E3 2011
The Escapist's Favorite Games of E3 2011

The Escapist Staff | 17 Jun 2011 23:00
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Uncharted: Golden Abyss

imageMake no mistake about it: Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the full Uncharted experience on a handheld. Until you see the game running on the PS Vita in person, you can't get a true idea of how good it looks. At the same time, it plays just as well as if you had a Dual Shock in your hand, but with bonus Vita control features that, despite roars of complaints, are actually useful. I'm a huge fan of Uncharted and handheld gaming, so Golden Abyss on the Vita is like a dream come true.

Golden Abyss still features Nathan Drake solving ancient mysteries while climbing, jumping, rolling around, and engaging in witty banter with the same voice acting, animation, and cutscenes we're used to. The environments might not hit the peak of the PS3's capability, but they still look amazing, in part thanks to the Vita's gorgeous screen. Frankly, I don't understand why people are getting upset over Golden Abyss' new touchscreen controls, because they're both optional and helpful. It was remarkably intuitive to drag my finger up the screen to make Drake climb up on a ledge. How many times have you pressed the wrong button, only to make Drake fall to his death? It also felt great to drag a path along ledges so that Drake would climb them in order to reach a new vantage point. I see no difference between tapping a button to perform these actions and tapping a screen. You'll use some of the touchscreen/gyroscope controls in Golden Abyss, and like them. I'd bet on it. You just won't use all of them.

It says something about the PS Vita that Golden Abyss is a launch (or close to launch) title. I can't imagine what we're going to see on the system down the line if this is one of its first games. Even in an early state, Golden Abyss is an impressive game on an impressive new handheld, and bodes well for the future of the Vita.

Wii U Legend of Zelda Tech Demo

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I wasn't present at Space World 2000, when Nintendo used a battle between Link and Ganondorf as a tech demo to show off the power of the Gamecube. From what I hear, people wept. Wind Waker may not have raised such cries of disappointed rage had they not shown that footage. Over a decade later, history may be repeating itself.

The tech demo representing the HD capabilities of Nintendo's latest console was the basic Link design from Twilight Princess, but it was crisp, "realistic", magnificent. The cloth of Link's signature tunic conformed and flowed in perfect accord with his movements. The Master Sword reflected its environments clearly as Link prepared to defend himself against the returning Gohma, his elfin face set in lines of fierce determination. The Wii U HD demo that Nintendo made utterly clear was not an actual game, was a taste of what we've been asking for since Space World. It was Zelda; in cutting-edge, current generation specs, and I want it for my birthday.

Do not get me wrong, Wind Waker is one of my favorite Zelda titles. I loved its quirky and elegantly simple art style. I still giggle when I think of little Link's 80's bangs waving in the wind. I thought that Twilight Princess did an incredible job with Hyrule, considering they were working with a graphics chip and processor just above par with previous generation consoles. I would not, however, complain about the realization of the dream most Zelda fans have been harboring since that fateful tech demo eleven years ago.

The Zelda Orchestra

imageWhile sitting in my seat at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles, waiting for Nintendo's press conference to begin, I wondered how they'd start it off. Would it go slowly, with some dull sales statistics or Reggie patting himself on the back? Was the new console going to be the first thing shown, or the 3DS? When would Miyamoto and Iwata take the stage? The actual opening minutes of the press briefing far exceeded my expectations, making this not just one of my favorite moments of E3 2011, but of any E3 I've been to.

I didn't even notice the orchestra until it started playing, but once I heard those familiar notes to The Legend of Zelda's theme song, I was completely enthralled. Hearing a live orchestra play a medley of tunes from the Zelda games, while watching a montage of the series onscreen, gave me a feeling of sheer joy that I don't often experience in this cynical industry. It sounds cliché, but I really did feel like a kid again, and Nintendo effortlessly recaptured those memories of being young and holding an NES controller in my hand, being completely captivated by The Legend of Zelda.

Since the Nintendo press conference took place on the first day the E3 show floor opened, this set the tone for the rest of the day, and in my opinion, made this the winning press conference of the big three this year, at least in terms of entertainment and nostalgia.

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