E3 2014 best impressions

Last year’s E3 was all about the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, but thankfully this year the focus was purely on the games. While there were no poor shows, there weren’t any ‘wow’ moments either, with most of the new games on show scheduled to launch in 2015.

Sunset Overdrive looked pretty bonkers in a good way.

Microsoft hit back with plenty of games announcements this year, after last year’s debacle. However there was nothing on show that would make me want to rush out and buy an Xbox One. Perhaps I expected too much from them, but there was nothing that blew me away. Sure games like Sunset Overdrive, Crackdown and Scalebound look quite interesting, but Sunset Overdrive was the only title that showed off actual gameplay and, while it looked suitably bonkers, and a bit like a cross between Infamous and Ratchet and Clank, it looked like a lot of fun to play. The Halo: Master Chief Collection looks like great value if you are a Halo fan, or want to sample the series for the first time on your new Xbox One. Some of the indie titles looked superb with Cuphead showing off a beautiful 1930’s era illustrated look, and Moon Studio’s Ori and the Blind Forest looking like a stunning 2D platformer in the mould of Rayman Legends.

See that moon up there? You can jump in your little ship and fly straight to it.

Sony had a pretty decent show again this year with Bloodborne looking like it could be a cracking new franchise under the direction of the Dark Souls developers From Software. LittleBigPlanet 3 was a pleasant surprise, although aside from a few new characters to join Sackboy in his quest, it doesn’t seem to revolutionise the series. Sony also showed off the remastered The Last of Us, and the upgraded GTA V, which both looked very impressive; although whether you want to shell out full price for slightly upgraded versions of games you’ve already played, is open for debate. The announcement of the remastered Grim Fandango was a shock, that will have graphic adventure fans salivating. The first look at Uncharted 4 was very impressive, although I hope the sombre tone of the trailer isn’t indicative of the game itself. Sony continued their indie love-in by showcasing ABZU, which looks quite similar to Journey, but set under the sea, with colourful visuals and the chilled-out atmosphere of Journey. For me, No Man’s Sky was the star of E3, and looked absolutely phenomenal. It was like watching Elite Dangerous while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. What disappointed me most about Sony’s conference was the no show of The Last Guardian or Agent, which have been in development purgatory for far too long now. We can only hope that they are perhaps saving them for later in the year.

Splatoon was a big surprise announcement from Nintendo.

I didn’t hold up much hope for Nintendo, but I have to say their Nintendo Direct show was fantastic. They had plenty of new games to show off, and even some brand new titles. The big news was the announcement that a new Star Fox is in development for the Wii U, and it looks very promising, and seems to utilise the gamepad a lot more than other recent titles. Nintendo also showed off two new concepts: Project Giant Robot and Project Guard, which look to be in the experimental phase of development, but it’s heartening to know that they are developing some brand new properties. They also announced a new 3DS title, Codename: S.T.E.A.M. from the well regarded developer Intelligent Systems. Splatoon is Nintendo’s version of the online shooter, and reminded me of a cross between De Blob and an intense game of paintball. It looks like it could be an interesting take on the shooter genre, with players covering the game area in their colour of ink, as well as shooting one another. You are able to morph into squids to hide in the ink, and then surprise your enemy, and it looks like a whole lot of fun. I have to say that the new Zelda trailer that they showed looked absolutely stunning, and showed off a beautiful art style, that is a cross between the Wind Waker’s cel-shaded visuals, and the recent Skyward Sword. With the promise that the game is open world, it looks like a fantastic evolution of the series.

You’ve got to love the wanton destruction of Far Cry 4, even if the escape car leaves a lot to be desired!

Of the third party developers I’d say Ubisoft had the best show, with Rainbow Six Siege impressing me with its co-op gameplay and extensive destruction. The Division looks as stunning as always, as does Assassins Creed Unity. But the game I’m looking forward to the most is Far Cry 4, which looks like an impressive follow up to the fantastic Far Cry 3. EA had a decent show as well with the next gen Mass Effect and Star Wars Battlefront making their fleeting first appearances, alongside Mirror’s Edge 2. Although what was shown was more of a tease, with these titles perhaps over a year away or more. SEGA had the impressively tense Alien Isolation on show, which we have high hopes will wash away the stench of the hugely disappointing Aliens: Colonial Marines.

It’s difficult to pick an overall ‘winner’ of E3, as all three of the console manufacturers had decent shows. I thought Sony and Microsoft were a bit cagey with their announcements, and it almost felt like they were holding back a few of their biggest reveals. Microsoft had a lot to prove after last year’s showing, and they did a great job of concentrating on the games they have coming down the pipeline. Sony are still on a high after the successful launch of the PS4, and really didn’t have to do much to stay on top, but their show had lots of interesting content; although the Vita got sadly neglected. It was very pleasing to see Nintendo showing off some brand new concepts, and I hope they have learned from their lacklustre console launches, that they need great games to sell their hardware. Overall E3 was pretty good, but there were no major surprise announcements that would have made it a great year.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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