People may be complaining about the lack of innovation at E3 this year, but I feel like that's because Sony only mentioned their upcoming indie PSN games in the vaguest possible way. It was just a quick montage of logos and clips that said nothing about the games. And knowing that they're from developers like Twisted Pixel and the like, you know they're probably worth investigating.
Not that there's much to know so far about The Unfinished Swan, being developed by Giant Sparrow. You play as 10-year-old Monroe as he chases after a swan that has sprung to life from one of his mother's unfinished paintings. You will journey into a surreal unfinished landscape where you must throw paint to reveal the world around you in the stark whiteness.
I don't care if we have to rely on indie studios to provide the innovation in gaming, because when you get stuff like this, it doesn't matter where it comes from. The Unfinished Swan looks clever and utterly stunning visually, so I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye on it when it releases exclusively on the PlayStation Network sometime this year. I just hope you don't actually need to use the Move controller to play, because while that's obviously the best way to be flinging paint at your TV, I don't actually own one!
Aside from Dance Central 3, the only other announcement that really grabbed me during Microsoft's press presentation was the Nike+ Kinect Training. There's a lot of big talk about "revolutionizing fitness at home" but it sort of just looks like a regular fitness game to me. But they're claiming that the personal trainers in the game can see how your body moves to assess your strengths and weaknesses using the Kinect sensors. If this is true, and they really can create a personalized workout to help you achieve your goals, that would be cool. Because one of the drawbacks to many fitness games is that people just do whatever interests them without knowing how it's going to help them.
"By combining Nike's understanding and knowledge of great athletes with the powerful technology of Kinect, we have created a personal training program unlike anything currently available," said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Marketing and Strategy of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "Kinect becomes the eyes for 'Nike+ Kinect Training' instructors, bringing a new level of engagement and personalization to the program that blurs the lines between a personal training session and a game."
And of course, using Xbox LIVE, you'll be able to connect and compare progress with friends. They're also touting a mobile app that will keep you motivated and on track for your next workout, but I'm hoping that you can turn off the notification that it's time for your next workout. I'll do it when I feel like it, thank you very much! I rather enjoyed my Nike+ sensor when I started running, but then it stopped working with my iPod, and customer service blamed my iPod, and since I wasn't about to go buy a new iPod, I switched to a GPS watch that's more accurate anyway. But I remember liking the way Nike+ tracked your runs, so if they can translate that into a Kinect game, we might just have something here.
Guess we'll find out when Nike+ Kinect Training launches this holiday season. (Just in time to burn off all those extra holiday calories!)
Nintendo had so much to say at E3 this year that they couldn't squeeze it into one simple press conference. So they had a special video presentation, and two separate press presentations. They mentioned a few 3DS games at their main presentation at the Nokia Theater, but saved the rest for a separate 3DS presentation the following evening.
Unfortunately, there were no real surprises here all the games mentioned had already been announced but there was some new information scattered here and there (although with one major omission), so I've got the whole rundown for you on the next page...
Nintendo pleased a great many fans during its E3 2012 press presentation when it revealed the development of a new Scribblenauts game for the Wii U called Scribblenauts Unlimited. As an aside, they also mentioned that it would also be ported to the 3DS, but it also turns out this one's coming to the PC as well!
Scribblenauts Unlimited will have you helping Maxwell solve puzzles and challenges by summoning objects as varied as anything your twisted mind can come up with, but this time around, the game will actually offer up some of the hero's backstory, with information about his parents, twin sister Lily, and how he aquired this magical notepad.
"Bringing Scribblenauts Unlimited to new consoles lets players become Maxwell and experience the game play in entirely different, inventive ways," said Samantha Ryan, Senior Vice President, Production and Development, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. "On Wii U, for example, the game is further enhanced by the touch screen on the new controller giving players an innovative way to interact with the action and a simple way to type in the word of his or her desire."
Both the Wii U and PC versions of the game will feature a brand new "Object Editor" that takes the creative gameplay to the next level by allowing you to make, name and share your creations online. You're no longer limited to what's in the in-game dictionary. Now you can create your own objects from scratch or customize any in-game object by tweaking it however your fevered brain desires. You can then store these creations in Maxwell's "magic backpack" for future use.
Scribblenauts Unlimited can also be played cooperatively with your friends in local multiplayer on Wii U. That's all Warner Bros. and 5TH Cell are saying at this point, but don't worry, they'll surely have much more to say between now and the game's "holiday" release date, so we'll pass the info along when we get it!
Microsoft revealed the upcoming Dance Central 3 at its press presentation, but aside from showing some clips in the background while Usher performed, there were really no details on what would make this sequel different enough to necessitate a disc release instead of just another round of songs that could've been done as DLC. Well, now we've got the answer: Some intriguing new gameplay modes. I've got all the deets (well, all the deets that Harmonix has released at this time) after the jump!
Six, yes, six years ago Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced alongside last year's beyond terrible Final Fantasy XIII. I know early announcement and long dev cycles have become frustratingly common place in the modern gaming industry but still...six years later there isn't so much as a hint of a release date. It only just recently entered full production.
Let's also think about this: Final Fantasy XII was flawfree and better than your faves met with mixed, though generally positive, responses but flew under the radar outside of Japan. Final Fantasy XIII received such terrible criticism that Square-Enix made a sequel that underminded all of the original's gameplay mechanics. Final Fantasy XIV might as well have not been released at all, after underwhelming its core audience from Final Fantasy XI to the point that the entire game is being overhauled and every effort is being made to try and appease upset fans.
