In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
Leviathyn At E3 2012: Lightning Previews Lock and Load Edition Part 2
Welcome to Leviathyn at E3 2012: The Lightning Previews! During my time on the show floor, I saw a TON of games (over 40), and I didn’t think I’d be able to share my experiences with this fast enough. With Lightning Previews, I can do just that.
Yesterday I said that eight first-person shooters made a resounding impact on the E3 2012 experience, but I only talked about four of them. I don’t need to tell you want today’s article is all about, so let’s just get right to Part 2.
Damn, those things are ugly.
Halo 4 introduced the newest foes of Master Chief without really telling us what they are. Cortana tells us that their weaponry is based on Forerunner tech, which opens up a whole can of speculative worms. Could this distant planet Chief has crashed on be hiding a major secret? Are the Forerunners still alive? How long will Cortana last before rampancy starts to take over?
There are plenty of narrative questions, but far fewer inquiries about gameplay. From the demo shown at Microsoft’s conference, this is going to be more of the same great Halo action to which we’ve become accustomed. Sure, there’s some upgrades like a new HUD and some new weaponry, but other than that this looks like the same Halo I’ve been playing since 2001, and I don’t have a single problem with it.
Halo 4 begins a new Halo trilogy on November 6th. Vote Master Chief this election day.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter
Medal of Honor: Warfighter intrigues me.
I played a pair of multiplayer matches during my time with the game. Both times I found myself engrossed in the new “buddy system”: although the battle hosted two teams of six, there was one particular teammate who I was connected to the entire match. Our partnership gave us access to unique perks, like being able to spawn on each other after being killed and being able to see each other no matter where we were on the map. A larger team was actually made up of smaller pairs working together, which put a whole new spin of strategy on standard shooter multiplayer.
I also liked how each class also had a nationality associated with it: not only were we picking our soldier types, but also what country we represented. Navy Seals, SAS, Spetznaz, and more are all ripe for the taking. I love the idea of different nationalities, as it may make some players come out of their comfort zone when selecting a class.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter will unleash military hell on October 23rd. Bring a friend.
Metro: Last Light
I wish I could give specific technical awards to the games of E3 instead of just awarding the best overall games. If I could, then best sound design for this year would easily go to Metro: Last Light. The demo we watched created a sense of dread that I can’t even explain. I would hear things in the distance as the characters spoke to one another, and I was left wondering what was coming for me. That tension is not easily created, yet Metro Last Light does it with ease.
When I wasn’t listening for surrounding dangers, unique survival mechanics would always require my attention. Gas masks needed to be recharged while out in the wastes by finding new masks or tanks. Head flashlights needed to be continually charged using the hand-crank in the inventory. Blood, debris, and other things clouded gas masks, limiting my visibility and requiring a quick push of the “wipe face” button. In one instance, a spider-like creature crawled onto the character’s mask, and I watched as he squashed the spider into his mask, then wiped it off. The attention to realistic detail, thinking in the “what if this really happened?” vein, is what makes Metro: Last Light one of the most impressive games I saw at the show.
Metro: Last Light will send players to the wastes in the first quarter of 2013. Remember to wipe your face before playing.
I REALLY wish I could hand out a “Best Trailer of E3″ award, because ZombiU’s introduction trailer first played at Ubisoft’s press conference would be a no-brainer. Of course, the trailer is pretty and all, but it didn’t show me what playing ZombiU is all about. Luckily, I was able to have all of my zombie questions answered on the show floor.
On the surface ZombiU is another run-of-the-mill zombie first-person shooter. However, as more of the mechanics were revealed, and as I played one of the multiplayer offerings, I began to realize that ZombiU has some genre-defining potential. The single-player campaign is unique in that once a character dies, they’re gone for good. All of the gear and items I had picked up as my first character had to be retrieved from him by my next character. Better still was the revelation that I had to kill my former character as a zombie to reclaim all of that gear. Also, any time I were to pick a lock or check my inventory, the game would show my character reaching into his or her bag in real time while I managed inventory on the Wii U GamePad. If zombies approached me as I searched, I’d be as vulnerable as I would normally, so quick gear management is most important.
The multiplayer mode I tried at the Nintendo booth also utilized the Wii U GamePad in a way I hadn’t even thought about. There were two players in this mode, myself and another gentleman. I manned the Wii U GamePad while he took the new Wii U Pro Controller. Using the Pro Controller, he took the role of those trying to survive as they captured three waypoints. Using the GamePad, I was in complete control of the zombie horde in a resourced-based RTS battle. I had a finite amount of resources which I could then use to summon four types of zombies: those who would try to claim objectives, once who would only give chase if the enemy got close, one who chased the enemy all the time, but slowly, and a fourth who made a beeline for the opponent every time I summoned him. Our battle was fierce, and I was not victorious, but I can see how that gameplay could become addicting fast.
ZombiU is currently slated for the “Wii U Launch Window,” which means I could be playing it as soon as the Wii U arrives in my living room. Until then, God Save the Queen.