To Watch: Our Call of Duty (E3: Day 2)
Day 2 of E3 was just the type of relaxing day this hung-over reverend certainly needed: lots of watching. There was far more surveillance — and chatting with the friendly convention folk – than playing, when it came to many of the super huge titles displayed throughout the private demo rooms. And, seeing how I was dragging some major ass thanks to the stellar Mixmaster Mike the night before, just chillin’ around was fine by me.
There was one game I was actually able to play, and, thankfully, against the guy who pretty much made the damn thing: NHL ’13.
EA Sports Associate Producer of next season’s hockey title, Ben Ross, gave me a tutorial on the new skating abilities – and realness – of our favorite men on ice not named Goofy or Pluto. It’s as if Matilda bought me a new pair of figure skates and turned me a twirling gypsy over night. No longer will your hockey players just stop on a dime without your control. Your skater will now cruise around the net or dig some heavy glaciers pending how hard you command the left joystick. These new skating abilities also impact your shot. So, if you don’t control your glide on the rush, your crazy off-balance slapshot or flip-pass will probably end up in the not-so-cheap seats. Neato.
I’ll bet all the full cask of holy wine you’re thinking NHL isn’t for nerds. Well, if you played all 82 season without a skip – like I did with my beloved Bruins in ’12 – then, yes, why, yes.. this is about as nerdy as it can get.
Another new function Ben showed me was strategy. Personally, I’ve never given a shit about strategy in video game hockey, but the ability to control the pressure on the forecheck and establish the way a particular team’s supposed to play made the game all the more intriguing. I’m not sure I’d want to dig into another 82 without some significant differences. Now, it’s going to really feel like you’re playing the Devils when they press you with their infuriating traps.
(By the way, after 2 periods I was down only 1-0 to Ben, but perhaps only due to the brilliance of the Kings’ Jonathan Quick.)
See the Movie FIRST
Activision’s storyline for The Amazing Spider-Man video game (June 26) follows up directly after Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man movie (July 3), despite the fact that the game comes out first. Got that? Regardless of how kooky the release dates are, the strategy is a brilliant one: tie-in the movie with an unofficial sequel. Instead your typical superhero tie-in game (see Thor’s video-game conquest for utter horrendousness), Spidey’s takes place directly after the movie, with some actual spoilers.. but nothing too major.
Even our host of the demo gave the tight audience one today: Spider-Man does not die. Whew.
As for the game, web-slinging around Manhattan (yes, it’s back where it should be!) never looked so hair-raising. While I often facetiously compare this to Marvel’s version of Arkham City, the game really plays like nothing else before – except for the fights and the HUD. Sure, Parker’s a lot niftier under those tights than our pal Bruce, but the combo abilities and counter-attacks surely take one out of Arkham’s page. That’s a great thing. The head-up display is also similar to Batman’s detective maps, highlighting several different major crimes, significant goals, and people of interest Pete’s got to check out. Again, all still a great thing.
Here’s what we know about our friends:
-Rhino, Lizard, Scorpion, Iguana (???) are some of the big bads, and Miss Felicia Hardy is in the game. Is the Black Cat playable? We hope.
-The Immortal Stan Lee is playable! And the Marvel Comics creator even has his own missions, collecting pages from a final comic script that happened to scatter around the city. Excelsior, True Believers!
The Mass Effect
Little known fact: I started playing the Mass Effect series after playing the Mass Effect 3 demo last year at San Diego Comic Con. Yes, that means it took me 4 years to start playing what I now consider the greatest video game series of all time. I guess you appreciate video game trilogies a little more if you play them all in a row. Now that Mass Effect is now dead and gone (hello, next gen systems!), it’s time for take on another sci-fi third-person shooting trilogy: Dead Space.
After witnessing a 30-minute live demo of Dead Space 3, call me hooked. What separates Dead Space from Mass Effect — aside from the obvious horror element — is the new drop in/drop out co-op with new character John Carver, who’ll support Isaac with some significant power of his own. This makes for a great way to overcome an overabundance of terrifying necromorphs and insanely large boss characters, to which even our developers had difficulty beating. Shit.
So, sure: Dead Space 3 does detract from the “survival horror” elements of part 1, going the way of Gears of War or, call it, Dead Space: Army of Two.. Yadda, yadda. But, if you’ll be nice enough to recall, ME went from straight Sci-Fi RPG to Sci-Fi 3PS/RPG by game three as well. So here come the Lost Planet jokes with DS3, but at least EA was smart enough to crank on the AC to give viewers the icey feel to go along with the game’s freezing images.
Other highlights from Day 2:
–Tomb Raider just kicks ass. But she’s also never looked so.. fragile. The original games made Lara Croft the female equivalent to Indiana Jones, whereas this remake pits the shipwrecked college student on a tour versus hostile pirates and, more impressively, nasty yet beautiful nature. She apologizes to a deer she pierces with an arrow. Hey, a girl’s got to eat. Seeing Lara blend in with the environments to hide in horror, yet use them to her courageous advantage, is perhaps what seperates the possible greatness of the new TR from the stellar ones of the past. And despite Croft’s case of sorrowful solitude, there’s actually a hell of a lot more human contact in this game. Cinco de Marcho now appears a long ways away.
-I joked about Call of Duty: Black Ops II during Microsoft’s press conference, but the game really looks terrific. The way Los Angeles gets terrorized is really a trip to see — even Katsuya gets bombarded — and hopefully this all remains in just a game. The options you have in Black Ops add depth the a franchise that many say has run its course. Yup, that’s why they continue to outsell every other video game on the market by 8 trillion (doofuses). Regardless, the guys over at Treyarch just get it, and they know how to wow over the most dedicated fans on the market. Not too many other games will give you a campaign with so much an adrenaline rush. Thus, I commend the demo for focusing more on the storyline side of things, seeing how popular the multiplayer mode already is and forever will be. There’ll be more talks about the details of their sandbox approach to Strike Mode in our upcoming podcast.
Stay tuned for our final day coverage of E3! @GodHatesGeeks