Archive for the ‘ Video Games ’ Category

How Resident Evil’s Horror Could Survive

Capcom has been going in new directions with Resident Evil for a while now with mixed results.  After being one of the most well known series in the survival horror genre with Resident Evil 1-3 and Code Veronica, Resident Evil was always an anticipated release when a new installment was announced.  The Resident Evil REmake and Resident Evil 0 were well received on GameCube and a Resident Evil 2 REmake is one of the most fan requested games out there.

But with Resident Evil 4, Capcom switched to over the shoulder gameplay rather than the old clunky “tank control” scheme, yet 4 was still highly praised despite getting away from Umbrella Corporation’s T-Virus.  That warm reception wasn’t waiting for Resident Evil 5, which followed Chris Redfield and his new partner Shiva in Africa where the T-Virus’s origins were first discovered and Umbrella as fans came to know it was born (which las plagas from Resident Evil 4 still factored in).  Resident Evil 5 split fans as the game seemed to get further away from its survival horror roots and go more towards an action game.  Resident Evil 6 had fans hopeful with the apparent return to a city devastated by a new outbreak similar to Raccoon City, but while the game started with more familiar elements of survival horror, it started showing signs of action. When the game picks up with Chris Redfield, it’s more of that action game style with giants stomping through cities and battles of 2 men against tanks.  The final chapter takes it even further with motorcyles outrunning tanks and jumping over helicopters and a plane crashing into a city before a fresh outbreak of a new virus.

Resident Evil has been going bigger and bigger like a Hollywood action film. Explosions are more frequent than tense jump scares as Capcom has sought to pursue a more broad audience.  Left in its wake are the faithful fans who still long for survival horror like Resident Evil was built upon.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 is supposed to be a return to survival horror while still using the over the shoulder model and hopefully Capcom gets it right.  We’ll see how that pans out in February 2015, but in the meantime, here are a few things that I think Capcom should do with the series to get it back on track.

1. Start over but continue forward
Fans are familiar with the established characters of Resident Evil.  Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Rebecca Chambers, Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield, and Albert Whesker are the familiar faces the series follows, but that may also be detrimental at this point as well.  These characters are likewise familiar with these events. While they tried to give Chris some PTSD elements, he’s overall able to push through and Leon has become so hardened to bioweapons he’s pretty much a specialist specifically for such operations.

For that reason, I think it’s time to get away from bioweapons being common and time for the old cast to step aside for new characters.  For Resident Evil 7, I would set the game about 5-10 years after Resident Evil 6.  After the incident in China, almost all nations around the globe unified to outlaw the research on bioweapons and aggressively hunted down any cells still continuing work from the days of Umbrella (and Neo-Umbrella was just a ridiculous name).  Essentially start the game in a world where the events of Resident Evil 1-6 are a dark mark in human history but no indication of such things have been seen for years now.

Set the game anywhere you like, though I would likely pick a more remote country – perhaps somewhere in South America. Perhaps an Interpol task force or a drug taskforce infiltrate a compound on information of a major drug production operation.  During the infiltration, something goes wrong and only a handful make it into the facility (yes, mirroring the set up of the original Resident Evil).  As they begin to investigate the facility, they find out a group has been doing research from the ground up based off Umbrella’s T-Virus and have successfully recreated it.  Thus we are thrown back into a game where the protagonist is just as terrified as the player is when creatures start coming at them rather than cool and collected and the player is dealing with claustrophobic corridors, zombie workers, undead dogs, spiders, rats, or whatever creatures you like, and a few mutants as well.  Perhaps you can even bring back a new version of Tyrant if you really wanted.

The key point is to get back to basics of the plot and have this scenario be completely new to the characters in the story so they have reason to be terrified.  Sure, people would have still heard of these things, but even 5 years after the China incident, a 25 year old operative would have been in college and possibly less than concerned with such events.  It yields itself for fear from the characters and if done well, that fear will be passed on to the player as the new research can be completely unknown and with enough variations the game can keep players unsure of what to expect.

2. Over the shoulder, under pressure

The over the shoulder perspective worked well in Resident Evil 4 and has worked well ever since on its own.  Slow moving zombies are easy to get headshots on when you’re able to aim reliably.  But 6 headshots only kills 6 zombies if there’s a dozen shambling towards you and your 6 shooter is slow to reload or worse, you only have 20 bullets to your name and have no clue what’s in the next hallway.

That’s a bit key to survival horror in my opinion.  Limited resources and inventory management.  In a game like Resident Evil 4-6 where you’re moving forward, I understand the need to suspend disbelief and have magical storage units that hold items, but having a dozen guns on your person is a bit much.  Bring back the limited inventory and the storage chests with their own limited inventory.  If the facility we’re in is designed so it makes sense, don’t even have the storage units share inventory and make players have to go back to retrieve what they stashed.

That sense of “did I bring the right weapon and do I have enough ammo” helps build tension as you open one more door or go down one more dark set of stairs.  In Resident Evil 6, having “enough” ammo was okay because you’d be able to blast through the zombies or monsters and collect more ammo from their body to keep blasting away.  In the old Resident Evil games, realizing you were at max capacity on two weapons and just found three more boxes of bullets actually instilled a bit of fear because “Why are they giving me this much ammo? Oh no, what’s about to come after me?!”

3. Bruce Lee doesn’t train zombie defense
This one is a problem we brought upon ourselves.  In the old tank control Resident Evil games, we were always grumbly about having to wildly swing a knife when we were low on ammo.  Why couldn’t we side kick a zombie in the chest? Why couldn’t we have any form of hand to hand combat?

Well, we eventually got it and it honestly made the games trivial enough that survival wasn’t a big deal.  Even without the abundance of zombies dropping ammo, you could conserve a lot by taking two shots and then giving a round house to splatter a zombies head, or deliver a running bulldog worthy of Rick Steiner from WWE.  If you can take out monsters without guns, why worry?

Having this be a new recruit on the team would make the idea of going hand to hand against creatures willing to bite your face off a bit outlandish.  And if they’ve only gone through basic hand to hand, they aren’t in a position to reliably fight off these creatures anyway, giving a reasonable excuse for removing the feature and putting us back to relying on our ever diminished ammunition and somewhat unreliable knife, or maybe a collapsible baton this time. Just cuz…

4. We can still acknowledge our favorite characters

Just because a new character is green behind the ears and about ready to soil himself over this horror he’s stumbled into doesn’t mean we can’t give him some reassurance now and then.  After managing to find a radio, you could get word out reporting what you’ve found.  Later on, your next opportunity to try and make radio contact could be none other than Leon Kennedy, Jill Valentine, or any other of the familiar characters. While not on site with you, they could offer some insight and advice to the new character, encouraging him to keep it together and make it through this alive while they marshal resources to get there.

