E3 2016 Predictions!

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Publishers may be spoiling all of the fun of E3 with early announcements and “leaks,” but I get the feeling there is a bunch of stuff we don’t yet know about. Recent trends that are taking the games industry by storm aren’t going to go untouched.

There is a lot of speculation surrounding companies like Nintendo and Capcom, but I’m here to lay those worries to rest (hopefully). There is my list of predictions for stuff we’ll see at E3 2016!

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NX isn’t a console…it is Zelda!

While Nintendo initially stated their only title at E3 would be the new Zelda, they soon clarified that other games would be present during their Treehouse presentation. Most people are looking for new details on the upcoming NX console, but I have a theory.

What if the NX is just Zelda. I’m serious, too. What if the NX isn’t a separate console, but an entire machine dedicated to one game. The Wii U isn’t powerful to allow the creative vision Nintendo wants for the next Zelda game, but they also don’t want to divide their user base with another console that will (most likely) fail.

So the NX is unleashed as being another box, but it only has one game. That game will be Zelda: The Something of Whatever! It will have Demon’s Souls like multiplayer features, a never ending supply of quests like an MMO and will feature constantly expanding and growing characters in a world that changes based on your actions.

Then again, maybe the NX is just a codename for Nintendo XTreme!

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What’s Old is New Again…Again

Hot on the heels of Battlefield 1’s announcement to take place in the past, EA will begin to restructure their focus on “retro” themed games. This will lead to things like Plants Vs Zombies: Mendelian Conflict, Medal of Honor: Gettysburg and SSX 95.

Activision will take notice and announce a spin-off Call of Duty set during the rise of the Greek Empire, Call of Duty: Thermopylae. Seeing as how their only other franchise is Guitar Hero, they will announce a classic rock compilation of 50’s tunes dubbed Guitar Hero Live: All Shook Up.

A deluge of not modern military shooters will follow in the coming years. We’ll all have the EA presentation of 2016 to thank for our inevitable hatred of the “past” and our desire to head back to the “future”.

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VR Man

Since VR is becoming a hot trend, I predict that all of the major console manufacturers are going to show off their own version of VR. I know this one is mostly confirmed (and Sony has already been demoing their VR headset), but there are still a lot of details that haven’t been made public.

Microsoft will announce that they’ve teamed with Oculus for a simple VR solution on the Xbox Two! That’s right; the revision model of the Xbox One will be labeled Xbox Two, completely sidestepping the fact that the second console in the Xbox family was titled the 360.

Along with Oculus Rift support, Microsoft HoloLens will be required to utilize any VR technology of the new console. With a headset and controller in tow, you’ll be able to literally interact with everything in the game, as long as you have a 24x15x8 room available for setup.

Nintendo will reveal that the NX (which I said will be a Zelda only machine) allows VR to let players get truly “immersed” in the world of Hyrule. Players will be able to punch pots and crates with their own fists and can then put rupees into their pockets as if they were truly there.

Sony will finally come out and proclaim that the Playstation VR will only ever support one game and will then be discontinued by the company. They’ll mention it next to their deceased handheld, the PSV or whatever, and begin a whole new line of “legacy” Sony hardware.

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Xbox Live as an ISP

Now, I want to preface this entry with my own opinion; I think this would be an incredibly smart move. People have seemed to drift away from Microsoft’s service over to Sony’s this generation. Both offer virtually the same stuff, at present, but Microsoft’s console hasn’t won any favors since its original announcement.

Years ago, I proposed the idea that Microsoft should just turn Xbox Live into an ISP. Along with monthly fees that are competitive with cable companies, anyone who signs up would be given access to Xbox Live Gold and all the features that entails.

Microsoft will finally realize that their system isn’t going to topple Sony. After having ceased development of Windows Phone and focusing on Xbox as a brand, Microsoft will announce that Xbox Live will now be offered as an internet service.

Gamers who sign up will be given access to Xbox Live Gold and some subscriber benefits that non-ISP users won’t have access to. While the service will be platform agnostic, there will be some speed benefits for Xbox users to give Microsoft a leg up over cable providers.

Sony and Nintendo will be stunned, but unable to fund their own comparable networks. Both will announce a greater emphasis on digital sales and subscriber benefits, though neither will be able to cut out the middleman required for internet service.

