The Escapist‘s essential guide to all the games we saw at E3 2012.
The Electronics Entertainment Expo – E3 to everyone with a pulse – was in full force this week. The big three hardware producers – Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo – concentrated on showing off software, with Halo 4, The Last of Us and Zombie U all showing impressive trailers. Microsoft wanted to make sure you were getting the last bit of value from your Xbox with SmartGlass and Kinect voice commands. Nintendo disappointed with the lack of a release window announcement for the Wii U, while Sony glossed over its Vita handheld platform, but offered great PS3 exclusives. No new consoles were announced, it looks like we’ll be living in this generation for a while.
Despite hardware showing its age, E3 is all about the games, and The Escapist team put their grimy hands on more game titles than the mind can comfortably conceive. With so much information on so many different titles, it can be hard to separate the chaff from the sweet gaming wheat.
Here is a guide to all of the Games of E3 we saw. Everything you need to know about these games is all right here, including trailers, screenshots and links to our editors’ more in-depth impressions of each game.
Below is an index of every preview from E3 2012 – top heavy with the most highly anticipated – and with this comprehensive list, you can cycle through all the games The Escapist staff saw last week.
Note: We realize that the handy links in the grid below won’t function for some Publisher’s Club members, but you should be able to scroll down to read the previews you want. Use the pretty pictures below as a guide to all the games we saw at this year’s E3.
Enjoy the games of E3 2012!
Bethesda’s latest IP made a big debut this spring with the Dishonored trailer, a world that appears to be a blend of fantasy, steampunk and dystopian genres. The game has a fantastic visual look and the gameplay elements strike a balance between stealth and action, which once you consider the game’s pedigree – parts of the team worked on System Shock, Deus Ex and Half-Life – isn’t surprising at all.
Read Steve Butts’ full preview here. Because it’s still early, Dishonored has no release date and we’re not sure what platforms it will be for, but expect Xbox 360, PS3 and PC formats.
Steve Butts: The whole game is wonderfully emergent. You can outright kill the brothers, either by locking them in a steam room and opening the valves all the way, or possessing their bodies and walking them out on the balcony where your wind powers can push them over the rails. Or you could simply arrange it so that they end up anonymously working in the slave mines they run. Like Deus Ex, Dishonored gives the player a wide range of options to express themselves through gameplay. Are you a straight ahead death machine who relies on protective powers and firearms to accomplish your goals? Or do you like to sneak in and out without anyone ever knowing you were there?
We had a chance to play through a different level using some of these same concepts. My first playthrough was entirely stealthy and I even bypassed some of the obstacles the designers had assumed could not be bypassed. I can always tell a good open world game when it allows players to do things that the designers not only didn’t intend, but also never considered were even possible. That the game permits that kind of freedom, to explore and use the tools in ways that aren’t restricted by the level designer’s intentions, is hugely attractive to me. My second playthrough, I decided to go for the direct approach but I soon found myself in way over my head and unable to use my powers to get myself out of trouble.
The Elder Scrolls Online
Set a 1000 years before the events of Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online hopes to deliver on an RPG gaming experience on a massive scale. Introducing class-based system and a mixed real-time and round-based combat, players will battle in large-scale PVP battles and engage in a lengthy single player campaign.
You can check out Steve Butts full preview of The Elder Scrolls Online here .
Steve Butts: Despite the MMO nature of the game, your own personal story missions will be entirely instanced. You can share the rest of the game with other players, but when it comes time to advance the story of reclaiming your soul from the Daedric prince who stole it, you’re all on your own. This should allow Bethesda to tell a much more personally relevant story. The rest of the time, you’ll be involved in group instances, public quests, and raids. To combat kill stealing and spawn camping, everyone who participates in a given encounter is rewarded for it, so even if you’re late to the party, so to speak, you can still get credit for killing mobs and looting quest items.
Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III sends players to the American Revolution, where, as a young half-english, half- Mohawk man known as Connor Kenway who is drawn into the fight between the colonists and the British. Players can engage in assassination missions in 18th century Boston, sneak and hunt targets through the wilderness of colonial America, command ships in naval battles, and will encounter a variety of historical figures.
Read up on Steve Butts’ full preview of Assassin’s Creed III here. The game is expected to arrive in October 2012 on Xbox 360, Wii U, PS3 and PC.
Steve Butts: Next, the demo moves to Boston 1773 for some town-based gameplay. Connor’s up on the roofs with the old State House on one side and the Long Wharf on the other. The first thing to notice is that it’s raining here too. After those endlessly sunny days in Rome and Istanbul, you’re finally going to have to cope with the rain, not to mention the rats and birds, and with haywagons that actually move this time. Boston, and the game’s other city, New York, offers up loads of small events you can get involved in. In our demo, a lady came up to ask if Connor would help free her husband from the stockades. Not wanting to appear totally insensitive, and perhaps suspecting that saving him might involve killing lots of other folks, Connor agrees.
Doing these types of missions will offer a range of benefits, from giving you a new recruit you can use for group missions ot skilled laborers who can work to repair your homestead on the outside of town. Some grateful folks might even open up their homes of if you’re being chased by the guards and need to cut through a house to get to the other side of the block.
Everyone was a twitter (literally) about the latest Hitman trailer, killing latex bedecked nuns and all. But could the gameplay of Agent 47 assassinating live up to the hype? Some newly imagined mechanics for the series, like an intuition bar and the accumulation of insight points, attempt to breathe fresh life into the bald guy’s repertoire. And, you can shoot a carpload of dudes. So there’s that, too!
Read the full preview from Mike Kayatta here. Hitman Absolution will be gracing store shelves November 20, 2012 in the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 formats.
Mike Kayatta: Square Enix showed us a lengthy mission before we went hands on, showcasing many of the new, or newly imagined, mechanics of Hitman: Absolution. Perhaps the most intriguing is 47’s “intuition mode” a meter filled by performing various skillful tasks in dispatching with those unfortunate enough to be in your way. Players snatch points by handling things discreetly and efficiently, boosting score by hiding bodies, finding clever ways to utilize the environment, and making things look like an accident. By working well with what’s at your disposal, you’ll be able to trigger your instinct, a currency optionally spent in various quantity to pull off some significant tricks.
It wouldn’t really be Hitman if it was all about the gunplay, however, and Absolution is no different. Each environment provides a glorious number of options to waste your enemies, from standard weapons, such as a knife or blunt object, to special environmental triggers, such as a leaky gas pipe or convenient forth-story ledge.
In the next Crysis, you take on the role of Prophet, a character introduced in the first game and a somewhat antagonist in the second. You still battle through the streets of New York City, but now it’s in ruin and overgrown so that the setting of Crysis 3 feels like a mashup between the city and the island jungle of the first game. In addition to the CrySuit, there’s new toys like a compound bow for some sweet Hawkeye action, and the ability to use alien Ceph technology.
Read Steve Butts’ full preview here. Crysis 3 will drop in early 2013 on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Steve Butts: there are some new toys to play with as well. My favorite is the new compound bow. This really ramps up my view of Prophet as a sort of urban hunter, leaping from building to building and going into stealth mode to line up the perfect kill shot on a nearby alien. The best part about the bow is that it doesn’t break stealth when you use it, so you can really do some serious damage up close and personal without ever really tipping off the enemies. A range of inventive arrow types, from explosive to electrical, give you even more options to tackle the challenge in front of you.
The nanosuit has also been upgraded with Ceph technology, which means you’ll have a chance to finally pick up and use some of the cooler alien weapons you stumble upon in the game. Being able to turn the enemies’ weapons back on them is almost as fun as taking them out with the bow.
Bungie Studios legitimized the console shooter and the original Xbox with Halo: Combat Evolved, but they famously walked away from Microsoft and Halo in 2010 to work on new projects with Activision. 343 Industries took over the franchise and the first title from the new studio drops this fall. From the impressive trailer shown during Microsoft’s E3 presentation and the promise of free content releasing each week after the game is out, it’s clear 343 Industries wants Halo 4 to be such a spectacular hit that people will be asking, “Who needs Bungie?”
