Everyone knows that I prefer Sony’s consoles over Microsoft’s. I find the exclusives to be far better, the company has a more pro-consumer attitude, PlayStation Plus is a bargain compared to Xbox Live- the list goes on and on. Of course, I bought a PlayStation 4 on launch day last Friday and I haven’t regretted it for a second. It’s fast, has convenient updates, an awesome Share functionality, and those graphics are to die for. However, if there is one glaring problem with the system, it’s the lack of must-have software. Even if DriveClub actually made the launch, I’d still say that Sony’s lineup of exclusives is lacking. Killzone: Shadow Fall is actually entertaining, but not “run to the store and get a copy” good. No, as far as software goes, I actually give the edge to Microsoft.
Now, I haven’t played the Xbox One yet, obviously. I have Forza Motorsport 5 on pre-order, and it looks like, based on reviews, it’ll be another top-tier entry in the series. I love Forza so much that it’s a must-have, more so than any exclusive Sony managed to launch alongside their console. However, the big seller for me is Killer Instinct. I have commented on KI in earlier blog posts, praising how awesome it looks, but also bemoaning its sales structure. When it really came down to it, though, I knew I wanted KI all along after waiting about 17 years for a sequel (KI Gold released on the Nintendo 64 on November 25, 1996). It’s not just the fact that I love the franchise that makes it a selling point, though. It’s actually the memories of the times playing the earlier entries, which are the reasons why someone who prefers Sony consoles is actually taking the plunge on a Microsoft console on launch day.
I love KI for its characters, unique fighting system, and the, for its time, cutting-edge visuals. The original games were more than that, though. Killer Instinct and KI Gold weren’t just about mashing buttons (I was horrible with fighting games as a child) with Fulgore and Spinal in an effort to take down Eyedol and Gargos, or taking on the dojo in KI Gold to learn each character’s moves. It was about my three brothers and I sitting around the TV in our dining room taking each other on in matches, with my oldest brother dishing out a majority of the pain with Fulgore. It was a game we all took interest in, leafing through old GamePro magazines and strategy guides looking at combos, movesets, and promo art. It was about me being able to play a bloody and violent game, despite the fact that pretty much every other bloody game made me squeamish as a child, a little-known fact. There was just something about the game, and its sequel, that made me overlook that facet of it, and actually helped me to eventually overcome that hurdle once I reached my teenage years. These weren’t just games to me: they were a part of my childhood and my camaraderie with my brothers. When it comes to video games, nothing means more than that, and I think many people who have fond memories of playing with friends and siblings can attest to that.
That’s why, when news of a new KI broke during Microsoft’s E3 press conference, I started cheering and pumping my fists into the air in my living room. That’s why I’m so unbelievably psyched about it, feverishly combing through the Double Helix Games forums and watching the streams on Thursdays for any new bit of info I can glean from them. That’s why I’m throwing down $500 for a console that is a successor to the 360, a system that sits and collects dust most of the time on my TV stand and that I can honestly say, at least for the original models, is one of the most shoddily-built pieces of trash ever manufactured. Even if it’s only launching with six characters and no story mode, Spinal, Fulgore, and that story mode aren’t far behind, and the content it has at launch is still plentiful, making it worth taking the plunge. This new Killer Instinct is a rebirth for a franchise that means more to me than just being a series of great games. The fact that it’s even coming out in less than 24 hours is still surreal to me. I never thought this day was going to come, but lo and behold, that day is almost here. Tomorrow, I’m going to download KI on my new Xbox One and recall those fond memories of my childhood as I set out to make new ones in a new generation for the franchise. This, folks, is why I’m buying the Xbox One on launch day, and I can’t think of a better reason than that.
When Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix released a week ago, I came up with the bright idea of playing Kingdom Hearts Final Mix on Final Mix: Proud difficulty. I figured that I already beat the game on Normal years ago, so the added challenge might be refreshing, and there’s also a Trophy in store for accomplishing the feat. This is a decision I am regretting now.
Final Mix: Proud is flat-out frustrating and demoralizing. The game already suffers from camera issues and somewhat stiff combat mechanics as it is, but these issues are far, far less pronounced on Normal. On Proud, they simply become more debilitating as every move counts and one wrong move could mean the end of you, especially in boss fights. It’s become so infuriating that I have actually avoided fights just to progress because some fights become drawn-out affairs and Goofy and Donald are knocked out constantly, leaving me to my own devices as reviving them would simply be a waste of much-needed mana that is used for my own survival. I’m currently on the fight with Chernabog, but having difficulty finishing him off because as soon as he starts launching firrballs, it’s over as I can’t dodge them and can’t survive them, either. It reached the point where I went on Facebook last night and announced that I was done trying to finish the game on Proud.
