Hey folks, Valkor here. Last week I got the chance to shoot to Los Angeles for three days of gaming fun at E3 2011. And while I ultimately found the show to be a bit underwhelming, I did have a great time and I did see some cool stuff. It was great that Big N announced a new console – the Wii-U, and Sony showed off their new handheld, the PS Vita, while I like the system, I'm not feelin the name. Hell I'm not even feelin the Wii-U. Project Café and NGP are way better names. But I digest. I also wanna give some shoutouts to a bunch of guys who made the show a blast. First up is Jeff Wilson and Tim Torres from 2D-X aka my partners in crime from last year, minus one (we'll get ya next year Bradley). Also props to Torrence Davis of The BitBag, who was gracious enough to do a Vulva Original video (check it out). And newcomers, though we met briefly @ E3 2010, we'll do it up again next year at CES 2012 – JR, Miguel, Mike, and John Spartan the dudes over at NerdReactor, definitely check them dudes out because what they got going on, it's really amazing.
But before I dig into the games, I need to get something off my chest. I love L.A., I have nothing against the city per say. With that in mind, I feel that with E3, L.A. simply isn't the place for it as it used to be. The show has gotten bigger, the space has gotten smaller, and the distance between the show and anything else is… well it's not non-navigational, but if you don't get something near the show, you're in for a travel. With that in mind, I vote they move the show to Las Vegas. That's right I said it, Las Vegas. I feel that the Las Vegas Convention Center has much more space, not only on the show floor but vendors can take full advantage of the surrounding hotels to showcase their wares. Not only that, it's easier and much more affordable to get to and around the show area, with tons of hotels and places to eat and gather; I'm just tossin it out there E3 people.
With that in mind, let's hit up some games. I found the pickings this year to be quite interesting; though I couldn't get near some the bigger titles (I will eventually). This time around we got a couple of big titles, some medium and small titles as well as a couple of MMOs and... a Facebook game?
Dragon's Nest (Nexon) – If you've played games such as Dungeon Fighter, Maple Story, or Vindictus, then you know all to well that Nexon makes some of the best free-to-play MMO's this side of Jersey… or the other side of the U.S. Either way, they look to have another hit with Dragon's Nest. Dragon's nest is a dungeon beat em up, RPG similar to that of Dungeon Fighter minus the 2D graphics. This round we go full on 3D with your choice of either a joypad or mouse/keyboard combo; I found the mouse/keyboard to work better than the controller – go fig! You have different classes to choose from and on hand were a warrior and a sorcerer (plus you have the option of a cleric or an archer). I chose warrior and commenced to hacking and slashing my way through different monsters, collecting treasures, until arriving at a huge boss, which I and my sorcerer took out with no real issue. The graphics look amazing, but also very anime-ish (not hatin), and I can't comment too much on the sound since I didn't wear the included headsets. The game is due out later this year.
Star Trek: Infinite Space (Gameforge) – Finally a game based around my favorite ST series – Deep Space Nine. Say what you will about the show, but it was dark, edgy, and the station had a bad ass captain in the form of Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks). Infinite Space is a browser based game, where you'll commandeer your own Enterprise ship and traverse through different worlds based in and around the Deep Space Nine Universe. You'll interact with other races such as the Klingons, the Dominions, the Jem'Hadar, and the Cardassians. Though you'll spend some time on your ship, you'll spend most of your time on the battlefield. With the brief time I had with the game, I found the controls easy to get into. You mostly point and click where you want your ship to go, with very fluid animation (this may vary system to system). The mission I was involved with revolved around a kidnapped ambassador. Too bad just as I was getting my groove, I had to stop playing, but the game isn't too far off from release, so I'll be able to find out how that mission ends real soon. Stay tuned!
