E3 2011 Desire runs over Walls, Wii U fails, the 3DS as a magazine
Papa and yo
Psn / ps3
Sony has quietly built a huge stable of interesting games over the years from Patapon to Parappa the Rapper, but this one stuck in my mind mostly due to setting, a Brazilian favella, and ambitions, the game aims to capture the dysfunctional father son relations of a drug addict and his boy. The father figure is a rhino, the boy has a pet robot. The game looks great, and the world is imaginative from the videos, although something seems slightly flawed, I somehow sense a video artist with a great sense of the line, a programmer that is normally talented, but no writer worthy of such a relation. How the multidimensional axis of parent and progeny will make the leap over to the meager constraints of the game world is what ultimately worries, but I might be wrong about this one, it might be more than a rehash of bigger companies’ ideas, it might be a pyschonauts in the making.
Also of note from Sony is this PS Vita gem:
Gravity lets you use any surface in the game as your floor, which is similar to another fps coming out, but is a nice use of the game world and a good extension of imagination into the reality of games in lieu of simply mimiking our own world. One wonders why the radial gravity of Mario Galaxy has proven to be only slightly infectious, the real still has prominence in the game world.
Prey 2 and Rage
The original prey I remember weakly as a walk on walls shooter, the sequel apparently takes all the open world fun of Assassin’s Creed and blends it with a chase ‘m FPS. The bounty hunter premise gives them free reign to create a city worthy of free running, corridor shoot ‘m ups, and other thing cities aren’t designed for. What made Prey and for that matter Rage notable to me, is the design of their environments.
The game has gone non-linear (note every review from people who actually went to e3 suggests rage is just a borrowing good looking fallout 3 clone), or more accurately if you look at a standard FPS from the past decade the levels have increasingly challenged us down linear corridors and created interest in ways that keep us from discovering that the sky is just a texture scrolling by a few feet from our faces. The FPS has managed to create environments that center attention, Prey and Rage decent it, you don’t feel hemmed in, you could move around and even better it looks like there is a lot of fun stuff to do out there. Open world games like L.A. Noire or A.C. Brotherhood are great at having big cities, but for the most part one is channeled by story to place to place, it really feels like one might get lost in a particular side alley in Prey 2 and find something more interesting there. A.C. is a great open world game, because clambering over its various precipes is fun to do, but the game doesn’t provide surprise around every corner, rather the city becomes an impediment to story. Something in the way these games are crafted, Prey 2 and Rage, suggests a great non-linearity, or perhaps it’s just the more powerful engine?
Other notes I made about E3: nothing Nintendo showed excited me. The Wii U lacks a good exclusive title, Killer Freaks looks ok, but it has the same pedigree as Red Steel, meaning I’m not expecting much. What really burned me about the Wii U was Nintendo’s complete absence of an app. The Wii had tons of little games with great ideas on it day one, the Wii U premiered along with what the Wii should have had day one: the legend of zelda: skyward sword
Getting to see the Wii’s potential really come through with intuitive flight controls and apparently great sword fighting is a good idea, it’s a shame that the Wii U couldn’t have had its own game, but what Nintendo seems to understand is that hardware released with little fanfare sits there, but the games will arrive soon enough. Nintendo’s other problem is a lack of original IPs, will skyward sword looks original enough to interest me, the mario remake for 3DS leaves me cold as does the idea of playing an old Metal Gear on the system. Resident Evil remains the only game (outside of pilot wings) I really want on that console so far. Nintendo always feels a tad strapped, while Sony works on hardware, it’s developers develop exclusive content for its systems, Microsoft has similarly managed such a feat especially with Bungie and Epic. In fact Microsoft’s exclusives might carry further than any other chain in games today, Nintendo desperately needs developers like these, but often seems burdened with exclusives that fail to capture my imagination. They are so taxed with the Wii, the 3DS, their failing financial position, the Wii U, and managing about 20 second party studios that their weariness shows. While both Skyward Sword and Mario 3DS were given rave reviews, I fail to see anything original outside of a Kid Icarus remake on the horizon. Some of the concepts they had with the wii, namely project hammer, should be fleshed out, and I hope to never see a Star Fox game again. Still, a system’s premiere is a company’s chance to prove the possibilities of it contains, and the Wii U gave us a lot of notes, but no finished narrative to really sink into, that golf game looks cool, having had one that journalists could actually try would have been better. Still, ideas are flowing and next year the big N will come in strong with new ideas and new games for their consoles. I’m still sold on the Wii U even though my ipad is eating through my sanity. One positive, I do like the strategy of super powered console keeps core gamer happy, while keeping the balance boards and wii motes we already own. I want a wii u just to play skyward sword and pandora’s tower on it.
Addendum: Super Mario 3DS does look really cool:
and the mario kart, appears to feel like the original just with underwater tracks and some barrel like interfaces ala the ipad:
mario kart appears to have gone back to the drift of the original which is an improvement, I suppose fun never gets old unfortunately, but the basic realizations the n had when making the game all those years ago have been barely touched except by slightly more dangerous tracks.
p.s. Nintendo really should open up development for the 3DS, will restricting quality control. They have an app store and the strangle hold on some really cool hardware, seeing box2d and other open source game libraries make the leap to the 3DS, after all home brew libs opened the nintendo DS awhile back. Nintendo has expressed concern with not working with garage developers, but what they don’t understand is that they hold the keys to the market, they curate the games on the system. A simple division of testers and comments could turn the 3DS into a worthy publication submitting to. Consoles, fuck ipads, are increasingly like magazines, multiple people want to write for them, but only a few should really be allowed to the top. Such is the problem with most app stores, because we believe in the infinity of digital storage (which in reality is an illusion, after all how many resources are expended per day to keep that ebook available for purchase?) developers allow a huge gamut of quality to flop into our laps, and the quality of the apps is often hard to gauge, my reviews on the ipad’s app store have yet to be logged. Nintendo has the keys to taste in their hand. They proved the Wii’s digital downloads could be exclusive and fun, it’s just the sdk they control that’s the problem.