I honestly thought that my trip to E3 last year was going to be my only trip.
The KmartGamer project folded, I moved from Arizona to Massachusetts and haven’t had a job since, and I had even contemplated putting my writer’s pen down for good. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding E3 recently, which makes sense given that we’re just three weeks away. I was excited for those who were going, some of whom I’ve befriended on Twitter who are attending for the first time… but was OK with watching and reading stuff from home.
More recently, I’ve found my writing stroke again, thanks to a phone meeting with Nathan from Popzara Press a few weeks ago. He provided me with an opportunity to talk about industry sales and trends, and to bring Armchair Analysis to a new audience of readers. The terms of the opportunity were perfect for me, and I was given a lot of latitude to work at my own pace. I’ve been busy since then, thanks to that meeting and due to earnings season providing me with plenty to talk about. Once earnings season ends, E3 news would likely take over and I figured that I’d react to press events and other announcements as I have every year.
E3 was something that Nathan and I had talked about before. Attending E3 last year was possible because Kmart and Sears did everything; I wasn’t working enough to afford a trip to Los Angeles and I really didn’t (and still don’t) have many contacts “on the inside”, so those concerns were alleviated. All I really did was show up as expected, follow my itinerary, and put together some content. I told Nathan that I didn’t have any of these luxuries this year, and we tabled the discussion for awhile.
Last week, I was asked to submit my press credentials for E3. I really didn’t think anything of it, given how late in the game it was. I sent the information along, and thanked Nathan for thinking of me. It means a lot that someone that I’ve worked for over only a few weeks would have the confidence in me to think about sending me out to Los Angeles. The KmartGamer trip was more of a contest, even though it briefly became something bigger. This was different… and besides, I had no way to get out there or pay for anything, given my current state of unemployment. I had nothing to lose.
I received a rejection e-mail this afternoon. I had expected it, and forwarded it to Nathan with my gratitude. I am happy just having found what feels like a great opportunity to get back into writing, so this was less a disappointment and more a sign that we’d move on to other things. But then… things changed.
I received a second e-mail from E3 registration stating that my application had been approved, along with my confirmation barcode, while chatting with Nathan. He then dropped the biggest bombshell: Popzara Press is handling the travel and accommodations. I was– and still am– floored. We’ll be working out final details this week, but, barring any unforeseen circumstances…
I am going to E3 once again.
There’s a lot of preparation that has to happen between then and now. I am unbelievably excited and honored to have this opportunity. I’m going to be working with Nathan to hopefully set up some appointments for the event, and I’m looking forward to having a bit more time to network with some people out there. It’s going to be a different experience, and a big step for me professionally. I’ll be getting business cards ready to go, and I’m hoping to do a little more hands-on this year to go with more meetings and conversation.
I want to publicly thank Nathan and Popzara Press for having confidence in me and for making this happen. I’ll be providing the best coverage that I can, and learning a lot along the way. I look to reward that confidence by providing info and impressions from the show floor and giving readers my perspective on the controlled chaos that is E3. I’m also going to meet Armchair Analysis inspirations like Jesse Divnich, Michael Pachter, and Kevin Dent again this year– and that’s going to be a personal highlight for me.
Let the planning begin.
2012 is almost upon us, and it’s going to mark some changes as far as my writing and for Consoleation.
One of my goals in 2012 is to gain a wider audience for my writing, if I can. Consoleation gets about 20 hits a day, with some variance if the content is controversial. Pieces that I’ve been submitting over on my blog at Game Informer seem to be gaining a lot more traffic, so I’m going to be splitting content between Consoleation and Game Informer in 2012. I’ll be doing more reviews and impressions here at Consoleation and moving a lot of my industry analysis over to Game Informer. I’m still active with the League of One project over at KmartGamer as well, so my writing will be spread out a bit more.
