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Random thoughts and news in the world of video games.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Just Cause 3, Kingdom Hearts 3 highlight Square Enix E3 press conference

Square Enix was the final press conference of E3 2015, and while some of the games were mentioned beforehand, there were still plenty of interesting announcements. Here's a brief summary of what went down:

Just Cause 3 will release Dec. 1. Gameplay elements shown off included grappling hooks to scale great heights, attach enemy soldiers to exploding fuel tanks, and other sorts of wacky mayhem. There will be more than 80 land, sea and air vehicles, and a lot of weapons in your arsenal.

A sequel to Nier was announced, with development by fan favorite Platinum Games. They seem to be everywhere these days, and I don't mind that at all.

More info was shown off for Rise of the Tomb Raider, and there will be a new mobile game titled Tomb Raider GO, playing off the success of Hitman GO.

It wouldn't be a Square Enix conference without Final Fantasy, and the same Final Fantasy VII Remake trailer shown during Sony's conference, which blew up social media, was shown again. A Final Fantasy Portal App was also announced.

Kingdom Hearts is another hot property, and after teasing fans with Kingdom Hearts Unchained, a new mobile title, out came footage of Kingdom Hearts 3, which showed off fighting in different settings. Tangled will be in the game. Of course, who knows if the story will make sense, but it's still fun playing with Disney characters. 

Hitman will go back to assassinating targets on Dec. 8, and Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is scheduled for a 2016 release in North America after Japan later this year. It will be a PS4 exclusive.

The conference ended with the announcement of a new studio, Tokyo RPG Factory, working on a new IP called Project: Setsuna, which is scheduled for a 2016 release.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Super Mario Maker and Star Fox Zero highlight an underwhelming E3 Nintendo Digital Event

Nintendo opted again for a Digital Event to show off future Wii U and 3DS titles at E3 2015. While the games look to be fun, it was underwhelming since most of them we already knew about and some unannounced games were more like spinoffs.

After a bizarre and humorous opening sequence where Satoru Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto and Reggie Fils-Aime were shown in puppet form, Star Fox Zero for the Wii U was announced to the delight of many. The trailer showed how the GamePad can be used to aim the Arwings during hectic battles, and you'll be able to transform ship types with the touch of a button and walk around on the surface. Fan favorite Platinum Games is working with Nintendo to make it happen. It releases this holiday.

Sadly there was no mention of the epic Wii U Zelda title we saw at last year's E3, but two new 3DS Zelda games were shown off with The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes and Hyrule Warriors Legends. Tri Force Heroes features Four Swords-like gameplay (but with 3 players) where you can team up with others online and make a totem pole of characters to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. It releases this fall. Hyrule Warriors Legends introduces characters from The Wind Waker including Tetra, King of Hyrule, and more, as well as new story elements. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out on the handheld. Unfortunately, it releases in the first quarter of 2016.

Nintendo is teaming up with Activision to put Donkey Kong and Bowser in the Nintendo version of Skylanders SuperChargers, which releases Sept. 20. What's neat is these figurines are both amiibo and Skylanders compatible. So will the amiibo completionists take the costly plunge? The Wii U starter pack costs $74.99 to get the Donkey Kong figure, and the Wii and 3DS ($64.99) starter packs come with Bowser. They will not be available separately.

Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer for the 3DS focuses more on decorating and designing homes. It launches Sept. 25. The charming Yoshi's Woolly World got more footage shown off and launches Oct. 16.

Other trailers included a new Metroid Prime for the 3DS...but it's actually a spinoff, which was a buzzkill. Metroid Prime: Federation Force is cooperative multiplayer and includes the Blast Ball mini-game that was announced during the Nintendo World Championships. Xenoblade Chronicles X is coming Dec. 4, and we also saw Fire Emblem: Fates (2016) and Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem (2016). Mario Tennis Ultra Smash is coming this holiday.

Another Spring 2016 release is Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam for the 3DS. This is a hybrid of Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi styles, both of which I love, but it's so far, far away.

Besides Star Fox Zero, the highlight of the event was Super Mario Maker, which we finally got a release date of Sept. 11. Nintendo has been giving this game a major, major push, and it looks like it has a lot going for it. I imagine there will be thousands of levels made from amateur level designers around the world, and I can't wait to see what people think of. 

Lastly, I hate to say this was the most disappointing announcement, because I think the game will turn out fine, but Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is not the Animal Crossing any fan was expecting for the Wii U. Scheduled for release this holiday, it looks more like a Mario Party-type game with lots of amiibo capabilities. 

With the mobile push starting later this year, Nintendo has assured us multiple times about their NX project and more info coming in 2016. That Animal Crossing announcement, along with the rest of the Digital Event, kind of tells me that new Nintendo hardware is coming out sooner than you think.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII remake highlight Sony's E3 press conference

A brief look at what went down at Sony's E3 2015 press conference:

Gamers have been clamoring for years about The Last Guardian. Sony finally delivered by showing several minutes of PS4 footage that looked good. Director Fumito Ueda is still at the helm, however, the release date is only 2016. Here's hoping for no more delays.

Guerilla revealed its new game - Horizon: Zero Dawn, taking place during a time when civilization fell apart and nature took back the land. Technology evolved into lifeforms that prowl the earth, and the trailer showed a woman doing battle with them.
Hitman returns, promising to be the "most ambitious" yet. The trailer showed him running through the forest and eliminating a target. PS4 owners will receive exclusive content in the form of contracts.

Street Fighter V will be a PS4 exclusive, and Cammy and Birdie were confirmed as playable characters.

