E3 2017 Thoughts

If you follow me on Twitter you know that this year is most likely the last year I’ll take time out of my schedule to watch the E3 press conferences. It was also supposed to be the last time I was going to podcast about E3. Unfortunately the podcasts did not happen. So since I took the time to watch all the conferences I thought I would at least put my thoughts somewhere.

Things started on Saturday with a pretty lackluster EA press conference. Everyone is trying their hardest to get into eSports and EA is no exception. They are who you think of when you think of sports in video games so if anyone can pull off some growth in this space it’s them. Also, for some reason they are cramming in cinematic single player campaigns into all of their sports titles. Is this popular? Do people like that? A Way Out looks neat but if the game is too scripted it won’t generate any of those moments you talk to your friends about to see if it played the same for them. Finally, Anthem looks great but I’m curious to see how they’ll instill the infamous BioWare story elements into the game if at all.

Microsoft was up next and the Xbox One X looks great but man, I have never seen so many mixed opinions about a console. On the one hand some people seem to think that no one will really buy it because its meant for high end consumers but on the other hand I wonder if there’s enough people out there that will want it Day One that we’ll see shortages at launch. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds coming to Xbox is really cool news. The game is a phenomenon on PC so to letting console players in on the fun is great. State of Decay 2 looks like a ton of fun if you have time to play games like that. I don’t care about Sea of Thieves. I’m very sorry. Crackdown 3 looks…..like more Crackdown which is what I think everyone wanted but that trailer fell a little flat.

Bethesda had a cool conference. Wolfenstein 2 looks great. Its neat that they added Link weapons and armor to the Switch version of Skyrim. Bethesda doubling down on VR is interesting. I wonder if Skyrim and Fallout will be the thing that gets VR into the mainstream.

Ubisoft opened with a very cute Rabbids x Mario game. Unfortunately I’m not a big fan of strategy games so I’ll pass.  Starlink could be neat but toys to life seems like a weird thing to try now. And of course we finally got a trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2. It was fun, but what is the game?

Sony’s conference was literally hard to watch. We had to restart the stream a few times and it stuttered a lot. Days Gone looks like a Vita spin off of The Last of Us that Sony decided to turn into a full PS4 title. Shadow of the Colossus remake seems like Sony testing the waters for green lighting a sequel. God of War looks fine. Detroit looks like a David Cage fever dream. And Spider-Man looks fantastic.

Nintendo had a breezy conference where the two biggest announcements were just mentions. Super Mario Odyssey looks like a lot of fun and might get me to buy a Switch. It was interesting that the Yoshi and Kirby games don’t have full titles but it’s possible those are coming. Outside of their Nintendo Direct they announced a new 2D Metroid which looks very promising.

There you go. It was a pretty sleepy E3. I’m sure I might hang with Fish and Dave next year for some of the off day conferences but I can’t see myself being very active anywhere but Twitter. So, thanks for reading, more beer and barbecue to come.

Top 10 Video Games of 2013

Unfortunately a grueling work schedule combined with taking care of a newborn prevented me from playing everything I wanted to last year. I also didn’t get a Playstation 4 which prevented any of those games from making my list. But here are my 10 favorite games that I played in 2013. Enjoy!

10. Bioshock Infinite – Xbox 360/PS3/PC (2K Games/Irrational Games) 

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There were so many things we wanted Bioshock Infinite to be. What it ended up being was a bold attempt at telling a complicated narrative. Unfortunately the game wasn’t all that great. And honestly, the story wasn’t all that amazing either. In the end the game is just kind of alright. Alright enough to be number 10 on my list. I look forward to what Ken Levine and his team are working on next, but I hope they can get out from under the shadow of Bioshock.

9. The Stanley Parable – PC (Galactic Cafe) 

Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable is the definition of indie game quirkiness. Its not really a game. Its more like an experiment. The Stanley Parable is a satire of video games. It makes fun of the industry, genres, storytelling, nearly everything about video games gets skewered. Its worth spending a couple of hours in The Stanley Parable’s weird world.

8. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo/Next Level Games)

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Luigi’s Mansion made me fall in love with Nintendo all over again. I didn’t buy a single Wii U game in 2013 and this was the only 3DS game I bought. I felt like I was done with Nintendo, disappointed in my Wii U but Nintendo still rules first party titles. Luigi’s Mansion has all the charms of a classic Nintendo game. The attention to detail, the sense of wonder, and thanks to the 3D I truly felt I was in Luigi’s world. When Nintendo said 2013 was the year of Luigi they meant it. Welcome to my top 10 buddy.

