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My Post E3, E3 Report!!

I didn’t get to go to E3 (The Electronic Entertainment Expo) held this week, mainly because I do not work in the gaming industry and while this blog is more focused on the movie/television side of the entertainment industry I still like video games and enjoy playing RPG’s and action games.   I enjoyed this years coverage on E3 everywhere but this is my thoughts on the things that were revealed.  I’m breaking it down by the systems out on the market and the companies that make the systems instead of the actual companies that make the games.

Nintendo

Nintendo unveiled for the first time the Nintendo 3DS a handheld system that has pesudo 3D though this time it is much better than their last attempt at 3D with the often forgotten Virtual Boy a handheld system that used red and vectors in order to pretend it was 3d when in reality it was just tricking the mind.   the 3DS is similar in this regard, its tricking the mind into seeing 3d by using two screens that are layed upon one another.    The system does look impressive though with a graphic powerhouse built-in under it that comes pretty darn close to the PSP in graphics.  I am impressed especially with the showing of  Kid Icarus for the system which sadly does not seem to retain the original game’s layers of metriod on top of a platformer.   The game looks more like a shooter even if it does look really good and is the return of a game that people have been asking the big N to make a sequel to for ages.

Nintendo also revealed the new Legend of Zelda this one for the Wii has a subtitle of The Skyward Sword whatever that is supposed to mean and the game has of course gone with all motion for this release.   The trailers and demos that were posted on both 1up and Gametrailers were not horrible by any means but the game seems to embrace the Wii-mote too much and it almost looks like the execution of it is a little off as if they’re trying too hard to reinvent Zelda for those that want to use the movement of the Wii’s controllers in new ways including swinging for a sword.   The graphics I think look really nice but the game itself we will just have to wait and see how it handles once it actually comes out in 2011.  It could end up being a masterpiece or the end of Zelda as a serious gaming franchise instead it will just be another casual game for casual gamers.

Epic Mickey actually had some hands on at the E3 conference and in regards to this new “Epic” idea of Mickey I have to say that I am not a big fan, it looks like a standard platformer with a slight gimmick that is less than impressive in execution which is not too surprising.     There is a new Kirby game coming to the Wii as well which I could careless about as the last two Kirby games have been less than stellar mainly because Nintendo has tried to stifle the series and make it too simple and easy.    The also announced the next Gold Sun which I found really impressive looking, I loved the first two games in the series and this one looks very similar but with updated graphics, I just hope that you have the option of not playing with the stylus as it looks like a clumsy interface from what I saw in the demo.    The clear winner of the E3 show for me was Gold Sun I know a lot of people would say Zelda or Kid Icarus but I am sorry Gold Sun was the winner as it was complete and functioning and also a sequel to a game that I have been waiting for a sequel to since the second one was released.

Sony

Sony had a weak showing for the most part at E3 as far as I could see, besides a few small things Sony doesn’t appear to be trying this year at all. First they announced that the would be launching a premium PSN network for those who want extras to their PSN and probably in the future I would bet you will have to pay for the Premium service if you’re going to play some games on-line with others.  Perhaps not all games but eventually they will make it where you must have the service for certain games because otherwise very few people will buy into the service as its offering: early access to demos (more and more publishers are not releasing demos anymore), invites to select game betas (while cool there are other ways to get invites), discounts on PSN store items (wanna bet its only hit games??), automatic patching (woohoo!), and free access to several games that were popular or are irrelevant now (uhh really Sony a trail of infamous??).  They also went on to say that more details will be released…thus yes indeed what I said before to play some games online in the future you will need to buy PSN plus just watch.

Also announced for the PS3 was the shooter Killzone 3, a sequel to a mediocre sequel to a mediocre game wow color me impressed.  The biggest thing that Sony had it going at the conference was the announcement of the fact that they will be getting Portal 2 and that it will be the “best” console version of the game…uh what?  Oh and of course the biggest announcement from their conference was the reveal of the David Jaffe made Twisted Metal for PS3 (I hope it gets a real title) which does look really insane and awesome to an extent.   The first two twisted metals were awesome and Black was perhaps one of the best multi-player car destruction games ever released for the PS2.  This one adds flying helicopters and some really insane multi-player games.

Infamous 2 was shown off as well, the first one was really cool, from what I saw of it at a friend’s house, with the superpowers and the slow development of them over the course of the game.   The second one takes place in an all new city and you get some new tricks which look like they might be really cool as well.   Personally I want to see more of this game.

