Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dial M, for Miami!

Bienvenidos a Miami

Just you average Miami evening...

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a fantastic continuation and conclusion to this indie game series. Be forewarned however, if you found the later chapters of the first game to be a bit too frustrating then this game may not be for you. This is because, rather than the game having its own difficulty curve, it feels like the game picks where the later stages of the first game left off and continues to increase the challenge from there. This invariably leads to intense frustration but also satisfaction and relief once you're finally able to pull yourself through one of the levels; especially so when you're able to manage a crisp run without many deaths. If that sort of game design isn't appealing to you then you may want to skip this one. Also, for the masochists out there, if you didn't find the base game challenging enough, which it is, the game unlocks a hard mode for every level upon completion. 

Where the game succeeds most is in its ability to take the incredible style of the first game and expand upon it; it reminds you of the feelings you had playing through the original Hotline Miami and then takes it to the next level. The visuals and music really are the showcase here and if you enjoyed what the original brought to the table, then you should get a lot out of this one as well. It carries the same visual style but adds more effects and flair than HM1 had. Also, the music is BANGING!

If you enjoyed the gameplay of the original, then you'll be glad to know that it's largely unchanged here. However, the developers have added quite a bit of variety to the established mechanics. Over the course of Hotline Miami 2 you play as a number of different characters, some of which give you choices between different masks or other accessories that add abilities similar to the first game. There are some very interesting and unique ones that alter how you play through a given level. These can be anything from giving your character a dodge roll, which can be useful, to forcing you to control 2 characters at once; one with a chainsaw, the other with a gun. This adds another layer of challenge but also gives you some advantages once you get the hang of it. 

There is also an impressive amount of weapons at your disposal that you'll find throughout the levels, usually carried by enemies until you kill them. The enemies themselves offer more variety as well. The standard enemies can come equipped with any of these weapons, changing how you must approach them. There are also heavy enemies that cannot be killed with most melee weapons and won't immediately go down from a single bullet either. You'll also encounter a few other types of enemies along the way, included some that almost feel like boss battles, or mini-bosses at the very least.

Bad Boys

The denizens of Miami aren't exactly what you'd call pleasant.

Early on Hotline Miami 2's narrative is disjointed and unclear, but intentionally so. As the game progresses you do start to put together the pieces and see where the game is going. By the end you can walk away feeling that you understood what was happening, if you pay attention.

HM2 continues the first game's trick of having story moments that feel like hallucinations and it's unclear whether what you're seeing is reality, or in your character's head. These sequences often foreshadow things to come in the story. That being said, the events of the story are never fully laid out for you and that gives you something to think back on, trying to piece together the game after you've finished your play-through. This may be off-putting for those of us that prefer a clear story arc and don't appreciate a more heady approach to storytelling, but I appreciated it.

Miami Vice

Hotline Miami is purported to be the end of the series and I think that's the right move. I really enjoyed my time with the game and I think the style, music, and everything around it is fantastic, but I believe that these things also have a shelf life. If they tried to go back to the well with a third game I feel that it could not be carried by its style alone, and I can't imagine them ramping up the difficulty any further without making the game unbearable to most players. It does prove that the first game wasn't a fluke and I'm excited to see what developer Dennaton Games does next.

Going out or a night on the town

I've started live streaming! You can catch me on here-

You can also catch the archives of both of my Hotline Miami 2 streams Here:
And Here:

Finally, you can find all of my stream archives on my You Tube page:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Falling Down

This time on The Mottman Prophecies I'll be covering two smaller episodic adventure games that I feel deserve a bit more attention, The Fall and Dreamfall Chapters. Both of these games have one episode available now with more scheduled this year, so now is the perfect time to jump in and get your feet wet in these amazing worlds.

The Fall

First up we have The Fall; a dark, atmospheric tale from Over the Moon studios. You play as A.R.I.D., an AI on board a Mark-7 combat suit that has crash landed into a robotic facility on a remote planet. Your pilot was injured by the crash thereby activating you, the suit's emergency AI, and assigning you one objective: save your pilot. However, without a conscious operator you do not have access to your suit's full list of capabilities and they can only be unlocked in an emergency if the pilot is in mortal danger. So, many of the game's puzzles revolve around you finding ways to subvert those limitations to gain access to the full suite of powers you'll need to escape. Oftentimes this requires you to intentionally put your pilot in danger, and seeing the way that A.R.I.D. grapples with the morality of that is very interesting.


