The 'Shroom:Issue LXIII/Dippy's Matilda
Microsoft predictably opened with a trailer of Halo 4, because what else are they going to open with? Fable: The motherfucking Journey? Astonishingly, less than 10 minutes of the conference was dedicated to the power armoured cash cow, primarily so they could reserve half of it to talk about all the new entertainment features the XBox 360 will soon have that have absolutely no bearing on games whatsoever. I would not use my DVD player to play anything except movies, or my toaster to toast anything except bread; I don't see why everyone is so bloody keen on turning video game consoles into the next generation PC. And while I'm sure plenty of people will be taken in by the gimmick of Kinect's voice recognition bollocks or the new SmartGlass feature, I still can't understand at all how screaming into a little box or using a phone as a controller are going to revolutionize gaming.
Microsoft's conference was marked by a distinct lack of actual game coverage, perhaps because they realised there was bugger all of actual interest for them to brag about. Aside from the shameful catch-ups to Nintendo's tedious music and fitness successes, the majority of new titles were just reboots of any big-name franchise largely associated with the Microsoft name; new Halo, new Forza, new Gears of War, new Tomb Raider, new Fable and of course, a new Call of Duty, this time set in the future with a remarkable lack of actual black ops despite being in the bloody title. Here's a tip for next year, Microsoft; when you've got a few eye-catching IPs on the way, dedicate some actual time into explaining them, since from the trailers alone I wasn't able to tell what the fuck either of them were supposed to be about.
Unlike the other two, Sony's conference was the only one that couldn't be simply described as "more of the same old shit". Kind of. A little bit. Well, at least they gave proper coverage to their new games. On that, they opened with a new title from the creators of Heavy Rain titled Beyond: Two Souls, so we can all expect as little gameplay as possible from it, but I'm sure it'll attract the cool alternative crowd just because Ellen Page is in it. I must say, though, I am very intrigued by The Last of Us, which is looking like I Am Alive with a bigger budget, better gameplay and a goddamned escort. Oh shoot, just as I was starting to get hyped about something.
But Sony isn't forgetting the beloved nostalgia dollar! God of War: Ascension continues the series' trend of mindless gore over coherency and tact, and the violence seems to be getting amped up again as their only real form of innovation, although there does appear to be a power that allows Kratos to reconstruct the stuff he just destroyed, so that's a good way to completely miss the appeal of God of War. Speaking of Kratos, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale! is being announced for both PlayStation 3 and Vita with cross-platform multiplayer because that idea didn't sound stupid enough when Nintendo announced it; I guess it was inevitable that Sony would eventually play catch-ups to the ever-popular "nostalgia-mooching crossover fighter" genre that Capcom vs. and Super Smash Bros. have spearheaded, but who honestly cares? The fact that a Big Daddy is appearing as a playable character screams of desperation to me, like the barrel of iconic Sony characters doesn't reach quite as deep as the company hoped it did.
For a while I thought Sony was finally going to dedicate themselves to games and not all the gimmicky hardware that the other two have indulged themselves in, but what a naïve little child I am. Aside from the baffling interest in smartphone connectivity that everyone suddenly has, Sony unveiled their brand new Wonderbook peripheral, an addition to their line of stupid motion controls bollocks that allows you to live out a storybook by waving a giant book-shaped controller around like a fucking 3-year old. I guess it'll keep the kiddies entertained, but I feel there's a tremendous limit to what one can do with such an accessory; I mean all they had to show for it was a Harry Potter game, and I'm having a hard time thinking of other uses aside from a book-throwing contest which would probably be worlds more fun than reliving My Immortal.
Speaking of awful gimmicks, we still have the glorious Wii U awaiting a release, glorious because of how stupid it is. I liked the dual screen on the Nintendo DS because they were so close to each other that it was easy to switch your focus between both, but I can only imagine it being a tremendous strain to keep looking back and forth between the controller and TV. I don't understand how giving us the option to play the game in smaller resolution is going to add anything to the experience, but then this is the company that made an entire handheld built on blowing up your retinas, so I shouldn't be too surprised. There are also motion controls which look even more awkward and unnatural than the Wii's controls, I never thought it possible. Label me a Luddite if you must, but when I play games I want to play them lazing away on the couch with a good-ol' fashioned button-based controller; I don't want to start waving my arms in the air trying to get a good work out, I want to relax and get immersed in the game without having to worry about slapping myself in the face.