Then, I sat down and did some thinking and I realized that I’m actually missing some crucial stuff. I don’t have Curaga, I only have Aero, and I don’t even have the Oblivion keyblade. I’ve been having trouble completing the Hercules Cup in the Olympus Coliseum, which leads to learning the Yellow Trinity and thus makes getting Aerora impossible, which is why that is not upgraded. I then thought, though, that I want to collect all of the Dalmatians, which leads to an Aero upgrade, and activate all of the Trinities anyway, so I’ve decided that I’m going to go back and collect all of these while leveling up in the process. Perhaps this will make things easier for me in the long run, as even if I defeat Chernabog, Ansem is probably going to hand my ass to me, so I better be ready.
Proud difficulty is frustrating, yes, but I think part of the problem was me neglecting things simply so I could push through the difficulty and get the playthrough over with. In essense, Proud difficulty ruined the experience for me, but I’m going to try and finish it. I simply hate leaving things unfinished, especially a great game like Kingdom Hearts.
Hello all! Today, I’m going to ramble on about a few topics. This is going to be similar to my “Raiding Tombs and Reading Comics” post from earlier this year. I mentioned it then, and I’ll say it now, that I really need to do this more often. Anyways, off I go!
Shin Gundam Musou!
For those confused by that title, it’s the name of the next Dynasty Warriors: Gundam title in Japan, which, if brought stateside, would likely make it Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 4. Why it isn’t called Gundam Musou 4 is because it has to do with the gap between the release of Gundam Musou 3 and this one. Since it has been a few years now between releases, they wanted to make it a compilation of sorts. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be all three bundled into one game. It’s actually going to have the return of Official Mode, which will feature plotlines from various Gundam anime series, similar to how things were done in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 and 3. It will also have an Ultimate Mode, which is supposed to be an original story made for the game. I can only hope the plot isn’t as bad as Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3’s. That was…boy, that was awful. It was essentially nothing but mindless ramblings about “possibilities” between all of the pilots while the Knight Gundam just randomly appeared out of nowhere at times to fight. Yeah, talk about convoluted. Let’s not do that again, Omega Force.
What I’m excited about is that not only is Shin Gundam Musou going to be released on the PlayStation 3, but the Vita, as well. It’s also going to have over 100 playable mobile suits, a return to a more realistic art style, and more enhancements. You can find more info here, where my good friend from the Koei Warriors days, BlackKite, has translated the Famitsu article released yesterday and listed all of the known information he could glean from it. Many thanks to him, and here’s to hoping that Shin Gundam Musou makes it to western territories. It comes out in December in Japan, so we’ll probably see it next Spring, at the earliest, depending on whether they opt for a full localization with English voice acting, or just a text translation and a digital release on PlayStation Network. Even if it doesn’t make it stateside, there’s always importing, but I have faith it probably will make it across the Pacific.
If it hasn’t been made painfully obvious by my PSN Trophy card on the sidebar, I do love me some Trophies. I currently have 47 Platinum Trophies, and thanks to what may be a programming or coding error in Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, I may have Platinum #48 by the end of the week.
See, in the original Dead or Alive 5, you had to fight 1000 times online, collect tons of titles in order to unlock Alpha-152, and somehow make it through Survival on the hardest difficulty, which required you to fight through 100 straight opponents that could read and counter your every move with inhuman levels of skill all the while having very limited health regeneration. The game wasn’t voted a 10 out of 10 in difficulty in obtaining the Platinum for nothing. It was seriously that hard, and the only way Survival was even remotely possible was if you spammed a certain move with Leifang over and over, which wasn’t fun in the slightest nor was it a sure-fire way to win.