The puzzles presented by the game are often clever, though I did find a few of them to be a little too obtuse for me and I wound up looking up the solutions to a couple of them, which is a shame. This is definitely a game that'll make you stop and think for a while in order to figure out it's tricks.

The true appeal of The Fall are the characters and setting it establishes and the story it tells. There are three main characters in the game and they are tremendously well written and acted which isn't something that you can say about indie games of this size very often. First there's your character A.R.I.D. whose internal struggle to justify subverting her programming for the good of her operator is intensely compelling. Second, there is an sinister robot known as the Overseer who is watching your every move and is convinced that you are a malfunctioning AI who must be depurposed. And, finally, there is the mainframe computer for the facility, which is my favorite character. Whenever you converse with the mainframe he switches back and forth between his pre-programmed responses and a very natural, human-sounding manner of speech which he taught to himself since he was bored. You can almost sense his embarrassment at the canned responses being force through his speakers when he just wants to talk like a person since, as he says, "the closer we are to them, the better they treat us."

The Overseer sees all

The Fall manages to introduce fantastic characters and tells a compelling, emotionally resonant story over the course of only a few short hours. It even manages to catch you off-guard with some humor now and then just to mix things up. And the ending is something that won't soon be forgotten. The best part? This was only the first chapter and Over the Moon has confirmed at least one more entry to come later this year.

The Fall is available on Steam now for $9.99

Dreamfall Chapters

Now if you're looking for an adventure game a bit less broody than The Fall, than Dreamfall Chapters may be more up your alley. Chapters is the long awaited sequel to The Longest Jouney series of games from the early 2000s, but don't let that turn you away! I didn't play those games either and you don't need to in order to jump in here. The game includes a short recap video that'll get you up to speed in no time, and this game is definitely worth playing.

In Dreamfall Chapters you play as two very different characters in two very different worlds over the course of the game. Their stories are undoubtedly on a collision course, even if it's unclear exactly how.

First you have Kian Alvane, a stout warrior who exists in a medieval world of magic and blades. When you pick up his story he is awaiting execution for treason. However, he is soon broken out of his cell by a man representing a rebel group opposed to the current ruling class and he is whisked off to help the rebel cause.

Kian's time in this first new chapter of the Dreamfall story is short, but it leaves him in an interesting place and it gives you something to look forward to as more entries are released for the game.

Stoic Kian is stoic, even in the face of death

And then there's Zoe Castillo, a young woman living in the year 2220 who's just awoken from a year-long coma she fell into at the end of the previous game.

Stoic Zoe is stoic... sometimes

Zoe is a fantastic girl-next-door type of character. She comes across as a real person; she's awkward, unsure of herself, and ultimately just trying to figure out her place in life. It's rare to see a character like this pulled off so believably, but Dreamfall really brings her to life in some interesting ways. 

Cyberpunk therapy!

Your time with her is spent living through an average day in her futuristic life; you see your therapist, visit your boyfriend, put in a quick shift at work, and engage in your current hobby, campaign work. This may not sound like the most exciting series of objectives to ever grace a video game, but it serves a purpose. Along the way you are introduced to a wide array of striking characters and you start to see the relationships and conflicts they share. You also get a sense of a larger world out there and the political wranglings that control the lives of the citizenry.

This is your boss, Mira. She's a real asshole

The strength of Dreafall's writing is really its greatest selling point; there are just so many small encounters that will stay with you for some time to come. Whether it's the tense conversations with your boss Mira, the jovial excitability of your campaign manager Reza, or your attempt to find purpose for Shitbot (yes, Shitbot) to save him from the scrap heap, there are plenty of memorable interactions to be found in Dreamfall Chapters.

Nothing like a little political vandalism

Falling for you!

In conclusion, if you appreciate games with great stories and characters, you can't go wrong with Dreamfall Chapters or The Fall. Picking them up now gets you in on the ground floor for more fantastic gaming experiences to come from both of these brilliant series, and it's just great to know that projects like these can get made in this day and age. So, if you're an adventure game fan, or just a fan of well made indie games, show your support and pick up one or both of them today.

