I'll give Nintendo credit, they really turned it around this year in terms of Casual vs Hardcore. The only casual game we heard about was Wii Party, another one of those minigame collections. Besides that Nintendo's game announces were a series of hits, including the 3DS and some of the games that will be launching alongside it. But a lot of the Wii games I saw during the press conference felt like NosCons and rehashes, some of which I'll talk about now. The big opener was Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and it looked pretty good. If the wiimotion plus can convey sword swipes accurately, unlike the demo Miyamoto gave at the event, and the nunchuk-shield is easy to use then Legend of Zelda could be pretty cool. The game looked interesting, with a Link mostly intact from Twilight Princess now sporting a more cel-shaded look. That game is still a ways away so I won't pass judgment on it. I will however pass judgment on the rest of the announced games in no particular order, starting with Kirby: Epic Yarn. Remember the last time a 2d Kirby game felt new and innovative? Canvas Curse was pretty cool but this just looks like somebody made another Kirby game. The new yarn artstyle is...kind of unimpressive. It looks to me like somebody made a normal 2d Kirby game, then just outlined it and replaced pencil marks with yarn, if that makes any sense. Golden Sun was a game I never played so I probably can't say anything on the matter. Epic Mickey looked like it had some interesting ideas and it is nice to see someone trying to work old properties into good games. A new GoldenEye game perplexs me because I simply don't see the reason for it existing. What is going to make a GoldenEye game any better than any of the Wii shooters out there already? The game might sell boatloads(oh wait, that's why they're making it), but I doubt anyone will play it for very long seeing as it is a Wii FPS. Donkey Kong Country Returns will be a fine game, but Nintendo shouldn't be wasting Retro's time like this. The guys who redefined what a Metroid game could be are now making a game that will (probably) be almost exactly the same as the previous games in the series. Nintendo could have had any one of its studios develop this game and Retro could be working on an original FPS for Nintendo. Instead we are left with another Donkey Kong Country game. What turned the Nintendo press conference around for me was the 3DS and the games it showed. When that Kid Icarus trailer started up I thought it was a Wii game. The graphics really do look better for the 3DS and with this handheld now having an analog stick there is some real potential for great games. Among the games announced at the press conference for the 3DS were new titles from the Saints Row, Metal Gear, Resident Evil, Kingdom Hearts, and Assassin's Creed franchises. Now after the press conference there have been reports of other incoming 3DS titles. The highlights of that list include Star Fox 64, a new Pilotwings, Paper Mario, Professor Layton, and Persona. If even a couple of these big name games launch with the 3DS whenever it comes then it could be a very strong beginning for what looks to be a very good handheld. The 3DS offsets the uncomfortable feelings I get from all the Wii NosCons and leaves me feeling like Nintendo did a pretty good job overall. I'd give them an A- and call it the best Press conference of E3.
The Sony press conference felt like a bit of a roller coaster of ups and downs for me. They started off by playing the 3d card pretty heavily, claiming that Sony had the future of 3d gaming in Killzone 3. This all sounded pretty ridiculous since the 3DS had blown everyone out of the water just a few hours earlier, but everyone still put on their 3d glasses and watched a short Killzone 3 demo. Watching the stream I couldn't get any of the 3d but that game still looks really nice. The jetpack stuff looks cool, but I supose the divide still lies in the question of whether or not you like the shooting in Killzone. After that it was time for the Playstation Move, starting with Sorcery. This spellcasting game looks like it has a nice artstyle and the controls looked very responsive to me. Golf is golf and Tiger Woods continued to be golf, though this demo really showed how much Sony had packed the crowd, as there was applause coming after every swing. Heroes on the Move got far more applause than it deserves, as it looks like Sony selling their souls to the same devil as Nintendo with their first big mashup game. It's kind of hard to say anything about this game because we know so little, but it is a shame seeing Sony go the Smash Bros route of sticking all of their characters together in one game. It just screams laziness to me. Kevin Butler came out and made things awesome with his Kevin Butlerness which was then followed by information about the cost of the Playstation Move. $80 seems like a fair price for a full set and it hurts the Kinect if the rumored price($150) is accurate. Sony then moved on to the PSP, promising a new dedication to supporting its handheld. I doubt that a new dedication to marketing the PSP and a new God of War game( Ghost of Sparta) will be enough to let the PSP overtake the 3DS. LittleBigPlanet 2 was next on the chopping block and that game looks really cool. It has all of the creation tools from before but now offers you the ability to create other kinds of games. It looks alot like a more expanded form of Warioware D.I.Y and judging by the things people were able to create in one day with that game, there is going to be some insane stuff available for download. Playstation Plus looks like it offers a small number of benefits but does so at a fair price so I'm not going to complain. Dead Space 2 and Medal of Honor were shown and they continue to look impressive. Valve then proceeded to pull off their E3 suprise. They had canceled their reveal of Portal 2 at E3 for a special suprise which turned out to be...the reveal of Portal 2. Also steam for PS3, which didn't make much sense to me. I can see how the steam cloud would be useful to have, but how many people are going to get the urge to constantly switch consoles in playing Portal 2? An Infamous 2 trailer was shown and ice powers were confirmed for Cole's return. The Press conference then chugged to a close with the announcement of a new Twisted Metal game created by David Jaffe's studio. They played a bit of the multiplayer at the show and sure enough it looked like a vehicular combat game. Its obvious that Twisted Metal is still early on in development, but I was left wondering if a car combat game will still feel fresh in 2011. After that the Sony press conference did not end with a bang like a new Last Guardian trailer, but rather with a fizzle as Jack Tretton came out and thanked the the gamers and then said goodnight. Sony didn't have much in the way of announcements but nothing there really ruined them. Heroes on the Move bothered me morally but even that was canceled out by Kevin Butler. So I guess the thing to do here is give Sony a solid B- and say farewell to the E3 press conferences. 9 Comments
