Friday, June 14, 2013

E3: A Week in Gamer Paradise

I have a confession to make: I'm a huge video game nerd. That meant that this past week was like a quick trip up to heaven. The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was held this past week in Los Angeles, and it certainly was not short on huge news, great trailers, and cheap shots delivered at press conferences. Let's start out with the biggest news: Generation 4 consoles.

Story of the Week: XBox One vs. PS4 vs. Wii U

Without a doubt, this is where the biggest news of the week came. Everyone new that the next generation of consoles was upon us. Hell, the Wii U has been around for close to a year. No, this week was all about showing off the consoles, reviewing new games, and trying to break each other's backs to gain support from consumers. Now, let's get into what the three major companies have coming up:


For Nintendo, this week was all about upping the number of games available to users. To this point, Wii U sales have been absolute garbage, and it's because the system just isn't that innovative. The thing that is going to keep Nintendo alive is its laundry list of exclusive games. Here's what is coming shortly:

Super Mario 3D World
Mario Kart 8
Pikmin 3
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Bayonetta 2
Super Smash Bros. 4 (Wii U/3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (remake)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to Both Worlds
Pokemon X/Y (3DS)

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Well, Nintendo is floating alongside this phrase, but in a weird way. They are doing the same thing over and over, and it might be killing their results. The list above is just a continuation of what Nintendo has been doing for multiple decades. Nintendo gamers have to be excited about the new games coming out, but I also get a sense of complacency from the company. They do what they do, and they are fine doing it.


I'm sure you've heard of Microsoft's business model by now for the XBox One. Essentially, they are going to place a leech on your wallet and let it suck you dry until you remove it by dumping the system or go broke in the process of enjoying games. Their biggest and most disappointing announcement was that the company is going to start requiring licenses for every game. What does this mean? It means no sharing or re-selling of game. You pay full price every time and deal with the results whether you like it or not.

This doesn't just make things expensive, though--the price of $500 takes care of that. It makes every purchase a risk. See, in the current video game market that every knows and loves--I repeat l-o-v-e-s--you can buy a game, decide it sucks, and then sell it back. Microsoft thinks that process is for punks and wants you to pay full price. While it makes sense that they want to stop losing the opportunity for money on the used market, they also have to realize that paying 60 bucks is considered a big investment for some people, and those investments simply won't be made if people aren't 100% confident in what they are playing.

Things aren't all bad for Microsoft, though. While things on the exclusive game front aren't the greatest, they did pick up some key franchises. For example, Kingdom Hearts III--which I will go into detail about later in the post--is going to be the first multi-console KH game. The XBox One will also be home to Final Fantasy XV, Destiny, Watch Dogs, and several other games that are going to be featured later. It's a good time for Microsoft, but they know they are playing with fire by significantly changing their business model.


Without a doubt, Sony won E3. The press conference the company held on Monday can be described as nothing less than awe-inspiring. You may think that's over the top, but it really isn't. Along with the details of the PS4 being revealed--including its stellar price of $399--Sony announced that it wasn't going to go down the route of licensing. This meant that the only real differences between the PS3 and PS4 are better graphics, better load times, better online experiences, and more variability.

On the game front, Sony couldn't have done better. Somehow, they convinced Square Enix story-telling guru Tetsuya Nomura to come out of his shell and officially announce that Final Fantasy Versus XIII was renamed and would be launched for the PS4 AND announce that Kingdom Hearts III was in production and would also be launched for the PS4.

That wasn't all, though. Sony's press conference was loaded with epic trailers--including Assassin's Creed 4, Watch Dogs, and The Last of Us--and jabs at Microsoft's new business model. To say that Sony got people excited at their press conference on Monday would be an understatement.


For me, this is what E3 is all about. Unless you get a weird year like 2013, you just don't see a bunch of console demos and reveals at E3 events. What you get are incredible games that are put on display for the world to see. Here is a sneak peak at a bunch of upcoming titles.

The Last of Us

In short, this is going to be your game of the year. You know what games score a perfect 10/10 masterpiece rating on IGN? The masterpieces. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Starcraft, and Super Mario Bros. are the kind of games that pull this rating. In my mind--due to my childhood-Naughty Dog will never produce anything better than the Crash Bandicoot franchise, but this one may change my mind. It's a PS3-exclusive, and it's an apocalypse thriller. Get ready for some gore, some survival, and some epic gaming.