The MOVE was also announced with a price point and release date in September.  The move looks more and more like Wii HD which might actually be a good thing.  Most of the first generation games though will be a little lackluster just as the first generation of Wii games were.    Can Sony really afford a year for the Move to catch traction with the owners of the PS3 and the casual games market though?    I like the idea of the move even if the controllers are similar to the Wii ones and also kind of weird-looking at the same time.    Here’s hoping that Sony can pull it off, otherwise they’ll just hang in the middle of the system wars this generation.

Microsoft

Microsoft had probably the strongest showing at E3 for one reason: Kinect which is what they renamed their Natal motion system to.  Kinect looks impressive, it uses your movements no controllers in your hands and its impressive what it can see and how it can interact with you.   A few of the videos I have seen sort of reminded me of that crazy movie Minority Report.   You can actually see us one day having computer screens popping up before us that we just swipe and watch move….its possible what we’re capable of if we put our minds to it and work it though.   Kinect is the first step towards that kind of future where virtual reality is a well…a reality.   It really is that close now that is if Kinect can perform it will help Microsoft dominate this generation once again.

Of course Microsoft also showed off the new Halo game Reach but I am not a huge fan of Halo though I understand a lot of people are and I do appreciate the series I just hope that this really is the last game in the series for a while, its time to give Halo a rest for a while Microsoft come back with some new ideas for the series after letting it sit on the side for a few years.    They also announced  a remake of Castlevania: Harmony of Dispare for the Xbox 360 arcade that looks pretty impressive as well.

They also showed off the less than impressive looking Fable III.    I was unimpressed with the second one after I got to the end and was cheated out of my boss battle and my revenge for what was done to my sister.    The third one looks like they’re not even trying to make a game that is anything but a social experiment instead of a real game.  I can already see that there will be no real boss battles, and the magic/leveling systems both look really horrible this time around.   I could be wrong but I doubt this one lives up to what’s being said about it already when it comes out but it will sell like crazy because its Fable and everyone will be let down again just as they were with the first two because Lionhead’s lead Peter Molyneux always does this to people and they always forget it by the next time the following game comes out.   The worst idea in this new game:  your level and abilities are based upon how many followers you have not by what you have done in the game outside of the followers….so why bother killing people??   I’ll reserve final judgement for when the game comes out, but right now it looks horrible.

Then there was the reveal that a new 360 would be on market, a slimmer smaller version of the system that was black instead of white.  This is a nice thing but the only real thing missing from the Microsoft press-confrence was some truly really good games that were not going to other systems as well or not Kintec games.

Games of note going to mulitple systems:

Castlevania Lords of Shadow was the most impressive game to me on the show’s floor in this category.  The game looked like they had actually nailed a 3D castlevania finally after trying for so many years.  It looks like this one will really be a great game finally in the franchise in 3D.   Belmont’s whip is impressive and the graphics are beautiful, plus from the interviews its obvious that they are attempting  to make a fully fleshed out game with levels that you go through but you are always free to go back and get something you missed later once you get another item…similar to Metroid and other castlevania’s in a way but not as well because you get a stage select instead of traveling from one area to the other.   It could be the best game of the fall.

Another impressive game was Enslaved:Journey to the West which is a really impressive looking game I think.  The game centers around the story of a young girl who wants to get home and a man with a past that has been enslaved by a slave-crown and he’s basically stuck taking her home because she’s the one who enslaved him with the crown, but their journey back to her home will change both of them.  The game looks like it has great cinematics and also great game play.   To me Enslaved looked like the best game at E3 but most of the websites out there just panned over it as nothing, it didn’t win any awards or even come in second or third place on any of the awards either despite how impressive it looks.

Splatterhouse was shown again, now a full year past its original development cycle (the game changed developers mid-way through development) and it looks absolutely horrible and generic to boot.  The original game shown was a dark and moody piece that really had a chance of reviving Splatterhouse this one looks like a generic rip off of better horror/action games, yeah its bloody and gory and has some cool looking moves but it’s also generic and will be panned by most customers when it comes out.    Hi and By to you Splatterhouse you’re not being revived after all.

That’s really about all that I have that looked interesting to me, I am not going to go into all of the FPS’s that were announced or all of the generic games that I didn’t care for that were released either.   I don’t write to talk about games that I don’t play or don’t plan on playing only about those that I thought that I would like and how they have now disappointed me or made me want to play them even more.