As those of you who frequent the irc may know, I am a big Total War fan. I have always enjoyed the work done by the Creative Assembly and was highly looking forward to seeing their latest game, Empire:Total War. The Total War series is a favorite of mine, one whose strategy and depth have always amazed me. I pre-purchased Empire on Steam and also took a look at the Empire demo that just came out. This is not really a review, but more of a journey through that demo. THis will probably be a two-parter since I didn't manage to get much done today.
First off, I downloaded the demo off its steam page and installed the 2 GB demo, which includes tutorials for both land and naval combat along with a historical battle for each. Just for reference, the Rome:Total War gold edition includes both the original game plus the first expansion pack and shows up on steam as 3.3 GB. Anyway, I have installed the demo and finished downloading the updates, so it's time to open-oh geez, error? What do you mean this is not compatible with Windows XP? It is perfectly compatible, they are meant to be together! Yes I had to work with a steam support guy who I am friends with(for his sake let us call him SolarRabbit) for about four hours to find the files I needed relating to DirectX9. I had this same problem before with playing the Call of Duty: World at War multiplayer beta and it was apparently a problem that affect many would be players. Since I had prior experience with this and others seem to be affected by it as well, I would recommend all DirectX9 users to make sure they have all their parts set up right.
Well knowing this is by the Creative Assembly guys means this will probably be awesome and all will be forgiven. So I finally get the game open, arriving at the legal screen. For all who don't know, all Total War games start by forcing the player to stare at their legal junk for a couple of minutes while they do......something? I'm never sure if they spend that time loading stuff up or laughing at the player for waiting around like an idiot. So while I am being mocked from people across the Atlantic, I notice something odd appearing on my screen. You know how when tvs used to not work right then you would get these white lines going up and down the screen as the telly had no connection? Well that happened to me while waiting on the legal screen. This halted after I forced my way onto the in-game steam page but after forcing the program to stop three times I still could not get the lines to vanish. So I ctrl-alt-delete my way out, sighing all the while, but getting up and going to the bathroom as well. I return from my great journey to find menu noises playing on my computer. I had not closed the game before leaving and now I could hear the noises coming from the program. HUZZAH, I am victorious. Finally, I will get to play the demo. Nothing more could possibly go wrong.
I get to the menu and find all options but tutorial and battle greyed out. By this point it was late and I thought I should go get some sleep, but I decided to make it to the land battle at least and get some action to make up for my wait. I decided to jump straight into battle and ignore the tutorial because the way I saw it, a veteran of all the Total War games should have no trouble with some more land battles. So I pick the available land battle(The Battle of Brandywine Creek) and prepare myself for battle. I find myself at a loading screen, watching some ships duel in a mighty struggle while Our 3rd President, Mr.Thomas Jefferson, has a quote displayed at the bottom.
" When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on."
Well said Mr.President, well said. No one has ever described war quite as well.
So while I mull over Thomas' words, I watch the loading screen go. I watch it go very slowly. Very, very slowly. I clocked that loading screen in at six minutes......not a good sign at all. Usually the Total War games are pretty snappy with load times, but this one was just an abomination of nature. What's more the bar repeatedly flew past the bar and off the screen, a technically meaningless thing, but a sign as to how little polish really went into this. Finally though, I escape the loading screen of death to find a field. A really, really ugly field. I do not have a bad computer. It can run Medieval2:Total War, Supreme Commander, Company of Heroes, all without any trouble. But here the models just looked awful. They reminded me more of a mashup of the models between the original Medieval:Total War(2002) and Rome:Total War(2004). Once I tried to start the battle, I discovered two things that destroyed any positive feelings I had left for this demo. First, the frame rate and animation was disgusting. Units didn't resemble Med2 in terms of just walking. But what really sent it over the edge was the camera. You cannot move it using the either the arrows or WASD. Camera control is key in real-time strategy games, even more so in Total War. The only way I could move the camera was through the minimap, which involved the camera awkwardly jumping over to that spot. If I had to use that in real battles I would be screwed. Using the camera would be incredibly clunky and make strategy impossible. I check ed the settings only to find my control scheme set as the classic total war style EXCEPT FOR THE GODDAMN CAMERA!!!! SO I played around with the controls for a little while, trying to figure out how to make this playable. Eventually I set off some sort of graphical auto adjuster, sending back to the loading screen and Mr.President's illuminating comments on war.
