Ah, summer: a time of joy, lazyness, ice cream at least once a day and mosquitos sneaking into anywhere they can with the skills of a FOXHOUND Operative, and also a time of suffering for every pc gamer, who -before they even realize it- find their wallets empty due to compulsory shopping sprees during the Steam Sales.
In this first “issue” of The Flea Market, i would like to bring your attention towards one of those games that usually get a bit overlooked outside of sales season, maybe for the simple (yet stylish) low poly artstyle, maybe for the quite singular gameplay formula or just the release of hypebombs like DOOM during the year, that usually do games like these no favors in terms of publicity.
(Quite) Mobile Suits
Surprise surprise, Orbital Gear is a game about mechas! But it’s also Quake, Super Mario Galaxy and -to some extent- Armored Core: a 2D arena shooter where gravity plays a pivotal role to both mobility and shooting accuracy…an experiment that turned out to be actually successful for a year or so after release, but that for a lack of singleplayer content to make up for the two multiplayer modes and a somewhat steep learning curve, has seen interest for it slowly fade away.
Fortunately enough, the guys at Night Node eventually saw it coming and added 48 singleplayer missions, the “Orbital Trials”, that work both as a training ground to learn how to use and counter the various weapons (twelve in total, with four trials dedicated to each weapon, in which enemy drones use slightly less accurate variants of the same guns you’re using) and movement tricks, and as a “speedrun mode” for those who are into it, each trial having a time limit of two minutes and a rank, in order to incentivise continuous movement and accustom your aim to it, because believe me, it’s a fundamental aspect of competitive matches: if you’re not moving it you’re probably already dead.
Smoking Sick Style Robot Action
Once mastered the control scheme and found a favourite pair of guns (for a beginner i suggest Hornets and Flak Cannon, which are basically swarm guided missiles and shotgun), the aforementioned two modes are going to be a blast to play: Deathmatch is…well…a free for all deathmatch, you know what to expect, don’t you? Even though the whole gravitational gimmick can lead to some pretty complex tactics and shenanigans, especially when using weapons like the Grenade Launcher, which projectiles also use momentum and can roll and bounce over any surface, and the Phase Orb, a slow projectile with his own gravitational field that can be shot through anything…sounds unbalanced, i know, but using the additional thrusters (utility weapon) really helps escaping its field.
Orbital Warfare however, even though it’s not as played, offers a mode similar to (it’s a weird comparison, i know) the Fort Mode in the Worms franchise: team based, only this time with respawn, where killing your opponents charges up a giant doom beam, and the first team who gets to fire it at the other team, destroying their structures and very own giant doom beam, wins.
A match in any of the modes (aside from the Phase Orb scrubs who just spam it from the edge of the map) is a joy to play, and flows as well as Quake or any other of its arena cousins, only in 2D…the thing is, some more people playing Orbital Warfare would be appreciated.
Everything Is Shadows
…It’s not a Linkin Park song, but the most effective way to describe this game’s artstyle, which is pretty much spot on for the kind of high-speed action they’re going for: the light coming from the gorgeous “spacescapes” in the background of the stages puts everything into a slight shade, both marking its outlines, making enemy mechs stand out in the heat of combat, and making the low poly models look smoother and generally prettier, with details like “energy lines” ornating them in a tron-ish fashion, which i love.
Talking about songs, though, the soundtrack is banging, plain and simple: an album of eight four minute electronica tracks that blend trance, dubstep and dnb with the signature sound of James Kalen, Night Node’s own composer, for a volatile mix that suits this game like a glove. My top two are Nebular Ops and The Galactic Frame, give them a listen to see what i’m talking about, because there’s so just so much words can do to express a song’s potential without sounding hyperbolic and ridicolous.
Being a mech enthusiast, loving electronica music and arena shooters, this game hit all the chords it could with me, so i would have given it a 8 out 10 without thinking twice, but the issues i found with matchmaking (sometimes there’s literally nobody online) make it drop to a plain 7.5, BUT that problem is pretty easy to solve: if you liked what you’ve read or you already watched a trailer in the meantime, you can literally buy it NOW: it’s 0,69 dollars on Steam, 2,09 for the x4 pack (three other copies to give away to your friends), so get it, train for a bit and, if you want, host a server!