Fast-forward to a few days ago, where I gazed at the Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Trophy list and noticed one trophy in particular, called “Survival (Tag) Cleared”, which requires you to complete all courses in Survival (Tag) Mode. I figured it may not be as hard, as I now have two characters to swap between and recovery items are dropped after every opponent that is defeated. It turns out, not every course needs to be completed at all. Naturally, I played on the “Rookie” course first with Ryu Hayabusa and series newcomer, Momiji. I blew through it with relative ease, when all of a sudden the Trophy pops. I didn’t complete every course, though, so I laughed and was even slightly disappointed. Clearly, either it was worded improperly or there was some sort of blunder with the programming of it. What I initially believed would be a difficult Platinum suddenly became very attainable because I didn’t have to complete Survival (Tag) Mode on the hardest difficulty. In DOA5 Ultimate, only 100 matches need to be played online and there is nothing that needs to be farmed or collected excessively in order to obtain any Trophies, either. Now, if only Ranked Matches in online mode worked properly…
Trophies aside, I’m definitely enjoying DOA5 Ultimate. I’ve taken a liking to Momiji, who plays like a faster Ryu Hayabusa, but certainly has her own quirks that set her apart from him. I still need to try out the other newbies, though.
Xbox One Cometh…Maybe?
Microsoft announced the release date of the Xbox One yesterday, which is November 22nd. That’s just in time for Black Friday, but honestly, is anyone actually expecting to find any of these, as well as PlayStation 4’s, on store shelves on Black Friday? My bet is on these being sold out on day one. Someone else may be getting my reserved system, though.
The reason I say that is because I’ve been having second thoughts about keeping my Xbox One pre-order. The thought initially stemmed from how Microsoft is handling Killer Instinct, particularly how it will essentially be an unfinished game on launch day, sporting only 6 characters and no story mode, with two more characters and story mode coming sometime next year all for $20. The price seems reasonable, sure, but I was under the impression that Killer Instinct would be a complete title at launch. I’m talking at least 12 characters, a full-blown story mode, as well as other staples like online, training, and perhaps stuff like survival and time attack. I want the entire package on day one. I don’t like this whole “Let’s release the game in pieces across a few years” practice. Double Helix has announced that there will be a “Season 2” around this time next year that will feature another 8 characters for $20, but I honestly don’t want to wait that long to get content I should be getting at launch. I mean, hell, Fulgore hasn’t even been announced yet and there’s only one launch slot remaining, which means it may not even include the main character at launch. I’m sorry, but that’s asinine.
Let me do some comparisons here. Take Skullgirls, for instance, which is a crowdfunded and indie fighting game and not produced by someone with deep pockets like Microsoft. Skullgirls launched with 8 characters, a full story mode, GGPO netcode, a deep training suite, and hand-drawn (read: very time-consuming and high-quality) visuals, all for $15 as a digital download. When you take this into consideration, Killer Instinct simply isn’t that good of a deal. I wish Microsoft would just delay the game until next year and release it once it’s a full-fledged title. If they want to add DLC characters afterwards, fine. That’s the norm nowadays, after all.
That isn’t even the only factor, either. Besides Killer Instinct, the only other game I would want for the Xbox One at launch is Forza Motorsport 5. However, the PlayStation 4, which I am definitely buying, no ifs, ands, or buts, is going to launch with Drive Club, which likely won’t be as good as Forza 5, but it’s free for PlayStation Plus members, so there’s nothing to lose by downloading it. That fills the “driving game” void right there. Add to the fact that the PS4 is releasing one week before the Xbox One for $100 less and the fact that I’m buying Watch Dogs and likely Killzone: Shadow Fall on launch day, and I’m looking at total expenses for the PS4 launch at around $520. Is it really wise to spend that much on a console, then turn around and throw down $560 for the Xbox One and Forza 5 a week later just so I’m completely torn between the two systems? I’m thinking I’d rather 1) save money, and 2) not overwhelm myself with two consoles and instead focus on enjoying one. It’s not like I don’t have the option of buying the Xbox One later on. When I really think things through like this, I think it just makes logical and economical sense to just wait on the Xbox One, as much as it’s going to kill me that I won’t get to play Forza 5.
That will end my ramblings for today. Thanks for reading, everyone!
Hello all! I wanted to start today by saying thank you to everyone who contributed to the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter so far. As I sit here and write this, I can happily say that the project has currently raised over $750,000! This means that Mighty No. 9 will probably be completely funded by the end of today, which also means that it’ll be time to strive for the stretch goals, with the highest being $2.5 million. If that threshold is crossed, that means we’ll be playing Mighty No. 9 on our consoles. If you’d like to check the project’s current progress or haven’t seen the project at all yet, click the Mighty No. 9 image on the right sidebar and that will open a new tab to the Kickstarter page.
