Saturday, June 8, 2013

My E3 2013 Predictions

     For all you people who don't follow nerd culture as closely as, well, nerds do, you may be wondering what this is all about.  What is E3, why should you care, and why do I care.

     For starters, E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is an event in which people from around the video game and by extension entertainment industry showcase what is on the horizon for the market.  I would compare it to the Superbowl or March Madness, but in reality it's nothing like that.  If you're political, think of it like a Republican or Democratic National Convention (at times the responding cynicism can be comparable).  If you like sports, think of it like an NFL draft.  Generally, they set up booths, they showcase technology, and they hold press conferences (sans Nintendo this year, more on that later).  The thing that sets E3 apart from other expos like PAX (Penny Arcade Expo, which is owned by two filthy rich web comic    guys, you've probably seen them before) is that E3 is exclusively for reporters and the masses aren't allowed the same accessibility as they would at other expos.

    So what do I want to see this year, and what do I think will happen.  Well, something like this I guess.

1.  Sony will tell us more about the PS4

    Sony has been keeping just about everything on their console under wraps thus far.  You can't really blame them, given everything that's happened to Microsoft and their X-Bones (I'm a pirate yarrr, I know what to call it).  What I do know about Sony is that if we look at the performance of the PS3 from day 1 to now, they have learned a whole lot.  If you don't remember, the PS3 came out with a price range of $500-$600, put a lot on motion control that prematurely killed the IP Lair and with it all of Factor 5 (the guys who gave us Star Wars Rogue Squadron).  Before the motion controller they had the weird batarang/banana controller that nobody wanted.  They also had a blu-ray player which later on turned out to be a better investment than anybody originally thought but was iffy in the early days of the console.  As they went along, with a few dead ends here and there, the PS3 made an effort to learn from these mistakes making us all wish we bought a PS3 at the end.  It still doesn't compare to the PS2, which is considered by many to be flawless, especially the Japanese Market, but it showed improvement from the beginning to the end.

I imagine Sony has taken notes on the response to the X-Bones and if they had similar plans for their new console (which isn't out of the question given they have said nothing about it) they will respond to the best features that aren't in the X-Bones and change anything it shares with the X-Bones (like when they changed their batarang/banana controller).  Since they are finishing out with the exclusive Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection and The Last of Us (two more reasons I wish I bought a PS3), I trust they will give us some pretty spectacular games this E3.  If not, then at least they gave us the MGS Legacy Collection and The Last of Us.  The new Killzone looks pretty good, so we can at least go in with a bit of hope.

2. Microsoft will try to trick us into buying X-Bones (Xbox One for those who respect it, Xbox Juan, Xbox 360 minus 359, Xbone, Skeletor/Starscream/Stalin, the Why Microsoft Should Stick to Software, and of course Steve Jobs Last Laugh for those who don't)

    Microsoft has a lot of weight to throw around.  It's a really big company.  Assuming this X-Bones doesn't go over as they planned (and let's be honest, I haven't heard a single person who's been paying attention who wants it) they can still give us Windows that will be good one year and bad the next (luckily Windows 9 has landed on a good year, so there's that I guess).

   This thing looks terrible and everybody knows it.  Since the initial press release, Microsoft has been backtracking in all the weeks following, having just recently put out their policy on used games which saves Gamestop but threatens online services like Gamefly (nobody saw that coming).   They specifically said they would only focus on games at E3.  Anyone who follows politics knows that when a politician drops a bombshell and tries to cover it up with broad general statements that are agreeable to everyone, it's not because they've reconsidered their bombshell statement, they're just trying to turn the public's eyes away from it.  Microsoft knows all the things everybody wants, and they have gotten everybody's attention with the  more-than-likely true rumors about a new Banjo-Kazooie game.  As much as I want to play that Banjo-Kazooie (and I really really reeeeeeeeaaaaaally want to play that game), I'm not going to be able to due to the knowledge it will come with a terrible console for a single good game.  There are certainly other games that will be good for the X-Bones, but is it really worth all the other hoops that must be jumped on a daily basis with this thing? Banjo-Kazooie or not, I'm still not excited for the X-Bones and will not be buying one.

  Instead, I will be looking forward to the title made by all the former Rareware employees, which they've specifically been thinking of selling to Nintendo.


3. Nintendo will live to fight another day.

Miracles happen, right?

