Our E3 2009 Overview
So E3 2009 is finally upon us and we're all about ass-deep in plenty of gaming news. Now that all three of the major companies have had their press conferences, most of the great reveals have been announced. Now I know what you're all thinking, "But Logan, how can we know what was awesome and what sucked!?" Well never fear, because you are now equipped with my revolutionary "G.A.D" system. What is G.A.D. you ask? Well it simply stands for Give A Damn!
As you can see from above, I'm going to give a semi-thorough rundown of what I consider the largest announcements of this E3 and tag each with a numerical rating from 0-5 represented by a picture. So without further hesitation, let's proceed!
Microsoft opened their '09 presser to a gigantic presentation of Harmonix's new Beatles Rock Band. While offering some rainbow filled, acid trip inspired cinematics, the game was actually demoed on stage for the first time. It's certainly nothing shocking if you've seen Rock Band (or a guitar game for that matter) before. The Beatles looked true to their real life counterparts, but were rather stiff and lifeless to look at. Then again, who cares what's going on in the background, it's what is going on with the notes that matters. Not surprisingly, the note charts look rather bland as The Beatles were certainly never known as vituosic performers. All this culminated in Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney taking the stage and making complete fools of themselves and basically belittling video games. Now this is a strange game to put a finger on. If you're a Beatles fan, the game probably looks incredible. It's extremely faithful to its subject material and features a ton of songs. My problem is, I don't think there's that big of a market for a Beatles video game, especially one that features some rather basic gameplay. This game might have warranted a three, but the sheer amount of my time they wasted by introducing YOKO ONO and those other flunkies docks it another point. NEXT!
So the new Tony Hawk game, dubbed RIDE, features an actual skateboard deck as its controller. Tony Hawk himself was hocking (or should I say "hawking") the new peripheral on stage, but offered no live demonstration. The video didn't really convince me either. A bunch of spacey pro-skateboarders sitting in a living room and standing on a black plank. For a rather neat idea, I find it a little disconcerting that they were reluctant to at least provide a brief live demo. Was it because of time restraints? Was it because of poor functionality? Who knows, but you probably shouldn't give a damn either way.
In an announcement we've been waiting for, Microsoft finally unveiled the first trailer for Crackdown 2. While it was totally pre-rendered, it offered some insight into the story. Apparently not only are you having to beat down an endless throng of gang members, but there are also monsters that are occupying the city. This can only add to the already superb Crackdown 1. While I was extremely excited just to see footage of the game, it was an even bigger surprise to learn that the game will support four-player co-op (!) and up to sixteen player multiplayer. Definitely pay attention to this one if you enjoying throwing semi-trucks on top of your unsuspecting friends.
Hoh-lee shit I did not see that coming. In one of the more surprising announcements, Valve showed off the teaser trailer for Left 4 Dead 2, arriving November 17th, merely a year after its predecessor. Details have started to trickle out highlighting the game's five campaigns, new weapons (chainsaws anyone?), and new enemies. With the first L4D still a blast to play, any new content complete with the same great cooperative formula is totally welcome.
Squenix dropped a new trailer for FFXIII during the Sony conference, but I'll just cover it since it was demoed live for the first time on the 360. The biggest announcement of E3 last year had to be FFXIII coming to 360, and it's nice to see it actually playable on the console. However, the footage was nothing new (haven't they shown that highway scene for like 5 years now?) and was rather short. FFXIII is guaranteed to be a explosive hit on both platforms when it debuts, but there's still a while to wait. With only an early 2010 release date promised, we'll wait for anticipation to hit fever pitch when a more concrete date is announced.
A great example of a game simply disappearing off the map is SC: Conviction. From a rather popular appearance at E3 2007 to vanishing for over a year. Well the reason has been revealed as the game has gone through a massive revamp since it's last showing. A trailer followed by an impressive live demo made this an interesting one. The game seemed to be rather polished and looked pretty slick in action. Stay tuned for more info on this one.