Read Steve Butts’ full preview here. Halo 4 arrives on Election Day in the U.S., November 6th, 2012 for the Xbox 360.
Steve Butts: You have to love the ambition of 343 Industries. Not only is the studio set to release one of the year’s biggest games, but it’s also committed to releasing five new co-op levels for the game every week once it’s out. That’s right. Each and every week following the Halo 4 launch, 343 will deliver a fully produced story episode, complete with five playable co-op missions. Even more wondrous still, each episode will be completely free for Xbox Live Gold subscribers.
I just got back from playing this and a few other multiplayer modes for the upcoming game and, if the team can deliver this kind of content on that kind of schedule, Halo 4 should be one of the best gaming values of the year. All the multiplayer modes are structured within the context of wargames and training exercises run on the UNSC ship Infinity. The idea is that the soldiers on board need the practice and, as an added bonus, the co-op missions in the Spartan Ops mode also have the added bonus of letting players relive some key moments in the history of the Halo universe.
A reboot is a reboot is a reboot, but the Tomb Raider reboot might be exactly what the aging franchise needed. Lara Croft is back, but she’s younger and less experienced at raiding tombs. You could say that Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have been caught with the “gritty” bug, but if that means a more realistic and vulnerable Lara Croft, I’m on board. Plus, she gets to use a bow.
Read the rest of Steve Butts’ full preview here. Tomb Raider is due out March 5, 2013 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Steve Butts: Lara’s first job is quite literally to survive by finding food and starting a fire. Through the very act of living off the land, Lara will get better at the various skills that are required to survive in the wild. And while she slowly gains mastery of the world around her, the nagging possibility that other survivors are out there keeps her yearning to be rescued. It’s a great reversal for the character, so when she hears the ship captain’s voice come in over the radio, she immediately sets out to find him.
On the way, she hears strange noises coming from a small, seemingly abandoned cabin. Looking inside, she sees lots of tribal paintings and hears the music is coming from a hole in the ground. In the only part of the demo that seemed to go against this great character the developers have built, Lara decides to climb down into the hole to explore. It’s a nice bit of foreshadowing for her character, but it works against the sense that she’s just looking for someone to get her out of the situation.
The fun randomized loot and the last-second art direction change to a cell-shaded feel, made Borderlands a breakout hit in 2009. This year, Gearbox attempt to bounce back from the terrible Duke Nukem by giving fans more of the sci-fi western shooteriness they fell in love with. New classes and new characters doesn’t overshadow the familiar formula of messing up bad guys, equip better loot, rinse, repeat. That doesn’t mean it ain’t fun, because the robot Clap Trap and the rest of cast have some really good lines.
Read Mike Kayatta’s full preview here. Borderlands 2 is due out in the US September 18, 2012, and September 21 in the UK, for Xbox 360, PS3 and the PC.
I played a match entitled “Opportunity Zero” and, by complete coincidence, chose to play as person named Zero as well (a hologram-happy assassin with a nasty katana). I hopped in with my teammate (who played for literally thirty seconds before abandoning me to face the robotic hordes alone) and was immediately told by Clap Trap to get working on destroying four statues depicting some guy named Handsome Jack, who apparently has your phone number (he speaks to you from remote every minute or so).
After taking one shot at a statue, you discover that, of course, the statues are completely bullet-proof because, well, that’s how statues are made on Pandora. I guess. They aren’t, however, laser-proof (duh), so the mission quickly becomes “find a robot and protect it as it lasers various effigies of Jack, while Jack abuses your speakerphone with snarkicisms.”
The Last of Us
A new third-person action game with compelling characters, a post-apocalyptic premise and surprisingly shocking violence? And it’s by Naughty Dog, the team behind Uncharted? Take my money. The Last of Us wowed E3 attendees with a great trailer and a gameplay demo that didn’t disappoint. It’s not clear whether we’ll be talking about Joel and Ellie as much as we do Nathan Drake, but all signs to another solid story.
Read Steve Butts’ full preview here. The Last of Us doesn’t have a firm release date other than “2013” but we’re excited to play the PS3 exclusive whenever it comes out.
Steve Butts: In the demo, Joel and Ellie are driving through streets crowded with abandoned vehicles when they spot a man acting hurt on the road ahead. Ellie’s curious but Joel immediately suspects an ambush and guns the engine to race past the struggling survivor. It turns out Joel’s suspicions were right on the money; as his truck reaches the next intersection, a group of bandits crashes an abandoned bus into Joel’s truck, sending it crashing into a nearby garage. Ellie’s presence really heightens the tension here, because as Joel, the player realizes he has a liability, someone to worry about other than himself.
The tension ratchets up even higher as the bandits seize Ellie when the pair tries to escape from the crashed truck. Joel pulls out his gun and fights it out with a handful of bandits in the dim garage, and the whole time I kept feeling the urgency of wanting to take out these guys and find Ellie. I won’t spoil the encounter or the eventual reunion with Ellie, but the whole sequence is a wonderful example of how silence and stillness can sometimes be more interesting than fireballs and heavy soundtracks.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
When Warren Spector made Epic Mickey, many thought it would have been knock out hit, but for every delightful moment starring the lovable mouse, there was a game design problem. Chief among these was the troublesome camera, and unfortunately, that problem seems to have been brought in with the engine to the sequel. The camera struggle might not be multiplied by the “power of two” but neither is the fun. Well, unless you count all the new features the sequel adds.
Read Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview here. Epic Mickey 2 is due out on the Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Mac platforms this September.
The first thing I wanted to know when I played Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two on the show floor was whether or not the camera had been fixed. Let’s just get the bad news out of the way: it hasn’t. The player still doesn’t have control over the camera, and it gets in the way, rotating wildly out of control. Sometimes it’s mildly annoying, but during chaotic boss fights, it’s a cause of cheap and needless deaths, which can be very frustrating.
That said, Epic Mickey 2 has plenty of reasons to overlook these shortcomings. I played the 360 version, which looked great, and aside from the wonky camera, the platforming and painting controls are completely intuitive. Once again, Mickey has control over paint and thinner, and can use them to mold his surroundings-paint adds platforms, walls, treasure chests, and other goodies, while thinner removes them, revealing secret pathways or just creating mischief. This time around, however, the changes you make to an environment stay that way after you leave. It was a little disappointing to constantly have my modifications disappear in Epic Mickey, and the permanent changes are a major improvement.
Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light sends players back the post-apocalyptic metro system of Russia. Combining survival horror and first-person shooter elements, players will have to scavenge for supplies in a mutant-filled wasteland.
Check out on Steve Butts’ full preview of Metro: Last Light here. The game is expected to arrive later this year.
Steve Butts: As the scavengers split up, the player moves into a small side room and begins to loot items from the small table next to the wall. Without warning, a terrifying demonic dog leaps from the shadows in the corner and knocks the player to the ground. The dog snarls and lunges as the player reaches for a shotgun and blasts the dog’s head off. Blood flies everywhere and even obscures the player’s mask. He reaches up a hand to wipe it clean before heading back to join his comrade.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
The first videogame made by Studio Ghilbi, the anime company behind Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, Ni no Kuni tells the story of a young man named Oliver who is on a quest to reunite with his recently deceased mother. Players use magic and tactics to battle against the various strange creatures they encounter.
Read up on Mike Kayatta’s full preview of Ni no Kuni here. The game is scheduled to arrive for the PS3 in January of 2013.
Mike Kayatta: The demo picked up somewhere a bit out of context–I think I was in some sort of pig country–so I found myself rather suddenly squaring off with a giant pig-tank. As the battle began, the scene maintained its 3-D depth, and defaulted my control to Oliver while the other characters in my party started to attack on their own. I was then able to freeze the action, access a menu, and assign attitudes to my comrades such as “Keep us healthy!” or “Watch our backs!” With the AI set to heal and support my attacks, I was then able to summon my familiars, silly little dudes with elemental spells. At any time, I was able to switch from Oliver to one of his familiars, or from either of them to another party member, or one of their familiars.
