Feature, Gaming, Video Games

Shin Megami Tensei IV Review

What in the world is up with Atlus and towers? If it isn’t the Karma Temple in Digital Devil Saga, Tartarus in Persona 3, or the entire premise to Catherine, it’s Naraku in Shin Megami Tensei IV, a sort of reverse tower whose spatial relationship with the player character transforms throughout the narrative. Atlus, Team Persona, and anyone else responsible for Shin Megami Tensei titles seem to have some sort of fascination with towers, towering objects, and the phallic.

Now, it has been some time since I worked on a written piece for the site, but I’ve been so deeply fascinated with Shin Megami Tensei IV for the Nintendo 3DS that I felt the need to post a review for the title. It’s something about the level of depth that the atmosphere of the game world has, and the way that the remixed soundtrack (which consists of some previous series tunes) combines with that atmosphere and the game mechanics that make for a very dreamlike experience that often gets abruptly shattered with a nightmare scenario.

Did Atlus add another layer to the tower that is their popular Shin Megami Tensei franchise, or did they finally have a catastrophic misstep by releasing a numbered entry in their flagship series exclusively on a handheld?

Editorial, Feature, Video Games

Ten Crimes That Were Blamed on Video Games

Every day, violent crimes are committed with seemingly no rhyme or reason. In these cases, it is only natural that we desire to find a culprit in order to make sense of a senseless crime. Unfortunately, we can also be quick to jump to conclusions and put the blame on an easy scapegoat instead of trying to find a true root cause. Media, such as movies, comics, books and TV, have been a scapegoats for violence for years. With its ever-rising popularity and recent releases of games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, video games have become the most recent victim. Here are a few crimes that video games have taken the heat for.

Feature, Gaming, Video Games

4 Ways the PS4 Could Still Die

As the E3 hype is winding down, the Sony praise returns to sane levels, and the dust from Microsoft’s reversal of their Xbox One DRM policy settles, we can take a step back and look objectively at the next generation of consoles. We’ve seen the two megacorporations’ offerings for several generations now, and we’ve observed issues that both companies have struggled with in the past. Neither console has been immune to public ire. From the 360’s Red Rings of Death to the PS3’s security breaches and buggy ports, it’s easy to scold both. Sony has the gaming community wrapped around their thumb in a series of brilliant PR maneuvers. PS4 preorders hilariously outnumber the Xbox One. But the PS4 can still be dead in the water in two years’ time. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat…

1. The Playstation Network

Sony has proven in the past that they don’t have it all together when it comes to online play and security. Download speeds feel like they’re orbiting a black hole, and can’t be left to their own devices in the background. Cross-game chat is nonexistent. Credit card info is dumped and leaked en masse. This happened recently, and now there’s a whole new console. Hopefully you get what you pay for, as PS+ will offer online play for a fee a la Xbox Live.

2. Third Party DRM

Sony couldn’t stop EA’s online passes, and they will continue to be powerless to do so. They bore witness to tremendously increased PS4 support following Microsoft’s disastrous policies, which will scare them silly with any luck.

3. Hardware Failure

Earlier this week, Sony released a PS3 update that bricked many systems before it was pulled. It went largely unnoticed by those unaffected because first of all, the attitude towards Sony right now is electric. You can feel a buzz whenever you mention Sony online. Secondly, Microsoft did Sony a favor by announcing their about-face policy change which hogged attention. Had Microsoft waited, this story may have been a bigger deal.

4. Hardcore Gaming Focus

In this economy, a $400 dedicated gaming machine doesn’t make sense for every household. A $400 box that plays modern games and integrates with your media…now that is something that appeals to far more households. Once the Xbox One drops in price, it’s easy to see the PS4 being overshadowed in the market.

 

Everyone wants the two companies to succeed and co-exist. Those that don’t still haven’t recovered from their poor childhood. Godspeed, Sony and Microsoft! Shower us with the glorious next generation of consoles!

Feature, Video Games

E3: GeekTi.me’s Best of Show

E3 was a magical week full of games and wonder. After having the weekend to mull everything over, I’m back at you with my personal picks for E3 best in show just like I promised. Let’s get cracking!

Ubisoft did that thing again. Last year, they introduced us to the world of Watch_Dogs. Here we are a year later and that's one of the holiday season's highly anticipated games. That same year later and Ubisoft shows us The Division. The game has been classified as a third person RPG with shooting elements by the developers, but I like to classify it as an "Open World Third Person RPG Shooter," which happen to be the coolest combination of words when describing a game. The story concept is great, the persistent world is great, the interface is great, the graphics are great, and I can't wait to play this absolutely stunning game.
Ubisoft did that thing again. Last year, they introduced us to the world of Watch_Dogs. Here we are a year later and that’s one of the holiday season’s highly anticipated games. That same year later and Ubisoft shows us The Division. The game has been classified as a third person RPG with shooting elements by the developers, but I like to classify it as an “Open World Third Person RPG Shooter,” which happen to be the coolest combination of words to use when describing a game. The story concept is great, the persistent world is great, the interface is great, the graphics are great, and I can’t wait to play this absolutely stunning game.
Of course this game had to make the list SOMEWHERE, but despite the fact that I'm biased in regards to Kingdom Hearts...it honestly was the biggest surprise I saw that E3. Sure, we got Mirror's Edge 2 and Battlefront III, but those were games that had hints dropped about them in the run up to the event, even if they were slightly unbelievable. Versus XIII (now Final Fantasy XV) was also a nice shock, but it was a game that was supposedly being developed. We weren't supposed to hear anything definitive on KHIII until XV was released. For them to throw Kingdom Hearts on the tail end of the Final Fantasy XV announcement/re-branding was surprising and truly heartwarming.
Of course this game had to make the list SOMEWHERE, but despite the fact that I’m biased in regards to Kingdom Hearts…it honestly was the biggest surprise I saw at E3. Sure, we got Mirror’s Edge 2 and Battlefront III, but those were games that had hints dropped about them in the run up to the event, even if they were slightly unbelievable. Versus XIII (now Final Fantasy XV) was also a nice shock, but it was a game that was supposedly being developed. We weren’t supposed to hear anything definitive on KHIII until XV was released. For them to throw Kingdom Hearts on the tail end of the Final Fantasy XV announcement/re-branding was surprising and truly heartwarming.
Despite the fact that it was announced last year, Watch_Dogs had a strong showing at this year's E3 as well. With every little ounce of information released about this game, it's proving more and more that it's going to be THE game to be playing this holiday season. Ubisoft had a hit on their hands when they announced The Division, but Watch_Dogs has been in their arsenal. Have no doubts that it's a heavy hitter.
Despite the fact that it was announced last year, Watch_Dogs had a strong showing at this year’s E3 as well. With every little ounce of information released about this game, it’s proving more and more that it’s going to be THE game to be playing this holiday season. Ubisoft had a hit on their hands when they announced The Division, but Watch_Dogs has been in their arsenal the entire time. Have no doubts that it’s a heavy hitter.
Sequel
Not only does Metal Gear Solid V look absolutely amazing visually, but it’s the one sequel that I saw that took the biggest chance with its formula the entire event. The game is going open world with realistic weather and passage of time. An open world doesn’t sound like what I imagine from a Metal Gear game at all. I will say, the stealth in this looks very good. You have to react with almost lightning fast reflexes on occasion. Reflexes worthy of the legendary Snake. They’ve even changed the tagline from “Tactical Espionage Action” to “Tactical Espionage Operations,” perhaps accentuating the steath aspect even more. The story sounds pretty good and the elements it explores, such as the ideas of illegal torture and child soldiers (mind you in a much…deeper and visual way than the previous games) are intriguing and not for the faint of heart. And, of course, there has to be some kind of strange mystery, this time manifesting itself in a boy who is rapidly healing while Snake and some other men extract some kind of package from his abdomen. All in all, a great game. Now let’s just hope Kojima is pulling a fast one with this whole Kiefer Sutherland thing.
I wasn't going to do genre categories, but I feel like this is the one I should do...y'know...given there were about a billion of them shown. My choice for winner has to be The Crew for the sheer scope of what they've done with the game. The large world, the way you interact with friends, the crazy customization options, and all the different types of driving you can do make this the must have racing game of E3.
I wasn’t going to do genre categories, but I feel like this is the one I should do…y’know…given there were about a billion of them shown. My choice for winner has to be The Crew for the sheer scope of what they’ve done with the game. The large world, the way you interact with friends, the crazy customization options, and all the different types of driving you can do make this the must have racing game of E3.