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Other than these predictions, I don’t see much else happening at E3. The past few years have been pretty lousy in terms of announcements and reveals. The widespread adoption of the internet has allowed many users to track down hints of games well before publishers are even ready to talk about them.

There has also been some pretty harsh backlash against companies using fake trailers to promote their games. Gearbox and Ubisoft have come under fire for the way they lied about Aliens: Colonial Marines and Watch_Dogs, respectively. I get the feeling that most companies are going to shy away from pre-rendered trailers in favor of showing live gameplay on stage.

Either way, I don’t have much interest in E3. I just wanted to write a sort of jokey blog about what I see in the industry. Maybe I’ll get lucky and have a few of these predictions come true. I’m not much of a prophet, however.

 

 

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Uncharted 2 Review – Remastered Edition

Years ago, I wrote a review of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for my college newspaper. I thought it was a fairly solid game. I may have been caught up in the moment, but I had a tremendous amount of fun playing through the campaign.

That was back in 2009. We’re now in 2015, a whole 6 years later. Does Uncharted 2 still remain fantastic? Thanks to the release of the Nathan Drake Collection, we can now take a look at this past gem once again. I mean, I guess I could have booted it up on my PS3, but spending more money and looking at it on new hardware is the only plausible way to really play a “classic” game.

As the game starts, I’m reminded of the excellent pacing that NaughtyDog employed with the script. That nostalgia leads to an immediate disappoint. Why did NaughtyDog and this remasters developer, BluePoint Games, not make the pace better? I’ve changed in the last 6 years, so shouldn’t Uncharted 2 have as well?

Regardless, instead of being able to blitz through the opening act, I merely settle on running through it. I guess I’ll have to pretend to be seeing all of this for the first time. Then a cutscene triggers and I get sucked out of the game.

Why, after all this time, are we still getting taken to pre-rendered cinematics? Can’t these scenes have been adapted into gameplay segments? Wouldn’t it just be grand to take Drake and smack Flynn in the face and move on? Tell him, “Shut up, I got the picture!” and finish the mission without him?

Shut the hell up, Flynn!

Making choices isn’t what you do in Uncharted 2, despite this remaster existing as a means to fix the game. I don’t want to play the game I know and love; I want the game I know and love to be better! How is that hard to understand?

So then the game moves into the first stealth section and I cringe. I never even liked that back in the day, why am I going to enjoy it now? Can’t they just give me a fully automatic and let me plow through this? The hell with careful plotting and dramatic tension. The remaster should let me live out all my twisted fantasies.

After being firmly let down that I’ve remembered everything as it was, I wait to see if anything had been enhanced for the epic train mission in the middle of the game. Sadly, there are actually some effects removed from the game. How am I supposed to enjoy this without motion blur?

It doesn’t matter that chapter 13 is intense, fun and filled with glorious lunacy; the removal of a small graphical filter makes the level feel less inspired. I thought remasters were supposed to improve in every way, not make concessions for hardware the game wasn’t originally built on.

It’s just not the same…despite being the same…

I guess I can take solace in the fact that the PS4 edition runs at a really smooth 60 frames per second. That shouldn’t matter, but going back to the PS3 versions makes everything seem like slow motion. Now the remaster really is tarnishing my vision of the past.

Overall, I can’t believe how disappointed I am with the Nathan Drake Collection. Instead of evolving with the times and giving us what feels like a new game, we’re just granted the ability to play our favorite adventures on a new platform.

Humans learn and grow with the times; is it to much to ask that my video games do the same? I know they are a sequence of 1’s and 0’s that, once compiled, cannot change, but come on! This is on PS4, for god’s sake!

In that regard, wasn’t the CPU of the PS3 based on the Cell processor, which used an EMOTION engine? Emotion is a skill that humans possess, not computers. The PS3 was ahead of the times, so it’s games should have grown older.

Instead, getting the Nathan Drake Collection is more like buying admittance to a museum and laughing at the failures of the past. How dare cavemen not realize that electricity would have helped them flourish.

Jackasses.

With a heavy heart, I have to give Uncharted 2 a 2/10. 6 years ago, I could easily see myself giving this a 9. Games have changed, though, and only for the better. It doesn’t matter that this was made for an audience in 2009 or that nothing has changed with it, just my perception of what I want.