Once upon a time I made a blog about video games. And this is what's left of it (mostly tweets).

2 June 2009

E3 2009, day 1

  • Crackdown 2: Waiting to see what the game looks like, but not so fond of the idea that it’s gonna be a zombie/monster game. Laughed out loud at the opening sound in the video, even though I’ll never forgive Crackdown for not crediting me with the last agility orb.

  • Left 4 Dead 2: I didn’t believe that rumor, not expecting Valve to publish a sequel so soon. The locations sound fun, and I’m curious to see if the addition of melee weapons turns the game into a first-person Dead Rising.

  • Forza 3: I’m still disappointed that the PGR team is gone doing Mario Kart, but the trailer (all CG, obviously) is actually pretty cool, and the emphasis on drifting might be a sign that the actual game is gonna be more fun.
    Oh, wait. The Forza guy in the press conference introduced that video as being made in-game, with the video editor, and so says the intro for another trailer. It might be embellished, or the game may push the visuals a bit when exporting (as the first one did with stills), but if gameplay really looks anything like that, Gran Turismo is dead and I’m damn happy I own a 360.
    I’ll bet Microsoft breathed very heavily down the developer’s neck until they achieved those graphics (and added cockpit view).

  • Other games: No interest. Can’t even imagine how new Halo games — and prequels at that — can garner that much interest when it’s so profoundly more of the same and the story isn’t just predictable, but known.

 

  • Project Natal: Jesus-Christ, Microsoft and names… Anyway, it doesn’t seem like there’s any video of actual gameplay, so I’ll reserve judgment. One of the videos starts with a guy doing real karate moves at the screen, and there’s no telling if games will actually be able to do that kind of thing — but the technology may indeed be precise enough.
    Although EyeToy and the wiimote both looked rather promising in their time.

  • Milo: I don’t know how cool that… thing might or might not be, but on the screenshot it just looks creepy, like one of those horror or kiddie flicks where a little boy is swallowed and trapped by the TV. Uncanny valley for the win. (Interesting choice, making Molyneux a privileged developer to work with Natal in advance of everyone. Good fit.)

  • Full games downloadable on 360: Someone had to bite the bullet and drive the final nail into the coffin of retailers; I guess XBLA games sell well enough that Microsoft thought they could just go forward and risk whatever retaliation Gamespot can organize before going bankrupt. Now I’m really gonna want a 120GB hard drive.

  • Twitter integration: Oh please.

  • Facebook integration: Oh pl… Wait, no, actually, this can be cool: iPhone games that publish your high scores to Facebook can become as addictive as Live achievements. I just hope they don’t try and force-spam your Facebook feed with every single achievement you get, in which case I’d probably end up unlinking the account.

 

In an ideal world, Sony could still win E3 if they introduced stunning surprises tomorrow (mostly because Microsoft couldn’t demonstrate any actual use of Natal). In the real world, they’re probably going to focus on the PSP Go with its lonely nub, so forget about it.

3 June

E3 2009, day 2

It’s so much more fun when you watch the keynote streamed live on the internet and you can make fun of the bullshit that comes out of their little corporate mouths. (The disadvantage is that you can’t fast-forward.) So this one is in mostly chronological order — sort of a delayed liveblog.

It seems like videos are a long time coming, so I guess I’ll update with links tomorrow (because everybody cares).

 

  • Super Mario Bros. Wii: Apparently, Miyamoto just invented the fourth dimension of multiplayer, or something. I’m surprised that it’s just a regular 2D platformer, but I don’t even understand Mario culture, so I’m sure that’s a good thing.

  • Wii Sports Resort: It does look like it may be more skill-oriented (which I’m not sure is such a good thing for Wii Sports). I still do not believe that they actually needed MotionPlus for most of that, unless the original wiimote really had awful tech.

 

  • Uncharted 2: That was a good video, but I’m still confused why they felt the need to bring the Uncharted franchise to environments so reminiscent of that other PS3 exclusive, Metal Gear Solid 4. Aren’t there more than enough games in urban settings already? (This trailer is a much better sell, though.)

  • Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker: The graphics look very nice for the PSP, but more importantly I’m impressed by how deliberately Kojima fucked Microsoft with his smirking emphasis on “this is a real sequel and the story’s really mine.” Now I wish I’d watched yesterday’s keynote to compare with what he actually said then.

  • Agent: A Rockstar North exclusive? Sony must have put serious dough on the table… for something that doesn’t even have the GTA moniker. But 1970s espionage does sound like fun. More fun than gangsters, even (for me at least).

  • Assassin’s Creed 2: That looks very pretty, and the new mechanics are rather interesting, but I’m not going to have irrational hopes about the gameplay until I see it in person.

  • Final Fantasy XIII: Once again, it feels like Microsoft got played yesterday, showing stuff that had mostly been seen before while Square Enix saved the real trailer for Sony.

  • Final Fantasy XIV Online: Sony has finally realized the value of exclusivity, and been liberal with the checkbook. I thought they had a chance of winning E3 by introducing good games, but they went for the jugular and quite thoroughly screwed Microsoft over.

  • Sony motion control: I don’t know what to think about this, other than I’m pretty much convinced they didn’t originally intend to introduce it this year. I’m not sure it has anything over the wiimote (or at least MotionPlus), but their demo was orders of magnitude cooler than Nintendo’s ever was. The augmented reality aspect was nice, but this is probably going to turn into a gimmick extending the PS Eye, whereas I feel Microsoft’s Natal is somehow more versatile and could bring more significant advancements to gaming.

  • ModNation Racers: Nice design and good tech (the track editor is just amazing); it’s too bad I’m not a Mario Kart kind of guy.

