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Posts Tagged ‘Electronic Entertainment Expo’

Episode CXLIII: The E3 Texas Hold ‘Em

The King returns from LA…

This week the B3 crew gather around for another edition of “Guess Who Died This Week?” and Chapter 63 of the MBTA “Oh, For Fuck’s Sake!” KBD shares his thoughts and favorites about this year’s E3, Anvil gives his weekly sports report, and another discussion about the movie Goon is raised.

It’s all plugged in here in Episode 143: The E3 Texas Hold ‘Em!

Disney’s Mascot Looking To Repeat Its "Epic" Gaming Adventure


When we last left the beloved Disney mascot in Epic Mickey, peace was restored in the Wastelands, and Mickey had returned home, leaving the brush behind. Now it seems that destruction has returned, and the Mouse is needed again to save the Wastelands. This time, you will have a little bit more help in the form of a familiar rabbit.

In Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, one or two players can take control of Mickey and Oswald, as they take on the dark world yet again. Like before Mickey can use the magic brush to either create or destroy the worlds around him, while Oswald can use a magic remote to tackle monsters along the way. The players can also use double-team maneuvers, such as throwing each other up into the air to each higher areas and a helicopter maneuver that Oswald can use while Mickey grabs hold of his legs.

In the E3 demo I started things off by jumping through my TV after hearing Gus’s cries of help, landing in Yen Sid’s lair and grabbing the magic brush. I then returned to Mickey’s house, where I discovered a secret room hidden behind Mickey’s living room. I soon found myself jumping through one of the magic screens, leading me to one of the side-scrolling levels.

It is in the side-scrolling level where I am reunited with Oswald (voiced by Frank Welker), where he and I discover our new techniques. After reaching the end of the level, we found ourselves in a boss battle against a cog-filled dragon. In order to defeat it, we first had to suck the paint off its body while defending ourselves against his fiery breath and minions. Soon after we had to take out his buzz-saw-styled tail while avoiding its smash ‘n’ slice maneuvers. Finally, after a set of stairs were revealed, we found ourselves eliminating three pillars to cause the ceiling to topple on top of the dragon.

For my experience I gave Epic Mickey 2 a try on the Xbox 360, which was a bit of a hassle at first seeing as I was used to playing it on the Wii. Here the right stick is used to aim the paint or thinner, with its camera system automatically focusing on the action needed to be seen. It took some getting used to, but once I had the handle of it the gameplay got a lot easier.

As it’s being released on all the consoles, the graphics have been given a massive overhaul. It’s still wonderfully dark, a much needed contrast to the colorful world of Disney. Also new to the game is the addition of voice-acting and CGI cutscenes, a welcoming change compared to the weird Flash animation and adult Peanuts speak from before.

Fans of Disney will be happy when this game drops on all three systems on November 18. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is so far looking to keep to the true spirit of its predecessor. The magic is still intact from what I’ve seen, so there is plenty of reason to get your Mickey Mouse Club membership renewed.

Microsoft’s E3 ’12 Briefing: The Good, The Bad, And The Wha?

Today Microsoft unveiled many games, projects, apps, and various other paraphernalia at their E3 briefing. While there was much pomp and circumstance to be had for what was next for the Xbox 360, there were some moments in the presentation that just seemed kinda on the “meh” side of things. Here now are just some of the highlights, the lowlights, and the shoulder shrugs of the Microsoft show.


Halo 4 – Many a Microsoft fanboy have been waiting patiently for the next adventure of Master Chief, and its trailer (mixing both some impressive live-action footage with in-game moments) had many people salivating. The forest and creatures you will be gunning down — not to mention the scary skeleton-faced robot — all seemed like it was brought to a whole new level of detail not seen on Xbox currently. As soon as the trailer ended, with Master Chief surrounded by these freaks of nature, not a single person in the audience held in their excitement.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist – At first glance I wasn’t sure which game it was, until Sam Fischer’s trademark attacks came full force after bringing in an injured insurgent. The shooting, the climbing, and even the tactics shown off in this demonstration showcased what Ubisoft Toronto is capable of when it comes to bringing something new to this beloved franchise. The voice recognition used via Kinect also looked interesting, and it also brought a bit of a laugh when it came to getting a terrorist’s attention.