Sony Online Entertainment furthers its free-to-play goals with the MMOFPS, based on the progenitor of that specific genre. The persistent territory holding and resource gathering among your guild and faction, coupled with fast-paced shooter gameplay and vehicle piloting make for an impressive “free” game.
You can check out Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview of Planetside 2 here. There’s no word on when Planetside 2 will be playable on PCs.
Sarah LeBoeuf: The developers were also excited to share the deep character customization found in PlanetSide 2. Each class had skills that would take hundreds of hours to unlock. Weapons and vehicles could be modified in varying ways. However, the microtransactions designed to fund the game will only be cosmetic. Players can unlock new weapons and upgrades just by earning then in-game, and pay for new skins or other modifications that won’t actually give them more power. No one can pay their way into more powerful characters, which is really important for keeping the game balanced.
The map itself consisted of three empires trying to take control of every portion of the area, with each location constantly under contention. This made it easy to find something to do, though there were a lot of actions. I could hop a dropship, jump in a tank, or simply run on foot to the nearest enemy. In the final game, there could be hundreds of players working together to meet a single objective, yet playing PlanetSide 2 never felt chaotic.
Dead Space 3
Fans of the Dead Space series will want to bundle up for the next entry into the action-horror franchise. Dead Space 3 sends series protagonist Isaac Clarke to a hostile and ice-covered planet in search of a way to end the Necromorph threat once and for all. Luckily, he’s not alone, and is joined by EarthGov Sargeant John Carver, a new character to the series with his own reasons for killing off the necromoprhs. Dead Space 3 promises fierce and intense gunplay and the addition of a brand new co-operative game mode, letting you and a teammate fight to survive together.
Read Steve Butts’ full preview here. Dead Space 3 is due out in February 2013, but no specific platforms have been announced.
Steve Butts: Starting off hanging upside down in a snow cave, in one of the game’s many Star Wars references, Isaac will have to find a way to get unstuck from the ceiling, fight through hordes of writhing necromorphs, not get trapped in a massive tractor as it falls off a cliff, and have a shootout with a giant drill. Some of the bigger baddies rely on the same dismembering mechanic from the previous games, so you’ll be spending a lot of time aiming at the glowing bulges on your enemies. Even the drill has a bright yellow light that basically says “Shoot here!”
Isaac’s super soldier transformation also necessitates the addition of a new cover mechanic that I really love. Instead of having a dedicated cover button, like in Gears of War 3 or Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Dead Space 3 uses what the developers are calling “dynamic, non-stick cover.” Essentially this means that the player won’t have to tether him or herself to a wall in order to be protected. Now, players enter cover simply by standing near it and going into aim mode. It’s a much more intuitive system that keeps players from getting stuck on the environment.
Lego Lord of the Rings
Many gamers point to the Peter Jackson film adaptations of Tolkien’s epic as the pinnacle of fantasy nerddom. To grab the license to give it the Lego videogame treatment just makes sense, but we were surprised to realize Traveler’s Tales decided to ditch the pantomime acting the series is known for. But when you have access to all the recorded dialogue from Jackson’s films, why not use it? The result is a Lego game that veers much more into RPG territory than puzzler, but thankfully the humor is intact.
Read Steve Butts’ full preview here. Lego Lord of the Rings is dropping October 26, 2012 for nearly every platform known to man: PC, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Steve Butts: Why go with the theatrical dialogue track? Given the response to the news that this Lego game would be fully voiced, it’s a fair question. The game’s creators offered up a few reasonable explanations. First, Lord of the Rings is a quest, and the story is therefore more important than in something like Lego Batman. Second, some of the more complex scenes, like Gollum’s argument with his other self, would be nearly impossible to pull off in pantomime. Third, the team had access to the rights to use the dialogue recorded for the film, so why not use it? I admit it’s still a bit odd to me, but the humor still comes through. I especially like that the hobbits are eternally hungry. Even after watching Gandalf fall in Mordor, they take the first chance they get to pop an apple in their mouths.
It sounds like the game is going to have more RPG features than previous Lego games. Characters can now collect things, like Sam’s rope or Frodo’s Sting, and then use them for the rest of the adventure. You can also make your own character using the components of any hero or villain you’ve unlocked. The game includes over 80 playable characters. When asked which enemies will be included, the team behind Lego Lord of the Rings said “All of them.” The only sticking point right now is whether and how to make Sauron work as a playable character, which he totally should.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
In the near future, all the world’s militaries will be controlled by computer. Black Ops 2 surmises what would happen if a terrorist leader stole the control of all our weapons and drones and pointed them at the people they were meant to protect. Splitting time between the near-future and the Cold War height of the 1980s, the latest shooter from Activision’s Treyarch Studios aims to break the sales records its last three predecessors set.
Check out Steve Butts’ full preview here. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has a release date of November 13, 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3 and the PC.
Steve Butts: There’s no doubt that the team at Treyarch is top notch when it comes to highly choreographed set pieces. From the ubiquitous helicopter crashes to the jaw-dropping skyscraper collapse, every moment of this game screams “Look at me!” as loudly as possible. In true Call of Duty fashion, the player’s control of the camera is hijacked to better highlight these scripted moments. The biggest concern, especially when combined with the frequent in-game instructions and tag-along sequences, is how often the player will be following the beats in the designers’ story rather than finding his or her own path through the game.
Fortunately, Menendez has managed to take control of some very powerful military hardware, so the player is spared the suspense killing overmatch that comes when leading a team of technologically advanced super soldiers against squads of morons armed with AK-47s and RPGs. Sure, the player will still find time to jump in to FA-38s and literally play chicken with UAVs, but the abundance of powerful robots and other military hardware among the opposition seems to give Black Ops 2 more intensity than more recent Call of Duty games.
New Super Mario Bros. U
The next entry into the long running Super Mario Bros series, New Super Mario Bros U introduces a variety of new elements to the franchise, including new power-ups and baby Yoshis with different special abilities. Up to four players can play at a time using Wiimotes, but an additional fifth player can use the Wii U GamePad to manipulate the game environment to assist (or grief) other players.
You can check out Susan Arendt’s full preview of New Super Mario Bros. U here.
Susan Arendt: By tapping on the controller’s screen, I could place temporary platforms to help the foursome as they navigated the landscape. As they raced across unstable stars, I put blocks over the yawning chasms to prevent anyone from plummeting to their demise. The blocks disappear after a few seconds, and only a few can be on screen at once, but with careful placement and proper timing, I was able to lead a few players up a makeshift staircase to collect cooper
a ginormous coin.
Beyond: Two Souls
From Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dreams comes Beyond: Two Souls, a new action-adventure title featuring Ellen Page. The game features a young woman named Jodie Holmes, (voiced by Page), who’s connected to an invisible and powerful entity known as Aiden and hunted by the police.
Read Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview of Beyond: Two Souls here. The game is expected to arrive later this year for the PS3.
Sarah LeBoeuf: Before showing off the gameplay, Cage took a few minutes to talk about working with Ellen Page, who plays Jodie Holmes in the game. Cage said that he wanted someone who could be strong as well as fragile, and Page fit the role perfectly. It was a demanding role-a lot of physical work, as opposed to just voice acting-but Quantic Dream were extremely happy with the job she’s done as Jodie.
We were treated to a live demo of an action-driven scene, which began with Jodie asleep on a train. At the point, she was 23 years old and a fugitive, and the police were aware of her special abilities. Aiden, ever impatient, attempted to wake her up, but she shooed him away. Using a blast of sorts, Aiden playfully knocked coffee cups and magazines out of the hands of other passengers. Later, we saw the same blast used with much more deadly results.
Far Cry 3
There’s a confluence of blood, action and sex in Far Cry 3. As if crash landing on an island weren’t bad enough, the tropical jungle seems to be infested with crazy people who fondle their breasts at you. It’s like Lost: After Hours, but the game has a lot more shooting and the protagonist can choose various methods for killing folk on his way to rescuing his girlfriend.