Dreamfall Chapters is on Steam right now for $29.99, which gets you all of the upcoming chapters as well as the one available today!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Butchers of Arizona

Wastleland 2 is set to officially release next month for the PC, but has been in Early Access for some time now, which is where I first encountered it. The project began on Kickstarter and has been moving steadily towards completion ever since. I've played it on and off after each update just to see how the game has evolved and I must say that it appears to be coming along nicely!


The original Wasteland was released in 1988 and it is the precursor to the Fallout franchise. In fact, it was made by the same developer, Interplay. Following the success of Wasteland as well as a few of their other games(like The Bard's Tale series), Interplay found that they had enough money to begin publishing independently. However, since Wasteland was published by EA, they didn't own the rights to the franchise. Rather than spend a bunch of money to buy the rights to their own game, the team at Interplay opted to take the lessons learned from making it and apply them to a brand new game. Thus, the Fallout franchise was born.

Unfortunately, the years were not kind to Interplay following their success in the late 80s and early 90s. The company eventually shut down, with the rights to Fallout famously being bought by Bethesda Softworks. The rights to Wasteland were eventually acquired by inXile Entertainment, a company founded by Brian Fargo who was one of the leads on not only Wasteland 1, but all of the early Fallout games as well. Fargo had left Interplay to found inXile some years before their closure.

In early 2012 they took the project to Kickstarter, asking for $900,000 in funding. By the time pledging closed the game had received $2,933,252, easily making it one of the most successful video game Kickstarters ever. Fargo and his team have been diligently releasing updates and generally keeping fans in the loop ever since as the project has moved forward.

I'd say there were a few more people interested in the game than they thought.


So, the setup for the Wasteland universe is this: In the late 90s a larger meteor shower set off hostilities that had been brewing between a number of different countries for years. When the meteorites fell, a few nations assumed they were being nuked by their enemies, and they launched their warheads in retaliation. This misunderstanding would spell the end for the world as we knew it. The nuclear holocaust wiped out most of the world's population and destroyed much of its plant and animal life while mutating many of its survivors into horrible abominations that plague the Wastes to this day.

A group of US Army engineers who were stationed in Ariziona when the bombs began to fall took over a newly-built federal prison in the area in hopes of surviving the fast-approaching apocalypse. They kicked the prisoners out and eventually invited a few survivalist communities to join them once the dust had settled. This group would go on to form the Desert Rangers, self-proclaimed protectors of the Arizona Wasteland. Meanwhile, many of the exiled prisoners that managed to survive in the Wastes went on to form Raider gangs that would become the bane of every honest person trying to eke out a living in the harsh new world.

Ultimately, at the end of Wasteland 1, the Rangers led an assault on the local Cochise military base to destroy a rouge AI. This AI had designated humanity as its enemy for some unknown reason, and it had begun producing robots to hunt and kill any humans found surviving in the Wasteland. In the end the Desert Rangers defeated the Cochise AI, but suffered heavy losses in the process.

Wasteland 2 takes place 15 years after the first game, but you don't need to know anything about what happened there. The new game does a fantastic job of dolling out the backstory as you go along; there's ample opportunity to ask the Ranger vets about the old days and how they came to be. The Rangers have spent the last decade-and-a-half shoring up their numbers after repurposing the Cochise military facility into their new base of operations. And now it's time for the Desert Rangers to reestablish themselves as the law in Arizona.

Always respect General Vargas, he's your main line of communication as you traverse the Wasteland.

You play as a squad of brand new recruits, and your first task is investigating the death of a veteran Ranger named Ace. You're told that he was sent to install some signal boosters so that Ranger HQ could more clearly pick up a series of unknown radio broadcasts they've begun receiving. The massive radiation clouds in the area have begun to recede, allowing for radio signals to travel farther and even people are beginning to venture further out than they'd been able to since the bombs dropped..

Your mission is to finish the job Ace started and find out who killed him. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that you're going to have a lot more to deal with than just a few sporadic groups of Raiders and mutants.

The game does an outstanding job of creating a grounded world with believable characters and interesting scenarios. It also strikes a decent balance between drama, mystery, and even comedy to keep things fresh as you explore the world around you.

Gameplay Impressions

The first thing you will do in Wasteland 2 is create your 4-member party of Desert Rangers. These will be the most important choices you make when starting a new game; the skills and attributes you choose will greatly affect how and even if you can solve certain scenarios. 

You can choose from a list of pre-made characters with all of their stats and skills already assigned:

Big Bert don't take no sass from nobody.