Watch Dogs
You're an ex-thug who also happens to be an extraordinary hacker that can manipulate anything connected to Chicago's main network. A video game where your main weapon is a smart phone? Talk about being incredibly innovative. Just watch the trailer. That's what you need to know.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Play as a trooper/jedi/wookie and kill people in a Star Wars environment. #nerdgasm


It's fucking Bungie. Bungie made Halo...and Halo 2. Watch the trailer and get Destiny. It's a multi-console game, too.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Basically you run around and fight as Batman. The first pair of games in this series--Arkham Asylum and Arkham City--are pretty awesome.

Super Smash Bros. 4
If you have gone this far in your life and haven't been exposed to Super Smash Bros. then SHAME ON YOU. Gather your favorite Nintendo and third-party characters and put them in an arena for a fight to the death--or multiple deaths, actually. This game is going to feature three new characters: Wii Fit Trainer--this one will wind up being sneaky good, just trust me--Villager from Animal Crossing, and Mega Man--who might be the the addition to the franchise in its history. While I'm going to still smack people around with hammers as Kirby, I'm sure this game will make it into a few households and lead to some epic moments between friends.

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
If there is one game I have any reservations about, it's probably this one. The launch for Assassin's Creed 3 was so big last year that it felt like some time would be taken between that installment and the next numbered game. Instead of doing that, AC4 will be upon us quicker than you might think--in October, in fact. Basically, apply your knowledge of how AC works to a Pirate. That's your game.

Infamous: Second Son
Visually incredible, this might be the best trailer from the entire week. Seriously, just enjoy watching it. At this point, I don't care if the game's good. The trailer has me hooked enough to give it a look.

Alright, a quick breather as these next two games are #1 and #2 on my watch list. We'll start with #2.

Final Fantasy XV (Previously named "Final Fantasy Versus XIII")
Many moons ago--at E3 2006--Square Enix announced a trio of projects in what was supposed to be the Crystal Saga of Final Fantasy. After seven years, the partner game to Final Fantasy XV--which was actually Final Fantasy XIII--is going on its third installment before Final Fantasy XV even got an official update. Square isn't dicking around this time, though. The team that developed Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II was put on assignment on this game seven years ago. Add in the Luminous engine and the new abilities of the PS4, and we could be looking at one of the most visually stunning and deep video games ever. If that seems bold, then let's just say that people have high expectations for Final Fantasy XV. The series hasn't had a true hit since its tenth edition--which is being re-released on December 31st of this year--and the financial future of Square Enix may depend on its success. After all, they'll have put in close to a decade of work into it since it was first announced.

Kingdom Hearts III

I'm going to say here that there is no video game franchise that I have ever personally enjoyed more than the Kingdom Hearts series. It may not be the most appealing thing to most people, and it may seem childish to some of you, but take it from this perspective: I grew up in one of Disney's greatest eras. The Lion King, Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, Pixar, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc are some of the movies/franchises that I've been able to watch develop and appear before my eyes. Combine that with a feel of Final Fantasy and you have just about the craziest and most amazing idea for a video game--in my mind.

But you won't understand why this is so significant to me until you learn the back story. Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II were both Playstation 2 games--with the sequel appearing in 2006. Since the second game, which is probably the greatest video game I have personally ever played, Square Enix has only bothered to release side games to develop a story. While I absolutely loved these games, they didn't add a lot to the primary story line. They added details and had great stories as individual games, but they weren't numbered games, which means less game play and less significant story movement.

Hopefully that is all about to change. Game director Tetsuya Nomura revealed that the game has been in production for almost three years now and that they are using the shading techniques available on the PS4 to enhance the graphics of the game. So finally, after seven long, long years, I was able to sit and watch a preview trailer for the third game in the franchise. I cannot wait until this comes out.


Licensing bullshit or not, this is a great time to be a video game player. The next generation of consoles is going to provide graphics processing that none of us ever thought was possible. It's not just the consoles, either, as the sheer volume of incredibly creative new games combined with the newest releases in ageless franchises has created a game list that gamers cannot wait for. I didn't even get to discuss games like Elder Scrolls Online or the latest editions in the Kill Zone and Mad Max franchises.

This E3 was huge, and I hope all of you will be waiting in line to get some of these games in the future like I will be. In fact, The Last of Us was just released. Go buy it, enjoy it, and thank Naughty Dog personally. I know I will.

No comments:

Post a Comment