I guarantee you it’s gonna be worth way more than what you’ve spent.
I hope you found this “review” entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is The 3rd Runner, off to play some more Orbital Gear
Welcome to Sony’s E3 presentation. We heard you like videogames. Have some videogames.
God of War
Making Kratos an interesting character? Sony apparently can.
In this sequel/reboot of Sony’s flagship bad character action game, Kratos seems to have moved from greece to somewhere in northern europe, grown a beard and had its way with a woman that probably died horribly at the hands of some ice giant. So the the good old Kratos is a father now, a father that came to understand that just killing everything into a fit of rage is bad, and that seems to care about something other than his senseless lust for revenge, like you know, his son.
The game itself seems to reflect Kratos’ change of mentality, going from a messy and superficial tryhard spectacle fighter, to a slower, more simple and exploration-focused hack’n’slash, a change that I welcome with open arms: there’s games that western studios just can’t do, and spectacle fighters are the prime example, so focusing on a more “calm” approach to the action genre not only comes off as coherent with the plot, but has more chances to be a better experience altogether.
Welcome back, Kratos…i never thought i would have said that.
So, who remembers The Last of Us? I don’t, because i didn’t play it, because post-apocalyptic games based around zombie outbreaks make me literally cry in anguish, and when that happens, it usually means they’re pretty good. Now, during the conference, the cinematic trailer of this thing made me melancholic for ten minutes, just because everything that was presented after it cleared my mind from all the post-apocalypting depression, but after watching it again the day after i felt like sh*t for a good hour, so…yeah, there’s potential.
It seems like it’s basically gonna be an Ellie-less, more combat based The Last of Us, based around bounty hunting, with zombies that are straight up zombies and not realistic Toads from Super Mario. Prepare to feel feelings.
Now let’s talk about something else before existential dread consumes me.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Oh yeah, now that’s what i’m talking about! So, i’ve never been a Call of Duty fan, really, and all i know about it it’s that The Numbers mean something that’s important to the government, that there’s a guy called Price who’s a massive badass, that CoD players supposedly like Doritos and Mountain Dew and that Black Ops 3’s soundtrack should have been composed by Perturbator, but instead it’s just…what it is, which is not cyberpunk at all…oh, and that this game was supposed to be crap. Well, the trailer just proved the last one wrong, hopefully.
The smartest thing they did about this was showing the title at the end, to show people a game without letting their prejudice filter its real quality, and believe me: there was quality to be found.
It went down like this: military dudes (and a lady, which was a captain) walking down the hall of a battleship talking military-babble and plot points that will be expanded upon, a door opens and you’re on the main deck of a battleship. The player character goes up to a computer and chooses his destination between a whole lot of planetoids (in what looks like an alternate solar system). The next second he’s entering an hangar with bipedal mechs running around,a squad captain is giving a little motivational speech to his team and starfighters are getting ready to launch, and here we discover that this guy (whose name is actually Reyes) is a captain himself, since everyone he passes by on the way to his own starfighter stops and salutes him. He gets to his ship, with the co-pilot (who may or not be an android) already in the back seat, puts his pressurized helmet on, the startup sequence for the ship initiates while it’s being loaded on the catapult…then: Press L3 to Launch.
Cut to an ACTUAL, NOT ON RAILS, space dogfighting sequence, and all i had in mind was Peppy Hare shouting advice from the radio. Then they had to land on an enemy vessel and board it, and it started looking like Call of Duty again, but in Zero G and with grappling hooks to enhance mobility and pull enemy combatants to you, and guess what: it looked fairly good. As the gameplay moved on, the “CoD”-iness of it slowly flooded back, with the close-quarters corridors and rooms of the battleship Reyes infiltrated looking like the usual “corridor shooter” levels we all know and are tired of, but from time to time stuff like tactical slides (like in Advanced Warfare, i think) and Zero G grenades (like the ones in Titanfall 2) popped in, to not make it look completely dull. The escape sequence was pretty cool too, with Reyes opening the airlocks on the vessel and jumping off one of them, being grabbed mid-fall by his own ship.