Mass Effect goes to the Theaters

Word came down today that Electronic Arts/BioWare and Legendary Pictures have come to a deal regarding the feature film rights to the Mass Effect series.    BioWare is currently hard at work of course on the third game in the series and will be releasing it in 2012 if everything goes right.    Mass Effect is the story of Commander Shepard and his rag-tag fleet of humans and aliens who are tasked with saving the universe from an evil of unprecedented power in the year 2183.     Humans and Aliens together all travel the galaxy using faster than light travel via large relays known as Mass Effect Relay’s which makes it possible to go faster than the speed of light.  All of this was abandoned by the Protheans hundreds of thousands of years earlier.

The series is high science fiction and I am not sure how they will transport it over to the big screen, but if anyone can do a good job of it Legendary and Warner Brothers would be the ones I  would pick lately.    Mass Effect 1 and 2 both were multi million seller games and had great voice acting and a great battle/rpg system.     I would hope that the movies do follow Shepard but it would be hard to do so when the third game isn’t even out….and would they do more than one movie?    If they wanted to do more than one movie the first one would have to be successful.   Here’s to hoping that they cast well and get a good director too and throw at least a 100 million at the movie.

The Profit is in the Game-Ubisoft/Square

Its that time of the year, when companies release their fiscal results for the year 2009 and today we have news from two of those companies.

Up first Ubisoft, over at Gamasutra there is an interview with Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot regarding the companies fiscal losses, despite the release of two popular games: Just Dance and Assasin’s Creed II (teh first sold 3 million units and the second 9million) the company still managed to lose 54 million dollars in the past year.   From Yves Guillemot:

“a return to profitable growth in 2010-11 with positive cash flow generation, driven by a games line-up that is more closely tailored to growth segments and based on strong franchises.”

The company has a lot of big hitters this year already with the release of Splinter Cell: Conviction and the soon to be released Prince of Persia:Sands of Time which is coming out at the same time as the movie based upon the popular series and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and actually looks interesting as well. Lets not forget of course the new Ghost Recon coming later this year or early next year.  No doubt Mr. Guillemot is correct and Ubisoft will be making money this year instead of loosing it.   Also of note from Ubisoft is that they are watching how EA’s Project $10 to see if it would be something good for them to do as well.

Square/Enix on the other hand made record money this fiscal year, pulling in 300 million in profit over the previous year.   Of course they had some help with the release of Final Fantasy XIII and Dragon Quest IX both games which are huge tent pole attractors for Square/Enix.   They managed to sell over 5 million copies of Final Fantasy XIII in that same time frame and also 4 million copies of Dragon Quest IX.    They also had a stake in Batman:Arkham Asylum which was released by Eidos who is owned by Square/Enix.  The following year is going to be  a little slower I am sure, just judging by the fact that they have no huge releases due out in Japan or America.

Although they are releasing Final Fantasy XIV and Kane & Lynch 2 along with a new Kingdom Hearts as well.    There is a full more complete article over at 1up if you’re interested in reading it.    It’s looking like acquiring Eidos is going to end up being a good purchase what with the success of Batman (although they are not releasing the sequel) last year and this year’s Darksiders which I loved.   Square/Enix is looking to keep going and with Eidos under their belt they have the ability to push in a new direction too.

Gaming News for 5/13/2010

Overlord in Mass Effect

Coming in June Mass Effect 2 will be getting its next premium ( paid DLC) download add-on entitled Overlord.   The content is set to add numerous hours over five different levels all taking place on the same planet, it’s about an enemy AI that  is taking over the planet though no further details on the content have been revealed, gamerzines did learn that no new playable characters will introduced with this DLC or any future DLC which means that Kasumi will be the last character added to the group.   I haven’t played the Kasumi DLC yet but plan to get around to it sometime soon.

Mass Effect 2 was a great game and it improved on everything that was wrong with the first game.   I liked how each planet you landed on had its own dynamic look and feel to it.  Although I did sort of miss the driving sections from the first game.  Really though I didn’t miss the elevator conversations.    The new DLC will be less linear than previous DLC and more importantly it is obvious that Bioware has more DLC plans in the future for this game, which is a great thing because it makes me want to play the game and keep playing it.   I am contemplating another run through once Overlord comes out in June.

Here is the Gamerzine article if you want to take a gander.

Play a Darkspawn

The new DLC coming for Dragon Age:Origins called The DarkSpawn Chronicles has a hands-on over at GameSpot today.   THey have actually got their hands on the DLC and what you do in it is play as a darkspawn during the final campaign in the original game.   You play as a darkspawn general who has given some free-will by the arch-demon.