Star Trek (Paramount Interactive) – No hands on with this title, I got to check this oneout behind closed doors. This Star Trek game centers on Kirk and Spock from the most recent film (brought to you by JJ Abrams) and in this game you can play as either Kirk or Spock either single player with a computer A.I. or "bro-op" as it was so deliciously coined. Each character sports unique attributes, discerning them from one another, such as Kirk being more of the aggressive type, while Spock is more reserved and stealthy. In the demo we watched, Kirk and Spock were facing a new threat as they attempted to figure out what was going on, on the Enterprise and what's with this new enemy they are about to face. At one point Kirk gets hurt and Spock has to carry him to sick bay to get fixed up. While doing this Kirk is still able to fire at the bad guys, protecting his teammate, who is trying to help him. In addition, the cut-scenes are also interactive; you actually play along with cutaway rather than sit back and watch. I honestly enjoyed it (thank you Steve for making it way cooler than it already was) and this will be one game to watch out for.
Starhawk (Lightbox Interactive) – what happens when you give a 3rd person shooter, strategy elements? You get a game like Starhawk. In the game you have a unique system called "build and battle", which will allow you to drop onto the battlefield walls, stations, armories and such that can be upgraded as you collect "rift" energy. You'll also have use of vehicles such as jeeps, mechs, and even jets. With my hands on, I got the chance to experience a game of capture the flag, which allowed me to get used to the controls. It's actually quite easy to get into and the game itself will require serious teamwork and communication – we played kinda free-formed, where everyone was everywhere. And the effect of dropping down a wall or armory will never get old. Hell just watching someone drop anything onto the battlefield is simply cool to look at. I can't wait to see more of this title, which sadly won't get a full release until next year. *sigh*.
Rusty Heart (Perfect World) – Another interesting MMO, similar to that of Dragon's Nest, however Rusty Hearts features richer, cel-shaded animation. The game is a Hack and Slash MMO, with different classes of characters that you can customize. Gameplay is very fluid and you can either use a controller or mouse/keyboard combo. It was simple and very easy to get into. The anime-inspired graphics really help to draw you in, but it's the controls that keep you in the action.
Catherine (Atlus) – When people started talking about this game, I honestly didn't know what to make of it; and now that I've gotten some hands on with the title… I'm still just as confused, yet I can't look away! In Catherine, you play as Vincent, whom while waiting for his girlfriend Katherine to show for a date, you meet another woman whose name is also Catherine. And that's when things really get twisted; since meeting Catherine, Vincent begins having strange dreams entering a sheep world where he must climb blocks in order to progress. Die in this world and its lights out in the real world. It's an interesting concept, one which I can't wait to see more of.
Prime World (Nival) – As far as social games go, it's rare I'll stay committed to one for any given length of time. I wouldn't call it a short attention span, but waiting an actual 16 hours waiting for some vegetable to grow… literally 16 hours – not my cup of tea. But the folks at Nival might change my perspective with Facebook game "Prime World", which is a top-down, multiplayer, social strategy game. Think Warcraft (not the MMO) and you get the basic idea. Graphics are rich and eye-popping and controls, while taking some getting used to, are quite responsive. As lord of your castle, you're responsible for all its upkeeps as well as being in charge of a faction of heroes. You can also go on quest, shop, and attack other NPC's to complete objectives, and co-op with your friends. Defeating monsters and such will give you money as well as "prime", which you can use to update skills… and I believe that is your in-game currency as well. So you have a nifty strategy game, with lots of social stylings tossed in… not a combo I ever saw coming, but if I had to choose between Prime World and any of those "society" games that are saturated throughout Facebook, make mine Prime please.
Street Fight 3: 3rd Strike Online Edition (Capcom) – Does the world need yet another rehashing of a Street Fighter game? Scratch that does the world need another iteration of the 3rd Street Fighter game? Capcom seems to think so and they're bettin you'll plunk down 15 bucks (or whatever 15 dollars is in Xbox dollars) to get you in on some online play of Street Fighter 3 3rd Strike. Not only do you get the game with smoother graphics, but they're tossing in a ton of challenges for you to play through. Just check out the vid below to see just some of the content. Otherwise, it's another Street Fighter game. I'd say for the price and all that you'll be getting, might actually be worth the admission.
