E3 2019 Preview

Indivisible

E3 2019 starts on June 11th and looks set to be a strange version of the annual conference. Following moves by several of the big publishers (EA/Bethesda) over the last few years to host their own events around the conference rather than as part of it, this year Sony has declined to take part. Mainly this is because, with the PS5 not quite ready and no new games to talk about, they simply wouldn’t be in a position to hold an interesting event.

The good news for gamers is that Microsoft looks set to follow in Playstation’s steps and finally confirm details of their new console. Rumours continue to swirl about power and features but, alongside the official news on PS5 last month, it means that after E3 the new generation of consoles will be on the way!

DragonAge

There are plenty of games already announced that I want to know more about. Dragon Age Origins was a title I really enjoyed but the company behind it, Bioware, is reeling from two high profile games that have failed to make an impact. Mass Effect Andromedia disappointed fans of the series, while Anthem released in a bit of state and still hasn’t really recovered. Can they return to form on the new Dragon Age title? The teaser trailer confirms Solas will be involved and I wonder if many of the other characters will return. It’s not listed as part of the EA conference but I’d love it if they dropped another trailer as a surprise during their E3 presentation.

We had a good look at Cyberpunk 2077 last year so I’m not sure if it will be back again this year but I hope we get to see another slice of the game – maybe a different aspect of the game world. Another title I’ve been keeping an eye on is Indivisible, an RPG from the makers of Skullgirls. I had a chance to play this at Rezzed a few months ago and really enjoyed it. Would be great to get a release date for this one.

Control

Remedy have spent the last decade exclusively making games for the XBox so their switch to multiplatform means that the upcoming Control is the first of their games for a long time that I’ll have the chance to play. It looks really impressive and as it’s releasing in August it would be a pleasant surprise if they dropped a demo on the day for people to try out.

In addition to announced titles there are always a few new games that crop up, some more surprising than others. There is a lot of talk online around the next Watch Dogs game and whether it might be set in London. I think it would be great to have a big open world set outside of the US for a change and it’s been a while since the UK featured as a main game hub.

Horizon

Guerrilla Games have been very quiet since the release of Horizon: Zero Dawn. Rumours are that they are busy working on a follow up to that game which would be fantastic, although (and I know I’m in the minority) I would love it if they returned to the Killzone universe – either with a new title or a remaster of the excellent Killzone 2. Usually by this time EA would have a DICE-made shooter waiting in the wings for the Autumn but with content for both Battlefield V and Star Wars Battlefront II recently dropping, I’m not sure whether we’ll see anything else cropping up. Perhaps it’ll be more content plans for the games they have. To be honest I’d probably prefer if they supported the existing games longer and gave DICE more time to develop the new titles.

Bethesda have remained silent on a new Dishonored game but I really hope to see one announced at E3. The games have always been fun and got better with each title. Quantic Dream are another company that have gone multi-platform and, despite some heavy handed plot points, I’ve enjoyed almost all of their titles so far. We can’t be far away from them at least teasing their next game, even if it’s for the next generation of consoles.

So there we go, a slightly muted E3 compared to recent years but still plenty to look forward to.

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Beyond: Two Souls – Review (PS3)

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David Cage tends to have a polarising effect on people. Some hate his games and his constant talk of ’emotions’ while others think he is doing something different and interesting in the medium.

I tend to fall in the latter category, although I’d be the first to admit that he could probably do with someone working alongside him to reign him in a bit. Regardless of that I enjoyed Fahrenheit and found Heavy Rain to be a great experience, so I was looking forward to Beyond: Two Souls.

Aside from anything else the casting of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe in the main roles had me intrigued and having seen from the trailers how good the motion capture looked, Beyond seemed like something I’d enjoy.

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And I did enjoy this game. Very much so but it definitely had a few issues that affected the overall experience.

