Archive for the ‘Preview’ Category


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June 25
2014

E3 2014: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Open World Done Right

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I kinda hate open world games. I really do. While I can awe at the technical marvel that goes into creating a vast living world sometimes there’s just too damn much to do. Maybe it’s my inner-submissive coming out or maybe it’s because I was raised on JRPGs and platformers, who knows? Titles like Grand Theft Auto I find amusing for short bursts of destructive fun but I always end up getting bored, losing track of what I’m supposed to be doing, and finally just moving on to something else. As fun as sandboxes are I like my games with at least a semblance of structure. It’s for this reason that I had some concerns for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which will be turning the cinematic stealth series into a vast open world affair.

After playing the game’s opening act, Ground Zeroes, earlier this year I felt slightly more comfortable with the changes but still wasn’t completely sold. The new gameplay elements worked well enough for a two-hour segment set in an enclosed area, but what about an entire game set in a much bigger world?

Watching the live-gameplay demo Konami brought to E3 (literally the only game they brought, housed in a massive stark white box, how’s that for confidence?) put many of my fears to rest, sold me on the open world design, and cemented Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as my game of show.

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June 24
2014

E3 2014: Assassin’s Creed Unity Brings Paris to Life

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Putting aside the whole ‘women are too much work’ controversy that dominated most of the Assassin’s Creed Unity talk at E3, there is an actual game being developed as well. The first entry to the Assassin’s Creed series for Ps4 and Xbox One, Unity boasts a massive seamless game-world, new mechanics, and most notably a dynamic co-op multiplayer experience.

I got two looks at Assassin’s Creed Unity which, from a gameplay perspective, doesn’t look entirely dissimilar from past entries in the series. Given the series’ pedigree this sense of familiarity isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind. After seven hugely successful games it’s no surprise that Ubisoft would keep the series’ core mechanics in tact. With this in mind, what I’ve seen of Unity seems to be focused more on refining and polishing an already solid system rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, with one big glaring cooperative exception.

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June 20
2014

E3 2014: Hyrule Warriors, A Link Between Franchises

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One could easily say that the Dynasty Warriors/Samurai Warriors franchise has over saturated the market or that it’s gone stale. But when developer Tecmo Koei crosses the Warriors games over with other popular intellectual properties like One Piece or Gundam, they can breathe new life into their otherwise easily forgettable series. The upcoming Nintendo/Legend of Zelda team-up Hyrule Warriors is no exception.

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June 19
2014

E3 2014: Gauntlet Goes Back to its Roots

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When I was little, one of my absolute favorite games both in the arcade and at home was Gauntlet. Four people playing at once was just groundbreaking at the time, and the four characters being utterly distinct was fascinating… it meant a rush to be the goddamned elf so that you actually stood a chance of grabbing items and treasure before anyone else. The poor sucker who got stuck as the warrior got nothing except by the grace of his or her teammates.

Fast forward to the late 90s/early 00s for Gauntlet: Dark Legacy to continue the arcade chaos with full 3D graphics, vibrant character and monster designs, interesting expansions on the four original classes, and the buffest wizards outside of a Boris Vallejo painting.

Then the series…languished a bit with false starts and lackluster gritty reboots. The latest to try and tackle the button-mashing mayhem was Warner Bros. and I got to get my hands on the pre-alpha demo at E3. And you know, I think it’s actually gonna be really good! I hope.

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2014

E3 2014: Sonic Boom, Sega Reinvents Sonic…Again

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Sega has had a…rough time with Sonic. After Sonic Generations, which looked and played great, they gave us Sonic: Lost World, which didn’t. Now, they have decided to go big and try for a 4-prong attempt at making Sonic relevant again: Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for the 3DS and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for the Wii U which both act as a prequel to a Sonic Boom CGI cartoon series, all capped off with a large toy line. Sonic Boom also introduces new character Sticks the Badger, but I only saw her as playable in the 3DS game.

I got to play both versions of Sonic Boom at E3 and I really enjoyed one of them.

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June 18
2014

E3 2014: Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, Farming Made Modern

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I’ve been a long time Harvest Moon fan ever since I first got my hands on the original SNES title in ’97. Back then this was by far the most unique gaming experience around. Who would ever think that farming would make for an interesting gameplay mechanic, let alone a fun one? And yet there I was harvesting crops, raising livestock, and building a house for my family to live in….all now features of modern hit titles like Animal Crossing. I could even get married; just a neat bonus feature I thought at the time, but little did I know how important a topic virtual nuptials would be for all of gaming years later.

While the series may get flack in some circles it can’t be denied that the original Harvest Moon introduced a number of innovative new ideas to gaming that have since become modern mainstays. In its numerous iterations since, however, the innovation seemed to have halted; the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ couldn’t be more applicable. While still fun, the Moon-mechanics really haven’t changed all that much since the late 90s.

The newest entry in the series Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, the first to be fully developed and produced by Natsume (who previously have localized all entries), seeks to buck this trend and bring back some of the innovation that made the original game stand out, while holding on to all the things that fans love.

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2014

E3 2014: Shadow of Mordor pits you against an evolving Orc war machine

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Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is advertising a different kind of memory.

Not to be confused with the 1987 text-based adventure game Shadows of Mordor also set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe, this action-adventure from Monolith Productions isn’t as concerned with processing capabilities as it is remembering your and your enemies actions. The game’s touted Nemesis system pits the Wraith-possessed ranger Talion against many hierarchical orc forces across Mordor. Actions and approaches taken in combating or avoiding these forces will have incremental effects on each relevant orc’s standing in the armies of Lord Sauron. Even your death, if by the hands of an Orc, will promote all those involved to higher positions within their respective ranks.

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