The last day at the biggest trade show for video games until 2014. My biggest complaint of the show? No free energy drinks anywhere to be found. Running these long days on limited food/caffeine with late nights and early mornings makes things all the more difficult. Sure I could navigate through the crowds and throw down $6 for a Redbull but the amount of time that takes is better spent on seeing the games. The show ends an hour earlier than any of the previous days, so every minute counts.

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The Evil Within

What a great way to start the last day of the show. The Evil Within  is bringing survival horror back to its roots by letting action take a backseat to tension and atmosphere. Bethesda was playing a live demo of the game in their theater and warned the crowd that the character might die. The tension was high the entire time The Evil Within was on screen. I loved it. It reminded me of how I felt playing Silent Hill 2 for the first time. There were moments where the presenter came very close to death and I was on the edge of my seat while holding my breath until things calmed down. Combat and stealth segments in The Evin Within  look to have learned from modern games. Players can shoot and walk when fighting and crouch and sneak to avoid enemy detection. This game looks great, and I can’t wait to sit down and play it in a dark room, in the middle of the night.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order

This one surprised me. A new Wolfenstein game sounded like a bad idea but after getting to see it, The New Order looks pretty interesting. The demo shows a character named Frau Engle and her younger, sexually charged male companion. The voice acting is wonderful and in the demo they showed, was entirely in German. Having to read subtitles, and allowing characters to speak in the native language of game’s setting adds to the immersion and builds personality for The New Order. The development team, MachineGames, is trying to add strong character elements and give the story a sense of romance. The demo they showed did well to convey this vision. The New Order’s gameplay added a level of exploration which looked like a new idea. One of the weapons in the game can be used as a blow torch and players will have to cut through chain link fences to traverse through certain areas. The first time this was shown it looked tedious and time consuming, but later in the demo it was clear that drawing a big circle in a fence could be done in a matter of seconds. Once things got into combat is where they lost my interest. The shooting, health and armor mechanics evoke gaming from the older era of shooters. Unfortunately all I could think about was how similar it looked to Duke Nukem Forever. I have some faith for games that Bethesda picks up to publish because with the exception of Brink, they haven’t gone wrong.

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Killer is Dead

A new game from Grasshopper Manufacture is all you need to tell me to know to expect something weird. Suda 51’s team continues to deliver strange and compelling games with a twisted sense of humor and Killer is Dead is no exception. Tucked in a small booth behind the bright lights at Konami, this game was playable on 360 and PS3. I grabbed the 360 controller and was able to play a simple hack and slash area. The combat is simple, but the style of the Killer is Dead makes it pretty to watch. The art is cel shaded and looks like a comic book. The combos and blocking rewards players through one hit kills which showers the player in blood. Some light RPG mechanics will let players to level up combos and attacks as a reward for not taking hits. That is about as far as I got before the debug unit crashed and we were unable to get it working again. I did however get to watch the person next to me play a gigolo  mode segment. Players wait for the woman they are engaged in conversation to look away and then analyze her body to build confidence. Players then put on glasses which let them see through her clothes and also into her mind, allowing for them to see what gift they need to give in order to earn her affection. I don’t really know what was going on, or what the purpose of the gigolo mode is, but it is the kind of weird I have come to expect and appreciate from the mind of Suda 51.

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Titanfall

Finally, insight as to what the former Infinity Ward team has been working on as their new development studio Respawn Entertainment. Their goal is to blend interesting story telling with engaging multiplayer and from what I saw it looks like it will be a ton of fun to play. The theater demo they showed was an extended version of what was at the Microsoft press conference. A multiplayer match was shown with two members of the dev team within the audience area playing the game and providing commentary. Right at the start of the game they pulled back a curtain to the side which revealed a room of Respawn employees to prove that every player in the match was being controlled and this was indeed a fully live demo. It looks amazing. The visuals are stunning with a fluid frame rate which never seemed to drop no matter the chaos displayed on screen. Players on foot have the ability to double jump. This makes the game play a lot more vertical than your typical military shooter. They also showed some parkour elements with players wall running against billboards to traverse a gap between buildings. The weapons looked like they handled great, and the match was enjoyable to watch. Oh. Did I mention this game has mechs? Lightweight, upright walking tanks can be called down when they are ready. These Titans, ‘fall’ from the ships in the sky. It grabs the player and puts it in its chest and activates all with a seamless animation. They move very fast and are very mobile compared to a traditional mech. To balance the Titans from being too overpowered, players spawn with an anti-mech weapon which will help take an unsuspecting mech out quickly. Players in control of these mechs can eject once it has sustained too much damage, and it sends the player shooting into the sky, vulnerable to onlooking enemies. Titanfall is complex, dynamic and is coming together to look like something only possible on a new generation of consoles. This was one of the most exciting games I saw at the show and I can’t wait to learn more.