7. Warhammer Quest – iOS (Rodeo Games) 

Warhammer Quest

Warhammer Quest is on my list for completely selfish reasons. It’s nothing but nostalgia for me. I spent days playing the board game when I was a kid and Rodeo Games’ version is a faithful recreation.  I truly felt like a kid again playing Warhammer Quest. My iPad transported me to my past. I played no game on iOS in 2013 more than this one. There are dozens of hours of content in this game but throw in reasonably priced expansion packs and you could turn your iOS device into a Warhammer machine. You can feel the love the developers have for this game and I had no problem giving it right back.

6. Kentucky Route Zero – PC (Cardboard Computer) 

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This is a weird one, because honestly the game isn’t done. Only 2 of the game’s 5 acts have been released but honestly its enough for it make my list. I am absolutely enamored with every part of this game. The sound design, the look, the way it plays, everything about Kentucky Route Zero is pretty incredible. These guys are great story tellers and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Not only the rest of Kentucky Route Zero but what incredible things they have up their sleeves after this.

Predictions for the 2013 Spike VGX Awards

The Spike Video Game Awards are tomorrow (12/7/2013) and since Fish and I will be live tweeting the festivities I thought I should get my predictions for the winners down ahead of time. So, here are the list of nominees with my pick for winner italicized. I’ll bold the actual winners. HERE WE GO!

Game of the Year

  • BioShock Infinite
  • Grand Theft Auto 5
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • The Last of Us
  • Tomb Raider

Studio of the Year

  • Irrational Games
  • Naughty Dog
  • Rockstar North
  • The Fullbright Company

Best Shooter

  • Battlefield 4
  • BioShock Infinite
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Metro: Last Light

Best Action Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
  • Grand Theft Auto 5
  • The Last of Us
  • Tomb Raider

Best Sports Game

  • FIFA 14
  • MLB 13: The Show
  • NBA 2K14
  • NHL 14

Best Independent Game

  • Gone Home
  • Kentucky Route Zero
  • Papers, Please
  • The Stanley Parable

Best RPG

  • Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
  • Pokemon X/Y

Best Fighting Game

  • Divekick
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Killer Instinct
  • Tekken Revolution

Best Driving Game

  • F1 2013
  • Grid 2
  • Forza Motorsport 5
  • Need for Speed Rivals

Best DLC

  • Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep
  • Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
  • Mass Effect 3: Citadel

Best Xbox Game

  • BioShock Infinite
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • Grand Theft Auto 5
  • Tomb Raider

Best PlayStation Game

  • Grand Theft Auto 5
  • Rayman Legends
  • The Last of Us
  • Tomb Raider

Best Nintendo Game

  • Pikmin 3
  • Rayman Legends
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • The Wonderful 101

Best PC Game

  • Battlefield 4
  • Gone Home
  • Papers, Please
  • The Stanley Parable

Best Handheld Game

  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  • Pokemon X/Y
  • Tearaway
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Best Casual Game

  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  • Disney Infinity
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time
  • Skylanders Swap Force

Best Voice Actor

  • Troy Baker as Joel in The Last of Us
  • Troy Baker as Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite
  • Steven Ogg as Trevor Philips in Grand Theft Auto 5
  • Willem Dafoe as Nathan Dawkins in Beyond: Two Souls

Best Voice Actress

  • Ashely Johnson as Ellie in The Last of Us
  • Courtnee Draper as Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite
  • Camilla Luddington as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider
  • Ellen Page as Jodie Holmes in Beyond: Two Souls

Best Soundtrack

  • BioShock Infinite
  • Grand Theft Auto 5
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
  • The Last of Us

Best Song in a Game

  • “ADHD” by Kendrick Lamar (Grand Theft Auto 5)
  • “Sleepwalking” by The Chain Gang of 1974 (Grand Theft Auto 5)
  • “Survival” by Eminem (Call of Duty: Ghosts)
  • “Will the Circle be Unbroken” by Courtnee Draper & Troy Baker (BioShock Infinite)

Most Anticipated Game

  • South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • Destiny
  • Watch Dogs
  • Titanfall
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Top 10 Video Games of 2012!

Alright, I really really want you to listen to this years Bullshot! end of the year special. It can be found here. So in hopes to encourage you to listen I’m only going to post 2 or 3 sentences on why I liked these games. For more discussion listen to Bullshot! Thanks!

 

10. ZombiU – Wii U (Ubisoft)

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ZombiU feels more like a ride or an experience. Something you would pay many tokens to play at the arcade. It also shows that third parties might know what to do with Nintendo’s latest console.

9. Uncharted: Golden Abyss – PS Vita (SCEA/Sony Bend)

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By far and away the best game for the Vita. Uncharted is brilliantly written and acted and was one of the most satisfying adventures of the year.