5. And don’t go straight into the same problem again

At the end of the game, why not have the problem unresolved and even escalating?  Why not have the protagonist stop the researchers at the facility in this game only to radio into HQ at the end to tell them he’s found there are other facilities set up and something worse.  Our final scene could show that the virus has already somehow been spread to contaminate a nearby city.

And that easily sets you up to go right into Resident Evil 8 with an outbreak in a city just like Resident Evil 2.  And again like Resident Evil 2, why not go even worse than Leon’s predicament? Why not have a protagonist that isn’t part of any organization or organized force? Perhaps a retired police officer, or even just a random citizen trying to survive this.  You could have your new character from the previous game arrive and split the game between the two like the old games used to at times and you could again have our established characters remotely involved or arrive late.  For that matter, I’d have them running clean up and just a few steps behind to contain the situation before it gets out of hand so all their specialized skills and knowledge aren’t enough to prevent the horror from breaking out again.

I’d even consider it worth thinking about having each game take place with a new character who may come into contact with familiar characters, and only rarely have the game mostly focus on familiar characters arriving to work in a new location.

Conclusion:

I’ll admit some of this might come across as just re-visiting Resident Evil 1 and 2 with new characters and a new location, but I think that’s almost what Capcom should do at this point.  By going forward without a reboot, it lets fans of the series continue on while also introducing those old games’ style of survival horror elements to a generation that never played the old games.  A generation of gamers never played the Playstation entries and likely have no interest in doing so, which would make this a new experience for them while nostalgia would likely make these worthwhile, yet still different enough, to be interesting for old players.

Retro Games MEGA FIND trickling to eBay

It’s a story that makes any retro game collector a little jealous.  Multimedia personality Patrick Scott Patterson, through just amazing luck this time, came into possession of over 600 video game boxes that were stored carefully and remain in pristine condition.

Patrick Scott Patterson, or the Original PSP, was contacted by a friend who came across multiple comic book long boxes filled with video game boxes from Atari 2600 and before sitting on the curb for the trash collectors!  The full collection was sent to PSP, who went to “work” (I imagine it was more “went to giddy fun” myself) sorting through them and seeing what all was there.  All in all, 616 boxes were present, with some being rather rare.

Patterson has long been a vocal proponent of video games, video game history, and video game preservation through the years and has often defended attacks on video games from the media critics, appearing on news segments in support of games and calling for rational discussion and realistic debate any time the media tries to scapegoat the hobby for the latest tragedy.  After much deliberation, he decided to put the mega find on eBay piece by piece in hopes that the mint condition boxes will go to collectors who, like him, wish to preserve these gems of gaming history.

From the press release:

“Last thing I want to happen is for these to end up in the hands of resellers who will only treat them as inventory,” he added.  “Given the unique nature of the find I found that opinions on value vary, so it is going to be up to the public to determine them while giving all collectors a shot at what they need to complete their collections.”

You can read more about the story behind this amazing discovery of retro game history from the source itself here and if you want to get a box or two for your own collection, the eBay page can be found right here.

Final Fantasy XIV 2.38: The Great Land Grab

Final Fantasy XIV released Patch 2.38 this week to a bit of an uproar and backlash to some extent.  The big addition to the game was the introduction of personal housing which, to be honest, was not exactly what people were expecting.  To be fair, earlier this year, Yoshida did comment on player housing being much more affordable than Free Company Housing.  This, as it turns out, was not the case.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from personal housing, but I was looking forward to it.  The idea that it would be cheaper than Free Company housing made me think it would lack some of the functional features such as chocobo raising or gardening.  I expected it to primarily be a house you could decorate and have your own place to hang out, possibly with a summoning bell similar to the inn rooms.  But then Square put in the personal quarters in Free Company housing and that had most of the personal housing features I was expecting.  So what would player personal housing be?

As it turns out, Square chose to give players the option of owning their own private house completely identical to what Free Companies could buy and build with all the features and functionality.  Fairly interesting decision, but players were a bit confused that Square only added two new wards, a total of six new wards per server.  The small houses were sold out within hours, if that long, on many servers.  On our server, the most expensive plot in one ward has been purchased by an individual player for near 90 million gil.  The result was many players, and smaller Free Companies, left unable to purchase a house as things were scooped up fast. The combination of limited spaces and the reset to original plot prices resulted in limited accessibility.  A lot of players are unhappy.

Yoshida has already acknowledged the issue and has stated they are facing challenges with ensuring server stability as they continue to add wards, but they are making some strides and plan to double the number of wards with the 2.4 patch.  While the hope of getting a house with this patch may have resulted in dashed dreams, our group has seen it as an opportunity to continue to amass our gil in preparation for the plot we want, not just the plot we can grab.  If that means we spend more in another 15 days or get it at a lower price in 30 or even have to wait until 2.4, then so be it.

It’s actually a feature I’ve come to really like about Final Fantasy XIV: the lack of instant gratification.  It’s disappointing, but if you’re patient and keep working towards a goal, I feel like you will eventually get there.  For now, though, my friends and I continue to put our collective efforts into accumulating gil and making preparations for our future mansion.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – A Year in Review

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is celebrating its 1 year anniversary and it’s a year I’ve enjoyed quite a bit. Before we delve into my review of FF XIV’s first year, a little history on my MMO experience. My MMORPG “career” started in the 90s with EverQuest after a friend showed it to me. It was a mind blowing idea to be able to play a character in a living, breathing world, something I’d never seen in a game before. After a number of years in EverQuest, I finally hung up the armor and stepped away from Norrath, but not before I had pulled two new friends into the adventures. About a year after leaving EverQuest, these two friends, along with a new one, and I logged into Vana’diel together when Final Fantasy XI launched. I didn’t last long with that game. Two friends, who were roommates, were between jobs and leveled a good dozen levels without me. I found my warrior spending more time shouting for a group than actually playing the game. It didn’t take long for me to cancel.

Then came World of Warcraft. It took some time, but eventually the friends who joined me in EverQuest and Final Fantasy XI all started characters in Azeroth. For 9 years I played WoW and for most of that time one of the friends that came in with EverQuest played as well.  We made friends in WoW who we met in person and have become friends out of the game now as well.  This one friend that I pulled into Norrath, grouped with in Vana’diel, and adventured with for years in Azeroth convinced me that Eorzea was our next grand adventure.  I had pulled him into two worlds, EQ & WoW, and he had pulled me into one (FF XI), so I guess it was my turn to follow his lead.  And so on September 30, 2010 we had our Collector’s Edition in hand.

