Archive for the evil within

Trivial Punk’s Top 11 Games at E3

Posted in All the Things, Game Guts, Game Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2013 by trivialpunk

Well, I thought I was going to spend this week on more banal tasks, but then E3 popped up, impishly flashing a TARDIS key, and invited me into a wonderful world beyond imagining. Once I got in the box, I realized that it wasn’t bigger on the inside. I was trapped in a clever ploy and forced to witness the evil machinations of a tyrannical, mechanized dream-simulator with “Innovation” stencilled across it in huge block letters. Its goal was clear; E3 wanted all my money. Drake even waddled in, with a confused expression on his face, cheekily holding open a sack of cash under my nose that he’d nabbed off a nearby wall. All things considered, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Monday.

I missed Nintendo’s offerings, but besides a Lemmings super-hero game and an unnamed open-world robot game, the stuff I scoped out this afternoon on the web-page didn’t look that new. Exciting, perhaps. It’s all the stuff we’ve loved previously, but on a new console. Although, honestly, I’d forgotten that the Wii U was next-gen. At the same time, considering that we’re looking at a copy of the old Mario games with Luigi as the protagonist, I think Nintendo has, too. I can only hope they don’t strip away all of Luigi’s personality and leave him as the same copy-paste-rendered slab that Mario has become. Giving Nintendo the benefit of the doubt, Mario and Luigi: Dream Team looks nifty, Bayonetta’s game-play has always been entertaining and oh… Zelda, Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, Wario, Pikmin… Can someone tell Nintendo that it’s okay to come up with new IPs? I kid. If you’re launching a new console, then it’s probably best to stick with your heavy-hitters, especially considering the offerings from the other guys. I’m sure the games will exhibit Nintendo’s trade-mark polish, as well, so we’ve got something to look forward to. Using Nintendo as our lovely, motion-controlled security blanket, let’s step into the frightening world of “Innovation” (Did I say that enough? E3 certainly did).

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Let’s skirt around the Sony-Microsoft pricing-DRM drama. I mean, there’s nothing like watching two multi-billion dollar companies out-market each other, but I’m in it for the games. So, let’s do a Top 11 run-down!

11. The Last of Us – PS3

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Yeah, I know this game was announced forever ago, and it’s coming out this week, but I had to mention it. This action-adventure survival-horror game looks like it might actually include some of the latter two. If you’re familiar with my stance on Dead Space, then you’ll know what I’m referring to. It’s from Naughty Dog and published by Sony, so don’t look for it on the Xbox any time soon.

10. Assassin’s Creed: Blackflag – Xbox 360, One; PS3, 4; PC, Wii U

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To be honest, I didn’t think much of this game when I heard about it. Even after I saw the trailer for it during Ubisoft’s conference, it just looked like another Assassin’s Creed game. However, during Sony’s presentation, they showed some actual game-play. That’s when I realized that this wasn’t another Assassin’s Creed game, this was the NEXT Assassin’s Creed game. Lush environments, beautifully considering backdrops and action that actually made me set my drink down. Sure, it crashed during the demonstration, but they’ll have those bugs ironed out by release date, right guys? … Guys?

9. Titanfall – Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

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A first-person shooter developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA that balances pilot ground-based combat with giant drive-able mechs called Titans. Even if it’s just an up-date of MechWarrior, I’m excited. They stated that the mechs are supposed to be fast, sleek and powerful, though, so hopefully it won’t feel like piloting a garbage-can on wobbly-wheels. All joking aside, it looks like this could be an amazing game, if the concept merges well with the levels. It’s on you, level-designers!

8. The Crew – Xbox One, PS4, PC

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If you sat through all of Monday’s wheeling and screening, then you’re probably sick to your gills of hearing about driving games. I’m going to be honest, I was, too. That and on-line integration. Blah. So, it’s a bit surprising that a driving game built around on-line integration would make it on this list. No, this isn’t a token entry; I don’t do those. This is a pack-hunting, persistent open-world, on-line skill-testing extravaganza. Ubisoft and Ivory Tower really outdid themselves with the seamless nature of the co-op. There’s no lobby screen or boorish flow-breaking shenanigans. It’s grab-and-go with a little Hollywood magic mixed into the travel times. If I have to have on-line integration, then make it this smooth and functional. Oh, and the game-play. That seemed sweet, too. It sort of seemed like the logical opposite of Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Get behind that wheel and get hunting!

7. Battlefield 4 – PS3, 4; Xbox 360, One; PC

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Yeah, I know, another “realistic” first-person shooter from EA. BUT, hold on to that cynicism, because this Frostbite 3 driven frag-fest impressed the hell out of me. During a live 64-player on-stage demo, the players called down air-strikes that bitch-slapped like the angry finger of God and blew up a sky-scraper. It wasn’t a set piece. It wasn’t pre-planned. Tanks bored into its foundation and it. Fell. Down. That’s dynamic world game-play at its finest. Oh, the players on the sky-scraper? They jumped off and parachuted to safety Far Cry 3-style. I’m not sure if this will all carry over to the actual multi-player environment (there weren’t any smarmy 8-year-olds wiping their noses all over the mics with cusses), but if it does, then keep your eyes open for it. Call of Duty: Ghosts had better be one hell of a game to keep up.