  • The Last Guardian: Uh, I expected it to look more… different. I don’t know about you, but I’m wishing very hard I hadn’t seen the leaked video before; the final trailer would have had much more of an impact — and I’m afraid liked the beast’s design (and, possibly, its sound, I’m not sure) better in the preliminary render.

  • Gran Turismo 5: Ah, they’re not dead yet, and they haven’t been twiddling their thumbs all this time, either. The game looks even more gorgeous than Prologue, and it includes Nascar (yuk) and rally cars. Considering that they’ve got Blu-Ray and I’m under the impression they’re known for making meaty games (so it shouldn’t be just a couple token rally races) I think I might need a PS3. I remembered earlier today that the PlayStation also has so much better wheel controllers than the 360 (or does it).

  • God of War 3: Oh… my… God. I wasn’t convinced by anything that had been shown before, because it looked too staged and cinematic; turns out that GoW 3 just happens to be the most cinematic game ever. Amazing, and such a perfectly fitting evolution to the very first game’s fixed cameras. (And I love how it looks like the start menu integrates with your current checkpoint.)

  • I need need need a PS3.

 

Away from the press conferences…

  • Avatar: I appreciate Cameron’s commitment to making sure the licensed game isn’t a drag, and accept that Ubisoft is capable of releasing good games. But what’s worrying me — and not just regarding the game — is that I don’t see anything interesting about the universe as it is described (beyond the colorful animals) that would justify how much time he devoted to the production of this movie.

  • Tony Hawk: Ride: When I saw pictures of the board controller I thought it was a completely stupid gimmick, but I didn’t realize you could actually spin it around — that makes it potentially quite cool (for people interested in those games). You can thank EA for giving Activision incentive to innovate.

  • Red Steel 2: The MotionPlus gameplay could work, and it’s hard too tell with the video compression but the visual style seems to be be well realized as well. The Wii is definitely made for cel-shading.

 

And coming back to…

  • Project Natal: having watched a live gameplay video, I think it has potential to, if not revolutionize videogaming, at least replace the Wii as the obligatory party-game console that you fire up to make your friends look stupid in front of the TV. Implemented correctly, the technology is certainly capable of being more immersive than the Wii. And more dangerous, too (to your muscles, your TV and your friends around you).

  • Milo: it strikes me that this game addresses Molyneux’s very personal drive to raise a virtual child, and the game would be much less creepy, and more approachable, if you had a choice to make the character a fluffy white bunny or a fierce dragon. Or an EyePet.

5 June

E3 2009, day 4

Presumably concluding this blog’s coverage of E3…

  • Mass Effect 2: I’ll judge the graphics upgrade when I see it running on my own screen, but the interesting point is that it looks like they could be keeping their promises that the sequel would be more realistically playable like a shooter. (If you want. And I do.)

  • Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Nice graphics, nice cast. (Damn, I ought to buy it just for Natasha McElhone!) But I know now that God of War 3 is gonna be too good for any clone-ish game to be relevant.

  • The Agency: Not showing anything very new, but it just feels like it could be fun (if you forget the pretense that it’s an MMO). As for any game of this type, though, success won’t depend on graphics, or ping, or whatever, but on how well it enforces cooperation among a group of assholes.

  • Aliens vs. Predators: I like the multiple view modes and the way you select where to jump, but it looks like your Predator uncloaks automatically every time you use a weapon, or even your blades; I understand the necessity for balancing, but it looks like you have to re-cloak manually each time and that’s idiotic.

  • Split Second: It’s quite pretty (the on-car HUD is a nice gimmick… that might not be so usable) and might even be fun, but I’ll forever despise the absurd conceit.

  • PixelJunk Shooter: I was very much seduced by the videos of Eden, but this time I just don’t get the point. Probably hard to judge that way.

  • Crysis 2 pushes PS3 to limits”: I don’t know how realistic it is that a relative newcomer to the platform could assess how efficiently they tap the hardware, but I’m more interested in the fact they don’t mention the Xbox. The PS3 is supposed to be so much more powerful than the 360; if it’s maxed out, what does the same game look like on the other platform? (And why aren’t I paid by a magazine to roam the E3 floors if I’m the only one thinking to ask?)

  • Invizimals: I love everything having to do with augmented reality, but that’s a particularly smart implementation (even though I have no interest at all in a Pokémon-like game).

16 June

“Microsoft sources play down reports of new Xbox in 2010”

With that said, I can confirm that Natal will run on Xbox 360 so no new console investment will be necessary.

If the intention was to unambiguously deny the rumors of a new Xbox, the person who wrote that sentence ought to be fired — because the “necessary” bit is all but confirming the possibility of a hardware upgrade coming soon (presumably with a better video chip and more RAM, both of which are totally unrelated to Natal but would be a welcome upgrade). I’ve always expected Microsoft to proceed that way, with past and future games remaining compatible with both versions of the console for as long as possible — just like on PC.

17 June

“Alice and Kev”

This is an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3. I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes. It’s based on the old ‘poverty challenge’ idea from The Sims 2, but it turned out to be a lot more interesting with The Sims 3’s living neighborhood features.

19 June

“Microsoft: There Will Be ‘No New Console’”

But we’re barely halfway through this generation. We’re happy with the Xbox 360, so there are no changes from that standpoint. For the time being, we’re really just showing a whole new category of gaming.

Okay, now that’s more like a denial.

25 June

Gran Turismo PSP Gameplay

Wow… no way?!

Via Kotaku’s screenshot gallery, which I couldn’t believe either.

If that’s the way the PSP version looks, it confirms I’m absolutely going to need to buy a PS3 by the time Gran Turismo 5 comes out.

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