Things were already off to a bad start.  Final Fantasy XIV offered the worst collector’s edition I’ve ever purchased.  The only things it offered were some in-game items, a blank journal, an authenticator, and codes for adventurer’s certificates.  That was it.  No soundtrack, no art book, no mouse pad or physical items.  I’m sure everyone is rather aware of how poorly the game itself was received.  Combat was arguable (some did like it), zones were fairly uninteresting with reused assets and no change in scenery, but the biggest thing that grew so dull for me was the menus.  Menus, menus, and menus.  Final Fantasy XIV: Menu Screens would have been a fitting title.

Two years later and Square Enix knew the game was going to collapse.  It would go down as one of the most colossal failures in MMO history if not for the determination of Square Enix putting a team in place to turn the game around.  They kept things going for a while with FFXIV 1.0, a storyline building to a climax that may be the most epic conclusion to an MMO prior to an expansion.

The friend that convinced me to try XIV had continued to play off and on during the 1.0 wrap up between time in WoW.  He was again speaking highly of the plans for A Realm Reborn.  Considering I didn’t have to even buy the game and would even get some in game rewards simply for having the original Collector’s Edition, I decided to give it a fair shake.

Even if you don’t care for FFXIV: ARR, you have to admit it’s impressive how much Yoshida and his team have turned the game around.  The 16th best selling game of 2013 with over 2 million subscribers is no small feat after relaunching from what was named the worst MMO launch of all time.

When I first tried A Realm Reborn, my summary description was simple: “There’s nothing particularly new here, but it’s like the World of Warcraft of 2013.  It’s taken all the features that work well, polished them, and put them together in an extremely impressive package.”  I still stand by that description myself.  The questing is like WoW (and every WoW imitator), the combat is familiar, dungeons are instanced, there is raiding, progression is gear based.  A Realm Reborn strikes me a lot like the feeling from the Burning Crusade era of WoW with a few nice additions.

From the start, a major thing that stands out for FFXIV now is the crafting game. Where many MMOs treat crafting as a side activity, Square has an entire game built on crafting.  Crafting has its own full hot bars of actions requiring players to choose what’s best to use, and when, in order to improve the quality of their items. There’s a completely separate gear progression, with stat requirements and caps, for the crafting game.  If a player doesn’t care for traditional gameplay with dungeons and raids, one could conceivably focus all their time on gathering and crafting and still have a lot of things to do. Now, just so nobody jumps on me for ignorance, I’m not saying FFXIV is the only game to go in depth with crafting. Plenty of MMOs have done so. I’m just saying FFXIV is another that has done well with it.

Square has also treated the MMO as a traditional RPG. Taking notes from their success with FFXI, there is a main storyline quest chain that drives the overall main story of the game, complete with cut scenes.  Classes also have storyline quests with cut scenes.  All cut scenes are done with the game engine, which are rather impressive with the animations and expressiveness they’ve put into the models. Those same animations are often seen in various emotes as well.  Where other MMOs I’ve played have animations with their emotes, FFXIV has impressive ranges of facial expressions with theirs as well.

Yoshida and his team have also put in a good balance of content for “casual” and more dedicated approaches and have done a fantastic job implementing systems to prevent lower level content going dead as players reach max level.  Similar to WoW, FFXIV has bonuses offered for running dungeons per day, but they are broken down into Extreme (newest dungeons), Hard (high level), Low Level, Trials (single fight 8 man raids), and Main Scenario, which are various raids.  Players get bonuses for doing these, even the low level dungeons at max level, which syncs you down to the appropriate level.  There are 8 man raids in the Binding Coil of Bahamut, which push the difficulty and 24 man random group raids in the Crystal Tower entries, which release in alternating cycles. 

In addition to all this, there is Free Company (guild) housing, chocobo raising, gardening, Beast Tribe daily quests, Bounty Hunting, and the option to level every adventuring, gathering, and crafting classes on a single character.

After a year of playing Final Fantasy XI, it was a welcome change to be able to play solo in World of Warcraft, but as WoW became more and more solo focused and the story became less and less enjoyable, the nice balance of group and solo with a very cohesive and engaging story is a welcome change in Final Fantasy XIV.  WoW kept me engaged for 9 continuous years.  Final Fantasy XIV has kept me engaged for one year.  Here’s looking forward to the soon expected to be announced expansion and many years to enjoy.

 

Backlog Review: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

It’s been almost a year since Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag released and I just recently got around to playing it.  I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who, like me, have a bit of a back log of games to play (My back log is dozens if not 100 games across all systems).  I’m actually happy Dragon Age Inquisition is delayed until November.  It gives me just a little more time to catch up on a few games, not to mention Final Fantasy XIV should be letting me play ninja by then.

That said, I have to say AC IV: Black Flag is pretty fun.  I know there are detractors out there who don’t like the Assassin’s Creed series coming out annually with pretty much the same gameplay with a few additions here and there.  Honestly it doesn’t bother me too much.  The formula works well enough, so I don’t feel it’s necessary to reinvent the wheel with each game.  Using the same basic formula with a few new bells and whistles here and there is perfectly fine by me if the story is good and the game play is fun.  After all, Mega Man did alright coming out on an annual basis (with an extra year between a couple of them).

The sailing feature from Assassin’s Creed III proved popular so Ubisoft built ACIV around it even more.  I actually enjoyed it in III and it’s still fun in Black Flag.  There’s no shortage of things to do outside of the main story as well.  With treasures spread about the Caribbean, buried treasure to find, a ship to upgrade, equipment to upgrade with crafting, and a home base to upgrade similar to past games, there’s a lot of things to spend your time on.  I haven’t used the Fast Travel option much since it’s fulfilling enough to choose plenty of extra stops on the way to the next main mission.  And of course there are always ships to come across to attack and pillage for loot.  The life of a pirate, yo ho.

Combat hasn’t gotten a real upgrade, mostly the same as we’ve seen before.  I have to say it’s enjoyable to see a dual wielding character this time, though. The new animations are fun to watch that movie-inspired swashbuckling flair.

I’m not too far through the story, but I do like the slight change. Edward Kenway is not an Assassin nor a Templar. He is truly just a pirate, though he’s gotten mixed up in the plot of Templar vs Assassin.  Granted, this does raise the question of how he seems to have all the Assassins’ skill set without any training, but let’s just let that slide for game play sake.  I’ve been told by a friend the story is a bit weaker than the others and seems it could be a bit shorter.  I am a bit unclear on why they decided to call it Assassin’s Creed IV rather than only the subtitle “Black Flag” since it seems like the game is more of a resolution of AC III tying up some plot threads.  The main character is the grandfather of Connor and outside of Edward’s story the Abstergo Entertainment plot seems to be tying up the last of Desmond’s story.  In contrast, we have Assassin’s Creed: Unity coming out this year, not Assassin’s Creed V: Unity.