Tomb Raider – How reboots should be done. This action-packed demo had Lara Croft shooting fiery arrows at enemies, stabbing them in the throats with knives, unleashing painful traps, rolling through the rapids, and swerving through trees on your parachute. Don’t be surprised if this new Tomb Raider gets slapped with an M-rating, though, as the blood and gore factor has been jacked up for this release.

South Park: The Stick Of Truth – Tears of laughter rolled through the aisles as the video preview showcased how a proper cartoon-based video game should be made. You create your own character, and travel through the Colorado town battling underpants gnomes, Woodland Critters, crab people, and other creatures familiar to the South Park world, all with the show’s trademark and often controversial humor. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone stole the show with their appearance, poking good fun of the briefing itself and expressing how amazed they were by Obsidian’s work on making the game look exactly like the TV show.


Gears of War: Judgement – For some reason what should’ve been a fireworks display for this popular series instead turned out to be nothing more than one of those dumb little sparklers that you give to kids. The trailer just didn’t seem to do much justice for what Epic Games wanted to show off, especially when it came to Baird’s reveal. Perhaps we can blame this one on the lack of preparation. And seriously, does everyone need to use that A Perfect Circle track?!

Not enough emphasis on games – Throughout the 90-minute presentation, it felt like less than half of it was focused on what people came to E3 for: video games. Sure these apps and devices like Nike+ and SmartGlass seem cool, but to be honest most of us didn’t come here to see how we can watch TV in a different way; we want to see a unique way to play our titles.

Xbox Music – We already have too many music programs, from iTunes and Spotify to Pandora and various radio station apps. We don’t need another one, Microsoft!

Xbox lacks a big newcomer – It’s great seeing many of our favorite game heroes and anti-heroes alike making their return to grace, but there wasn’t a brand-spanking new title that was showcased that had us on our feet clamoring for it. Yes, it was cool seeing Twisted Pixel’s LocoCycle and Matter (a new game from Gore Verbinski), but I was really looking forward to maybe seeing one new title with a new character that would have people turning their heads.


Fable: The Journey – We’ve only heard snippets about this Kinect title, but the trailer showed today brought more questions than they did answer. Is it a first-person experience? Can we conjure up different powers depending on class? Do you maneuver through it like in Rise of Nightmares or is it in a rail-shooter style? Here’s hoping the convention itself will bring us everything we need to know about Lionhead Studio’s latest. Hey, at least it looks better than Fable Heroes.

Forza Horizon – Yes, the game looks impressive, but we’ve already got too many racing games out there. And didn’t we just get Forza 4 a few months back? Give us racing fans a bit of breathing room, not to mention a chance for our wallets to get a tad bigger, before dropping another game like this.

Usher’s impromptu concert – I’ll admit this was cool, but are we expected to believe that we are going to be able to dance like Usher in Dance Central 3, flips and all? Great presentation, but it probably won’t convince gamers who have cast dancing games to the side for some real hardcore gaming.

The “acting” on stage by presenters – I was going to put this one under “The Bad,” but I honestly found it funny how some of the people on stage couldn’t fake excitement to save their lives. Their hearts were in it, for sure, but you can obviously tell they were reading from the teleprompter behind the floor audience. Practice makes perfect, Microsoft. Do yourselves a favor and throw in a couple more dress rehearsals for good measure next year.

What about you? Share your thoughts on the presentation below! What made your jaw drop from either excitement or yawning?

Quantic Dream Announces "Beyond: Two Souls"

The team that brought together the breathtaking Heavy Rain is out to do it again with its latest title…

At the Sony E3 Press Conference this evening Quantic Dream’s David Cage unveiled Beyond: Two Souls, a PS3-exclusive game starring Ellen Page (Juno, Inception) as Jodie Holmes, a woman with a connection to what happens after we die. Told over the course of fifteen years, Beyond: Two Souls is looking to add onto the cinematic atmosphere that made Heavy Rain such a hit amongst fans and critics, as your actions and decisions will determine the fate of Ms. Holmes while the game progresses.