I honestly can't remember what this is called. I just know the guys microphone wasn't working and the game looked kinda dumb. What the hell is Cliff doing on the stage? Just announce Gears 3 or get your tight shirt having ass back to North Carolina.
This game took wa-haaay too much time to talk about. It looked impressive, but the 5 minutes we spent decorating your car was excessive. While admittedly I'm not a fan of racing games, there wasn't really much mystery and excitement to be had with this announcement. There are tons of licensed cars, you race them, it looks really pretty. Bet you didn't see that coming, huh? Definitely pay attention if you're a racing fan, but if you're not, then good for you!
After being touted "Gaming's next Duke Nukem: Forever", Remedy's Alan Wake finally made an appearance. While I'm not sure the demo justified the game's absence for 3 years straight, It was certainly interesting. This psychological thriller has a very Silent Hill vibe accompanying it and looked like it had some impressive combat to boot. With a camera akin to Resident Evil 5, you're mainly attempting to shine light on the enemies to damage them. A myriad of weapons were shown like shotguns and pistols and intuitive use by items like signal flares made for an entertaining showing. This game could turn out to be promising, however with a likely release of 2010, it's still got some time left.
Infinity Ward may be able to fool some by dropping the prefix of Call of Duty from its latest shooter, but the game screams previous iterations. While looking painfully similar to prior efforts, the game managed to have enough flair to keep me interested. A snowmobile escape segment was the highlight of the rather lengthy gameplay demo. The game looked great and is sure to sell about a hojillion copies when it hits later this year.
After Bungie severed ties with Microsoft Game Studios to pursue other IPs, they decide to follow up with their smashing new entry to the gaming world. The fruit of their labor is (insert drumroll here)...another Halo game? Yep you guessed it, another Halo game! Regardless, I'm sure plenty of people can't wait to get back into the ol armor and stomp some baddies as Master Chief. Wait, you're telling me you're not Master Chief? Oh, well I'm sure you're playing someone equally as badass, maybe the Arbiter. Nope, you'd be wrong again as you step into the shoes of an ODST soldier known simply as 'The Rookie.' A short onstage demo was performed, introducing the awesome new features such as NIGHT VISION and a SILENCER for your SMG. Both fantastic reasons highlighting the game's two year development cycle. Honestly, this was extremely underwhelming. However, Bungie did release a teasiest of teasers trailer for their upcoming Halo: Reach, which is garnering far more interest than the rather bland ODST. However, if your interest still isn't piqued, it was announced that every purchase of ODST grants you entry into the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta. Touché Microsoft, touché indeed.
Here's an announcement that's been speculated forever. While it's not the tired rumor of MGS4 coming to the 360, Hideo Kojima announced that not only would the mysterious Metal Gear Solid: Rising be available on the Xbox, but all future installments would be as well. So not exactly the huge news of MGS4 becoming multiplatform, but still a huge get for the 360. As for the game, a very short teaser was shown, featuring a giant picture of Raiden and the usual tag of "Tactical Espionage Action" being replaced with "Lightning Bolt Action." Perhaps hinting at a game totally devoid of stealth? While this one is undoubtedly a ways off, it's certainly a very huge announcement.
Microsoft's bombshell announcement was clearly their camera peripheral known as Project Natal. Their take on the motion-controller phenomenon, this camera based accesory boasts control through no controller whatsoever. The onstage demos were actually quite successful, showing off the competency of the unit. While most of the demos were pointless or of the minigame variety, they still managed to be rather impressive. More impressive claims of both facial and voice recognition were supported even further with the introduction of Milo, a sort of AI born of Lionhead studios. This human-computer friend ship was rather disturbing to watch, but intriguing at the same time. We'll have to see what real game applications 'Natal' has in store, but its already garnering some positive press. Let's just hope they change that god awful name.
While this is technically last year's E3's news, Microsoft unveiled the 1 v 100 beta in the United States for the first time last night. Me and three others played for the entire duration and had a complete blast. The connectivity is rather impressive, featuring a live host and a sense of immersion rare for even this medium of entertainment. Let's hope they work out the bugs and improve the selection system when this game finally reaches its full version later this year.