   Ok, I'm biased.  Nintendo is a market fueled on nostalgia, and I and everyone who held Nintendo dear as a child wants to see it do well even though it looks like Belgium in World War I.  If my 30 page Majora's Mask series doesn't say anything, you should read it over there on the right.  So naturally, I'm gonna spend a lot of time talking about this.  If you don't care at all about Nintendo, you can go to the next point, because we're gonna be here awhile.

Specifically for me, Nintendo's handheld market has meant the most to me since the first thing I got that played video games (besides a PC) was a Gameboy Color.  From what I've seen with regards to what they've been talking about, they are all things I really want.  Real-talk, Pokemon X and Y could be the best game in the series yet.  All the Pokemon they've debuted look excellent (except for Froakie, but I wasn't gonna get him anyway, best thing about Pokemon: variety) My only question is how will they transfer pokemon from 5th generation to 6th generation.  The inability to do so ultimately killed the third generation titles although they were otherwise just as good as all the others.  The transition from Gameboy Advance to DS handled it well with the separate GBA/DS slots, but upon examining the 3DS, there is only one slot.  I'm not sure how they are gonna do it, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
I just need an excuse to put this here

   Of course there will be more Mario games, because just like there are still Sonic games, Mario will exist forever in some form or another.  These include another Mario Kart, another RPG, and another Super Mario game.  Not too excited about all those things, although I do like the Mario and Luigi RPG series aside for the lengthy tutorials that explain obvious things (they were pretty bad in Partners in Time).

  Ok, next on my secret docket which isn't really secret is Pikmin 3.  This is the only reason I need to buy a Wii U, and if you've never played Pikmin before, you are missing out on one of the best video game experiences.  From what I've heard, this one will follow a new bunch of space Robinson Crusoes from a new world as they discover the Pikmin world (a.k.a. Earth). The new grey and pink Pikmin look excellent and look to add new mechanics which will lead to better puzzles to solve.  It's gonna be good, you should check it out.
seriously, who wouldn't want this?

  Smash Bros:  Smash Bros, Smash bros, Smash bros.  I feel like this one's a given.  The question everyone wants to know is who's gonna be in it.  We'll probably find out this upcoming week, but in this post on speculations and predictions, I'm gonna give a few of my own.
1. megaman
2. megaman
3. megaman
4. megaman
5. ryu
6. megaman
7. megaman
8. megaman
9. megaman
10. megaman
Ok, those are very narrow prospects, but the creators did say they were going to try and tighten their focus so as to not lose the spirit of the games even though the introduction of Snake and Sonic was very well received.  More so than anyone else, Sonic and Snake have been in enough Nintendo games to still be considered ok in a Nintendo exclusive title.  The only other character I can think of that would fit the bill would be Capcom's very own mascot-whom-they-neglect-at-every-mention-except-to-sell-statues-on-the-25th-anniversary-with-no-games-and-yes-i'm-kinda-peeved-about-that.  Put megaman in it please?

Samus clone? what? no no, totally different

   Not sure what this Wonderful 101 thing is, but it could be interesting so I'll see what they have in store for it this upcoming week.

   Bayonetta 2 is complicated.  A lot of people loved the first one and for those people I hope the second one is everything and more than they asked for.  How Nintendo landed Bayonetta is a huge question that will never be answered for me.  Of course all thoughts of Nintendo being a kids only company were thrown out when the brilliant little gem No More Heroes came out (for those who don't know what that is, think Scott Pilgrim with decapitations and a female lead who has all the imperfections of Ramona Flowers and is completely morally debased).  I'm just gonna say, I kinda like Dante from Devil May Cry (with all his flaws including being remade) better.  Best wishes to the people looking forward to Bayonetta.

   Of course I'm not going to say all this without mentioning Legend of Zelda.  For all who haven't heard, Link to the Past 2 is coming to the 3DS and it looks absolutely fantastic.  Seriously, it's all the best features of the pre-Ocarina of Time series put in 60 frames per second (which is a good thing in the video game world, not so much in the Hobbit world).  It features the return of Tom Baker Link (which I started calling him at the end of my Majora's Mask series) in the events between the first Link to the Past and the Oracle games.  Some people don't consider the handheld Zelda games to be real Zelda games, and to that I say the Oracle titles and Link's Awakening are now available on the 3DS virtual market so you should play them and then come back to me before you say that again.  I feel like this game further solidifies that the things Nintendo has going for their handheld market is really impressive and kinda holds its own for the people who are really interested in it.  There has been the discussion about Nintendo not having a press conference as per the norm at E3 and this has made people worried, but I have some confidence in their approach since they shouldn't need a political rally to sell their games so long as the games are good.  While Nintendo won't ever be the size of entertainment giants like Sony and Microsoft who have their fingers in so many different pies, Nintendo can make sure it has its best fingers in the pie best suited for its consumers.  I myself don't really know what that means, and I just imagined Shigeru Miyamoto and Reggie shoving their hands in an apple pie with a creepy smile on their faces.  What? back to Zelda? Well alright then.

