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Awesome Austin’s E3 2014 – Day One

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It’s that magical time of year again when all of the big developers in gaming bring their warez to Los Angeles in an effort to draw the attention of the world. I spent a lot of the day getting a feel for the floor, and experiencing the sweltering heat over at the Microsoft booth.

After watching Nintendo’s digital press conference and being disappointed about the lack of any Metroid announcement I made my way over to the LA Convention Center. The lines were long, the AC was bad and things were just as busy as expected. I managed to make it through the first day, and even continued with the traditional “no lunch because no time” philosophy that might as well be E3’s slogan.

 

 

Miyamoto’s Game Concepts

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Once the door’s opened I rushed over to Nintendo’s booth because I was informed that Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Zelda & more) would be presenting some of new game concepts designed to take advantage of the Wii U’s unique GamePad input device. Really I was hoping to see some of that StarFox game that was teased at the end of the digital press conference. Unfortunately nothing shown was close to being a full game, but it was exciting to see a couple fresh Ideas. It felt like what Nintendo did at the first E3 after announcing the Wii U, with a lot of proof of concept and tech demos. I could see these games winding up in another Nintendoland style collection. “Project Big Robot” pits two large boxy robots against each other in a sumo style battle to literally be the last one standing. Using the Wii U motion sensors the GamePad acts as the robot’s torso controlling the center of gravity while the triggers control the arms. Knocking the enemy robot on its butt is all it takes to win. The robots can be customized for battle to change weight height and other balance impacting features. It reminded me of a first person mech simulator, without the ability to shoot. “Project Guard” is the other concept Miyamoto showed off in the Nintendo Treehouse. A tower defense where players setup 10+ security cameras and monitor all of the screens at once, taking control of cameras and zapping little robots as they appear on screen. Miyamoto said that “Project Guard” is one that works better with a room of players all shouting out where they see the robots coming from. This looks like it would be great to play with a bunch of friends over who might not be as experienced with games as the host.

 

Super Smash Bros 3DS

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I didn’t seek out Smash Bros because I know that I want to play it, but Nintendo has a way of getting you to play games while you are standing in line thanks to their booth attendants walking around with 3DS units anchored to their bodies. The game plays like a Smash game. I was surprised with how crisp the visuals looked, the bold outlines of the characters are specific to the 3DS version of the game and do well to mask any jagged polygons lurking around the edges of character models. My only complaint comes from the circle bad. It just isn’t a precise input device. I found myself jumping or dashing against my thumbs intent. Nonetheless I finished ready to play more, and I am truly disappointed the game was delayed from early summer to early fall.

Splatoon

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THIS is the game I came specifically to Nintendo to play. Some fresh new intellectual property from a company that typically delivers exclusively on nostalgia. Four on four territory control. You play as a person shooting ink at EVERYTHING, that transforms into a squid on command which then swims through the ink soaked ground to quickly traverse the map. The goal is to cover as much of the ground as possible in your team’s ink color. This game has potential. If they can get the online play to work and support a much needed voice chat, Splatoon could be a strong competitive game. The E3 demo had players forced into using tilt controls. They worked well enough, but I dislike the looseness of accuracy. Using standard joystick controls was a feature, but I was unable to invert my y-axis so I suck to the tilt and twirl. I want to play more of this and can’t wait for Nintendo to talk about other features and modes.

 

Dying Light

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The team behind Dead Island decided to build another zombie game, but this time there is free running and it controls very well. All of the running, jumping and climbing is very intuitive. It didn’t take long before I was running around the rooftops without missing a step. The demo I played let me see the player progression. With every action you take your character is rewarded with experience in that specific category. When I climbed to the top of a small building I was rewarded with points that upgrade my free running abilities. It was the same thing for using weapons and killing zombies. The systems are really intuitive and cleverly designed. I will have a full preview of this coming later in the week.

#IDARB

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The evolution of #IDARB and the suggestions taken from Twitter continue to impress me. Eight players on a single Xbox One in a bizarre team handball, pixel styled sports mess. Unfortunately developer Other Ocean was only allowed Six controllers at the Microsoft booth, but that didn’t stop me from getting a few rounds in. What’s new to the game since I played it at GDC is the addition of Twitch chat and Twitter hash tag integration, dubbed “hash bombs.” All someone needs to do is tweet at the @IDARBWIRE with the current matches unique tag and add a command tag to impact gameplay. Typing #Ricky for example causes a giant Rick Astley to appear in front of the action, effectively “Rick Rolling” the players. There is too much to say about this game, but if you have the chance you need to play it. It’s slated to be out soon, later this year.

 

Roundabout

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An open world driving game where you control a limo spinning along its center axis, while navigating through traffic and picking up passengers. This game is especially charming because every time you pick up a new passenger you are treated with a live action video of members of the game industry spitting out some cheesy lines about where they need to go and why. The game play ends up being more of a puzzle game than a driving game. I had a little trouble getting a feel for the spinning limo and died a good dozen times in my sub 10 minutes of playing, but that was mostly do to my impatient nature. I am truly excited to play more of this when it makes it’s way to Xbox One and PC.

 

Alien Isolation

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Steath. Horror. Alien. Hiding. I played the game for five minutes, died five times and thought “this game is for me.” The loud ambient noise combined with bright lights and the constant hustle of crowds makes for a poor environment to play a game all about environmental immersion, but Isolation was still able to pull me in. The Xenomorph is an all powerful alien and the only option is to run and hide. Very similar idea to something like Outlast or Amnesia. Feeling powerless creates tension and fear. Hopefully we see that these principles are in the full game come this October.

 

Well that’s it. I ate Thai food for dinner, decompressed and plugged in my devices. I am ready to jump back into the sweaty depths of LACC and get wrap my hands around more controllers to play more games. Come back tomorrow for another break down of what I ate, smelled and touched. I’ll make sure to mention the video game stuff too…

E3 2014

 

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