E3 is Still Terrible

Every year E3 comes around and every year it’s a complete fucking disgrace. An event bloated with the most horrible and deceitful business practices you can imagine. This year there were three stand-out performances. Let’s get started:

Fuck EA

EA did not fuck up as hard as they could this year. The games they announced were entirely mediocre, with two yearly sport titles, a DLC, a Need for Speed game, and a decent-looking co-op prison-escape sim. I’d rail against these yearly sports titles, but I unironically look forward to every yearly Pokémon game.

Where EA faltered is in its baffling use of completely inept and unqualified YouTube personalities. You can practically taste the awkwardness in the air when people that are used to creating scripted and heavily-edited content are forced to perform live. Perfectly illustrating this is the Need for Speed: Payback demonstration, when Hipster Supreme has to be rescued from a nigh-lethal case of stage fright by some guy that worked on the game and obviously spent the time rehearsing his lines.

Though our salmon-shirted friend can probably take solace that he was not the worst act that EA had hired that day. That prestigious honour went to two football pundits that sped through their jokes almost fast enough to distract you from the fact that nobody was laughing.

 

Fuck Microsoft

Now to start with, Microsoft did bring the games. They actually brought the games pretty damn hard, with a good mixture of high-profile games and smaller independent titles. A huge variety of titles from racing games to JRPG’s to old-school platformers. Nobody can say that Microsoft didn’t bring the games to E3 2017.

They also brought a car.

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Yeah, the Porche 911 was announced at E3. In fact, it was live on stage for about three and a half minutes. I desperately want to know which company was desperate enough to pay for that car to appear on stage for less time than it takes for Americans to recover from hearing the numbers nine-eleven.

Now onto the fun stuff: the Xbox One X or, as savvy people have noted, the XboneX. With the name of this console, Microsoft have successfully circled around and become an edgy 13yo Xbox fanboy.

Name aside however, and it’s the most powerful console ever created, able to run games better than ever before… kinda, sorta, probably not really. Four games have already been confirmed to only run at 30fps, a framerate that hasn’t been acceptable since the PS2, but hey, at least it’ll look really pretty… in screenshots.

Secondly, Microsoft used a shitty marketing practice that’s only popped up in the past couple of years, and has been used by games like Rainbow Six in 2014. It’s the act of using professional voice actors to speak over your multiplayer footage, as if they’re playing the game and communicating through the in-game voice chat. Coined as “The Mic Trick” by some fat guy with a red tie, it’s an insidious and deceitful tactic to make the game look a lot more interesting and co-operative than it is.

Microsoft used this trick in the Anthem Gameplay Trailer, a damn good-looking game in my opinion, but one that I’ve been permanently soured on because of the manipulation they tried to pull.

If you listen closely to the voices, they’ve even been slightly distorted to make it sound like they’re communicating over short-range radios. I honestly thought I was listening to the characters until one of them started talking about their loot pickup. If you want a more realistic representation of what the game will be like, re-watch that video on mute, and put any call-of-duty match in the background. Yes, there will be exactly that many racial slurs in this game too.

Now onto the big one. Microsofts way of sticking the middle fingers up at us while kicking our dog and insulting our collective mums. This bullshit:

Yes. Microsoft, in its magnanimity, deems we pathetic mortals worthy to give it money for games that haven’t even come out yet. There was applause for that. People applauded the idea that you can give your money to a company in exchange for games that we can’t be sure won’t be cancelled in a month. Hell, they specifically highlighted digital preorders. What is the point of preordering something digitally? Do you think the digital store is going to run out of downloads? Stop giving your money away to these greedy, unapologetic fucks!

Fuck Bethesda

Well paid mods are back. Except they’re not mods. They’re awesome new content made by Bethesda! And anyone Bethesda gives the ok. And you pay for them. And the modify the game.

They’re paid fucking mods. You tried this bullshit before and I hope it burns you twice as hard and three times as long. It’s not as if you need the money, you’re releasing Skyrim for another damn platform and it’s already the tenth best-selling game of all time.

Bethesda long ago shed all of its talent, ethics and integrity. This is just more proof that they aren’t worth dealing with any more.

Let this be the final straw. Let Bethesda die. Let them sell Fallout and Elder Scrolls to a better developer.

What are Obsidian doing these days?

Steven Universe: Attack the Light

It’s hard to deny that Steven Universe is one of the truly good things in the world, as is its video game.

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Let me start by saying that if you’re not on the Steven Universe bandwagon then this game is not for you. You’ll be able to play it fine, but Attack the Light wasn’t made to bring in new fans, it’s made to give the old fans something to enjoy during this horrifying hiatus.

The plot is simple enough: Steven accidently unleashes seven coloured monster types from a crystal and the Gems need to track them down and reimprison them, hijinks and touchscreen battles ensue.

