E3 Wrap Up

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Despite some second day twitter malfunctions, I am back to discuss E3. My second day at E3 was fairly underwhelming. Many of the high ticket games were only being shown in Demo form, like Rage and Call of Duty: Black Ops. Many of the games that were playable were featured on the 360 and PS3 consoles respectively. The PC is fast becoming just another platform for developers, almost feeling like an afterthought.

Fortunately, games like Star Wars the Old Republic look set to keep PC gaming on the map for a while longer. Crysis 2 was also looking amazing from the demo videos that they were showing. It appears to be a sequel in the vein that Fear 2 was; new characters in the same universe. The destructible terrains and new enemies were fairly impressive as well. The version I saw being played was for the XBOX 360 and still managed to look amazing, making me wonder if MY current PC beast will be capable of running Crysis 2 at higher settings.

Starcraft 2 remains a game I am eager to get into, although my limited gaming time slots means that I will be playing for the single player campaign and skipping the often overwhelming multiplayer modes. Perhaps I am just getting older, but getting mercilessly beaten by people who either play the game for hours or troll the forums for the proven tactics has lost its fun, much akin to what happened to me in Constructed play in Magic the Gathering.

The newest game in the Fear series is looking very promising. It looks set to really amp up the power of cooperative campaign gaming and almost certainly bound to confuse us, horrify us and entertain us with its visual eye candy and auditory delights.  The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was also on hand. The original Witcher was a fun, if rather buggy affair featuring some interesting characters, a fascinating game world, lots of sex and a combat interface that I found rather annoying. Witcher 2 appears to be ditching that experience for more of an action oriented one. The demo I saw played made use of a wired 360 controller and it was obvious that they made many of these changes to cater more the console crowd. It remains to be seen if the Witcher 2 will retain its epic RPG feel or trade it in for the more Action-RPG fair that we see more and more of.

Fable 3 looks like a fascinating addition to the PC lineup, although it remains to be seen if the PC release will be this fall at the same time as the 360 version. It also bears noting that the Kinect is an Xbox only product, meaning that this PC version in addition to not having all of the collector’s edition content will also lack the motion based controls that are supposedly included in the game. Then again, I have yet to see a demo of how the Kinect will work with the Fable 3 game and may turn out to be nothing less than a pointless gimmick.

Civilization V is absolutely stunning to me. While I have purchased nearly every version of the storied franchise, I generally lose interest after a few months as I get bombarded by other games. That said, Civ V and its hexed based maps looks set to capture my interest for some time to come. The changes they have made one unit per tile and only one unit in a section of the city at a time is a great addition. They look to have taken a page from the Strategy genre in general and the almost old-school approach combined with the courage to change up some of the game play rules has me very eager to get my hands on this game. This may actually encourage me to branch out more into the multiplayer portions of the Civilization community.

 Despite the largely multiplatform affair, I walked away eager to start playing some of these new games. Titles like Dead Space 2, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, and Portal 2 (despite what Gabe Newel said, the PC version will be “THE” version to play) have me very excited about the next few months. Some of the titles I mentioned previously, like the new Medal of Honor title also have me excited for the inevitable FPS battles that will ensue this fall. Having solid competition can only help spur the growth and evolution of these FPS dynasties.

Finally, perhaps the most astounding and impressive thing I saw at E3 was the first footage of the Warhammer 40K MMO. As an anti-MMO guy, this will be a day one purchase for me.  The 40K universe is just a dark and amazing place to have a property set. The ability to relive my Gaunt’s Ghost battle fantasies one day and then go into melee combat as a Space Marine against an Ork the next one leaves me very excited. It remains to be seen how things like combat and vehicles will play out, much less which races will be available for play upon launch. With such a huge setting at their disposal, we could be playing Warhammer 40K the MMO for years to come. Now if only they can come out with some solid action and FPS titles in this universe…..

Despite the nearly overwhelming flood of motion controlling and 3d gaming, there were still some nice PC titles that we got the chance to either see in action, or at least watch videos of them. I remain convinced that both motion control and 3d are major gimmicks that have yet to truly provide the kind of captivating experiences that I as a hardcore gamer find rewarding. I yearn for the introduction of new tech into gaming that is done methodically and strategically, not just a major case of the “me-toos.”  I definitely know that I will not be purchasing a brand new 3d HDTV anytime soon. I would be far more interested in an RTS title that utilized motion controls much akin to the use of computers in the Minority Report.

Well, another year and my last E3 for some time. As I finally make the move away from Los Angeles and head over to the East coast, I, like most of you, will be flooding to the web or TV to see what E3 has on display next June.  PC gaming remains alive and well for those of us who continue to enjoy playing our games at high frame rates, higher resolutions and with stunning visual effects. Let us not forget that it is our games and our technology that fuels everything the consoles have to offer.


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