You can edit these character's if you'd just like to make a few adjustments, or you can create your own, fully customized characters from scratch, assigning all of their skills and attributes as you see fit:

Needless to say, you'll have a lot of choices to make.

The sheer number of options you have to choose from can be quite intimidating. This is as it should be, however, since the choices you make here will determine you effectiveness in the game to come.

You will also have access to a vast array of options to customize the look of each of your Rangers. You can even type up your own backstory for them and then save the character off to be used in subsequent playthroughs.

With the character creator, you'll be able to make the Wasteland weirdo of you dreams!(or nightmares)

Having a balanced and versatile party is key to success in Wasteland 2, and the game will not hold your hand! Didn't bother to give anyone the "Field Medic" skill? Then you won't be able to use any of those first aid kits your find. The only person with the "Surgeon" skill went down in the last fight? Well, now there's nothing you can do but swear vengeance as you watch them bleed out. And death is permanent in this game. So now, that character is gone forever and you've got to pull a replacement from the new recruits back at Ranger Citadel. You can recruit other companions for an extra hand in combat, but these characters will never be full-fledged members of your team and can even go rouge in the middle of a fight and throw off your careful planning.

Wasteland 2 drops you right into the thick of it and the game expects a lot from you. However, if you have an appreciation for the PC RPGs of old like Baldur's Gate or the new wave of savage games like Dark Souls, then W2 will definitely scratch that same itch.

The game's combat has you spending Action Points to do everything from moving, to shooting, to using items. Managing your AP effectively can mean the difference between life and death, so every action requires a great deal of thought so that you don't screw yourself over in the middle of a fight.

Nearly every battle feels like a real threat; nothing can be taken lightly. If you do you will find your squad hurting in a bad way, very quickly. This lends W2's combat a highly tactical feel, and the satisfaction you get from making it through a particularly tough encounter is very rewarding. It's that sense of accomplishment that really pulls you through the game. The team at inXile have created a very addictive formula that can keep you playing for hours on end.


With the finished product just on the horizon my anticipation is at a fever pitch. I can hardly wait to see what the full game has in store for me and I hope that this article has gotten you excited too. Wasteland 2's success could be instrumental in continuing the recent resurgence of computer RPGs that respect the player's abilities and truly challenge them to beat it. Keep an eye on Steam for the final release, the Early Access version is currently available for $60 and includes some cool extras(like a copy of the original Wasteland), but the developers have said that the final version will likely be priced lower than that.

Happy hunting Rangers, and I'll see you in the Arizona Wasteland!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I'll Huff and I'll Puff!

The Wolf Among Us just released the final episode of it's first season this past Tuesday, so it's about time I give you my thoughts on it as a whole.

I chose to play The Wolf Among Us strictly because of its lineage; it's another episodic adventure game made by Telltale in the same vein as their excellent Walking Dead series. I knew nothing about the graphic novels the game is based on. In fact I knew nothing about the plot or characters at all before playing it. So it speaks to the strength of that world just how quickly I was sucked in.

The Wolf Among Us takes the world of fairy tales and merges it with our own to establish an intriguing setting. And these aren't the Disney's versions, mind you; the characters in TWAU are based on the original stories; the dark, twisted, and often disturbing versions that some people may not be familiar with.

Back Story

The setup for the game's universe is that all of these fairy tale characters existed together in their own world, known as the Homeland. However, they were driven out of their lands and into ours by an evil force a few hundred years ago. After the Great Exodus the Tales decided to go into hiding together in New York City.

TWAU strikes a fantastic balance of characters, from the universally recognizable to some you may have heard of and even some that will be completely new to you. Seeing these characters revealed and getting to witness how their personal histories and reputations interplay with one another is simply captivating.

As pure as the driven Snow...

In order to not expose their existence to the Mundies (their term for human beings) the less humanoid Tales are required to use Glamours, magic spells sold at a premium that can make even the strangest of Tales appear human.

Just another seedy bar patron, right?

If a Tale can't afford a glamour or is caught outside without one they are at risk of being shipped off to The Farm, an isolated community for Tales from which they aren't allowed to leave. Needless to say, many Tales view being sent to The Farm as a prison sentence, a sentence the more "privileged" Tales would never have to deal with. 