 

But now that I’m doing genre categories…sure. Let me toss four more at you.

 

From the stunning graphics, to the cool powers, to the awesome main character and interesting world, I have to pick Second Son for this.
I chose Second Son for this for a few simple reasons. The first being the gameplay, which looks like it’s improved so much on the normal inFamous style. It was always fun in the first place, but the new powers that Delsin has add a new sense of fun and freshness to it. Delsin himself seems like a very interesting character as opposed to the often cardboard Cole. The story and background also look great. On a superficial level, the graphics look absolutely stunning. It’s really hard to NOT pick this one.
Destiny's showing at the Sony conference did something to me that doesn't often happen. It took me from a mild feeling of "this is interesting, I guess" to "I need this in my life!" Destiny is truly a fantastic shooter. I love the loot drop system. I love the customization options. I love the sandbox world. I love the public events that show up every so often. Destiny is really going to be the FPS to beat this season.
Destiny’s showing at the Sony conference did something to me that doesn’t often happen. It took me from a mild feeling of “this is interesting, I guess” to “I need this in my life!” Destiny is truly a fantastic shooter. I love the loot drop system. I love the customization options. I love the sandbox world. I love the public events that show up every so often. Destiny is really going to be the FPS to beat this season.
I don't feel like I should have to explain this one. It's prettier Skyrim except multiplayer...why is that even a question?
I don’t feel like I should have to explain this one. It’s prettier Skyrim except multiplayer…why is that even a question?
Final Fantasy XV (previously Versus XIII) looks like a whole lot of fun. Despite being the most major departure from the original formula yet (in the main series, at least…not counting XI and XIV). There’s a lot more action RPG in it than traditional, but Noctis’ powers look incredibly interesting, and the verticality that some of the fights can take look fantastic. Even further, the story sounds incredibly interesting. Even way back when it was still Versus XIII, it still seemed very intriguing. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
Final Fantasy XV (previously Versus XIII) looks like a whole lot of fun, despite being the most major departure from the original formula yet (in the main series, at least…not counting XI and XIV). Hey. Maybe that’s just what the series needs. There’s a lot more action RPG in it than is traditional, but Noctis’ powers look incredibly interesting, and the verticality that some of the fights can take look fantastic. Even further, the story sounded great way back when it was still Versus XIII. I have faith that it hasn’t changed. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
Transistor, from Supergiant Games (creators of Bastion), looks really cool. You play as a singer named Red, who controls a sword called Transistor...a sword that had tried to kill her minutes before she held it. Once she obtains the sword, an enemy called The Process tries to end her and take the sword. The game looks very interesting and offers a blend of action and turn based strategy. When Red's action bar is full, she can freeze time and execute moves in super speed after planning them out. It looks really fun, and I can't wait to play Supergiant's follow up to Bastion. Mind you, this may have won the category, but E3 showcased a lot of great indy games. I imagine that this generation, they'll get a lot more of the exposure they deserve.
Transistor, from Supergiant Games (creators of Bastion), looks really cool. You play as a singer named Red, who controls a sword called Transistor…a sword that had tried to kill her minutes before she held it. Once she obtains the sword, an enemy called The Process tries to end her and take the sword. The game looks very interesting and offers a blend of action and turn based strategy. When Red’s action bar is full, she can freeze time and execute moves in super speed after planning them out. It looks really fun, and I can’t wait to play Supergiant’s follow up to Bastion. Mind you, this may have won the category, but E3 showcased a lot of great indy games. I imagine that this generation, they’ll get a lot more of the exposure they deserve.

 

And now for some awards that are…a little bit different.

Octodad: Deadliest Catch is the sequel to DePaul University's entry into the 2011 Indpendent Games Festival's student showcase. In this game, you play as Octodad. He's an octopus trying to disguise himself as a human. He has a family and everything. This game is so bizarre. It's an exercise in what happens when you take browser game QWOP and put it in a 3D plane...with an octopus as your main character. This isn't to say it doesn't look funny and entertaining. It's just...weird.
Octodad: Deadliest Catch is the sequel to a student project. The first game was DePaul University’s entry into the 2011 Independent Game Festival’s student showcase. In this game, you play as Octodad. He’s an octopus trying to disguise himself as a human. He has a family and everything. This game is so bizarre. It’s an exercise in what happens when you take browser game QWOP and put it in a 3D plane…with an octopus as your main character. This isn’t to say it doesn’t look funny and entertaining. It’s just…weird.
Whether or not you approve of Sony and the PlayStation brand, it's hard NOT to approve of Shuhei Yoshida, who's passion and charm make him one of the best higher ups to watch on stage. The man has an infectious smile and...who are we kidding. Have you heard him speak? Only Shigeru Miyamoto himself could fight Yoshida's adorableness, but with Nintendo absent from the keynote stage, it was Yoshida's time to shine.
Whether or not you approve of Sony and the PlayStation brand, it’s hard NOT to approve of Shuhei Yoshida, who’s passion and charm make him one of the best higher ups to watch on stage. The man has an infectious smile and…who are we kidding. Have you heard him speak? Only Shigeru Miyamoto himself could fight Yoshida’s adorableness, but with Nintendo absent from the keynote stage, it was Yoshida’s time to shine.
Last generation, we were inundated with floods of zombie related gaming media. This generation, despite still getting a few zombie games, we have to crown a new king for games to flood us with. A few runners up include mechs, massive open worlds, and racing games, but it's hard to skip social connectivity as the key point for most developers this generation. That's not a bad thing, and it probably won't get tiring like zombies did, but it was in virtually everything this E3. Racing games, shooting games, single player games that turn into multiplayer games...it's around every corner. Just goes to show, no matter which console you go with...you better have some friends around.
Last generation, we were inundated with floods of zombie related gaming media. This generation, despite still getting a few zombie games, we have to crown a new king for games to flood us with. A few runners up include mechs, massive open worlds, and racing games, but it’s hard to skip social connectivity as the key point for most developers this generation. That’s not a bad thing, and it probably won’t get tiring like zombies did, but it was in virtually everything this E3. Racing games, shooting games, single player games that turn into multiplayer games…it’s around every corner. Just goes to show, no matter which console you go with…you better have some friends around.
On the last award with "Social connectivity," I could almost make the phrase "we're blurring the line between single player and multiplayer" the winner of this. I won't though, because I'll do you one better. The winner of this category is "second screen experience" because everyone is pushing it. The PS4 is pushing it with the Vita. The One is pushing a lot of Smart Glass stuff. The WiiU...well...clearly. So many games offer connectivity with tablets. Everyone is going crazy with the second screen experience. It's so weird, though it's all mostly pretty awesome.  Also, I suppose this is more of a buzzphrase, but who's judging, right?
On the last award with “Social connectivity,” I could almost make the phrase “we’re blurring the line between single player and multiplayer” the winner of this. I won’t though, because I’ll do you one better. The winner of this category is “second screen experience” because everyone is pushing it. The PS4 is pushing it with the Vita. The One is pushing a lot of Smart Glass stuff. The WiiU…well…clearly. So many games offer connectivity with tablets. Everyone is going crazy with the second screen experience. It’s so weird, though it’s all mostly pretty awesome. Also, I suppose this is more of a buzzphrase, but who’s judging, right?
Who cares about my feelings or your feelings towards the console. The true fact is that nothing I heard the entire week got as many cheers as Jack Tretton announcing the price of the PlayStation 4. Their used and always online policy got significant cheers, but the simple fact that Sony was undercutting the Xbox One by $100 was astounding and almost unbelievable. How were they supposed to make money if they were selling it that low (in a world where $399 is low...what's happening...)? Gamers didn't care. It was just a welcome sight to see.
Who cares about my feelings or your feelings towards the console. The true fact is that nothing I heard the entire week got as many cheers as Andrew House announcing the price of the PlayStation 4. Their used and always online policy got significant cheers, but the simple fact that Sony was undercutting the Xbox One by $100 was astounding and almost unbelievable. How were they supposed to make money if they were selling it that low (in a world where $399 is low…what’s happening…)? Gamers didn’t care. It was just a welcome sight to see.
LeBron James. He's a love him or hate him celebrity. He's on the cover of NBA 2K14, which prompted 2K to say "let's have LeBron talk to his digital self and pretend like it's a surprise he's talking to his digital self as if he didn't record the dialog." It was a bizarre way to promote the game, which was strictly through graphics that are good, but not really good enough given the crazy advancements other games THIS generation have made. All in all...LeBron James. The end.
LeBron James. He’s a love him or hate him celebrity. He’s on the cover of NBA 2K14, which prompted 2K to say “let’s have LeBron talk to his digital self and pretend like it’s a surprise he’s talking to his digital self as if he didn’t record the dialog.” It was a bizarre way to promote the game, which was strictly through graphics that are good, but not really good enough given the crazy advancements other games THIS generation have made. All in all…LeBron James. The end.
I was with a group of friends watching the EA press conference right before we recorded this episode of TOPS. While watching the sports game section, we noticed that they all had some kind of technological buzz word. NBA had BounceTek. Madden had True Step. Fifa did not seem to have one, but leave it to a friend in my group to shout "so what is this one going to be? Accu-Balls or something?" We proceeded to guffaw for many moons. I know nobody cares...but I do, and that's really the most important thing. (I would later come to find out that they had one called Pure Shot, but Accu-Balls is much funnier.)
I was with a group of friends watching the EA press conference right before we recorded this episode of TOPS. While watching the sports game section, we noticed that they all had some kind of technological buzz word. NBA had BounceTek. Madden had True Step. Fifa did not seem to have one, but leave it to a friend in my group to shout “so what is this one going to be? Accu-Balls or something?” We proceeded to guffaw for many moons. I know nobody cares…but I do, and that’s really the most important thing. (I would later come to find out that they had one called Pure Shot, but Accu-Balls is much funnier.)

