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What Not to Hate About E3

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 26 Jun 2012 16:00
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I've endlessly protested like a bleating little ewe that I don't, contrary to the declarations of fanboys, have any kind of petty personal grudge against whatever popular thing they like that I've been niggling away at lately. But I'm going to partially retract that, now. There is something I'm automatically and mindlessly against sight unseen, and that's E3.

The reason for this is that E3, more than anything else in the world, exists in a totally antagonistic position to my line of work. This might sound like oversimplifying things, but E3 is an event in which it is generally agreed that publishers will get us all together in one place and lie at us en masse. By a similarly unspoken agreement consumers are expected to all sit there and take it, occasionally braying like circus seals when they see a logo they recognize. The reason why I can't stand hype is that it all seems so basically and inherently dishonest. Demos, fine, they're still cherry-picking the good bits to show you, at least we can get some kind of feel for the essential experience, but trailers? Especially entirely pre-rendered trailers? They might as well just pass around morphine syrettes.

Yes, I understand that there are people who don't review games professionally and aren't going to be buying every single title, and that they need at least something to go on to inform their purchases. Yes, I should just not watch any E3 hype material at all if it's just going to make me cross. But sometimes I wish I could remember what it was like to not be jaded, and I do like to follow up an E3 video with a column running down the things I didn't have space for, so to those ends, I'd like to talk about a few things from E3 that did make me feel positive in some way. "In some way" being the major qualifying words in that sentence.

Beyond: Two Souls: You know what I hate? Titles that look like sequels but aren't. Usually created by taking two words or phrases that could both conceivably be a title and separating them with a colon. As in Chasm: The Rift, or Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The intention being, I presume, to imply that this is just the first title of an epic franchise, but without the overt fate-tempting that is sticking "Part One" on the end. Sorry, I was supposed to be being positive, wasn't I? So let me say right now that I like David Cage. Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain were both very flawed, but held a perverse charm for me, and not just because they both had fetishistic amounts of pissing in toilets. I think Cage is one of those big-picture rather than fine-details kind of guys, has good ideas but can't write for shit. So it's rather unfortunate he's trying to be some kind of game storytelling pioneer, but the premise of Beyond: Two Souls (so ... three souls, then?) surrounding a lone girl with superpowers makes me think he might have finally realized that a game needs to have gameplay in it. Plus it makes me think of Second Sight, which was an underrated PS2 game I quite enjoyed in which you could smear soldiers across walls with your mind.

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