You play a darkspawn general, a hurlock vanguard, described by Bartel as “a new type of darkspawn given a measure of free will by the archdemon.” It’s the archdemon–that is, the dragon that leads the darkspawn horde–that telepathically issues your orders to take the city. Your party comprises various disposable thralls: darkspawn units recruited on the battlefield with your vanguard’s instant recruitment ability. Blight wolves, hurlocks, genlocks, and ogres are up for grabs, as well as stealthy shrieks and fireball-hurling emissaries. It’s the same four-character party setup as previously, but rather than swapping out one member for a more useful unit, you execute the unfortunate conscript.

This sounds interesting, getting to see the final battle from the other side is always cool, even though you know that side looses and you’ll probably die or something at the end of the story.   There rest of the hands on is over at GameSpot.

Sony rolls with the Coasters

Sony Pictures has signed a deal with the makers of the Rollercoaster Tycoon makers to make a movie based after the game series.   Its going to be  blend of CGI/Live-Action and well it sounds interesting oh uh cool no umm awesome boring and trite.  What is the deal with these games into movies lately….RollerCoaster Tycoon…sounds about as interesting as a Monopoly movie or a Nintendogs movie.  Or how about if we make a Sims the movie oh wait they’re already making it!   Sometimes these kinds of ideas don’t get off the ground and here is hoping that this one doesn’t get off of the ground.

Lets see what Sony Pictures has to say to The Hollywood Reporter:

Sony Pictures Animation has pre-emptively picked up rights to the Atari video game “Rollercoaster Tycoon.” Harald Zwart is spearheading the development of the big-screen adaptation as a possible directing project and will executive produce.  David Ronn and Jay Scherick, who penned the upcoming Kevin James comedy “The Zookeeper,” are attached to write what will be a live-action/CGI hybrid.

The “Tycoon” franchise, created by Chris Sawyer, is a popular series of computer games that simulate a combination of designing roller coasters and amusement park management. Each game challenges players with open-ended amusement park management and development while allowing them to construct and customize their own unique roller coasters.

The series of games have been very popular over the years even introducing others like Zoo Tycoon.    The idea behind the game of creating nad manging a park seems like a horrible idea for a movie….but hey maybe it’ll be the next Shrek Open Season.

Gaming News for 5/6/2010

May 6, 2010 2 comments

Nintendo Wii Sales down

Pretty much every gaming website today is posting about the Wii and Nintendo and the fact that their sales are down so I would be remiss to not point this out as well.     The big N’s profit feel 21% over last year and the reason why I am not surprised is simple…everyone I know has a Wii.   Now I know I don’t know everyone in the world but if this is true that everyone I know has a Wii and everyone they know has one…its not hard to see why Nintendo’s Wii sales and even handheld cells are down as well.   the big N has already gotten the Wii into most households so it is only natural that their sales would decline, but still they rule the gaming market.    Check out the full press release from 1up.com.

E3 all filled up

Back in 2007 E3 changed the way that it operated its business structure and the people of the gaming world including the developers themselves all stopped going.   Then E3 changed its mind again and opened up with a better structure that finally brought the gamers back into gaming at E3.  This year it looks to be a great year for sure for E3 and gaming in general as the convention

From the 1up article:

“With groundbreaking announcements expected from computer and videogame publishers and developers, this year’s E3 Expo is going to be the main event for the entertainment industry in 2010,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA. “Major retailers, investor analyst firms, and media from the United States and over 60 countries are already committed to attending.”

Silent Hill and Resident Evil movie news…

In a slight bit of movie/gaming news it was hinted today by Producer Don Carmody that the next installment in the Silent Hill franchise could be coming sometime next year as the plan on starting work on the film in late spring.

Can you give us anything on Silent Hill 2?

Just that we are hoping to start it in late spring in Toronto.

I loved the first Silent Hill movie as i felt it captured a lot of the games esseance within it, although at times it wasn’t quite as good as the game.    I wanted a sequel years ago, now the girl that played the daughter (Jodelle McFarland) is far too old now to play her again so that role will have to be recast.

Meanwhile Resident Evil: Afterlife gets closer to its release date this summer and its in 3d regarding why it was filimed and designed for 3d Producer Don Carmody had this to say:

Why did you guys go 3D for this one?