As money remains tight, a lot of the reviews and impressions that I’ll be posting here will be for older games. My PlayStation 2 games library gives me a lot to pick from, plus I do have a small selection of PS3 and Xbox 36o games that I managed to hold on to since the move. This writing will be important in order to keep my reviewing skills fresh and as I occasionally experiment with different formats. While I enjoy writing about the business side of gaming– and occasionally criticizing decisions and moves that I don’t agree with– it’s necessary for me to continue to grow as a writer and be able to do more than just provide insight on predictions and data. If I want to pursue this career path, I need to grow in many facets. I think that I have the knowledge, but to succeed, I must have the ability to deliver diverse content.
My Game Informer blog, as you can see if you’ve visited, is more geared towards sales and industry analysis. I think that it’s distinct content for that site, rather than contributing more reviews or previews. Having a niche like that will hopefully gain some readers and give my writing in that field a bit more of an audience. So far, traffic numbers have been impressive for being a newcomer there, and I’m hoping that will continue.
I expect 2012 to be one of my most productive years since 2005 when it comes to writing. The time for excuses and obstacles is over. I want to move forward and find out if I really have what it takes to be a success in this field. I think that parts of 2011 showed that I have potential… but I want to put it together this coming year. Consoleation will be a big part of that, and I hope that you’ll follow me along for the ride.
I wanted to share some links to writing by me that’s been published recently, just in case you missed them.
First up, my review of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is up on KmartGamer as part of the League of One content creation project there. It’s my first review for the project, and I hope that you’ll give it a look. I went from having a strong dislike for the game’s new DFM mechanic to accepting that Assault Horizon is an Ace Combat game in name only. It was important to judge Assault Horizon on its own merits instead of how it holds up against previous titles in the series. I did wind up liking it, although I personally won’t be replaying it. On a personal note, I’m much happier with the numbered games in the series and don’t really prefer mixing Call of Duty and Ace Combat. It’s still better than the H.A.W.X. games, but it’s not the Ace Combat game that fans were hoping for.
Next, my analysis of September’s NPD sales data is also live on KmartGamer. Rather than list all of the public numbers, I took a slightly different approach and talked about each of the three hardware companies. I followed that up with a short overview of software sales trends. Having access to data that’s not public, I’m able to see some trends that aren’t obvious to others… including what was an impressive month for Sony and the PlayStation 3. In hoping that you’ll head over and take a look at the piece, I don’t want to spoil anything here; however, it’s important to note that the PlayStation 3 was the only platform with positive YOY growth in September. There was also a significant jump from August to September in unit sales for the PS3. What’s fueling this rise? Is it the recent price drop? Is it consumers coming on board late? Did Resistance 3 have anything to do with it? It’s a curious situation, and it also somewhat dulls the continued domination of the Xbox 360 as the best-selling console on a monthly basis. I don’t think that Sony’s going to fade in Q4, and even if the PS3 can’t catch the 360 in any month, I think that it will be quite competitive. I hope you’ll read and react to the article over at KmartGamer.
Finally, I’ve been reviewing the latest Pinball FX2 table additions for Games Are Evil. My reviews of the Sorcerer’s Lair and Ms. ‘Splosion Man tables were a blast to put together as Pinball FX2 is one of my favorite games. Although both tables are a bit on the easy side, this difficulty is ideal for newer players. Racking up over a billion points may sound ludicrous, but when you have a run like that, it’s an “in the zone” feeling that’s hard to top. I’m hoping to do some more work for this site in the months ahead, particularly after my move is completed. Many thanks to Blake and Keri for keeping me in mind for these reviews and for their flexibility. Be sure to check out the Games Are Evil site for lots of other great content.
I hope that you’ll check out a few of these links. I write with the hope that people will read my work; that’s the real payoff for me.