…Well well well, looks like the folks at Infinity Ward finally remembered how to make a videogame, let’s hope they keep it up and i may be buying a Call of Duty game for the first time in my life.
Spider Man by Insomniac Games. Marvel announced that they plan to outsource superhero games to actual developers and make them separate from the movies. Hell yes.
Horizon Zero Dawn
One of the better looking new IPs of the generation, that in one trailer completely destroyed the xbox rival ReCore (at least that’s what the general consensus seems to be): Horizon Zero Dawn is shaping up to be quite a unique game, a mixture of Zelda, Far Cry and somewhat Assassin’s Creed, in a post apocalyptic setting where our dear civilization fell and it’s all just went back to its natural state, with humans living like slightly modernized cavemen, while the machines -for some reason- formed a “robot ecology”, where probably once powerful AIs now inhabit frames resembling dinosaurs and freakish chimeras, having regressed themselves to animalistic behaviors.
The main heroine, Aloy, is a huntress who, really, justs wants to live to see another day and uncover the secrets of that messed up earth: an excellent markswoman and quite resourceful when it comes to crafting, she hunts to retrieve spare parts and valuable materials from the mechanical beasts that now roam the wilderness…and that’s all we know about her for now, other than the fact that she lives in a tribe with a bunch of cowards that she’ll probably leave behind. She’s not just a crackshot though, as she’s also got the right array of gadgets to help her out on the -literal- field, the most notable being an earpiece scanner, that analyzes any target’s weaknesses, attack patterns and valuable materials embedded in their structure, a spear that doubles as a hacking device when used in combo with the earpiece, a tether gun to immobilize weakened preys, and a vast choice of craftable traps, of which we currently know only Shock, Explosive and Incendiary variants, but that will probably expand in the future (i smell a skill tree).
This is one of those projects that are nearly impossible to bomb, and it’ll probably be on my to-buy list once i get a ps4.
Resident Evil: Biohazard
Let’s be honest now: Resident Evil 6 wasn’t a great game, and after a kinda better Revelations 2 and a couple of HD remasters of 1 and 2, the series kinda fell silent…GUESS WHO’S BACK NOW?
The “gameplay” demo/trailer for Resident Evil: Biohazard was the most P.T. looking thing i’ve ever seen since P.T. itself (in case you’re wondering, P.T. was the Playable Teaser for Silent Hills, a Silent Hill game developed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro that got subsequently cancelled because Konami left the videogame industry for good), and it was just..scary, like a good old horror game needs to be: no more gunfights against “smart” zombies in plain sunlight, high impact boulder punching action or…whatever RE6 was outside of the Leon sections: this time it’s you in first person mode (who the hell are you, player character, by the way?), your flashlight and lots and lots of atmosphere, in what seems to be a reboot more than sequel. I sure do hope there are some zombies around, just for old time sake’s, and maybe an appearence of the Beretta 92s, which is by all accounts RE’s most iconic gun. Other than that i can say this feels quite an unusual direction for the series to take, but i kinda appreciate it, and i’m willing to see what they want to try out, having learned from Inafune’s bad suggestions.
Also, the demo is out now and is VR compatible.
Crash Bandicoot 1/2/3 HD Remix
Shawn Layden walks on stage to the main theme of Crash Bandicoot perfomed by the live orchestra in the auditorium the event is taking place, that has turned into a beach reminiscent of Wumpa Island, and Crash Bandicoot’s shadow follows him: “I’m proud to announce that we’re working with our partners at Activision, to bring back the original Crash, Crash two and Crash Warped, fully remastered from the ground up on playstation four”.
And the crowd goes INSANE over just that.
…then he announces Crash in skylanders and everyone shuts up.
Hideo Kojima, creator of Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders, Snatcher, Policenauts and almost savior of Silent Hill walks on stage on a bridge of solid light that forms as he moves, then stops to take in the uproaring applause from the crowd, and just goes “I’m back, i hope you enjoy my new trailer”.