Beyond: Two Souls tells the story of Jodie Holmes, a character who has always had an supernatural entity connected to her. During the game you will play as Jodie (and her entity) from when she is a child until she is a fully grown woman. The story doesn’t play out chronologically and so you’ll be jumping around Jodie’s timeline – which lends the game a ‘Memento‘ vibe. Because of her ability Jodie is placed into the care of scientists Nathan Dawkins (Dafoe) and Cole Freeman (Kadeem Hardison) who investigate her and, over time, become father figures for Jodie.

As things progress you are given various choices, both in terms of action and conversation which means it’s unlikely two playthroughs of the game will be exactly the same. You can also play the game in local co-op, with one player controlling Jodie and the other controlling Aiden (her entity).

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My biggest gripe with Beyond came in the form of the controls, especially with regard to combat situations. At certain times during a fight or attempted escape the game will slow and you are required to push the right analogue stick in the direction of Jodie’s momentum. There is no on screen prompt, you just naturally follow her movement. Which works great with punching or kicking, where there is clear movement and you can judge the direction easily. Not so much for more complex movements such as ducking or rolling to one side – especially if the camera is positioned at an off angle etc.

The general controls are a little more refined than Heavy Rain, with a small white dot indicating something that you can interact with and button prompts for conversation options. Movement still feels clunky on occasion but the motion capture here is excellent – with character movement looking realistic for the majority of the time.

Overall the graphics are fantastic and there are even a few scenes that rival stuff I’ve seen on the PS4. Quantic Dream also manage to avoid the uncanny valley for the most part, which I think comes down to a mixture of improved graphics and the acting of the cast.

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Ellen Page does a superb job here as Jodie Holmes, with her role stretching across Jodie’s entire adolescence. She brings believability to the character and along with Willem Dafoe does a sterling job of making their characters feel well rounded and fleshed out.

Like Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls is a game about choices. And a lot of the time you might not even realise your story has branched off – there are chunks of the game you won’t see if you choose one option over another. It’s handled fairly seamlessly and it’s refreshing to chat to others who have finished the game and compare notes. You will probably be quite surprised at how differently some parts played out!

My other issue with the game (which I’m hoping can be patched at some stage) is that for some unknown reason Beyond doesn’t save your option settings? Meaning that I had to go into the options menu and invert my y axis/turn down the sensitivity EVERY time I booted the game up. It was more infuriating than game breaking but I’m unsure how that slipped through the net on a game with such polish.

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On the whole Beyond: Two Souls is a game I’d recommend to anyone – it does have a few problems and if you’re not a fan of Cage’s previous work you may find it follows too similar a pattern to his other titles but I feel it offers a different, engaging experience. Another fantastic title to add to the PS3’s impressive roster of exclusive titles.

Rating: 8/10

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plat•i•num [plat-n-uhm, plat-nuhm]

“1. Chemistry. a heavy, grayish-white, highly malleable and ductile metallic element, resistant to most chemicals, practically unoxidizable except in the presence of bases, and fusible only at extremely high temperatures.

2. a light, metallic gray with very slight bluish tinge when compared with silver.

3. achievement awarded for 100% trophy completion within a game on the Playstation 3 console system.”

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I’ve spoken many times about Trophies and the lengths some people will go to for a ‘ping’ in the top right hand corner of the screen.

I have a healthy Trophy score, which has occurred mostly naturally – I admit picking up a few trophies having known in advance what is required – but I have no inclination to go over old games for the sake of a few trophies.

Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with people going for trophies, it just doesn’t interest me personally.

But recently something has been bugging me. As many of you will know I would class myself as a fairly serious gamer and I noticed a few weeks ago when looking through my trophy collection that my highest trophy percentage for a game is Terminator Salvation. (81% Trophy Completion)

That’s right, the lowest scored game in the history of this site. The most boring PS3 title I’ve ever finished appears to be my most played and completed game 😥

In terms of general playthroughs the closest was Assassin’s Creed II (71%), with most other titles coming in around 40-50%.

As I started my 2nd playthrough of Heavy Rain in an attempt to unlock a certain ending (I’m staying vague in case I give ANYTHING away :lol:) I was using the help of a guide to make sure I did it correctly and suddenly realised something.