 

 

So ends GeekTi.me’s small look at E3. It’s been such a great week full of fantastic games. I can’t wait for the coming months, but my wallet sure can.

Feature, Video Games

Breaking Backlog

The picture you see at the top of this post is something all gamers are familiar with. The stack varies in size from person to person. It also has several different names, but they all stand in tribute to the inability of a gamer to focus on several tasks at once. It’s a backlog, and it is the deadliest thing imaginable.

The first step in eliminating the terror that is the dreaded backlog is to first discover the reason behind the existence of backlogs in the first place. For those of us who focus on games like hawks, we scope out new games and we want new games. The new hotness comes out, and we get the new hotness, and we love the new hotness. We forgo every other game we have to play the new hotness and we completely forget about the old hotness that we once considered the new hotness. I’ll stop saying hotness now, but the point is that gamers have a very short attention span. If we see a game we like, we get the game despite the fact that we have at least one other game that did the exact same thing to us months…weeks…maybe even a single week ago.

The goal is to terminate the backlog. There are a few ways to do this (potentially…if you aren’t WEAK!)

There are two types of gaming experiences out there. Each one branches out into a bunch of sub-experiences, but they all fall under two. You have solo gaming experiences and social gaming experiences. Now, solo gaming experiences are fine and wonderful. They allow for the most immersion and really let you attach yourself to a character. They are, however and unfortunately, one of the leading causes of backlogs. If you don’t get entirely immersed in a game while having a solo experience, it could lead to boredom and eventually…well…you get where I’m going with this.

This isn't a posed stock image at all! No way!
This isn’t a posed stock image at all! No way!

Something as simple as bringing somebody along for the ride with you could be all the medicine you need to rebuild the bridge between you and your game. It could be a gamer friend wanting to try out the game. If the campaign has co-op, more power to you both. Play through it that day and let the rivers of friendship wash over you. Even if it’s single player, the concept of “taking turns” was introduced long before we ever had video games.

This step is especially useful if you have a non-gamer friend or significant other who is suddenly interested in the game you’re playing. Simply having this person around to watch you play could add a layer of extra interest to it for yourself. If they ask a question, for instance, you are required to think about the game more and put yourself further into the world to pull an answer out for them. And if they take turns with you or play a co-op game with you, guiding them through the world is also adds a to the experience as well. The goal of the shared experience method is to keep you so interested in an older game via a second party that you don’t wander out and buy a new game.

Of course, you won’t always find someone interested in sharing the experience, so the act of self control has to come into play. Sometimes, as far as buying cool looking games go, gamers don’t have a whole lot of that. It’s simply a matter of developing it. Don’t buy games, no matter how much you want to. It sounds difficult and crazy, but it might just have to be something you do. Don’t buy another game until your backlog is wiped out completely. You could be one of the lucky ones that only has to take down two or three games. You could be like me and have your backlog sitting in the low double digits. You could even be worse off than that. The level of agonizing self control all depends on the number of games you have to roll through, but you did this to yourself. Face the consequences.

That actually sounds a little harsh. Simply destroying your habit of buying the latest and greatest game isn’t something that gets handled overnight. If you have the willpower, then do the step above. It might be good for you to develop that self control. If simply quitting cold turkey isn’t something you can necessarily do (but just imagine the good feeling you’ll get buying a new game with no backlog behind you), incentivize the whole thing.

What's in the BOOOOOX!?!?!
What’s in the BOOOOOX!?!?!

Find a box or some sort of container with a lock that opens with a key. Put a small sum of money in the box to fuel your commitment to the process (a simple amount can be $5.) At this point, lock the box and give the key(s) to a friend for safekeeping. The box, you can hide anywhere. You can’t get into it anyway. From this point, every day you fail to complete a game on your backlog, add more money (let’s say $1.) This encourages you to play your games, since you have a box of inaccessible money that grows by the day. Once your backlog is taken care of, you can get that box opened and use that money for whatever you wish. You could probably even use it as part (or whole. Who knows how long you were doing this for) of the cost of a new game to reward yourself. If you want to add an extra layer of motivation to the whole thing, I have just the idea for you. If you cave and buy yourself a new game, be it brand new or bargain bin used, the person you gave the key to gets all the money you put in your box to date. Now, obviously, you could lie and not admit it…but then, you’re the worst person ever and you’re not really trying to help yourself out of the backlog pit.

Use this time as an opportunity to develop your gaming multitasking skills. Play a couple games at once. If you have designated game time, divide that time among two or three games. Some people can do that, but if you find your senses are being overloaded, it’s OK to drop down to one game. If you find yourself overwhelmed by multiple games at one time, focusing on beating one at a time is much better than quitting.

Don't cave to sales and don't cave to whims!
Don’t cave to sales and don’t cave to whims!

Now, if any of these things work to help topple your backlog once and for all, you’ve got a job ahead of you. The job is to prevent the backlog from happening again. There are a couple things you can remember and put into practice as far as prevention goes. I know a lot of gamers (at least myself, personally) buy games on a whim. A game will go on sale one week, or they’ll catch it used for a really great price and snatch it up. STOP THAT. That’s a big reason why you have a backlog. Buying on a whim is the leading cause of game disappointment. Only the dangers of over hype can compete with it. I understand there’s an amazing sale on this game, but the only time you should really cave on a sale is if you’re buying from Steam (which, funnily enough, is the one type of backlog no one can help you with…not even yourself). You may spend $60, but at least you’re getting 80,000,000 games. That console game sale may look tempting, but you’re spending $10 less dollars for a game that you might not even like.

This brings another layer into the buy on a whim category, which is research. If you’re reading this site, you probably have something with you at all times that has access to Google. If you see a game you’ve heard whispers of, but never researched yourself…do that. Wikipedia usually has a list of “important” game scores in the “Reception” section of a game’s page. Use that. If you’re a hardcore gamer that researches the games you KNOW you want, you also have your go to websites for reviews. Check there too. Also, if you’re in a game store, don’t be afraid to ask questions about a game.