Norman Reedus, naked, with a pair of strangely futuristic handcuffs, hugs a fetus that disappears into black oil, then gets up, the camera pans all around him showing he’s covered in weird marks and he’s wearing a necklace with several dog tags, and depicted on them several equations for, like, black holes and sh*t.
Then THIS happens:
Then a title slowly fades in: Death Stranding.
WELCOME TO THE KOJIMA ZONE, TELL YOUR BRAIN TO BITE THE PILLOW.
And this is was Sony’s E3 conference was like, in written form: back to back, no-stop trailers and good news, just like last year but slightly better.
Oh, right, almost forgot: The Last Guardian’s release date is October 25th of this year. Enjoy.
This is The 3rd Runner, being done with E3 for this year!
Square Enix and Nintendo sure love streaming, because that’s what they did instead of a regular conference: respectively EIGHTEEN and six hours of content each, and i’ll say it right away, i was only capable to watch Nintendo’s live, i had to watch Square Enix’s trailers separately, because let’s be realistic, EIGTHEEN HOURS (six hours for three days)? Sadly the rest of the conferences left me sleepless (fun fact: i live in europe, where Sony’s ended around 5 Am), and i had to recover.
Enough atpologies though, we have to skim through those eighteen hours of Square Enix, let’s go.
Final Fantasy XV/XII HD
After the downright awkward live gameplay at Microsoft’s conference (which i didn’t even mention, it was THAT bad), Square Enix showed how you’re supposed to play Final Fantasy XV with a special “e3 mission”, the Trial of the Titan: in this showcase, the Backstreet Bo-i mean Noctis’ party fight a…well…titan, to prove him that Noctis is fit to inherit his power. So, after a short escape sequence and a quicktime event involving parrying the Titan’s punches with a greatsword, the fight flows quite nicely: Noctis is able to warp around while slashing, so you see him pulling all sorts of Tracer-like maneuvers, teleporting around the behemoth’s hands to get some hits in, and once on the ground occasional QTEs (which inclusion i find questionable…why not a simple block mechanic?) allow him to counter the titan’s attacks and stun him for a short period of time; of course, this game being a Final Fantasy and all, the “special moves” ,like the warping attack, at your disposal are limited by a meter, and while you still control just Noctis, the rest of the party actually helps you by healing and enchanting your weapons, allowing you to use classic spells like Blizzara, used in the showcase…everything’s pretty by the book, really
Also, the Regalia, Noctis’ crew’s car can turn into a jet (Type-F), because screw airships.
The other “big” announcement Square gave about the FF series (outside some mobile game) was the release of an HD Remaster of FFXII, and considering i -as a “casual” on the matter of RPGs- know FFX by heart but i’ve never even SEEN XII, it’s probably a good idea, to boost its popularity and whatnot.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
And finally we get to Deus Ex! This time Square showed off the first mission of the game, where Adam Jensen is sent, along with a strike force of regular human soldiers, to take on an augmented terrrist group, and ensure the safety of one of their contacts who led them to it, and while the guy playing clearly knew what he was doing, almost pulling off a perfect stealth run and managing to stay non-lethal for the whole mission, the poor guy they had to protect during an arms deal got offed, with the arms dealer, by a squad of masked cyborgs, who opened fire on everything that moved.
The game looked, as expected, amazing: all of the augmentations from Human Revolution are back, along with plenty of new ones, and some of them seem to be available from the start, allowing for a bit more freedom of action, especially when talking infiltration. The returning ones have obviously being reworked and rebalanced, like the Smart Vision, which now looks a lot more like Metal Gear Rising’s Enhanced AR: grey/blue vision with incoming threats highlighted in red, along with their equipment and possible loot, like credit chips, pocket secretaries and ammo.
Another big shocker was that, for first time in Deus Ex History, the tranquilizer rifle wasn’t shown to be complete garbage! Both in looks and function, it has been greatly refined, not shaking around incontrollably while aiming, with a faster reload time and a really sleek white and red frame that looks like an actual sniper rifle, a far cry from the prequel’s desert-camoed animal tranquilizer.