As for the title, that pertains to a session of Skyrim I had yesterday that I found quite annoying and amusing all the same. I felt like picking up Skyrim again because every time I tried playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, I just kept thinking how much better Skyrim is, so I shelved Amalur and popped that in a couple of days ago. I simply love walking into shops and stealing things. The A.I.’s reaction is always hilarious, as causing pure chaos in Skyrim is always extremely entertaining. However, during my shenanigans, I started to notice that I had vampiric powers and a sensitivity to sunlight that became increasingly worse. I paid it no mind for a while and simply went about completing quests and stealing from shops until, after an attempt to fast travel to another location to complete a quest, I became blood-starved, which pretty much meant that I had not been sucking people’s blood and, therefore, looked so hideous that everyone and their grandmother was trying to kill me. This made doing pretty much anything impossible, so I reloaded my save and did a Google search as I had no idea how to get rid of my blood-sucking issue with the information the game supplied. There was nothing on my quest log that even remotely hinted towards anything vampire-related, but I later found out that I had to speak to an inn owner and ask about rumors. Lo and behold, one was about a guy who knew about vampires. Bingo.
I paid the guy a visit and was told I had to use a “Black Soul Gem” and I had to kill someone while casting Soul Trap on them. So, I bought the gem off of him as well as the tome that taught me Soul Trap, then set out to find a mercenary who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. With my mission completed, I hurried back to the man who then told me to meet him in a spot outside of town at dawn in order to complete the ritual. This is where the next part of my problem arose. When I made my way to the spot and waited for him until dawn, I became blood-starved, which meant that now he was trying to kill me. Again, I reload my save and now I start looking for someone to suck blood from. I ended up breaking and entering into some sawmill where a poor sap was sleeping in his bed. All the poor guy ever wanted to do was make an honest living. Alas, I needed to sate my thirst, so I took a few bites and made my way back to the ritual site, where my vampiric powers were finally gone for good.
The worst part is I don’t even remember when I contracted the vampire disease. The last time I played this game was in January of 2012, so I naturally don’t even remember any quests that may have involved becoming afflicted with the condition. I’m glad the problem is solved, though, so now I’m back to completing quests and stealing more gold and goat cheese. Hey, everyone needs their goat cheese, especially when you can just take some off of the counter and sell it right back to the guy. Ah, Skyrim. It’s crazy stuff like this that makes people love it so much.
I won’t be playing Skyrim for much longer, though. I may play some more today, but tomorrow, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate hits stores and I’m definitely grabbing a copy. Say what you want about the apparent sexism in the game with all of the scantily-clad women, but DOA has definitely defined itself as a fighting game franchise to be taken seriously. I look forward to jumping into a lot of the new features and balance changes.
Until next time, everyone. Thanks for reading!
Everyone knows how much of a fan I am of the Mega Man franchise, and how I’m not a fan of how Capcom has been handling the brand since Keiji Inafune, the “father of Mega Man” as many refer to him as, decided to leave the company. When Inafune-san left, he also left behind a legacy of titles he poured his heart and soul into, including the fan-involved Mega Man Legends 3, which was a long-time dream of his to finally develop with the help of his dedicated fans. Now that he has his own studio, known as Comcept, he no longer has any affiliation with Capcom and, therefore, can no longer carry on the development of Mega Man titles due to Capcom’s death grip on the license. However, that’s not going to stop him from carrying on the legacy of Mega Man, as his newly-launched Kiskstarter campaign proves.
This is Mighty No. 9.
Clearly, the game looks to draw from a lot of the same concepts as the Mega Man franchise, but instead of a hero that copies boss weapons, Beck, as the protagonist is called, can copy the abilities of regular enemies, too. He doesn’t only apply them as weapons, either, but as tools that he can use to traverse environments, among other functions. This potentially opens a lot of doors to some creative level designs that can turn the platforming genre on its head. I could honestly see this being an evolution of Mega Man had Inafune remained with the company. It may not have been the Mega Man, but a spinoff that could portray a new version of the Blue Bomber. As it stands now, I see Beck as an evolution of Mega Man; a successor, if you will. It’s as if the torch is being passed and the legacy is being carried on into the future. With the involvement of Keiji Inafune as well as many veterans who worked on Mega Man titles in the past, we can rest assured that there is plenty of experience behind this project in order to make it the best it can possibly be.
Does this mean that it’s okay for Capcom to just kill off Mega Man? No. The franchise will never be the same without Inafune’s involvement, as the past few years since his departure can attest to, but I still think that with the right developer and the proper involvement of Capcom that Mega Man’s course can be corrected and we may finally see a new entry or perhaps a new series bud as a result. Of course, I’m not holding my breath, but you never know what can happen this day and age.
