We know Jack, do you?
With E3 now wrapped up, Chooch’s staff take a look back at what we saw, and offer our reactions. In this second part of our post-E3 series, John, Niall and Michael pick the best and worst games we saw during E3.
Since I was actually able to play games, I’m a bit privileged in my opinions. I am, however, also at a bit of a crossroads. Two VERY different games wowed me at the show, and it’s nearly impossible for me to choose one over the other, because I feel it’d be a disservice to the other. Those games are Transformers: Devastation and Unravel.
Transformers is the next logical step in Platinum’s gameplay style. It plays similarly to Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising, but with faster movement and an easier way to continue combos. Both of these mechanics are thanks to vehicle modes, allowing you to turn into a car and move around the map faster and ram into enemies mid-combo to keep on truckin’. There’s also Platinum staples such as Witch Time (not called that specifically, but it is what it is) and new weapon equips, and new features such as loot-drops, which is where you’ll most likely be getting those new weapons. Mike Cosimano flipped out near-constantly over minute details strewn about the stages, so if you’re a Transformers fan in general, you’ll be happy to know that all your trivia knowledge will be acknowledged in this game. Devastation plays like a dream, I warmed up to it so fast, the guy showing me the demo had to pry me away from the kiosk because I was about to enter unfinished territory and crash the game.
Unravel, on the other hand, is a much more personal game, which I can respect. Everyone fell in love with Yarny and his creator Martin Sahlin after Unravel’s nervous but genuine premiere during the EA press conference. I was worried the game wouldn’t play well, but my fears were pretty much squashed! Yarny has a constant tether on his left, which he can use to climb out of any hole he falls down. Checkpoints refill your yarn, and quick cursory glances around the area are all you need to progress, but the puzzles can get a bit tricky at times, so it’s not a complete cakewalk. I was very glad that the controls were snappy and the platforming was fair, since games like these will often sacrifice gameplay for story. The balance Unravel had between the two is what excited me most, and for that I’m thankful.
I had to pass by a Minions banner every time I was in the South Hall and I hated it. Minions suck.
Look, you already know what’s gonna be my choice for the best game of E3. You’ve heard the podcasts, you’ve seen me flipping out on social media – there’s no way it can’t be Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. I’ve been waiting for this game for the past seven years now, and it feels like this reboot is being made specifically for me. Every issue I had with the main game seems to have been addressed – the linearity, the poor combat, the completely unnecessary gunplay – and all for the better. The combat’s been refined, the gunplay removed, the game now takes place in an open world with no loading times or levels, and most of all, it’s retained it’s gorgeous visual aesthetic. I had a nagging worry that Catalyst was gonna be a gritty reboot, but seeing that it wasn’t was a huge relief. I’m a sucker for cyberpunk, and seeing my favourite game get a cyberpunk makeover, while retaining everything that made it so great the first time around sealed the deal. Word from the show floor was that it played tremendously, with all the new additions and improvements fitting the game’s vision. Don’t expect to see me for a few weeks come February 23rd.
Hoo boy, did Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 look ropey. Just about the highest praise I heard from the game coming out of E3 came from Chooch’s own John Michonski, who said it “seemed fine”. When Geoff Keighley interviewed Hawk on YouTube’s E3 stream, the highs of what had, until then, been an incredibly strong E3 came crashing down. If Sara Jansson had told me everything I wanted to hear during Catalyst’s stage presentation, Hawk did the opposite. His insistence that the game would have the exact same controls that the original had was intensely worrying – they haven’t exactly held up well, as the HD remake showed, and Hawk kept digging a deeper hole from there. Two minute time limits, reusing old levels from previous THPS games, the fact that the game was essentially done; none of it made me particularly enthusiastic about the future of such an iconic series, especially for one that’s pretty close to my heart. Adding in that it looked on stream like an early Xbox 360 game did things no favours. If gameplay hasn’t been modernized, then there’s no way it’ll stand toe-to-toe with contemporaries like Skate or even OlliOlli, no matter how many players the online mode accommodates.
There was a lot to be impressed with. What makes E3 really special for me is seeing something brand new and getting excited for it. Taking a risk is difficult with ‘AAA’ games since they cost so much money so we rarely see new, grand, IP introduced at these shows. And then Guerilla Games stepped out at the Sony press conference and showed off their new game, Horizon. A mix of robot dinosaur, colorful environments, and Monster Hunter like gameplay grabbed my attention and sparked my imagination. I’m still going to need to see more from Horizon before I feel prepared to plop down $60 but seeing something that new, that adventurous, was a real treat that only E3 can give us. Horizon probably won’t live up to the hype I’m building in my head. It probably won’t be this deep RPG with hunting mechanics and a village you need to take care of. But it is firing off the neurons deep in my mind that love seeing the horizon ever expand and new worlds explored. We’re explorers down to our souls and seeing something so vivid and new presented so wonderfully sparks some light into that often dark place in our minds.
This E3 was packed with nothing but good looking games. To choose one to be the “worst” is almost a misnomer since so many titles really did impress, even games I know aren’t for me. Kingdom Hearts 3, The Division, the Destiny expansion, and Disney Infinity 3.0 aren’t usually on my radar but seriously impressed with what they showed at the show. One game stood out as a complete dud in my mind though, Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. I enjoyed the first Garden Warfare and a new one actually sounds exciting but what they showed both at Microsoft’s conference and at EA’s only served up a big yawn. The game doesn’t look better, the bullet point add on’s seem more like a DLC update than a $60 sequel. Then there was the Zombie superman outfits and the extended demo at EA that was just too much. Maybe, one day, I’ll buy that game at a deep discount and enjoy it. For now however I just want a real, non-free to play, sequel to the original Plants Vs. Zombies.