8. Mass Effect 3 – Xbox 360/PS3/PC/Wii U (EA/BioWare)

ME3

Mass Effect 3 is nowhere near as good as Mass Effect 2, but you have to respect BioWare for seeing this trilogy to its conclusion.

7. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – Xbox 360/PS3/PC (EA/38 Studios/Big Huge Games)

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A brilliant mash up of Fable and Skyrim. Its too bad the game was caught up in the 38 Studios controversy because people missed one of the best RPGs of 2012.

6. Borderlands 2 – Xbox 360/PS3/PC (2K Games/Gearbox Software)

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Borderlands 2 is Borderlands, but bigger. Play with friends or even strangers and the world will melt away. All you will care about is bullets and loot.

5. Assassin’s Creed III – Xbox 360/PS3/PC/Wii U (Ubisoft)

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Assassin’s Creed III makes up for some of Revelations shortcomings, but isn’t as good as Brotherhood. Still the game is beautiful and the conclusion to Desmond’s storyline is fantastic.

4. Spec Ops: The Line – Xbox 360/PS3/PC (2K Games/Yager)

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Spec Ops: The Line is a sub-par military shooter, but underneath its surface lies its dark heart and the best narrative in video games in 2012.

3. Kid Icarus: Uprising – 3DS (Nintendo/Project Sora)

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Incredible writing and voice acting makes up for bizarre controls. Easily the most underrated game of the year. It literally makes me angry that more people didn’t play it.

2. Halo 4 – Xbox 360 (Microsoft Studios/343 Industries)

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Halo grows up. Halo 4 is the first time I can whole heartedly recommend a Halo game since Halo 2. Manned by a new team who seem genuinely excited to be working on new Halo games Halo 4 is an absolute triumph of video game making. The music, the graphics, the gameplay, everything comes together to make one of the most fun to play games of 2012.

1. Journey – PS3 (SCEA/thatgamecompany)  

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Journey is the best game of the year. To say anything else would ruin this incredible experience. If you play video games this is a must play. Even if you don’t play video games, watch someone else play it. It’s something everyone should see.

REVIEW: PSVita

Its been a week now since Sony rolled out the PSVita and you’ve already read countless reviews of the hardware. So, instead of writing your typical 2000 word review I’ve decided to lay it out as a fake FAQ of sorts. I’ll write a statement or question and then I’ll answer it True, False, or something snarky. Make sense? Ok! Here we go!

The screen is really awesome. TRUE

The 5″ OLED screen is ridiculous. The only thing that outdoes it is the iPhone’s Retina Display. The viewing angles are insane, the colors are crisp and bright, the whole thing is just beautiful. I could see myself watching an entire movie on the Vita.

The Vita is not portable. FALSE

The Vita is not POCKETABLE. Buy a case for your Vita and throw it in your bag and you are all set to go. I took mine with me on a train ride, and on a few car trips and it is fine. Case. Bag. Done.

You need the 3G version. MAYBE

This all depends on just how connected you want to be. Many of the games have online multiplayer or some kind of networking feature. Plus all the apps are for the web. Foursquare, Twitter, Netflix, etc all require a data connection. Unit 13 a game due out next week has a constantly updating leaderboard and begs you to keep it connected to the Internet. If you’re just going to play this at home, or at places with WiFi you should be fine. You could also always just get a tethering plan for your smartphone which is what I might end up doing.

Does the battery suck? KINDA

I let the Vita sit for a couple of days fully charged and the battery meter didn’t move a bit. However on Saturday I played 2 hours of Uncharted, a half hour of ModNation Racers, and an hour of Hot Shots Golf and that killed the battery. The 3DS gets about the same amount of game play time out of a full charge and we all got over that. Plus right now most of the games are meant to be played in short bursts. Battery life will be a bigger problem when online multiplayer gaming becomes more prevalent on the system.

Do the thumbsticks really make a big difference? YES

The Vita is basically a PS3 controller with a screen. It makes all the difference in the world. Uncharted FEELS like a brand new full entry in the series. Not a half assed version of the franchise. That’s another exciting thing about the Vita it will expand franchises. Something I will talk about in more detail on Bullshot! because my theory is a tad complicated.

Do I need to buy one right now? NO

Nope it’s just a video game system you don’t NEED it. I’m in love with mine, but if you aren’t going to find yourself in situations where you need to play a video game to kill some time or because you only have one TV in the house and you can’t always play games then the Vita is fantastic, otherwise you can wait.

I’ll definitely be talking about it more on Bullshot! and I’ll do a mini-review of Uncharted: Golden Abyss when I wrap it up.