By evanbower 5 Comments
It's that time again, friends. A time when the greatest and worst minds of game development come together in a one week long theatre of the mind. When we cheer leaders of multi-billion dollar corporations as they trip their way through presentations, like middle schoolers in a faith-neutral holiday concert. Thankfully, each year, the good stuff rises to the top. Here are some highlights from day one's festivities.
Assassin's Creed III
All signs pointed toward AC III having a solid showing this year at E3. Moving on from the Italian Renaissance setting was all I needed from Ubisoft to convince me that the newest entry in the franchise would be a meaningful one. The draw of the franchise for me lies entirely in the pitch-perfect recreation of a particular slice of history. I enjoy the combat and traversal not as ends in themselves, but because they are cleverly designed to never impede my enjoyment of the environments.
That was until the boat demo. I've always felt that we, as a free and fair-minded society, have been cheated by a lack of games involving la vida nautica. I probably should, but I won't, play Pirates! forever. AC III's boat section comes completely unexpected, and who knows how much time will be spent on the sea in the games entirety. But for now, it looks like a great way to add depth to what I can do in another one of Ubisoft's expertly crafted world.
Marathon left a big impression on me. This meant that since the Halo universe had enough resemblance to Marathon aesthetically, I'd always let Bungie off the hook for not presenting the Halo fiction particularly well, because I couldn't look at it without associating it with a better fiction that I adored. This became clear to me when Bungie moved on from the series, leaving me with the prospect of playing another Halo game without the name I liked attached to it. I no longer cared.
Good on 343, then, for trimming the fat from this series to George Foremanian proportions. Things got out of hand in the original trilogy, right? But, removed from all of that, I think we can agree that there is something about the complicated mother/son nature of Chief and Cortana's relationship that just works. Great! Now throw that into a lush jungle, Stranger in a Strange Land type scenario, and we might have a series deserving of the praise I had given it all along.
Last of Us
The Last of Us makes this list with faith that the quality of the demo was disproportionate to what the quality of the finished game will be. The demo shown at Sony's press conference didn't wow me, and the reason for this might be that a game pitched to succeed based on my emotions toward the characters dropped me in the middle of a killing spree. This isn't a criticism; they say games like this are tough because quiet moments don't play in front of a stadium of thousands, although I can't remember the last quiet demo to confirm that. It just means that I saw a man and girl, who I'm told I will love, brutally murder a group of men, completely unprovoked. I'm confident that Naughty Dog can make me forget that.
For me, the short trailer for the latest version of SimCity left me the most excited to play a game of anything so far this E3. There is something to the delicate mixture of a great new art style, the symmetry of the buildings and curvature of the roads, and the Explosions in the Sky track imbuing each menu click with some sense of higher purpose. Something, at some point in that trailer, hit some part of my brain in just the right way. The openness to create your own objectives is a major selling point for me with games. Ten seconds into this brief trailer, I knew that in it I had to build the most energy efficient city possible. And now, that is my goal.
After the thrashing my will had taken throughout the first two press conferences of the day, I didn't know if I could handle 4 more hours of brand shilling. Sure, they're promoting a game I care nothing about, but when "Wild Wild West" hit and the girls emerged strutting their stuff, my mood instantly improved. They were smiling, and dancing, and it was something I could believe in.