Friday, 19 June 2015

Sony @ E3 2015

Sony have been really delivering on some great E3 appearances in the last few years, so I was pretty excited about what they had cooking up this time. With this being the fifth press conference of E3, I had assumed that most of what they showed would either be old news or reveals leaked prior to the event. There were rumours of certain titles, but nothing could have prepared me for what they showed. Sony showed three titles that literally won them E3. Full stop.

 

The Last Guardian


Back in 2001 Japanese games designer Fumito Ueda  brought us Ico, the now iconic game that paired a horned boy and a girl wearing a white, flowing dress together. The concept of the game was simple, but in terms of games design and visuals, Ico quickly became a masterpiece of the medium. He followed it up with 2005's Shadow of Colossus, a game that -in my opinion- bettered Ico in every way. It was an astounding piece of entertainment, and after it was announced that his third game, named The Last Guardian, was in development for the Playstation 3, I was thrilled at what Ueda would do next. But The Last Guardian has been in development hell since at least 2007, and with every year that has passed since, it has looked less and less likely that it will ever see the light of day.

That is of course, until now! Yes, Sony opened up their press conference with the news that The Last Guardian is back on steady ground, and with Ueda himself in the crowd, they announced the game will see a 2016 release date. As you can see the gameplay shown off is truly magical, and looks like a blend of both Ico and Shadow of Colossus. Featuring visuals that remain largely untouched since we last saw the game in action, the game focuses on the relationship between a young boy and a Griffin-like creature named Trico. It looks bloody lovely, and good on Sony for getting their shit together to finish what could be another masterpiece of gaming.

Dreams


One of the most interesting developers of the past decade has been Media Molecule. The developer, known worldwide for their completely game changing series LittleBigPlanet, had been a beacon of creativity and passion in this industry. I met some of the guys from Media Molecule a few years back for an interview, and even in person they seemed excited, passionate and completely in love with gaming, entertainment and their fans. Though 2013's Tearaway was a great game in its own right, I've been looking forward to their next big title. This year at E3 we finally got a look at it.

Simply called Dreams, I found the upcoming Playstation 4 game was quite a hard one to get my head around. Hell, even the Media Molecule developer on stage was saying this, and urged people to keep and open mind. It's hard to explain how you play it, but by simply moving your controller around you can draw objects in 3D space. These objects have a very watercolour-like feel to them, and during the demo as they slowly moved and shimmered on screen, it made the image “feel” dreamlike. With Dreams Media Molecule are trying to get people to create their own dreams and share them online. These user created dreams can be explored and enjoyed by others, and the idea, though incredibly out there, is utterly fascinating. It'll a hard sell for sure, but I firmly believe that if Dreams lives up to these promises, it could be Media Molecule's second generation defining game.

Final Fantasy VII- Remake


When Squaresoft released Final Fantasy VII back in 1997 my world changed. I was 12 at the time, and after being feed a diet of Megadrive platformers and various substandard PS1 games all of my life, playing Final Fantasy VII literally blew my mind. Though the game came on 3 discs, when finishing disc 1 and coming to the end of that road in Midgar, I couldn't fathom how the game- or any game for that matter- could keep offering me more play time. I never got into RPGs prior to Final Fantasy VII, so I was used to playing a game for around 20-40 hours, then that was it. By the time I got to the end of disc 1 in Final Fantasy VII I was hitting well over 45 hours. I finished the game with 180 hours behind me, and I've never been the same since.

It goes without saying that since Final Fantasy VII's release, gamers across the globe have cried out for a remake. Well, you're getting one, and it'll be most likely be out for the 20th anniversary in 2017. All we got so far was a CGI trailer, but a massive smile came across my face as soon as I heard the first few chimes of the opening music to Final Fantasy VII kick in. It's great to finally know it's happening, but I must say I do have my reservations. The director of the remake, Tetsuya Nomura, has recently said that the remake will be different from the original. From combat to certain story elements, this may not be the Final Fantasy VII remake we always wanted. In fact, with all the extra (and terrible!) characters from Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus and Advent Children now apart of Final Fantasy VII canon, this “remake” might be vastly different from what you played back in 1997, in order to accommodate for the retconning of the original.

Shenmue 3


Much like Final Fantasy VII, when I played Shenmue on the Dreamcast back in 2000 it changed my life. From exploring Dobuita, looking for sailors, turning down various requests from kids to play wrestling, buying toy capsules with my pocket money to playing Afterburner in the local arcade, I adored every second of Shenmue. Shenmue 2 was incredible too, and I played each one three times or so, each time finding something new I never noticed before. But the story isn't complete yet, and for the past 14 years Shenmue 3 has been nothing but a pipe dream for almost every gamer out there. Until now, that is.

Though Sony were adamant that it's not a Playstation exclusive, with the help of Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki, it was announced that Shenmue 3 is happening. Like seriously, I'm not f*cking around- IT'S HAPPENING! Arriving on Kickstarter right after the announcement and seeking a whopping 2 million in funding, the Shenmue 3 campaign has already pushed the 3 million mark. Though Yu Suzuki is getting some currently undisclosed funding from Sony, every little donation is helping to create the dream Shenmue 3 we always wanted. I can't actually articulate how I felt when it was announce on stage. My heart was racing, and with that announcement happening during the same press conference as The Last Guardian and the Final Fantasy VII Remake news, I thought I must be have been dreaming. I've already chipped in to Shenmue 3, and if you're looking forward to it I hope you do the same. I've haven't been this excited about gaming since the Dreamcast/Playstation 2 era!

Uncharted: A Thief's End


With titles like Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter and The Last of Us under their belt, developer Naughty Dog is finally returning to their other series, Uncharted. The first two Uncharted games were f*cking awesome, and though they never really did anything new, innovative or groundbreaking, they were fun adventures in the world of Nathan Drake, the guy who is pretty much Indiana Jones but totally not Indiana Jones. Though we've seen it before at E3, this new gameplay video of Uncharted: A Thief's End was quite the treat.

Coming across like some open-world game, the majority of the gameplay demo focuses on a chase sequence involving Drake and Sully. The graphics are incredibly stunning here, and from random debris whizzing past the camera, the huge array of civilians on the street that are constantly running for cover, the sheer amount of land that is covered during the chase scene, to the many improvised and alternative routes the player can take, it all just looks glorious. I expect that from any Uncharted game, so lets hope this one delivers the same amount of style and adventure the first two did in buckets.

Overall I thought Sony's E3 press conference was the best of the lot. The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII and Shenmue 3. Need I say more? Granted not all of those games are Playstation exclusives, but to reveal possibly the three most wished for, eagerly awaited and requested games EVER... well, that's something special indeed.

Denis Murphy


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