The lights are on
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E3 is days away! The
buzz, and hope, is that E3 will feature the games of the next generation and a
better understanding of how all the new consoles' hyped features will impact
the games. We are all excited and
counting down but we all also know that the hype machine is capable of
misinformation and misleading marketing.
With the new generation dawning, we have little reference
for the announced games because we have not yet experienced the systems. Considering the extravagant hype that
envelopes anticipated games much less new consoles much less if a game such as
The Last Guardian or Half Life 3 is announced as a exclusive for a new console
and releases on launch day, I wondered about how the buzz has shaped the
current generation's games.
Part of the hype is the video game preview but previews are
tricky to use as a source of information for a gamer. Arguably part marketing and part journalism
the written preview gives gamers a glimpse into their awaited but unreleased
games. A preview is a contained moment
of a game that remains in the design process.
A full length game trimmed into a bite size piece exclusively given to
video game journalists for reporting to the general public.
Typically, a preview is exclusive game footage, a live demo,
or a playable demo that a journalist converts into a written article. In these instances, the developer tightly
controls how the game is disseminated.
Most previews are at worst neutral and rarely outright poor because, as
with all design fields, any complaints are potentially fixable since the game
is unfinished. In design, hope springs
eternal and until the final game is dropped the possibility that any and all
flaws will be addressed remains.
Granted, many games wildly viewed as terrible after release did not
provide a preview opportunity to the gaming media. Arguably, without the worst games available
for a preview, most games previewed have the potential of a good game alongside
any problems that could still be hypothetically addressed.
We all know the horror stories. Gearbox brought us the famed Borderlands
franchise along with "we all thought that these franchises could not get any
worse but we were wrong" Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines.
A road sign giving us all an important life lesson. Ignore at your own risk.
But how can we measure a preview's accuracy? In November 2012 Game Informer's cover was "Five
Under The Radar Games Worth Watching."
The games shared the magazine's cover with each game bestowed unique
cover art. These games were handpicked
by GI, whose staff live and breathe gaming, as games worthy of our
attention. Even for the experts,
predicting next mega-franchise or even highlighting an overlooked game as a game
worth playing is more intuition than science because the preview can be a lie
(and so can cake). 8 months later, were
any of these forecasts based on what were ultimately fake cake previews?
As of today, 4 of those games are released and the fifth
game, Beyond: Two Souls is not released until October 8, 2013. I cannot wait until October 2013 to post this
blog because that amount of patience is beyond (pun!) me. So let us look at the 4 that are available in
chronological order of their release.
Even the cover evokes games that were more common years ago.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of
The White Witch, release date: January 22, 2013
GI Score, 7 by Kimberly Wallace / Metacritic average score,
Side by side releases: DmC:
Devil May Cry (January 15, GI Score 9), The
Cave (January 22, GI Score 7.75)
Ni Nu Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch is a polarizing game. I
do not have much firsthand experience of this console generation. JRPGs are largely absence nowadays in 2013
with games such as Infinite Undiscovery, Tales Of Vesperia, and Star Ocean: The
Last Hope released in 2008 and 2009.
This past week I began the Xbox exclusive, Lost Odyssey, a game sitting
patiently in my backlog until GI's Kimberly Wallace noted the game for its RPG
writing in her recent article. With
checkpoints that are only usable while playing, aka turning off the game
because I need to go to work throws me back to my last save point if I do not
beat the boss (I did not) while I can see a save point behind the boss I
remembered the traditional JRPG frustrations.
All of us gain video game-esque powers when we wear a cape.
Impressions: The return of the JRPG genre with Ni Nu Kuni,
exclusive to the Playstation 3, with the esteemed pedigree of Studio Ghibli and
Level-5 behind the title did not reinvent the genre for the consoles. Rather the most acclaimed JRPGs remain as
portable games for this generation. Ni
Nu Kuni provided enjoyment to many who enjoy JRPGs, with all of their strengths
and weaknesses from a magical imaginary world rich with lore to infuriating
save systems, with a current generation rendition. But those preferring "save anywhere"
mechanics and a game that does not feature an overly precocious pre-teen did
not jump aboard a revitalization of the JRPG.
Can zombies swim? Do zombies drown? Does the game answer these questions?
Dead Island: Riptide,
release date: April 23, 2013
GI Score, 8 by Tim Turi / Metacritic average score, 61
Side by side releases: Injustice:
Gods Among Us (April 16, GI Score 9), Star
Trek (April 23, GI Score 5.75)
A while ago I rented the original Dead Island and played the
game for a few days. Yes, the game has
visceral melee combat and protagonists who are all proficient jump
kickers. If the zombie apocalypse really
requires the jump kick for survival, I am dead.