Meet Colin, one of the Three Little Pigs. He's not so little anymore
As you can imagine this policy, as well as a few others, causes some serious drama that drives everything in the game's universe. But that's all back story.

The Game

Nice tats, bro.

In The Wolf Among Us you play as Bigby Wolf, AKA the Big Bad Wolf. Back in the Tale's Homeland he was one of the most feared creatures of them all. And yes, all of the old fairy tales about the Big Bad Wolf involved him specifically. He was an almost unkillable monster that preyed on vulnerable Tales at every opportunity. However, in the events leading up to the Great Exodus, Bigby managed to redeem himself by saving many of his fellow Tales. And when the Tales arrived in our world everyone was given a clean slate, a chance to start fresh in this strange new world.

Since Bigby was so powerful he was given the duty of Sheriff; he is responsible for the safety of all Tales, many of whom still despise and fear him. This makes for an incredibly complicated character; Bigby struggles to keep everyone in line while also trying to show compassion. He wants to prove that he isn't the same monster they cowered from years ago. And the choices you make over the course of the season influence how well Bigby pulls this off as well as how people react to him.

Get ready for a Bloody good time.

The main plot revolves around a series of brutal murders where Tales are the victims. Bigby is tasked with finding out who is responsible and bringing them to justice. However, with the complicated class politics and sordid histories among the Tales, this is no easy task.

The game love to put you in the middle of heated exchanges between characters, forcing you to deal with the situation. You can side with one while alienating the other, or you can attempt to play diplomat and find an amicable solution. But sometimes that just isn't possible and you can wind up pissing off both parties instead.

The game's strong plot and outstanding performances drive you along toward it's conclusion, but it's the art style that really steals the show. The game's look is obviously similar to the team's Walking Dead series, but it's setting affords the developers a chance to use a wider range of color palettes compared to TWD's mostly brown or otherwise dark and grungy aesthetic. The Wolf Among Us's universe also gives Telltale a chance to play around with more fantastic character designs beyond the human and zombie cast of their other series.

Well aren't you just adorable!


The Wolf Among Us is a fantastic series and now that the entire first season is available there's never been a better time to jump in. You can pick up the entire season for $25 on Steam, XBox Games Store, or PSN. You can even get it for your iPad if that's what you'd prefer. Also, if I haven't convinced you yet, you can download and play episode 1 of the series for free on most of the platforms I've listed above.

If you're a fan of great stories, fantastic worlds, and beautiful visuals, then The Wolf Among Us is the perfect place to find all of that and more.

The investigation awaits.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

E3 2014 Impressions

Well, E3 2014 is in the books. What was the overall impression from the show?: Meh. It's not that it was a bad E3, there just wasn't anything Earth-shattering to come out of it.

Usually you expect a ton of news and at least one mind-blowing revelation to come out of the expo, and that just didn't happen this year for a couple of reasons. First of all, it seemed like a lot of companies decided to try and get out ahead of the show proper and they made their biggest announcements a week or two before the show started. The reason for this is obvious, typically there is so much news coming down the pipe that it's easy for a lot of things to get lost in the shuffle, and then no one hears about them. Secondly, the biggest complaint/running joke that arose from this year's convention was about how it seemed like the vast majority of games being shown aren't due until at least 2015, if not beyond that.

This chart disproves that sentiment, but that doesn't change how the show felt.
Either way, the show's over. And that means it's time that I give you my impressions of it. Since the press conferences themselves weren't that interesting, I'm just going to share my thoughts on a few topics and then I'll talk about some of the games that caught my eye, and I will accompany them with their respective trailers. So, without further ado:

Biggest Disappointment

I suppose I should just get this one out of the way up front, there was no Fallout 4 announcement. Not only was this disappointing for me as a fan who is dying to play a new Fallout game, but I honestly feel like Bethesda really dropped the ball on this one. Because there really wasn't anything that stole the show this year, Fallout 4 could have been it. Hell, it would have been it. There is so much anticipation for this game that all they would've had to do was show a teaser trailer at one of the press conferences and then do a short gameplay demo during the show. They wouldn't even have had to make it public; just allow some media guys to play it or watch someone play it so they could write up a preview or two and, BAM, game of show. Oh well, I guess Wasteland 2 will just have to tide me over for now, but that a subject for another blog.

