E3, the biggest hype machine of the games industry, has become more about letting the public know about the next big sequel in franchise X. The rise in apps and other things unrelated to games comes with the territory these days as well. Yet and still a few new IPs seep through the cracks giving hope to cynical heads who swear they’ve seen it all. The following E3 reveals show some promise but some of yester-years’s world premieres have had trouble living up to expectations and even hitting store shelves. Just hope, when discussing the following works-in-progress, you won’t say “what happened to that game?” to your Gamestop rep while he rings up your Modern Warfare 5 pre-order.
1. The Last of Us (PS3)
When you hear about a new franchise set in the apocalypse you’re first reaction is probably, “Ugh, not this sh*t again.” Then you hear Naughty Dog is taking a stab at world’s end and doubt likely turns into genuine interest. The gameplay looks vaguely familiar to Uncharted at first. Then the differences become evident as you’re encouraged to use stealth, ration your inventory and wisely choose your battles. My only cause of concern is the inclusion of the smart-ass teenage girl. She opens the opportunity for escort missions which are NEVER FUN. Then again The Last of Us isn’t coming out this year so we’ll have to wait and see.
2. ZombiU (Wii-U)
Great, more apocalypse! Well it’s time for my second crow sandwich of the post because Nintendo’s by way of Ubi Soft’s ZombiU might flip the tired zombie-Armageddon and the Wii-U controller into major selling points. Playing is believing and for all I know this could be Red Steel all over again. The CG preview still shows why building a secondary screen from the ground up easily trumps the halfway solutions Microsoft and Sony offer with Smart Glass and the PS Vita respectively. I’ve side-eyed the Wii-U and it’s Game Gear controller long enough. The execution is key though so keep a close-eye on its development.
3. Watch Dogs (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Looks like Ubi Soft is tapping the tin-foil hat nation otherwise known as internet conspiracy theorists with this one. Seriously though, it’s hard to make open world games play fluidly and, from the look of things, Watch Dogs shows no hiccups. Well that’s kind of the point of having a high-polished trailer but the animations and executions look exceptionally slick. And homey’s scanner needs to go into public beta or something. Knowing if a broad has a House in Virginia without finding out the old-fashioned way is quite vital. I’m just sayin’.
4. Forza Horizon (Xbox 360)
Forza Horizon is a major spinoff to the Forza franchise as it takes aim at the open spaces of…Colorado. Yeah, the locale doesn’t inspire much anticipation on screen but the mix of on, off road races with day and night cycles should make for some good times in a nice whip. The open-world racer has been done but mainly with arcade mechanics or not quite sim handling which never felt right. The Forza name ensures car handling will have an attention to detail competitors past and present don’t tout. Plus Playground Games, the developers for this project, have roots in making games like Dirt and the Project Gotham Racing series. PGR 2 is only one of the best racing games ever so excuse me for letting the hype somewhat cloud my better judgment.
5. Star Wars 1313 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Some will probably say Star Wars 1313 looks like Uncharted with fresh coating of Star Wars. However Lucasarts have been adamant about establishing this new title as a “mature” Star Wars game. That most likely means lots of cursing, graphic kills and an ample, bare rack tucked in somewhere going by gaming’s standards. Maybe they’ll use a more sophisticated approach to achieve the darker tone. The game’s a long way from release anyway but it’s shaping up interestingly enough. Oh, and if you’re the Force-using type, you might want to know you won’t play as a Jedi in this one.
6. Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)
Quantic Dream, the guys behind Heavy Rain got another cine-game on the way starring Ellen Page. Early reports suggests the story will focus around Page’s character Jodie and a spirit tied to her named Aiden, allying her with other-worldly powers. Expect quick time events and multiple story archs to increase replay value. Looks like kill streak warriors need not apply here.
7. Sleeping Dogs (PS3, Xbox 360)
Remember those True Crime games that dropped in GTA’s heyday? Well this was supposed to be the latest in the aforementioned series until Activision shut it down. Square-Enix saw the potential and enabled United Front to continue work on their ambitious project. Sleeping Dogs’s approach towards hand-to-hand, free running and car chases will make or break this effort. You have to wonder if the developers bit off more than they can chew here.
8. Dishonored (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Dishonored’s trailer doesn’t care about how many virtual bodies you caught. The ghastly first person melee combat mixed with a grim, steampunk environment has enough to make the most grizzled e-mercs wince. Now here’s the issue. Dishonored will disappoint at least a little bit if it follows the published, rather than developed by Bethesda rule. Trends are meant to be broken broken though, right?
9. The Cave (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Let’s take a break from all the killing shall we? The Cave presents a more laid back approach to the oft-ignored adventure game genre. The game’s design is more focused around letting players explore it’s world, an enormous talking cave with a sense of humor, rather than beat them over the head with difficult set pieces. There will still be plenty of traps and puzzles to stump you so challenge isn’t thrown out the window. Also, with Double Fine at the helm, expect some genuinely funny writing as you make your way through its world.
10. The Unfinished Swan (PS3)
Games have been trying to get all high brow on us as indie endeavors yearly gain ground. The Unfinished Swan is the latest attempt to make our favorite form of interactive entertainment more than just shooting, high fives and Mountain Dew. The premise is pretty simple. You use gobs of paint to uncover the world around you with a distinct, eye-pleasing presentation. Color me fascinated.*
*- Forgive me.