Read the rest of Mike Kayatta’s preview here. Far Cry 3 comes out on September 4, 2012 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.
Mike Kayatta: In true Far Cry tradition, my furtive underwater entry was just one of what will eventually be multiple assault plans per mission. The demo, I was told, was much more of a “directed experience” than the final game.
At first, I ran haphazardly up the path, instantly meeting my doom from just two lousy thugs out for a smoke by the trees. Somewhat embarrassed, I tried again, this time with a tutorial on Far Cry 3‘s new multi-takedown mechanic. After creeping up on Thug One, I pressed the takedown button, and was then able to aim my joystick toward the next baddie I’d like to chain into my attack. A moment later, both were down without a bullet fired.
Star Wars 1313
LucasArts used to be the king of making Star Wars games, being the primary license-holders after all. But somewhere along the line, original Star Wars games began to suffer, but perhaps 1313 is going to change all that. LucasArts demonstrated an impressive-looking game wherein you take the role of a bounty hunter descending below the Imperial capital of Coruscant. There’s no Force, no Jedi and no Sith, just a criminal underworld in shades of grey. And it looks awesome.
Read the rest of Steve Butts’ preview here. As it’s still early in development, there’s no release date planned or platform announced, but it certainly looks good enough to be “next-gen”.
Steve Butts: Because LucasArts isn’t quite ready to talk about the game’s main character, the PC demo we saw used a placeholder hero, a youngish, slightly cynical, blaster-type who, even as a placeholder, was still more believable and human than 95% of the other characters we’re used to seeing in games.
The new game is being developed with artists from Skywalker Sound, LucasFilm Animation, and Industrial Light and Magic. You can tell from the quality of the motion capture, the lighting, the effects, and the audio design that the production value of this game is well beyond anything that LucasArts has ever offered. While it’s no great surprise to see the pre-rendered cutscenes of this quality, I was amazed that there’s no drop in quality once the player takes control of the scene and it starts rendering everything in real time.
Last time it was War, but in the sequel you play as another of the Four Horsemen – Death – who turns out to be a decent guy. He’s trying to keep a balance by rescuing his brother from imprisonment by the Charred Council and has all the trappings of an action RPG to make it so. Those trappings have been streamlined and polished this second time around, so expect a game that won’t disappoint fans of the first Darksiders.
Read the rest of Susan Arendt’s preview here. Darksiders II will appear in stores on August 14, 2012 on Xbox 360, PC and PS3, with a Wii U port scheduled later in the year.
Susan Arendt: In addition to slicing his enemies into tiny pieces, Death is pretty agile when it comes to getting around. He can wall run, heave himself over wall posts to increase his travel distance, climb vines, leap from post to post, and hop across narrow beams. Pulling off his acrobatics is easy enough most of the time, but occasionally he’ll get it into his head that you wanted him to leap out into nothingness instead of grabbing the next handhold, but falls are little more than a minor interruption as you’ll typically be dropped back almost exactly where you were.
Darksiders II is massive (all of Darksiders would fit into the first zone of Darksiders II) and I only got to see a tiny snippet, but the action was fast and fluid, the art style nicely comicbooky, and the writing was a genuine surprise. The exchange between Death and The Crowfather as they bargain for information was quite engaging and made me want to know more about their history together. Of course then I had to go and fight War and things got a little messy.
DMC: Devil May Cry
I can’t really tell if this one is a reboot or a sequel, but it doesn’t really matter when Dante’s concerned. The angel-demon offspring is back to his old tricks, but the actin mechanics are fun and enjoyable. Add that together with a script that oozes with colorful expletives, and DMC might have a hit written all over it.
Read the rest of Mike Kayatta’s preview here. DMC: Devil May Cry will be arriving in stores January 15, 2013 on Xbox 360 and PS3, with a PC version forthcoming.
Mike Kayatta: While in limbo, I was consistently attacked by a variety of enemies. To dispatch them, I found myself equipped with a solid assortment of options, from a heavy, aerial-centric strong attack, to a rapid, ranged dual-pistol assault, to a quick and dirty light sword slash. Making things more interesting was my ability to change that move set into an angel or demon mode, morphing my sword into a glowing sickle or blood-drenched hammer, respectively. Some of these moves shared similar foundation, though remained cleverly different.
For example, one of the enemies I faced was a squadron of little demon baby cherubs – unlikable little dudes who flew above me with a “ha, ha, we’re up here”-type attitude. To deal with them, I used my chain attack. Depending on if I toggled my angel or demon powers, this could go one of two ways. With the angel button depressed, I shot a hookshot toward the little nasty, and connected with his head. The cherub stayed stationary, while I zipped up to his body across my chain and quickly put in my blows mid-air. For the second cherub, I did the same move, but with the demon button depressed instead. The same hookshot flew out, but this time, the baddie pulled back down to my location instead; a subtle difference, perhaps, but one that kept combat unique and option-heavy.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
The smaller squad sizes in Firaxis’ strategy reboot might actually work better than the original game. Teams of four or six place the emphasis firmly on tactics, rather than the logistics of managing a squad of 24 men. Otherwise, Enemy Unknown stays true to its roots be concentrating on elements like turn-based resolution, fog of war, destructible environments, and permanent death. Now, every action just means a lot more.
Read Steve Butts’ full preview here. XCOM: Enemy Unkown deploys October 9th, 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Steve Butts: Because you have fewer soldiers, each move becomes more and more meaningful. The old game featured plenty of final turns where I wasn’t even moving my whole squad anymore. I’d just take a group of four or five of my best guys and use them to clear out the final corner of the map, skipping everyone else’s turns. With fewer soldiers, each move is probably going to matter more, both in terms of tactics and in terms of emotional investment. On that topic, the ability to manage to promotion paths of the soldiers, not to mention renaming them and changing their appearance, will mean that, though the deaths are fewer, they’re just as meaningful as before.
DeAngelis admitted there was a small army at Firaxis who advocated for more soldiers, but that the design kept pushing the producers towards smaller teams. Firaxis drew up a laundry list of elements that made the tactical battles in the original game so great – turn-based resolution, fog of war, destructible environments, permanent death. Large squads not only wasn’t on that list, but even worked against some of the concepts that the team felt established a continuity with what people loved about the old game.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Raccoons are vicious little beasts, but in the world of Sly Cooper, they are the progenitors of many sweet platforming moves. Thieves in Time lets the play slip into the roles of many of Sly’s ancestors who perfected the many maneuvers passed on to Sly through the magical book called Thievius Raccoonus. That concept works well, and the platforming gameplays of matches its cleverness.
Read the full preview written by Mike Kayatta here. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time comes out later this year for the PS3 and the Vita.
Mike Kayatta: My demo featured on a mission titled Eye in the Sky, focusing on a gung-ho 13th century knight by the name of Sir Galeth. Sir Galeth is the raccoon who passed down the rail slide technique via the Thievius Raccoonus. Because that’s his signature move, he’s actually better at doing it than Sly, giving a familiar technique and interesting, and believable, spin. Other ancestors operate similarly, each having mastered their maneuvers far more than the words of the family book could teach Sly.
During my playthrough, Sir Galeth fought through a series of enemies and vertical platforming to a castle of sorts, where we was promptly defeated by a giant three-headed snake. Suddenly, we discover that he was actually being tailed by Carmelita, and the game instantly shifts you into her shoes, suddenly swapping out Galeth’s crook and sword melee, for Carmelita’s dual-wielding pistols.
Resident Evil 6
Whether you dig survival horror, zombie shooting action, or a blend of the two, you’ll find a campaign built for you by Capcom in RE6. At the onset, you have the choice of three protagonists: Leon being the more horror-focused, Chris Redfield playing a run-and-gun game and Jake Muller serving as the balanced-style play. While the mechanics in those styles, might not actually work as advertised there’s some interesting ideas to bring coop play between the three campaigns.
Read the rest of Mike Kayatta’s preview here. Resident Evil 6 is due out October 2, 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3 and the PC.