Coolest Trailer/Most Interesting Games

In no particular order, here are some of the things I feel like you should see that came out of the show. Some of these game I doubt I'd ever be interested in playing, they just had some very creative trailers, and the rest are games that I can't wait to get my hands on!


The next game from Playdead, the creators of the critically acclaimed Limbo, Inside looks just as dark and brooding as the game that put them on the map. Watching the trailer you definitely get the sense that these games came from the same minds, but there's enough about Inside's visual style alone to set it apart.

Limbo had a monochromatic color scheme and the game was all silhouettes. Inside makes use of color, but it's all very desaturated, lending it a very ominous tone, similar to what worked so well for Limbo. It also seems to emphasize depth in a way that Limbo didn't. The way that a number of shots in the above trailer use negative space to create a sense of scale in the environment is truly striking.

Dead Island 2

I don't have any particular interest in playing the Dead Island games; the first one seemed like it had some cool ideas, but was very messily put together. However, this was, without a doubt, one of the funnest trailers to come out of the show. I legitimately found myself smiling and chuckling over how ridiculous this trailer is. If the final game can hit this tone and tighten up the gameplay and hammer out the glitches, than Dead Island 2 may be worth a look once it's released.

I can only imagine that the name on the gilded dog tag is "Douche"

Tom Clancy's The Division

The Division is a third-person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic New York City following a mysterious viral outbreak that wiped out most of the city's population. Not the most original concept to be sure, and the game itself may wind up being another run-of-the-mill cover shooter, but the trailer that Ubisoft put together for this year's show was certainly one of the most artfully done. It's difficult to describe, but it's message is conveyed clearly; give it a watch and just enjoy the show.

Even if the game ends up being forgettable, at least it has one of the coolest in-game maps I've seen.

Alien: Isolation

I love the Alien movies! They are some of my favorite films of all time. That being said, I've never been a big fan of any games based on them. Most of them have been first-person shooters, and even the decent ones just didn't seem interesting to me. And, following the tragically bad Aliens: Colonial Marines, this game needs to be good in order to save face for the property as a whole. 

At the very least the team at Creative Assembly is trying something different. Rather than make another rote, mindless shooter starring space marines, Alien: Isolation is trying to play up the horror and slasher flick tone that the Original Alien film nailed so well. You won't be mowing down hordes of Xenomorphs with plasma rifles; there's only one in the whole game, and you stand no chance of fighting it. Instead you must hide and use a combination of wits and patients to throw the predatory beast off of your trail.

If the guys and gals at CA can pull this off without the game devolving into frustrating trial-and-error gameplay, we may have one of the best Alien games headed our way this October.

I'd say it's time to shit. I mean hide! Time to hide.

The new Mass Effect game

Ok, I need to talk about this one simply because I'm such a huge fan of the series. At E3 Bioware and EA put out the above video that they called a teaser trailer, but it was really more of developer diary. It's mostly a video of some of the guys at Bioware talking about their ideas for the next Mass Effect. They do show a few images, but they made sure to label them as "conceptual prototypes", meaning that a lot of what they showed may change significantly in the final version, or it may not be in there at all.

I wasn't really surprised by this, I know the next ME is a ways off. What did surprise me, however, is the fact there was no announcement of some sort of "Mass Effect Trilogy: Ultimate Edition" that'll be coming to the new consoles and PC with all of the DLC included and updated graphics. It seems like a foregone conclusion that they would make that, and I am just surprised that they didn't announce it; especially when you consider how bare-bones EA's press conference lineup was.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Speaking of Bioware, Dragon Age: Inquisition looks fantastic! This is my most anticipated game of the year and, after finally getting to see a real gameplay demonstration, I have to say that the game seems to be coming together nicely. You can check out some of the gameplay below:

Hopefully DA:I will live up to expectations and be the Dragon Age game that fans of the series want it to be. Speaking for myself, October 7th can't come soon enough.

Well that's not a good sign...

Mortal Kombat X

The action in this trailer is nothing short of bad ass! Personally I could do without the dumb rap song that in no way, shape, or form fits the game but hey, marketing. Either way, I am pumped to see what NetherRelam Studios has in store for the next iteration of this legendary fighting game franchise. And, thankfully, we got to see some real gameplay of it at the show, check it out below:

 I think this would hurt so bad, your brain wouldn't even let you feel it.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

After playing last year's excellent reboot of the classic Tomb Raider franchise, I've been very curious to see what Crystal Dynamics has planned for the indomitable Lara Croft next. Well, this year's E3 marked the announcement of the upcoming sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. A lot of people have been pooh-poohing the name, but whatever; if the game can meet the high bar set by the original, than they could call it Rise of the Fart Raider for all I care.