Also, make sure you don’t over book yourself. Games release every Tuesday (in America, at least, and with some odd exceptions.) If there are two games coming out the same day (or even a week apart) don’t get them both. Decide which one excites you the most and don’t buy the other one until you’ve beaten the first one. It’s such a deceptively simple idea, but it’s one that gets lost really easily.

I hope any of these things can help you break your backlog once and for all. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have a game from early 2011 to beat!

 

Feature, Video Games

It’s Not a Review | Remember Me

I’m a fan of interesting concepts. I like playing games that contain them, even if the game isn’t the best, because I like to imagine how great the idea *could* be implemented. The reason why I start this article in such a way is because I’m not 100% sure if Remember Me does as good of a job with its concept as it could have.

To its credit, Remember Me has one of the most unique and interesting concepts I’ve seen in quite a while. The year is 2084 and a company called Memorize has a monopoly on memory. They can be digitized and traded among people. Memory infusions help comatose patients regain their lives. Memory is everything, but the monopoly over them has caused a split in the class structure of Neo-Paris. The Errorists (not making this up, I promise) are a group of freedom fighters that are trying to topple Memorize and end their reign over Neo-Paris. You play as Nilin, the most important member of that group.

From here on the concept gets pretty fun. The levels of which the three main elements are fun vary, but I’ll list my personal preferences in increasing order…of funness…which is totally a word.

First and foremost, the platforming in this game is rather nice. It’s essentially a lot of Uncharted-esque climbing sections with a few extra jumping puzzles thrown in for kicks. The system isn’t too hateful and there’s helpful little “climb over here you idiot” icons lining all of the ledges so you don’t get lost. As I look at a lot of the detail of this world, I almost wish the entire game was more open (ala inFamous) for the simple reason that Neo-Paris is such a weird and interesting world to be in. There’s a lot of back story just sitting behind the billboards and the servant robots and everything else. At the same time, I’m kind of glad they kept it reigned in. The climbing got a little jittery every so often. The game wouldn’t let me climb to particular edges of wall or it wouldn’t let me jump up onto a clearly labeled pole until I completed some sort of arbitrary shimmying ritual. It also doesn’t help that this game’s camera has some fight in it. It’s not as pronounced here as it is in the fighting segments, but it does cause occasional issues.

Remember-Me-Wanted-Climbing

However, for every problem I have with the platforming (it’s all mostly not a big deal until it gets annoying) I get glimpses of things that would make this a great open world game. Every so often, you’ll run across collectible memory packs. Every so often, you’ll run across panels that show you the location of a hidden cache somewhere in your area using visual clues. It’s all very clever and adds a real open world feel to the game, even if it is suffocatingly linear.

More fun than the climbing is the combat, which isn’t much to write home about until you really dig deep into it. At the end of the day, Remember Me is a brawler. You are one person and you input combos to defeat large groups of enemies. You get several special abilities, such as the ability to stun all the enemies in an area for a certain period of time or a free flow ability that lets you mash the attack buttons to crowd source if you’re feeling overwhelmed (admittedly, a really cool power.) Of itself, however, this isn’t news to anyone that’s played a Capcom brawler before. Heck…it’s expected.

rememberme1

Unfortunately, the combat can be just as fiddly as the platforming, if not more so. The dodge system is great, but unless you have lightning fast reflexes, your combos get broken by strikes more often than should be so. The camera also turns into a big problem sometimes. I would often mash buttons blindly when the camera would spin in such a way that blocked me and most of the enemies from view. This happened often in smaller, restricted combat areas if I got close to a wall or some sort of corner. This being said, if the camera isn’t hindering you and you time your presses right, the combat system is pretty neat.

The real nifty part of the combat is the combo lab. Over the course of the game, you unlock combo slots and Pressens. The Pressens are attack types that you can insert into your combo slots to build your own combos. The are a few different types of Pressens. For instant, you can load Pressens into your combos that heal you or speed up the cool down of your powers. As you play, you can unlock crazy long combos that really help you out in the heat of the moment. The way they work is pretty interesting and mildly helpful too. You press them in a sort of rhythm, only pressing the next button in sequence when you’ve officially struck the enemy. If you’re being attacked, potentially breaking your combo, you can dodge over an enemy and continue your combo where you left off. This is assuming you press the button in time and don’t flip too far away from your target.

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The thing that I wish about this system the most is that it was more open for creativity. I can understand the reasoning behind restricting the first hit in a combo. I also get restricting the number of a certain type of Pressens in a row together (an entire combo of healing Pressens? Can you say broken?) Beyond that, I wouldn’t mind more control. X/Y or Square/Triangle (depending on the console, clearly) are the only two symbol Pressens in the bunch. What if they added more combat functionality with other buttons and let us throw in a few of those? What if I could end my combo with a special move for maximum damage? What if they played with the timing of certain button presses to make certain combos more challenging? All of these things could have made for an even deeper, rich combat system. It could have even made for one of the best combat systems in a video game period. This being said, I take nothing away from this game and its combat system. The idea of the combo lab is fantastic and the system works (when the camera isn’t being the most challenging enemy.)

*Allow me to make note of this one fact. I don’t know if it’s the game or the console, but several times while playing this game, it froze up on me. I mean frozen to the point where I had to reset my PS3. I only mention it here because (out of the the handful of times it occurred) it happened while in combat. Never saw problems anywhere else.

The best part about this game, and the reason why it could have (yes. I said could have) broken through to the masses is the memory remix segments. Nilin is a special Memory Hunter in that she is the only one who can get into the heads of others and alter their memories. This can serve to turn foes into allies and even more sinister things. Aside from some slight tweaking with the controls (strangely enough, the d-pad would have worked better for this than the analog stick,) these segments are absolutely great. They act as little puzzle segments to break up the story. You go into someone’s memory and change aspects about a specific memory to fundamentally alter that person’s life. You spin the analog stick to rewind or fast forward a memory and can take advantage of “glitches” in the person’s memory of the event to alter it. You may not think something as insignificant as knocking over a bottle would drastically change a person’s memory, but the fun is in finding which combination of changes does the job for you.

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There’s been a trend with this INAR that I just noticed. Every time there’s a picture, there’s always a big “BUT” after it. Not this time. This time, I can simply say that the memory remixes are absolutely great. I wish there were MORE of them. They are so few and far between that it almost seems dishonest to sell the game on them. Of course, too many would be annoying, but a nice balance of regular game play and memory tweakery would have been wonderful. They give a lot of insight into both Nilin and the characters she’s fighting against.

On that note, I should at least briefly make mention of the story. It’s great. There’s no real bones about that one. Nilin’s search for answers about her missing memories is compelling and the characters surrounding her are enigmatic and interesting. The collection of Pressens and special abilities work, in part, because of Nilin’s amnesiac state. Where other games would simply have a character learn an ability, or just give it to them with no explanation, Nilin already has these abilities and is remembering them as she goes. It’s a key demonstration of the story working in favor of the mechanics, and I love that wholeheartedly. It also helps that Nilin is a strong character herself, giving another fighter in that whole “cool female lead characters in games” thing that exists.

Remember Me isn’t a failure by any means. It’s a fun game with a great story and a great concept behind it. Where the game falls is how it manages to implement several interesting elements and then proceeds to not capitalize on them completely. Put this game in an open world, reign in the camera, give even more combo customization options, and give a whole lot more love to the memory alteration segments and you might have had yourself a game of the year contender.

Instead, you have a decent game that’s not going to get much of a passing glance in a few months. I just hope that the developers don’t forget Remember Me. I hope they do so much more with it in the future. It is an idea worth exploring further, no doubt about it.

 

 

Feature, Video Games

E3: It’s the Moon!

I reeeeeally hope you guys appreciate the titles of these recap articles, because I do.

In any case, we got a lot more tasty morsels out of the final day of E3.