Overall, if you enjoyed past Assassin’s Creed games, I think you’ll enjoy Black Flag.  If you haven’t played any of the Assassin’s Creed games, Black Flag isn’t a bad one to hop into since there’s not as much intertwined back story from previous games to worry about too much.  Set sails on the open seas and live the life of a pirate.  Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!

Xbox One Error: Leveraging Lara Croft against Nathan Drake

Microsoft dropped a bit of a bombshell on everyone at Gamescom this year when they announced Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider sequel ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ would be an exclusive release on Xbox One.  Gamers predictably reacted less than unanimously in favor of Microsoft’s announcement.  Why would gamers be upset?  Isn’t console exclusive titles par for the course?  Well, yes and no.  There’s a few reasons this was a bad move for Crystal Dynamics but equally bad for Microsoft.

For the week of August 9th, VGChartz has PS4 sales at 9.4 million units (though Sony stated at Gamescom it has sold over 1- million now) against the 5.1 million units Xbox One has sold.  For that same week, not a single Xbox One title appeared on the global top 10 software chart.  To be fair, PS4 only had one title, but it was #1 with ‘The Last of Us Remastered.’  PS4 is doubling Xbox One sales globally and even outselling the console in the US, which has traditionally been Xbox One faithful as it’s Microsoft’s home turf.  In fact, more than a few weeks, even the WiiU has sold more units globally than Xbox One.

It’s clear Microsoft is feeling the need to lock in some major titles and gain some ground in the latest round of the “console wars” and it’s looking for a strong system seller to help gain that ground.  WiiU has seen a surge after E3 with some strong titles announced and Mario Kart’s release for the system.  It’s no secret that a handful of strong games can really move systems.  However, Rise of the Tomb Raider is not the game that can launch Xbox One back into the game with a vengeance.  In fact, I think the announcement further hurt Microsoft.

Microsoft has erred and made misstep after misstep since Xbox One was revealed.  With the unveiling spending the vast majority of their time talking about television connections that many users outside the US would be unable to benefit from, television productions they’d be working on with Steven Spielberg, and sports sports sports (that gamers outside the US wouldn’t really care about), Microsoft concluded the system’s unveiling leaving gamers vocal about feeling left out in the cold as an afterthought.  It didn’t help that there were features announced that made gamers very uncomfortable.  No more used games and a heavy handed DRM policy set the Interwebz ablaze with outrage over Microsoft trying to control gamers and dictate how much they actually owned what they purchased.

E3 came around and it was time for Microsoft to right the ship and get gamers back on their side. Instead, they continued to insist their vision was the future of gaming and their system was designed with their vision in mind.  Angry Joe even asked Major Nelson directly about turning off some of these features and was told with quite certainty that it wasn’t so easy to just deactivate these systems.  The Kinect would be always on, you had to be always connected or at least check in once per day for your games to function, there would be no disc after installation and used games would not be an option unless possibly paying for an activation code which rumors had spread of costing almost as much as a new game.  Microsoft tried to promote the idea of sharing one’s games with friends so friends didn’t have to buy it, but full explanation of this feature, which some believed to be a glorified demo program, was never given.

Some gamers defended Microsoft, pointing to Steam and its frequent sales (which will bleed you dry faster than buying new games because, honestly, how do you say no to some of those deals?) as an example of what Microsoft was trying to do.  The problem, however, is Microsoft never indicated anything of the sort.  And therein lies the problem with Microsoft’s build up to the launch of the Xbox One: they had the most disastrous public relations team in recent memory.  It wasn’t necessarily that their plans were bad, but their legal caution and double speak, their reluctance to commit to answering gamers’ biggest concerns and questions, and their overall attitude that they knew what gamers wanted more than gamers came off extremely arrogant and seeming like they were hiding something.  There was no sense of a clear vision and a road map into the future they were wanting to go towards that they were willing to share.  And that makes people nervous.

Jump ahead more than a year later and Microsoft walked right into the same scenario with this announcement for Rise of the Tomb Raider.  They announced it was going to be released exclusive to Xbox One in holiday 2015.  People were stunned and confused.  Tomb Raider was, and has always been, and multi-platform title. The original Tomb Raider was on Playstation and PC.  Later games were on PS2 and Xbox.  PS3 and Xbox 360.  And most all of them on PC.  The Tomb Raider reboot was on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC and the Definitive Edition sold on PS4 more than 2:1 against Xbox One sales.  Yet Microsoft was announcing that they had struck a deal with Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix to make the sequel exclusive to their system in 2015.

Gamers have become a savvy bunch and they, and gaming press, were quick to latch on to Microsoft being careful to include “holiday 2015” or just “2015” in their comments about the exclusivity.  It became frustrating, however, when they were asked directly if this was a timed exclusive and Microsoft representatives would only repeat the press release lines of “exclusive to Xbox One in holiday 2015.”  It was the same “something to hide” sensation they had given with E3 the previous year.  Eventually, a few days later, Microsoft would acknowledge they didn’t have an exclusive deal in perpetuity, but gamers were already irritated with the announcement.  Even Xbox faithfuls in some forums were baffled by the decision and many simply felt it wasn’t right to take a multi-platform game and lock the sequel into an exclusive agreement, though many on both sides were willing to grumpily accept it as a timed exclusive.

Needless to say, many gamers were upset with Microsoft over this situation and I don’t really think it was entirely the exclusivity.  That was a large part of it, for sure.  PS4 owners bought a lot more copies of the Definitive Edition than Xbox One owners and their reward was “sorry, you can’t have the sequel” from what the initial announcement indicated.  It gave the impression that Microsoft was not willing to invest in developing games so much as throwing money at developers to try and buy their way to victory.  It just felt like a cheap shot, or as most comments I read put it “a dick move.”

I can’t help but wonder, though, if Microsoft would have come out better in the whole deal if they would have just come clean and been up front and honest out of the gate.  Announce that holiday 2015 would see Rise of the Tomb Raider release first on Xbox One as a holiday exclusive and leave it at that, perhaps throw in a tongue in cheek remark about Lara having teamed with Xbox One to show “that other guy” how adventuring is done.  It was made pretty clear this was their way of competing with Uncharted, why not just admit that in a smile and wink kind of way?

Sony has really excelled with their marketing and PR this generation.  They’ve joined the gamers in taking shots at their competition, though I think Sony does it far more playfully than their fans tend to.  He took a shot at Square Enix saying they wanted Tomb Raider to be uncharted – not on the charts – by limiting it to the smaller installation base.  He took a shot at his own company saying he thought they were revealing nine PS Vita games at Gamescom, but it was actually nein.  He even recently commented on twitter that PSN had released “PSN Outage: Remastered” as the remaster of the 2011 network issues “in glorious HD” with the DDOS attacks PSN suffered this weekend.  Some may find it to be taking issues too lightly or attacking his competition, but I think it’s gone a long way to make Sony feel like “one of us” among gamers while Microsoft has come across more and more as the greedy corporation that cares about money instead of making fun games.

