Thursday 16 June 2016

Sony @ E3 2016

2015 saw a memorable E3 for Sony; The Last Guardian was re-revealed four years after it was due to be released (and six years after it was first announced), and fan dream Shenmue III was featured – if not strictly speaking supported. Then there was delicious No Man's Sky footage. Have they put on an even better show in 2016? They just might have...

Resident Evil 7 is officially a thing

As is usual for Sony, some of the biggest news from their conference concerned multiformat games. We all knew that a new Resident Evil was going to happen, but surely none of us expected it to be quite like this. It's reimagining the experience in the same way that Resident Evil 4 did; and that's easily one of the best games in the series (the best, if you ask me). 7, for the first time ever, gives the player a first-person perspective. The emphasis, it seems, is firmly on psychological horror rather than action. The potential for the effectiveness of this is increased thanks to the very impressive graphics; and isn't there something automatically unnerving about prosaic surroundings utterly devoid of life, and given a heavy blanket of dirt and desolation? All this comes together to tell the tale of a game clearly influenced by the ill-fated (and bloody terrifying) P.T. demo, with a sprinkling of Fatal Frame/Project Zero thrown in for good measure. PlayStation Plus members can download a demo right now, with the full game to be released January 24th.

Sony aren't immune from recycling games from last year's E3

First announced at E3 2015, Horizon Zero Dawn certainly isn't what you'd expect from Guerilla Games, the studio best known for the Killzone series. A third person adventure in a world that looks like what might happen if Enslaved: Odyssey To The West and Xenoblade Chronicles got funky together and had an electronic baby. The basic concept – a lush fantasy world populated by robotic creatures – is intriguing. The gameplay trailer, at over eight minutes, showed us a Mass-Effect-style dialogue tree (is it deeper than it appears?), and the various ways in which your character can handle situations. Her rope gun for example was used to hold an animal in place while she hacked it to mount, and later to trap what appeared to be a miniboss while in its weakened state. With multiple weapons and a fascinating concept, this could be a goodun.

Then we had The Last Guardian. Again. The latest trailer doesn't tell us a lot, but it does tell us there's at least one other giant creature in the game, and at least one instance of a creepy man trying to catch your young male avatar, the less said about which probably the better. The graphics, predictably, seem to suffer for originally being a PS3 game. Will the game finally be released, or are Sony running history's most dedicated troll campaign? With an alleged release date of October 26th, we'll soon find out.

Sony are still determined to keep David Cage in a job

Oh Sony. Perhaps your faith will be rewarded, but I'm not hopeful. Okay, I enjoyed Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy to our readers across the pond). Heavy Rain was good, too, but it was only held together by all the plot holes. Beyond: Two Souls however was completely shit. One of the worst games I have played in my entire life, and I've been playing games for around a quarter of a century. Admittedly Detroit: Become Human looks better, but that's because nobody's actually played it yet. The E3 trailer centres on a hostage situation, where both the negotiator (you) and the hostage taker are androids. An excellent job was done of showing how the situation can end in multiple ways depending on what you say, do, and find; but everything else is off-putting. The graphics aren't as good as a 2016 PS4 exclusive should be, the themes shown are tired and overused, and the dialogue is distinctly “meh”. The release date remains unknown at time of writing, probably to give Quantic Dream time to find a way of shoehorning in one of those shower scenes Cage is so perversely obsessed with.

PlayStation VR is getting all the marketing monies

If any VR platform is going to see any kind of success, it's going to be PlayStation VR. The reasons for this are many, but a far-from-insignificant one is the clearly gargantuan budget it's been afforded. Sony gleefully announced that it will have an impressive/ridiculous 50 games available at launch (that's including compatible rather than exclusive). The aforementioned Resident Evil 7 will be compatible, and some VR-exclusive titles were announced. Most intriguing of all perhaps is the Rocksteady developed, PSVR-exclusive Batman: Arkham VR. An all-new game, the trailer tells us nothing except that the Joker will be in it and it's out some time in October.
Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission is also PSVR exclusive, and looks just as awesome as you'd imagine (from the 30 seconds that were shown). Yet another Sony exclusive is Farpoint, a first person game with lots of sand. There's robot drones and monsters to shoot too, but it's impossible to tell how the game as a whole might hold up; though it does look like it would be a lot of fun in VR.

God of War is getting a reboot

The God of War games are good platform kick-the-crap-out-of-them-ups. God of War III in particular was brilliant. Ostensibly based in the world of Greek mythology, they keep getting the terminology mixed up with Roman mythology. The new game for PS4, if all the snow and the mention of Valhalla is anything to go by, drops Kratos into Norse mythology instead; which is hopefully less easy to confuse with other legends. He now has three things he didn't have before: 1) A long and amusing beard, 2) a magic axe with The Power Of Making Things Really Cold, and 3) a son. A son that, in the E3 demo, he's an absolute bastard to with behaviour that is basically abuse. A son that seems to earn XP, and that you presumably take control of later in the game. The writers seem to be going for an emotional depth that's hilariously at odds with every other game in the series, not helped by Kratos' trademark monoemotional approach to life. Still, it might be good; killing things is usually good fun.

So much was packed into the Sony conference, I've not had time to talk about the new Spider-Man game, or Days Gone. But the latter so far just seems to be yet another gritty tale of post-apocalyptic Earth (i.e. America), so meh.

Luke Kemp

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