While no release date was announced, you can bet that it will probably be sometime in 2013 before you’ll be able to go hands-on with it.

Sega Welcomes You To Their “Nightmares”

When the Kinect was first announced a couple years ago players across the globe had high hopes regarding what can be accomplished with the peripheral. Sadly some of our gaming prayers have yet to be answered. Since its inception the Kinect has brought us party game after dance game after exercise title, and while they’re not bad per se it still is leaving the hardcore gamers craving for more. Fortunately SEGA has heard our woes, and at E3 this year gamers were given the chance to go body-on with Rise of Nightmares, the first-ever first-person free-roaming survival melee Kinect title.

Developed by Sega AM1 (the same folks behind the House of the Dead series) the story follows an American held captive by an evil doctor known as Viktor. His wife is missing, and after being rescued by another prisoner the American must find his lost beloved and escape from the deranged doctor’s lair. Throughout the creepy asylum players must battle with those of the undead, solve puzzles and find keys to unlock the doors that will lead them closer to freedom.

During the demo I was instructed by Sam Mullen and Rowan Taffler, who were running the booth, on how to maneuver my character throughout the levels. A front step with your right leg moves your character forwards and a back step moves him in reverse; twisting your upper torso left and right turns your character in the direction you want to go. To interact with an object you hold your right palm up and place it on the object, and pushing your palm out will push items or open doorways. Then came the time to learn how to battle it out with the undead. By raising your lowers arms up to your waist you enter melee mode, and by punching the air you can battle it out with these zombified nurses and experiments. In some cases you can even use weapons such as lead pipes, brass knuckles and rusty chainsaws to take out your enemies in very fun and gruesome manner.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how fluid the controls were in this game, as there seemed to be no lag between what I was doing in real life and from what was going on on the screen. With the exception of a couple titles I’ve always had issues with the Kinect reading my movements. Playing the Rise of Nightmares demo I found no problems whatsoever with it measuring all of my motions. Granted it will take time getting used to remembering how to walk properly, but that’s what trial-and-error is for.

Seeing what Sega AM1 did with the remastered HD version of House of the Dead: Overkill for the PS3 I was more than impressed with the graphical input they put into Rise of Nightmares. Most importantly this game just might be sporting the most freakiest and horrific undead creatures since Resident Evil 4. It’s no wonder they went with the title they chose: seeing these hollowed-out and occasionally mechanical zombies lunge at you will probably be one of the creepiest moments this year in gaming. The overall chill you’ll receive while playing Rise of Nightmares is also quite impressive, thanks in part to the combined elements of Kinect controls and first-person perspectives .

Because you’re in first-person mode it is you that is being attacked by these creatures, which will add more to the creepy level as the game progresses and the undead become tougher. (My advice: don’t play this game in the dark!) The game is expected to have a run-through time of eight hours, so there will be plenty of frights in store in Rise of Nightmares. As of this moment SEGA is keeping it quiet regarding if any multiplayer modes will be in the game, though with only a couple weeks until its release date it’s safe to say there won’t be.

With the ten minutes I was able to play Rise of Nightmares it’s clear that SEGA knows exactly what it’s doing in regards to motion control. What we were promised two years ago has finally come to pass, and the folks at Sega AM1 seem to know what the hardcore gamer wants by making a title like this. With a release date of September 6th Rise of Nightmares could potentially be one of the best Kinect titles of 2011, not to mention one of the scariest games on any current-gen console.

Atlus Wants You To "Rock", Roll and Squash!

Fear not gamers, for this is not a video game based on the hair metal Broadway musical. Instead Atlus and ACE Team’s Rock of Ages is a game whose concept can be explained in its title alone. At E3 I had the chance to go hands-on with the title, leaving me with my funny bone tickled and a much heavier anticipation for the game’s release.

