E3 Conferences Round-Up – EA

E3

E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is arguably the biggest and boldest annual video gaming convention ever to grace the planet. Held in sun-drenched Los Angeles; the big guns of the gaming industry including Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony showcasing brand new hardware and games. The event is a pantomime of lights, music, noises and good old’ fashioned video games. Held exclusively to the press and industry members, the entire convention is streamed online for all us norms to watch at home. And that’s exactly what we did. People from all around the globe watched with bated breath waiting for what the next big announcements were coming to PC’s and home consoles over the next few months and beyond. This is a list some of the notable games and software that hooked us to spend all our hard earned money on the most expansive and by far best consumable media there is

EA

Electronic Arts are known for their prowess when it comes to the best and most loved sports games; epic racers; superb shooters and massive hits. EA may have been voted as one of the worst companies for two consecutive years but you can’t overlook their sheer scope and outlook and how it continues to make some fantastic games. From the Sims and the ‘FIFA’ series, to ‘Need For Speed’, to ‘Battlefield’ and ‘Dead Space’ and ‘Mass Effect’, EA know how to create a good franchise that will sell and please.

After a short teaser of a new, hotly anticipated ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’; a woman with a cello on a moving plinth came out to open with a trailer for the action role-player ‘Dragon Age Inquisition’ that showed off sprawling scenery and a seemingly endless world. This segued into demonstrations and a behind the scenes looks at the new ‘Mass Effect’ detailing how the improvements BioWare have made for the new consoles.

sims

One of the most popular EA games, ‘The Sims 4’ showed the infinite creation tools in making your Sim and ultimately their stories and adventures. The showcase was a bit cringey but at least it covered all the bases of the new Sims, there is still that traditional Sims element of being to create whoever you want – be it yourself or as the trailer showed, President Barack Obama – and whatever house you want and how the life and death of a Sim pans out.

criterion

Criterion are responsible for some of my favourite games in the past. I loved smashing cars off the road in ‘Burnout 3: Takedown’ and ramming Lamborghini’s in an Aston Martin police car in ‘Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit’, so seeing new content from Criterion got me excited. In early stages of development, this new game is built around extreme motor sports. From launching speedboats off waterfalls; flips on an all-terrain quad bike or blasting through snow-covered trees on a skidoo; full of crashes and smashes and those sort of adrenaline pumping moments that have come from the Burnouts and the Need for Speeds albeit on larger scale with a wider scale of vehicles at ones disposal. Although not a lot was shown, this is going to be one of them games to watch closely to see how it comes on and what it does exactly that splits it apart from other games with element like this in them.

ME

‘Mirror’s Edge’ was teased at last year’s E3 so it was slightly disappointing that it was still in early stages of development. Regardless of this, ‘Mirror’s Edge’ was a game that has a impeccable sense of speed, momentum and weight that I haven’t really seen done elsewhere. ‘Mirror’s Edge’ is going on six years old now and along with some inconsistencies (as well as pretty poor gun-play), it’s showing its age. It still looks fantastic and when you’re in the swing of things, plays like a dream, so when sequences of new and improved game-play and graphics was shown in another one of these ‘behind the scene montages’ the next ‘Mirror’s Edge’ looks like it’s on form to being what it originally set out to be. The clean utopia is back with the stark red hints is back and brings in elements that play out the best approach for combat; keeping everything that Faith does fast and agile without ever stopping.

HARDLINE

The biggest hit of EA’s press conference was the almighty ‘Battlefield Hardline’; a new take on the first-person shooter that doesn’t rely on the military backing that happens so often. This is a gritty, urban cop’s vs robber’s simulator that borrows from Battlefields of old. It is invigorating to see a game where you can choose how to tactically take out the enemies in a trade of mayhem from the right of the law for once. But having the choice of playing dirty is always going to win votes. The demo showed team of bad guys against the team of police trying to stop them from running away with the loot in a 32 player melee. And the bad guys do not go without a fight. Played in a similar vein of the Battlefield 4’s demo at the last E3, the demo has explosions, massive gunfights, car crashes, a crane taking out a building; it was just utter destruction. Rocket-propelled grenades create escape routes; debris allows access to other parts of the level, player’s zip-wire onto motorbikes. It looks fast, immense and purely epic. Gun-play is typical of your generic military shooter but it still allows you to use them in interesting ways such as shooting whilst zipping down a wire or out of a car as it hurtles as the police pursue. This type of game hasn’t really been done before and it’s invigorating to see a game where you can tactically plan your battle I And of course, it ends with the bad guys being taken down. ‘Hardline’ was released as an early closed Beta on PC and PlayStation 4 which stalled both EA’s Origin service and PSN. People want this game and like last year, ‘Battlefield Hardline’ will be fighting it out with Call of Duty for the best first person shooter of E3.