Playing through most of the chapters again using the conditions I needed and getting a different result to my original playthrough in most of them was actually gonna inadvertently net me a heap of trophies.

Could this finally be the game to rid me of the shame of Terminator Salvation? I must also add at this point that my ‘haul’ from Terminator was via one 4 hour playthrough on EASY in which you got a gold trophy for finishing each level 😮

After completing the ending I was looking for in Heavy Rain I decided I’d enjoyed it so much that I wanted to see all the possible endings and find out what could’ve happened. Again I grabbed the guide and, checking the way to do it, realised that if it went as planned I would then only be a handful of trophies short of a platinum :wow:

And while I’m not that into Trophies there was no way I’d let myself not get a platinum by that small amount. Especially when even those last trophies would let me see new scenes/outcomes.

And so there it is – my first ever Platinum Trophy (and probably my last).

You see, Heavy Rain’s Trophies were based around content, not skill. This Platinum isn’t for gaming skill (although I did have to ace some of the quick time events) but having the patience to experience all there is within Heavy Rain.

And I’m glad I took the time to have the complete Heavy Rain experience, firstly because the game and all it’s outcomes were very cool and secondly because Quantic Dream’s ambitious project washed away the embarrassment of having one of the worst games I’ve ever played at the top of my list. 🙂

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Heavy Rain – Review (PS3)

NOTE: This review is SPOILER FREE so don’t worry about it affecting your experience with Heavy Rain.

Heavy Rain is the spiritual successor to Fahrenheit, a fantastic PS2 title that unfortunately collapsed in on itself during it’s final third.

It seems it’s creator David Cage has learnt from that experience and has used the lessons to help form the experience that is Heavy Rain.

And I say experience because Heavy Rain is unlike anything I’ve played before.

Telling the story of the Origami Killer, who kidnaps young boys and drowns them in rain water, Heavy Rain sees you controlling four main characters and through their actions – whether everyday stuff like carrying in the shopping or a frantic fight for their life – you get a real feel for the characters.

Another reason you feel an attachment to them is the well documented continuous story element – whereby if one of the characters die the story continues, just without you getting further evidence/clues that the character would’ve uncovered.

You can’t actually ‘lose’ in Heavy Rain. Most games are like mathematics exams – you have to work out how to get from A to B. There are several ‘right’ answers but a lot more ‘wrong’ answers. If you get the question wrong you start from stratch and try to work it through.

In Heavy Rain the story continues from A to B regardless but your input shapes the way the action unfolds. Presumably the killer is the same each time (I’ve only had one playthrough so far) but the eventual outcome will vary depending on how your story was formed. Worst case scenario if you kill off all the main characters you will end up with a shorter story and, possibly, no resolution.

Knowing during every moment that a slip up may result in the character’s death as opposed to just having to retry the section really ramps up the pressure. Imagine Kratos from God Of War dying permanently if you messed up a QTE or died during gameplay 😮 Obviously it’s a different type of game so you can’t compare them directly but it means you care a lot more about making sure no-one gets bumped off.

You interact with your surroundings using the right stick to open doors, sit down, choose what to look at etc. Moving is old skool – R2 is forward whichever direction you’re facing with the left stick changng direction. Pressing L2 brings up a selection of the characters thoughts which can be triggered by the face buttons.

During some cutscenes you’ll be required to take part in QTE events – pressing, holding or tapping various buttons and using the right stick. But Heavy Rain isn’t just a bunch of QTE’s, you will have the freedom to investigate environments and only once did the game (via the character thinking to himself) prompt me to go back and do something before I could leave the scene.

Graphically this game is up there with the best of them and because the camera angles are dictated by the game you’re guaranteed the game will look amazing all the time.

It’s not flawless – I had a few glitches whereby an unrelated character stumbled into view as a cut scene started (presumably as it’s all running on the same engine in real time) and the main character walked right through them.

Friends that have played the game are saying things like ‘this is amazing’ or ‘I’m astounded’ which is pretty high praise from regular gamers. After finishing Heavy Rain I could not stop talking about it with everyone I met – which is quite an achievement without discussing the story 🙂

And I am extremely wary of ruining any part of this experience for anyone that reads this, which is why I haven’t mentioned anything specific storywise.