I also wanted to let everyone know that the date for my move is rapidly approaching. I’m set to leave Arizona on November 8th, which is coincidentally the release date for Modern Warfare 3. I’m driving cross-country back to West Springfield, MA, so I’m going to be limited to my cell phone for internet usage. I’m still likely going to be active across my social networks (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+), so I invite you to follow me on any (or all) of those channels. I’m hoping to arrive back at home by November 15th. Once I arrive, it’s going to take a couple of more days to get situated and set my consoles back up. Since my HDTV is not making the trip, I’ll be gaming on a smaller 720p set for a couple of weeks until I can replace it. My PC is also not making the trip, sadly. I’ll be working from my little-used laptop for at least a few weeks and hoping that Santa Claus smiles favorably upon me with a new workstation or technology for the holidays. Even without the workstation, my laptop will get the job done and I’ll be back to writing more regularly once I’m settled.
As for my immediate future, I’m accepting the fact that I’m probably not going to be working too much. There’s a possibility that I may be able to transfer to a store close to where I’ll be living, but my hours worked will still be light. I’m hoping that some behind-the-scenes planning with the League of One project comes to fruition and that I’ll be able to cover at least a few games for review. I’ll still be contributing my Armchair Analysis columns at least once a month, too. I’m considering looking into freelance review work, but it’s a very competitive field at the moment and I’m not sure that I can break in. I have my fingers crossed.
So… that’s it for this entry. A little bit of self-promotion never hurts, right? I hope not.
My latest Armchair Analysis piece has been posted at KmartGamer, as I react to Sony‘s move to drop the price of the PlayStation 3 this week. I hope that you’ll give it a read and see what you think, as there are some good and not-so-good ramifications from the decision… which is long-overdue and one that I’d predicted would happen a couple of months ago.
So… my timing is a little late, but I was dead-on with the drop amount. I’ll take batting .500, thanks.
Consumer response to the cut has been favorable so far. IndustryGamers is reporting that Amazon has shown a significant increase in PS3 unit sales, which is a natural occurrence for price drops. August’s NPD report will show improvements for the PS3, which should break the 200,000 mark and has an outside shot at overtaking Xbox 360 unit sales for the month. It’s not a definite, but it’s not impossible, either. What remains to be seen is whether the trend will be sustained through Q4. Multiplatform games seem to go hand-in-hand with Xbox 360 sales, and Gears of War 3 will stem any potential sustained run at the top of the NPD charts by the PS3 in September.
Thanks for following my work on KmartGamer and here at Consoleation. Look for more League of One content on KmartGamer soon, plus some more insights on games gone by for the PSone and PS2 here on my home blog. It’s a really exciting time in my writing tenure, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that more opportunities are coming. In the meantime, feel free to send a shout to me on any of your favorite social networks: Twitter, Google Plus, or Facebook.
As expected, today marked the official rollout of the League of One project. It’s definitely exciting as all of us are seeing our work posted under the KmartGamer banner for the first time.
First, check out the official League of One announcement. This piece introduces all of the writers on the project. Those of you who were following my E3 trip likely remember Amy and Stephen, but the additions of Brittany, Josh, and Jonathan are noteworthy. The introduction also explains the project in a little more detail.
My first League of One piece was also posted today. I posed and answered five big questions about the state of the console gaming industry leading into the last 5 months of the year. This kind of writing represents one of the unique features that I’ll be bringing to the table as part of this project and will hopefully inspire a little bit of conversation about sales trends and topics moving forward.
Be sure to check out the KmartGamer website for more League of One updates, as the other writers are seeing their first work posted. Jonathan has a great piece about the high price of retail games and Josh gives a first look at NCAA Football 12.
I am honored to announce that I have been chosen as one of a small group of writers to join an ambitious new writing project that was hand-picked by KmartGamer. This project, called the League of One, is the unannounced project that I mentioned last week… and it’s an amazing opportunity.
This group of writers is a diverse and unique group, which includes the two other writers who were selected to cover E3 for KmartGamer with me back in June as well as three other talented and hard-working voices. It’s a mix of enthusiasm, experience, and a desire to hopefully land a position in the gaming industry. The best part is that we will serve as a strong gaming-related voice for KmartGamer, supplying various content including game reviews, previews, discussions, and industry analysis. KmartGamer is sponsoring this project with the retailer’s support, which is a huge deal. This makes it possible to find visibility with various publishers and PR reps for the first time for many of us. We basically go, with the backing of KmartGamer, from being relative unknowns to hopefully gaining exposure and visibility.
