Di­a­logue

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Edge read­ers share their opin­ions; one wins a year’s PlayS­ta­tion Plus

Found footage

I’m typ­ing this whilst watch­ing one of the ma­jor pub­lisher’s E3 brief­ings. I won’t sin­gle them out; the brief­ing I’ve watched has sim­ply been the straw that broke the camel’s back. My is­sue: CGI or pre-ren­dered trail­ers. What on earth are these ac­com­plish­ing? I can al­most un­der­stand their pres­ence when they are thrown on­line two years be­fore re­lease. A lit­tle 15-sec­ond alert to let fans know that some­thing they’re crazy about is about to re-emerge. But what I’ve wit­nessed so far from stream­ing the E3 con­fer­ences is any­thing but.

This is what irks me: I’ve watched nu­mer­ous game re­veals this E3 open with a CGI se­quence that dis­plays some out­stand­ing ac­tion or game­play pos­si­bil­i­ties. Char­ac­ters slid­ing while shoot­ing in two places at once, be­fore leap­ing and throw­ing knives in mul­ti­ple di­rec­tions to take out more bad guys. Su­per­car rac­ers that hus­tle for po­si­tion at the same time as dodg­ing ob­sta­cles or crashed ve­hi­cles by mere inches. Hor­ror-genre footage (usu­ally dis­played from first­per­son) you watch as the pro­tag­o­nist runs from one hor­ri­fy­ing sit­u­a­tion to the next. In­ter­est piqued.

Then what hap­pens? The game di­rec­tor/ pro­ducer/rep­re­sen­ta­tive walks on stage, CGI pre­view fin­ished, and talks up the game. Fair enough. But then they in­tro­duce the ac­tual game­play footage and most of the things you thought you could do in the game (thanks to the CGI in­tro lit­er­ally shown min­utes ago) have dis­ap­peared. You go from un­be­liev­able ex­pec­ta­tions to hard-hit­ting re­al­ity in no time at all.

Videogames seem to get away with this prac­tice. Can you imag­ine Mar­vel, hav­ing shown the Spi­der-Man Home­com­ing trail­ers, re­veal­ing the movie ac­tu­ally fea­tures a lad in Spidey py­ja­mas bat­tling some plas­tic vul­tures? Or a pop­u­lar band re­leas­ing a fan­tas­tic sin­gle ahead of their al­bum, but when you buy the al­bum the other tracks are pri­mary-school chil­dren play­ing Greensleeves?

The amount of money it costs to put these trail­ers to­gether must be phe­nom­e­nal. I’d pre­fer to see that cash in­vested in show­ing what I can do in a game and pay­ing devs to make a game bet­ter, rather than be­ing teased some­thing that we all know won’t see the light of day. Rus­sell Halford

They can’t win, re­ally. If it’s not CGI trail­ers we’re com­plain­ing about, it’s scripted co-op ban­ter or graph­i­cal down­grades. This year Sony showed al­most en­tirely game­play footage, and peo­ple said it was bor­ing. Per­haps they’ll get it right next yea– ah, who are we kid­ding.

“Every­one came for Project Scorpio and left with shoul­ders sore from shrug­ging”

A sting in the tail

Watch­ing Mi­crosoft’s E3 con­fer­ence re­minded me of what it’s like to hear a new record from your favourite ’80s band: you hope past glo­ries might be rekin­dled, but you soon re­alise they’ve lost it.

Every­one came for Project Scorpio and left with shoul­ders sore from shrug­ging. Sure, this gen­er­a­tion doesn’t re­ally feel like it’s any­where near ready to be over, but who doesn’t love the ex­cite­ment of a brand new con­sole launch? Is the Xbox One X re­ally all Mi­crosoft had af­ter teas­ing it for over a year? Does any­one other than PC own­ers get ex­cited by ter­aflops and pixel den­sity?

Still, there must be some crack­ing ex­clu­sive games com­ing, right? Hmm. It seems peo­ple are more ex­cited about Shadow Of The Colos­sus be­ing re­made. Nin­tendo only had to show two min­utes of Mario to get Game Of The Show.

I still don’t un­der­stand how Mi­crosoft has thrown it all away af­ter the majesty of the Xbox 360. Its first­party and ex­clu­sive line-up

is shock­ing. Nin­tendo has shown how a new con­sole can be shifted off the back of a sin­gle must-have game. Sony has had a stel­lar 12 months of ex­clu­sive clas­sics. Mi­crosoft has... well... Forza.

I get it – the mid-cy­cle up­grade is im­por­tant. At some point, games will be made that only work on the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, and back­ward com­pat­i­bil­ity locks in your users. But which sane PS4 owner is go­ing to ditch their back­log to move to Mi­crosoft’s weedy line-up?

It’s all about the games, Phil Spencer trum­peted, again. Ten years ago, Mi­crosoft slapped down $4 bil­lion to save Xbox 360 from the Red Ring Of Death. Here’s an idea. Why not put down the same amount to se­cure ex­clu­sive rights to Red Dead

Re­demp­tion 2 or the in­evitable GTAVI? Be­cause bet­ter exclusives are the only way I’m go­ing to leave my PS4 be­hind. Ivan Hard­ing

Some­how we’re not con­vinced even $4 bil­lion would turn Rock­star’s head, but in any case it’s the first­party line-up, rather than third­party exclusives, that is Mi­crosoft’s main prob­lem. We hope it’s in­vest­ing heav­ily be­hind the scenes. End­less Forza, Gears and Halo games won’t put Xbox back on top by them­selves.

