E3 always seems to maintain structure in the flux of economic downturn. Even in a balanced flow through there is always a progression of thought that shows a higher possibility of what is to be found. This year was no different but a lack of viscosity seemed to parlay the event
Disney Interactive Disney currently with its motion picture division and Pixar possibilities has a treasure trove of franchised inevitability. The one however which seems to be leading the pack lies within the perception of “Tron” which broke many barriers back in the early 80s but largely became that of cult status. With the new 3D resurrection next year, the idea of a connected world has finally come full circle.
The new video game incarnation called “Tron: Evolution” uses aspects of different ideas to be addressed in the movie as a first look perception. The lightcycle is a big part of the marketing campaign so different perceptions of it and the headgear were shown in life size replicas indicative of the sleek designs employed across the new world.
Unlike Comic Con last year which just teased at its playability, the actual demo played on the show floor at E3 showed almost interesting parallels at times to “Ghost In The Shell” with the white out relating to an almost anime goddess-type character bathed in white. The actual light cycle play through had similarities to “Pod Racer” with slow downs to increase cinematic superlatives but the cinematics themselves were missing from the demo and the actual set up seemed fairly vague. However depending on the density of the mythology employed in the game, this could turn into a must have for the fall.
Square Enix With different filmic intentions revolving around Kane & Lynch, the inevitable Anglo bent of the different games shown display a certain regional focus but the design elements especially of something like the new Deux Ex definitely play out to a global contingent.
Mindjack, using certain persona non grata progression of movies like “Freejack” uses the ideas of mind control to create an essence of texture in the characters. The problem is that the gameplay shown in the demo comes off as a bit stilted despite an overambundance of imagery in frame. It is a case of too much combined with too little.
While Deux Ex teased only with a “Knights Of The Old Republic” style trailer on the big screen, “Kane & Lynch 2” offered a multi- player demo which sees the two assassins moving in between a big score on the street while the police gun teams are in full pursuit. The demo necessitated that if you are killed by your own team, you tend to become one of the cops which makes the necessity of the death by criminals that much more intensive. The mood is brooding but not overwhelming.
Koei The techno evolutionary storyline seems to be one of consistent interest this year at E3. With Koei, the balance was highlighted with the inclusion of a Gladiator type game which understood the necessity of simple blood and guts campaign to get the adrenalin flowing.
“Warriors: The Legends Of Troy” highlighted this vision in its gameplay demo. While the initial peasant resistance was fairly easy to blaze through, dexterity was still needed in making sure the spears did not find their target. The bosses of each select group offered more opposition but the hard kills highlighted by easy-to-use button prompts allowed for some truly enjoyable immersive gameplay along the lines of “God Of War”. While not as immense at that game, it does use some of the same engine mechanics especially in climbing atop the battling statue at the end of the demo level. Of all the games sampled, the playability here despite a very basic mechanism worked well.
“Quantum Theory” works more alone an Alien-type mentality using similar employment techniques to “Mindjack” with a little more of the fantastical biotechnology emergence of “Dante’s Inferno”. With the use of a ghost fighter which jumps ahead of the action combined with a weapon altered hand, the main protagonist works through a motley blossomed level that beyond being very colorful doesn’t really engage the player.
Sega Last year this gamemaker motivated itself with the Cold War aspect of “Bayonetta” which truly understood its backdrop but also the paradox of war. Tone was key with that game.
“Vanquish” by comparison immerses itself in the bio-tech universe. The difference resides in the fast and furious gameplay. The 1st Person Shooter is tried and true and the “Halo” comparisons can be seen within its structure. In terms of gameplay, the sliding mechanism which allows one to cover long distances while evading enemy fire is a neat trick. However when actually taking down the bosses the inevitable “God Of War” comparisons again comes into play. Multi-player can be optimized during this specific exercise though the breakdown of the actual villain must be done in stages through the legs and eventually bursting the heart which sounds more gory than it actually is.
WB Interactive With LEGO continually overcoming the structure of many franchise elements, this year was no different with “Harry Potter” taking an overwhelming presence at the booth despite the possibilities like “Inception” and “Splice” which were not necessarily brought into the loop in time if at all.
“Batman: Brave & The Bold” is the perceived original entry but its graphics and outlay is only designed for Nintendo Wii and DS. The playability unlike a full console game is undeniably scroll based despite the cartoon basis being uncannily dead on. If the design was perhaps done along the lines of “XIII” it could be groundbreaking. However, the playthrough, especially with the combat scenarios, is fairly straightforward.
EA Electonics Arts always brings the intrinsic dynamic to the proceedings to E3. This might be in many ways because of the the sheer immenseness of their booth as one enters the main hall. However, alot of it has to do with the attention to finite detail in creating alot of their games. Last year, “Brutal Legend” which balanced elements with Activision motivated alot of the discussion as well as Guierrmo Del Toro’s influence on “Dante’s Inferno”. This year sees sequel progression overcoming an interest of original darkness.
“Crysis 2” uses visions of NY within a large scale “Cloverfield” style destruction using a more mechanized intruder while emphasizing real world mechanics. The private demo emphasized inside/outside shadowing elements where the player enters the area around Pershing Square in NY throwing cabs while trying to avoid falling buildings. The physics inside the building as you jump is pretty racheted but it is a showdown with a tentacled beast inside Grand Central that relies on a multi-tiered attack as the area crumbles around the player. The structure is replicated with such detail that when the team escapes and tries to rescue civilians before the would-be Met Life building falls, it has almost an eerie feeling to it being of the NY variety.
“Bloodhunt” is lost more in its reverie of blood letting and lust which has its own arena as well. The producer Jesse, a girl through and through and producer ultimate on the title, understands the underlying adrenalin rush that permeates through the game. The key is not just taking out your enemy but literally turning death into a game. Think “Death Race 2000” as a RPG. Different weaponry motivates this with such moves as “Fire In The Hole” and “Gang Bang” using more in depth moves than say Koei’s “Troy” but with less physical investment. The world here is like a motley Wonderland overcoming urban decay.
“Dead Space 2” following its dark visceral older brother has a lot to live up to. Walked through two levels by the Art Director Ian Milham who also designed the first game, the question becomes how much farther you move with the idea in terms of gore versus suspense. The idea of basically “The Thing” in space works best when, like its cousin “Resident Evil”, it understands that the thought of violence is much more scary at times than the violence itself. One distinct level that takes advantage of this ideal as well as new engine mechanics is the gravity control room. The dynamic of a twirling gyroscope keeping the station steady that creates a different environment for our hero gives flying kills an altered sense of reality especially when the gravity returns. Exiting into space as the horizon of the Earth looms below shows how far some of this technology has come over the years. The mutations can sometimes push a little bit into comedy so this balance has to be examined but the bar decidedly wants to be pushed.
In a quick vision of E3, the new imagery more seems to revolve around established franchises. While “Tron” created the buzz because of the efficiency of the Disney machine, the cinematics of Deux Ex from Square Enix and the playability of “Troy” shows that smaller but globally based brands have the ability to keep up with the more franchised fueled majors.