What can i say? The guys at Eidos are clearly nailing it, and this gameplay is just other evidence to add to the pile.
Oh, right, almost forgot: Breach Mode has been shown again, for those who missed the pre-e3 Eidos stream. It’s basically a hacking, but your program now has humanoid low-poly shape and the defenses of the system you’re breaching in are actual guards, drones and turrets. It’s a nice way to “recycle” assets and mechanics by changing their looks and names, and looks like it’s gonna be pretty fun. It’ll be included in the final game for free, obviously.
Now THIS is a gameplay presentation, Platinum! Clean, smooth, that emphasises the double nature of this sequel of the critically acclaimed action RPG “Nier”: under this melancholic and “artsy” post-apocaliptic RPG, beats the heart of a pure character action game with 3d bullet hell elements, a match of Taro Yoko storytelling and trademark Platium gameplay truly made in heaven.
The E3 gameplay showed the androids YoRHa 2B (the girl in the picture above) and 9S facing off against an eerie looking animatronic dressed in a once beautiful baroque dress (decorated with tiny robot corpses), that used regular “character action” attacks and projectile patterns typical of 2D bullet hell games: about halfway in the screen looked like a 3D recreation of a Touhou game, and it was nothing short of amazing.
The player character, 2B, has also the chance to play bullet hell with her foes, thanks to a machine gun unit that constantly floats around her, in a similar fashion to the book from the original NiER (or an Option from Gradius, to put it simple), and the aiming is controlled with the camera and/or with the lock-on functionality typical of other Platinum titles…for the rest, the gameplay is pretty straightforward: you got your light and heavy attacks comboable in all kinds of ways, you got your dodge (without bullet time, though), and it’s safe to bet that dodge offsets, resets and whatnot will also be part of the final release’s combat system.
Let’s go Platinum, what can i say?
Agents of Mayhem
Overwatch meets Saint’s Row in this open world “hero based” third person shooter, where you get a team of three characters to switch on the fly, each one with specific weapons, sets of skills and “mayhem” moves, only this time in an open world enviroment: your characters are agents of the M.A.Y.H.E.M., the Multinational AgencY for Hunting Evil Masterminds, founded by Persephone Brimstone, and your goal is to capture -dead or alive- the leader of L.E.G.I.O.N., or League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations, who goes by the name of Dr. Babylon and attacked Seoul to get his hands on the “Zero Point Dynamo”, a superbattery that creates infinite energy, that he’ll probably use to wreak havoc with the satellite cannon shown in the cinematic trailer, if everything goes according to plan. Fortunately enough, M.A.Y.H.E.M. operatives are pretty carefree when it comes to collateral damage, and if stopping this fool means blowing up a few apartment blocks, so be it.
The currently known characters are FORTUNE, aka Marina Santos, the glass cannon of the bunch: dual wields pistols, high mobility, stun grenades and can use an armed drone as companion, HARDTACK, aka Ishmael Funderburke, a self-proclaimed badass sailor who uses an automatic shotgun and an harpoon as a melee and throwable weapon, and HOLLYWOOD, basically Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat, who goes to fill the role of “basic assault rifle class”, even though the moves in his repertoire are not basic at all. Of course the roster is gonna fill up with other nine “heroes” for a total of 12, and an “archer” class was briefly shown in one of the gameplays.
The structure of the game and pacing themselves is going to be reminiscent of titles like Saint’s Row, where you alternate between time on the field and time in “the crib” (this time is a base called A.R.K), where you micromanage upgrades, funds and so on, and of course, being a Volition game, you can expect any form of seriousness to be left out the door, starting with the agents themselves, who banter most of the time between a “hot tag” and the other on the field.
As far as what i’ve seen, looks like an alright game, one of those solid 8s that don’t change the world but are just a good way to spend 40 dollars. If you’re a fan of comic book styled games and third person shooters, and you ran out of f*cks to give about the story in a videogame, keep an eye out for this one.
