The house that Bill built has wrapped up its E3 keynote; announcements were made, trailers were shown, demos were demonstrated. Predictably, Kinect featured heavily, and much noise was made about exclusive franchises like Gears of War and Mass Effect. We watched the whole thing on livestream, here’s what we thought of the most significant showcases.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 demo
Jack: Call of Duty doesn’t excite me as much as it used to, and Microsoft’s opening showcase this year did nothing to change my mind. It looked like a level from Modern Warfare 2 that failed to make the cut; an almost identical HUD, very familiar-looking gameplay and an opening section where absolutely nothing happened. Oh, and apparently America is on fire. Colour me indifferent.
Nic: I’ve played a fair bit of each Call of Duty game since #4, and I can’t deny that I was quite excited by the level showcased today. It struck me as odd that Infinity Ward chose another level that features little shooting, but the reasoning was soon made clear once I got my first glimpse of the destroyed city. The sub interior was a tad dull - very reminiscent of the first level of CoD4 and the final level of Black Ops. The following boat sequence played exactly like the final level from Modern Warfare 2, but with more explosions. The raging battle was exciting, but it’s apparent now more than ever that Call of Duty is a one trick pony.
It was startling to see Sledgehammer Games leading the showcase for MW3, showing that the confrontation at Infinity Ward has had a large impact on the studio. Whether Sledgehammer are capable of carrying the torch shall remain to be seen. Who knows, they may even bring something new and exciting to the stagnating shooter…
Tomb Raider demo
J: Once the queen of the gaming world, this reboot of the long-running Tomb Raider franchise sees Lara Croft in her early years…before she learned how to master the art of inner monologuing; she doesn’t shut the hell up. I think her voice actress might be a bit over enthusiastic. Other than that, the game looks promising (not to mention pretty), though they might want to dial down the frequency of the quick time events. With a release window of autumn 2012, only time will tell if Lara can take back the crown from the dashing Nathan Drake.
N: I’ve never been a fan of Tomb Raider. I’ve barely touched the series, but whenever I do I’m left bored and quit very quickly. Uncharted came out of nowhere and stole Tomb Raider’s corner of the market, and it captivated me. It seems that this reboot is trying to pry that spotlight back from Naughty Dog, but leaves me uninterested. I mean, why play Tomb Raider trying to be Uncharted, when I could just play Uncharted?
Mass Effect 3 demo
J: Mass Effect…with Kinect! Wait, hold that facepalm…it actually looks useful! Kinect for the game was demonstrated in two ways: selecting dialogue options (slightly pointless) and giving orders to squad members, such as moving to cover or using biotics (may just be the single greatest use of Kinect since it was first announced). The game also looks gorgeous…man, I seriously need to finish the first two.
N: The Mass Effect demo showed very little that wasn’t to be expected. Minimal on the story, just showing gameplay and a couple of new features. First up is the “omni-blade”, where Shepard conjures a giant holographic blade from his omni-tool to slice up his foes. It looks really cool, and will pair very well with the Vanguard or Infiltrator classes. I even caught a small look at some stealth gameplay, with Shepard silently snatching an enemy, hauling them over his cover and introducing his omni-blade to their face. The Kinect functionality is very interesting. I doubt I’ll use the dialogue functionality, since the controller is much simpler - and romance options could become a lot more awkward. However, the squad command has me excited, since we no longer have to break the flow of combat to pull up the radial menus.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier demo
N: The Ghost Recon demo showed another similar scenario to last year’s demo, where the Ghosts utilize their awesome gadgets to take down a group of foes. The only new thing brought to the table was Kinect functionality. I was definitely not feeling it. Weapon customisation was shown using Kinect’s motion tracking and voice commands, but is ultimately pointless. There was a brief shooting range demo using Kinect instead of the joypad. The player looked like a berk, standing in a ridiculous pose. His aiming was terrible, presumably due to the awkward motion controls. Worst of all was when he fired - since the Kinect cannot read a subtle trigger motion, you fire by doing a jazz hand. Seriously.