Do you know the level of cardio required to continuously jump kick? Amidst a buggy release of the original the
game quickly developed a reputation as "the" game for in-depth zombie melee
combat with upgradable weapons the degrade and clear weapon impact such as a
blade actually slicing off a bloody zombie arm.
New to the party but sporting Wolverine-esque claws. Maybe he will share.
Impressions: Riptide is more Dead Island without the game
breaking release day bugs. Riptide is
Dead Island's second chance for the franchise to make a first impression on
gamers. The game is not a stunning
breakthrough sequel that launches the game into a generational milestone but a
solid representation of co-op zombie killing.
GI's preview is fanbase building for a franchise with potential. If Techland, Dead Island's developer, used
Dead Island as a creative playground for zombie survival game mechanics as
inspiration for their newly announced next generation zombie survival game,
Dying Light, as a new generation "must play" experience then the effort is well
worth it. However, Dying Light will be
Techland's third zombie survival game.
The game will either show Techland as an eminent developer of zombie combat
and survival or a developer constantly releasing middling fun for those who can
tolerate certain bugs.
This game is brought to you by the letter M.
Metro: Last Light,
release date: May 14, 2013
GI Score: 8.5 by Jeff Marchiafava / Metacritic average
Side by side releases: Call
of Juarez: Gunslinger (May 21, GI Score 8), Resident Evil Revelations (May 21, GI Score 8.75)
Metro: Last Light has a particular buzz as the maybe last
game (if South Park: The Stick Of Truth is never released) of its original
publisher, THQ, who publicly went out of business due to bankruptcy. GI featured the game in November 2012 and THQ
no longer existed in January 2013, within three months of the preview. As a direct sequel, I am interested in
playing the first game in the series, Metro 2033, first but no new physical
copies are available and the used price has skyrocketed to an average of $30
for a 3 year old game if a used copy can be found. Meanwhile, the game is downloadable on PC for
$15. Before THQ disappeared, Metro 2033
was for sale at bargain bin prices.
The un-fun post apocalypse, living in the metro stations. All those germs are the least of our worries but still.
Impressions: Metro: LL is a direct sequel to its predecessor
Metro: 2033. The sequel refines
irritating gameplay design such as combat and inventory management but does not
make the jump into a must play franchise such as Mass Effect 2 and Assassin's
Creed 2. Metro: LL focuses on an
environmental mood of the below and upper ground in the wake of devastating
radiation, even to the detriment of a story with a slow pacing that highlights
the environment more so than the characters.
A slow pace, especially for a shooter as a genre that typically espouses
holding down the spring button and gameplay that requires minutiae survival
such as cleaning a gas mask and checking oxygen levels focus on an post apocalypse
environmental feel above all else.
This cover teaches me that the game is bathed in an orange light and that no characters have heads.
date: May 28, 2013
GI Score: 7.75 by Dan Ryckert / Metacritic average score, 64
Side by side releases: Grid 2 (May 28, GI Score 8.25), Remember
Me (June 4, GI Score 7.75)
The Fuse buzz intrigued me.
The game was marketed as more than a co-op shooter experience, at a time
when the co-op shooter experience is gameplay that is well represented on the
market today. Rather the abrupt art
style change and the insistence of unique weapon types led to the hint that
maybe Fuse is the next Borderlands. A
sudden change in development is usually a metaphoric SOS flare for help but
instead the shift is a regrouping and the developer manages the release of a
critically and commercially acclaimed franchise. So far that did not happen.
Fuse weapons! A crossbow! Wait, I have played games with a crossbow before.
Impressions: Fuse is
the only game on this list with a demo available to me as an Xbox 360
owner. I played the demo and the game is
no more or less than what it proclaims itself as, a 4 player co-op third person
shooter. The game strongly reminded me
of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. A map
must be cleared while accomplishing objectives.
Players assist each other, each has a "Fuse" weapon from shields to exploding
arrows, and in the games I played "game over" occurred when one member of the
team died. Even the in game cut scenes
for laying explosives or cutting grates features the team working
together. If you have 3 friends to play
with, I am sure the game is fun but if nothing else this generation there is a
wide variety of shooter games ready and waiting to test your twitch
The video game industry is young and growing just a little
older next week. The game previews will
make us squeal with glee and turn us all into an amateur Nostradamus casting
our predictions for the next big thing and the next major flop (anyone playing
Sony's Wonderbook nowadays?). Ultimately
some games will amaze and others will disappoint. For now the glitz will shine but remember
that the day of reckoning for each title will come. Just see the above.
As always, thank you for reading during your scarce free time
on the internet. May you have the ability
to watch E3 as it unfolds this week and here is hoping for as much good news as
What game for you
changed the most from preview to release?
Do you use previews
when determining to purchase games?
What game do you want
to see most shown at E3?
Are you playing any of the 4 above mentioned games?