Dark Souls (Namco) – The sequel to Demon's Souls, the game that bent me over and made me it's bitch, has returned to give me a second helping with Dark Souls. I didn't hate Demon's Souls, on the contrary, I thought it was frustratingly exciting. With Dark Souls we're getting more of the same, but with better graphics and more polish to it. My hands on experience brought back memories of so many nights where I curled in a corner and cried, because just as you think you're making progress, something will spring out to put you down. Thankfully in the game, players can leave notes to inform you of impending doom in hopes of avoiding it… or to they can totally mess you up. And there will be multiplayer. The controls are pretty much the same as Demon's Souls, which is not a good thing; I don't like using the trigger to swing my sword (lulz). Otherwise, if you're a fan of the first then be prepared to have your world rocked again. Oh and Xbox 360 owners, you won't be left out in the cold this round, so get your shit together.
Dead Island (DeepSilver) – Another behind closed doors, hands on experience; Dead Island takes place on the island of Banoi and you'll play as one of four characters who, for some strange reason, are immune to the effects of zombification that has afflicted many on the island. You're job is to fight your way through the zombie apocalypse in order to find out what the hell is going on. Think Left 4 Dead (which undoubtedly the game will be compared to), but with a richer experience. Combat is mostly melee, but you'll find some ranged equipment as you progress. And weapons can be combined with other items to make new ones (i.e. adding blades to a bat for that extra slicing/crushing goodness). The game also adds RPG elements where you can gain experience, level up, collect money, adjust your skill tree, and go on quests. There's also a "rage" mode, once you fill up its meter, that will allow you to cause some serious damage; very useful when you're faced with a horde of zombies in your path. You can tackle the game solo, with friends, or just drop in other player's game. And much like games such as Risen, when speaking with other characters, you have a variety of responses to choose from, though they don't affect overall gameplay much. Though I'm not the biggest fan of the Zombie genre, any game that includes RPG elements will garner my attention. Look for Dead Island to appear on store shelves this September.
Metal Gear Solid 3D 3DS (Konami) – Snakes 3rd "Solid" outing is getting the 3D portable treatment, and if you were a fan of that PS2 game, you "might" like this one. Personally, I'm not a fan of the control scheme, which makes use of the A,B,X,Y buttons to control the camera – gotta be dual analog or nothing. Otherwise, you're pretty much getting a sharper version of the original, with a nice 3D effect. Personally, I'm hoping for a PS3 HD release. And speaking of which…
Metal Gear Peace Walker HD (Konami) – Now this is the way to go! It's the PSP port, brought over to the PS3 with sharper graphics and better control? Yes please! I jumped into the game mid-mission, not really sure what was happening. But I was in a camp popping off baddies, either putting them to sleep or putting them down permanently. However when I reached my objective… I got the "too be continued…" screen. Curses! My only objection is the sound, which was rather sharp. It needs to be softened a bit… either that or the headsets I was wearing was too loud. Either way, fans of PW and newcomers alike will gain much enjoyment from this title.
Power Rangers Samurai (Namco) – OK, you know the drill – five teams are given magical powers with the ability to morph into "Power Rangers" to defend the earth from evil. When things get to heavy, they call upon vehicles known as Zords that combine to become a "MegaZord" (mech robot) to put down said evil. Repeat next episode. The folks at Namco/Bandai look to serve up the latest Ranger series, Power Rangers Samurai, side-scrolling beat em up style. You'll play as any one of the five Samurai who will face off against the evil Master Xandred and his forces. Each character has similar basic controls, but differ when it comes to special abilities. You'll use motion controls to make the symbols that are prominent in the show, plus there's also full motion video to compliment the game. I actually enjoyed myself until I reached then, about to call on my Zord, when I ultimately got the "To be continued this holiday season". That hurt! I get all moist for some Zord action and this is what I get? I'll show you Namco/Bandai!
So overall, not a bad outing; I know there were titles I should have hit (Batman Arkham City), but I'm ok with what I brought back. Look for these titles and more as the year progresses, so look for more coverage. Now if only future E3 conventions would take place in Vegas, I'd be one happy camper.