Stop the press

This year’s E3 was, for me, a crush­ing dis­ap­point­ment of a show. Nin­tendo ar­rived with a typ­i­cally strong show­ing of pre­vi­ously an­nounced first­party games, teases of up­com­ing pro­jects and some in­ter­est­ing third­party re­leases but, as a whole, E3 felt like a show that is at odds with how we con­sume games.

EA re­alised this last year; as a medium to show­case new games, E3 as we know it is dy­ing. EA Play may take place around the same pe­riod, most likely out of fear of dis­tanc­ing it­self too much from other pub­lish­ers, but as a for­mat it could take place at any point in the year.

The same could also be said for al­most ev­ery E3 Nin­tendo Di­rect and Tree­house show­case over the last few years. Both Bethesda and Mi­crosoft made the most of hav­ing a phys­i­cal venue to shill their wares but very lit­tle about them felt rev­e­la­tory – and the less said about In­tel’s pres­ence at the PC Gam­ing Show, the bet­ter. Even Sony’s gen­er­ally strong E3 show­ing was lit­tle more than a YouTube playlist of trail­ers for, mostly, pre­vi­ously an­nounced ti­tles. In fact, I be­lieve that only Ubisoft man­aged to em­brace the E3 key­note for­mat through its cel­e­bra­tion of the cul­ture, cre­ativ­ity and creators be­hind games. Ubisoft may have only shown a hand­ful of truly in­ter­est­ing new games, but on the whole it felt like an event that could have taken place on a global stage like E3.

The rea­son for E3’s de­cline, and why many pub­lish­ers may be look­ing else­where, is be­cause events like PlayS­ta­tion Ex­pe­ri­ence, Nin­tendo’s road­shows, Gamescom and the PAX events all al­low fans to go hands-on with games right away. They also fit neatly into the last-minute re­lease-cy­cle hype where fans aren’t left hang­ing for so long they be­come jaded or dis­ap­pointed wait­ing for a re­lease. It should come as no sur­prise that E3’s or­gan­is­ers opened its doors to the pub­lic (al­beit at a lu­di­crous price): some may say it was to help with fall­ing rev­enues, but it’s clear that fi­nally they’ve re­alised that the in­dus­try isn’t in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing pres­sonly events any­more. In my opin­ion, that’s the scari­est thought to come out of this year’s E3. Well, that and the fact that a re­make of a 17-year-old game was my per­sonal high­light of the en­tire show. Vaughn High­field

If any­thing, we ex­pect the ex­pe­ri­ence of open­ing E3 up to the pub­lic will have shown to plat­form hold­ers and pub­lish­ers that they still need tra­di­tional me­dia events. It’s not like the cal­en­dar isn’t al­ready teem­ing with plenty of fan-fo­cused shows that are much bet­ter suited to flow­ing hordes of Joe Pub­lic.

Sa­mus max

As usual E3 was fan­tas­tic. I think there was more re­spect for se­crets this year as there seemed to be fewer leaks. If you had the

Shadow Of The Colos­sus re­make spoiled for you or knew about the Xbox price in ad­vance then I’ve a sug­ges­tion for next year – stay away from sources of game news. At least un­til the last day!

Metroid: Sa­mus Re­turns was the high­light for me and I only caught it live by pure chance. My wife is not a gamer and tem­po­rar­ily en­dured a lengthy post-E3 sum­mary when I emerged from my me­dia nest af­ter the main Nin­tendo pre­sen­ta­tion had ended.

“Re­mem­ber when I said I’d sell the Switch if Nin­tendo didn’t an­nounce Metroid?” “Yes, dear.” “Well they flashed a logo for five sec­onds!” I thought­fully ex­plained that this was both some­how ex­cit­ing and dis­ap­point­ing at the same time and she nod­ded with­er­ingly.

Later, as I passed the man­cave en­trance I saw the word ‘ Metroid’ briefly ap­pear on a screen in a dec­o­ra­tive, Star Trek-style font un­fa­mil­iar to me. It was clearly a dif­fer­ent logo than the hastily copy-pasted Prime 4 job I’d seen ear­lier, so I wan­dered closer and put on my head­phones just as 3DS in-game graph­ics popped in.

I ran reel­ing to my ever-pa­tient spouse, de­lighted not to be watch­ing even a sin­gle ad­di­tional in-game frame. Iron­i­cally all I wanted was Metroid footage to be shown; I didn’t ac­tu­ally want to see it. Stephen Ma­hon

At last, some pos­i­tiv­ity. While it’s nat­u­ral, and healthy, to be scep­ti­cal about the most over­funded event on the in­dus­try cal­en­dar, you can’t deny that, at its best, there’s noth­ing else like it. This was, on the whole, an­other great year – for Metroid fans es­pe­cially. We hope your new PS Plus subscription yields enough games to tide you over un­til Nin­tendo deems that Sa­mus is ready for prime­time.

Is­sue 308

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