The Editor’s Soap Box: Under The Radar Games At E3
E3 had no shortage of showy and over-exuberant titles on display, with some heavy duty announcements and new footage on show for the likes of The Last of Us and the well received Watch Dogs, but I’d like to take a moment to point out the sequels, spin-offs and remakes that are well under way in their development cycle, but may have missed your attention.
The first instalment slipped in under the radar on its initial release but despite that it garnered quite a following, not to mention selling well enough to make a sequel. The first game involved the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War. After being tricked into bringing about the end of the world, he is stripped of his title and honour before beginning a personal quest to clear his name and bring the scheming powers that have ended civilisation to justice. (Darksiders may still be available as a free download on the PSN network for Plus subscribers, so you don’t really have an excuse not to grab now, do you?)
The sequel sees Death on a similar quest, how that will all tie together we’ll have to wait and see, but it also brings about a new style of gameplay and a new array of mechanics. The Zelda style exploration will return, but from the gameplay footage on show at e3, it looks like the game has taken a very RPG-lite approach (it could be more involved, but it’s hard to tell at this point) with loot drops, a small amount of weapon crafting and those magical numbers appearing as hit indicators.
It’s a bold new strategy, one which I hope pays off, and combined with the dungeon exploration of the original, the Prince of Persia style of platforming and movement, and the faster approach to combat, Darksiders 2 is shaping up to be a true sequel to what is a cult classic in some respects, instead of the churned out copy-clones that are so abundant in the market.
Darksiders 2 is due for release in August of this year.
Metro: Last Light
Metro 2033 was something of an anomaly. Based on the book by the same name, it followed the story of Artoym, a survivor living in the underground metro stations ofRussiafollowing a cataclysmic nuclear explosion. The story and setting were grim to say the least. Players faced off against mutants, neo-fascists and even the extremist Reds. There was a deep survival horror feel to it, which involved scavenging for ammo and supplies, while choosing whether to fire your military grade ammo, or save it as currency. It was a flawed game in many ways (the stealth elements were all but broken for example) but it’s a title that had promise, something that Last Light intends to deliver on.
The player will resume the role of Artyom, and rather than make a game based around the the sequel book, Metro 2034, the plot has been written from scratch with the assistance of the book’s author, Dmitry Glukhovsky. The full extent of the story has yet to be revealed, which is a good thing in my books, but the same style of play will return and the oppressive and foreboding atmosphere should be present as always. Supernatural events, an element that was ever present in 2033, will return as the footage from e3 shows a flashback that takes places within a crashed airliner.
If Last Light can take the feedback they received from 2033 and build upon that, I have a feeling that Last Light could indeed be a very successful game. It may, however, remain a game with cult status which would be a shame for publisher THQ, who have just entered into a new phase in their life as a publishing company.
Metro: Last Light launches is due for release in 2013
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
I know what you’re thinking, it’s not a Metal Gear Solid game, and you’re absolutely right. MGR is not a Metal Gear Solid title, and that’s a good thing. We’d be having serious issues if it was, but with Platinum on development duties only gives me warm feelings, knowing they’re behind this crazy spin-off set in the same universe as Solid Snake’s sneaky adventures.
It’s no secret that most Metal Gear fans harbour a heavy feeling of resentment for the character of Raiden, he did steal the limelight from Snake in Sons of Liberty after all, but we’ve on past that. Haven’t we? Set after the events of MGS 4, Raiden returns to the battlefield. Why? We don’t know yet, but it must be pretty big for Platinum and Kojima studios to combine the words revenge and vengeance (that’s heavy duty word-smithing right there), but then they did coin the word Transfarring which still makes me shudder.
The latest e3 trailer shows off some pretty insane action, as well as the sounds of Depeche Mode, which is not as out of place as a lot of knee-jerkers would make you believe. Grey Fox managed to stop Rex with his hands, just before getting mashed to a pulp, and the bat-shit crazy events of both Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 (the latter being a little more grounded) hardly smack of realism.
It’s a tad unfair to judge Raiden’s athletic ability against the one man Rambo of stealth that is Snake, and since this is a spin-off, it’s probably best that it does its own thing. Kojima wouldn’t trust such a prized IP to a team unless they had confidence in them, and I think we can all agree that both Bayonetta and Vanquish speak for themselves. I personally can’t wait to get stuck into some smexy cyborg action, make it right and cut “everything.”
Metal Gear Rising is due for release early 2013.
The eponymous creature that is the love child of new developer Ninja Theory, best known for Heavenly Sword and Enslaved, has kicked up as much of a hornet’s nest as Metal Gear Rising but it deserves as much of your undivided attention as the former. DMC isn’t a spin-off, it’s a full blown reboot of the franchise and one that was needed after the middling Devil May Cry 4.
The new look Dante has enraged series fans, but this is nothing new. It’s a shame that people fear and hate change in their franchises, as it’s the very reason IPs begin to stagnate. Bring on change I say, revitalise the ailing franchises I cry and stop producing a needless amount of hate and bile for a company that’s trying something new (that one, I’m pleading).
From the latest trailer and footage from e3, it’s clear that the story and art style has taken a decidedly more mature and twisted approach. It appears that demons control major companies, governments and our very existence. There appears to be a resistance group who are not only aware of the situation, but are actively fighting back. Their latest weapon? Dante, the Son of Sparda.
Dante is much more fresh faced in this remake, yet he still has the same smug cockiness about him; one of the personality traits that epitomises the character. In the footage, we saw a boss battle between Dante and a massive foul-mouthed demon, who is producing some kind of demon goo to pollute human bodies and minds. There’s a back and forth that continues during the battle, which is a refreshing and doesn’t seem to be a series of canned repetitive lines. The combat moves look familiar, which should at least keep some series-fans happy, and the traditional combo-counter returns in all its glory.
There’s a much more mature game developing here, compared to the almost comic book style of Capcom’s classic, and it may just be what the series needs. The art style is gritty and dark, and if there’s one thing Ninja Theory can do, it’s a visually pleasing game. There’s still a while to go on this one, but if you can get past the unnecessary bile being hurled at this title, and wait to see the final product, I have a feeling we’ll all be pleasantly surprised.
DMC is due for release in early 2013
But wait….there’s one more
Dead Island: Riptide
Just a quick mention of the announced Dead Island: Riptide. Groan all you like, I happen to think that Dead Island was a great first effort from Techland and Deep Silver, and it showed the industry that smaller companies are beginning to step up into the big leagues; an odd sentiment with so many large companies going Free-To-Play.
Dead Island may not have been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it did have potential, despite that awfully over played slow motion announcement video. It had a vast world to explore, with different locales in which you could crush, cut and burn the undead to your heart’s content, and it had a great sense of what co-operative play should be like.
It was a fun game that deserves a sequel and a chance to prove that it has learnt from its previous mistakes, and since it’s being released near the end of the cycle, according to Deep Silver’s PR, it will see a reduced price of $49.99 (I’d imagine it would be around £29.99 here in the UK) to reflect that. None to shabby.
(Story Courtesy of Ripten)
Expect more information over the Summer period.