The biggest issue with E3 is that you kinda know what’s coming. There’s going to be a new Call of Duty, a new FIFA, a new Assassins Creed. Games like these have become constants in our industry, and while people continue to buy them, they will continue to be made. Honestly, I don’t mind sequels. I just mind when they don’t actually contribute anything. The sequels shown at this year’s E3 were a mixed bag. Assassins Creed 3 looks like a great conclusion to Desmond’s story, and the tie-in Vita game looks to expand the American slant the series has taken. Black Ops 2 has gone with a post-apocalyptic vibe, where the automated guns of the world are turned against us. Again, an interesting concept, with the execution being the concern. EA Sports has finally implemented the long standing hope of many frustrated sports gamers with the ability to transfer your characters and saves between games, something that has been a bugbear of my NHL gaming for many a year. These are the mainstays of our gaming world, and they cannot be ignored.
There were a few other series that showed themselves again at this year’s event. Dead Space returned with a co-op spin, and giant necromorphs drawn straight from the Gears playbook. Speaking of which, a new Gears got announced, and we’re finally done with John DiMaggio, so hoorah for that. But a prequel, and Baird and Cole for protagonists? Wait and see, I guess. Far Cry returned to the jungle, and despite my initial loss of faith in its shift in direction, some hands on time brought me back around to FC3′s unique brand of insanity. Otherwise, Crysis 3 still looks pretty, Halo 4 is keeping up with the McTavishes, and Epic Mickey gets in on the co-op action, with Oswald joining Mickey on his latest adventure. The rise of the remake is still upon us, with a Hitman anthology on the way, as well as classic Japanese RPG Persona 4 getting another go on the current gen platforms with Persona 4 Golden.
This actually leads me to my biggest surprise of the show: The fighter is back, and in grand style. Persona 4 Arena, set in the world of the aforementioned RPG, is an amazing looking fighter, made in conjunction with Arc System Works, who were responsible for the criminally underrated Blaz Blue games. It played brilliantly, looked amazing, and has such a compelling universe. Sony took an entire chapter out of the Smash Brothers playbook with Playstation All Stars: Battle Royale. The similarities are obvious, but the differences set this game apart. Instead of Smash’s “off-screen” system to score points, Sony Smash (and yes, that’s what I’m calling it) uses successful hits with super moves to award points. The Sony list may not be as well known as Ninty’s familiar faces, but I knew everyone on show, as well as those rumoured to be in game, and I’m looking forward to this different take on that classic formula. Meanwhile, the newest iteration of Dead or Alive was on show as well, and as much as it pains me to say it, the game seems to be doing fine without Itagaki the Rockstar watching over it. Combatants become dirty and wet as the fight continues, and you really see the effects of the battle on their outfits as time goes on. With the subtle tweaks to the fighting system, and the changes to the interactive environments, DOA5 is going to make for a lot of flying fists come September. Add the latest revision of the Virtua Fighter series into the mix, and you have a smorgasbord of different takes on fighting games just waiting to be devoured.
Lastly, there were a few games that made their debut at E3 that were worth mentioning. Ubisoft’s Watchdogs was unveiled, with a great concept regarding the convergence of technology in everyday life. If it focuses on that angle, and not so much on the Max Payne shooting, then we’re in for a treat. While not mentioned above with the other fighters, the DC based Injustice looks amazing, and is perhaps the game I’m most disappointed in missing some hands on time with. For XBLA, the upcoming Double Dragon NEON looks like a great take on the classic series, and with the addition of dodge and grab mechanics, it has the gameplay to make itself a great little side scroller.
All in all, this may be a smaller E3 than years previous, but there are plenty of great things to look forward to. Bring on the upcoming year of the fighter!