With Mighty No. 9, though, I feel my mind is at ease. The man who kept Mega Man alive all of these years clearly still cares about his fans and the franchise he left behind, as is made evident by the video above where he expresses his regret of not being able to follow his dream as well as the dreams of many Mega Man fans by seeing Mega Man Legends 3 to its completion. This is finally a chance for him to realize his dream, and what better way than to have his fans come along for the ride as we not only open our minds to a spiritual successor to the franchise we all know and love, but embrace the chance to help him by pledging and getting involved with the development directly in order to help make that dream come true.
I’ve already made my pledge. The amount I contributed was higher than most, but I feel passionate about this project and I wanted that to be reflected in the amount I chose to give. Plus, the extra perks and rewards involved are truly once-in-a-lifetime stuff. These are the sorts of things I’ll get special display cases for so that I can show them to people and tell them that I helped make this game happen. They’ll be symbols of pride for myself; objects that have more than just monetary value. They’ll represent a dream that came true, an ambition realized. When you think about it that way, there’s simply nothing better.
You, too, can contribute if this project interests you. The Kickstarter link is here, complete with all of the details, rewards, and such. Kickstarter’s payments are made through Amazon, so it’s secure. The project is already on track to completely obliterate its $900,000 goal. I’m hoping it will raise at least $2.5 million so that I can play this on my PlayStation 3, as I play far more games on consoles than on PCs. I’m going to try and get the widget working on the side bar to the right so that there’s always a link to the project, for those who want to keep track of it (including myself). I’ll keep it there until the game’s release, should it reach its goal, as I’m sure the page will be updated as progress is made.
Today, a long-time Mega Man fan can now rest easy knowing that there is a future for the Blue Bomber’s legacy. Even if it doesn’t include Mega Man himself, that’s okay. I know his heart and soul is in this project, that’s for sure.
This past weekend, I managed to spend some time with Square-Enix’s reworked MMORPG (for the uninitiated, that stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, which is an online game with thousands of players inhabiting a single world and interacting with each other in real-time), Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Now, keep in mind that my MMO experience is limited to my time with DC Universe Online on the PS3, which I played a little bit of when it became a free-to-play title before uninstalling it due to waning interest and Trophies not being properly implemented, so I don’t have a lot of experience to go on as far as comparing FFXIV, as it will henceforth be referred to, to other titles in the genre. However, FFXIV has always piqued my interest simply because I’ve always loved the franchise and I’ve been interested in how it would function as an MMO. I know Final Fantasy XI has been around for years on the Xbox 360, but since I prefer to play on my PS3 due to not requiring annual fees to play online, I simply waited for FFXIV to finally launch on the PS3.
My experience began as a typical one for MMOs: a series of installs and patches. It’s the norm for the genre, so to pass the time, I popped in some Dragon’s Crown on my Vita until the beta finished patching. I was then thrust into a beautifully-animated opening movie, filled with the rich detail and animation we’ve come to expect from Square-Enix over the years.
Next up was character creation. As usual, Square made a great attempt to explain the lore and history behind this title, just like the rest of the franchise. FFXIV takes place in the land of Eorzea, where an attack from a giant dragon (the legendary Bahamut, for those who are veterans of the franchise and know who he is) has laid waste to the land. Five years later, people are still adjusting and picking up the pieces after the tragedy. You are a new inhabitant of Eorzea; an adventurer, if you will. This is where you get to create your hero.
For me, I made a male Miqo’te (think of a human with cat ears, a more flattened nose, and a tail) with a job class of Lancer, also known as a Dragoon. I picked the Miqo’te because of how his tail sort of reminded me of Zidane from Final Fantasy IX, and I picked the Lancer because the job features high offensive capabilities and also sports some really sweet armor. Lancers wield a large spear/javelin and are capable of launching themselves high into the air in order to strike from above.
Once I finished with my character, my first problem began. I had to select my “world”, or server, in other words. This would be the permanent home of my adventurer. However, every time I selected a North American or European server, it would say the world was full. I didn’t want to jump into a Japanese server simply because my connection would be terrible, but there I was, selecting different servers from my territory and still getting the same message. I finally managed to get one to work, or so I thought. Instead, I had a wheel spinning in the corner of the screen for about 20-25 minutes. I finally decided enough was enough and I restarted the game. Luckily, my character’s appearance was saved, so I only had to select his background info and job again, which took almost no time at all. After that, the first server I selected somehow worked. I was queued into the Adamantoise server. Finally, my journey was set to begin.
It does irk me a bit how irritating it was just to get onto a server, but a couple things need to be taken into account here before jumping to the “This game’s broken!” conclusion. First of all, it was a beta. The purpose of betas are to test out the servers as well as garner feedback from players about any issues they’re having so that they can be addressed. Things like this are bound to happen. The other thing is that, apparently, a lot of people jumped into this beta, so much so that they had to locked character creation on every western server and open three new ones to accommodate everyone, and on top of that, the entire game was hit with a critical error on Monday morning, which caused all western servers to be taken offline for a period of time for maintenance. I don’t think Square anticipated this many people, but they should take this as a good sign. A high amount of interest could mean more sales in the future, but it’s sad that some people will simply avoid it after such an event without realizing that it’s only a beta.
Anyways, I began my adventure wandering around Gridania, the first town I came upon in my adventure. It’s essentially where I stayed the entire beta. I did some story missions, a slew of side quests, which basically comprised of hunting certain monsters, doing menial tasks like cleaning and delivering items and messages to other people, and I did some battling, of course. The battle system seems pretty typical for MMOs, with queued attacks and hotkeyed skills, although standard attacks can be set to automatic. I did find that using normal attacks is pretty much useless considering you have so many points to use skills. I would just spam skills to kill enemies more quickly.
My favorite part of wandering outside of town is that random events, called FATEs, will pop up in your vicinity. These tasks deal with defeating a hoarde of enemies or one giant enemy within a short amount of time. One in particular spawned a large imp, where I and about two dozen players surrounded it and starting obliterating it. It was this moment where I felt a large smile stretch across my face. Banding together with a bunch of people for an epic battle was simply an awesome experience and really showed me the magic of MMOs. It also didn’t hurt that I received a top-ranking metal and reward for my contributions.
This is where I stand right now. Did I enjoy my time with Final Fantasy XIV? Absolutely. Once I started taking requests from NPCs and hacked away at boatloads of monsters, the experience really grew on me, and if the title has a lot of content, I could see it being worth the $12.99 per month to play it. The issues I have, though, are what makes me hesitant. Beyond the server selection issues, I had problems connecting to a world I already inhabited. The game would tell me it was full and then fail to queue me so that I could wait for someone to log out. Restarting the game fixed the issue, but it was a minor annoyance. I also need to find friends to play with, as the game can be a lonely experience when adventuring by myself. Lastly, there’s the possibility of launch issues, which are bound to happen. This was only a beta, but once money enters the equation, server issues and shutdowns start to become more aggravating. It makes me ponder whether I should wait a couple of weeks for any issues to iron themselves oit.
If I were to pre-order now, I can get early access and Amazon will give me a $10 credit for a future purchase on their site, which definitely sweetens the pot. What if I run into issues, though? What if I don’t play it enough? Are there going to be any friends to play with? These are all things I’m going to need to take into consideration before I take the plunge. For now, I’m leaning towards going for it. I enjoyed my brief time in Eorzea, and I’m itching to jump back in.
Whew! What a week! I knew there were going to be some surprises last week, what with new consoles taking the spotlight at E3 in Los Angeles, but there were some that were completely unprecedented, making for some announcements that will live on in memory forever. I’ve been tracking E3 for many years now, but not a single one has excited me as much as this year’s event. It’s pretty simple for me to say that this is the best E3 I have ever seen.
Where to start? How about Microsoft’s conference? I walked away rather satisfied, to be honest. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a big Xbox guy, but after seeing their conference on Monday, I hopped on Amazon and pre-ordered one. I know about the whole used game deal and online check-ins, but folks, like I said in my last blog post, a console is only truly as good as its games. And, damn, does the Xbox One have some nice exclusives coming its way, many of which will be on or close to launch.
My favorite pick, of course, was one of my most-anticipated announcements: Killer Instinct. It’s real! It’s actually happening! I was literally cheering and pumping my fists in the air as soon as the “KI” logo hit my screen. It has been far too long since the last entry in the series, and now, it’s coming back on the Xbox One.
So, here’s the skinny on it. The game is going to be available as a pseudo free-to-play title, where you’ll have access to every mode, but only Jago is playable. You’ll have the chance to play against every other character, though, and if you happen to like some, you can buy them separately and piece together your own game. Or, you can just download the entire game that also comes with the first season pass for characters, which will entail multiple versions, including some sort of collector’s bundle that is hinted to be containing a port of the original Killer Instinct, which would be amazing.. There will be no physical release, which bites, but it’s better than not getting it at all.