But anyway, let's talk games, although there isn't much I really want to talk about. They boldly claimed that they would be showing off over twenty three games during their two conferences, and to their credit they did indeed have the most games on display, it's just that almost all of them were more bloody sequels or third-party ports. Aside from the obligatory catering to their bullshit music and fitness demographic and the glorified hardware tests designed to show off what the console can do, Nintendo's main selling point this year was the announcement of a brand new Pikmin game for the Wii U, this time boasting a few more of the little shits and the ability to coordinate between four different protagonists, so I ask; where will there ever be a non-contrived situation where you need to use four commanders?
And of course where would Nintendo be if it didn't have another generic Mario platformer to whore out? But this year they've come extra prepared, because they have not one but two to wave in the faces of every fanboy with just a little bit too much spare money laying around, distinguishable only because one has Mario collecting hordes of coins in a masterful representation of Nintendo's true motives, and the other has a playable Mii. Holy shit Nintendo, are you even trying anymore? They also had a new Luigi's Mansion and Paper Mario to show, but are they really this starved for original ideas? I mean they look fun enough, but don't you have any ambitions beyond leeching off the same boring characters in the same tried and tested formulas year after year? On the plus side, Platinum Games is collaborating with them to make the amusingly quirky Project P-100, although I'll be pretty pissed off if they don't grant you a power to commit mass Mii genocide.
Anyway, enough of the boring big three, let's look at some third-party titles!
Dishonoured! Yes I'm spelling that the proper British way, shut up. From the looks of things, Bethesda are planning to follow-up their sandbox funland Skyrim with another sandbox funland set in the Victorian era with steampunk robots and blokes in stupid outfits
Crysis 3! So the invisibility suit is still there? Yes? Cool! We get to use a crossbow now like Hawkeye wearing a glowing trash can? Cool! Is there any noticeable difference in gameplay otherwise? No? Bollocks! Although I do like how the shattered remains of New York are now overgrown, but this makes me question why so few other games set in ruined cities do the same.
Assassin's Creed III! Please Ubisoft, just end the story already, it's been a good five years spanning five main games and even more spin-off bullshit, it's time to just put the Desmond arc to sleep and move on. Mind, they've now finally walked away from wog boy Ezio and are exploring a new ancestor in Revolution-era United States; one Connor Kenway, an indigenous fellow who doesn't look very indigenous at all so as to not scare away all the white folk. Combat still seems wonky as shit, but you can apparently jump through trees and climb cliffs now, which lead me to ask why you couldn't do that right from the start! For some reason there's even ship warfare in the game; excuse me for raining on your parade and hypocritical mocking innovation, Ubisoft, but isn't this supposed to be a stealth game?
Rayman Legends! Gameplay looks fun, thematic design is delightfully quirky, Wii U controls look dumb, when the fuck are you going to finish Beyond Good & Evil 2, Mr. Ancel?!
Far Cry 3! TITS!
Quantum Conundrum! So it seems one of Valve's employees has gone off on her own way to make what appears to be a less grim version of Portal with chubby little animals that look like something out of a Studio Ghibli film… ok I can't say anything sarcastic or mean about that, let's just move on.
Watch Dogs! So Ubisoft are still riding high on the success of Assassin's Creed, because their new game has you walking around a digital city to find your target and then promptly kill him with a quick time event, but not wanting to seem too lazy they've eliminated the freerunning and parkour and instead replaced it with cover-based shooting. Oh, will the good ideas stop rolling in for this company? OK in all honesty, the setting is pretty cool and the ability to fuck with computer networks seems interesting enough, but aside from listening in on private calls I'm not entirely sure how it'll aid gameplay other than forcing cars to crash so you have more chest-high cover to fall asleep on.