I Am Setsuna
This one looks inspired by classic Final Fantasy games, taking the camera angles and “semi-chibi” character design typical of the SNES days but giving it a 3D coat of paint, and the combat looks pretty old school too, turn based with no “action commands” or input-based attacks: just you, your enemy and your brain, just like in the ’90s.
I’m not a fan of games like these, but i know some folks who were ready to sacrifice goats for Square to release something like this, so there you have it! It comes out July the 19th on PS4 (and possibly Vita).
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithfullness
A mid-quel between Second Story and Till The End of Time, this Star Trek-inspired RPG…well…looks really cool, and that’s all i can say for sure about the story, frankly: the trailer talked about a contact with another space traveling race (outside of the humans), that turned the protagonist’s planet into toast and…well…stuff that people who actually played other games of the series will probably understand.
Sorry about this one, i disn’t know Star Ocean was a series until five minutes ago, all i can say is: if you played the previous entries, you’ll probably love this one, because if to an outsider like me a JRPG manages to look good, it means it probably has something going.
To forget about this shamefur dispray, let’s move on to something i actually know!
The Nintendo Digital Event was basically, outside of 20 minutes dedicated to Pokemon Sun & Moon, a 6 hours Zeldacast, and here’s what it came out of it!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
What is this game?
This game is all of the games: it’s Dark Souls, it’s Shadow of the Colossus, it’s Metal Gear Solid V, it’s Devil May Cry, it’s Tony Hawk, it’s Far Cry, it’s Cooking Mama, it’s the FIRST The Legend of Zelda, the one where you got dropped into this big freaking world with literally nothing, an old man gave you a sword and off you went, adventuring!
You’re Link, but not some farmer Link, you’re Doomguy Link: you wake up in the SHRINE OF RESURRECTION in your underwear, where a voice tells you to open your eyes and GO, LET THE LEGEND COME BACK TO LIFE, so you get up from your alien-looking bed, you grab some clothes (now there’s multiple kinds of them, and all have different effects and LORE) and get out, and what welcomes you is just…everything: you see that landscape in the picture above? Yeah. That’s all explorable. YOU SEE THAT MOUNTAIN OVER THERE? YOU CAN CLIMB IT, FOR REAL! Because you have a stamina meter used for running and climbing ANYWHERE, talk about a game changer! But hear me out, it’s not done: hearts? Screw those! Real men hunt their food, so go kill a boar or steal some moblin’s lunch after you brutally murder them with their own weapons, that’s how you replenish your health: find animal, kill animal, cook it with a bonfire, because you can start bonfire by hitting branches with your sword now…but did i say sword? Yeah, good luck finding that, dumdum! Fortunately enough, EVERYTHING is a weapon now! See that tree branch? Pick it up and stab the final boss in the eye with that, because yes, you can just run off -naked- to the final boss if you know where he’s located…or just be lame and find weapons and equipment inside chests, you know.
Ok, that incoherent stream of nonsense was the most effective way to describe the train of thought while playing that game: nothing is given to you, just run off and do your thing, you’ll probably find a military grade bow in the chest up on the peak of that mountain, if you try hard enough, but watch out: if you enter snowy enviroments with light clothes you’ll take damage from the cold. Oh, you want bombs now? Go get them, they’re in a Trial Dungeon (basically a mini-dungeon, without a boss) somewhere. What’s that, you need a horse? Mount one, there’s a herd a few miles from here. An enemy outpost gives you trouble? Push a boulder down there and watch them getting squashed, or steal all their weapons before they get to them, it’s your call really.
And that is why i’m hyped as f*ck for this game: it’s your call, really.
…you can’t even choose to NOT follow story, how sick is that?
Ok, hang in there, the next article is the last one, than we can go back to our regularly scheduled whatever, and talk about ONE game at a time: up next is Sony, but i could just post a picture of Norman Reedus staring naked in the distance with dead cyberwhales all around him, in what’s gonna be Hideo Kojima next mindf*ck and just call it a day, really.
I hope this didn’t drag on for too long, this is The 3rd Runner, signing off.