As this is a new project, a lot of details are still being worked out behind the scenes, but now that the news is official… I wanted to share it with you. I’m aiming to supply a few different kinds of content:
- Game previews and reviews: It’s possible that review copies may start coming in, which means that I’ll be reviewing them for the League of One project. I’m confident that I’ll be reviewing games more often than I have been, and am looking forward to getting back to doing so. Writing game reviews is how I got into writing to begin with, before branching out to sales analysis and being an industry pundit, in general.
- Sales predictions and analysis: After writing pieces like this for Consoleation for the last three years, I’m now going to be getting more visibility for my work by moving them to the League of One project. I’m very excited to see how these pieces are received by readers. My introductory piece, which will hopefully go up this week, is an example of the kind of work that I’m planning to do. Look for a link soon.
- Event coverage: One thing that the League is hoping to do is to be able to send members to various events, including CES, E3, and others. Now that I have my feet wet with a bit of E3 experience, I’m a bit wiser to how to best cover events like this, and am looking forward to another shot in the not-so-distant future. This part of the project is still very early in the planning stages, but holds a lot of exciting potential.
After three consecutive nights with three hours of sleep apiece, walking into a closed meeting room at 10am and seeing Star Wars Kinect didn’t seem to show much promise. After all, other sites had been less than kind to the game and the reaction during Microsoft‘s press conference wasn’t exactly warm. When I volunteered to test the game for a group of my peers and the other members of the KmartGamer team, I didn’t have high expectations… but when the demo was over and my pulse was racing, I wanted more.
The demo had two different modes of play: Jedi Training and Jedi Destiny.
Jedi Training is just as it sounds; Yoda guides the player through the control basics, including using the Force, lightsaber combat, and basic movement. It’s hard to put into words how cool it was to wield powers like Force Push and, by just using your left hand, thrust battle droids away from you. These powers have always been associated with simple button presses in the past, but with Kinect’s body tracking abilities, players can execute actions as though they really are “in the game”. Moving a downed ship from spot to spot requires more concentration (at least in theory), so both hands are used to guide the ship to its destination. It almost requires players to think like the character that they’re portraying; even the most skilled of Force wielders can’t just zip a large craft from one place to another; slower, more deliberate movement is needed. That’s what is expected and works best when performing the same action in Star Wars Kinect. Lightsaber controls are dictated by the right hand, and the tracking seemed spot on; side to side slashes, vertical cuts, and even more elaborate twirls and twists were all registered by the Kinect sensor and brought to life on the big screen.
Jedi Destiny puts the player’s training to practical use in the Cloud City of Bespin. The city is in turmoil, taken over by battle droids, and it’s up to the player to stop the invasion of the Trade Federation. The action is on rails– much like SEGA‘s Star Wars Arcade– but it’s no less fun. Combining force powers and lightsaber skills, I dispatched plenty of droids and felt unstoppable as I was able to use Force powers and lightsaber skills at the same time. Facing Destroyer droids was a more difficult task, as extra body movements were required to leap towards and over them to get an advantage. Some of the body tracking movements for side rolls and jumps did feel a little inconsistent; they were great when they worked, but the on-screen character would have been full of holes when they didn’t. Thankfully, dying in the demo wasn’t possible. I did manage a couple of impressive feats, including taking down three battle droids with a single Force Push action (something that our LucasArts guide hadn’t yet seen before), while making my way from Bespin’s exterior to inside near the infamous dining room where Lando’s betrayal takes place and various corridors.
The demo concludes inside of the Carbonite Chamber. Two hooded Sith warriors appear out of the darkness, each dual-wielding lightsabers. I stood, ready for battle… and the demo ended there. I was tired, but exhilarated. I felt like a Jedi, minus the physique and droid companions. I wanted more, but that desire would have to wait.