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Fights are turn-based, which is the best decision for a touch screen. The Gems use star points to use their various abilities and attacks, you can use them all up in a single turn on save some for extra actions on your next turn. When you launch an attack, or an enemy attacks you, stars will flash up. If you tap the screen when a star appears you can increase the power of your attacks or decrease the strength of enemy blows. This becomes more necessary as the game progresses and enemies become strong enough to wipe out a character in just one or two attacks.

Almost every item is a reference, it actually gets a little silly. Cookie Cat is your standard healing potion, Together Breakfast fully heals your entire party, Rose’s Tear revives a Gem, and Bagel Sandwiches distract foes. It’s a fun joke, but it wears thin quickly.

You also get special badges, which the gems can equip, to give you stat bonuses and other effects. It’s a great way to customise your team and prepare you for the specific challenges you’re facing.

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The biggest issue with the game is that it’s easy, but that’s a minor complaint. This game was made for kids, not twenty-two year old RPG veterans. It piles on healing items and bonus star points at every opportunity, but it’s only doing that to give younger and less experienced players a safety net if they mess up the combat.

It’s also not very long, but for around £2 you shouldn’t expect it to be. I completed the main story in maybe three hours, but the extras and secrets added a couple of hours onto the end.

The art style is cute and cartoony. It’s similar enough to the show to be fun, but simplified to make creating game assets easier.

Steven Universe: Attack the Light isn’t anything new, but it’s a solid example of good touchscreen gameplay. There’s enough variety and depth to keep you interested long after the main story is finished, and the various nods and references will keep fans entertained.

Nintendo: Forever Trapped in Zion

The digital age is calling. It’s naked, face-down, arse-up on the bed and asking for Nintendo to join it, but for some reason the Japanese Giant just doesn’t seem sure as to how to proceed. It’s experimented a couple of times before with the Wii and DS online stores, and had a better shot with the more recent WiiU and 3DS eShop, but it needs to do a few stretches, take a decent run-up and dive head first into ok this analogy is going somewhere bad.

A few days ago I was fiddling with my 3ds, and decided to look up some games for it. Zero Escape was probably on sale at this point, plus a few other things I wanted, but as I browsed I remembered that each of these games comes in cartridges. Small, fragile, easily lost and broken cartridges. Physical media is fine for a home console, dealing with very large games on discs that aren’t going to be moving very much, but I don’t like the risk of carrying the extra 3ds cartridges around.

So then I tried the eShop, figuring that I might be able to download some of the more interesting titles, and I can… for full retail price. Every 3ds game is set at £40, while their physical counterparts have sometimes dropped down to £20, new and sealed.

Defeated, I started researching flash carts.

I feel that Nintendo is shooting itself in the foot. I’m willing to pay for my games, but I’m being given the choice of a reasonably-priced game that comes in a cartridge, or an expensive game that I get to download to the extremely limited memory in my 3ds and WiiU.

Maybe I’m spoiled, Steam sales have definitely skewed my idea of what a decent price for a game is, but £40 is something I feel I should drop on a top of the line, HD graphics out the arse masterpiece like MGS:V, not a year-old portable Zelda.

I’m also a lot more used to security with my games. Nintendo doesn’t assign the downloaded games to accounts, it instead assigns them to consoles. So if you ever have a hardware failure you’re losing all the downloaded games that you paid for.

If you need any more proof that Nintendo doesn’t understand digital distribution: the size of a WiiU downloaded game can vary, but there are titles that take around 18GB. I’ll remind you now that the basic WiiU model comes with 8GB of storage, and the larger model has 32GB. The WiiU was never designed to handle downloadable titles, I don’t even understand why they’re trying to sell these titles online.

This will buy one game, yet paradoxically still fill your storage completely.
This will buy one game, yet paradoxically still fill your storage completely.

There is a lot of money available if Nintendo would just step its game up. There is money in laziness, that’s why few people wash their own cars. Give the public the ability to buy Nintendo games from the comfort of their own home and you’ll find a lot more sales even on big titles. Discounts on larger titles would also help, it’ll grab the impulse-buyers, the kinds of people that just can’t turn down a bargain.

This also helps them get over the initial hump of buying from an online store. Studies have shown that once you’ve bought one thing online, it’s a lot easier to buy again. Think of your first RP purchase in League of Legends, or your first game on Steam, it was a lot easier the second time wasn’t it?

But in case anyone from Nintendo is reading this, I’ve left the best for last. Everything you sell on your digital marketplace is pure, absolute profit. No manufacturing costs, no shipping costs, no retailers taking a cut. Maintain your servers and watch as the money is violently thrown at your face.

Nintendo isn’t stupid, you don’t get to become an enormous multi-billion dollar corporation spanning over half a century if you’re stupid. They have to see that digital distribution is the future, they have to see the benefits of it, but they’re staring at it, not entirely sure of what to do and in extreme danger of staining their pants.