As the Greek character Sisyphus players will have to literally roll through the various time periods, bringing wanton destruction with your giant boulders and taking down every person you come face-to-face with. The opponent will be doing the exact same thing, so it’ll be up to you to defend your area from being destroyed. You’ll find yourself creating ruins in Ancient Greece, flattening out the Dark Ages in Medieval times and smooshing the hearts (and bodies) of the townspeople in the Romanticism era. Gamers will also be given the chance to go head-to-head in various multiplayer modes, including rock-to-rock combat, SkeeBoulder, Time Trial and many more to be announced soon. At the Atlus booth I was able to try out two of their tutorial modes, one main level and go head-to-head with one of the guys from Atlus in a multiplayer mode.

For the tutorial modes I was given the opportunity to figure out the ins and outs of Rock of Ages. Aram Jabbari, Atlus’s PR & Sales Manager, gave me a quick demonstration of how the game works before handing it off to me. You move the boulder around the town, destroying everything you can to build up points. You also must learn to swerve around objects during crucial moments, as at the end of the level is a door that needs to be smashed open to win. The level is completed when you squish the king behind the door.

Maneuvering the boulder in Rock of Ages is somewhat reminiscent of playing the game of labyrinth, in which you’ll find yourself trying to teeter on the thinest strips of land, trying hard not to fall off. Fortunately if you do fall off you’ll be picked up by the hand of God and dropped back into the game, though you might be penalized if this does happen. In regards to defense mode players will be able to build towers and place catapults in the way of the opponent’s rock, which will either slow it down or send it flying off-course. Gamers will also be able to insert balloons and other weird flying machines that will block the opponents from enter hidden paths, and command animals to keep the boulder from reaching its goal.

While playing Rock of Ages one key word kept ringing in my head: Pythonesque. The game pays heavy homage to the British comedy legends, especially to Terry Gilliam’s animation style. Characters and worlds seem to be pulled right out of those kooky, nonsensical cartoons that take classical art pieces and use them in such a way that their original creators were spinning in their graves. Even the soundtrack adds nod to Monty Python, with silly screams from the people and crunchy crashes from the buildings you destroy; and yes, the king at the end of the level gets flattened with a farty splat.

While I played the single-player mode at the Atlus booth I had to play the multiplayer section in the Microsoft section at E3. There I met with Atlus’s Assistant Editor Clayton Chan, who showed me the ropes of two of the multiplayer modes. First we both went head-to-head in a regular multiplayer battle. I made the quick mistake of spending too much on useless defense items instead of saving them for more powerful boulders, with the end result being Chan handing my ass to me on a silver platter in what was a very close battle. I quickly got my revenge, however, in SkeeBoulder, in which the more items I smashed the higher my points would accumulate when I reached the end of each level.

After hearing so much about it beforehand I was very happy with the results I’ve seen thus far in Rock of Ages. With a release date of August 31 on PSN, Xbox Live Arcade and PC gamers will not have to wait long to play a game that will not have them rolling through the times, but also all along the floor laughing their heads off.

E3 Lets The "Rage" Boil In Gamers’ Blood

Rage is one of this year’s most hotly anticipated titles, and after going hands-on with it at E3 there are plenty of reasons why.

Developed by id Software (the same folks that brought us Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake) and published by Bethesda Rage will have players take the role of a survivor in 2038, where a meteorite impact has caused the world to let all hell break loose. Hostels and mutants reek havoc on what’s left of Earth, and it’s up to you to restore order in your area. With your trusty dune buggy you must travel throughout the land to blow away the freaks and creatures that aim to strike fear into the hearts of the remaining survivors.

At E3 I was able to go hands-on with the Mutant Bash TV level. In it your character participates in a game show where you’ll have to kill mutants in the quickest time possible to earn cash. You enter a certain section of the TV studio, and the mutants enter through the floor, doors and Futurama-styled pipe entries. As soon as I walked onto the game show floor the mutants came charging at me, with my initial response being to shoot until everything in the room is dead. Easier said than done, for the AI in Rage is ridiculously hard. I found it took roughly twenty shots to kill the weakest of characters. However when it came to take on the final boss of the level (a Kraken-inspired freak of nature) I wound up destroying him in under a minute, which was quicker than dealing with a regular mutant.