back to the basics

   As for console Zelda, the big new title won't exist for a while as they show us more on the Wind Waker remake.  I'm not sure what's going to be new in this Wind Waker remake, perhaps they'll have a booth about this and then they can talk about it that way.  Probably what is new in it will decide whether or not I buy it, because the original Wind Waker can still be played on the Wii and still looks as brilliant as it did when it first one came out (unless you don't like cel-shading, in which case I pity you because I really like Wind Waker's art style).  Wind Waker taught us we could have a fresh new exciting game without a color palette of nothing but brown.  I'd like for something new to come out of the HD Wind Waker remake, but I might end up passing on it since I already own the original.  With that, I think this concludes our look at Nintendo.

Oh but Atlus, I see you're gonna be at E3.  I hope that means a Persona title for the 3DS.  k thx.

4. Squenix 

   I'm not sure I'm really one to talk about what Square Enix is up to. I'm also not sure I'm a reliable source for anything related to business trends or cold hard facts given I have a tendency to embellish information for the sake of humor and clever turns of phrase.  Doesn't matter how many feels I've got stacked up in the corner, that doesn't bail out companies and decide success or failure.  However, I don't care, and I'm gonna talk about Square anyway.  The president of Square jumped ship earlier this year due to poor sales of Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs.  It looks like they are preparing to show new games from old IPs.  There is the reboot of Thief, which has some people excited, and then there is Lightning Returns which I'm guessing is the conclusion of Final Fantasy XIII. Apparently they are also going to announce a new title in Final Fantasy.

   So now, about Final Fantasy.  If it's not considered the best series in video game history (and it's not), it is at least considered one of the most influential and important titles.  It was a series born from a risky gamble and has since been a strange balance of playing it safe but also having the riskiest of gambles.  I really like this quality, because people who have seen my poetry and fiction know I don't strive for what is safe, conventional, or guaranteed to be enjoyed.  For the longest time I had not played a Final Fantasy game until recently when I purchased a used copy of Final Fantasy IV for the DS.  I had played Chrono Trigger in the past, and before playing my new purchase I was afraid Final Fantasy IV would not be able to hold a candle to the excellence that is Chrono Trigger.  Upon starting Final Fantasy IV, (which I chose because no one ever mentions it) I found myself surprised and amused again and again although it was quite slow going for a little bit.  I could probably give it the same treatment I gave Majora's Mask, but will have to complete the game beforehand so I successfully organize a plan of attack and so I don't mess up like I did with Snake Eater.  I'm straying from the topic, so back to E3

The only thing I know about Lightning is that people say she's Cloud Strife as a woman.
Is this accurate?

    Not really sure what to think about Lightning Returns, but I have heard many things about Final Fantasy XIII 1 and 2, most notably how mixed the reception is, which of course draws me straight to it.  It will probably be a while before I get to take a closer look at this, but it does have my attention.  The fact that Lightning gets as much attention as she does is odd given her reception is about as mixed as that of the games.  Still, I'm curious what this game is supposed to be, and I'll take a look at it.

   As for the untitled new game, I hope it's Final Fantasy XV, because for some reason I've got good vibes about that number.

5. SEEEEEEGAAAAAAAA (you gotta say it like the little intro chime for the Genesis though)

     Ok, new Sonic game that is a Wii U exclusive.  Despite my initial disapproval of Sonic on the basis that I really don't like the series all that much, the game looks pretty good and I'd be interested in seeing more about it.  From the trailer, it looks like all the things people hate about Sonic games, (taking itself seriously, real people next to cartoon animals, and terrible, untested mechanics) are not in this game.  There are a host of new characters that look kinda ok, but it looks like Sonic will never get enough of that.  Sadly, there will not be a Humphrey the Stegosaurus since Sonic:  Lost World does not imply Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's or Michael Crichton's Lost World.

    What I'm really interested in is Rome 2:  Total War.  I'm going to eventually start putting the money together for a gaming PC because the PC market has been getting the most love and probably has more of a future than all the consoles.  Every Total War game I've played has been impressive and my biggest grievance with the first Rome Total War was the diplomatic AI, this has since been fixed so I'd really like to see it in a refit design.  Seeing what they do with this game will be pretty spectacular, but the challenge will be ponying up the means to be able to play it.