Paul was intrigued by 3D.  I actually made a 3D movie, Space Hunter, back in 1983 — the last time 3D was hot.  I must admit, I am astonished at how much better the technology is now.  We had two huge Panaflex Goldens shooting side-by-side into mirrors, and the way they projected it was over-under, kind of a Technascope thing.  So the image quality was nowhere near where we are.  We are using Sony F35s that have incredible definition; and it is projecting in HD digital.  It’s amazing quality.  Plus filmmakers have learned not to poke the audience in the eye.  You can sit back and enjoy.  That’s not to say we don’t have some things coming at us, but it’s not constant.  It just enhances the experience — it really puts you into the action.  When Alice is running down a corridor firing machine guns, the shells are whizzing past your ears.  It’s quite amazing.

Personally I have enjoyed all of the Resident Evil movies for what they were: action horror films.    I will be seeing Afterlife as well eventually.    To read the whole interview hit up this link from FearNet.com

Slow day for gaming and television news today.

Funny Things from around the Web 5/4/10

What Hollywood thinks a computer can do!

In Hollywood computers seem able to do anything that they want to do, including becoming intelligent suddenly or even hey how about the one that CSI uses all the time zooming in and enhancing the photo to find out who the person really is.  The whole article is available through Expert Reviews, Of course my favorite was about how computers get intelligent:

1. Left long enough, a computer becomes intelligent

From V’ger in Star Trek the motion picture to Skynet in the Terminator films, Hollywood has this fascination that left turned on for long enough a computer will become sentient. Usually this coincides with it becoming evil and devising a dastardly plan for wiping out humanity. Quite why is beyond us – what would a computer do by itself anyway, aside from sitting in room by itself whirring away?

This is complete nonsense. Any computer left on permanently would suffer at least a few, if not all, of the following problems: mechanical failure (hard disk, fans, power supply and so on), software crash (operating system falling big time or some other bit of software just failing to work) and overheating due to dust being sucked into the case. The only thing that leaving a computer on will do is get you a massive electricity bill.

What Conan was really thinking!

Funny or Die has a post up today regarding the 60 minute interview and they’ve added in their own over the top monologue about what he was really thinking while talking during the interview, check it out.

Gaming News for 5/4/2010

From around the interwebs:

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

News is coming out today from the Force Unleashed facebook page that the official release date for sequel to the first game is October 26th.   I loved the first one though it was a little bit of an uneven game at times, hopefully they can fix these problems with pacing and force powers with the sequel.   I loved the back story of the main character Starkiller and how he was a secret apprentice of Darth Vader.     The back story was interesting because it fleshed out Darth Vader more for the movies.  I enjoyed the game play mechanics and I am sure that the sequel will have equally as good.

Bethesda Games Studio Head has an interview up

The head of Bethesda (Pete Hines)has a new interview up with Joystick regarding a lot of things, and besides the interesting tidbits on the history of Fallout 3 and also what we might be able to expect with Fallout New Vegas there was this little bit that struck me:

E3 is coming up pretty soon. Should we be watching for any announcements from you or is this pretty much it?

Probably not. Just me, personally, both from my days, even though it seems eons ago where I used to attend E3 as a journo and now with my ten-plus years at Bethesda, I just don’t think E3 is a great place to announce anything. It’s just so much stuff going on that it tends to get lost, so I think we tend to try and go outside of that window for new announcements

To me that is what E3 is always about, showing off new things, new properties surprises that no one expects and here is the head of Bethesda saying the exact opposite that they don’t want to announce anything big when the whole gaming community is all sitting at or watching one place waiting to see who is releasing the coolest things and what they are going to be.   I am not totally surprised though as we all know that Bethesda isn’t doing anything anyway with the Elder Scrolls property that is interesting….at least not that I’ve heard yet and I won’t be hearing it at E3 either…oh well.  The whole article from Joystick is here.

New Dark Materials for Dragon Age

Via Xbox Live Newsbeat word comes out that Mass Effect and Dragon Age creator Bioware will be releasing another bit of download content for Dragon Age: Origins.    The new content has the name Dark Spawn Chronicles which could mean anything.   It would be kind of cool to play a side quest as a darkspawn but I am willing to be that is not what this small bit of download content is going to be, it will probably be a side story of some kind, its only going to be 400 Microsoft points so not a bad deal for $5 bucks and hey Bioware is keeping their end of the bargain this time releasing a lot of download add-ons for their new properties, although the quality of some of it is questionable at times when you consider what they’ve given for free already and then expect you to pay for something with very little substance or even need.   In the end though they’re doing a good job with their download content unlike some other studios out there.