Tag Archives: The Last of Us

E3 2012 – the bad, the worse and the hopeful…

The annual E3 video games trade show is a positive haven of nerdy eye candy.

Picture of the LA Convention Centre, home of E3, via Official Playstation Magazine UK

The newest, highest profile titles get splashy debut presentations in big conferences from the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, with fanboys and fangirls arguing online about which massive corporation succeeded best in winning our hearts and wallets for the next year.

As with the last two or three years, Microsoft appear to have no real interest in appealing to games fans, preferring to set up their stall pursuing the mythical nuclear family audience which appear in their adverts – upscale, freshly scrubbed, tech-savvy and possessed of the kind of cavernous, open-plan living spaces which would best house the full Kinect, Xbox 360 and huge Plasma screen which Microsoft’s advertising always presents as standard.

Their conference had new iterations of Gears of War, “Forza”, “Fable” and “Halo”, none of which did anything for me.  With numbing predictability, a downloadable content exclusive for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2″ was announced and for the hordes of bro-gamers who care about that, I’m sure that counts as good news.

To be honest with you, I’m close to giving up on my Xbox 360 as the last couple of years has proven to me that games are as important to Microsoft as they are to Apple – when large chunks of their E3 conference is given over to streaming media services which nobody outside the US has access to, there’s little point in continuing to pay money to Microsoft for an Xbox Live service which solely exists to provide entertainment to middle-class Americans.  Nobody else matters to them.

It’s hardly as if Sony represent anything morally better, but their exclusive titles tend to wipe the floor with Microsoft’s increasingly bland, space-filling, ‘will this do?’ junk.

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“Juno 2: The Slashening”

This year, the Quantic Dream developed “Beyond: Two Souls, with its motion-captured Ellen Page character impressed and used the tech which Quantic recently presented their “Kara” demo with – we saw a quiet scene with subtle and nuanced digital characters in an interrogation appended with the kinds of action and explosive set pieces which might reassure the more trigger-happy gamers in the audience that they weren’t just going to be expected to listen to characters speak and, you know, be expected to follow a story.

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It’s one that I’m going to watch, as is Naughty Dog‘s “The Last of Us”, which brings their prowess earned over the course of the two and a half good games in the “Uncharted” series to bear on a new, sci-fi flavoured survival action title (you might remember this one as the game whose first trailer had a young female character uncannily similar to Ellen Page, whose presence in the aforementioned “Beyond” might have prompted the redesign evident in the E3 footage).

Think “Uncharted”, in an overgrown urban environment gone to wreck and ruin and full of messed-up brigands who want nothing more than to rearrange your grizzled features.  In its way – action platform gameplay with combat and truly visually arresting settings – Naughty Dog are doing nothing new, but the storyline and characters promise enough that I’ll certainly be playing this one on PS3.

Another visually stunning title is the new, gritty “Star Wars” title “1313”, which seems to filch some of Naughty Dog’s Nathan Drake platform acrobatics and copy and paste them into a tale set amongst bounty hunters, criminals and ne’er do wells on galactic administrative centre Coruscant.

Looks incredibly pretty in this high-end PC build, but I’ve been burnt enough by decades of crappy “Star Wars” titles to reserve any judgement on this until I get my hands on it – the visual fidelity on the footage shown at the link above makes me think that next-gen hardware will make the best of it.

I’m keen to see what Nintendo will show today – something, hopefully, which isn’t the same ‘bro-shooter’, utterly predictable, guns and thunder balls which Microsoft are seemingly content to push when they’re not selling tooth-rottingly sweet, licensed crap (with Kinect!) to uncritical tykes.

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Those VGA 2011 reveals…

US men’s channel Spike TV has played host to the annual VGA awards ceremony for a few years now – taking place in December, the show celebrates the best titles of the year and has become one of the annual high-points in the gaming calendar for title reveals and trailer debuts.

This year was no exception.

It's a very pretty dystopian apocalypse...

As with most similar events in the video game sphere, a fair number of the surprises were spoiled on the internet prior to Saturday night’s presentation – a development not helped by the likes of Tony Hawk hyping announcements on his Twitter feed and NeoGaf sleuths making threads when they’ve found a new website domain or discovered something which momentarily leaked and was taken down quickly (but not quickly enough) by its makers.

The big announcement for me, inevitably, was “The Last of Us” – a survival horror title which had seen some advanced speculation in the week before the event as VGA mainstay Geoff Keighley’s Twitter feed teased a big PS3 exclusive that wasn’t even on the radar of the vid-game community sites.

Ellen Page has a vid-game doppelganger...

Some had expected to see an open-world Zombie game akin to Valve’s “Left4Dead” but it would seem that “The Last of Us” is something a bit different, which is in fairness what you might come to expect from a Naughty Dog game.

We’re seeing a world post an as-yet-undetermined apocalyptic event, with humans eking out a desperate existence and what look like mutant hybrid antagonists doing their best to remove humanity from the equation.

It’s  hard to take away anything truly concrete from a couple of minutes of trailer but I was pleased to see the emphasis on character in the brief running time and that Naughty Dog seem to be continuing their strong run of having female protagonists who are plausible, not defined by the worst excesses of the male gaze, funny and interesting.

Not Drake and Ellen Page's vid-game alter ego battle nature and what not...

I’m looking at this trailer and it’s giving me a distinct “Enslaved” vibe, which can only be a good thing, as that’s one of my favourite games of this generation.

Much as I would like to purely wax rhapsodic about Naughty Dog’s game, there was other noteworthy stuff shown at the VGAs.

Epic Games' new game, "Fortnite".

Epic Games presented a trailer for FortNite, a new IP from the creators of “Unreal”, “Gears of War” and “Infinity Blade” which forums have instantly dubbed “Team Fortress 2” mashed up with “Minecraft”.  If the evidence of the trailer is to be taken at face value, we’re going to be building a siege-proof fortress by day and defending it against enemy incursion by night, whilst looking like the Heavy, The Scout and other TF2 favourites.  So, I get the snap-judgement but I want to see more.

We also saw the aforementioned Tony Hawk title, which takes the beloved first and second titles in the “Pro Skater” series and seems to be giving them the de rigeur HD up-scaling treatment for every platform known to person-kind.   There’s a new XBLA “Alan Wake” title, “American Nightmare”, which is quite some going given the protracted dev cycle of the first game – they’re practically chucking them out the door in double-quick time!

A new trailer happened along for “Metal Gear Rising”, which now has the subtitle “Revengeance” and is officially being made by Platinum Games, which is a fair old turn up for the books.  There’s been some playing with the previously announced timeline, in which the game no longer takes place between the second and fourth “Metal Gear” entries in the series and is now set after “MGS4”.  More reassuringly, it still looks as though it doesn’t make a lick of sense: Huzzah!

We also had a new “Command & Conquer: Generals” PC-exclusive title from BioWare, some new “Mass Effect 3” gameplay, trailers of Activision’s licensed “The Amazing Spider-Man” game and the gorgeous CG trailer for “Transformers: Fall of Cybertron”, the intro movie from Blizzard’s “Diablo 3”, a haunting “BioShock:Infinite” teaser and “Rainbow Six: Patriots”.

Some sequels, some licensed stuff but enough there to keep anybody busy for a while, I think.

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