It was also announced that all future Tom Clancy titles will feature Kinect functionality. Hopefully, after a few iterations, Ubisoft will get the Kinect controls into a usable and useful state.
Gears of War 3 demo
J: I haven’t played Gears of War for more than ten minutes, and I’m guessing that the last chapter in the trilogy is a bad time to jump on the Cole Train. That said, the game looks as good as ever, and I’ve heard some interesting things coming out of the multiplayer gates. So who knows, I may be inclined to give it a try.
N: On the other hand, I have played the hell out of Gears of War 1 and 2, and it’s one of my favourite Xbox series. Since the multiplayer beta’s been and gone, there was little new content brought to the table, beside some new campaign footage (featuring Ice T as Cliffy B’s partner). The footage showed a giant boss, showcasing the excellent graphical capabilities, and featured a new mech-type thing. It’s heavily armoured on the front, and armed to the teeth. The rear is relatively unprotected, but team-mates can take cover behind it. This should prove for some excellent cooperative gameplay.
Halo: Anniversary trailer
J: My first real taste of the Halo universe was on the doomed planet of Reach last year; I never got to experience the original title that cemented the FPS as the most popular genre in gaming. But now Microsoft are dipping their toes in the HD remastering waters with their signature franchise…only it’s getting more than a simple increase in resolution. This is Halo: Combat Evolved remade with the Reach engine. As a relative newcomer to the series, I am very much looking forward to stepping into Master Chief’s boots for the first time. And those boots are looking mighty shiny.
N: This was what I was waiting for. I still have very fond memories of playing Halo: Combat Evolved with some buddies on the old Xbox. It standardised first person shooters for a long time, and has been one of the most important and successful franchises in the last 10 years. This HD remake should be an excellent title to keep us Halo fans entertained until the big hitter next year. I am quite concerned that the multiplayer element will split the Halo fanbase between Anniversary and the more robust Reach. If the multiplayer is the same component, a la ODST, then this will be no problem.
Fable: The Journey demo
J: One of many Kinect-focused titles unveiled, Peter Molyneux came on-stage and talked about making the player feel more involved in the world of Albion…and then some chump proceeded to launch fireballs and other various spells at goblins for about five minutes. All of this appeared to be on rails. This looks like another case of ‘Lords of Shadow’ syndrome; trying to sell a new IP by sticking a franchise name on it and barely tying it to that universe.
N: I played through Fable II, and afterwards I felt like I’d got my fix. I’ve had no desire to go back to Albion since. I was unimpressed when Molyneux hit the stage, and the Fable footage began rolling. Once the silly horse and cart section ended I was shocked to see that Fable: The Journey actually looked quite good. Casting spells using Kinect looked fun and intuitive. Then I realised - it’s on rails. If core games on Kinect means stripping them of the player’s mobility, then I don’t want motion controls.
Star Wars Kinect demo
J: A very cheap looking title with very laggy Kinect implementation. Swing arm, character launches himself forward, smacks droid a new one, repeat. Instantly forgettable, not helped by the fact that it’s set in the prequel universe, so no-one cares anyway.
N: For the first minute or so this looked like it could be an above average game, kind of like Kinect Adventures but in a Star Wars setting. However, once the laggy, delayed gameplay kicked in this glimmer of hope was washed away. More shovelware.
Halo 4 teaser
J: As I mentioned above, very little of my time in the Halo universe has been spent with Master Chief. And yet, seeing him make a narrow escape from a burning spaceship with Cortana in tow left me incredibly psyched. Expected autumn 2012…that gives me just over a year to get caught up with the original trilogy.
N: The last time I was this excited about a future game release was The Fall of Reach teaser trailer. Like I said before, Halo is one of my favourite series of all time, and this teaser marks not only a new title, but a new trilogy. This means new environments, new races, new enemies and new weapons, while (presumably) retaining that level of brilliance and quality that always seems to accompany a Halo release. Cannot wait.
- start2play posted this