Thursday, June 11, 2009

Video Game Goodness - E3 news recap

Well, last week was E3. For many, that means nothing. For big fans of video games, it means a week full of great new announcements, exciting new trailers and websites, and confirmation of long whispered rumors.

I've only been to the E3 once and it was a lot of fun...but generally, I just follow the news via the web. Being busy with family, work and school, my time in the gaming trenches is less than it has been in previous years. Still, there were some things that really excited me from this year's expo.

Here are a few of the highlights for me:

Assassin's Creed 2

After much hype and waiting, I devoured AC1 and loved it. The combat mechanic was a little repetitive over time (as is the case of many Ubisoft titles), but I was willing to overlook that thanks to a very intriguing story line, stellar graphics, and a wonderfully immersive world. I'm very stoked for the sequel...set in Renaissance Italy, one of my favorite eras & locales. Plus...he swims! ;)

The Secret of Monkey Island

I've always been a fan of the Adventure genre in games and I love the humor and fun of the Monkey Island series, so I'm very excited to see Monkey Island resurrected, even if only as a small PC or Xbox Arcade download. This should be a lot of nostalgic fun. I'd love to see it breathe some new life into the mostly-dead adventure world.

While Secret is just a remastering of the original...LucasArts is also planning a brand new Monkey Island adventure, Tales of Monkey Island. Huzzah!

Batman: Arkham Asylum

This particular game has already garnered plenty of hype and is on my pre-order list (saving for the special edition that includes cool bonus items like a real batarang *grin*). But at E3, they unveiled the trailer above that shows the playable Joker character. Very excited for this title!

Castlevania: Lords of Shadows

Waiting to see more detail as development continues on this, but my initial reaction is mmmm, yummy.

Alan Wake

This is another one I've been hearing about for a while. It looks like it will be fun...perhaps a little too similar to Silent Hill or Resident Evil, but still looks fun. At the very least, it looks like it's got an intriguing story line, good graphics and a nice combat system. I'll try the demo first, but my curiosity is definitely peeked.

Lego Harry Potter

In addition to putting out a second Lego Indiana Jones game, Travelers Tales is also bringing their Lego goodness to the Harry Potter world. If you haven't played any of these Lego games yet, you're really missing out. They are lightweight yet truly tons of fun. My kids have loved all of them so far. I'm thinking this will be a Christmas gift for them...I'll try to not let them even know the game exists, so it will be an even bigger surprise. :)

In other news, Blizzard hinted that the goal is to get Starcraft II released by the end of the year...though they always add the caveat that they will only ship "when the game is done." I both love and hate them for this. It means they make sure the game is solid before release, but it makes the wait longer.

Halo is getting a Bungie created update, which should be good. Though honestly, I haven't yet played through the entire campaign of any of the other 3 Halo games, nor do I play a ton of multiplayer with the game. Halo is definitely the best multiplayer shooter, so it's what I prefer to play if it's shooter time. However, I'm truly fine with Halo 2. I might grab the new Halo at a discount just so I have the new version to play on Live.

Microsoft also showed off "their answer to the Wii", a motion sensor camera that let's you play games (and do other stuff), without any controller at all. The concept advertisement showed a little innovation and the stage demos showed that they may be able to achieve at least some of what they hope. Still, as with other Microsoft ventures, I suspect it will be at least the second version before Project Natal really starts gaining any traction. By then, they'll nail many of the bugs and might have third party devs truly breaking through the technology and doing something cool with it. Still, I could have sworn something like this was tried in years past...oh yeah, how could I possibly have forgotten the EyeToy for Playstation. While cool in concept, the implementation was pretty had to have the lighting just right, and move just perfectly, and make sure there wasn't anything else to interfere with the camera's vision of you. Project Natal looked a little more robust than the EyeToy, but I'm definitely not going to rush out and thank Microsoft until their project has survived at least a year or two.

Dante's Inferno sounds interesting from a literary standpoint, but the game itself didn't look that exciting or noteworthy to me.

The new Metal Gear looks astounding!

A new Mario vs. Donkey Kong: March of the Minis game was announced and should be fun. They also announced a follow up in the Professor Layton series which is cool.

Overall, it looks to be a good year of gaming. There were plenty of other titles that lots of folks got very excited about (God of War, Metroid, a couple of Mario games, and more), but my main hype is with the titles above.

With my schedule the way it is, I don't by as many games on release day any more, so it will probably be mid-2010 before I play most of these. I'll probably grab Arkham Asylum and Lego Harry Potter and might get Assassin's Creed as well if it has any fun pre-order swag.

To all the other gamers out there. What are you excited for this year?

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