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During the Sony Keynote, it was announced that Elder Scrolls Online was coming to consoles as well as PC. This was welcome news for me as someone who doesn’t have a terribly good computer for gaming. In the transition to an MMO format, Bethesda made it clear that there was going to be a reduced interface in this game. It was going to be very clean, unoffensive, and easy to use. You’re still playing an Elder Scrolls game, however. The battles are in real time. There’s no cooldown on abilities. You can just use them as long as your mana is full enough to do so. You swing your sword in real time. Up to this point, we also hadn’t seen anything but the third person camera, which they are going to great lengths to improve for the situational awareness you need in an MMO like this. However, for immersion’s sake, they have included the first person view if that’s what you prefer. There are four classes to choose from, which doesn’t seem like a lot for an Elder Scrolls, but when your get down into it, the sense of progression sounds great. Each class has three lines of skill development they can take. Beyond that, each race has their own skill line. Beyond that, you get a new skill line depending on the guilds you join. This, on top of each class being able to equip any weapon and armor they want, is perfect for really making unique characters to play as in this world. The best part of this is, with a few gameplay improving tweaks, this is just like playing Skyrim. To immerse yourself in the universe 1000 years before the events of Skyrim and to share the Elder Scrolls experience with friends at the same time is going to be amazing.

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Everyone knows the story of Final Fantasy XIV and how completely borked it was. It was a game that needed a bit longer to cook before it came out, but it wasn’t allowed to do so. What we got was a mess that Square even apologized for. With A Realm Reborn, the game was given more time to marinate and they’re finally releasing it now that it’s ready…officially. After they shut down the first version, they immediately began testing, and they’re now ready. The first new thing I saw was the Limit Break system, something fans of FF7 should remember. Each character has their own Limit Break, but there are also party limit breaks you can use right in the spur of the moment to help you contextually. They’ve made the game a lot faster and more interesting. There’s not any more standing in front of an enemy and doing nothing but swinging a sword. You have to move around and position yourself strategically and mix your abilities together in useful ways. They’ve really thrown out a line between the game and the players. They’re listening to feedback from the fans to make sure they don’t fall back to the same mistakes that Version 1 of the game did. They’ve introduced new classes to the game to help change the fact that you pretty much needed a set party with a healer to succeed in Version 1. They wanted players to be able to pick the class they wanted to play as instead of forcing them into a role. They’ve also introduced PvP for the first time in the game, which is great. The coolest part is that, if you’re running the game solo, you still have help. You get a Chocobo companion that you can set in a tank or white mage role to help you in your battles. All in all, A Realm Reborn sounds and looks like the game Final Fantasy XIV players wanted from the start. Good on you for fixing the game, Square.

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Bayonetta 2, the WiiU exclusive action game sequel, looks to pump up the ante even more than the first game. Now, instead of just gun boots, Bayonetta has gun-whip boots. She has torture attacks, which do gruesome autokills to enemies. Things like putting an enemy on a treadmill with a spike trap and then kicking them into the spike trap really gives you clever and almost lethargic ways to kill things. The gameplay looks a lot more crazy and hectic, if that was even possible, especially with the addition of demons as enemies (along with angels.) They’ve added a new ability called the Umbra Climax, which is a huge super move you can unleash when your magic gauge is completely full. They’ve also made it more accessible to newer players who might be intimidated by all the chaos. The WiiU allows for touch screen controls, giving players the option to use the stylus to attack and evade enemies. They’ve also introduced a completely separate two-player mode that sounds pretty cool. And don’t worry, pervs. Even though her hair is shorter, her suit is still her hair and her attacks still make her lose clothes. It’s a feature!

Outlast

Yesterday, we got The Evil Within. Today we get Outlast. Like The Evil Within, you are investigating a creepy asylum…so A+ for the whole “terrifying Sam” scale. Unlike The Evil Within, however, you are playing this game through the lens of a video camera…and there is no combat. You are a reporter filming the events that are occurring. Even before we got to the really scary part of the demo, I had to sit back from my screen and sort of watch with one eye open. I love horror games that instill you with that tension from the word go. You’re breaking into this asylum, the door is locked, you want to leave…but there is a game to be played here. There are a few different parts to this game. The first one is, clearly, dark and scary hallways with evil stupid scares and a giant hulking creature that’s Nemesis style stalking you throughout the asylum. Because there’s no combat, when that creature finds you, you have to run. You have to run fast and you need to trick it into thinking you’ve gotten away by using stealth and hiding. There’s no HUD and no radar, so you really need to use sound clues to figure out what’s going on. While you’re not being chased by a terrifying monster, you investigate the asylum further and further while picking up batteries for your night vision camera to make sure it doesn’t die in the middle of a pitch black room. That would be awful. The other segments take place around other patients (there are actually people still in this asylum.) The game there is caution. You never know which ones will be OK and which ones will try and murder your face in a fit of psychosis. If you guys want to play the game that scared Peter Molyneux away from the show floor, this would be it. They didn’t give away much in the demo, but there are objectives and things to do in this game, so you’re not just wandering aimlessly. You’ll also be able to pick up files and medical reports on some of the characters in the game to figure out their back story. Yes, even the giant creature, who is (apparently) an Iraq war veteran. Go figure.

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Another horror game in Daylight got a bit of love yesterday as well. The hook with this one is that it’s “procedurally generated.” This means that no two levels and no two scares are the same. They’ve done this to encourage multiple playthroughs. Like Outlast, there’s no combat and you only have one real tool at your disposal. In this case, it’s your cellphone. The reason why the two games coexist well is because they’re two different styles. Where Outlast is very much about physical scares and gruesome mysteries, Daylight is very much a head trip. There’s a lot of whispers and a lot of noises that unsettle you. They’ve likened it to a Japanese horror movie. Where an American horror movie is very big and out there, a Japanese horror movie is a lot more subtle and spiritual. They’ve also outlined your reason to go back and play through the game more than once. Because of how the game is generated, you’ll find files and snippets of story in one playthrough that you might not in another. In this way, you can collect the puzzle pieces and build the background while working through the world in a paranoid daze.

All I can say is that I’m glad we’re getting a solid horror game selection for these new consoles very quickly.

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The idea behind Splinter Cell: Blacklist is that there’s a group of rogue nations (called The Engineers) that are threatening the United States to pull their troops out of their locations across the globe. If they don’t, the The Engineers will bring a war to American soil. To help their decision along, the group unleashes attacks on U.S. interests. These attacks are called “The Blacklist,” and they are bad news bears. They’ve introduced a system called Active Sprint, but it’s pretty much a parkour button. When you’re sprinting, Sam will grab and climb over obstacles in a very fluid way without interruption. They’ve also made his movements when climbing a lot more fluid and Uncharted-y. Perhaps an unpopular decision for purists, the team at Ubisoft have revamped the controls to make them closer to action adventure games. This is to make it more accessible to other play styles. For those who prefer the guns blazing approach, they can take that approach because the controls allow for it. That being said, it was made clear that the hardcore stealth players can come away from this happy. That looks like it’s true, as a lot of the stealth mechanics seem to work pretty well. If you like some strategy in your stealth, this is the game for it as well since enemy movement is unscripted. They’ll walk in random paths, meaning that no one way is going to work twice. It’s also nice that the multiple ways to play the game seem to work together. There’s room for marrying lethal up front assaults with slinking into the shadows and being cautious. Finding ways to eliminate rooms of people with your skills and gadgets should prove a fun challenge. It also doesn’t hurt that they reward you the most for using your ghost style (complete stealth) as opposed to the up front lethal and panther styles (panther being their introduced style that combines ghost and lethal). They’ve also re-introduced the Spies vs. Mercs mode that has been so popular in the past. If you’re looking for a pretty cool blend of stealth and action, Blacklist is the game for you.

