BEST OF E3 2014

HWM (Singapore) - - FEATURE -

Best Sur­prise Game – Phan­tom Dust (Xbox One)

Like all trade Shows, E3 is built on the un­ex­pected. Sure, we tuned in to see the lat­est info on up­com­ing games, but what keeps us com­ing back year af­ter year is the prospect of wit­ness­ing the next big thing. There were a lot of great an­nounce­ments this year – the re­turn of Grim Fan­dango and Rain­bow Six: Siege, or Nin­tendo’s foray into Sky­lan­ders-style money print­ing.

But those all fell within ex­pected pa­ram­e­ters. No­body, and we mean no­body, saw Phan­tom Dust com­ing. As the brain­child of Panzer Dra­goon cre­ator Yukio Fu­tat­sugi, the orig­i­nal Phan­tom Dust cer­tainly had an im­pres­sive pedi­gree, not that it did it much good. Though the game’s unique story and card-based ac­tion game­play made it a crit­i­cal dar­ling, it didn’t ex­actly light the world on fire fi­nan­cially.

It’s en­cour­ag­ing to see re­boots for ob­scure ti­tles like this, be­cause it shows pub­lish­ers are think­ing “this game un­der-per­formed, but it was great and de­serves another shot” rather than “this game made us money once and will prob­a­bly do that again.”

Best Rac­ing Game – Forza Hori­zon 2 (Xbox One)

Don’t let the larger world size, ar­cade-like han­dling and new “Bucket List” game­play fool you. Forza Hori­zon 2, the lat­est in the Forza se­ries, is very much a Forza game – both vis­ually and me­chan­i­cally. The dy­namic weather, en­gag­ing chal­lenge-based pro­gres­sion sys­tem and mas­sive re­gion only strengthen the su­perb foun­da­tion lov­ingly crafted by Turn 10 Stu­dios.

It’s the rac­ing game to beat all rac­ing games, at­tack­ing its once weak­est links by im­prov­ing on the finest of de­tails, ex­pand­ing on its most beloved con­cepts and boast­ing some­thing that many rac­ing games lose in the process to per­fec­tion: fun. With on­line “Car Meets” that blend brag­ging and friend­ship seam­lessly, and a launch that prom­ises no mi­cro-trans­ac­tions, Forza Hori­zon 2 eas­ily raced into our fa­vorites list.

Best Game Re­make – Mas­ter Chief Col­lec­tion (Xbox One)

News about the Mas­ter Chief Col­lec­tion leaked out weeks be­fore the show, but the ru­mor had it pegged at just the sin­gle­player cam­paigns. Thank­fully, the fi­nal prod­uct was re­vealed to be one of the best next-gen val­ues to date. For the price of one, you’ll get Halo 1 An­niver­sary, Halo 2 An­niver­sary (for the first time), Halo 3, and Halo 4.

This com­pi­la­tion in­cludes all cam­paign and mul­ti­player modes, with re-mas­tered graph­ics of the orig­i­nal Xbox games. We loved Halo 2’s on­line play a decade ago, and we can’t wait to get back on there and re­live old mem­o­ries in a new way. The re­done graph­ics look far bet­ter than any­thing the orig­i­nal Xbox could’ve hoped to pump out, and Bungie’s vi­sion for the main game will be bet­ter re­al­ized than ever be­fore. Get­ting four full games and the Halo show in the col­lec­tion makes it an un­beat­able value for money.

Best Shooter – Evolve (Xbox One, PlayS­ta­tion 4, Xbox 360, PlayS­ta­tion 3, PC)

Tur­tle Rock Stu­dios shrugs off the FPS con­ven­tions that have be­come a main­stay in the genre. No more sol­dier vs. sol­dier, no more mod­ern com­bat, and no more heav­ily-scripted set piece moments. Evolve dares to be dif­fer­ent with its 4 vs. 1 Co- Op/ Mul­ti­player driven game­play, and it suc­ceeds.

Whether fac­ing the beast as one of four hunters, or chas­ing down prey as the mon­ster, Evolve con­sis­tently sur­prises with its open maps and gor­geous vi­su­als. In a genre where ev­ery­thing must stay the same, Evolve evolves (pun in­tended) the genre to brand new heights.

Best Mo­bile Game – World of Tanks Blitz (iPad)

When it comes to MMOGs and mas­sively so­cial on­line gam­ing, PC con­tin­ues to reign supreme when it comes to dom­i­nant plat­forms. But like most gen­res, there has been a con­certed ef­fort to make the jump to mo­bile and tablet de­vices, though only a hand­ful of ti­tles have truly em­braced the con­cept to the de­gree that we’ve seen with World of Tanks Blitz.

In many ways, Blitz is what you get when you take the men­tal­ity and re­sources of build­ing a triple-A ti­tle, but re­main con­scious of what the ex­pe­ri­ence needs to truly excel on a given de­vice.

We’ve watched Blitz grow from a more ba­sic pro­to­type into one of the best games we’ve ever had the plea­sure to ex­pe­ri­ence on a tablet. Hats off to Wargam­ing for mak­ing World of Tanks Blitz one of the truly stand­out ti­tles at E3 2014, re­gard­less of plat­form.

Best RPG – The Witcher 3 (Xbox One, PlayS­ta­tion 4, PC)

Sup­pos­edly 20% larger than Bethesda’s Skyrim in scope, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt might be the ti­tle we point at to sig­nify the of­fi­cial ar­rival of the new gen­er­a­tion of gam­ing. Its de­tail is ex­quis­ite; its depth is un­de­ni­able. The lat­est it­er­a­tion of Poland’s num­ber one ex­port looks to take a darker turn than its pre­de­ces­sors, and all in­di­ca­tions are that this is as cor­rect of a choice as one could hope for.

From the looks of things, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt might be used as the clear­est ex­am­ple of why de­lays are gen­er­ally a good thing.


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