Regardless of Microsoft’s strategy and the public’s perception of them with Xbox One, Rise of the Tomb Raider is not a system seller.  Sony has been pushing to present major announcements and exclusives to their system.  Bloodborne, The Order, Uncharted are all Playstation exclusives.  They revealed the Hideo Kojima/Guillermo del Toro Silent Hills project with a playable teaser available for download at announcement.  They’re still presenting themselves as a huge partner to indie developers.  They’re coming across as a company that has learned from past mistakes and understand what gamers want.  Microsoft seems like they’ve lost sight of their system as a gaming console in their push for all-in-one entertainment.

I’ve admittedly never been an Xbox fan and I’ve always felt Microsoft has made a chief focus of their strategy to be “throw money at it until we win,” so this feels like more of the same, but that doesn’t make me feel justified or righteous for my opinion on them.  A weak Xbox One will likely lead to a complacent PS4, just as a strong Xbox 360 forced a struggling PS3 to step up what it had to offer.  The disappointing thing in this is they’ve recently announced lay offs and their forecast for original IPs exclusive to their system remain slim.  Microsoft needs to put their money into some system exclusive games that are new for them rather than paying off third parties for limited time sequel exclusives.

Essentially, Microsoft needs to find the right developer or do it in-house and find their Mario Kart 8.

Watch Dogs – Completed and Reviewed

So I finally put the time in to play through Watch Dogs on Playstation 4.  I didn’t want to review it before playing through the whole thing and I have to say despite the multitude of complaints levied against the game, I particularly enjoyed it.  It’s not flawless and some of the complaints are valid, but the game was fun for me.

I’ll agree with the complaints I’ve read about Aiden Pearce himself.  Ubisoft didn’t do the greatest job in presenting him and fleshing out his motivations.  His main story makes sense; he and his partner ran into trouble on a heist and got caught, someone sent a hit crew after him who inadvertently killed his niece and he’s been trying to track down who was responsible.  That makes sense for the main story pursuing that end, but it doesn’t really explain why he became the vigilante taking down criminals around Chicago.  Why does a criminal turn vigilante to stop muggings around the city?  We never really find out.

I also felt like Pearce wasn’t given enough room to develop beyond the gruff vigilante. He shows almost no emotion.  When his sister and nephew get mixed up, his nephew learns the truth of his extra activities, or tragedy strikes in the story, he doesn’t seem to be terribly affected. No tears or anything.  We see that he has some self loathing in blaming himself for his niece’s death, but not much more other than his quest for justice/vengeance.

If you’re creating your own Batman emulating hero, you should really put more into his motivations as a whole.

Other complaints I’ve seen have been directed towards the handling of the cars, the open world being boring, the missions being unoriginal, and the game being overall repetitive in main mission and side missions.  I’d seen some complaints about lacking options as well, particularly claiming that the game gives you no options other than shooting up everything that opposes you.

I admit I’ve not played much of the games in similar style. Grand Theft Auto was never my genre, though I played True Crimes on PS2 and I’m not a racing game enthusiast.  I didn’t find much particularly troublesome with the driving. Once I got the hang of it, I enjoyed flying through Chicago streets, hitting turns in slides and even spinning around to head back the way I came during chases.

As for boring, unoriginal, and repetitive aspects of the game, I can see the complaint.  I found enjoyment by mixing up what I did from main story to gang infiltration and chasing down the side investigations.  I’m willing to accept these complaints for now and hope Watch Dogs is a form of investment and Watch Dogs 2 will be the return on that investment much as Assassin’s Creed II was such an improvement over Assassin’s Creed (which was far more repetitive with dull side objectives than Watch Dogs).  What Ubisoft has at the core of the game is fantastic and some improvements can make the sequel a real gem.

I don’t feel like the game forced you into shoot outs, though.  I felt like the game actually gives you a great range of choice there.  My friend approached the game like the Punisher, even telling me to get the grenade launcher as soon as possible as it was “the great equalizer.”  On the other hand, I rarely drew any gun through my entire play through, despite unlocking all of them.  Every mission, every gang hideout infiltration, I made judicious use of the tools and the environment.  I tried to handle missions by getting in and out unseen as much as possible.  There’s some real satisfaction in taking out an entire gang of enemies without firing a shot and only directly attacking a single one.

Overall, I liked Watch Dogs and, while some sections felt unnecessary, and a few key plot points seemed to end more abruptly than I’d have liked (or weren’t explored as well as I’d like), I think some changes could really make the game better.

As I finished Act I, I started looking at what could be unlocked through side missions.  I saw the Vespid LE which had resemblance to the Dodge Charger from finding all the burner phones around the city.  Burner phones…Dodge Charger….Burn Notice reference?  Once I made that connection, I started realizing the game has a rather strong Burn Notice “feel” to the whole game.  With Aiden still continuing to be the vigilante “the fox” at the end of the game, stating he will continue to watch, protect and, if necessary, punish, I assume he is likely the intended protagonist for the sequel.

If that’s the case, I think Ubisoft should spend some time looking at Burn Notice for further inspiration.  Having Aiden still working from the bunker as the vigilante, but coming across people that need help, contacts or even friends coming across people needing help and having missions with purpose unrelated to one another with an overarching story building up towards the end.  A twitter message from the Watch Dogs account has noted high crime cities are increasing surveillance and Camden, New Jersey had the highest crime rate in 2012.  Perhaps T-Bone calls Aiden in for help on a job and the reputation of “the fox” has spread to other cities?  This approach of actually helping people needing it would also allow for some additional variety in mission objectives to scare or influence enemies rather than always taking them out.  Speaking of scared enemies, shouldn’t some of them turn tail when things are exploding and bullets start flying? Some even say “I don’t wanna go out like this” so why don’t some of them do something to ensure that?

It might be worth considering adding more of a difference in the game depending how you approach with power vs finesse, going in guns blazing or going for minimal casualties.  Since I’ve already touted support of Burn Notice influence, add more gadgets and more ways to handle situations outside of blowing up or shooting enemies with the environment since “Guns make you stupid; better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.”  In other words, creative ways to bring down enemies other than shooting them would be nice, more than just blowing up fuse boxes, panels, and grenades the enemies are carrying.  Though, sure, once in a while a gun fight with properly placed explosives are absolutely fun too.

