By Gamer_152 0 Comments
Up until Sony’s conference there had been some reasonably fun presentations for day zero, but I wouldn’t call any one of the conferences phenomenal. With that being the case I was relying on Sony to present something amazing, and they didn’t disappoint. There was a small part of me that thought that I was being too harsh on Microsoft and some of the other companies for not showcasing many original games or having too little gameplay, but Sony once again demonstrated that it’s possible to be a huge company while still taking risks and having a range of games at your conference.
Things opened big with Destiny which from what people have said pre-expo could be a superb game. A kind of Borderlands but with a bent further towards epic sci-fi and a set of weapons that control like something out of Halo, and that’s more than enough to sell me. The Order: 1886 has me cautiously eager to learn more, using a setting that’s not just the typical video game backdrop, and utilising a slow, creeping pace and atmosphere. My only criticism would be the section shown felt a little too controlled and fixed. The debut of Entwined was the first point in this conference in which Sony really showed they weren’t afraid to do something a bit brave and out there. The game was visually engrossing, the gameplay looked satisfying, I like the experimental nature of the premise behind it, and it was an indie title being played right there on the stage.
In similarly charming fashion Little Big Planet 3 managed to melt my heart, presenting more of its delightful handicraft art style but also tapping into something smart with its new characters. Each of the four players having specific powers which must be used in specific places for the whole team to advance creates this co-operative and friendly dynamic which feels like it suits the irresistibly optimistic attitude of Little Big Planet only too well. Then there was Far Cry 4 which I was worried might just be a moderate iteration on Far Cry 3, but at a glance it actually looks like something from a completely different franchise. The demo’s rocky mountain ranges were a long way from the verdant jungles of the third game, and there was a greater focus on bombastic action with the game now incorporating flying attack vehicles, a wingsuit, knives to the face, and highly aggressive elephants.
A remastered version of Grim Fandango was announced, and despite me wishing that it was coming to more platforms, it’s wonderful that it’s being done at all. Few games deserve a remake as much as Tim Schafer’s skeleton-centric comedy. Following that was a trailer for Suda 51’s new project which I was honestly expecting a little more from. The live-action humans with life counters, health bars, and other video game bric-a-brac suggest Let It Die uses a game within a game concept which could be cool, but considering how uniquely stylised Grasshopper Manufacture’s work usually is, seeing such bog standard video game tropes as men with shotguns skulking through filthy corridors and numbers popping out of people’s heads is a bit boring.
That lull was quickly over though, with the announcement of Thatgamecompany’s Abzu. The feel and tone of their trailer evoked a sense of relaxation and wonder that you don’t get from many games. The indie train kept chugging with the highly ambitious No Man’s Sky which almost seems too good to be true. We keep being told about the exploration and procedural generation aspects of the game without an insight into how it actually plays, and it becomes hard to believe that such a tiny development team who have encountered major production troubles could build something with so much content and longevity. Still, we’ll see how that all shakes out. Whatever the case, the sense of that universe being so open and boundless is compelling and there’s a huge part of me that just wants to jump right in to fly some spaceships, discover some planets, and get my name attached to some dinosaurs.
Sony still seem to be making pretty intelligent decisions about how you can stream games out from your PS4, both throughout your home and onto the internet. From my perspective being able to upload your gameplay footage from your console to YouTube is a pretty big deal, even if it’s far from how you’d ideally do things from a video production standpoint. I also enjoyed the montages of all the indie stuff coming to Sony's platforms and it looks like the Playstation has some enjoyable F2P titles coming to it like War Thunder and Planetside 2, but it must be said their “free-to-play means free-to-play” claim is obviously a bit misleading. There are apparently over 100 new games coming to Vita as well now, but that statement did little to convince me that Sony weren’t way more concerned about the PS4 than its handheld comrade. Many of those 100 titles may be low key games no one really cares about or ports of games which already exist for other systems, and if that’s not the case it begs the question why there weren’t more Vita exclusive titles on display. However, I am coming round to the idea that maybe it’s enough for the Vita to provide a portable home for full console content.
Mortal Kombat X showed that even as desensitised to violence as we are, NetherRealm can still create the kind of bone-crunching gore that makes you recoil from the screen, and with the quality of MK9 I’m excited for whatever they do in this new instalment. Unfortunately, while Sony had many of the best moments of any of the conferences this time around, they also had the single worst. Given that both Microsoft this year and Sony last year did away with boring speeches about movie and television on their consoles, dedicating time to doing precisely that in this conference felt like a step backwards. Worse yet, this happened just minutes after it was declared the conference was “all about the games”, and with so many video games to show it was baffling to see them dedicate that much time to something like the Ratchet & Clank movie.
The Metal Gear Solid 5 trailer was cinematically well made, in spite of it being a little on the lengthy side, and I had hoped the conference was going to end on some gameplay or something a bit less predictable than an Uncharted 4 reveal, but it was a fine place to leave things. What really made me perk up near the end of the briefing was Batman: Arkham Knight. With Gotham as the current setting of the games, greater efforts could have gone into making a city more alive and populated than Arkham, but once again the world and combat look masterfully realised and I still love Scarecrow as a villain. It was also cool to see the player be able to summon the Batmobile at a whim and go jetting off through the concrete jungle, although it’ll be interesting to feel how it controls and see how they reconcile the power of this formidable car-tank with the naturally less destructive hand-to-hand combat. However it goes down, it looks exciting, and I’m sure I’ll be happily doing that thing where you can leap out of the dark knight’s iconic vehicle into an immediate glide as many times as humanly possible.
Overall Sony provided the kind of conference I wanted to see at E3, showing a diversity of games, the majority of which I’m excited to hear more about, and carrying a respect for the people both making and playing what they release. It’s easy to be cynical about E3 and every year plenty of gamers voice how underwhelmed they are by the event, but for me this kind of briefing is what it’s all about.