After another eight minutes of staring at a loading screen I gave up and began my attempt to break out by repeatedly using CTRL-ALT-DELETE, only to find that is was useless here. After another five minutes of trying to get out of there, I finally gave up, flicked the restart switch and gave up for the night. The biggest thing that pisses me off is camera control. It is impossible to play an RTS if one is rooted in one spot, so changes will need to be made there in order to make this playable. Even if I can find a way to revert things to the classic WASD style, the difficulty in getting there means a lot of frustrated people. In the next look at this demo I will try the tutorials and see if those teach me anything or will just flip me off and I will also try the naval combat section. Unless this game starts giving out free copies of Med2 along with cake I can't see myself giving this demo any positive feedback. Still, I believe in miracles, so who knows. Until next time.
I'm still having trouble grasping this.....The Arizona Cardinals are in Super Bowl 43, where they'll play the Pittsburgh Steelers. Its incredible to me. For those of you who lack an
interest in American Football, allow me to expose you to some facts about the Cardinals. 1. They last won a division title in 1975 2. They were last in the playoffs in 1998 3. They never played in an NFC championship before this season 4. They have never played in a Super Bowl before now 5. They last won a national championship in 1947. That's 61 years, the second longest championship drought in American pro sports(the Chicago Cubs 100 years without a championship takes the title.).
Now the Cardinals are in the Super Bowl, representing the National Football conference. To a football fan who knows their history it's incredible. This is a team that never was known for wining anything, but was known for it's constant failures and disappointments. The team has dealt with moves from Chicago to Saint Louis, from Saint Louis to Phoenix and from Phoenix to Glendale with every move meeting the same results, losing. Obviously the past few years have been more of the same. Still the last ten years have been some of the Cardinals best, with Dennis Green coming in and while not turning the team into winners, building up some talent in the franchise. This Cards team was built around great players like receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. The additions of quarterback Kurt Warner in 2005 and running backEdgerrin James in 2006 were keys to making this Cards offense into the beast that it is. Before coming to Arizona Warner was a two-time MVP for the Saint Louis Rams, winning a Super Bowl there in 2000. After a few bad seasons bouncing around the NFL, a so called washed up Warner joined the Cards.After several succesful seasons playing for the Colts James came to Arizona looking for a second chance after a knee injury ended his career with Indianapolis. While James was never the same back he had been in Indianapolis, he brought some star power and a dedication to the run game for the aerial attack featured by the Cardinals. Together these guys helped the Cardinals to an 8-8 record last season, but coming into this season no one predicted Arizona to make it to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals won a weak NFC West early and coasted for the second half of the season, finishing 9-7. By this point they had lost several big games and most predicted they would lose in the first round of the playoffs. After this Arizona turned on the magic they had hidden for the second half of the season. First they defeated a powerful young team in Atlanta at home. Then they had to take on a heavily favored Carolina Panthers squad. Not phased at all by the odds the Cardinals decked the Panthers, winning 33-13. Arizona was off to host the NFC championship game against a red hot Philadelphia Eagles squad. Again, no one gave the Cardinals a chance to win, citing a dominant Eagles defense and a resurgent Donovan McNabb. Again the Cardinals stunned the world, taking a 24-6 lead at half-time. In the second half however, it appeard the Cards' magical season might be over, as the Eagles scored 19 unanswered points to take a 25-24 lead with just 10 minutes to go. Kurt Warner showed he still had the talent inside him leading the Cardinals down the field in an eight minute drive to take a 32-25 lead. Two failed Eagles drives later, the Arizona Cardinals sealed their first trip to the Super Bowl. Once again they'll be underdogs against a powerful Pittsburgh team but I believe that they will once again come out on top and win. I believe everyone has to have their chance in the spotlight and this Superbowl will be Arizona's chance to do it. So you can mark me down as a Cardinals supporter in this one, I believe in this team.
For years, Electronic Arts has been seen as the evil empire of video games. EA is maybe the most resented company in gaming. However, this accepted hatred of EA is no longer deserved and should be focused on a different company, namely Activision. EA has made numerous moves to expand it's forces but has helped gaming as a whole by doing so.