6. Batman: Arkham Origins – PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC

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Were it not the third entry in a series, this would rate higher on the list. But hey, the other two had a generally high level of quality, so there’s no reason not to be optimistic. I guess the guys over at Warner Bros. read a lot of comics, because Origins is following the standard path of comic book story-lines and delving into a prequel, if the name didn’t tip you off already. There wasn’t a lot of game-play, and the story isn’t so unpredictable that I feel comfortable spoiling it for you, but there have been some engine upgrades. Things even look a little grittier, if that’s possible. Let’s be honest, though. If games get any grittier, then we’ll start feeling the uncontrollable need to take pail and mop to the screen. (#grittyreboot an IP you’d love to see get one for lulz)

5. The Evil Within – PS3, 4; Xbox 360, One; PC

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Developed by Tango Gameworks, published by Bethesda Softworks and directed the legendary Shinji Mikami, there’s no way this third-person survival-horror game wasn’t hitting my top 5. Other than its pedigree and a couple interesting trailers, there’s not much information available on the game, unless one wants to dig deep enough. Yeah, we know it takes place in an Asylum of some kind, but, in survival-horror circles, that’s like saying it’s somewhere near a Burger King. Still, Shinji Mikami brought us Vanquish and helped kick -start survival-horror’s popularity, so I’m betting on The Evil Within.

4. Sunset Overdrive – Xbox One

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Combining the open-world running capabilities of Mirror’ Edge with a third-person perspective was a shrewd idea. I mean, that’s what it’s going to take to make the concept work properly. Otherwise, it just looks like your camera is sliding over something on a skateboard or plummeting to its death because you couldn’t see the jump properly. It was published by Microsoft Studios, but you can probably already tell that it was developed by Insomniac Games. I mean, the monsters look an awful lot like Chimera. However, if this third-person parkour, open-world shooter plays anywhere near as smooth as the trailer, we should knock it into a lager and sell it by the pint.

3. The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot – PC

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This might look like another hack-and-slash free-to-play game, but this one’s from Ubisoft, so you know there’s a twist. You create your own castle, fill it will all the traps and mobs you can afford, then you go raid other castles with your hero; don’t forget to leave them a smug, little note once you’ve claimed their prize. The money you get from raiding those castles goes towards beefing up your own defenses! It sounds like all the most absorbing aspects of XCOM: Enemy Unknown rolled into a tower-defense, third-person hack-and-slash setting. I’m actually a little frightened to start playing.

2. Watch Dogs – Xbox 360, One; PS3, 4; PC, Wii U

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Another entry from Ubisoft?! You’d almost think I was biased by my Canadian heritage. But no, Watch Dogs is an open-world, third-person shooter that stands on its own four legs. In addition to an intelligent-looking AI, Watch Dogs includes the ability to hack the environment while you kick ass. It looks sleek and polished. I have no more to say. This looks awesome.

1. The Division – PS4, Xbox One, PC (?)

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When I made this list, I wasn’t paying attention to the developers. Maybe I was a little drunk. Maybe Ubisoft publishes great games. Either way, between them and its developer, Massive Entertainment, The Division managed to claw its MMORPG, third-person shooter ass over Watch Dogs to reach first place. Besides a map system that made me sit up and take notice, the inclusion of intelligent MMO abilities in a shooting environment, as well as smooth multi-player integration into a persistent world with dynamic PVP, puts The Division at the top of my list. Even the fluff of the world seems interesting, if a bit hyperbolic. Yeah, our world is complex and fragile, but if we were going to get knocked out by the sniffles being transmitted through legal tender, we’d have konked years ago. With the ubiquity of on-line game sales, I wonder if this is still culturally relevant. Honestly, it could just be Ubi’s way of encouraging us to buy digital. Still, you have to give them credit for including what looks like an interesting story-line in an MMORPG. That’s the original formula that made WoW great, after all.

So, that about wraps it up! Yeah, I didn’t mention Yoshi’s Island, Final Fantasy XV or Kingdom Hearts, but that’s because I’ve never salivated over those series as much as other people have. They’ll get enough love from the internet without me. That being said, it looks like they might have found a way to revive the lacking Final Fantasy combat system a bit. Anything that makes the battles a little more dynamic is okay in my book. Hey, maybe they’ll even include game-play. Oh! Don’t forget to check out Transistor, too.

I should say that most of these games are in early development or almost out. E3 is a huge hype factory, and the final products aren’t always going to be what we were promised. Look at Fable. So, we should be a bit cynical. However, these are entertainment engines, dream-machines, even, and despotism aside, we should stay a little hopeful. Otherwise, what’s the point? If you go in looking for stuff to hate, you’ll find it. So, keep your eyes open, but don’t have them fixed upon the seams. That’s just rude. So, choose your platform and let the next generation wars continue!