E3

All posts tagged E3

We had a great movie summer this year, but after E3, it looks like we're going to have an even more amazing holiday season for games. Some the ones that really caught my eye:

Call of Duty 4
Echochrome
Mass Effect
Super Mario Galaxy
Boogie

Also amazing was the Wii Fit "game" that Nintendo introduced, causing me to seriously consider picking up more shares in their stock. Their ability to make disposable fads never ceases to amaze me. Or maybe I'm just so shaken by the prospect of Metroid Prime 3, Smash Bros. (this year!!!), and Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. But even more amazing was EA's admission that "we are boring people to death." Games like Boogie and EA Playground are spreading the crepuscular rays of hope that the industry's great heartless game factory has a human pulse.

And although I keep swearing not to, I can not help but criticise Sony once again for it's utter disrespect for gamers. Hot on the heels of Microsoft's announcement of an awesome retroactive 3-yr warranty for the 360, Sony decided to drop their own bomb. Playstation 3, the 60gb version, is shedding $100 off its tag. Brilliant right?

And then Hirai tells us that that SKU of the PS3 is no longer in production. How disingenous can they get? If that kinda of bait-and-switch is what they think E3 is for (remember the original Killzone 2 trailer? See the latest in comparison), then they've truly lost their minds. And if they haven't, that would be even worse.


Hello from E3 mania-land!

There been much debate about the necessity of the third-person perspective in the esteemed Fallout series, and the apparent lack of it in the upcoming Fallout 3 from Bethesda. With pipe in hand, tweed jacket ensconched, I present my scholarly nerdface, and ruminate on this and other social trivialities.

For me, the third-person perspective and turned-based combat was and is integral to Fallout. Why? Well, ask yourself what was it that made Fallout so memorable. Invariably, the answer will be that feeling of survival, embodied in its post-apocalyptic theme, and your emergence from such a harsh world. Unlike other RPGs, you weren't a hero to anyone but the superstitious lot in your pathetic little village. Out in the wastelands, against bandits, slavers, feral mutations, and that inescapable radiation build-up in your body, you felt fragile and suffocated even as you leveled-up.

With the overhead perspective, you could see the lay of the land, and really drink in how forgotten and lonely each town was. You could see the fallout. Unable even to choose how your character looked on creation, you were just one of many characters, no bigger, no more colorful, just another face from the desert. Until your avatar donned the power armor (and even then), you didn't stand out. It was a starkly egalitarian world.

And then with the turn-based combat, you could experience the tension in immediate survival. You were made to make life or death choices in you tactics against unfair odds, have the time to dread impending death, and watch those actions play out in a violence even more punctuated by how sudden it was compared to decision making mode. Every used action point spelt committal, and clicking the [END TURN] button faced you with consequence and fate. One moment you were the saviour of the wastelands, the next you were a putrid mess of flesh riddled with laser gatling shots. And you had the entire eternity before ending your turn to contemplate it.

So it brings me great pleasure to hear that Bethesda has chosen to make the morally relativist distopia (post-topia?) of the Fallout gamescape true to the originals; perspective and turn-based combat are back! I'm always impressed when a company can take another's vision and step up to the challenge. Conscious of how empty and undirected Morrowind is, I am glad to see how honestly they've taken up the task of making Fallout a different game, and not just a clone in drag. Time will tell, but I'm very excited with the details coming out about what is sure to be a new epic, if only the fanboys give it a chance.

The harbinger to November rain seems intent on supplanting the throne of the bluesiest period of the year. I'm talkinga about our dearest, most choleric month of August.

Within its tendrils melancholic, the stock-market caesar takes its annual brute stab in the back in time for the ides of the eight month. But having done a lot of spiteful math this week, I can proudly say that I've managed to beat the S&P 500, albeit by a meager +1.6% percent. Wherefore proud? Considering the "surprise" downturn the market had, and my own inexperience with having just started investing last October, that's not bad. My gain has hovered at 5.22% with minor spikes to 16%. However I've situated myself for much better gains later this year, now that I've weathered the worst. I've learned a lot about something I always considered to be pure gambling. Of course, the less you know, the more gambling it is.