I completely understand that some people are expecting more out of Star Wars Kinect. After all, the arcade experience has been all but dead for years and players seem to be looking for something more. Conversely, I had an absolute blast playing the demo. The game represents a chance to get closer to unleashing your inner Jedi than ever before without the need to hold a controller or learn a button layout. Most of the controls were intuitive and easy to learn. It’s an accessible experience, even at this early stage, and we still don’t know all of the content that we be included in the retail version when it lands this holiday season.
I’m more excited for Star Wars Kinect than I was going into E3, and, to me, that indicates that the demo was a success. It wasn’t perfect, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy my time with it. The arcade experience shouldn’t be considered a detractor; if you are willing to look at the game for what it is– instead of what you think it should be– I think that there’s plenty of fun to be had later this year.
If you’re a console gaming fan, like I am, you probably remember where you were when the name and specifics of Nintendo’s Wii follow-up were announced. I was in a Starbucks on the morning of June 7th, a few hundred feet from the Nokia Theater where Nintendo was holding its press conference. I also remember exclaiming out loud something to the effect of, “That’s really what they’re calling it? Wii U? No. NO!”
I started to make judgments in my head immediately. The controller looked like an iPad. The name was just weird. My hopes were a bit dashed that this new hardware was going to be as great as many were hoping. I was hoping that I’d get to see a little bit of it during our KmartGamer session with Nintendo, but I’d already registered a first impression.
It would be proven wrong.
We were introduced to Wii U in a locked room. When I was able to touch and interact with the Wii U controller for the first time, I saw a lot of potential that wasn’t there with the initial announcement. The controller may look awkward or heavy to hold, but it isn’t. The screen was capable of some pretty sharp video output, and seeing the Legend of Zelda demo running on the television screen– and then seamlessly moving to the Wii U contrroller’s screen– was remarkable. Being able to adjust the lighting on the fly demonstrated the impressive nature of the visuals, and removing the heads-up display from the main game screen and instead using the controller’s screen was a great idea. It felt like a console version of the Nintendo DS experience, and the possibilities that ran through my head regarding what Wii U could do quickly added up.
The highlight of the gameplay session that we had was with Chase Mii. A cross between hide-and-seek and early maze game ideas, Chase Mii supports up to five players. The player with the Wii U controller gets a short headstart and runs into the distance, using the map on the controller screen to see the locations of the other players and an overhead lay of the land. The other four players have to find and chase down the Wii U player, using on-screen distance cues while watching the screen to see if a glimpse of the escaping player can be had. There is a Power Star powerup that the Wii U player can obtain to make him or her invincible and run faster, but getting that powerup can be dangerous if pursuers are waiting there. It’s reminiscent of the Care Packages in the Call of Duty games; if you get one, it can be a huge boost… but don’t think that opponents aren’t there waiting for you. The game ends when either the Wii U player is caught, or if that player eludes capture for a set period of time. It’s deceptively fun and addictive; each of us on the KmartGamer team had a try with the Wii U controller and we all seemed to be in agreement that our initial judgments about the Wii U were off-base.
Although I came away impressed with the technology, there are still major questions about the Wii U that can only be answered as we get closer to the release date for the hardware, which is nebulously scheduled for 2012. The first hurdle to be cleared is pricing, and given that Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata is on record saying that the Wii U will likely cost more than $250, this is a huge hurdle to clear. The Wii had the distinct advantage of being the cheapest console on the market back in 2006, but will not have the same advantage in 2012 in a more challenging economic climate. There’s also the issue to launch software. The stumbles of the 3DS during its launch window should remind Nintendo that strong IPs must be leveraged at launch for the platform to have a chance to succeed, especially given the potentially expensive nature of the hardware. Lastly, there’s a question about the Wii U controller itself. If there’s only going to be one included, there is uncertainty about how games will adapt to using only one along with some legacy Wii controllers.