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WarFrame is a game that’s been in open beta on Steam, but made the shift to PS4 as well when Sony reached out to the developers (who made The Darkness II and Dark Sector). The game is crazy. There are space ninjas. There’s lasers. There’s super cool weapons. There’s fast paced action. Better yet, it’s free to play on PC and will be free to play on PS4. And it is a true free to play. You can pay to get things quicker, but you can get everything you can get in the game just by playing. They’ve made a big big focus to four player co-op, so you can play with your friends and unleash chaos. There are a few competitive elements, but there isn’t PvP. It’s all co-op goodness. It’s also a very hectic, fast paced game. The team focused on the quickness of these ninjas. You can knee slide to move forward quickly and run on walls and just wreck all kinds of shop instead of hiding behind cover and waiting. You bring the action to every second of this game. Look forward to this day one PS4 launch. I’ll definitely be running train on some foolish alien creeps.

Moving on a bit, I think the funniest thing about Mad Max’introduction for me was Aaron guessing it as a joke during our Sony Keynote liveblog…and it actually being the correct answer. Beyond that initial debut trailer, there hasn’t been any gameplay shown. We just know it’s going to be a massive open world with car combat and a lot of scavenging. Should be interesting once that one hits.

Some Day 3 quick hits.
Some Day 3 quick hits.

Despite the fact that it really should have been out by now (at least on the WiiU,) Rayman Legends still looks like a wonderful game. As a sequel to the adorable and wonderful Rayman Origins, Legends has quite a bit to live up to. It seems to be doing just fine though. The scenery is even more colorful and rich, there’s even more levels to play through, a challenge mode, and a full soccer mini-game. The new musical levels look great, the new game mechanics (they plan on introducing a new one for each wold) look great, and I can’t wait to play all of them.

Finally, I’d like to mention The Order: 1886, a game whose concept intrigues me greatly. Like Mad Max, nothing was shown beyond the teaser trailer, but I did read an article about it that promises the final style of the game will be very much like the teaser trailer. I’m ok with that, because the steampunk inspired weapons and the London setting make for a great crossover. So too does the idea behind these hunters that watch over humanity during the Industrial Revolution. It still happened, but in a completely different way. It’s crazy how they’ve build this completely different alternate history, and it’s going to be fun exploring it in what has been described as a “story driven campaign.”

I hope you all enjoyed E3 this year. I know I did. Even though the event has ended, our coverage hasn’t! I’ll be coming back at you after the weekend (after I’ve had some time to digest everything) with a little bit of an awards ceremony. Gotta give the best in show their due. Until then, have a marvelous weekend.

Feature, Video Games

E3: The Dawn of the Final Day

Sadly, we are two thirds of the way done with E3 (three quarters if you count Keynote Day). It has been a spectacular event so far, and Day 2 wanted to show us even more stuff!

 

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We begin with racing game The Crew, one of the many racing games fighting for dominance in the coming generation. The Crew markets itself as a MMODG (that’s Massively Multiplayer Online Driving Game) where your world is the entirety of the United States. Admittedly, Ubisoft’s idea of a map of the USA is a bit off, but it’s because they’ve shrunk the states down considerably. This isn’t saying much when they’ve said their New York (as an example) is about as big as GTAIV’s Liberty City. They’ve focused in on big cities like Chicago and Miami and you can drive to each one no matter where you are. There is no lobby, so you jump into this full world of racers, be it A.I., strangers, or your friends. You’re let loose on this expansive world to partake in street races, offroading, and so many more things. There’s even an RPG style reward system. After each event, you earn cash and parts that you can use to customize your car. Customization allows you to completely strip your car and change performance parts to improve it. You get one car and can customize it however you want to fit what you’re doing, and that idea is to get you attached to your vehicle. You’re making it your own the entire game. They also didn’t go into some of the PVP aspects, but we do know that you can choose a faction based in one of the five regions in the game and compete against other people’s crews. It’s looking like a formidable contender to E3’s racing game crown.

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Continuing with the racing theme, we also saw a little bit of Need for Speed: Rivals. To set it up, this is the spiritual successor to Hot Pursuit in that the “rivals” are the police and the racers. Like pretty much every other racer we’ve seen this E3, the game is very much focused on the social experience. The world is huge, so you could be playing a single player game with your friend in the same world and never meet up…but if you do, the type of things that happen change in very subtle ways. You see, you can play single player as a cop or a racer, able to change that alignment whenever you choose. If you’re playing as a cop and you come across your friend in world who’s a racer, your objectives change to take down your friend. If you’re both the same alignment, suddenly you have additional objectives to undertake. It transitions seamlessly between a solo experience and a co-op experience. You have the option to turn that feature off, but the unexpected nature of the sudden multiplayer is a wonderful thing to have in the game. There is also a new feature called the high stakes scoring system, which is actually very interesting. A racer can go out and accumulate points and multipliers to augment the point collection. The racer must balance the risk/reward of this system, because the higher the points, the more attention you get from cops. If a cop takes you down, the cop steals your points. The only way to keep them safe is to bank them in your hideout. I imagine a lot of high pressure moments happening because of this system. Rivals is looking awfully good as well.

Yeah...I don't know either...
Yeah…I don’t know either…

The Evil Within is Shinji Mikami’s new survival horror nightmare and it looks to be a true survival horror experience. There wasn’t a whole lot of gameplay shown, but just watching the video set me on edge. You can feel the tension and the aprehension in every aspect of the game. You have to be very careful to judge a situation properly otherwise you’ll end up dead really fast. You have limited resources, so you might be able to sneak through a situation. If that’s the case, finding ways to do things quietly is key. Sneaking around in stealth mode is a very important part of that. Opening doors slowly is incredibly tense, but also a good solution for not getting busted. You can kick down a door to get through it quicker, but if you kick down the wrong door, bad things will happen. You can also choose to fight and use traps to take down your enemies. You will, however, sometimes fall prey to an an enemy trap or find yourself being chased down a hallway by chainsaw wielding psychopaths. It also doesn’t help that this all takes place inside a terrifying looking asylum. The Evil Within looks like a game I won’t be playing alone, which is about the best recommendation I can give a horror game.

Battlefield4

Battlefield 4 looks stunning, which is to be expected. You can tell that the team at DICE is really pushing the envelope for graphics in this one. The destruction is so much more large scale, from destroying support structures in a parking garage to an entire building crashing down in front of you. The large scale destruction (and small details like metal detectors buzzing and car alarms going off) are all player dictated, meaning that the map is yours to bend and control. For example, the collapsed building completely changed the map being played. Not only the terrain, but the floating debris made flying vehicles harder to control and gave snipers a smaller line of sight. They also showed huge 64 player battles in multiplayer, showcasing how DICE is pushing the new consoles. Beyond that, the team oriented nature of Battlefield 3 returns. You have to look out for your squad and your team to do very well, and that’s always good. It really looks incredible and I can’t wait to play it!

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Wolfenstein: The New Order is set in a world where the Nazis won World War II, a terrifying thought, but one Bethesda intends to explore. The game takes place around 20 years after the end of the war (at least in our timeline). They’ve accentuated the technological advancements, the human experimentation, and the crazy leaders of the Nazi party. There’s a sort of retro science fiction theme that shouldn’t really be there in the 60’s and it’s really supposed to be about finding the solution to the mystery of the Nazis and their New Empire. They’ve focused their efforts on making a great story and great gameplay. The game specifically has “story moments” where the game focuses on character development and story progression, breaking up the shooting elements. That being said, the shooting looks really interesting as well, given that you can dual wield almost every weapon. Dual shotguns? Giant laser turrets? Awesome. It looks pretty rad to play and it has a very interesting idea behind the story.

As an aside, I’ve talked about two Bethesda games so far and neither of them is Fallout 4. Not taking anything away from them, but still. Sad day.

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We’ve got another awesome LEGO game coming up in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. They’ve created an original story that pretty much turns all the super teams into the Avengers. Everyone is working together to stop Galactus and the Marvel villains. Every single one of the 100+ playable characters are voiced in this game, moving forward with the trend of LEGO games having voice acting. Every single one of these characters have their own skills and their own quirks to help handle situations. One example they showed in the demo is Thor being able to use his electricity to charge switches to proceed further in the game. They’ve even got a hero creator in this one, which lets you assign powers to your own personal hero. That, on top of clever little touches, make this game look wonderful. Watching Human Torch light Wolverine on fire and Wolverine coming out as a fully playable adamantium skeleton was hilarious. Even cooler are the newly introduced LEGO Bigfigs, which includes the Hulk. These are powerful large characters that deal huge brute force damage. The attention to detail and the clever humor of the LEGO games in intact, and the large scale of all these Marvel characters is absolutely incredible. 