There wasn't any gameplay shown, but I was still excited to hear the official word that the game is in development.

Far Cry 4

Ok, as long as I'm making a list that includes amazing trailer, this one had to make the cut. The Far Cry games have really hit their stride over the last couple of games, with Far Cry 3 receiving much critical and fan acclaim for it's open world and engaging gameplay. FC3 also introduced a captivating villain in Vaas. Unfortunately, most people agree that his potential was squandered early in the game.

Hopefully that won't be the case this time around with FC4's new villain, Pagan Min. The above trailer makes for one hell of an introduction to this psychopath and leaves you curious about not only the player's relationship with him, but also how far he will go and what his motives are. If the game can hold to it's current release date, we'll be discovering the answers to these question this November.

Honorable Mention

Just to wrap this up before I find myself talking about every trailer that debuted at the show, I should go ahead and list a few final trailers that caught my attention, click on the names to see their videos:

The Order: 1886 (Stylish 3rd-person shooter with an interesting setting.)

White Night (Creepy-looking horror game with striking visual style.)

Mario Maker (Looks super cool. if Nintendo can flesh it out and give creators the tools they'd want, it'll be spectacular.)

Destiny (The latest from Bungie, the team responsible for the Halo franchise. Looks really great so far, hopefully it can live up to its creator's legacy.)

Final Thoughts

So, maybe E3 2014 wasn't a mind-blowing event. We still got to see some fantastic looking games coming from talented people, ranging from small indie dev teams to massive AAA-title making factories.

If anything, this year's show proves that the video game industry is alive and well and will be pumping out cool stuff for years to come, and I couldn't be happier to be along for the ride.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

E3 2014 Preview

The Electronic 3rd is nearly upon us!

E3, the biggest video game convention of the year, is only a few short weeks away. That means that it's high time I start talking about my expectations for what we may see this year. 

2013 felt like a bit of an off year for E3; the show was mostly focused on Sony and Microsoft hammering out the final details for their consoles before launch. Which was famously followed by a lot of backtracking on Microsoft's part due to the backlash they received over a number of their proposed policies regarding the Xbox One

Meanwhile the games themselves seemed to take a backseat. It just felt like the really cool stuff that's going to justify the existence of this new generation of hardware simply wasn't ready to show yet. Granted, that is pretty typical of a launch year E3, but it's also the reason why this year feels so exciting. Now that the new consoles are out of their "launch window" we should start to see the real next-gen games coming to the forefront. The one that aren't simply uprezzed versions of 360 and PS3 games. There will obviously still be some overlap, but it definitely appears that the newer machines are the lead platforms for these games, and they're being ported down for the old consoles, instead of the other way around. 

And, with that, I will run down a brief list of the games I'm most interested in seeing. Some of these have already been confirmed to be at E3 and some haven't, so please bear that in mind.

Fallout 4

Will it happen? God I hope so. And I am pretty confident that we will see the next Fallout at this year's show. The timing feels right and there's simply too much evidence that it's coming for the game to be a no-show again... right?

Let's run through all of the evidence that points to a new Fallout being announced this year:
  1. Timing: its been 3 years since Skyrim was released, and about a year and a half since Bethesda finished the final piece of DLC for the game, Dragonborn. There was a post on Bethesda's official blog in April 2013 talking about how they were finished making new content for Skyrim and that this will free up the team to work on their "next major project". The Elder Scrolls Online just released earlier this year, so it would be silly of them to step on their own toes by even talking about the next proper Elder Scrolls release so soon. Fallout is the other big franchise that Bethesda is known to develop in-house and, assuming that it's being built on a modified version of the Skyrim engine, 3-4 years seems like the right amount of time it would take to make this game.
  2. Sightings: Back in mid 2012 there were several stories claiming that Bethesda employees had been spotted scouting locations in and around the Boston area, leading to speculation that this would be the setting for the next Fallout game. It also helps that Boston makes a lot of sense as a place to set a Fallout game. The Commonwealth, which was mentioned several times in Fallout 3, is the in-lore name for the state of Massachusetts in the post-apocalypse. The fact that FO3 was developed by Bethesda makes these off-handed mentions feel like hints to the future of the franchise.
  3. Leaks: Then, just a few months back in December, Kotaku ran a story detailing a script that had been leaked from a casting call. Although this script never mentions the word Fallout, it does refer to a number of places in the Fallout universe and even includes the infamous tag line: "War. War never changes."

