Thursday, 24 May 2012

What I want to see at E3 2012

Photobucket The biggest, sweatiest gaming convention on the planet is just around the corner, and I wouldn’t be worth my extra strong blogging salt if I didn’t spray my opinions about it before it launches on June 5. Yes, E3 will be crashing into the Los Angeles Convention Centre in just under two weeks and it could prove to be a very exciting event.

Being the alleged launch year of the Wii U, Nintendo would be missing the biggest trick in the book by not bringing it up. I imagine we’ll see the close to final designs for the console and tablet-esque pad, as well as getting a glimpse at a few of the Wii U’s launch titles. I would hope for a new F-Zero, Star Fox or Zelda to be announced but would most likely be disappointed, especially if the list of launch titles supposedly leaked by Blockbuster is anywhere near accurate.

With the Wii U on the horizon it is very likely that eyes and ears will also drift towards Microsoft and Sony for new console news with equal measures of anticipation and trepidation. Anticidation sounds like a good made-up word to describe the feeling. There have been numerous rumblings about the new consoles, what specs they might have and even the form of media they will use to play games. If either company is to draw and show a new console at this year’s E3, I’d put my new hat on Microsoft being the company to shoot first. The majority of the speculation and inaccurate closed door mumbling regarding new consoles has focussed around the next Xbox, so I imagine it is closer to the surface than another PlayStation.

My gut gets warm and fuzzy when I start to think about the possible game reveals at E3 2012. The new Splinter Cell is at the top of my list as I really loved Conviction and just want more of the same, maybe with a touch more stealth siphoned in. As for other games a really want, I think I would actually send Rare a thank you note and muffins if they announced a platform-focussed sequel to Banjo Kazooie. If not that then another Perfect Dark title will make me equally as happy. I strongly imagine this won't happen though. It’s a shame to see two great game series just left to rot.

Lastly, there’s the long list of games that have already been revealed but could do with a lot more fleshing out in terms of what we know about them. I’d like a bit more evidence that Hitman Absolution can be played with a level of sneakiness that will satisfy long term fans. Heart of the Swarm is also well overdue for a little more light to be shed on it. As an expansion pack to 2010’s StarCraft II, Blizzard sure are taking their time with it. I would love to see more of Borderlands 2 as well because it might just be my game of the year if it is anywhere near as good as the original.

Whatever happens, 2012 and 2013 look to be very excellent years for gaming. I just hope the teasers and tasters we are served in June live up to the hype bubble currently growing in my brain. I’d hate to have it popped.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

BioShock Infinite delay is probably a good thing

Photobucket Whilst it’s beyond rubbish when a game gets delayed it’s usually done with good reason to ensure the most polished product possible is let out the door, rather than a rushed mishmash that will attract hate on forums like wasps to a puddle of syrup. BioShock Infinite has been pushed back to February 2013 to be buffed into something better.

"I won't kid you: BioShock Infinite is a very big game, and we're doing things that no one has ever done in a first-person shooter” explains Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine. “We had a similar experience with the original BioShock, which was delayed several months as our original ship date drew near. Why? Because the Big Daddies weren't the Big Daddies you've since come to know and love. Because Andrew Ryan's golf club didn't have exactly the right swing. Because Rapture needed one more coat of grimy Art Deco.”

This sounds reassuring because the love, care and awesomely twisted thought that went into the original BioShock truly made it the tremendous game it was. The first few Big Daddy encounters stick in my mind like a pulsating drill arm extracting fond memories and other important wet bits. If it’s this extra time that Irrational Games need to recreate that feeling in BioShock Infinite, then I’m all for being a little more patient.

My only concern would be if the BioShock Infinite delay is to implement multiplayer, as the rumours currently circulating are saying. I know it had nothing to do with Irrational Games, but the multiplayer portion of BioShock 2 developed by Digital Extremes has really put me off the idea. I feel that the unique feel to BioShock games suits a single player experience well, but does nothing for multiplayer. The one genuinely brilliant thing introduced in BioShock 2’s multiplayer was the fully interactive hotel room that replaced a menu screen.

Maybe a multiplayer mode could work in BioShock Infinite, as zipping around on skylines chasing friends has lots of potential for roller coaster-like gun fun, but I’d want to see something more unique than the fairly standard deathmatch formula used in BioShock 2. Whatever the case, I’m sure the delay will only bring good things. It will also make the pre-Christmas games gauntlet that little bit cheaper, which is always welcome.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Black Ops 2 trailer raises the rusty bar

Photobucket Well, shortly after writing this I’ll be rummaging through my cupboards looking for a hat I don’t need so I can sprinkle it with pepper and eat it. After seeing the Black Ops 2 debut trailer, I’d be lying if I said I still stand by the sentiments made in my last Call of Duty related post where I said Black Ops 2 would probably be a rubbish rehash with nothing original. Treyarch have really gone up in my estimations and it almost seems like they secretly share my feelings about Call of Duty needing a shake-up.

Where do I begin after seeing the trailer that has rekindled my interest in the series that has fallen into a mould riddled stale formula? I think the future setting and robot dog tanks would be a good place. Leaping into 2025, Black Ops 2 looks like it will feature plenty of robot based warfare, with quadrotor drones and equally nasty ground based counterparts roaming the battlefield. It already looks more Metal Gear than Modern Warfare. I like it.

Okay, the setting isn’t super original, with Ghost Recon Future Soldier also due for release this year, but it's new to Call of Duty and does give Treyarch more creative license over equipment design. And it looks like they’ve fed that license through the original ideas machine two or three times, with the trailer featuring conventional looking weapons given a slight twist of future in their looks.

Black Ops 2 will feature a similar interrogation storyline mechanic as was used in the first Black Ops, which gives them the handy ability to jump entire continents and time periods without heavy strains on the narrative. Apparently it will revisit time periods as early as the 1980s, showcased by the horse bound sections of the trailer, which again, look to be something different.

From reading the previews this morning, it doesn’t just seem to be the setting or inclusion of horseback riding that Black Ops 2 will use to separate itself from prior entries. Treyarch look to be derailing the non-stop linear action train and introducing branching storylines that depend on whether you accomplish or fail mission objectives. If they can make these consequences big and unique enough to encourage multiple run-throughs, then I might even be happy to award Black Ops 2 and (urgh) Activision the first-person shooter crown of awesomeness this year. There’s even talk of small sandboxed areas within the campaign, something that will change-up the pacing nicely.

EA have a lot of impressing to do with Medal of Honor: Warfighter if it is to compete with Black Ops 2. From what I’ve seen of so far, Warfighter just looks to be another copy and paste job of the Modern Warfare setting, exactly what I feared Black Ops 2 would be. If Treyarch can keep mission structure as off the rails as possible, then this new setting could be enough to entice me back and bring in a new age for Call of Duty. I’d like to hope it would also encourage Infinite Ward to try something new with their next inevitable Call of Duty game. If Black Ops 2 can pull off what’s been promised, a 2013 Modern Warfare 4 would go down like a lead balloon with a basket full of elephants.