E3: Day 0

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Well today present a whole host of pressers from Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony.  The day started off with the Microsoft stage show. This could easily be summed up with one picture, in motion form:

Compliments of @JensDietrich

Aside from Kinect, Kinect, Kinect Rail Shooter, Another Rail shooter for Kinect; there were a few key announcements pertaining to media content.  This included the addition of live streaming TV.  Although there were no specifics related to fees, carriers, or date.  UFC will also be offering Pay Per View via XBOX360.  This will integrate some of the features of ESPN 3, like winner, victory type, historical information.  This is a very interesting move in the way that MS plans to replace cable and provide competition to a direct competitor just recently made available, HULU Plus.  There were two additional announcements related to HALO – the first being the HALO Anniversary title.  Which is a remastered version of the first HALO done in the reach engine.  The second is that they announced HALO 4, 5, and  6.  Well technically it was just HALO 4, however they did say it was the beginning of a new trilogy so the extrapolation was easy enough.  There it is a hour and thirty minute press conference summed up in one paragraph.  All in all it was not all that impressive.  There were some key movements with some neat features, however it seemed to be lacking some flair.

Next up was the EA press conference.  They announced a few titles, nothing that was unexpected or already known about.  There was Need for Speed: The Run, Battlefield 3 – Which featured a tank battle and looked very well put together.  They teased all the Star Wars and MMO fans out there with another CG trailer, but again, there was no launch or open beta date.  Which honestly is extremely disappointing.  EA also pimped their new online portal called www.origin.com.  This has some exclusive trailers.   They also showed more Mass Effect 3, which looks more and more impressive.  They also tagged its release date as March 3, 2012.  There was some Madden, FIFA, a really big Curt Schilling (like I’m one to talk).  Again, there was nothing here we had not seen or known about before.  SSX was also shown again, this time much more care-free and fun like the original, rather then that pseudo military snowboarding game shown at the VGA’s.  Aside from Battlefield and Mass Effect, there was little here to be excited about – SSX does make me smile though.

The day continued with the UbiSoft Presser.  That started out with a big smile.  They introduced a simple traditional two player plat-former – Rayman 4.  This brings a smile to anyone new or old that likes a good side scroller.  There was a fun augmented reality Raving Rabbits game.  The MC then went a little off the rails.  There was a demo of Ghost Recon, which with all honesty looked pretty boring.  There was some Driver: San Francisco, then a mostly expletive demo of Far Cry 3.  The Inglorious Bastards made an appearance in Brother in Arms: Furious Four.  There were some other less memorable announcements.  Although it ended with the coup de grace – Assassin’s Creed Revelations.  Which was epic.  It definitely looks better.  There are some new take downs and it all looks real good.  I found somethings I was impressed with, like Rayman, AC, Raving Rabbits, however there was one missing item, Beyond Good and Evil 2.

The long day of talking ended with Sony.  Normally, they are the first real day of E3, this year though they made a change.  Jack Trenton took the stage and apologized for the PSN outage and security breach.  He asked those who have given up on Sony to please stick around and listen to the future they have planned for their platform(s) in the future.  There was more move this and move that.  A untimely trailer for a game coming out tomorrow.  Seemed like a waste of a few minutes.  There was the attempt to bring more 3d home, which includes a Sony PS branded TV that does 3D.  There was an amazing game play footage trailer of Bioshock Infinite, along with a weird announcement of a non-descript NGP title.  Kobe Bryant was on stage, looking really out of place trying to play a basket ball game.  Uncharted 3 was shown and looked as expected – polished, beautiful, and full of Nolan North.    We finally got some announcements for the HD remake of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus.   Added to that was the PSP God of War ports to HD ion the PS3.  Both of which are due out in September.  There were a bunch of exclusives that seemed wedged in, or back room deals made because they are so odd.  Like Bioshock be packed with Bioshock Infinite and  Star Trek having a downloadable prequel, then the 1943 pack-in with Battlefield 3;  all PS3 exclusives.  Some dungeon running social game called Ruin.  Looked like everything else dungeon crawler out there,  except other people build the dungeon you invade.  There was some mention of a unified experience across the PS3 and NGP version.  I also forgot to mention, they announced the NGP, officially named the PSVita; I’m just going to stick with the NGP though.  There will be two versions, a WI-Fi version and a Wi-Fi/3G version, powered by ATT (the crowed had boos and mocking laughter at this moment.  The wi-fi only version will be $250, the 3g version $300.  Which honestly seems reasonable.  They mentioned something called Playstation Suite, which aside from the Xperia, no one seems to know anything about.  All in all it was another forced presentation.   Aside from Uncharted 3, NGP price point, and the BioShock tailer it was another flat conference.