I had a bittersweet experience with the controls. The good news is it’s easy to switch weapons and use the secondary ones, sometimes while in the toughest parts of battle. Meleeing is also far easy than in most games, coming in as second-nature to what you do in the game. However because of the speed of the AI it was almost impossible for me to aim properly at the mutants, leaving me to waste more of my ammo than actually use. Trust me when I said that easy melee maneuver will come in handy when six of those creatures are slicing at you all at once. One big side of Rage features some of the most gorgeous graphics I’ve seen in a game at E3. Everything from the scratches on your dune buggy to the facial expressions on the mutants was heavily detailed, and with the game running at sixty frames per second and no lag it is clear that not a second of the four years it has taken to create the game have not been wasted.

What I saw at E3 was just a fraction of what to expect when Rage is released, a title that will also include two multiplayer modes, weapon and buggy customization and even Burnout-styled racing. With a release date of October 4th on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC id Software is gearing up to show once again why they’re the true kings of heart-stopping first-person shooters, and with Bethesda on their side Rage is looking to blow people away with its stellar graphics and apocalyptic gameplay. Just prepare to use your melee skills to the fullest potential, and savor the bullets for when the right moments come.

E3 & Ubisoft Leave Their Clutch In "San Francisco"

The Ubisoft booth at E3 was filled with games of many shapes and sizes, but only one title had my keenest eye glimmer with much anticipation. As a fan of the Driver series since it first appeared in 1999 I was ecstatic to hear that the game was set to return on all three home consoles. First getting wind of it back in 2005 I waited patiently for more news of it to be released as the years progressed. Fortunately the wait was nearing the end, and after going hands-on with Driver: San Francisco I left the booth with more excitement.

Taking place after the events in Driv3r the game will focus mainly on Tanner, who is in a coma after a mission gone bad and is stuck in a dream world version of the Golden Gate City. Being in a coma has its perks in the game, however, as it gives Tanner the ability to take over any vehicle he likes with a mere push of a button. For the demo of Driver: San Francisco I was able to try out a portion of the free-roaming mode and race mode.

In free-roaming mode players will be able to drive around freely though the city of cable cars and Rice-A-Roni, all 208 miles of road that is confined into the town. As players complete objectives throughout the town new missions and goals will be made available for you to tackle throughout the rest of the game. While you are given the ability to switch to any vehicle (known as Shift in the game), the power is limited, and in order to power up more Shift power you must perform certain stunts like power slides and big jumps to fill the meter.

Playing in free-roaming mode gave me a good look at how both graphically and audibly Driver: San Francisco is going to be. Crashes are heavily detailed, with even the tiniest of dents appearing on the vehicle after a run-in. The sounds of the vehicles also gave off the proper authentic feel of driving fast within a crowded city. Also on key was its control scheme, where making quick turns and swerves was fairly easier to do than most other racing titles. While this sort of control scheme doesn’t reflect on a realistic standpoint it does well with creating a sort of arcade aspect to the Driver experience. (As the game does take place in someone’s coma I expect there to be some sort of off-the-wall mission that defies much logic.)

The other mode I was able to go hands-on with was Race Mode, in which you control two racers via Shift and need to finish in both first and second place. While it sounds simple enough the A.I. in the other vehicles you’re racing against makes the task a lot more difficult. There were times where one of the opponents seemed to want to take out one of my vehicles in an attempt to sacrifice their place and help their fellow racer reach the front of the line. The Shift has its perks, though, especially if the car you’re in is about to veer off-course. I was able to get into first place, but lost the second place position by a mere half-second.

So far Driver: San Francisco is gearing up to be a fine follow-up to the popular series. With these modes, not to mention the split-screen/online multiplayer, the usage of over 120 vehicles and the return of the director mode players can expect much gameplay to go back to. Come August 30th driving enthusiasts will have much to look forward to on the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac and Wii (the latter of which will be a completely separate game from the other ones).

"Engine" Runs Hot At E3

One of the biggest surprises at this past year’s PAX East was the under-the-radar title Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine, a kart racer whose style was like a blend of Mario Kart and Redneck Rampage. It was also my pick for Most Wanted Title during the Electric Sista Hood PAX East podcast episode, beating out the likes of Mortal Kombat, Duke Nukem Forever and Brink at the event. So it came as a wondrous shock that when I went to E3 I stumbled across this game at the Konami booth, who will be distributing the title in America.

