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Saturday, June 11, 2011

E3 2011: Arnar's games of win

These are not even my top picks but a fraction of the games I want to play from E3. Two games that are most likely on everybody’s radar and two that are lesser known perhaps. Matt, Owen and Nick have done a great job covering other games you might be excited for.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception


Since I played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortunes, I´ve been a fan of the franchise. There are few games that get me as hyped. So hyped, in fact, that every time I see a trailer or gameplay footage I get giggly like a school girl. You could just imagine how I felt when I watched the sinking boat scene from the Sony press conference.

Uncharted is, in my opinion, Sony’s most important exclusive franchise simply for the fact that Naughty Dog seems to always push the boundaries of the PS3 in terms of graphical fidelity. Sure there are other games, like Killzone, that do the same but Uncharted does it with style and class, and an art direction that is on the opposite end of the spectrum, as opposed to Killzone’s and Unreal Engine’s brownish hue.

Naughty Dog’s secret weapon, the incredible water physics, never fails to amaze me and I can almost recommend the games to people just for those moments when you just stop to marvel at just how realistically the water flows around. They also do moving levels amazingly well and they are combining the two in U3 with the aforementioned boat level. I’m anticipating a similarly epic experience, playing through it, as the train level was in U2.


The game is PlayStation’s holiday blockbuster and bears all the characteristics of one. Over the top action, agreeable character’s and a fast paced story line. Like is the style of it’s film counterparts, it’s not likely to win any accolades for innovation or originality. Naughty Dog’s true strength lies in the sheer polish of every moving part in the games. Everything you do in the Uncharted games you’ve probably done before in other games but it’s rare to see all of those things fall so perfectly in line with each other in the same game.

I have full confidence in Naughty Dog to deliver the same polished experience with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and I just know I’m going to devour it in one or two sittings no matter how long it is.


Dark Souls


Make no mistake — this game will kill you, a lot. If you are the throw-the-controller-at-the-TV-in-frustration kind of player, do your inanimate objects a favour and stay away.

Dark Souls is the spiritual successor of Demon’s Souls, From Software’s 2009 cult hit. You see, it could not be a direct sequel because DS was published by Sony in Japan and therefor it can not be multi-platform. The game is being developed on the PS3 but Namco-Bandai is porting it to the 360.

It’s a Japanese action RPG with a twist — death at every corner.


From what I can tell, based on the trailers and coverage, Dark Souls seems to be as true to the original as the developers dared to. The art direction is basically the same and the atmosphere seems to be of the same variety, very dark and hopeless. The world is supposed to be more open which I think will do wonders for the game. The unique online functionality is still there, the messages and ghosts of other players, summoning and invading other peoples’ games. In fact, this time around up to three player can invade your world at any given time.

The story is largely unknown but seems to be as light on the lore as its predecessor. You start in a prison cell and are tasked to escape, but get this; you have been imprisoned for being undead. You can die but you’re not really dead, you awake again a little less human. Like in Demon's Soul this is a narrative illusion to avoid the fail state because you never really fail. Your souls, the games currency and experience, remain where you “died” for you pick up, that is if you can get there in one piece.

Demon’s Souls was often criticised for its brutal difficulty, but its defenders usually pointed to the fact that it is never unfair or cheap. I am of the latter opinion. Some people may say that it was not even hard but that’s false. The game is definitely seriously challenging and Namco Bandai promises an even more harder game this time around. Basically, what that means is that every time you die you start from the beginning, except now there are checkpoints scattered through out the world in the form of bonfires. This is probably to a accommodate to the larger environment, so that you don’t have to start the whole game anew when you die.

You might feel intimidated by all of this if you haven’t played Demon’s Souls. But the truth is, that even though the game is very hard, it only means that you need to stay on your toes and be prepared for everything. Enemies jumping at you from the shadows, traps wherever you tread an unknown path, and huge intimidating bosses that close to one-hit-kill you. On the other hand, enemies and traps always re-spawn in the same place when you die and every single boss has a weakness and usually a very predictable pattern.

On the whole, Dark Souls looks like more of the same, which in this case is a good thing because these games are unlike anything available on the market right now. I played through a good chunk of Demon’s Souls until the Blu Ray drive failed on me and once I fixed it I never dared to go back. Following the coverage now is making me itchy for some brutal DS action and I can’t but help to feel like I have a little bit of a death wish.


Bioshock: Infinite


A respected industry personality, who is on the E3 judges panel, commented on a podcast that Bioshock: Infinite is almost sure to be game of the show. Who am I to say he’s wrong. It’s seems to be a commonly expressed sentiment that once you get your hands on it, it’s hard not to be impressed. Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games have a knack for creating solid game worlds that have a certain special aura around them.

The original Bioshock was critically acclaimed and a commercial success but was followed up with a somewhat lackluster sequel. Even though this game bears the Bioshock name it’s not the same world, at least on the surface. Whether or not the game reveals some kind of a connection between them remains to be seen.

Based in a city floating in the sky, Columbia, Bioshock: Infinite features some new mechanics that seem to be great fun like the zip lines that take you around the city and, even in the trailers, convey a sense of vertigo.

You are Booker DeWitt, a Pinkerton agent tasked with finding Columbia, which has gone missing, and retrieving Elizabeth who has been imprisoned there for most of her life. she possesses some kind of other worldly powers and together you attempt to escape the city that is falling from the sky.

I love the premise of the game and gameplay footage suggests massive amounts of fun. I got to the original Bioshock late and as result never finished it but I intend to before Infinite is out. I can never forget the opening sequence in that game and it remains one of the best openings I’ve ever experienced in a video game.


Dust 514


Dust 514 is a MMO FPS which ties into the world of EVE Online. Icelandic developer CCP has maintained the single server world of EVE since 2003 but they claim that it is the players that truly make the game world what it is.

I’ve always wanted to play EVE but never got around to and I think the barrier of entry is high. Dust 514 gives me and other players of like mind the opportunity to partake in the same world through different means. As I understand it, Dust players can be contracted by EVE players to carry out various missions and wars.

But what exactly is the universe really that EVE Online makes available to you. It is completely player driven meaning every infrastructure in the game is created by player coalitions and fueled by the in-game economics. Players roam the roughly 7500 star systems on their customisable space ships and collect resources and wage wars for control. An order in this universe of chaos has naturally formed without CCP asserting any sort of control over player activity. The players simply form unions, federations, banks and any sort of infrastructure necessary to maintain a society of civilized beings. Of course there are players that don’t play by the rules and stakes can be high when the in-game currency, ISK, can be converted into real world value in the form of game time.

Assuming it will be a competent shooter with something interesting to offer, I’m looking forward to this one because I’m already sold on the environment it takes place in.
E3 2011: Arnar's games of win
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