Mike Kayatta: For my demo, I started with Chris. After being confronted at a bar in a scene extremely reminiscent of Kirk’s recruitment in the recent Star Trek movie, I was handed a gun and pointed at the villains. The villains in this case were clown-masked gunmen (I waited the whole demo for the Joker to appear leading the troops–no dice). It wasn’t long before I was dashing across the rooftops, blasting away at a large number of obvious enemies. The over-the-shoulder aiming certainly worked, but wasn’t really designed for this sort of frantic combat. The fight felt like standard bland 3rd person gunplay, but with a sluggish reticule and a awkward weapon swap system. Moving about the levels felt out of place as well; every single action other than “walk forward on flat ground” required a third party: the X button. Want to climb a ladder? Press X! Want to hop up a curb? Press X! Want to step down a four-inch change in elevation? X! There were no scares and, I’m fairly certain, no attempts at scares. The whole thing felt like a average shooter with cumbersome mechanics designed for a different genre.
Wonder Book: Book of Spells
Ever wanted to be a wizard, but sadly lacked the magical aptitude to summon even the smallest of fireballs? Then check out Wonderbook, an upcoming title for the PS3 and a companion piece to the world-famous Harry Potter series. Using the PlayStation Move, players can cast spells by drawing shapes and patterns and interact with the game’s characters and creatures.
View Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview of Wonderbook here. The game is scheduled to arrive sometime this holiday season.
Sarah LeBoeuf: In the chapter I saw, the player had to fight off approaching scorpions, who were immune to the incendio fire spell. To keep them at bay, she used reducio, which made them small enough to fall through the grate and out of sight. Each spell has a unique movement associated with it, which requires using the Move controller to create the prerequisite shapes and lines. Later, the player used her knowledge to answer riddles when quizzed by a Sphinx, a creature familiar to Harry Potter fans.
In a long-awaited reboot of Maxis’ popular city building simulator, SimCity promises to redefine the series in a big way. From individual cars on a street to massive apartment complexes, everything in the game is connected and players will be tasked to organize and manage many aspects of their budding metropolis. Also included is a multiplayer component that lets players work together to share resource and work on group projects.
You can check out Steve Butts full preview here. SimCity is expected to arrive sometime in February of 2013.
Steve Butts:The new GlassBox engine includes all the wonderfully charming details you’d expect from a Maxis game. The whole world has a scale-model like feel, and the activity and animations help make it feel like a real place. Put down a residential district and you’ll see construction trucks and moving vans swoop in to build the homes and fill them with people. Let too many problems slide and you’ll also have picketers standing outside the courthouse. We even got to see one arsonist enter a building and set it on fire. Each city also has its own unique visual flair as well, so you might have a very different look for a city filled with blue-collar coal miners than you would with high-end tourists. Better still, some of the buildings even have Spore-like modules and upgrades, so you can fine tune your buildings to meet your exact needs.
Gears of War: Judgment
Gears of War: Judgment takes us back to years before the first Gears of War, and the early days of the war against the Locusts. Players are put into the combat boots of series protagonist Damon Baird, who’s on trial for treason with his team, known as Kilo Squad. Along with a new story set in the Gears universe, a new exciting new feature Judgment brings to the series is a new mode called Overrun, introducing class-based multiplayer, a first for the series.
Check out Steve Butts’ full preview here. Gears of War: Judgment is scheduled to arrive in 2013.
Steve Butts: The whole setup relies on the tried and true Gears formula. All the regular weapons, cover mechanics and defensive installations from the original game are still here, but players will also be limited in what they can do based on the class they choose. The scout, for instance, can get places other characters can’t and can make use of long-range weapons. The engineer can repair friendly fortifications, drop down turrets, or get up close and personal with his shotgun. Medics can revive downed teammates or even drop down healing fields that can help keep you alive during a firefight. Soldiers – well, if you don’t know what soldiers are good at, you’re probably not even interested in a Gears of War game.
Fable: The Journey
Set five years after Fable III, Fable: The Journey focuses on reoccurring Fable character Theresa and a Dweller named Gabriel as they travel across the land of Albion to escape an evil entity known as the Corruption. Designed without using the traditional Xbox controller, everything in the game is controlled by player’s hand movements, from controlling horses to casting spells.
You can view Steve Butts’ preview of Fable: The Journey available here. Fable: The Journey is expected to arrive on for the Kinect on October 9th, 2012.
Steve Butts: All the spells are gesture based. Hold your left arm up in front of your face to create a shield, and push it out in front of you to use a force push to knock enemies down or strip them of their weapons or armor. Pull your right hand back like you’re throwing a spear to launch your javelin spell, or simply twirl your hand up in the air to access the fireball spell. Many of the spells you use will have some sort of post-release interactivity, so you can redirect spells even after they’ve left your hand.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Although on the surface a South Park fantasy role playing game may sound kind of silly at first, South Park: The Stick of Truth offers a hilarious RPG experience. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment and under the close guidance of series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, The Stick of Truth has players appear as the “New Kid” in South Park, and upon making friends with the show’s star characters Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Butters, embarks on an epic quest to become cool. The game’s combat is a blend of turn-based combat with a few real-time events thrown into the mix and tons of RPG-style elements.
Steve Butts’ full preview of South Park: The Stick of Truth can be found here. The game is expected to launch March 5, 2013, for the Xbox, PS3 and PC.
Steve Butts: The combat is turn-based with some real time triggered elements, much like the active reload in Gears of War, so players will have a bit of time to think about what they want to do in combat but will also be challenged with certain reflex focused interactions. In attacking or blocking with the sword for instance, a powerful fighter can sometimes score extra attacks. Defeating enemies nets you XP, cash, and even some cool items like the Revive Taco or, my personal favorite, F@*%ing Ninja Stars. Earn enough XP and you can even level up from Douchebag to Butthole.
Battlefield 3 Premium
Battlefield 3 Premium is a brand new service set to offer tons of maps, weapons and other perks for players eager for more Battlefield goodness.
You can read Mike Kayatta’s full Battlefield 3 Premium preview here.
Mike Kayatta: Five full expansions are on offer and, while most aren’t yet out, new content will be delivered to Premium players a full two weeks before the rest of the plebs are able to get their hands on it at full price. The package will include Back to Karkland, Close Quarters, Armored Kill, End Game, and Aftermath, each themed and designed after a different facet of war, i.e. tank battles or claustrophobic infantry-centric skirmishes.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter
The sequel to 2010’s reboot of the Medal Of Honor series sends players to various hotspots around the world as a member of a “Tier 1” spec ops unit. A faction-based multiplayer system lets players choose from one of 12 Special Forces units from 10 different countries, including the British SAS, Russisan Spetsnaz, and Poland’s Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-Manewrowego.
Mike Kayatta’s full preview of Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s multiplayer can be seen here. The game itself is expected to arrive in October for the Xbox, PS3, Wii U and the PC.
Mike Kayatta: Hopping into the game’s multiplayer, players are first asked which country and, by extension, which set of special skills and weapons they’d like to play with. Next, they’re assigned a partner to join their “fire team,” a two-man mini-squad within the team given special privileges. For example, both players can see each other’s position on the map at any time, from any distance. In addition, experience and bonuses can be shared when both players maintain a close proximity. One member of the fire team can even help revive a fallen comrade by killing his or her killer, or simply act as a mobile spawn point mid-match.
Persona 4 Golden
For those of you who missed out in 2008, Persona 4 features Japanese high school students battling against demons and monsters after somehow getting sucked into their televisions. Though turn-based combat, each character is able to summon personas, which represent a different aspect of their personalities, to fight in turn based combat against the various monsters they face. Persona 4 Golden is a new re-release of the classic game, featuring tons of new elements to the game, including additional story content, multiplayer components, personas, and more.
Read Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview here. Persona 4 Golden is due to arrive in October for the PlayStation Vita.