While the stock market was taking a beating in auto, food, and near about every other sector, another rainy cloud snuck in. E3 was canceled. There isn't much to say about this that isn't already covered in this excellent article. I'm bummed, but I think it's for the better.

But all is not lost! A new animated series based on Mike Mignola's art, voiced by the likes of Paul Giamatti and David Hyde Pierce, has been born, and it's awesome. Remember the feeling you had the first time you saw Dexter's Labratory or the Braak Show? Aqua Teen Hunger Force? The Tick?!? Here it is, times ten tenfold. Watch and weep, for joy and for August.

Stock markets have taken quite a plunge in the last few days, its biggest drop in three years. The combination of a backlash against commodity speculation, profit taking, and the inability of the Fed to stop rate hikes has really put the hurt on investors without the nerve to stay. My advice at the moment is to stick with companies with profits in strengthening currencies, and costs in the weakening dollar. Rate hikes will pause in the short run, rise in the long, especially with the yuan breaking the 8 RMB/$ barrier and the yen fluctuating at the 110 border.

Despite the hubbub of E3, seems like the market has not been kind to game companies. Wedbush Morgan insinuates we're already at a plateau in the game industry, with apparent gains from console sales actually only coming from people buying two consoles. In other words, market penetration is not up to snuff. Atari, fer instance, is clinging desperately to its AD&D license. The only thing they've got left is Call A Friend.

What was up to snuff, and by snuff I mean the film variety, not the 'baccy, was the horrifying crash and burn the Phantom Console with the departure of Kevin Bacchus and the catch-in-the-act of ex-CEO Timothy Roberts, who allegedly faxed unbacked promises for Infinium stock to drum up the price. The SEC replied with "BOOYAH!" Did I not tell people to stay away from this fictitious fiction of a company? Anyone get it on tape? 'Cuz that's snuff.

Let's hear what Guitar Hero babe has to show say.

E3 pics are up!

Most of the big news probably slaps you in the face at each and every game site, so I'm going to stick with impressions and hands-ons, and leave headlines out of this. Overall, this E3 was probably the best one I've been to, with less focus on graphics and more focus on gameplay overall, with the exceptions of the two you-know-whos. Booth babe quality wasn't bad even with clothing restrictions, and watching Fatal1ty bring some wannabe to the brink of tears on the The Longest Yard conversion to Quake4 had me and Xstine laughing our asses off.

So without further ado…

Microsoft Impressions:
Xbox 360 games continue to look better, and I continue to think about getting one. Games look as a they should on a $400 system. Gears of War looked phenomenal of course, but Huxley was surprisingly fun too considering the amount of lag this FPS MMO had, and I was dukin' it with a roundtable of over 30 people. And its framerate was still a SIGHT better than the Crysis engine game, which when not in that Siberia known as the 10-minute loading screen, was trying to impress us with spring-collision driven foliage bending nonsense at a blistering 4 fps. 3D benchmarks are a FAR CRY from being games, please.
Still, Lumines on XBox Live and the announcement of Windows Vista allowing PC and console gamers to meet in sweet swiss bliss gave the system the edge. In Peter Moore's own words, why buy a PS3 when yyou can get both a Wii and a 360 for the same money? As much as I hate the guy, he's right as rain.
Oh yes, Viva PiƱata looks rad (see pic), and besides some framerate problems, has got real style. Good job Rare… finally…
7/10