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The Wonderful 101 is such a weird concept that it’s actually pretty nifty. You play as Wonder Red, who has the ability to unite all of these superheroes together. This is implemented by drawing designs on the WiiU gamepad to fuse the superheroes into different things. A straight line, for instance, will turn part of your group into a giant sword. An L shape will turn the heroes into the Unite Gun, which is a gun that uses said superheroes as bullets. An S shape will bring out a whip that can yank armor parts off of large enemies and attack long range. Drawing a circle when you’re standing next to certain civilians lets you recruit new heroes to join your squad. Eventually, you get all 100 (101 including Wonder Red) superheroes to follow you into battle at the same time, with civilians acting as temporary members that follow you until the end of the level. The combinations of clever attacks are very cool and the tone of the game is so goofy. It’s good that the game knows that and embraces it wholeheartedly. The multiplayer also sounds crazy. There are a few different Wonder colors that you can control and each player plays as one…but each player still controls their own horde. It just sounds like a fun, light hearted game for the WiiU, and that’s never bad.

MarioKart8

Of course, no Nintendo console is complete without a Mario Kart game. Mario Kart 8 is coming to the WiiU, and they’re pushing anti gravity as this game’s theme. The tracks go upside down, prompting the carts to automatically turn into antigrav machines. They level of creativity with these tracks are through the roof. The cool part about that is the attention to detail they can get out of this now that Mario Kart is in HD for the first time. Things as small as hair flowing upwards when you’re upside down are things that one doesn’t expect from Mario Kart, but are fantastic to have now that they can do it. The game itself looks gorgeous, and it really has me excited for the future of Mario in general on the WiiU in terms of style and appearance. You can use the gamepad with tilt controls, or simply tap on the gamepad to switch to traditional controls on the fly. And, of course, the game is compatible with the Wiimote+ and the Wii Wheel, bringing the multiplayer experience we all love back (why wouldn’t they?) They’ve also introduced a highlight reel feature that lets you share your triumphs with the MiiVerse. Beyond that, it’s another Mario Kart. It’s just a lot of fun for all different types of players, and it’s great the WiiU is finally getting a taste.

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Quantum Break looks like a very interesting concept that blends an action shooter with Microsoft’s shift to all encompassing entertainment. In this case, a live action TV show mixes into this video game. Beyond that intriguing idea, the whole concept of time travel and time completely breaking down is also a very interesting story concept. I can’t wait to see how they pull this idea off. Actions you take in the game will somehow affect your show and events in the show will affect your game. The idea of the show doing stuff to your game is an easy concept to grasp, but how the game changes a live action show is a very intriguing mystery. Still, Remedy have assured potential watchers and players that your game and your show will be your experience. News also hit yesterday that the universe of Alan Wake will somehow cross into the game too. I can’t wait to see how it works.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up Watch_Dogs at least once. I won’t go in depth on this, because any gamer worth their salt has seen game play of it…and anyone who’s seen game play knows that it looks amazing. It’s a done deal for me at least.

quickhits
Some Day 2 quick hits.

I’d also like to bring up Destiny, a game that went from “Oh. This sounds mildly interesting” to “I need this” in one gameplay demo. I didn’t really see it on Day 2, but I wanted to mention it anyway. It looks stunning. It definitely has that Bungie touch to it, but the game itself looks different enough from Halo to stand out. The loot drops are really cool and so are the public encounters. I can’t wait to play!

We also got to see a bit of Suda51’s new game Killer is Dead. It’s a game for current gen consoles that releases in August. You play as an executioner that takes out criminals and dangerous people.  Of course, the dude has a cyborg arm that can morph itself into different weapons. It looks sufficiently crazy and a lot of fun, just what you’d expect from Suda51.

We get another August release in the sequel to the critically acclaimed XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a prequel to XCOM, showcasing the origins of the organization. It is a squad based third person shooter that gives you a lot of control over coordinating attacks and making the best strategies for battle. Your squad is also bound to the terrors of permadeath, so making sure everyone gets the mission done alive is priority. The mission structure of the game is also RPG based in that you have main and side missions to complete. Add alien power upgrades to the mix, and The Bureau looks like a nice twist on the squad based third person shooter.

And finally, a quick snippet for The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. The game looks absolutely gorgeous. They took a game that looked timeless already with its unique and pretty art style and made it even prettier. Combined with some tweaked features exclusively for the WiiU, this Zelda is a must buy for old and new fans alike.

We’ve got one final day left in E3 this year. It flies by so fast, doesn’t it? I’ll catch you tomorrow for the final day highlights!

Feature, Video Games

E3: The Dawn of the Second Day

E3 has been jam packed so far. The big developer conferences were throwing punches every which way. We had a lot of people picking sides on the console war. No punches were pulled…and the event hadn’t even started yet. June 11th was E3’s first official day, and this day was the day to expand on all the cool videos and trailers we had seen the day before.

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Starting off, we had Nintendo’s Direct keynote, a 40 minute rapid fire affair that wasn’t really good for live blogging at all. Regardless, we saw glimpses of Super Smash Bros. U and 3D (working titles?) with Mega Man as a playable character. We caught a bit of the WiiU exclusive Bayonetta 2. We saw some Donkey Kong Country, a new Mario 3D Land World (with a playable Princess Peach and a cat suit), Mario Kart 8 (this year’s theme is “anti-gravity”), and so much more. Monolith Soft’s game actually looks pretty intriguing in that it kind of looks like  Monster Hunter with mechs. Ultimately, the Direct was a short keynote that seemed bare bones until you really looked at it overall. The 3DS and WiiU are going to have some great stuff going for them…but you’re going to have to wait til 2014 for most of it.

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To lead off the rest of the day, I’ll start off with my most anticipated game that’s been announced this year that isn’t Kingdom Hearts III. That game is Tom Clancy’s The Division. This game came out of absolutely nowhere. The launch trailer on Keynote Day began similarly to the Watch_Dogs launch the year previous, and Ubisoft were behind this as well. What was it? It was an online, open world, third person shooter with RPG mechanics. It looks absolutely stunning. The setup is a bunch of fearmongering about the flu virus living on money for ages, spreading the virus to many people in a short span of time. The game is set in New York and the city is sick. A super flu has spread, crippling almost everyone. The stores aren’t being stocked. The offices aren’t being manned. The world is in chaos, and you get to take part three weeks into the madness. It’s a brilliant concept. At the very least, it’s a much better origin story for an apocalypse scenario than more zombies.

Your job, as Division Agents, is to bring the city back. You can reclaim segments of the city and restore power or bring clean water back. Ubisoft has defined this as a persistent RPG with an end game and a level cap. They’re doing their best to blend the Tom Clancy style with an RPG, claiming that it is truly more RPG than shooter. It’s all about character empowerment, and that’s perfectly fine with me. The small details about this game, such as a character running his hand against a car door to close it as he creeps through cover, are amazing. The world looks gorgeous. The menus (in that there don’t really seem to be any…the map is displayed on the ground at your feet, for examples) look great. The dynamic events and how things get set in motion without your input is wonderful. The gameplay and RPG elements look fantastic. All in all, a must buy for this upcoming generation.

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The next big game on my “Yes List” was inFamous: Second Son. To begin, Second Son takes place in a world where the GOOD ending of inFamous 2 is cannon. With that out of the way, we can step into the shoes of Delsin Rowe, whose powers look absolutely great in this. Delsin is essentially the Peter Patrelli of the inFamous world, except he actually has character. If he touches another person with powers, he can use that power in some way. This lets you experiment with play styles that drastically changed based upon which power you have. As an example, the power we’ve seen so far is his control of smoke. It enables him him to both move quickly and turn himself into smoke to unleash all kinds of sneaky tricks. The gameplay is augmented by an interesting new twist on the inFamous story (set 7 years after 2, where Conduits are being hunted with no remorse) and a fantastic main character (brought to life by the spectacular Troy Baker.) Where Cole was sort of the unwilling participant in the entire situation, Delsin is young, brash, and clearly in love with his powers. The demo didn’t go into the morality decisions you have to make, if any, but I can only imagine (or hope, rather) that they’ll be there.