The lesson to be learned here, however, is that Nintendo can’t be counted out. It’s far too easy to make early judgment calls and be completely wrong about something, and the Wii U is proof of this. If Nintendo can pull things together and release the platform at a reasonable price that won’t scare consumers to the competition, there’s a lot of potential here. The trailers show a myriad of possibilities for Wii U, but this promise absolutely needs fulfillment.
Heading into my trip to E3 with the KmartGamer team, I was looking forward to my meeting with Namco Bandai. I had high hopes for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, plus games like Dark Souls and SoulCalibur V were high on my interest list. I got to see and experience a lot of games during my time with Namco Bandai, but when my time was up, I had mixed feelings.
The first game that I got hands-on time with was Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. My first thought was that it’s a better-looking game than its predecessors. That’s high praise, considering that I have enjoyed every game in the series so far. The game plays fast, the frame rate is smooth, and it’s got a gritty feel to it. At first, the game played with familiarity. Flying the aircraft felt a little too sensitive at first, but I quickly compensated for this and took down a few enemy planes with missile strikes. Things were going well, until I had to enter the close combat “dogfighting” mode. Getting into this mode requires players to keep the target directly in front of them at close range and press the L2 and R2 buttons. It’s not at all intuitive and really ruins the experience that Ace Combat veterans have enjoyed for years. I understand not wanting to do the “same old thing”, but this… this is broken. Worse yet, the experience was damaging enough to kill my personal excitement for the game despite the other positives it has.
Next up was observation time with Inversion, a third-person shooter set for release next year. It’s easy to think of Inversion as just being another shooter, but the use of gravity in the game really does add a unique component to the game. Players can use the environment to their advantage at will, summoning lava or pulling off gravity tricks which seemed a bit similar to Bulletstorm. Enemies can be tossed into the air or grabbed from a distance and pulled towards the player. Perhaps the most interesting part of what I saw was that gameplay can take place on walls or even on ceilings above the action due to gravity changes. Standing on a wall, players have to adjust their approach to combat. Inversion shows promise in a sea of similar shooters.
Dark Souls was my next destination, and I can already tell fans of Demon’s Souls that this game is going to be as good as advertised. From Software has ratcheted up the difficulty; in fact, the person who demonstrated the game for me was having a difficult time staying alive himself. The visuals looked about on par with Demon’s Souls to me, but graphics were never the strong point for either game. It’s about the combat, the challenge, the setting and the online functionality. If you’re going to be getting this game in October, I highly suggest buying a replacement controller right away. That way, when you break your controller out of frustration, you’ll have another right away.
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon brings back the bugs with improved graphics and a new squad/class mechanic. Taking down the ant hordes is still fun, and the visuals have been tightened up for this sequel. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sold on the classes and squad mechanics. That’s probably more a matter of personal preference, but I felt like it impeded on my ability to just pick up and play the game. Co-op fans will probably like this, and the $40 price tag should be inviting for many.
While playing Earth Defense Force, I was tapped by my Namco guide who beckoned me into a small room where SoulCalibur V was being demonstrated behind closed doors. Producer Hisaharu Tago was in attendance for the demonstration, which showcased four fighters. The two new ones, Patroklos and Pyrrah, the son and daughter of SoulCalibur‘s Sophitia. Siegfried and Mitsurugi were the other two characters. The move sets for all of the fighters were largely pulled from SoulCalibur IV, but there were a few new tricks to be seen, including special moves that could be triggered after a “special meter” of sorts was filled up. SoulCalibur V will be taking place 17 years after the events of the last SoulCalibur game, and returning characters will show this difference. Mitsurugi looked to be more affected by the age change, with longer locks and a bit of graying. Despite the age, both characters still maintain their fighting skills as I saw in several matches as demonstrated by a Namco employee.
A few nuggets of information pulled from the presentation included:
- 20-30 characters are targeted for the final game, with a 50-50 split between new and returning characters.
- One of the goals with SoulCalibur V is to win over the hardcore fighting fan.
- The new EX/Super attacks were inspired by the Critical Edge Attacks from Soul Edge; success of these attacks will be based on determining how and when to use them.