Microsoft unfortunately announced somethings in their press release that should have been mentioned in the press conference – Cloud and ID saved to cloud for a truly portable XBOX live experience.  This is huge.  Sony has had this feature for Plus users since the Summer, so this is a competing feature.  One thing to take away from this is again, they seem to be leaving their core gamers in the dust, pushing peripherals. It seems Microsoft wants everyone to use the Kinect, Sony wants everyone to have a 3D TV, so I wonder what Nintendo be pushing tomorrow.  I am hoping the floor shows and private demos have more to offer.  Right now the start seems pretty flat.  There are some shining surprises, Rayman and Raving Rabbits to start, but there was little from the big two to start the show.  Luckily we know that there are plenty of good games on the horizon this year and next.  I look forward to seeing those and Nintendo tomorrow and how innovative their new console will be.

Review: Assassin’s Creed 2

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In a strange and coincidental turn of events, I can name two moments of deep disappointment over the past few years after picking up a game that I had really been looking forward to.  One was the original Assassin’s Creed and the other was the next-gen debut of Prince of Persia. I ditched AC after only a few days ofter realizing that it was way more repetitive than I liked, and I sold PoP back about an hour after  I finished it because it came across to me like a childrens version of a once-great franchise.

See, I like climbing stuff. I like climbing really, really tall stuff. I enjoy the feeling that I’m going to fall from a dizzying height if I make the wrong move while climbing really, really tall stuff. That’s why Ico finds its way into my play rotation at least two times a year.

I was crushed by how little enjoyment I got out of AC.

Now, here comes Assassin’s Creed 2 with a different historical tableau to explore and a new protaganist to control. I had little interest originally, but after reading some advance impressions, and seeing some of the early gameplay, it looked like the folks over at Ubisoft had really listened to some of the gripes about AC and were setting out to address, fix and improve them.

Holy shit!

Not only did they turn out a much better game, but I got my PoP fix to boot!! Seriously, I seldom play a game for more than a few hours at a time before I’m either too drunk to continue or I’m distracted by some murder show on the Discovery Channel.  Nine straight hours in one night later, the only thing that pried my controller from my hands was my inability to keep my eyes open from need of sleep.

Graphics – Everything here is gorgeous. World characters repeat, but not so frequently that it becomes distracting. The city maps make me want to travel back in time and start stabbing people because it looks like so much fun!!!

Story – Fantastic. Engrossing and rich like a fine plate of  mezzaluna ravioli slathered in bolognese sauce. There will never be a time where you’re not interested in Ezio’s next mission. And the added bonus? I’m playing a videogame and I’ve picked up a little Italian along the way, you “bastardos”! See? It’s just like “bastard” but there’s an “o” at the end.

Gameplay – Nice to see that the people behind AC2 have fixed the problems of the original. The rooftop antics of this game would be enough to make it worth buying. As far as free-running is concerned, this game not only tops Mirrors Edge, but actually fixes the problem in THAT game as well!! There is the occasional, “oops, I jumped the wrong way” moment, but 9 times out of ten that’s my  fault. The fighting, on the other hand could use some work. A little bit rockier than I normally like.

Although in a few instances, this scenario......

Although in a few instances, this scenario......

 

...nearly led to THIS scenario!

...nearly led to THIS scenario!

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound – The hand to hand combat sounds like a guy hitting a wall with a nylon full of meat. Other than that, I love it. The music, the NPC dialogue and the swordplay sound great. Have fun standing in front of a herald and hearing what he has to say.

Replay Value –  Not quite done yet, but I look forward to going back and finishing up the side-missions and trying to actually cap out the achievement points.

Summary – Well worth a buy. Buy two in case the first one gets scratched by that raccoon that lives under the sink. Seriously, I haven’t been this re-interested in a product since Tomb Raider got their shit together.

Much love,

Max