We also got a few new updates on Pokemon X and Y. Some of them were from Nintendo Direct. Some of them were from the 90-minute panel devoted specifically to the games. All of them are pretty cool. First thing was the introduction of the new Fairy type, the first type introduced since Dark and Steel in Generation II. It’s got a type advantage over Dragon, but no announced weaknesses as of yet. The new Eeveelution, Sylveon, is Fairy type as well as Jigglypuff, Marill, and Gardevoir.

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They also expanded on Horde Encounters and introduced Sky Battles. Horde battles act as wild Pokemon battles against more than one Pokemon and Sky Battles utilize specific flying Pokemon to battle…in the sky. They also introduced five new Pokemon, with Talonflame and Noivern being my two favorites of the bunch.

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One of the most intriguing games I saw at the Keynotes (and again yesterday) was Project Spark. This game is THE game for creativity. It goes way beyond the scope of something like, say, LittleBigPlanet. There’s no punishment for that creativity. The game has unlimited un-do and rewind features, meaning any little mistake you might make doesn’t have to go un-fixed. I watched a man turn a flat and empty space into a wooded area, create a pet rock that followed him around, and did it all in seconds. The game lets you meticulously slave over your creation, but it also gives you options to make a world quickly. There seems to be virtually no creative limit for this game, and it’s a wonderful thing.

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While we’re on Xbox exclusives, Day 1 had a little bit more Ryse in it. In Ryse, you play as a Roman Legionnaire (they said his name, but I’m not going to spell it right…) trying to follow in his father’s footsteps as a great general…except for that his family gets murdered…and then he goes on a quest for revenge. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is. I won’t state the obvious. Once you get into the gameplay, you see a very solid game with a lot of cool gruesome effects. Thankfully enough, once you get deep down into it, the premise and the game play are pretty different from similarly exclusive third person action game that shall not be named. There are a lot of quick time events though…a lot of quick time events.

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The final Xbox exclusive we’ll talk about (for now) is Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall. This mech based first-person shooter looks pretty neat. There’s no denying that. It’s all about finding ways to blend mech combat and foot combat to your advantage. Using the mechs (called the Titans in this game) is key, but using them everywhere and all the time becomes a bother. You really need to switch up your strategies to be successful. There are, clearly, a lot of tropes from Call of Duty, but the game itself looks really fun and interesting. The fact that they made a game where being on foot is as interesting (and sometimes as empowering) as being in a giant mech warrior is great. They really struck a balance with that. Jetpacks (for the added verticality you can’t get in a CoD game) is also a welcome addition. For anyone who wanted the team at Respawn to succeed after the whole Infinity Ward fiasco, you got your wish.

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We saw a bit more on Killzone: Shadow Fall today as well. The first thing that anyone has to note about this Killzone is, honestly, something superficial. The colors in this game are such a weird contrast from the original Killzone games. We’re on a planet that has life in it. There’s a lot of bright colors and rich looking settings that it almost doesn’t look like a Killzone game at first. The gameplay is really interesting, and the new technology they’ve introduced for this one is great. It takes place 30 years after Killzone 3, so I should hope so at least. The drone you have with you really helps to give you some sort of control over your style of play. Use it as a distraction to flank your enemies. Sneak up behind them and use it to paralyze them while you pick them off safely. Set it up as a shield and just fire away. There’s a lot you can do to strategize in this one, which is a welcome change from the old games. The story seems interesting too. There’s a large Berlin style wall surrounding the entire planet, keeping the Helghast on one side and the ISA on the other. It’s a great sort of Cold War style conflict. Both fingers are on the trigger and it’s going to blow up in everyone’s faces eventually. Seeing that happen is going to be great.

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Knack has the distinction of being the first PS4 game introduced to the world. It’s being designed by a team led by Mark Cerny, the PS4’s lead architect. The thing that has me excited about this game is Cerny’s resume. He’s been behind a lot of great games in the past, so I’m looking forward to this. The core concept of Knack is really interesting. You’re a little block creature that can change its size to fit the general situation. If you need to get through a small area, make yourself tiny. If you need to punch a couple of tanks, get big and mean. It’s a giant physics nightmare, with the blocks dropping off and jumping on as quick as they do, but Cerny’s team managed to push the power of the PS4 to do it. The game looks like really simple fun and it also looks very charming to boot.

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Drive Club is designed to be a car fan’s wet dream. Evolution Studios, the team behind the WRC and Motorstorm series, have made Drive Club this generation’s racing project. The team has made it clear that this game is about interacting with others and really enjoying the spirit of a racing game. To push this, the developers pinpointed two of their multiplayer features (among many others). The Face Offs are challenges based around beating people at their own game. For example, beating someone’s time trial or drifting over a set distance in a particular time nets you points. You are going one on one against someone’s skills in a particular setting. Overdrives are meant for you to show off your flair. Drifting and donuts and other cool car related things give you points that help boost up your “club” or team of racers. The team has made it clear that, even if it LOOKS like a simulation like Gran Turismo, it’s actuall a very accessible game anyone can get into. Here’s to seeing how it stacks up against the crazy amount of racing games we have coming out this gen.

Protip: If you’re getting the PS4 and you have PlayStation+, you get this game for free on Day 1. Pretty sweet.

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We got to see a really cool gameplay demo of the new Thief game. Square-Enix is bringing the popular series back in force (finally!) Clearly, this game is all about stealth. You even have a specific icon that tells you if you’re in the light and detectable. Garrett has this ability called the swoop that lets him move very quickly between points. This is great for getting around guards or jumping from shadow to shadow with ease. There’s also an optional feature called Focus that can be turned off at the menu if you want an extra challenge. The Focus is a trump card that helps you be your stealthy self. You can use it while firing arrows to zoom in and kind of slow down time to get a better shot. You can use it to kind of scout ahead of your position so you can see enemies and start to plan an your path. You can even use it to accelerate pick pocketing and lock picking if you’re pressed for time. That’s actually the order of the day for this game. There’s a lot of features you can toggle on and off to tailor your particular stealth experience. If you prefer to have no objective markers and floating icons, you can do that to challenge yourself. Your path to objectives are also very open. In an given mission, you have a couple different ways you can accomplish your goal, which is welcome. Thief is looking like a great game for anyone who loves stealth.

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Telltale came to talk about The Walking Dead: 400 Days during Day 1, which excited me a lot. 400 Days is a DLC episode for The Walking Dead: Season 1 that bridges the gap between Season 1 and 2. Your choices from Season 1 will funnel into 400 Days and 400 Days’ choices will funnel into Season 2. The cool thing about 400 Days is that it is five different stories that you can take control of in any order. Each one is a different day within the first 400 days of the apocalypse. The cool part about that is the episodes can change things in later chapters. They all center around a specific area and the events from earlier chapters can and will be referenced in later chapters. The episode is going to last about as long as Season 1′s episodes, which is a decent amount, and I cannot wait. More Telltale Walking Dead is always a good thing.

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Keeping with the zombie theme, we also got to see Dead Rising 3…and the metric crap ton of zombies they managed to fit on the screen at once. Seriously…it’s almost unbelievable. The game looks a lot darker and serious at first glance, but they do give you the choice to put the usual Dead Rising silliness into it. The combo weapons return and you can still do your silly costumes, but it’s all under a much more subtle package…which is to say, subtle for a Dead Rising game. Trying to find creative ways to keep the zombies off you will be a challenge and also pretty fun for gamers who enjoy the Dead Rising games, especially in an impressive looking open world.

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Other (bigger) games everyone knows about, such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV, Batman: Arkham Origins, Forza 5, Dark Souls II, and Madden 25 were all touched on today, but we know enough about these returning series already that a mention of them should be enough.

We’ve still got two days of gaming wonderland left. Welcome to the second day. Have a good one.