Sarah LeBoeuf: The core game is the same as the PS2 version, and while there are new characters, none of them are playable. That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of new content, though. There’s a new “chapter” of the story, a whopping 40% more dialogue, new theme music, and an online rescue system that allows you to get help from a friend when you’re stuck in a dungeon. We didn’t get to see the online system in action, but it will be interesting to see how that changes the dynamic of the single-player game. There are even bonus goodies to unlock, like a live concert of Persona music.
Airtight Games’ Quantum Conundrum is a first person puzzler which features the unique mechanic of hopping through various dimensions to solve puzzles. It stars John DeLancie (most famous for his role as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Professor Fitz Quadrangle, an eccentric inventor behind the amazing dimension-swapping technology the players use.
You can read Susan Arendt’s full preview here. Quantum Conundrum will be out for PC on June 21 and on Xbox Live and PSN later this summer.
Susan Arendt: The challenge of Quantum Conundrum comes from layering simple concepts into elegantly craft puzzles. Fluffy objects are light and easy to toss around; heavy objects are weighty and can withstand punishment. Master those concepts and before you know it, you’re making a couch fluffy, tossing it towards a window, then switching to the heavy dimension to send it sailing clear through the glass.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Dream Drop Distance features series protagonist Sora teaming up with some classic Disney characters for fun and adventure in a world of dreams. Players can use the Nintendo 3DS’ touch screen to activate special abilities, and can recruit Dream Eaters to assist them in battle against their enemies.
You can check out Sarah LeBoeuf’s preview here. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance will arrive in late July for the Nintendo 3DS.
Sarah LeBoeuf: The button-mashing combat hasn’t changed much from the PS2 days, but the game does use the 3DS touch screen to add some more depth to the fighting. When prompted, using the stylus correctly can result in special moves, which breaks up the tedium of battle. Sora also has control of Dream Eaters, which appear to be odd-looking creatures that can be recruited to assist in battle. That’s new for the series, and reminiscent of recruiting demons in the early Persona games, so naturally I’m interested in seeing how it enhances the gameplay.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Let’s rock! Aliens: Colonial Marines puts players into the combat boots of a United States Colonial Marine as seen in the classic James Cameron film Aliens, or the deadly claws of the hostile, face-eating Xenomorphs. Use pulse rifles, shotguns (perfect for close encounters) or your agility and sharp pointy bits to take out your enemies in fast-paced multiplayer matches.
Read Susan Arendt’s full preview of Aliens: Colonial Marines’ multiplayer here. The game is scheduled to ship in February 2013 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, with a version designed for the Wii U to launch at a currently unspecified date.
Susan Arendt: Each team had a special pickup that would spawn for them somewhere on the map; the Marines had a big-ass gun, which we never did find, but the Xenos had something a bit more interesting. The Xeno pickup temporarily turns you into a larger alien with a huge, shielded head that lets you ram into things – like Colonial Marines – while taking less damage. Fighting the altered Xeno requires getting in behind its massive head and shooting it from behind. Coordinating that while other Xenos zero in on your position will take some teamwork.
Developed by Unifted Front Games, Sleeping Dogs, is an open world crime drama set in the city of Hong Kong. Players assume control of Detective Wei Shen, who’s gone undercover to bring down a ruthless criminal organization. The game features a dramatic storyline and brutal hand to hand combat.
View Susan Arendt’s full preview of Sleeping Dogs here. The game is due out August 14 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Susan Arendt:You can also use the environment to your advantage, which brings us back to those fan blades. After you grab an opponent, different usable areas in your vicinity will glow red to let you know that you can use them to perform an environmental attack. Bring your unlucky opponent over to them and hit B and you’ll be treated to a particularly brutal assault animation. I slammed one guy through a vent cover, another one into a wall, and a third one got that very close shave from the whirring fan.
If Nintendo is looking for a game franchise to offer third-party support behind the Wii U gamepad and “asynchronous play”, they could do a lot worse than Rayman. Legends seems to “get it”, with one player controlling Rayman with the Wii Remote while another assists with a little green bug creature by tapping on the touchscreen. The two players must communicate and work together well or Rayman simply can’t progress.
Read the Mike Kayatta’s full preview here. There’s no word on whether Rayman: Legends is a launch title for the Wii U, or when the launch will even be.
Mike Kayatta: The hands-on demo began in a jungle, where Rayman attempted to do something pretty common in these types of games: get from the left side of the map to the right. Along the way, I (in the role of Mr. Bugface) helped clear away bushes hiding doors, chop vines that dangled log bridges out of Rayman’s reach, and lifted baddies by their ankles to drop them ignominiously on their heads. Each of these actions were performed by swiping my finger across the controller’s touchscreen, not by using the buttons.
With relative ease, we soon reached a castle-type area, where Rayman became faced with traversing a series of death wheels, each packed with a maze of small platforms and spikes. My character, Greeny McBuggerson (I decided on a name change around this point), was tasked with spinning the wheel while Rayman was inside of it, a daunting trial of teamwork. If I spun it too much or too little, the other player would be tossed into the spikes and we’d need to start over. If he jumped, or even moved without consulting me, we’d face the same consequence. Each section required a great deal of communication to prevail.
Jet Set Radio Vita
The classic Dreamcast title Jet Set Radio returns, casting you as a young skater looking to extend your gang’s influence in Tokyo by spraying graffiti anywhere and everywhere you can all while dodging the police and their increasingly ambitious attempts to stop you.
Check out Susan Arendt’s full preview of Jet Set Radio Vita here.
Susan Arendt: It takes a lot of work to make it it look like you haven’t done anything to a cherished game from days gone by but bring it to a new platform. If all Sega had done to Jet Set Radio was shove the Dreamcast version into the Vita, its age definitely would’ve shown, especially when it came to the game’s distinctive cel-shaded visuals. But Sega wisely took the time to tidy things up, and as a result … it looks like all they did was shove the Dreamcast version into the PlayStation Vita – which is to say the game from your memory shows up perfectly on the screen.
The Unfinished Swan
In indie game The Unfinished Swan, you play as a young orphan named Monroe who’s drawn into a mysterious world through one of his mother’s unfinished paintings. The landscape itself is barren white, and players need to use blobs of black paint to reveal their surroundings.
You can read Susan Arendt’s full preview of The Unfinished Swan here.
Susan Arendt: Once you begin throwing blobs of black paint, the world reveals itself as each splatter outlines a bit of hallway, a bench, or a frog leaping into a nearby pond. You have to be somewhat judicious about how much paint you sling and where, though – slosh too much around and subtle detail will be lost in the flood. Maneuvering through that first chapter of The Unfinished Swan is a lot like feeling your way through an unfamiliar house in the dark, as you tentatively progress up staircases, past bamboo thickets and through a gate.
The Cave is a new adventure title being developed by Double Fine studios. Featuring a wide cast of characters with their own special abilities and goals, players have to co-ordinate their hand-picked team of explorers to explore and solve puzzles deep within the The Caves titular location.
Check out Susan Arendt’s full preview of The Cave here. The game is expected to arrive sometime in early 2013.
Susan Arendt’s: Although the characters play just about identically, each character has an area of the cave that is special to their personal story unique ability that you’ll need to enter it. The knight, for example, has the Guardian Angel ability, which allows him to withstand damage and falls that would kill other characters; without that special feat, you won’t be able to enter the castle. That means you’ll have to play through The Cave with all seven characters if you want to fully explore its many twists and turns.
Spec Ops: The Line
Basing a modern shooter on Heart of Darkness is a brilliant move. The story of a military colonel gone all independent warlord crazy, with a protagonist sent to find out the story, is a great framework for a game, but unfortunately Spec Ops can’t get over the hump of average mechanics. Dubai swept away by sandstorms is an original premise, but the shooting and running are not.
Read Mike Kayatta’s full preview here. Spec Ops: The Line is coming soon, June 26, 2012 and June 29 in Europe on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Mike Kayatta: The demo began with one of my squadmates under heavy fire. If I couldn’t pull him out quickly, he was going to die and the mission would fail. Between him and me were a series of chest high walls in the desert, perfect for, say, getting into cover and shooting at villains. By total happenstance, that’s exactly what happened next!
