E3 [Day 1]: Time to raise the Black Flag.. cuz Joker’s back (& Destiny awaits)!

E3 [Day 1]: Time to raise the Black Flag.. cuz Joker’s back (& Destiny awaits)!

…that I’d have one Stella pint, come back to my downtown hospitality and pass the hell out.

Oh, excuse me! Didn’t see you there!

No Sony MAXIM party tonight for these old bones. In fact, speaking of old bones, I even slept through the embarassment that is the Miami Heat, who should never get shallacked by that Old Man Duncan.

Luckily, there are more important things to talk about. You know, like all the hands-on gameplay and closed-room developer demos that the Rev got to witness. It was fun, and ended with a bang. Literally. My first conquest of the day was checking out the massive Microsoft booth to investigate that new overpriced Xbox One. I then spent a little too much time with a haunted cross between Darksiders II and Devil May Cry. WB offered a juicy 2-play of major IPs.  And our friends over at Ubisoft looked so much better on the floor than at the conference. Finally, GHG was swept away by a Bungie.

IT’S DESTINY

Within the fist few seconds of this live-play demo, call me captivated. Or Captain Captivated. Destiny‘s graphics are superb. Everything about the scope of this hella-ambitious MMO FPS screamed like the lovechild of Star Wars and Halo. Our seven Bungie pals screamed like lightning through their foray of Old Mother Russia, dropping in and out of ships and battle zones. The voice communication between our lucky devs was excellent, though none better than their roming “ghost” flashlight that quips. Ha — and like that dood Deadpool, he’ll go on and on and on.

Perhaps the most startling discovery of Destiny are the damn guns. The infra-red rays that hover around the soldier through the dark underground areas are a nice touch. Soon as the same gun goes scope, the red light alters to a piercing blueish white. Hell, even the cute sewer puddle reflections are little nuances that get me every time. Along with the pulverizing sounds of the cannon fire, a pair of grenades and flairs add to their own special effect.  The heavily-inspired Halo melees look pretty efffing insane, as well.

Sure, there’s some zany character designs; but nothing like a man in a sci-fi gorilla suit.. *cough* Defiance *cough*

The enemies of this world are no standard fair either. While many may reflect the silly, horned-helmet stylings of Voltron, the rogues for the most part appeared evasive. Good thing your character can pack some exotic heavy machine-guns like the Lightning Lord, then equip several tasty upgrades and sockets like “Rolling Thunder.”

With its intense customization, massive landscapes, dramatic entrance team-ups, and colossal freight ships (that will drop a spider-tank or two), there’s no surprise that Destiny is gunning down the E3 competition.

If nothing else, this is what Defiance — the game and TV show — should have been.

MERCENARY MODE

A little over 500 days ago, Arkham City won half of the Game of the Year votes. For a superhero IP, that was a win in itself.

While that feat doesn’t appear likely again for the nifty copycat from Warner Bros. Montreal, that’s cool. It’s cool, because Arkham was so cool we’ll be fine doing it all over again. Despite how identical the games are, Arkham Origins packs plenty of steady improvements, like a progression system that allows players to gauge their own.. well.. progress. The Case File System also allows our Batman feel more like a detective, combining those unprecedented skills and senses from his cowl’s evidence scanner to video evidence correlated from the Batcave. Having Alfred do that side of the dirty work would have been even cooler, but, for now, we’ll take it.

No longer will “detective mode” feel solely like an excuse to see through stuff.

As for the plot, the Black Mask — who’s more than likely not Talia, since we heard some gruff male vocals — has 50 mill on our youthful Bruce Wayne’s domepiece. Thus, expect mercs, mercs and more mercs. One thing about “Origins” that comes off a little strange to canon, is the game’s improved gadgetry. So, you’re telling me Batman only got dumber? It’s even harder to believe he lost that much weight with age as well. This younger Bats is much beefier than his older self, which should be fine considering the game’s wider range of heftier assassins and armored enforcers.

The bottom line is (and that’s not a bad quote, considering there’s a scene where Batman puts one unlucky Mask minion in the “Stonecold Stunner”), I witnessed no significant difference in this Arkham’s graphics and gameplay elements from the last. Better now, though, Bats can dish out a remote claw that allows multiple strikes with one command, and far superior grappling positions (whereas the Caped Crusader even finds use for tightrope). Hopefully, there’ll be some more added developments across the way that will keep even the most finicky of comic gaming geeks happy. And, hey, Joker’s back.. with none other than Bane in tow.

Merry Christmas on Halloween!!

  • Perhaps the most surprising game of the day for me was Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Say, what! How could any AC game be surprising? Well, because it can! The new open world of pirateering just looks prettier. Island hills look vast, the amazonian forests more delish, and the new interface looks so fresh, so clean. Assassins will now be able to double bulldog enemies into the sand, or polish off their hearts with a pair of simultaneous six-shooters. Overall, AC4 aims for the more cinematic, with a bigger rush of seamless transition from land to sea — without all the loading. Combat is far more explosive than previous AC’s, as well, with the ability to hop ships, swim, climb, and do your whole creep-in-the-bushes stealth thing. There are 3 major cities to explore in this vast world, and with the use of your tablet, you can pull up and watch your character venture throughout the map. Your treasure maps will appear on your Smartglass as well. Black Flag is also a game of options. With every contract, you have the ability to decide who lives, who joins your fleet, which ships can be salvaged, and who becomes captain — uh, you. There’s plenty to explore on these islands; different cannons and ammo to give your Jackdaw for varying enemy archetypes; you can even discover two other factions go to naval battle. All of the 1700s pirate era signatures are within the caribbean: pissing pirates, pissed off whales, pissy blowpipes, and… psst.. crabs. Argh.

Who you callin’ Deadshot?

  • Mad Max! This game may just be decades in the making. This Road Warriors adaptation is a modern take on the next-gen open world of the 1979 post-apocalyptic film and beyond. Only thing is, the game didn’t look next-gen. The environments do capture the signature wastelands of Mad Max, and the vehicles look duty, rusty and powerful enough. Even your suspensions will feel rough enough tumbling through the rugged terrain. Game mechanics look a little stiff at this point, with some awkward transition between driving and battle — though items like the thunderstick launcher look pretty bad-ass. I mean, dude, a spear that ignites on delivery! There’ll be 50 authentic vehicles in Mad Max and no two encounters  in the game will look the same. Avalanche studios is known for their over-the-top physics (Just Cause 1 & 2), brutal combat (STE – slow-time-events?), upgrades (i.e. ramming bumper, demolition grill) and looting (more pahts for the cah), so I think we very well could have some hoon trouble… Keep an eye on this one.
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