E3 – 2012

E3 is one of the biggest if not THE biggest gaming conventions that comes around each year. It is a prime chance for game developers to communicate with their fan bases and new potential customers. This year I have slightly more vested interest in E3 because there are some pretty big titles coming out this year that have me quite interested.

Dead Space 3 – EA/Visceral

Dead Space is without a doubt one of my favorite series on the 360, the first one scared the absolute life out of me. Insanely atmospheric, tense, and downright terrifying. It has numerous references to classic Sci-Fi/Horror films such as “Aliens” and “The Thing” among others, yet it never loses it’s own identity in the process. Dead Space 2 unwittingly toned down the tension slightly by giving the player control over some rather overpowered weapons which were more than capable of turning targets into bloody stumps. There was also the matter of past experience and ‘Deja Vu?’, what I mean is during the first Dead Space EVERYTHING was new and you just never knew what to expect. Just because you were using a “Save Station” did not mean you were safe, enemy attacks could literally come from anywhere in a Zero-G environment and even in pressurized places. I think everyone fell for numerous things they did not expect first time. You learned to watch the ceiling and ventilation shafts for critters to come bursting out of, you learned you keep the sound on high so you could hear something stalking you, and you learned the hard way to utterly obliterate your targets. If you blew off their legs they could drag themselves towards you, take off a head and they’d stumble blindly swinging widely and becoming even more dangerous. By the time Dead Space 2 came out this was routine so a good chunk of the shock horror and surprising moments just felt flat to me. Still, solid game.

Dead Space 3 is going to feature a co-op mode, further adding to the appeal. My only concern at the moment is that the series is in danger of losing sight of it’s roots. The original Dead Space was such a sleeper smash hit because it took the Sci-Fi Horror genre and did something genuinely new, fresh, and exciting with it. If it becomes a Gears of War game with a Dead Space look then it would be an absolute shame.

If you have not tried the Dead Space series I strongly suggest you do, It really is worth the time invested.

This little number is from Dead Space 2, still insanely disturbing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1ZS2se9g4M

Assassin’s Creed III – Ubisoft

This is a series that anyone who plays video games has heard of at least once at some point. The story of Assassin’s Creed spans centuries of world history and stretches from The Crusades, to Renaissance Europe, and now to the American War of Independence (1775). For a History student such as myself this series is perfect for me, Ubisoft really does their homework when adding detail to the settings and doing their utmost to make the experience feel as genuine as they can. Ever since the stellar success of Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood/ Revelations people had been debating where the next and potentially final installment of the series should take place. For the longest time it seemed Napoleonic Europe was the hot contender for the setting and I thought that would have been an excellent choice given how much I like the “Sharpe” series from the BBC. Ubisoft finally ended the debate by announcing that the setting would be in North America and the story would follow Connor Kenway (Native American Name: Ratonhnhakéton), A new character drawn into the ancient conflict. Connor apparently is the son of a Mohawk woman and a British father, putting him in an odd position in this war.

Immediately the sirens started going off in the community and the battle lines were drawn, in one camp there were those who despised the decided setting believing it akin to “Flag Waving” and “God Bless America!”. In the other camp, which is where I am, others were on board with this setting believing it to be bold and that it paved the way for Ubisoft to try out new things. Connor has his own motivations and the story will apparently see him work with both the British Army and George Washington’s Continental Army. The ever present Templars, sworn enemies of the Assassin Order for the past millenium, have infiltrated both sides of the conflict and it is down to Connor and his new Assassin allies to put an end to their schemes. Despite this claim of open mindedness many are still unsold over the idea and remain uneasy about the choices that have been made. I for one am totally down with this and eagerly wait for more information as it comes out.

For the time being, this cinematic trailer was just shown at E3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32U_KOUuQ74

Devil May Cry (DMC) – Ninja Theory / Capcom

Another series that is extremely well known amongst gamers and various news networks for being extremely violent and extremely philosophical at the same time, is that even possible? Yes, it is, here is your evidence.

Devil May Cry, or “DMC”, as it is more affectionately known started it’s reign on the PlayStation 2 and was one of the first games I actually had for that console. The series of Devil May Cry centers around it’s main protagonist and penultimate Anti-Hero: Dante. Dante is a self-style “Demon Hunter” who amassed an enormous fan base for his ‘Devil May Care’ attitude and general disdain of authority in any shape or form. Dante is a character with some genuine depth, depths that the player explores throughout the series. Dante’s profession of Detective/Demon Hunter is motivated by the love of his mother killed by demons and run from his home office he christened “Devil May Cry” (hence the series name), the reason for this name is explained well because Dante is not exactly human, he has demonic in him from his father and as a result can evoke demonic powers of his own whilst keeping his humanity and with that his emotions. The development the player sees Dante go through is very well written; he is a conflicted person aware that he is part of the problem he take so much pleasure in stamping out through a twisted sense of justice and revenge. It would take too long to write out the entire plot of the series, and by the looks of it I don’t even have to given Capcom’s latest and extremely controversial call.

This game.

When a new Devil May Cry game was announced the fans in typical fashion worked themselves into a frenzy with anticipation seeing the rebellious anti-hero again. Then… the bombshell landed, the game was announced to be a reboot of the entire series. That’s right, they were about to throw everything into the bin and start over. Even Dante himself was given a new look for a new generation of gamers(See the accompanying picture). For months on end the internet was afflicted with nuclear levels of rage towards Capcom, the likes of which had never been seen since Michael Bay ****ed up Transformers so badly. I admit, I was a bit uneasy about this myself, reboots do not always work – Star Trek and James Bond got away with it because they had phenomenal directors and crews at the helm but they were also films and gaming is an entirely different industry.

“Why fix something when it isn’t broken?” was the usual point raised by fans. To that I answer; the series was not essentially broken, it had just run out of steam and more importantly ideas. It was time for a refreshed look for the series. I would rather the development team were brave and attempted new things rather than string out recycled plot lines and character types over and over. The same thing can be said about the more recent entries in the “Final Fantasy” series but that’s something for another time.

Steadily, more and more information came out about the game, the hardcore fans of the “previous” series were quick to dismiss it out of sheer anger and disapproval.

So far I have seen nothing but good things from this reboot. The setting is in a fictional city called “Limbo City” where the young and re-imagined Dante lives. The city is given a dreary look which looks great, Dante in ‘traditional’ fashion is a repeat offender and has had frequent run-ins with local law enforcement. It does not take long for the authorities to realize that there may be something even darker lurking inside the young rebel… this is where the story picks up. After a yet-to-be-disclosed event whilst in custody, Dante realizes that Limbo City is not exactly what it seems. After escaping captivity Dante joins an underground movement known only as “The Order” to put an end to the city’s corrupt officials, whatever they really are, that are relentlessly hunting him and everyone connected to him. The gameplay so far features some really psychotic moments where the city streets and settings become twisted parodies of themselves, corrupted by demonic influence, something along the lines of “Constantine” (Keanu Reeves) maybe?

I’m getting a really good feeling about this reboot and am really pleased with the direction this is going. I seem to be going against the tide here though. There is a YouTube link to a trailer for it below.

Anyways, that’s all from me on the gaming front for now.

Signing off’

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