Craig, Daniel Craig (and more): E3 2012 Kicks Off

With E3 upon us, it seems fitting to start by sharing my biggest reactions to some of the titles already announced. It should be noted that, as more of a casual/retro gamer, I’m probably not going to give much of a shit when, say, Halo 4 footage starts trickling in. I like a good FPS as much as the next guy, but I suck at Halo, so…Halo can suck it.

Anyway, here’s what I have to say on the latest from gaming’s greatest convention:

007 Legends

007 goes old-school in the new 007 Legends from Activision. Apparently utilizing the same FPS engine as in last year’s Goldeneye Reloaded, the game will let you travel through six different settings, each from a different Bond movie, including the above Moonraker level, and eventually one from the latest film Skyfall, out this November. It’s likely that means there’ll be one level for each official onscreen Bond actor so far, so place your bets on which movie they’ll use from the Connery, Dalton, and Brosnan eras, and expect a snow-covered skiing level from Lazenby’s sole outing.

Unfortunately, likeness rights issues will prevent you from playing as any Bond but the current one, Daniel Craig. Which is exactly what I don’t like about the new Bond games – there’s just something wrong with playing as Craig through Brosnan’s territory in the new Goldeneye. Tonally, their performances are far too different to just be thrown into each others’ respective movies. Craig’s more physical, hard-edged approach doesn’t jive with the older movies, especially the more campy, pun-laden realms of Moonraker. Could it really be that expensive to get the likeness rights to all the Bonds of old? I’ll keep my eye on this one, but I don’t suspect I’ll be able to get past Craig waving to Jaws and his girlfriend in space.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

From NetherRealm Studios, developers of the latest Mortal Kombat game, comes Injustice, a game that pits DC Universe characters like Superman, Flash, Harley Quinn, and Solomon Grundy against each other in some sort of alternate universe where super-powered beings have turned against humanity.

First of all, what the fuck is up with those costumes? Especially Flash’s…pretty sure if he wanted to best utilize his speed and be able to move as fast as possible, he wouldn’t wear the most bulky, impractical suit imaginable. It just reeks of New 52 syndrome, atrocious tech-based designs for little purpose other than to look “cool”. Add to that the relatively dumb concept of pitting these guys against each other for no apparent reason, and you get a poor excuse to further promote DC’s latest rebranding. Maybe it’ll be fun to play in the end, but this trailer doesn’t give me much confidence that these characters are being treated right.

Star Wars 1313

Little is yet known about the latest from Lucasarts. We do know you’ll be able to play as a bounty hunter (Boba Fett?) in the Star Wars underworld on Coruscant, featuring third-person gameplay, a more mature tone, and “an arsenal of exotic weaponry”.

It’s too early to say, but this sounds like it could be the Force Unleashed of the Star Wars underworld, which is exciting. And if Fett is indeed present, as long as they don’t ruin the character’s aura of mysterious badassery or give him another wooden, Temuerra Morrison-esque voice actor, I’m game. Supposedly a trailer is coming this week, so I’ll be sure to post more when it’s released.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

The highly-anticipated Lords of Shadow 2 will see returning protagonist Gabriel Belmont fighting Dracula, as teased in the first game. And I guess fighting a giant building.

Don’t really have much to say on this one because I’ve never played the first game, which I’ve heard mixed things about and intend to check out soon. I am a huge fan of old-school 2D Castlevania, so while I’m interested in checking out this new, rebooted world, I do wish Konami would bring back the good, old-fashioned side-scrolling style on home consoles. Anyone play Castlevania the Adventure Rebirth? Like that, only more than one game.

Surprise Nintendo Direct Conference

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Yesterday, Nintendo announced a surprise conference for Sunday evening detailing the philosophy of their upcoming Wii U console. The half-hour presentation by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata began with the idea of “U” meaning “unique”, explaining that Wii U “does what Wii did only better”, and “connects people together” even more.

Iwata used bits of the promo video from last year’s conference to show the various functions of the system’s “unique” tablet controller, though “tablet” may be a bit unfitting a name now. The controller has received a significant facelift from the prototype, looking a lot more like a classic Nintendo gamepad than an Apple tablet. Iwata went on to discuss the similarity in gameplay between the DS family of systems and the Wii U, and unveiled a new version of the Wii’s classic controller for the new system, looking like a Classic Controller Pro, but less clunky and more sleek.

Halfway in, Iwata segued to a cringe-worthy video of an over-talkative nerd playing a zombie game on Wii U (way to really grab those hardcore gamers, Nintendo!), complaining to himself about how terrible he is at the game. The nerd pauses the game and, using the system, is able to find out what he’s doing wrong from other gamers, represented by Mii icons in a forum-like setting. Further showcasing more of the interactive social features of the system, the nerd switches on on video conferencing feature via the camera on the controller. When he figures out what he’s doing wrong, he plays further into the game and continues squealing and babbling to an inanimate action figure standing on the table nearby. “I think you may agree that was a little different” says Satoru Iwata. Not my first choice of words, but sure.

Iwata went on to detail the new Mii features of the system, or “Miiverse” as it was dubbed, emphasizing use of the controller as a “social window” for gamers to connect with one another and comment on each other’s progress in the games they play. He concluded by reiterating the Wii U’s approach of “together, better”, bringing families together as with the Wii, but with a far more social experience than ever before.

I have to admit, if this was a desperate, last-ditch move from a company quickly losing many of its longtime devotees (not to mention stockholders), they didn’t show it. Using this time to devote to the system itself while their Tuesday presentation will focus on games, the company proved the Wii U to be a competent piece of hardware far improving on what we saw in last year’s presentation. There’s appeal here, and while I’m sure it won’t amount to many new gaming experiences, I admire Nintendo for sticking with an ideology that seems to work for them and am very interested in seeing how it pays off for them come November.

That said, as a Nintendo fan turned away from the company by many of the unfulfilled promises of the Wii, the Wii U is not for me at all. I don’t find the social media-like functions very appealing, the system itself is still using some pretty outdated technology, and the controller still looks pretty bulky and unimpressive. Simply put, I’m not sticking with a company that has long lost its magic touch, at least for me.

The presentation also poses several new questions for the future of the system. Will the controller allow for more traditional gameplay? Will the new features usher in innovation, or just more gimmicky games for the new system? Does anyone really want to play House of the Dead on that controller? Only time will tell.

 

Stay tuned for many more E3 updates as they arrive!

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