The first thing I noticed was the over-ambitious sprint/cover mechanic. Pressing the run button ignites more of a “charge” than a “jog,” bringing you straight into much-needed cover when you’ve aimed properly toward a wall. If you miss, you’ll run right past it into the line of fire, and then must awkwardly turn and walk back to the other side, hoping not to die in the process.
Set ten years after the disappearance of humanity, you play as one of the many animals left behind and struggling for survival in an abandoned Tokyo. Players can pick from Pomeranians, hyenas, or even a tyrannosaur in their effort to find food, a mate, and the truth behind humanity’s absence.
Read Susan Arendt’s full preview of Tokyo Jungle here. The game is currently out in Japan, with no word on a European or American release.
Susan Arendt: Your goal in the game is basic survival – find food, defend yourself against predators, and avoid toxins as you strive to live just one more year. I saw the pomeranian in action as he snuck up on bunnies before pouncing and ripping their throats out. Your hunger is constant in Tokyo Jungle, and if it drops too low, it will start impacting your health. Go too long without a meal and you’re a goner for sure, so it doesn’t pay to be too picky. Sure, that baby chick is little more than a mouthful, but it’ll help you keep going a bit longer, so down the hatch!
Joe Danger: The Movie
Joe Danger: The Movie has players suit up as Joe Danger, legendary Hollywood stuntman in a interesting mix of racing and platforming through various action movie scenes.
You can check out Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview of Joe Danger: The Movie here . The game is expected to hit XBLA sometime this fall.
Sarah LeBoeuf: Joe Danger: The Movie includes a level editor called the Toybox that aims to be robust but intuitive, fun and easy to use. There are tons of options – you can create a snow level and make an avalanche, make Joe a paperboy, put a monkey on a unicycle – but the developers wanted to create a level editor that was as enjoyable as the game itself. Players will be able to upload and share their created levels, and they can make single-player or multiplayer tracks. And to show gamers how it’s done, the developers will be regularly uploading their own user-created tracks.
Rock Band Blitz
The newest entry into the Rock Band series drops the plastic instruments and instead lets players match notes using their controllers. The game will only have 25 songs at launch, but players will be able to access any of their previously purchased Rock Band DLC.
Read Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview of Rock Band Blitz here. The game will arrive for XBLA and the PlayStation Network sometime later this year.
Sarah LeBoeuf: Blitz has players taking control of all the instrumental tracks that make up a song, switching from track to track to hit the notes. Instead of color-coded instruments, the Xbox 360 controller’s triggers are used to hit notes, while the analog stick moves you from lane to lane. Simple-but not easy.
To mix things up even further, the game provides power-ups to help you get a higher score. Rockets clear notes, bombs blast them away, and a giant pinball increases your score when you can keep it from falling off the screen. With so many things going on at once, Blitz can get pretty chaotic, though that’s part of the fun.
End of Nations
Trion’s newest title is End of Nations, a free-to-play real-time strategy MMO that focuses on tactics with over building up large sprawling fortresses. Players can choose between two factions, each with two separate classes, and pick from a variety of units to battle against other players in matches ranging from small 2 vs. 2 skirmishes to massive 26 vs. 26 full-scale wars.
Read Mike Kayatta’s full preview of End of Nations here. The game is expected to arrive later this summer for the PC.
Mike Kayatta: Unlike most RTS games, EoN requires no base building, and no traditional resource management. Instead, before the game, players will assemble “companies,” essentially customizable sets of units you’ll default to during a match. The companies reminded me a bit of building a Magic: The Gathering deck; you have a certain number slots, and must balance what will be available to you for both offensive and defensive considerations. Unlike a card game, however, players are able to build three separate companies that can be swapped out in battle. This is great for when you’ve built a ground-combat-centric company, and suddenly find that your opponent is straight air. Instead of being helpless to fight back, hopefully you have an air or anti-air company ready to deploy.
The Walking Dead: Episode 2
The zombie apocalypse continues in the next episode of Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead, and things look even more bleak for our heroes. Picking up shortly after where Episode 1 left off, the survivors, lead by history teacher Lee Everett, are becoming more desperate as supplies dwindle and the undead Walkers grow in number. Making tough decisions plays a big factor in who survives and who ends up zombie chow.
Read Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview here. The Walking Dead: Episode 2 is due to arrive soon.
Sara LeBoeuf: The demo began three months after the events of the first episode. The gang is still holed up at the motel, but things have gotten even more dire. They’re almost entirely out of food, forcing Lee into the woods to hunt for something, anything not infected. Like in the first episode, even the smallest dialogue choices can resonate later on, and if you have the option turned on, you’ll be notified after you say something that will have consequences later on.
Instead of food, Lee stumbles upon a teacher and two of his high school students. The teacher’s leg is stuck in a bear trap, and he’s begging for help. It’s an increasingly tense situation, with walkers closing in, the teacher screaming for mercy, and the teenagers panicking. During moments like this, it’s easy to make mistakes, and a mistimed button push or wrong dialogue choice can mean the difference between life and death.
Taking place inside the universe of EVE Online , Dust 514 takes the intricacies of the sci-fi MMORPG and turns it into a brutal free-to-play first-person shooter. Players will be able to take jobs and contracts from EVE corporations and battle across the surfaces of EVE’s many planets for in-game currency, which can be used to purchase new weapons, items and vehicles.
Read up on Mike Kayatta’s full preview of Dust 514 here.
Mike Kayatta’s : Players take jobs and sign lengthy contracts for EVE guilds (called corporations, if you didn’t know), and get paid in ISK, EVE‘s in-game currency.Dust players can then take that money and buy new gear, like weapons, buffs, and armors. So far, sounds pretty normal, right? Here’s the catch: Every time you die, and I mean every single time you kick it, everything you had equipped is permanently destroyed. This get’s a bit wild, considering that players can die numerous times in the course of a single match, much like other shooters. The same goes for vehicles, purchased ahead of time from the extensive marketplace. If you drop a week’s worth of ISK on a super tank, and someone blows it up on the battlefield, it’s bye bye tank, and bye bye everything you spent on it. Forever.
PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale
PlayStation All-Stars lets players pick from several dozen popular characters from the PlayStation 3’s line up and battle against each other in all out brawls. Each character has their own special moves, and the game’s arenas are inspired by various PlayStation titles.
Read on Mike Kayatta’s full preview of PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale here.
Mike Kayatta’s : Fighters have three basic moves at their disposal: heavy, quick, and unique. Performing these in the air, or while moving in a certain direction can sometimes cause variations, but the idea is almost always the same. As players wail on one another, meters beneath their names begin to fill. Each bar represents a player’s ability to perform a super move, the one major deviation from the Smash Brother franchise. Instead of battling down an opponent’s resistance to gravity to eventually knock them from the stage, only these super moves can score the kills. Each has three levels to build toward, requiring one bar per. As you can probably imagine, they vary in both range and effectiveness as the levels grow, moving from something akin to a simple body-length punch, to summoning a gigantic chicken ten times your size that insta-kills anything that comes in contact with it.
Tied together with a TV show launching on SyFY, Defiance depicts how in the near future, Earth has become a battleground between humans and a hostile alien race. The ambitious MMO shooter has several events planned to cross over with the TV series, and offers numerous PvE challenges for players.
Check out on Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview of Defiance here.
Sarah LeBoeuf’s: While I was waiting for one of the developers during my demo, I picked up a controller and started playing. It only took a few seconds to figure out what I was supposed to do. Even though it’s an MMO, it’s completely intuitive to anyone who’s played a third-person shooter before, and it was nice to not need a bunch of instructions before I could proceed. I saw a marker on my map in the distance, hopped on an ATV, and made my way over to a massive fight between humans and Hellbugs, the nightmarish creatures that are the result of decades of war between Earthlings and aliens. I jumped into the action, helping my fellow humans take out the bugs and picking up some loot along the way.