Heavy Rain is a game that deserves to be played by the masses – I suspect, sadly, that it won’t be but if Sony marketed this right (I’d release a full trailer as you would for a film personally) it could break through.

Some people will hate this game and think it’s boring but for me it’s great to play through a strong story and the mundane moments help build the characters.

It says a lot that as soon as I finished this game I wanted to play through it again straight away. I want to give the characters a slightly different personality, experiment to see what happens and find out how it changes the story.

Heavy Rain is by no means perfect but it brings a whole raft of new ideas and innovation to the table.

At the very least rent this and give it a shot – once I started I couldn’t stop playing it and I hope many more people enjoy it as much as I did.

Rating: 9/10

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Fahrenheit (PS2) – Review

fahrenheit

It’s not often I review a PS2 game these days but had heard amazing things about Fahrenheit from a while back and then two of my friends recommended it (cheers Oggy and Hollow Snake) (note that link contains very adult and colourful language) 🙂 .

Fahrenheit tells the story of Lucas Kane as he comes to in a diner restroom having just murdered someone.

The real genius of this game is that it’s almost like an interactive film – except your actions have a consequence and while there is an arching storyline there are several endings and different ways things can play out.

It almost reminded me of a game version of the old Fighting Fantasy books I read as a kid (without the Orcs and Dwarves though :lol:)

The refreshing thing about Fahrenheit is that you play as a few of the characters, not just Lucas.

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So once you’ve got Lucas out of the diner and someone discovers the victim, you control the police officers (Carla and Tyler) conducting the investigation.

You’re investigating a murder you just committed! 😮

Obviously with Lucas having no recollection of his actions until after the murder you use the police officers, as well as Lucas himself, to try and help solve the overall mystery.

Using the left stick to move around, the right stick is reserved for interaction. So if you approach a table for instance you might get two icons with a direction each. Say left for coffee cup and right for plate. You then press on the right stick what option you want to take.

The same goes for conversations, often with four options to steer the interaction in the direction you want. Also this isn’t something where you can just go through and choose all the options one after the other. You might get to ask two things then the conversation ends.

Likewise in stressful situations you’ll only have a few seconds to decide how you answer, which is really cool.

You’ll also get quick time events where you’ll have to copy pressing the sticks in whatever directions flash up on the screen. This is usually reserved for bursts of action and make for some frantic manoeuvering of the sticks! 😆

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It doesn’t mean game over if you ask the wrong questions (at least not everytime!) or if you mess up a quick time event during a conversational cut scene. All that happens is that you don’t get all of the information you would’ve done.

It’s a great system that often leaves you wondering if you should’ve asked this or done that etc. 😎

My only complaint with the game was a couple of tedious flashback sequences of Lucas as a boy that were essentially badly done stealth sections but really they form such a small part of the game it seems unfair to judge them too harshly.

Fahrenheit is a very innovative game, which is really saying something as it is is almost 4 years old. The whole game feels brand new – obviously excluding the graphics. While they are more than respectable for the PS2 they pale in comparison to even average looking PS3 games.

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Something else I loved was the way the game would wrap up with a voiceover at the game over screen if you ‘failed’ – technically you could stop playing there and you’d have a finished story (with a lot of questions unanswered but still…).

The storyline is excellent, although fairly far fetched so if you’re looking for gritty realism this won’t be for you.

Fahrenheit is an adult game. There is sex, violence and a complex storyline here, which to be honest younger gamers may not really understand. Not to sound patronising, there are some that would get it – just seems like this could be a little deep for some younger gamers (it’s a 15 rated game).

If you are looking for something completely different but refreshing and enjoy watching films then I’d recommend Fahrenheit – right from the off the tone is set and this is one of the best made games I’ve played for a long time.

The guys who made this are currently working on Heavy Rain (see trailer below) so I’m now even MORE excited about that game.

RATING: 9/10