They should definitely tweak the way the world interacts with your actions and how the UI reacts.  I had a few too many situations where I’d stop a crime just after a gunshot went off and the police would respond to the call and bee-line for me guns blazing in the opposite corner of where the shots were fired.  It would be more fun if they swarmed the area in force and you had to sneak past their dragnet.  On the other hand, there were times I had to wonder where the police were after a gunfight and explosions.  And to top it off, why do the police seem willing to ignore the gang bangers firing automatic weapons at them to chase me down because I was leaving the area?  Tweak the AI to end the “psychic cop syndrome.”

Since Watch Dogs has such a healthy dose of Assassin’s Creed to it, I’m hoping we see the bunker, or whatever other HQ, built up over time with upgrades to the HQ available.  Likewise, I think you should be able to set some choices and customize the cars a bit.  I do enjoy a sleek black car fulfilling the sense of having my hacker-mobile emulating Batman, so the random colors Jordi supplies you with can be a bit hit or miss.  Having the ability to customize the cars would be nice to have your preference in looks and performance with some give and take.  Add speed, lower handling, etc.

All in all, I think Watch Dogs was a fine start for the series and I thought it looked okay, but I agree even the PS4, based on what other games are showing, seems like it should have been able to come closer to 2012 E3’s graphics, if not right on them (and yes, PC will always have the highest potential for graphics).  I think it’s worth playing through if you like this type of game and there’s plenty of side things to do to spend some time here and there.  Hopefully, though, the sequel will show some real improvements much like Assassin’s Creed saw with its sequel.

E3 Live Letter from the Producer – Final Fantasy XIV

Q: will there be a /hug emote?

Yoshida wants /slap.  He’d like a /hug, but there might be some difficulty with the height differences between races, etc.
Q: consider relic tools for DoH/DoL?
Y: Desynthesis will open the door for new opportunities, maybe relics down the road.  Talked about player interest in shining tools, like glowing saws. Maybe flames coming from the skillet for culinarian.

Q: Status for remainder of Coerthas?
Y: We will be opening up new area. Cardinal Plains will open in 2.3 (front lines related).  They definitely said maybe we’ll explore Coerthas soon (expected to be the location for much of the expansion. They mostly sidestepped it)

Q: Thoughts on ultra extreme battle for hard core?
Y: Specific speaking, talking about brutal mode for Binding Coil.  The original Binding Coil was brutally difficult, extremely hard and they toned it down from there. They like the idea of releasing the original version and are even unsure if players will be able to beat it. They aren’t sure they can complete it internally at this point.  The weekly flag will be the same and rewards will be the same. It’s purely for bragging rights.  All players will have to have completed all prior versions. Those who complete it will get a special title, though.  Planned for 2.3

Q: Asking about something big, an E3 worthy jobs announcement.
Y: It’s been a year since last E3 and beta.  Second E3, they want to show a video and they will explain.

NEW CLASS: ROGUE NEW JOB: NINJA
Before E3, people expected a new class/job release reveal for expansion.  Expansion is still somewhat far off. Fan fest is in October.  Patch 2.4 will bring Rogue/Ninja.  Dual wielding class, like a thief.  Classes fit with a story so storywise, the rogue were once thieves and over the years have established their own guild as a rogue guild. Something that fits better than a thieves’ guild, though they still have that history.

For Rogue: Movement speed will be a bit faster than other classes. Fall damage will be cut.  Poison use will be part of their actions.  There will be different kinds of poisons the rogue can use for different situations.  Stealth type class, so there will be stealth actions.  Knives and daggers, similar to the monk weapons.
For Ninja Job: The ninja job will not only incorporate dual wield and poisons, but also add ninjutsu and mudra (hand gestures like Naruto).  Different types of mudra used in combinations the players choose. If correct, turns into type of ninjutsu and can fail.  Battle wise, it won’t be as stressful as monk, but using hte right combination of poisons and mudras.  They will be DPS.

 

Q: Will we see more Fates like Behemoth or Odin?
Y: Starting in 2.3 they have “The Hunt” planned with different types of monsters.  As for Fates, they aren’t ruling it out and will think about it, but focus is on The Hunt for right now.

 

Q: Can we get a Minstrel’s Ballad Trial pitting against the Garleans from the end of MSQ?
Y: All depends on the wandering minstrel. Creating special content for Fan Fest, one being a battle fighting all four generals, but since then a better idea has come up.  However, this is still a good idea and there’s interest, so it’s quite possible.

 

Q: What’s the Personal housing status?
Y: Still on the list, has been okay’d.  Instead, 2.3 will have the private chambers in the Free Company estate. Private housing hopefully in 2.38 at the latest.

 

Q: Video was released that believed to have Shiva at the end. Confirmation?
Y: It’s not a motorcycle or Shiva bike.  PR team decided marketing Ramuh wouldn’t be that great for E3.  Shiva has a long and complicated story that will start in 2.3 and build in 2.4 for her appearance and then build from there. Likely an expansion fight.  The summons always include Shiva, Ifrit, and Ramuh, so they’re happy to finally bring her in.

 

Q: Any thought about 8 man dungeons?  Similar to the MSQ runs.

Y: They realize a lot of different needs for different communities and each has different styles of gameplay.  A lot of comments asking for more light parties, some want less 8 man, some want to go solo in dungeons.  They want to provide all three, but can only do one at a time.  Prioritize which is better and realize it’s sometimes harder to get 8 players together so they’re focusing on light party content first, then possibly solo dungeons runs, then look at 8 person content.  Difficult to create 8 person content.  Want to be sure there’s enough interest to spend the development time.

 

Q: People in huge Free Companies, there’s not a lot they can do as a mass group.  Any plans for content around these large companies?

Y: There are many different types of Free Companies with 200 hundred members to just 6ish.  So how do they design content for 200 and exclude all the small ones. So not currently planning that type of content.  However, they realize players want more activities for FCs.  Thinking of creating something with a list of quests or goals and the company decides what they want to do. Work together to do something big.

 

Q: Will we see a return of unique stats and enhancements from 1.0?

Y:  These lead to a requirement by the player base, but something that they can look into. Balance is key.

 

Q: What happened to FC building airships?

Y: Discussed having a workshop in FC housing to build an airship.  They are currently working on it.  Has concept art of a basement in the estate with something being created in the middle.  They want players to make an airship, but how does that fit in a basement?  They will be using magic to miniaturize the airship but once released outside, it grows to full size.

 

Q: Marriage?
Y: Open regardless of race/creed/gender in pledge of eternal bonding ceremony.  Special mounts for those who take the ceremony.

 

Q: Duels being considered?
Y: Yoshida seems hesitant as he answers: Not sure if they can make it a system that’s all that fun system-wise, but they know players want to try it out for various reasons.

