My first day on the E3 showroom floor was massive, with the biggest upcoming games from EA, Capcom, Disney, Square Enix and Microsoft. Here are some short, sharp impressions of most of them, with full previews coming over the next few weeks.
I charmed my way into the hands-on section of the Crysis 3 demo to find an elongated version of what was shown at the press conference a day earlier. The graphics are crisp and the bow is totally badass in a slow, precise kind of way.
While there wasn’t much new, it’s always reassuring to confirm that it’s a real level with options, rather than a pre-determined linear demo built especially for E3. So far so good.
Dead Space 3
Dead Space 3 was a hands-off demo in the massive E3 booth, with a single and co-op presentation coming from two of the game’s producers. They demonstrated the drop in and drop out functionality and showed how the same boss fight was totally different in single-player and co-op in terms of gameplay and story. In short: you’re going to have to play through it at least twice to experience everything it has to offer.
Beginning in space on an ice planet, Dead Space 3 introduces the secondary character, but still retains its sense of isolation and sheer terror. The planet itself is a new threat, as Isaac has to combat nature as well as gruesome enemies.
With sparks flying, the boss in question was a giant spider-crab sarlacc monstrosity that easily disposed of one developer on his own. They were playing up the co-op aspects (although it’s still weird to see a developer die in his own game, even if it is planned), but single-player was noticeably the more challenging of the two.
Fifa 13 surprised me with how much it has changed since last year’s giant leap. EA sports always says this year’s version is the most realistic yet. However, this week at E3, they demonstrated just how unrealistic Fifa 12 actually is in a effort to contrast the vast improvements this year. The changes will be huge for the franchise.
Check out our full Fifa 13 E3 preview.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter
I stink at Medal of Honor, yet could still appreciate its charm. It’s not just Battlefield with a different skin and takes an innovative approach to teamwork. Instead of failing to organise streamlined tactics with the whole team, you’re tied to one player: this is Fire Teams. Even when you’re not with him, your success is tied together. He can avenge your death and will need to be clear of combat to facilitate your respawn.
COD players will struggle, as death is close to instant. It takes a few shots, but once you’re hit, it’s time to enact the last rights. Unless you activate the heavy armor, which places a visor over the screen and gives you an extra layer of protection at the severe expense of speed. I preferred to run around without it, as it was just too slow and bulky for my taste.
Overall, it’s a solid multiplayer shooter that will be more popular with the serious crowd. COD gamers best stick to Black Ops 2.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Running short on time, I skipped the developer demonstration and went straight for a hands-on preview with Need for Speed: Most Wanted. What you saw at the presser is more or less what you get: drive around like a manic, find ambitious shortcuts and make the rozzers crash into each other.
I wish I’d had a chance to ask someone up the chain why it’s called Most Wanted. It has little relation to the 2005 Xbox 360 (and last gen) game of the same name. Has EA finally run out of subtitles?
SimCity is in contention for my most wanted game of E3. I almost didn’t get a chance to see it, but snuck in at the last minute and what a decision it proved to be. The highly anticipated reboot is shaping up to be everything fans have been eagerly awaiting and more.
The demo focused on the newly announced co-operative online multiplayer, where four players run their own neighbouring towns. They are connected via congested highways; citizens of the overpopulated tourism town make the daily commute to the polluted industrial city. Money becomes interchangeable, as one town creates housing and another offers the jobs. Both players can benefit from this scenario.
While the day-to-day runnings of each town is left up to its respective player, they were all working together to build a massive airport. Neither of the four could have afforded or accomplished such a task on their own, but together they can invest into a mutually beneficial project.
Words cannot describe the excitement of SimCity’s return.
Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6 was the longest demo of E3, consisting of three 15 minute levels played as three different characters. Leon is survival horror, Chris is action horror and the new bloke, Jake, is somewhere in-between.
As a Resi fan of old, Leon was the clear standout. With just one magazine of ammo for the entire demo, it was a return to the old school scavenging, genuinely survivalist Resident Evil. Chris’s mission was more like that of Resident Evil 5, as was Jake’s with a few more scares and some bigger enemies.
How this all translates into the final game is the big question. If they get it right, Capcom is onto a winner, but too much Chris and not enough Leon could result in Resident Evil 5 all over again. On a side note, being able to walk and aim with Leon S. Kennedy just doesn’t feel right.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
If you’re playing Epic Mickey 2 on PS3, I’d actually suggest dusting off the PS Move. I know, it's crazy! The standard controller isn’t quite right if you were first introduced to the series on Wii. I found it a tad hard to aim the reticule with the right stick, which also controls the camera when pushed right to the edge, a much improved camera, might I add.
The HD sequel introduces Oswald as a playable character, either by A.I. or human in drop in/out co-op play. A number of puzzles require both characters to work together in both modes, but the computer controlled Oswald will always wait for Mickey to take the lead.
Gameplay picks up where the first game left off, adds a splash of HD and some pretty intuitive co-op play.
After one chapter of the campaign and a few rounds of multiplayer, you would assume that Bungie is onto another money-spinner. Nothing about it even hinted new developer. It plays great, but I can’t help but feel 343 missed the golden opportunity to inject some much needed fresh life into the tiring series.
The campaign was more of the same and while the multiplayer benefits from some nifty tweaks, it’s like going from one year’s Call of Duty to the next. It will probably be a great game, but it’s going to suffer from a classic case of being the 4th game in a trilogy. Finish the Fight...then keep going.
I’m not sure we really need an arcade Forza game and, to be honest, that mindset has contributed to my lack of knowledge. Developed by Playground Games, instead of Turn10, it feels more like a Forza game than I imagined and serves to prove me wrong. It retains the rewind feature and has been scaled back in terms of car control so you can focus on all that matters: finishing first.
I only hope that it’s clearly marketed as an arcade racer. Otherwise it could harm the revered brand with simulation fans.
One target. One assassin. Over 15 possible outcomes. That was the scenario confronting me during Hitman’s single level demo. The target was roughly in the middle of the map loitering near some oblivious police. Walking up to him with a gun to the face wasn’t an option, but apparently there were fifteen others.
I played it three times for three completely different professional murders. A sniper riffle, tricking him into believing I was someone else and following me to his secluded death and a spectacular car bomb that had the crowded courtyard screaming for their lives.
Most of the demos have been fairly positive, but this was one of the few that made me stand up and take note of one of this year’s most intriguing games, even if it is too reliant on controversial marketing campaigns.
Sleeping Dogs is a mixed bag. It’s interesting, there’s no doubt about it, but this build felt slow and clunky. The protagonist had the turning circle of a poorly maintained school bus and doesn’t know the meaning of the word fluent. The combat, on the other hand, was spectacular with heads being jammed into fans and some dirty face stomping.
By Ben Salter - Bio