    Other than that, Grant Kirkhope (of Banjo-Kazooie fame) is apparently composing the music for some Disney game Sega is making.  I hope that's good.

6. Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

The Konami pre-E3 show was about what everybody expected from it, except for on Metal Gear, but we'll get to that.  The Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 game looks much better than the first one which I'm playing right now.  I'm not saying Lords of Shadow 1 is bad, but it's been testing my patience with its fixed camera and that Shadow of the Colossus rip off boss.  Lords of Shadow 2 looks like it has none of that except for a Shadow of the Colossus boss.  I think I saw Alucard somewhere in that trailer, and he was in Mirror of Fate as Trevor Belmont (yeah, i stopped asking questions a long time ago).  Alucard is cool; I like Alucard.

Now for the question everybody wants to know.  What do I think about Metal Gear?

From the first day they announced Metal Gear Solid V as Metal Gear Solid V, they said Kiefer Sutherland would be in it.  There is no one better for this franchise than Kiefer Sutherland, and Kojima has been working towards this for quite a while now. From introducing Phil Lamarr as Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 2 and voice acting legend Steve Blum in Peace Walker, it was only a matter of time before a big Hollywood actor like Kiefer Sutherland would be chosen for this series.  The shocking thing was that Kiefer Sutherland would be voicing Naked Snake (or Big Boss) and David Hayter, the voice of Snake for 15 years would not.  It is very important to note the game will be set in 1984.  This means we are getting closer and closer to the original Metal Gear, which was set in 1995.  In 1995, Solid Snake (clone of Big Boss) went on his first mission as part of the special forces unit FOXHOUND.  This doesn't mean it was the first time Solid Snake had any combat experience.  I think this means Kiefer Sutherland will be Big Boss while David Hayter will be Solid Snake.  In this case, this will be the bridge that shows how Big Boss encountered his cloned son(s). To further support this, Kazuhira Miller and Revolver Ocelot show up (and they're awesome so far).  Miller knows Solid Snake and helps him out and Ocelot, known for his infiltration tendencies, will probably be helping Big Boss get revenge on whoever destroyed his Private Military Contractor.
Seriously, what's he hiding behind those glasses
he won't even take them off on an operating table.

Now for my biggest theory yet, which strays entirely from E3 but since I didn't deliver on Snake Eater, I feel like this is deserved.  My theory is that Master Miller never was a real person, but instead has been Liquid Snake this whole time.  It just seems strange that Miller -never- takes off his glasses, when that was the big reveal in Metal Gear Solid when he does to reveal he is liquid and the real Miller is dead.  This theory really goes out on a limb and I'm 65% sure it's completely wrong.  However, Hideo Kojima has shown us in this whole viral marketing affair that theory makes for excellent marketing. The entire game has been about conspiracy theory since MGS2, so this is all open for speculation.  Also, if David Hayter is so upset about not being in Metal Gear, either he's terrible at sarcasm, or he knows all the interviews and tweets he's been putting out are promoting this game in their own way.

7. Final Thoughts

See, you're supposed to fall in love with it.
That way when it dies, you'll feel bad.
It's called forced empathy, you'll love it.  
Call of Duty:  yeah. but I never liked the character Ghost

Assassins Creed 4:  yay?

Elder Scrolls Online:  It better not be World of Warcraft

Batman Arkham Origins:  I should play that series, shouldn't I?

Dark Souls 2:  ...

Quantum Break:  Remedy, but X-Bones, so don't bother

Destiny:  Subscriptions? no thanks

Natsume:  ok internet, don't tell anyone I said this, but I really like games made by these people.  They made Harvest Moon, which is about farming.  It's pretty fun.  This new game isn't about farming, but if it's like Harvest Moon, then I'll give it a shot.

Deadpool:  KATANARAMA!!! If they play it well, I may like this game a lot.  Looks like Cable is in it too, haven't read anything from the Deadpool & Cable era (except for Chris Hastings' Fear Itself storyline), but I've heard good things.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes:  Haven't played any of these since Indiana Jones, I hope they went back to the Lego Star Wars formula since then.  I hear Deadpool is in this one too. Seeing how that plays out is worth the price of admission.

Watchdogs:  it looks really good

Valve:  Where are you guys, and would you like to share anything with the class?

Final Conclusion:  Yeah, not sure how much of predictions this turned out to be, but I'm happy with the finished product.  A little on the optimistic side, but optimism doesn't hurt on the internet.

Working on something big for this blog, I'll catch up with you all next time for that.  'til then.