- There will be post-release updates to tweak balance, much like Mortal Kombat.
- New characters will be a better fit for experienced players, and will have interesting variations on familiar attacks.
- Expect a more robust solo gameplay mode with focus on the game’s story.
I did ask Mr. Tago if there was a more specific targeted release date and he laughed, adding through an interpreter, that the development team knows that fans are very excited to get their hands on SoulCalibur V and that they’re working very hard to deliver that experience as quickly as they can.
Even at this early stage of development, there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to SoulCalibur V. The visuals have already taken a step forward and the new character designs for Pyrrah and Patroklos look great. It’s going to be a long but hopefully worthwhile wait for the tale of souls and swords to be retold anew in 2012.
One last stop on the Namco tour led me to Galaga Legions DX, which is scheduled to see release for Xbox LIVE Arcade and the PlayStation Store sometime this summer. Although Galaga Legions never resonated with me, Galaga Legions DX is a different animal. The game has evolved into a twin-stick shooter, a la Geometry Wars or Super Stardust HD, and the focus is now on eliminating enemy waves as quickly as possible. There are definite parallels between Galaga Legions DX and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, as players are battling the ticking clock more than avoiding death or dispatching enemies. Once that timer starts running, it’s a race to find the quickest way to wipe out enemy waves of ships. Some waves will have an enemy with a bomb that takes out the whole squadron; others require watching patterns to effectively kill them off. It’s expected that Galaga Legions DX will release for $10 (800 Microsoft Points) when it lands this summer, and I’ll be reviewing this game for certain.
My Namco experience, as you can see, was a mix of excitement and disappointment. SoulCalibur V and Galaga Legions are now squarely on my radar and my anticipation for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon has been dashed considerably. There were even more games that I was unable to cover in the time allotted, like Tekken Tag Tournament 2, White Knight Chronicles 2, and others. It’s good to see that Namco has so much on its release schedule, and the publisher looks to be giving us lots to talk about well into next year.
The KmartGamer E3 team visit to the THQ booth had a common theme: violence. Gunplay and fisticuffs ruled the experience, and we saw some titles that will make a definite impact at retail over the coming months.
The first game that we got a glimpse of was Warhammer: Space Marine, which is being put together by Relic Studios. In our brief time watching the game being played, the thing that stood out was the combat system and quick transitions from brutal melee combat to ranged attacks. I’m personally unfamiliar with the Warhammer IP, but I can see how this game is a different take on the popular tabletop game. It’s violent and full of action, yet it remains true enough to the source material that fans of the series will instantly recognize a lot of characters, places, and intangibles.
The highlight of the tour was a theater showing of Saints Row 3. I’m not usually one for sandbox games, but Saints Row 3 goes so over the top with its content that it’s hard not to want to at least play it. Delivering DDTs or kicking passers-by in their unmentionables looks like guilty fun, and that’s before beating them with a certain purple personal pleasure toy or calling in airstrikes to dispatch large groups of enemies. Car handling looks smooth, and then flying the VTOL really hooked my interest. The game looks to deliver a lot of content and a metric ton of things to do, either during missions or just on the fly. My interest in Saints Row 3 jumped considerably after the presentation and it was one of my highlights from the show, despite not having any hands-on time with the game.
Before leaving, we got a look at UFC Undisputed 3 in another theater showing. MMA fans should start getting excited now, because Yuke’s looks to have added a ton to this sequel. 150 fighters and separate weight classes, the inclusion of PRIDE, and the promise of more accessibility for less-skilled players seems to make it a far more attractive game than Undisputed 2010 was. Waiting until next year may be disappointing for many, but with the extra development time to polish the experience and make it better, things look very positive for this title.
The THQ experience at E3 was a strong one. Saints Row 3 was definitely the highlight of the booth, but titles like WWE 12, UFC Undisputed 3 and UFC Personal Trainer, and Warhammer: Space Marine look to be great additions for THQ as the publisher continues through its fiscal year.