Nintendo Impressions:
As fanatical as the gaming media has been so far about the Wii, I have a huge complaint. I never got to play the damn thing since the line of lines, the sweat-infused meta-line that wrapped itself around the vortex of Nintendo's creative navel, was so entangled that I had not the ken to locate its extradimensional entry point. Dammit Nintendo, you spoke of playing is believing, but put your new console in the furthest reaches of E3's 9th circle of hell. My heart wept for a chance to play Super Smash Bros Brawl, but my melatonin begged for just one more day of sunlight.
Still, just watching the announcers playing Wii Sonic on the big screen by just tilting the controller left and right filled me with an instinctual, pheromonal kind of parasymptomatic gravitation back to West Hall over and over. Instead, I settled for some DS games, like Magnetica (aka Zuma) and Brain Training. Why is Sudoku so damn addicting.
8/10

Sony Impressions:
Let's forget about the price for a second, and the feature trickery. Do the games look good? Well, as you can see in the photos, their setup at E3 was still running on a bunch of dev kits, but at the moment it looks good. Not $200 good, mind you, but good. Warhawk wasn't very fun, but had that impressive kind of fluidity and SFX density that reminded me of great Dreamcast rail shooters. Madden looked godawful, honestly, with horribly overdone fur/grass. Heavenly Sword looked pretty good, like a PC version of Devil May Cry, although pixilated self-shadowing and jerky animation need work.
The booth area was pretty packed, and people were cheering like mad at the Final Fantasy trailers, but the actual wait time to get into the private showings was about 5 minutes. There will definitely be a market for PS3, evidenced my the throngs of people in the Singstar booth and the Country Karaoke Revolution game. The PSP, btw, went the way of the N-Gage.

4/10

PC Impressions:
I was pleasantly surprised. Hellgate: London continues to look great, and although the avatars are ugly, the gameplay is smooth and addicting just to even watch. The Conan MMORPG was graphically beautiful, especially the horse animations, but it seems like there was stuff being killed only when I looked away. Boring.
Xstine and I are both excited about Neverwinter Nights 2, and eye-rolly about World of Warcraft's expansion and its new Dranei Alliance race. NCSoft held a pretty exciting Guild Wars: Factions tournament with Koreans slaughtering Koreans, but nothing was nearly as exciting as THIS…..


8/10

Finally, some of the coolest things we saw there were these two toys:

So we're taking off tonite to hit up E3 and check out a few churches for wedding arrangements. We're eager to see for ourselves why people are going NUTS for the Wii. I hear there's a two hour around the block wait just to try it. I also plan to rock out to you know what:headbang: , and hopefully get a chance to see Gears of War in action… it looks frickkin' Contra-ed delish at the moment. Seriously, check out the direct feeds at IGN.

But before I go, I want to just say show one thing to all of you who haven't bought a DS yet, and you might want to put on a diaper first:

On the GBA. I ruined my Depends.

Xstine and I will be heading down for E3 again, so give me a call folks if you're going to be in town. We'll probably be staying at my parent's place as usual. We'll head down Wednesday night and be back up Saturday night.

I've never gone to E3 for a console launch, which is what I'm hoping this time will be. I dearly want to see the Wii and the somewhat want to see the PS3 in action. So far, current-gen X360 games have failed to impress, mainly due to poor and rushed art direction than raw horsepower, but I fully expect that to change soon. Gears of War should be there, and possibly Halo 3, giving our American Ford-Focused console a boost in mileage.

I'll be sure bring my camera to try to capture the idiocies, geniuses, and spectrum defiances that happens in Kentia Hall. Unlike when I was Taiwan, I will probably have a harder time capturing a ghost on film… the Phantom is teh bust. But one can mock hope.

The funny thing is that E3 won't be the most exciting thing of the trip. That honor goes to my intention to do 120mph down the 5 at night in our new G35 while simultaneously thinking of insurance and loan payments. In fact, someone should invent a real driving sim with those realities built into a paranoia meter on the edge of the screen, with reckless driving fueling you with adrenaline and a screaming gal in the passenger seat. Zoom zoom zoom capoeira wants to zoom.

If Guitar Hero 2 is there, however, I won't be coming back. :headbang: