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(Again I ran out of time, I'll add the photos I took when I get back from work tonight.)
Forgive me for being slightly late, but the strain of E3 finally got to me. Wednesday I had to contend with the dull ache of four days running around a convention center, riding taxis, and waiting on lines, altogether just having a great time, which was enough to knock the wind out of me when we finally got back to the hotel around 9 PM. Thursday of course was the day I had the unhappy job of going back home, which meant mopping up what final exhibits that I could in the limited time remaining, suffering intense jealousy for my fellow Wiki-ers who managed to see Metal Gear Solid 5 and Dragon Age 3, and then flying home. Now as for Friday, that was a day I call: Sleep Day. I slept. The one time I tried to write a blog post in my sleep was a complete disaster, so I've pushed off the final report for Saturday. Sorry again. This isn't due to lack of love, but simple lack of time on my schedule.
Anyway, this final report does not really have much of an overarching theme or thesis like the first two. I suppose I could have somehow wrapped together all of the things I saw and combined them into a single argument of some sort, but that would distract from the real focus: the games. We're just going to go straight into the real point of E3, playing and watching other people play video games. What games did I see? What was good? What was bad? Let's go!
We'll start first at the Nintendo booth, who gave me a VIP visit on Wednesday morning. Nintendo probably was alone this year in actually playing their games on real-life consoles, rather than high-end PCs made to look like consoles. The system I was using was definitely a WiiU, and the attendant was even willing to show us the menus as she switched between games. I'll break down the titles one by one:
Super Smash Bros 4 - (There is no better title, so this is what I'm calling it.) I managed to play this on both the 3DS and the WiiU. The 3DS version feels very fluid, but it's a bit weird using the face buttons of the 3DS rather than a Gamecube controller. Graphics-wise, it's fine. With a bit of work, you could be as much of a Smash master on the handheld as on the console. As for the console, Nintendo knows its fanbase well, so they had four Gamecube controllers ready for us. Three Wikia Staff members and I got together to play two rounds of Smash Bros, one where I managed to beat them all - somehow - with Megaman, despite not knowing the controls, and another where I lost only because I made the mistake of using big Link, who loves to fall off of platforms. Toon Link is not yet available on the WiiU for some reason. Anyway, Smash 4 is awesome, and is currently sharing a tie as my GAME OF THE SHOW.
Zelda: Hyrule Warriors - Unfortunately things are less positive here for me. I know Dynasty Warriors is an extremely popular franchise with a huge fanbase, but I really do not get it. This demo was boring. There's no other way around it, it was boring. I picked Zelda just for the novelty, but it did not really seem to matter, you effortlessly slaughter everything in your way in infinite spawns of repetitive enemies who could not hope to kill you. The game is a respectful new take on Zelda, I'm sure it will be great for those who are into this kind of mindless spamfest, but it is not for me.
Captain Toad: Treasure Hunter - I don't know how Nintendo does it. They create a game I never knew I wanted, never even thought about as a concept, and within 24 hours have me play it, and love it. Captain Toad is a small puzzle game based off of s minigame in Super Mario 3D World. Basically you just move Toad through a little 3D map, have him dodge enemies, and pick up treasure. It's simple, it's fun, it's what Nintendo does best. I like this game already.
Mario Maker - Another new game with an incredibly interesting concept. Fan modding Mario games is as old as Youtube itself, and Nintendo is finally making a game for everybody to make their own Mario maps. It is easy to make a map that is simply unbeatable, so I put in the work to make a map with a tricky path involving a jump around a Piranha Plant and then a finally run to the goal guarded by two Hammer Bros. Nobody could beat it, but we were able to get close. Another fun title.
Spaltoon - Stop being so awesome, Nintendo! I can't take it! This is a team shooter game where you fire out paint as your weapon. The object is not to murder your opponents but command as much of the battlefield as possible. Actually it is very tricky, with a strategic element added, forcing you to stick with teammates and try to continuously conquer territory. My one complaint is that aiming is done through motion controls, you have to aim the WiiU pad, and I couldn't make sense it as a dimensional problem. Apparently in the final game you can set aiming to the right stick, so don't worry too much. As with most shooters, I was awful, but this was a fun game.
And that was all I played on Nintendo's side. I know Yoshi, Kirby, and Bayonetta were also there, but I figured those games would play much the same way as their processors. Unfortunately Miyamoto's new Star Fox project was not available, and neither was Xenoblade Chronicles X. But still, Nintendo gave a great time for E3 players.
Sega really only had two games this year:
Sonic Boom - Unfortunately this was by far the worst game at E3 this year that I had the misfortune to play. Sonic Boom is billed as the new Sonic game, but is actually a brawler slow-paced game in the vein of Ratchet & Clank or Jak and Daxter. The game feels painfully PlayStation 2, and despite the power of the Cry Engine, looks it. I found myself suffering several show-stopping glitches as well, such as Sonic falling right through floors. The game was simply not ready to be shown to the public as a demo. But worse, the gameplay is entirely not playing to Sonic's strengths, making for the slowest 3D Sonic game ever. Even the supposedly "fast" segment, which was based on the excellent gameplay of games like Sonic Generations, was very static, with little to do beyond watch the game play itself and sometimes avoid obstacles. Or not, it actually made no difference. With glitches, pointless brawling combat, and ugly graphics, Sonic Boom is a perfect successor to Sonic 2006 in its current build. Such a shame.
Alien: Isolation - Luckily Sega got their stuff together for the new Alien game. After the disaster that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, Sega had to do something new with the IP, and Isolation is such a cool new concept. It is one of my favorite games of E3 this year, easily the most terrifying game there. The demo had me playing a spacelady on board a spaceship being hunted by a Xenomorph. The Xenomorph kills with one hit, your crowbar is useless, and the best weapon, the flamethrower, only scares the monster away. Your task is to somehow escape the spaceship, which I failed at entirely. After a dozen tries, I managed to at least escape the first corner, only to get completely lost immediately. The game is doable, but the stress was enough to drive me half insane. Eventually after getting maybe halfway through the level (I think) I gave up, and rushed at the Alien with my crowbar. "Just kill me already!" As an immersize experience, nothing came close to Alien: Isolation, but this demo, I think, does not do the main game justice. If it is twelve straight hours of crushing horror stress, it will drive people insane. There's a lot more to this game than just awesome 70s SciFi atmosphere and unceasing terror.
SE really did not have much of anything to show this year. Most of it's demos were for games already out, such as an extensive battle challenge against Leviathan in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, or for remakes like Kingdom Hearts II.5. The one new game I played was:
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call - As a huge Final Fantasy fan, somebody who used to spend hours to listening to old Uematsu soundtracks while writing high school essays, a game based on the series' great musical pedigree is definitely interesting. Basically Cutain Call is the same as lost year's Theatrhythm, only with more songs and more characters. So I got to rock out to Final Fantasy VIII's Maybe I'm a Lion while playing a music but engaging rhythm game. A lot of fun for the 3DS.
No Persona Q? Such a shame. I got a Persona Q bag, there were Persona Q banners, but nothing playable.
Persona 4: Arena Ultimax - This is a sequel to last year's Persona 4 Arena, a game I never got a chance to play. But actually from what I played of this fighting game, I loved it. You have the option to choose either the regular versions of Persona characters or Shadow versions, which are more aggressive but have fewer defensive options, which fits my style of fighting perfectly. The character I used for a good ten minutes was Aigis. You have four kinds of attacks, which lead naturally to a massive number of combos and attacks. It's colorful, it's wild, Persona 4 Arena is awesome.
Now for some Western games!
The Evil Within - The Evil Within is another survival horror game. Unfortunately compared to Alien, it might as well be the Toad game. Even so, it has a pretty straight atmosphere of a haunted house full of evil. You get past a door puzzle by giving a disembodied brain a lobotomy. There are ghosts floating around telling a story of science of the madness variety. Ammo supplies are definitely limited, so this is indeed a survival game, not just a haunted house shooter. Just watch out, the zombies spawn around corners that you've already cleared. Also the dudes with barbed wire faces do not seem to actually die.
Battlecry - Battlecry is a Team Fortress 2-like game taking place in a cartoony alternate universe where teams of yellow and red Cossacks battle to the death in a world without gun powder. Since I'm traditionally awful as all competitive shooters, Battlecry actually is a perfect game for me. With everybody using melee weapons or crossbows, I actually was doing damn well with a Duelist, a twin-sword fighter who could disappear and annihilate enemies. Jumping and diving and dodging enemies was a lot of fun. The heavier foes with a shield and an ax proved to be troublesome at first, until I learned how to double jump around their attacks and wipe them out. The only problem is that because of some bizarre glitch, the in-game characters would not talk at all, making combat feel somewhat lonely.
Unfortunately Ubisoft's best-looking games, Farcry 4, The Division, and Assassin's Creed: Unity were not available for me to play. But I did manage to play these:
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege - This was one game which I could tell was very well-made, with a great eye towards strategic gameplay and destructive environments, but unfortunately is a game I absolutely hated playing. Death came very fast for BH here, where one false move, such as trying to rescue a comrade while under fire resulted in instant defeat. The entire experience just felt unpleasant and loud, with most shootouts lasting mere seconds, and always ending in my death. For a gamer who loves creating coordinated attacks and puts in the work to think up advanced strategies with their allies, Rainbow Six will be a great deal of fun. Sadly, it was not for me.
The Crew - A surly French Ubisoft employee hung at my side the entire demo, who seemed increasingly disappointed with my play. Racing games have always had a strange unnatural feeling to me, with the apex of turns and the rhythm of breaking never quite making sense. It never feels like driving a real car, not even remotely. This is why I've preferred sillier arcade games like Mario Kart or the criminally underrated Blur. The shame of it is that The Crew, which is meant to be a massive online game in the spirit of the Fast and Furious movies, just doesn't quite get it. The devs promised that all of the United States would be available for play, but yet we seemed limited to merely Miami. There are supposed to be endless kinds of wacky racing challenges to be chosen, but the demo was scripted to just one race and an off-road attack. Yeah, I love the idea of riding around in a Pagani Huayra, one of the coolest cars on Earth, but nothing was clicking in-game for me. And my Ubisoft guide seemed more and more impatient to get me out of there and stop ruining his beautiful racing game. So I'm really not sold here.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War - Weirdly this little 2D UbiArt puzzle game is the one I am most certain I want to own. Set in a stylized World War I, Valiant Hearts tells the story of several characters during the Great War, trying to survive while being led along by a brave medic dog. Unlike WWII games, where the object is a simple task of killin' Nahzees, Valiant Hearts is basically a point and click, with the gameplay basically being something of an interactive story book. For some, that will be enough to turn them off, as this is a niche title. But I found the story compelling and simplistic pantomimes of the characters to be extremely fascinating. Some might find this one boring, but I was as moved by this game as anything else at E3 this year.
Unfortunately no Batman: Arkham Knight was available for playing. But the interior demo was awesome and great and awesome and great and I need more adjectives.
Mortal Kombat X - Not Mortal Kombat 10, but Moral Kombat "Ex". Only six characters were available at the demo, and of them, only two were recognizable veterans of the franchise, SubZero and Scorpion. The other ones are a hulking monster paired with a little girl, a bug woman, a Hindu God, and Johnny Cage's daughter, Cassie. Just as a head's up, Cassie Cage is the best character by far from what I can see. Basically I got a chance to play a few other Wikia Admins, and really it came down to who was able to hit the buttons the fastest, since none of us were fighter game veterans. (I haven't played Mortal Kombat since the SNES days and I was never very good.) One addition Warner Bros was very proud of was extended animated attacks which would wipe out a third of your health bar. They look fantastic with their X-ray effects on body parts, but I can tell after a week of gaming, you would get very tired of watching these animations over and over. Really, Mortal Kombat X might be the higher profile game, but Persona 4 Arena runs circles around this game.
Middle-earth: Shadow Over Mordor - Another huge title this year. The game is set between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, where you play as a Ranger who has somehow fused together with a Wraith. Exactly who that Wraith is or why this has happened was not explained, the dev who was working with me was very coy about it all. Anyway, there has been some talk of this game being just an Assassin's Creed rip-off, which is not nearly true. Shadow Over Mordor has a much deeper combat system and offers a lot of options, such as several dozen finisher combos and a power to take over Orcs to be your servants. The demo was basically a huge playground where you could do just about anything, and what I saw was very impressive. At one point I stumbled upon a huge cave troll, started running away, before noticing that the troll had been devoured by a wolf-like monster. (The dev gave it a specific name which I've forgotten, but I'll just call him a "Warg Wolf".) I was able to control the Warg with my Wraith powers and then got to ride around, devouring Uruk-Hai, and dominating the battlefield. Unfortunately since the demo was so open-ended, I forgot to get a mission, so I wound up just infiltrating a fortress, murdering Orc Captains until I finally had to leave.
So unfortunately this is going to be my last E3 report. It has been an amazing journey with some fantastic games and even better people to share this journey with. If you've been reading, thank you so much. And again, thank you, Wikia, you've made one little boy's dreams come true.
As for you all, Nintendo Wiki, I'll try not to be a stranger. If you need anything from ol' BH, you know where to find me. Love you!