LittleBigPlanet developers Media Molecule revealed their new game called Dreams. The DualShock 4 controller is used to draw and animate objects and characters on the screen, and the trailer showed some unique scenes involving polar bears, flying robots and evil teddy bears. 

The much polarizing Destiny will get a new expansion titled The Taken King, which releases Sept. 15.

Firewatch will make its console debut on the PS4. It's a first-person adventure where players take control of a fire lookout who communicates with a woman only by walkie-talkie. Mysteries are abound in this park setting, and it looks very intriguing.

The second biggest shock of the conference was Square Enix announced a remake of Final Fantasy VII is in development, and it will be coming out first on PS4. This one looks like another late 2016 release, but I doubt it. World of Final Fantasy was also announced for the PS4 and PS Vita, coming out in 2016.

The shocks continued with the Kickstarter announcement of Shenmue 3. Developer Yu Suzuki said the fate of Shenmue is in players' hands. I thought it was a little weird to see a Kickstarter launch at E3, and I expect this to happen again in the future. From the looks of it, it'll greatly pass the $2 million goal by the time E3 ends.

A montage of Devolver Digital games included Ronin, Mother Russia Bleeds, Eitr, and Crossing Souls. As for Assassin's Creed Syndicate, PS4 exclusive content includes The Dreadful Crimes missions. We also got another look at Hello Games' very ambitious space exploration game No Man's Sky. This is one to definitely keep an eye on.

Sony's VR device Morpheus didn't get much play, but we now know of RIGS, a multiplayer first-person shooter. Star Wars Battlefront got some more play, and a limited edition Disney Infinity 3.0 bundle is coming to the PS4 this holiday and includes a Boba Fett figure. 

Microsoft who? Activision and Sony are now partnering up so future Call of Duty content releases first on the PS4, like map packs.

The conference ended with gameplay footage of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. The action sequence showed Nathan and Sully shooting enemies and driving a vehicle around. It looks like this will be a very open-world setting.

Non-gaming talk was about Sony's PlayStation Vue streaming television service, which will soon allow users to subscribe to individual channels to their choosing. It's something cord cutters might be interested in.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole surprises at Ubisoft E3 press conference

A brief look at what went down during Ubisoft's 2015 E3 press conference on June 15:
Ubisoft announced the biggest surprise of their conference right away: a brand new South Park game titled The Fractured But Whole. Matt Stone and Trey Parker took the stage and made some jokes. This game will be superhero themed. The Stick of Truth was my No. 2 game of 2014, so I'm hoping for a repeat performance.

A new IP called For Honor is very medieval-like and features vikings, samurai and knights brutally killing each other. Two teams of four players showed off multiplayer, and we saw blocks, parrying and executions.

The Crew: Wild Run is an expansion of the online racer that I didn't really care much for when it released last year. More vehicles and upgraded graphics are on tap when it releases Nov. 17 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

If you like cats holding guns while riding unicorns, then the Trials Fusion Awesome Level Max expansion pack is for you, featuring 22 new levels made by the developers and fans. It releases July 14.

We've heard about this game for what seems like forever, but Tom Clancy's The Division finally has a release date: March 8, 2016, with a beta set for early 2016. So still not this year, sadly. A demo showed off players ambushing others in the Dark Zone.

Anno 2205 releases Nov. 3 and is a futuristic city builder, and Just Dance 2016 will release on a whole bunch of consoles on Oct. 20. No camera is needed this time as players can use their smartphones as a controller. A subscription service called Just Dance Unlimited will be limited to the Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U.

Other highlights include Rainbow Six Siege getting a beta on Sept. 24 (release date is Oct. 13), Trackmania Turbo coming to current-gen consoles, more Assassin's Creed Syndicate footage, and the reveal of Ghost Recon: Wildlands, showing of a drug bust mission that can be completed a few ways like a long-range option, an ambush, or being stealthy.

Monday, June 15, 2015

EA's 2015 E3 press conference features Star Wars and sports games

A brief look at what went down during EA's 2015 E3 press conference on June 15:
Mass Effect Andromeda was teased with a trailer that didn't really show much off besides a star map and an N7 operative. But it had some good Johnny Cash music playing. It releases Holiday 2016 for the PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

The Need for Speed reboot featured shiny cars and lots of racing, and is promised to be much bigger than Rivals. It releases Nov. 3 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Mirror's Edge: Catalyst is a beautiful looking game that will be the origin story for protagonist Faith. It takes place in an open-world setting with no levels and no load screens, and Faith won't have any guns to get past her foes. I never played the first Mirror's Edge, but really enjoyed the first-person platforming in the recently released Dying Light.

The most charming title of the conference definitely was Unravel, starring a yarn-man named Yarny. The side-scrolling platformer showed off Yarny's moves, allowing him to use the yarn on his own body to attach to fish and climb trees. It's a very cute title.

The popular Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is getting a sequel (first shown off in Microsoft's conference) and boasts new characters. EA is promising free content updates after launch as well. It's expected to launch Spring 2016.

Of course, it's not an EA conference without sports titles, and Madden 16 (passing game overhaul), NHL 16 and NBA Live 16 (you can put your face in the game!) got some love. Soccer great Pele stopped by to chat about FIFA 16 as well.

Last, but not least, is Star Wars, and a few titles were shown off. For those who still play The Old Republic, there will be a new expansion called Knights of the Fallen Empire, which will be free to all subscribers. And there will be another collectible card game to get that Hearthstone money, this one being Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. However, Star Wars Battlefront was the real star here, and gameplay footage of a hectic battle on Hoth was shown off through various points of view. It looks very, very good on the Frostbite Engine. It releases Nov. 17, just in time for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" later in the holiday season.