Notable Mentions

Bruce Lee is in the new ‘UFC’; ‘Madden NFL15’ and ‘NHL 15’ have been given an overhaul. But the big surprise in these sports game segments was ‘PGA Tour’; described as ‘Golf without limits.’ Yes they showed the simple courses but when a battleship rams through the middle of one course and runs aground, you think “wow. When did golf get so interesting?”

‘FIFA 15’ has again improved the details of strides, ball trajectories and more realistic players. The lists of tweaks that have been added to ‘FIFA 15’ only seem to be the tip of the iceberg. Football games, I find, have a certain level of excitement; the gripping tension of scoring one goal, not knowing when or how the other team are going to fight and claw their way back. These added details will then add to the atmosphere of an already great franchise.

Who Was Not Mentioned?

nEEDFORSPEED

It was announced earlier in the year that Need for Speed won’t be releasing a game in the coming months. Need for Speed has been one of those franchises that release a new game every year with varying degrees of success. I enjoyed ‘The Run’ but not as much as ‘Hot Pursuit’. And ‘Most Wanted’ felt like a clone of the Burnout game a lot of us felt we needed. This isn’t such a bad thing as developers are releasing racing games over the course of the next year or so that look to fulfill that need for speed. With ‘Drive Club’, ‘The Crew’, ‘Forza Horizon 2’, and soon to be Criterion’s next effort, Need for Speed won’t necessarily be sorely missed. It would have been nice to have heard from a Need for Speed but Criterion’s extreme sports racer will keep me ticking over for a while.

I felt like EA needed more in the press conference. It’s understandable that games are in development and at this time when the PS4, Wii U and XBOX ONE are still in early years of life; progression may take a bit longer as the new hardware is utilized to the best of its ability. But as it panned out, the reveal of ‘Battlefield Hardline’ showed that EA aren’t taking things lying down and it will be one to watch over the coming months. The sheer exuberance of it made it the ultimate highlight of the showcase.

 

 

Words by Jimmi

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E3 2014 Conferences Round-Up – Microsoft

E3

E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is arguably the biggest and boldest annual video gaming convention ever to grace the planet. Held in sun-drenched Los Angeles, the big guns of the gaming industry including Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony showcasing brand new hardware and games. The event is a pantomime of lights, music, noises and good old’ fashioned video games. Held exclusively to the press and industry members, the entire convention is streamed online for all us norms to watch at home. And that’s exactly what we did. People from all around the globe watched with bated breath waiting for what the next big announcements were coming to PC’s and home consoles over the next few months and beyond. This is a list some of the notable games and software that hooked us to spend all our hard earned money on the most expansive and by far best consumable media there is.

XBOX Computer giant, Microsoft had a bit of a tough time last year. They had launched their new XBOX ONE and had been feeling the heat of the backlash from fans who weren’t particularly interested by it always online features, compulsory Kinect, TV connectivity and social aspects. They were then blown out of the water when Sony revealed that its next-generation games console would be cheaper and had none of this. As a result, Microsoft did a 180 degree spin over the course of year that seems very far away from their original idea by removing the Kinect, allowing used games and so on. Never-the-less, Microsoft had to pull out all the stops for this year’s press conference. And they did…

CODS

Arguably one of the biggest franchises ever, Activision’s ‘Call of Duty’ kicked off E3 with their upcoming Advanced Warfare as a timed exclusive. Set in the near future, the game features the traditional elements of a first person shooter packed with mech-suits, drones a plenty, jetpacks, fancy, new age rifles and walking robot things; very reminiscent of games such as ‘Titanfall’ and later ‘Killzones’’. Although admittedly, ‘Call of Duty’ is not everyone’s cup of tea, the gameplay demo does look brilliant. It has a high quality of polish that you would expect from a console of this high spec and visually ‘Call of Duty’ hasn’t looked better. Dialogue is bit cheesy and best described as ‘American gun-ho’ (“You gotta go now… It’s okay. I’ll see you on the other side” FOR FREEDOM!!) which I feel is the suit of every military shooter ever made; it was like America was made to win wars but only in fiction. But that aside like Call of Duty’s before it, ‘Advance Warfare’ sets to sell millions again and be just as popular and for that reason alone, it was a worthy opener.