Gameplay-wise, I’ve heard it borrows some elements from both previous KI titles, as well as some elements of Street Fighter, both IV and Third Strike. To me, based on gameplay vids, it looks like KI, but at a faster pace. Characters leap and attack swiftly, with combos being fast and somewhat chaotic. It definitely has the ridiculous combos of the old games, which is a plus, and it has Ultra Combos. My only concerns are that it lacks both finishers and Ultimate Combos, which could be added later on at fan request, but it’s weird that they’re not there. From what I’ve heard from people who have played it, it’s been getting a warm reception and plays well. Jago, Sabrewulf, and Glacius have been revealed, with Fulgore, Spinal, and Cinder being confirmed as far as returning characters go, from what I’ve heard. The devs have also said that they want to put in more female characters than the series previously had in order to balance things out and that there will be new characters, naturally. Development is being handled by Double Helix, and while they don’t have the best track record, they’re working closely with Rare veteran Ken Lobb and seem pretty passionate about the project, so I really don’t have many concerns on that front. Besides, most of the people who made the game within Rare before have left, so it wouldn’t make a difference if Rare was developing it.
The visual style does sort of borrow from Street Fighter IV a bit, with character models being exaggerated and some ink splashes during load screens. I’ve heard people complaining about Jago’s steroid-ridden look, but I dig it. He actually looks more badass than he did in the first two titles. Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but we all have our opinions, and besides, there could always be alternate outfits that could pay homage to his older looks. Sabrewulf and Glacius look spot-on and are fitting evolutions of the characters. I really want to see Glacius in action, but that will have to wait until EVO next month, where I’m hoping they’ll reveal more characters. All in all, I’m very excited for Killer Instinct. This game alone makes me want an Xbox One on day one.
That’s not all the Xbox One has, though. Dead Rising 3 looks promising. The franchise is back to being Xbox-exclusive, like the first title was. It seems to have shed the silliness of the first two titles, for the most part, going for a more bleak tone. It’s more wide-open now, with a city to traverse instead of indoor environments. Hordes of zombies block you at every turn, and the game tasks you with trying to navigate through and around them in order to survive. Plus, the crazy weapon-crafting makes its return, which would have been a criminal omission. I’m definitely keeping my eye on this one as a possible launch pick-up.
A more sure-fire purchase, for me, is Forza Motorsport 5, which sports a new A.I. feature. In fact, there is no A.I. Every opponent that you race against is based off of the behavior of your friends, with their driving styles and habits being mimicked. If your friend is aggressive, their “ghost” will be, as well. Opponents will even drive their cars, too. It’s yet another push towards innovation from Turn 10, which I’ve come to expect, that propels Forza further ahead of its competition. The game looks drop dead gorgeous, to boot.
Then there’s Titanfall, which is the big project that upstart developer Respawn has been working on since its founders (or should I say “founder”, since West left and only Zampella remains) left Infinity Ward. Now, I’m not too big on FPS titles nowadays, as many lack true variety and innovation, but Titanfall looks to be pushing the envelope. Battles seem like legitimate battlefields, rife with action and well-populated. Mechs stomp around and destroy everything in sight while soldiers boost and kick off of walls to get around in a sort of parkour-esque fashion. The game is also supposed to be taking advantage of the Cloud-based structure of the Xbox One, too. The visuals don’t look very appealing for a next-gen title, but graphics aren’t everything. Titanfall is definitely one title I’ll keep in mind, though it won’t hit shelves until next year.
Now for Sony. Their conference was loaded with jaw-dropping moments, including one where they pretty much danced all over Microsoft by stating their clear defiance of restricting used games and any sort of online check-ins, choosing to trust their consumers instead. Sony didn’t have to worry about piracy with the PS3, and probably won’t have to with the PS4 if they can keep it airtight, so online check-ins are probably one thing they may have never considered. However, used games were up in the air until the show, and now we know we can still share and trade-in every game. Online passes and DLC-locked content will still exist, however, but that’s on a publisher-by-publisher basis.
As far as games go, I’m happy to say my prediction of Final Fantasy Versus XIII turning into Final Fantasy XV and coming to PS4 was correct, and my heart was pounding during the entire trailer as Square-Enix finally decided to show this amazing-looking title off after a long hiatus. FFXV looks astounding and will surely deliver a new kind of Final Fantasy experience. The announcement directly after FFXV, though, was out of left field. Never, in a million years, did I foresee a reveal for Kingdom Hearts III, but there it was, and I was so happy that I think I nearly cried. I could definitely hear my voice crack, that’s for sure. It’s been far too long of a wait, and it’s going to be even longer as it isn’t close to being finished, but it’s finally coming and that’s all that matters. What takes the wind out of Sony’s sails with these two announcements, though, is that they’re both headed to Xbox One, so these are two potentially ginormous exclusives that have slipped through their fingers.