Going hands-on with the title again I was excited to see all the new vehicles, tracks and modes that you could play, not to mention the arsenal of weapons you could use. Seeing that you can race with the dumpster, coffin, shopping cart and gold cart made me laugh, but after seeing the crazy college mascot riding a recliner I had to race as that. When racing with the recliner you were given the ability to throw pizzas at your opponent, which not only make them skid off-road but impair their vision with its gooey cheesiness. Controls were still on-key like they were on PAX East, and I even found fixing your vehicle at the Pit Stop to be fairly easier than I remembered.

One of the other modes in Anything With An Engine I finally got to give a try was the Matador one, which has racing going head-on against one another at opposite sides of the track. Here not only do you have to watch the other racers you’re going against but also the ones that are pummeling towards you from the other side. I got smashed up big time when the tractor racer collided with my rocket man, losing the race by over a minute. Still it was an exciting twist to a genre that hasn’t seen this much originality in a long time. Also on-hand was “Chicken Bomb,” a survival mode that turns the last-place racer into a vengeful chicken that lays waste to the opponents. If there was ever a moment that truly left me in stitches at E3 it was seeing that fowl raise its explosive anarchy on the other racers.

The full game will have eight-player online multiplayer, as well as the classic split-screen mode for four players to battle it out with in the same room. You’ll be able to race through thirteen tracks and unlock new racers through the title’s Career Mode, with possibly new vehicles to be released via DLC. One other bit of news had me do a double-take: instead of it being an XBLA/PSN release Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine will now be available as a physical title on all three current-gen consoles. A release date will be sometime late this summer/early fall, though an official date has yet to be announced.

"Dead Island" Demo Leaves Stronger Zombie Cravings

We’ve all seen the trailer, and snippets of the game have been shown here and there. At E3’s Square-Enix mega-booth I had the chance to go hands-on with one of this year’s most hotly-anticipated titles: Dead Island. One problem: you could only play five minutes of the game.

With a very small time limit I was given the tasks of saving one of my fellow survivors outside the safe haven, then proceed to the first-aid area to gather supplies. Before saving the other survivor your character grabs an oar for weaponry, and then proceed to head outside to bear witness to all the carnage. The undead ranged from the sluggishly slow to the split-second fast, sometimes making it hard to properly prepare yourself for attacks. Quickly I had my character swing their oar around to battle it out with the zombies.

At first play I already noticed a slight aiming issue, where if you didn’t swing on the exact center of the screen where the zombie was you might wind up missing it entirely. Fortunately when it came time to bolt from the creatures and evade their hunger attacks the controls flowed easier than expected. Punching the undead also gave off more damage to them than one may think, so it seems possible to kill the zombies just with your character’s bare fists.

Both Techland and Deep Silver did an amazing job with the realistic elements in nail’d, so it comes as no surprise that the graphics in Dead Island look nothing short of stellar. The gore factors of Dead Island come by the bucket loads, with each smack you lay down on the zombies leaving pools of blood on the ground and sometimes all over the screen. Props must also be given to the audio quality of the game, with each thwack and splatter fitting into the proper action happening on-screen.

As the demo was only five minutes long my time with the game was very short. Judging by the A.I. I witnessed in this game I can honestly say that most of the tasks that will be given to you will be easier said than done. Dead Island aims to add a sort of realism unseen in the majority of zombie survival games, leaving players to think on their quickest instincts with only the tiniest moment to spare a thought process. While this will add a whole new level of challenging aspects to the genre I can already foresee some folks complaining about its difficulty level.

I was roughly 300 yards away from the first-aid site, so I couldn’t even finish the mission. While five minutes doesn’t sound like the most ideal amount of time to spend on a much-talked about title what I was able to get out of Dead Island was a good taste of its fast-paced gameplay and heart-stopping horror that will hopefully make this game stand out from all the others. The September release date is getting closer as we speak, so it will only be a matter of time before we see if Dead Island really can become king of the zombie gaming titles.