Sunset Overdrive

A colourful, over-the-top, somewhat tongue-in-cheek take on the traditional monster shooter. ‘Sunset Overdrive’ doesn’t take itself so seriously and from what we saw, the new first party exclusive is refreshing and exciting. We’re told that energy drink have been polluted and are now turning people into disfigured mutants that are slowly engulfing Sunset City. And the best way to get rid of them is by blowing them to high noon whilst grinding hand rails and zip-lining with a crowbar. If the game is anything the trailer sets it out to be, ‘Sunset Overdrive’ is going to be packed with one-liners, epic combos and comic-book violence. Although not particularly lengthy, the demo was full of quick paced action that emanated a great, chaotic and simply fun tone.

Halo: Master Chief Saga

The franchise that started it all for the original XBOX as a console way back in 2001 was announced to be released on XBOX ONE letting owners play the entire Master Chief saga in HD from start to finish. ‘The Master Chief Collection’ starts with the very first ‘Combat Evolved’ right up to the most recent ‘Halo 4’. The collection boasts user-created playlists allowing players to choose which moments of the story they want to play without having to go through the entire narrative first. Maps have been recreated especially for the ONE. Halo was one of those franchises that didn’t move me until I played it. The settings and vistas looked amazing on the older original XBOX and 360 and they are only set to get a lot more attractive in the newly retouched worlds for the ONE. Although nothing new for XBOX fans that have stayed true to Halo throughout its rise, this is surely going to be a big hit for those who want to re-live one of the best shooters ever created whilst keeping them tied over until ‘Halo 5: Guardians comes out in 2015’ or simply get into the franchise.

The Division

One of the sure-fire hits of last year’s E3 closed Microsoft’s conference. Ubisoft’s third-person-shooter-cum-massive-multiplayer-with-elements-of-role-playing set in an infected New York shows a co-operative mission that highlights a lot of smaller details that can be missed on first glance. Last year, this insane attention to detail was picked up and this year was no different. From bullet holes in glass windows, the closing of the doors on cars for added protection and the tiny details on the head up displays such as holographic maps and recreations. Although heavily scripted – I as well as the rest of the gaming community know for a fact that no one talks the way the players did in the demo in actual online games – the look and feel of this game looks enticing. Ubisoft came under a bit of scrutiny from players of ‘Watch_Dogs’ for not looking like the E3 gameplay footage and we’re hoping they’re not going to pull the same stunt on ‘The Division’ because it looks incredible at the moment

Honourable Mentions

The next ‘Forza Horizon’ is set to expand on what was created in the original with new weather dynamics, day and night cycle and tonnes of new metal from the likes of McLaren, Lamborghini and Ferrari to create this petrolhead’s paradise.

Capcom went one further with titles. Their new DLC for the epic zombie-slayer ‘Dead Rising 3’ is called ‘Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX plus α.’ It mixes all of Capcom’s greatest characters and lets you use them to, well, slay more zombies.

Moon Studio’s ‘Ori and the Blind Forrest’ and builds upon what was done by games like Journey and Limbo by looking simple yet gorgeous and full of life and maybe even spiritualism in this side-scrolling adventure platformer. Playdead, who also made ‘Limbo’ also showed ‘Inside’, a game with a similar look and dark feel.

Microsoft also showed off a plethora of independent titles in a montage (Stylized as ID@XBOX) with turn based beat-em-ups such as Aztez; side scrolling platformer ‘Might No 9’; real-time strategy, ‘Plague Inc: Evolved’; and ‘Grave’ which looks to be a horror adventure game.

2012’s Tomb Raider reboot scored highly so it was not a surprise to see a teaser trailer for Lara Croft’s latest instalment title ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’.

Who Was Not Mentioned?

Kinect

Erm, the Kinect. After last year’s E3, Microsoft was adamant that the Kinect’s features with the XBOX ONE would make gaming and home entertainment experiences better than ever before. Every XBOX ONE up until recently came with a Kinect camera. Now it has been turned into essentially a peripheral add on, the price of the ONE was slashed and it seemed the Kinect had been all but forgotten about. Without the mention of Disney’s and Harmonix Fantasia: Music Evolved and Dance Central – which primarily uses the Kinect – for a brief moment, then there wouldn’t have been anything at all related to the Kinect. Neither were there mentions of the TV features that littered a good part of the conference last year. Not that this phased anyone as the now-Kinect-less and cheaper console now means that it brings it on par with the PlayStation 4.

 

So Microsoft well and truly turned it around this year. No seething fans, no ridiculous inclusions that some people won’t use and no Kinect. They played it safe and in return showed some epic games excited us all. ‘The Division’ looks fantastic and Assassin’s Creed Unity shaping up to be another classic (more from that on Ubisoft’s conference) but as personal favourite highlight, ‘Sunset Overdrive’ proves that something fresh and exciting can always be a unique selling point.

 

 

Words by Jimmi