Combine this evidence with a rabid fanbase that has been absolutely chomping at the bit for a new entry in the series, and it seems that Fallout 4 is a shoe-in for this year's E3.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Okay, let me start this one off by saying something controversial: I liked Dragon Age 2. Now, before you raise your pitchforks and light your torches, give me a moment to contextualize that. I liked DA2, I didn't love it. The game definitely had it's flaws, mainly stemming from the fact that it seemed rushed out the door entirely too quickly. However, there were a lot of things that I enjoyed about that game. Things that I'd like to see return for the next game in the franchise, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

First of all, I loved the combat in DA2; some would argue that it was dumbed down from Dragon Age: Origins, but I honestly felt like it was simply more streamlined and focused; that it made the combat feel better overall. And I will be a sad boy if the Force Magic specialization doesn't return; fewer things are more fun than using gravity itself to smash your foes around the battlefield.

Secondly, I really enjoyed having the snarky, smart-ass dialog choices as your third option within the dialog trees. Usually in games like this, including Bioware's own Mass Effect franchise, you have a choice between "good guy" and "bad guy" dialog with at third "neutral" option thrown in as well. The problem with that, is why would anyone choose the boring-ass neutral response? There's never any real reason to. But in Dragon Age 2 the third option was actually valid and fun to use. These options would have your character respond with a joke, or some sort of sarcastic comment, and it lent an entirely different tilt to his/her personality. This felt like a really unique thing that no one had pulled off properly before and it would be a shame if Dragon Age: Inquisition leaves it on the cutting room floor.

Here's to hoping.

All that being said, what they've shown of DA:I looks amazing. And the way that the developers speak about the game and how they're approaching it makes me think that this team is in the proper mindset to deliver something truly spectacular. The team has said that they've taken a lot of inspiration from Skyrim, and that this game will be quite massive in scope. Considering the amount of time that they're taking to make it, almost two years already and the game isn't due until 2015, I'd say that Bioware and EA seem to be giving this game it's due attention, and I can hardly wait to see it in action at E3.

New Mass Effect

If you know me or follow my blog, than you know that I love Mass Effect. It is my favorite video game franchise of all time; it speaks to me. Mass Effect embodies all of my favorite things about gaming and sci-fi: spaceships, futuristic guns, choices with consequences, an intense story, and sexy alien ladies.
"How you doin'?'
So I have to at least mention the possibility of a trailer for the next entry in the series. I doubt that it'll be much more than a teaser trailer, but maybe they will have at least put an official title on the game. That is assuming that there's anything ready to show at all.

(Not official screenshot, fan art by Baolong Zhang.)

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

I never played the original, but The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was the first big game I bought after getting my first real gaming PC, the one I still use today. It's one of the reasons that I've done most of my gaming on the PC since then. Witcher 2 absolutely blew me away; the world was so twisted and dark compared to most games and movies that use the medieval fantasy setting.

That's why I'm excited to see what's next for this series. They've release a few trailers, and it looks stunning. If the team can hit the same level of quality and polish as the previous game, then The Witcher 3 will be a game for the ages. They're saying that this will be the final game in The Witcher series, and it certain looks like CD Projekt Red is aiming to do it justice.

Something tells me that thing ain't friendly.


Destiny is the next game from Bungie and, while I never played much of their Halo games, something about their latest venture has caught my attention. It could be the art style reminding me of Mass Effect, or maybe I'm just hungry for this type of game. Whatever it may be, Destiny looks pretty spectacular and I'm excited to see more of it at the show.

Everything Else!

When it comes to E3, more often than not, the most exciting things to come out of the show are things that you didn't see coming at all. I'm excited to see what new games get announced and what new features are going to be coming to the PS4 and Xbox One. Will Microsoft announce a price drop in order to increase their install base and try to catch up to Sony? Will Nintendo or another company steal the show from the two heavyweights with something truly mind-blowing? Only time will tell and, thankfully, we don't have long to wait.