What Sony doesn’t have to worry about losing, though, is its first-party titles. Sucker Punch’s inFAMOUS: Second Son is definitely the game to own on the PS4. It improves upon everything the first two entries built up, with improved parkour and fully-destructive environments that truly give Delsin’s smoke/fire-esque powers a greater punch as well as letting him use the terrain to his advantage (think toppling towers and bridges). This is the reason I’m buying the PS4, though it won’t be available until early next year, so there will be a bit of a wait.
We won’t have to wait long for Killzone: Shadow Fall, though, as it’s coming on launch day. I’ll be honest. I’ve never liked the Killzone franchise. It has stunning visuals, sure, but gameplay-wise, it’s always been ho-hum and unremarkable, making it easy to bubble it in with almost every other shooter on the market. Shadow Fall, however, may make me change my mind. It takes the linear levels and cookie-cutter gameplay and throws them out the window. Now, every level is open-ended, allowing you to tackle several objectives in any order you wish. Player freedom is almost always a plus, and it’s great to see huge levels where you can think more tactically about how you engage unsuspecting guards instead of running through scripted events one after another ad nauseum. As for gameplay, Shadow Fall is introducing the OWL, which is like a floating sentry bot that can give you covering fire, supply shields, stun enemies, and allow you to zip-line across gaps, making getting around the new, large levels a breeze. Plus, besides the OWL, you work alone, which means no having to put up with hokey one-liners from butch sidekicks you don’t even care about.
Sony also announced some indie titles, and one that really stood out to me was Mercenary Kings, which comes from Tribute Games, the makers of Scott Pilgrim VS The World: The Game. It has a similar graphical style, but its gameplay is more like Metal Slug with explorable levels and weapon customization. It looks like a boatload of fun, especially with four-player co-op.
There are also two thrid-party titles that, while not exclusive, will sport exclusive content for the PS4. The first is Ubisoft’s amazing-looking open-world title, Watch Dogs, which will have an additional hour’s worth of gameplay. This title was pretty much one of very, very few good things to come out of E3 2012, with its genre-pushing design and gameplay that allows you to hack an entire city, from taking money from civilian bank accounts, to hacking security cameras, to activating various elements of the city to help break off pursuit of police officers giving chase, and more. It’s definitely a huge departure from Grand Theft Auto-style open-world titles, but I think it’s going to be one of the best titles this year and a definite day-one purchase for me on the PS4. Expect this one to blow people away.
The other title is Destiny, which looks more and more impressive each time I see it. The PS4 is the optimized platform for the title, meaning it will get new and exclusive content before anyone else. The title itself, though, looks like a deep and engrossing online experience. Just the very thought of being able to explore a wide open world with tight FPS mechanics and a MMO-style loot system with friends sounds like a great way to whittle the hours away, and hopefully with a constant flow of new content, can be an experience that lasts for many years to come.
The Xbox One and PS4 both have titles I want, so, while this does sound asinine, I have both pre-ordered. There’s definitely enough on each console to make buying both worth it, even if I have to wait a couple months for some of it. One console I haven’t been convinced of yet, though, is the Wii U. That is, until now. I actually found Nintendo Direct at E3 to be underwhelming, as the next Mario title is nothing but Super Mario 3D Land blown up for the Wii U, and then there’s a new Donkey Kong and Mario Kart that I admit I will buy once I pick up a Wii U, but they won’t make me buy a Wii U this holiday. What will ultimately make me buy a Wii U is Super Smash Bros., which is coming next year, meaning I’ll wait until then before I take the plunge. I was going to buy Super Smash Bros. anyway, but now that my favorite game character of all-time, Mega Man, is a playable character, it’s officially a must-own. Just bask in the glory of this reveal trailer. I’ll let it speak for itself.
All in all, E3 was excellent this year. I expected no less, given that there are new consoles on the horizon and, with them, plenty of surprises. The wait for both to launch will be arduous, as well as impatiently waiting for more characters to be revealed for Killer Instinct, but with about five months left to go until at least the Xbox One launches, there’s sure to be even more surprises along the way.