Sunday, June 21, 2015

E3 2015 Coverage (Part 2: Other games)

Welcome to What They Call Games' first year of E3 coverage, directly from the show floor! I already detailed my impressions of the Nintendo demos and now it's on to all the other games I tried. Keep on reading!

Table of Contents:
Part 1: Nintendo Games
Part 2: More Games You are here.
Part 3: Virtual & Augmented Reality

Halo 5: Guardians (XB1)
Checking pupil distance for HoloLens
After waiting in line for 4 1/2 hours (not including the hour or so waiting outside the show floor), the people I was in line with who would later be on my team for the demo were horrified to learn that I had only played Halo games for a total of twenty minutes or so in my life. There's nothing wrong with only owning two out of three consoles, alright? 

Anyway, I'll go more into the HoloLens portion of the demo in the next section, but the Halo 5 demo had us on teams for Warzone mode. Forgive me if this is a poor comparison, but it reminded me of Destiny's Control mode in the Crucible. To explain it simply, both teams raced to get 1,000 contribution points by scoring kills, capturing points, and defeating boss characters, but you can also win instantly by controlling all of the points and destroying the enemy team's core. It's really cool because it combines so many different aspects of the genre into one chaotic (but not overly so) game mode. The match starts with securing your starting area and defeating AI-controlled enemies. Once an area is in your control, you gain the ability to access an upgrade point to acquire new weapons and vehicles according to how well you've been doing in the match (a nice relief from the way Call of Duty gives bonuses to people who have played for ages). From that point onward, it's a tug-of-war battle to control all of the strategic points and push your way into the enemy base.

In my match, even though our point totals were similar, my team was on the verge of loss for part of the game due to our core being vulnerable at one point. This led the opposing team to have an increase in points as well, but thanks to the large point bonus of defeating the AI boss characters, we were able to jump back into the game. It was perhaps that morale boost that allowed us to also recapture another point to protect our core, although we did still lose the match by a mere seventeen points in the end. At the time, I'll admit that I wasn't overly impressed by Halo 5. It's just another great FPS game with a few variations, but looking back at all Warzone had to offer makes me see the potential that it has. I think fans are going to love it.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 (XB1; also on PS4 and PC)
Via EA's Press Conference
On my final day, I had just enough time to try out one more game with a short line. I'd heard Plants vs. Zombies moved quickly and had a nice free shirt, so I went there even though I've never played a game in the series before (and I found out later they were out of shirts). To my surprise, this game is actually pretty fun. It's a team-based third-person-shooter/beat 'em up in which players work together to protect their area from waves of enemies. There are different player classes which each have three unique special attacks that you can use periodically with a cooldown system. Between waves of enemies, you can heal your teammates and build defense turrets at certain locations. After a few normal waves, we faced a randomly chosen boss character wave, then had to escape to a pickup point within a generous time limit while enemies went wild. Honestly, the game doesn't bring a whole lot new to the table, but it's still fun to play and offers a family-friendly option into the online shooter genre in the same way that Nintendo's Splatoon and Blast Ball do. I had fun playing it even without expecting to.

Rare Replay (XB1)
It's a collection of thirty games made by Rare. That's a lot of games and it's a lot of good games too. There's not a whole lot to say about it since it's just a compilation, but some games offer the ability to do a five second rewind, which makes nigh impossible games like Battletoads and Cobra Triangle a lot more accessible. It apparently also includes a documentary about Rare as well as a mode with short challenges from different games a la NES Remix. Previously online games will still be online as well. Good deal!

Cuphead (XB1)
I'm as much of a sucker for unique art direction as the next guy, but does this early-Disney-animation-inspired run and gun deserve all of those best of E3 stickers? It's hard to say. Like I said, the art style is definitely unique and the animation is fantastically done, but it's also not as original as it could be since it's very clearly copying the style of old-fashioned Disney. As for the gameplay, the demo consisted of several different boss battles which were surprisingly unforgiving. While the bosses' visual designs were pretty brilliant, their attack patterns didn't feel like anything I hadn't already seen in NES and SNES games of the genre. Cuphead also offers two-player co-op, which is a godsend if you're struggling with the challenging bosses. It's too early to tell if this game will be a good game, but it certainly is a cool animation presentation.