 

Q: Future of Zodiac weapons – special visual to stand out (different sound, animations, skills)

Y: After Novus, the next step will change the appearance some.  Even after that installment, they have a plan to someday have a final version, the Excalibur type of weapon that the Zodiac Braves actually used and will stand out for those players who have put that time and effort into it.

 

Q: Players have talked about after getting extreme weapons and beating EX Primals, is there a plan for the tokens that are then no longer useful?
Y: They may have new use in the future, it’s a ways off, but if you really need the space and know you can take down the Primals again, you can probably get rid of them for now.

 

Q: Is there any update using your personal chocobo while queued for a duty?

Y: They know players really want it, but system wise, it’s a difficult challenge since it dies into the new content added with Duty Finder. They’re trying different options to find a way to do it, but they might have to stop new content in order to fix this.  They realize it’s important and they need to fix it, but finding a way to do it without affecting other parts of the game is a challenge. Can’t say when it will happen.  They designed the system so the chocobo was a party member, so in duty finder going from party mount it impacts Duty Finder. There are benefits to having the chocobo as a party member, so they don’t want to remove that. So it’s about finding the right way to do it.

 

Q: Are there any possibility of having different HUD settings (tank HUD different than healer HUD, etc)

Y: System wise, it’s possible and on the UI team’s task list. Difficult to implement, but something they want to get in.

 

Fan Festival is coming in October.  That should be around time for 2.3 and they might be releasing a special website for the Fan Fest website soon. People should get in quickly and there might be special in-game items for attendees.  Live Letter from the Producer part 15 will have more additional info and reveals on Thursday!

E3 – Day 1

E3 Recap time!

Getting caught up on E3 news for the first day here.  I’ve said before I’m not an X-Box fan, so I didn’t watch the Microsoft presentation, though moreso because I wasn’t at the computer but was picking up a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on GameCube (what’s up?!) at the time.  From what I’ve heard second hand, nothing particularly stands out to me as amazing for me.  Halo fans will probably be thrilled at the variety of 100 multiplayer maps in Halo’s Master Chief collection, so that’s out there for fans of the series.

The things that intrigued me from Microsoft’s presentation are available on PS4, though.  Tomb Raider: Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Division, and Dragon Age: Inquisition are some games I’m looking forward to.

Ubisoft’s presentation was rather interesting.  I’ve never played a Far Cry game either, but the Far Cry 4 preview was a great hook. It’s a good start up to pull you into the story.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue following the Assassin’s Creed series with Unity as it looks like it’s going to grow in importance of multi-player which doesn’t tend to get my interest for console games, but on the other hand, the trailer did look pretty good.  With the open world design and problems coming up as you move, the game could be more interesting than other installations have gotten.  I was particularly interested in the way they showed the character running after a thief, but stopping when he came upon a murder scene. Coming out of the murder scene, you hear the comment “I can’t solve every problem” which could make the game very interesting if there’s some impact on ignoring some problems and addressing others, especially if there’s no way to resolve them all.

The Division looks interesting and if I can get a friend or two to play alongside me, I’ll definitely be playing that.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War.  We didn’t see the gameplay of this game, but the art style is very stylized and the central character it revolves around that ties all the characters together is a dog. Set in World War I, it’s an extremely unique game inspired by letters from soldiers in World War I.  It has support from historians and actual photos are apparently used courtesy of various historical sources.  Just from the trailer video, it looks like it will be a rather touching and emotional game in its own right.  It may be one of those games that every gamer should play when all is said and done.

I’m also not a FPS player, but the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six preview actually looked really cool.  Another one that looks like it would be a lot of fun with friends who play together regularly.  I have to give them credit when an FPS actually gets my interest.

Now I’m caught up….. I’ll blog thoughts live on the Sony presentation.  🙂

Sony Presentation

Sony kicked off with Destiny.  Again, I’m not a fan of FPS games, but this one has been doing a fantastic job of making me want to know more about it.  From the commercial last year with the law of the pack to this intro video just now, it looks like a cool world they’re building.  I’m not sure it’s enough to pull me into an FPS game, but it does look like a cool game.  Exclusives for Playstation with PS4 players able to play Destiny Alpha next week and July 17th for beta for Playstation.  Looks like PS4 will also get it released first.  Exclusive weapons, ships, and maps for PS4.

Next showing is The Order 1886, a PS4 exclusive IP.  It looks pretty darn good from what they showed.  Seamless transition from what looks like cut scenes and play footage.

Entwined. A game about two souls in love who can’t be together (looks like a bird and a fish).  Guiding two characters at once, one with each analogue stick (yikes).  It looks somewhat Star Fox-ish in style, flying through tunnels and hitting targets.  It looks like a very artistic game from a small development team.  Sony continues to promote the small and indie developers.  PS4 available now for $9.99 tonight with PS3 and Vita (cross buy) to come.

Getting more inFAMOUS content in August.  There’s another exclusive Playstation title.

Little Big Planet 3 is showing next.  From what I heard, the Project Spark game shown at Microsoft’s project looked a lot like Little Big Planet.  With LBP’s fan base, I’d say it’s already got the lead, despite Conker’s addition to Project Spark.  I played Little Big Planet 1 a bit, but honestly, this game with the 4 player team work really looks like it will be a lot of fun.  It will be coming out in November.

Big cheers for Shuhei Yoshida on stage.

Yoshida is introducing a new IP – Bloodborne.  Another zombie based world, looks like it’s set in a medieval time period. Coming in 2015.

Next up we see Far Cry 4.  The intro from UbiSoft was interesting, as earlier stated.  This showed more of the gameplay. Fairly standard FPS in terms of shooting, but still interesting.  Big news…you can invite friends to play with you who don’t have the game only on PS4.  That’s a pretty big thing.

They’re going through letters from players about things they’ve wanted to see next.  Here’s what we get in response to these letters:

Next up…Zombies.  Amusing style trailer.  Very different approach to zombie style game for Dead Island 2.  Funny trailer, check it out.  30 day exclusive beta and an exclusive character class for PS4.

Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition on PS4 will include zombies from Last of Us in a special dungeon.

Battlefield Hardline gameplay trailer up next.  It looks like it would make a great Bruckheimer/Bay film.

Disney Infinity exclusive edition on PS3 and PS4 with Incredible Hulk.

Partnership with Paradox Interactive.  More exclusive PS4 games, starting with Magicka 2.

Grim Fandango will be getting remastered exclusively to PS4 and Vita.

Console debut exclusive to PS Platforms: Devolver, Broforce, Titan Souls, Not a Hero, Hotline Miami Wrong Number, The Talos Principle – a lot of indy style games in there.

Another PS4 exclusive with a violent brawler game called Let It Die coming in 2015.

Giant Squid development team (creator of Journey’s new team) bringing us Abzu.  It looks a lot like Journey in style, but underwater.  This is also a PS4 exclusive.

