Monday, July 16, 2007

Post-E3 Thoughts and Game Impressions

Well, E3 has come and gone. All indications are that this may have been the last E3 we will ever see. Some people liked the new show (minus the Hanger that was far away from the hotels), some people hated the new confined show. It seems a lot of the show happened in hotel rooms or small party areas in hotels. I'm not sure what the final cost was for each company, but outside of the poor (but mandatory) food service at the LA Convention Center what did they really gain from this?

I think all the companies could go back to the table and find a nice middle ground between the two extremes. Go back to the LA Convention Center, increase the invitations a bit (but don't allow the marginal people you allowed before) and increase the booth babe crackdowns from last year. I think that would be acceptable to the companies that were complaining (EA for sure, I think Nintendo and Sony may have also, I forget) and make E3 not seem as hectic as it did last year. It did get too big for its britches so to speak. I just don't see the expo continuing after this year, especially in this format.

The flow of information also seemed to be a little lacking this year from all the websites. Gamespot still had its live show, although I think they forced it a bit too much versus last year. Once again I point to the fact that Greg Kasavin is no longer with the site and I think he kept things pretty tight on the ship. A LOT of Sony stuff was shown on Gamespot, but none of them really stood out from what I watched over the weekend outside of Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.

Some of the games I would have liked to have seen at the press events did get shown in private. There are some videos out there of the presentations and they made me pretty excited, but who knows how far off these games are. This E3 of course did nothing for the consumers except for those that read websites and even then the stories weren't as meaty as they have been in years past.

Outside of that stuff I'd like to say what games were impressive, what games are questionable and which ones disappointed me as I viewed E3 from home.


BioShock: No big surprise here, I'm high on this game and the gameplay shown on Gamespot was top notch as was the Ken Levine narrated video that came out last week. This game is going to rock, it's just too bad it won't sell that well (and I hope I'm wrong).

Mass Effect: November cannot come soon enough. This game looked hot, especially from the 21-minute demo shown at Gamespot (even with Rich Gallup sounding like an obsessed little girl).

Halo 3: No big surprise here, I was on this game as soon as it was announced. I like how much was shown at E3. It looks like Master Chief and the Arbiter join forces (and the possibility of co-op play is in play, although Bungie has not confirmed) and the graphics look phenomenal in the regular story.

Project Gotham Racing 4: Motorcycles and weather...what more do you need? This game looks excellent as well and should be the racing game to see until Sony actually gets around to bringing out the next Gran Turismo game.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction: I love this series and this would probably be just enough for me to get a PS3 if it wasn't so expensive.

Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: I liked what was shown in both the press event and at a meeting with Miyamoto later on in E3. This game looks hot for the DS.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Color me surprised by how good this game looks and how well it controls (supposedly). This game is a Wii seller, however it is a game that is not geared toward the mass Wii crowd.

Super Mario Galaxy: This is the game that should sell the Wii this winter to the mass crowd of Wii owners. For Reggie to say that it is the best Mario since 64 (way to piss on Sunshine Reggie) might just be marketing speak, but hopefully not.


Crysis: I was hot on Crysis until I saw the stage demo on Gamespot. Crytek could get away with stupid AI on Far Cry since that was their first game, but with this game that isn't going to cut it. The graphics are phenomenal, but I bet you'll have to have a really good rig for it to even chug along well. Yes, it will work on lower systems, but I bet there will be a lot of slowdown. I still say I doubt we will see this in September.

Hellgate: London: This game is probably a year too late in coming out. When I looked at the graphics in the live demo on Gamespot and compared them to something like BioShock I decided they just weren't as good. This game was supposed to push the envelope I thought, but I came away unimpressed.

Killzone 2: This sits here simply because it looks great, but who knows how the level design will be given Guerilla's history. I think Sony has a lot to hang its hat on with this game, but other than an ominous "2008" release (could be late next year for all we know) there isn't a whole lot to get excited about until it gets closer.

Rock Star: Questionable on Rock Star? Have I gone mad? Maybe. Everything about this game sounds great, but I question how well online multiplay will go and how many people will actually splurge on the whole package (buying the game, 2 guitars, drum set and microphone for over $200) and have their friends come over to play. I'm betting most people will be picking up the drum kit and the guitar(s), but the microphone is up in the air. Then most people will just go online to find their band. Add to this the fact that you will probably pay through the nose to get these "full albums" that people are talking about. Chances are also good that they will let you download the full albums, but the tunes themselves won't be set up by Harmonix for standard play with the game. Instead the game will decide where the notes are, much like people that hacked the original GH on PS2.


Assassin's Creed: I am a little shocked that many people think this was the game of the show. Did they not see the demo at the Microsoft press event? Did they not see the Gamespot demo with Jade Raymond sounding like she was locked in a cage and couldn't give out any information? This game has been YEARS in the making and the graphics are stuttering. This game has been DELAYED to November. All signs are pointing to a game that may not be what everyone wants it to be. Honestly, Ubisoft should just let the cat out of the bag and divulge what everyone already knows: the main character is from the future and there are Sci-Fi elements aplenty in the game. In fact, the Jerusalem section shown in the demo will probably be a small part of the game (much like Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2). Just be careful of this game, I don't think it is going to be everything we think it will be.

LittleBigPlanet: Okay, this game is nothing like I thought it was going to be when it was first shown off. Now it seems like a sandbox-type game where you create your own stuff and play on there. I figured it would be a cool Lemmings-like game with online multiplayer. The game still looks fantastic, but the overall gameplay dropped it greatly from my list.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune/Heavenly Sword: I put both of these here because it seems like they borrow a lot from other games. The first game borrows from other platform games like Tomb Raider. The latter borrows from God of War quite a bit and will probably not have as great of a story. The first game's graphics do not look as great as I first thought they would be. The latter has great graphics. Sony needs standout games like the Ratchet & Clank one to really assert their spot and sell consoles. Neither of these two games is going to do that honestly.

Sony's Continuing Stupidity: What started off as a great E3 (good press showing, $100 price drop) turned to good old modern day Sony showing up at the end. Yes, we get the $100 price drop, but once all the 60GB systems are gone that are in the supply chain now they are gone for good. In its place goes an 80GB system with no Emotion Engine in it (meaning software compatibility for games from previous systems) for the usual $599.99 price. Why can't they bring out a 60GB version without the Emotion Engine and sell it for the $100 price cut? Basically they spit in the face of gamers everywhere, although now is the time to get a PS3 if you were to get one. The 60GB version has the Emotion Engine in it and it is $100 cheaper and will probably be around for at least a few months (unless people grab them all). In the end though Sony screws up again. How stupid can they be? They need a unified PR group instead of different main excutives saying different things (watch out for Sony Europe's head, he loves to leak stuff!). Oh well, Sony is still playing the arrogance card, but they are way behind in sales. They have to think of something or this generation is going to leave them behind quickly.