When you look at it like that the main Final Fantasy franchise hasn't had a certifiable hit in over a decade.
Add to all of this the fact that the next entry in Square-Enix's other big name franchise,Kingdom Hearts 3, won't even begin development until Versus XIII is finished (despite Tetsuya Nomura having time to develop numerous handheld spinoffs...) and one is left wondering 'what the heck has Square been doing all this time?'
That's right, folks. Nintendo's been pushing a long string of their big-name franchises, and has been bringing back old favourites like Kid Icarus, but at this year's E3, they debuted a new home console property: The tentatively titled Project P-100. They've teamed up with Platinum Games, known for Bayonetta and MadWorld to make a game that looks at first blush like a cross between the Incredibles and Pikmin - with just a hint of Shadow of the Colossus - with groups of brightly-coloured super heroes teaming up to battle an invasion of giant aliens. While Nintendo hasn't released a tonne of information on the game yet, it's clear from the trailer above that it'll feature at least four-player multiplayer and a wide variety of level- and character designs.
Also, there will be a superhero named Toilet Bowl Man.
During E3, NaviFairy had the chance to interview Jordon Thomas, and among the topics brought up was Dr. Weir, who will join your team in XCOM. Among the intriguing things about Dr. Weir is that 2K Marin is not at all concerned about talking about his sexuality. In many ways, his sexuality and politics inform who he is, particularly considering the time period in which the game takes place. Makes sense, while sexuality does not necessarily inform how our personality and interests take shape, at times the reaction to such can (though it does not need to do so).
This, then, is the video that was the demo that was shown at E3, as well as showing the mission to recruit Dr. Weir.
As Jordon Thomas notes in the bit explaining the video:
2K Marin had just finished working on BioShock 2, and that game will always be deep in our DNA -- but our first crack at adapting XCOM to a more personal, real-time experience was way too much within our creative 'comfort zone'. It was kind of a run-and-gun affair, without a lot of focus on the command of your squad, or indeed on tactical play itself.
Candidly, it just wasn't "XCOM" enough for the hardcore fans of the original games at 2K Marin, who serve as our creative conscience. So over the past year, we've made some pretty aggressive design changes, in pursuit of the feelings that we experienced when we played the original games. I'll cover those in the video itself, but a quick note about story:
What I find interesting is that while the video does show a fair amount--at least, that's what I'd call 22 minutes--of gameplay, it also gives us that information about Weir. The politics of the time are something that seem to be informing quite a few narrative choices, and as NaviFairy's interview with Thomas highlighted, this is as much about an alien invasion as also setting the mirror on US society from that time period.
One of my last appointments at E3 was with Majesco, but it certainly wasn't the least, because as we all know, they're home to the Cooking Mama games that we all know and love. And while I saw the latest in that series, plus another spin-off title, there were also other games to check out, including a solid shooter, a bizarre pet sim, and a surprising rebirth for a franchise.
I was told that my appointment with Focus Home Interactive was going to be to check out Of Orcs and Men and the Game of Thrones game, but when I arrived, I was told it was just Of Orcs and Men. Those PR people... they'll say anything to get you to attend a presentation. Still, while one of the other journalists seemed rather put out that he wasn't going to see a Game of Thrones game, I politely listened as their other RPG was presented.
Of Orcs and Men is an RPG featuring an orc and a goblin that's due out on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in 2012. And while you might think this would be a natural for co-op play, you'd be wrong. The developers believe RPGs are solo experiences, so you will swap between both of them yourself. It's like a buddy movie featuring the big strong tank and the sneaky little weasel. You'll switch between characters during combat, but can also slow time so it doesn't get overwhelming. It's also important to choose the right character to answer during dialogue sequences, because the orc and the goblin are obviously going to have different responses!
The orc has a rage bar that fills up and when it's activated, he'll go nuts and tear the place down. But while he's super-strong, you actually lose control of the character while he's in that state, and afterwards he's weak as a kitten, so be careful when you use it. The goblin is the sneaky one and has a stealth mode. So it's the best of both worlds!
They're promising about 20-30 hours of gameplay, which seems a bit short for an RPG, but I actually think it's a good amount of time to spend on a game. Who has time for 40-50 hour games anymore? Okay, you might, but I certainly don't! Oh, and while there are going to be sidequests to extend gameplay, I was told that they're not going to be extra quests that are just there to fill time. They're promising that all sidequests will have something to connect them directly to the main plot, which is that the orc and goblin are trying to assassinate the human emperor. Although this was a very early build, the graphics are already looking quite stunning. So it's basically going to come down to gameplay and story in the end.
(PS: While I wasn't shown Game Of Thrones: Genesis at E3, the information I found on their site reveals that it's a real-time strategy game for PC that acts as a prequel to the series of books. Oh, and there's multiplayer for up to 8 players.)
Konami had quite a lineup at their E3 booth this year, but I skipped out on a few of the games so I could focus on the ones I know you want to hear about. I mean, I'd already played Metal Gear on the 3DS over at Nintendo, and the third installment of the Karaoke Revolution Glee series is just going to be more of the same (although I couldn't get an answer as to whether it would feature full songs like the first volume or short ones like the second). But Konami contained one of those pleasant surprises and also mild disappointment. I'll put it all after the jump since it'll be a bit long for the front page!
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