Final game that will make its debut on PS4 looks like a Sci Fi exploration world. Interesting art style that reminds me of Wild Star a bit.  Looks like another FPS, though currently they’re flying a space ship…into space through meteors, able to shoot in the ship from cockpit view.  Looks like worlds can be discovered and the player who discovers them is marked as such.  Flying around the planet, did a barrel roll!  Shooting down other ships.  The title is No Man’s Sky.  Indy game as well and looks damn impressive.  Every player starts on a different planet.

They’re now talking about the Playstation Camera, an optional addition (nice jab at Microsoft), and how it can bring gaming to a new dimension. Yes, folks, Project Morpheous.  Sony’s Virtual Reality headset.  Creative teams are working with Sony to define this, the game’s in the booth with three game demos, two of which are new.  (Stay tuned, planning a solo blog post on this)

Shawn Layden on stage, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America.  Talking about the drive for innovation at Playstation.  PSN – Playstation Network – robust and evolving, reacting to what gamers want; to share experiences and connect with friends.  New tools are brought to the PS4 faithful with Share Factory and photo mode in inFAMOUS Second Son.  95% of PS4s are connected worldwide, social activity is astounding. 1.25B hours spent gaming, +1B multiplayer sessions, share button has been used 220 million times, and YouTube is coming to PS4 later this year.  With a press of the Share button, pS4 gamers can upload video to their YouTube channel.  Can see your friend’s shared YouTube videos in the “what’s new” activity feed.  150 million spectate sessions.  Twitch and Ustream will allow viewers to communicate with the players they’re watching.  Create broadcast sets for your broadcasts.

This YouTube feature is going to be an amazingly massive feature.  They brushed over it, but I predict this is one of the biggest features hitting any console.

Sony is committed to Free to Play games.  Currently 25 F2P games coming in the next 12 months – Kingdom Under Fire, Planetside 2, and Guns Up.  At point of entry, free to play is free to play.

Playstation Now hits open beta on PS4 July 31st this year.  Select Sony televisions will be able to access Playstation Now without a Playstation console.  Just need the Dualshock controller.  Wise move to help the sluggish television sales.

Support continues for the Playstation Vita.  It will have access to Playstation Now. It has 100 games in development. Child of Light and Tales of Hearts R, Tales from the Borderlands, and Minecraft (full console experience with co-op).  The US will also be getting Vita TV due to the unprecedented support and demand.  $99 for Vita TV or $140 for Vita TV, a Dualshock 3 controller, HD cable, and digital Lego Movie game voucher.

Mortal Kombat X footage premiere is up next.  Graphics look great.  New characters I’ve never seen before.  Graphics are smooth and the game is gory as ever. 😉

Entertainment offering is taking a “new superhero twist.”  Sony Picture Entertainment is bringing exclusive content to PS4 (this is sort of what Microsoft got burned for talking about last year).  Powers is the first series, based on Bendis and Omen’s graphic novel series.

RATCHET AND CLANK MOVIE!  I’m not going to lie, this looks like it will be awesome.

The Last of Us comes to PS4 (not news, but we get a look at it).  This game pushed PS3 to the limits…PS4 takes it further and it does look amazing.  July 29, 2014 release date.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain new trailer shown.

Grand Theft Auto 5 coming to PS4, footage shown from Playstation 4.  Comes out this fall, taking advantage of the system capabilities and features enhancements. Current PS3 and 360 players will be able to transfer their progress to PS4.

Batman: Arkham Knight footage up next.  I still don’t like the new suit, but the game looks amazing. Showing a lot of the gameplay footage of the Batmobile useage.  Movements look faster and smoother than past games.  Exclusive missions on Playstation.

And to wrap up the presentation…

UNCHARTED 4.  The crowd is pretty happy.  Just a trailer, really. It’ll be out in 2015.

End with a montage of footage from various games for Playstation 4.  Kingdom Hearts 3 was shown among them as well.

All in all, really impressive presentation from Sony.

Batman Revealed, X-Box One Price Drop, and No More Gold Required

Wowzer, today is just full of news and exciting stuff, huh?

First off, and in my opinion most geek-tastic, Zach Snyder gave the world its first look at Ben Affleck in the Batman suit for 2016’s Batman/Superman film.

You can read about that and see the released photo over at Forbes.

But for here, let’s take a look at the lightened version from Comingsoon.net instead!

Best Batman Suit Ever?

The costume definitely has the shorter ears as suggested by earlier rumor that there would be a Batman:Noel influence as well as looking like there’s some influence from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns (which has some influence on the film itself, supposedly).

I’m really digging the texture of the suit having a bit of a kevlar armor look and actually looking more like a fabric than some molded rubber or armor plating.  Honestly, I see some influence from another Batman source in there myself.

Arkham city

We also get a look at the new Batmobile there, which looks a bit like a mix of the Nolan-verse tumbler and the more classic Batmobile designs from the years, bit of the Burton/Animated Series influence perhaps.

Now, the Snyder/Affleck suit isn’t 100% perfect in every way. I’d like to be able to tell there’s some darker black to the bat symbol on top of the gray suit and I’m hoping there’s some yellow on the belt like the Arkham design above, but this is a black and white image, so we just have to wait for now to see the fully unveiled color shot of the suit.

Your feelings on Affleck as Batman aside, you have to admit, this is a pretty sweet Batman costume and definitely not something we’ve seen on film before (just like Kevin Smith said).

Now, switching gears to gaming news…

X-BOX ONE WITHOUT KINECT

They said it was impossible! They said it couldn’t be done! They said it was integral and necessary to the entire experience and you would be a raving lunatic to go without it!

And then, just about 6-7 months afterwards, Microsoft is reversing that decision, just like almost everything else they said about X-Box One last year.  That’s right, come this summer, you’ll be able to snag an X-Box One for $100 less than early adopters by forgoing the inclusion of a Kinect if you don’t want it.  Titanfall wasn’t quite enough to help Microsoft catch up to Sony as the PS4 is still about 3 million units ahead of X-Box One in sales, so this price drop is a definite way for them to try and get back into the race for some stronger competition.

Microsoft also announced a change to their X-Box Gold subscription, in that it will no longer be required to access applications for streaming services (because all these years, it totally made sense to require a subscription to access your subscription over the Internet, which you basically pay a subscription for…).

It’s good timing for Microsoft to announce this before E3, putting on-the-fence gamers in a mindset to keep an eye on X-Box reveals and news at the conference with a lower console price point to tackle.  However, you can bet Sony will be planning some big reveals to follow up on the massively successful PS4 launch last year.  Personally, this is all Microsoft playing catch up.  I’m more interested in seeing exactly what Sony and Playstation 4 have in store for Project Morpheus.