World of Warplanes
World of Warplanes will allow players to take to the skies in any of 60 flyable aircraft, ranging from pre-WWII biplanes through the jet age of the 1950s and engage in fierce aerial dogfights with other players.
Check out on Steve Butts’ full preview of World of Warplanes here.
Steve Butts: Though the game features a realistic flight and gunnery model, it’s not intended to be a perfect simulation. Wherever realism gets in the way of fun, fun wins out in the end. That’s why so many of the levels start the players closer to the ground, giving them the option to use the canyons, city streets and other geographic features as a sort of cover from the enemy. Fliers also start out in the air, which means you won’t have to spend five or ten minutes of each flight climbing to altitude before engaging the enemy.
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse stars Family Guy characters Stewie and Brian as they travel across ten different universes to fight against Stewie’s evil twin brother.
Check out on Steve Butts’ full preview of Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse here.
Steve Butts: Players can switch freely between Brian or Stewie, or even play both in local-only co-op. Brian’s weapons, like the sniper rifle and 9mm pistol, are usually fairly realistic, while Stewie’s gadgets include laser pistols and grenades made out of full diapers. As an added bonus, the diapers can be ignited once they explode to literally add injury to insult. Some of the other weapons and tools are drawn from the show, from Stewie’s golf club melee weapon to the giant chicken, which hatches out of an egg and then runs around beating the crap out of people.
James Bond is back with 007: Legends, a brand new GoldenEye-styled first person shooter featuring six missions inspired by some of the earlier, classic James Bond films.
Read Mike Kayatta’s full preview of 007: Legends here. The game is expected to arrive on October 16th, 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Mike Kayatta: Our demo picked up as Bond broke into the secret lair of Hugo Drax, the main villain from 1979’s Moonraker. Just looking at the game makes you feel like you’re experiencing some lost, cleaned up GoldenEye 64 DLC, so it came as no surprise to learn that the whole of Legends was built from the same team and engine as GoldenEye: Reloaded.
Gameplay-wise, things seemed just as similar. Bond aims, shoots, and reloads. Sometimes he completes objectives. Yes, there are a few new things added in as well, including a simplistic stealth mode in which 007’s enemies have three observable, color-coded statuses: unaware (white), suspicious (yellow), and trying to shoot you (red). Bond can also earn XP by completing special optional objectives, then spend it on simple upgrades, such as gadgetry effectiveness, weapon proficiency, or physical improvements.
LEGO City Undercover
LEGO City Undercover is a brand new open-world Lego game for the Wii U, putting players into the blocky shoes of detective Chase McCain, a rugged cop patrolling the mean streets of a Lego Metropolis.
Read Susan Arendt’s full preview of LEGO City Undercover here.
Susan Arendt: In the level I played, Chase has to track down three bank robbers after they’ve fled the scene of their latest heist, so my first task was to hop into my police car and speed off after the crooks.
Which was a little harder than I’d anticipated. Either the controls are a little wonky or my understanding of automotives is, but I couldn’t keep that thing in a straight line no matter what I did. Two things helped make up for my terrible driving. There was a trail of green studs on screen showing me the path the robber’s car had taken, and the map on the Wii U controller screen showed not only a green line tracing his projected course through the streets, but also a red dot pintpointing his location in real time. My driving wasn’t good enough to catch up in straight pursuit, but by following the map on the Wii U controller, I was able to get ahead of him and cut him off. I had to crash into the crook’s car several times before taking after him on foot, then knocking him down with a dramatic foot sweep.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Rev up your engines! Need for Speed: Most Wanted offers up an intense racing experience as players pick their favorite hot rod or sports car and compete to see who can rack up the best time. Just watch out for the police and pedestrians.
You can check out Mike Kayatta’s full preview of Need For Speed: Most Wanted here .
Mike Kayatta: Jump in a car, and start driving. Explore, race, speed, or piss off the cops; do whatever you want in the city sandbox, and the gameplay elements come to you. You can meet up with some friends by the pier to begin a makeshift street race, or simply speed through the major intersections, letting traffic light snapshots catch your maximum speed and instantly spit out a comparison to your friends. The whole of the game seems to work like this, non-invasive, no-pressure elements that never beg you to explore them, yet remain ready to provide you an experience if you choose to.
Step right up! From hunting ghosts in “Luigi’s Ghost Mansion” to collect candy in “Animal Crossing: Sweet Day”, Nintendo Land offers up a large collection of mini-games for you and friends to play both cooperatively and competitively.
You can read Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview of Nintendo Land here .
Sarah LeBoeuf: First up was “Luigi’s Ghost Mansion”, which was shown off at the press conference. The actual game takes far less time to understand than Nintendo’s live demo-it actually was a “play it and get it” situation. Up to five people can play at once, with one using the GamePad, and that player is the ghost. The ghost uses the GamePad screen to try and catch other players, while the ghost hunters using the TV screen can’t see where the ghost is. Instead, the Wii Remote vibrates when the ghost is near, and players have to use their flashlights to defeat the ghost. If the ghost takes out all other players, it wins; if the players shine their lights on the ghost long enough, they win.
A new first person shooter from Ubisoft, ZombiU is an upcoming first-person shooter exclusively for the Wii U. Players assume the role of various survivors trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, where even one bite from a zombie spells game over.
You can check out Sarah LeBoeuf’s full preview of ZombiU here .
Sarah LeBoeuf: Like Left 4 Dead, ZombiU pits human against undead in a world where life as we know it has ended. Unlike L4D, though, ZombiU‘s multiplayer is one-on-one, with one player controlling the human in a fairly typical first-person shooter experience. The undead player uses the GamePad to control a team of zombies, using the touch screen to place them throughout the area to stop the player from capturing each section. Zombies are also required to capture flags, and the GamePad player has to balance between capturing, defending the capturing zombie, and attacking the player.
Company of Heroes 2
Real-time strategy games have been the domain of fantasy and science fiction of late, but the squad-based fun of maneuvering troops around a World War II battlefield is set to return in Company of Heroes 2. The sequel to 2006’s stellar title from THQ-owned Relic entertainment eschews resources and base-building for a purely tactical experience.
Read the rest of Steve Butts’ preview here. Company of Heroes 2 will be released in 2013 on the PC.
Steve Butts: It’s clear that the developers at Relic aren’t trying to reinvent the series. Instead, they’re focusing on adding new features that fit the model established by the original game. It adds new mobility options to help solidify infantry as the queen on the chessboard of battle. Being able to vault over cover, rather than having to run around every low wall, shrub, or fence they find, makes infantry the most versatile and mobile unit on the battlefield now, which should help make rushes and retreats more manageable.
The new Essence 3 engine uses true line-of-sight, making forest ambushes and house to house fighting remarkably unpredictable affairs. Your vision range may extend to the other side of those trees or that farmhouse, but until you get around behind them, you’ll have no idea whether any enemy AT gun is waiting to turn your T-34s into smoldering coffins. The biggest compromise here seems to be that line of sight is universal. In other words, anything that one unit sees, they all see. Fortunately, your blind spots are covered with a simple overlay, which allows you to see at a glance where trouble may be waiting.
Deadlight is a new, unique 2d puzzle platformer that takes players back to 1986, months after a deadly plague has decimated the country side. As Randall Wayne, a park ranger trying to find his family amidst, players must navigate a ruined landscape full of the ravenous undead, using the environment to their advantage.
Check out Susan Arendt’s full preview of Deadlight here . The game is due out for the Xbox 360 later this summer.
Susan Arendt: Though you’ll encounter plenty of the undead, this is no zombie shooter; Randall is an ordinary guy and he has no interest in coming any closer to his enemies than he absolutely has to. Running away is frequently the best option, but when you must make a stand, you’ll concentrate on using the environment to your best advantage. In one section, I dropped a bunch of heavy boxes through some rotten floorboards, leaving a gaping pit for the lemming-like zombies to follow each other into. In another section, I taunted some zombies into shambling towards me – and right into the electrified puddle that stood between us.