Skylanders Superchargers (PS4; also on XB1 and Wii U)
Similar to Plants vs. Zombies, I never had any particular interest in the Skylanders series, but hopped in this line for the exclusive figure they were giving out. Once again, to my surprise, Skylanders Superchargers actually seemed to be a pretty good game. It was fairly straightforward - you make your way forward by smashing through enemies, solving simple puzzles, and driving vehicles - but the graphics were very crisp and nice and the gameplay was pretty satisfying. Apart from its toys-to-life gimmick, it still didn't seem to offer anything too unique, but it's at least a solid gameplay experience that I can now stop judging people for enjoying.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PS4)
Nobody was playing this game at all. What you have here is what I imagine the people who made Centipede would've made if they had modern technology. It's a game of running around a city, shooting giant spiders and ants that are invading earth and attacking people. It's pretty darn mindless, so if that's your thing, it's the right game for you. Apparently it has a buttload of missions and a few different playable classes (one of which flies). According to the attendant, all of the buildings are destructible, but when I tried to shoot some missiles at one, it didn't seem to do any damage. For a modern game, the graphics were pretty messy. That wouldn't bother me too much, but for a game about mindless action, you kinda want to have pretty graphics to go along with it. Surely there's fun to be had here, but as a critic, Earth Defense Force left me less than impressed.

Street Fighter V (PS4)
I've played some Street Fighter IV casually, but apparently I'm too much of a noob to tell any difference between that version and this. Obviously, the graphics are better and there are a few new characters, but I couldn't tell you what gameplay tweaks there were. If you're a fan of the series, you probably already know everything about SFV and don't need me to tell you anyway.

TrackMania Turbo (PS4; also on XB1 and PC)
I'm a pretty big fan of TrackMania on PC and it's a shame that it doesn't get more love outside of Europe. It's a racing game, yeah, but it's a unique one that has you racing through loops, half-pipes, jumps, and other madness in quick attempts at beating your own fastest time or the game's or other players'. The controls are always super tight, which makes shaving fractions of seconds off of your time a feat of true skill and precision. The series also has a big emphasis on user-created content, so there are virtually limitless options when playing online. Also because of this, much of the game is about how well you can adjust to new situations you've never seen before and get fast times on tracks you aren't familiar with. It's a skill-based, technical racing game and I highly recommend it to everyone.

This entry in the series also promises to add a few new modes which change the way the vehicles handle and how the environments look. There's also Double Driver mode, which has two players controlling one car, with movement determined by the average of both inputs. I'll admit, that mode seems kinda ho-hum. Most exciting to me is the promise of randomly generated tracks which can then be shared online to compete on. The attendant who presented the game to me explained how TrackMania could be like a billiards table at a party, where people can jump in and try to set a record for a few minutes and see how they compare to all the other players. This is another game that I fear will fly under everyone's radar, but it's one of the ones I'm most hyped for personally.

Gang Beasts (PS4; also on XB1, Wii U, and PC)
I would've skipped right over Gang Beasts if it didn't have a group of people roaring with laughter in front of it. It's a rudimentary fighting game where you control blubbery beasts which can grab and kick, with the goal of throwing your opponents off of the stage. It's simple and lacks depth, but the hilarious situations that can arise when playing make it quite fun to play, at least for ten minutes or so. Here's hoping it has more content in the final product to keep players entertained for longer than that.

Games I didn't play, but took videos of:

The Solus Project (XB1)
Tom Clancy's The Division (XB1)
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PS4)
That's it for straight game demos. Did I miss ones you were hoping for? Sorry, but those will be coming out soon enough anyway. Virtual reality, on the other hand, I might not have the chance to try any time soon. And therefore, I ask that you continue on to Part 3!

Part 1: Nintendo Games
Part 2: More Games You are here.
Part 3: Virtual & Augmented Reality

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the look at some games that mostly get passed over. Even after seeing a lot of stuff on the big websites, I learned a lot!

    ReplyDelete

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