy at what I saw. There’s some great games to look forward to, though as others have pointed out, it all felt like a huge stop-gap. Everyone’s waiting for the new consoles and in the meantime, we’re getting a lot of ‘4th game in the trilogy’ titles just to tide us over.

I hope you enjoyed what I had to say and show. Same time next year?

Oh balls, I’m over 1500 now.

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