In 2004, EA acquired the sole rights to the NFL and ESPN, a move that has earned the ire of gamers for years. Electronic Art's Madden franchise is now the only game out there that can feature the NFL, while before that Madden competed directly with the 2K football series. The common opinion was that the 2K franchise was far superior to Madden and with this deal through, football fans would now have to go to Madden for their videogame fix. EA has also picked up exclusive deals to NCAA football, FIFA, the NHL
and the PGA Tour. Gamers cried out that EA was trying to monopolize the industry by acquiring all these licenses. What's more it was said that developers work after being acquired by EA dropped off, even a rumored merger with French publisher Ubisoft. All this culminated in the infamous EA spouse lawsuit, which decried EA's labor policies. Still, EA benefited from all these moves and set up several franchises that could be milked for years.
However, a light of sorts shined in 2007 when John Riccitello became the head man at EA. Since then EA has continued it's policy of acquiring developers like Pandemic Studios and Bioware. However, Riccitello has made sure that EA did more than just publish sports titles. This holiday season has his fingerprints all over it, beginning with Battlefield: Bad Company. Rather than make another standard Battlefield game, developer DICE made some nice changes to the formula, adding an interesting story and plenty of explosions. EA has also released a number of unique new IPs this season. Spore was one of the oddest games of the season, but was definitely one of the most innovative and got on Time Magazine's list of the 50 best inventions of the year. Dead Space had a spooky and disturbing feel to it to go with it's interesting menu system. Mirror's Edge has received mixed reviews, but took a radical approach not seen from EA in a long time. EA will not lose it's title of the sports game publisher any time soon, not with the money those games rake in. But the idea that all EA does is crank out games each and every year is outdated. However, there is another large company that could very quickly steal that name away from EA.
While EA was working on expanding its horizons with new IPs, Activison was making deals to become a monster. Early this year Activision had a corporate merger with Vivendi Games, creating the largest game company in the world. This new lumbering beast, termed Activision Blizzard, has become a bigger threat to a gaming monopoly than Electronic Arts. Activision was already one of the "publish a game in a series every year" company with Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero. But with the increased manpower from the merger, they have made some terrible decisions. Call of Duty is one of ActiBlizzards(shortened for the sake of laziness) main franchises and their mishandling of it is one of gaming's greatest shames. In order to make sure that a Call of Duty game is published each year, ActiBlizzard has been alternating between the founders of the series(Infinity Ward) and the makers of the Spiderman games(Treyarch). While this strategy may have ActiBlizzard taking in dough ever holiday season, it has created friction between the two developers, one that has not been healed by any ActiBlizzard producers(rhymes with Hoah Neller). In August ActiBlizzard fired 100 people from the staff of Radical Entertainment, developers of the once-promising Prototype. They have cut several games from their plans, including Ghostbusters, Brutal Legends and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand(okay, so it's not all bad). This once promising merger has led to a series of major mistakes made by this new monstrous company.
ActiBlizzard has become the new EA and lucky many people are now seeing this. Still, there are those who haven't realized this yet, so let me fill you with understanding. Electronic Arts has made a quick turnaround and even though they are still an expansive empire, John Riccitello has tuned down the bad image of EA among gamers. ActivisionBlizzard however, is becoming one of the worst run companies in the business. They continue to tarnish their relationships with their own developers and seem hell-bent on getting rid of games with potential to be great from their roster. That company's appearance has fallen drastically among the industry. Yeah, EA still has some of their old money-grubbing habits, but they aren't nearly as bad as the people running ActivisionBlizzard. So fickle gamers, turn your undying hatred away from Electronic Arts and unto the horrors being unleashed by ActivisionBlizzard.
In other words, Kotaku says Gas Powered Games announced that Square Enix will be publishing Supreme Commander 2. Not sure how to react to this. On one hand, I am glad that Square is moving away from just being an RPG developer. It's good that they understand that Final Fantasy alone can't support them any more. Extending their influence will probably be good for them in the long run. Then again, I'm terrified that the sequel to one of my favorite games is going to be published by Square Enix. Will I have to deal with a turn-based battle system? Will SupCom2 be exactly the same as the original and the same as the next ten Supreme Commanders? Is every character going to have incredibly spiky hair, even the robots? I just have to hope that Gas Powered Games can keep Supreme Commander from being watered down Square Enix.
I have just hit 1000 wiki points on the site. But you might ask, Thordain, how did you get 500 points in just over 24 hours? Easy enough, I filled out all the partner pages for the paper Mario franchise. That along with a a large 120 points gained from writing up the Paper Mario franchise page and I was set. I've already started live editing stuff. So what's my next goal? Just keep working a bit on the wiki and posting on the forums.