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Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare

Not just a FPS more like a first Person tower defense. When I saw this was a real thing, I was hoping it was just a joke because PopCap doesn’t make games like this. But once I took the time to look at what they were showing I was pretty impressed. Players control different plants and fortify defense to protect themselves and their garden from waves of zombie attacks. It looked like a brighter, more accessible version of Dungeon Defenders where the focus of the combat is with the different hero classes but there are options to setup stationary traps or turrets to help fight off the waves. All the characters from the original PvZ look to be making an appearance. The gameplay looks fun, and best with a full team. If they add some sort of leveling up mechanic that is persistent to the characters played, I think I can get excited about seeing this come out. Other wise it is just going to look like another failed attempt from EA to push their developers into making games that appeal more to the COD crowd.

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DiveKick

I am not into fighting games but this one is a ton of fun to watch. It takes a competitive fighting game and reduces it to where all of the entertainment and strategy comes from the last 20 seconds. Each player can kill each other in one hit. The characters are each unique and despite the games two button simplicity there are a number of complex strategies used to achieve victory. It’s absurd, funny and entertaining even for someone who is awful at fighting games.

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Spelunky

This is such a beautiful game on the Vita! Other than some control differences this felt exactly the same as the XBLA release of the game last year. The randomly generated levels can now be played wherever you are and you can die over and over again while trying to beat this game. If you have a Vita you should get this game.

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Octodad: Dadliest Catch

I had not heard of this one before the Sony press conference and it struck me as being the kind of weird I like to play in a game. You control different legs of an octopus and have to navigate through various environments to complete tasks. The PS4 demo they were showing at the Sony booth had Octodad getting ready for his own wedding. Finding and putting on a tuxedo, bowtie and top hat all before walking down the aisle. Walking down the aisle was where the game penalized you for causing too much destruction because other people are staring at you as you walk to your bride to be. The theme of the game is reflected mostly through the intentionally obtrusive controls and gave me a sense of what it must be like adjusting to a new body with way too many limbs. The game is charming and bizarre and struck me as having a deeper meaning than just being a man turned into an octopus overnight.

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Transistor

The team at SuperGiant Games have done it again. Less than five minutes into Transistor I was sold on the idea. The game threw me into a mysterious world which was beautiful to look at. The bright colors, sharp edges and floating platforms convey that this is a spiritual successor to their first game, Bastion. Transistor even includes an ever present narrating character, but does it differentiates enough to come across as original. While the demo was short, it did give me a good idea of what to expect in the combat. It’s a real time action game where players use a magical sword to fight robot-like enemies. New powers are earned by finding the souls of humans which decide to join your cause. The game has a very interesting mechanic called planning mode. This is where time slows down and movement and attack can be plotted out while enemies stand still. At the press of the go button, the protagonist speeds forward and executes the plan. Charm and beauty drip out of every facet of this game. I walked away from the SuperGiant Games booth wanting nothing else but to play more of Transistor.

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Destiny

I ended E3 2013 with a theater presentation of Destiny hoping to get a better look at what the ex Halo developers Bungie were working on with all of that Activision money. The demo started differently than the press conference. They showed the audience how vast and open the playable areas are and this highlights something only possible on a new generation of hardware. The draw distance was incredible. Mountain ranges and valleys are all traversable and will be littered with mission objectives once Destiny has been released. They then played through the segment where they explore a dark, decrepit building to get to the other side. The enemy behavior patterns are very reactive and dynamic depending how the game is played, even in this highly scripted vertical slice. Once they got to the other side of the wall was where the game began to look like something more than just another shooter. The words “Public Event” flashed onscreen and a giant robot spider creature appeared in the distance. Then more Bungie members appeared and teamed up to take down a giant boss. It had a strong Guild Wars 2 vibe with random event encounters and the ability to team up with other players in your region. To me the game looks like it takes everything I love about Halo- the shooting, the interesting beautiful exploration, and peppers it with RPG mechanics. Each weapon loot drops with a skill tree and character levels come with interesting abilities, encouraging coordinated multiplayer attacks. On the surface it looks like a Halo Borderlands but I am guessing Bungie has lots more to show which will innovate and reinvigorate the shooter genre.


E3 is now over. A magical event took place where two new consoles were shown with each having a bunch of great looking games. However the show still felt subdued compared to previous years. There were highs and lows but the only thing that for certain is how exhausted I am and how the next 6 months are going to be interesting. We will be getting more information about everything leading up to the holiday season. Thanks for reading our coverage this year. Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go take a nap… Right after I check on my Animal Crossing: New Leaf town….