This is what this year’s conference was to me: a sequence of ups and downs, that could have been the best Microsoft presentation in a while, and was pretty good, but not an All of Famer, that’s for sure.
This year’s keyword was cross-buy, a feature i always found incredibly useful with multiplatform games, and that not many of them actually pull off. A feature that Microsoft decided to turn into their defining trait, allowing cross buy between Xbox One and PC using Windows 10’s shop, giving players a reason to not just use Steam for every game they want to buy on PC, and to incentivise the use of those features they also announced XBOX ONE S, basically a “Slim” version of their current flagship console: 500 gigs of memory for 300 dollars, which is quite the offer for a “next-gen” console, if you ask me.
Unfortunately, even though now i’m pretty confident the games presented will probably turn out really good, what they showed ended up being that aforementioned rollercoaster between good looking and lackluster trailers, which in quite a few instances had me either not that interested, or straight up worried for the games that were shown.
Enough chit-chatter, though, let’s get to the memorable stuff (which won’t include Minecraft):
Now, i’ll be honest with you, even if i try my best to stay as neutral as possible, i’m quite a fanboy when it comes to Platinum Games, and when i saw Hideki Kamiya, co-founder and mind behind most of the company’s best titles, walking on stage, i couldn’t help but grin.
It was a short lived grin, though, since the little speech Kamiya gave about wanting to do something like Scalebound since forever, sounded really bored, and was followed by a pretty…lame boss battle, where four players, each one with a dragon and different set of weapons, faced this kraken-like monstrosity that filled the entire level. Now that’s sounds exciting, right? Four dragon riders facing a freaking kraken, what a videogame! Well…let’s say they probably weren’t the most skilled of players, and the boss was probably tuned to the easiest difficulty, since it behaved pretty passively for the whole sequence.
What came out of it was four unexperienced players trying to take down a sleepy seamonster with a hole-ridden plan, which is pretty bad pubblicity for what is supposed to be a big semi-open world RPG with character action elements, dragon aside.
While i’m confident this might be a screwup on Microsoft’s end, since paradoxically the gameplay trailer showed one year ago turned out much better, let’s say this wasn’t the best way to show off a co-op mode.
Sea of Thieves
This for me was unexpected, since i gave Rareware for dead since they when published Banjo & Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, and the announcement of Yooka & Laylee by Playtonic Studio, ex-rare developers gone indie, was the last nail in the coffin. There was no way this husk of a studio could rise from their ashes to me…then Sea of Thieves came around, with both a trailer and a gameplay showcase, and made me think that maybe who’s left has actually idea of what they’re doing.
This game is supposed to be a cartoony-looking pirate crew simulator, with an obvious focus on multiplayer: you take a bunch of friends (or make new ones on the spot), try to get a proper vessel, then you’re off to the seven seas, looking for treasure chests, other crews to murder in cold blood or just an island to leave your newfound friends on while escaping with the ship and all there is in it. What i really liked about it was the “trust” factor: everybody can screw you over, and you can screw over everybody, but if you don’t want to walk on some other crew’s board right into a pack of sharks, after getting your ship destroyed, you might want to play cooperatively. Because yes, to properly man a ship teamwork is a must, much like in Guns of Icarus, a multyplayer-only airship simulator with a similar premise, but a simpler execution.
So, will Rareware return to be a somewhat successful software house? Let’s find out in the next episode of Microsoft Z!
Gears of War 4
…And down we go again, with a Gears of War 4 that just feels…uninspired: it’s got the signature gameplay, it’s got the guns, it’s got the (slightly less)overmuscular characters, both women and men, and it’s got the aliens, that apparently seem to have some degree of control over the human race (having played only the first one, i’m a bit out of the loop plot-wise, so take my words with a grain of salt). It’s more of the same, like i said, and it’s good for the fans of the series, for sure…it just wasn’t that impressive.
The one thing i really appreciated was Marcus Fenix’s new appearence, all Big Boss-ed up, looked slightly cooler than it’s GoW 1 counterpart.
Dead Rising 4
If only Marvel didn’t took the title first, this game should have been called “Welcome Back, Frank”, because guess what? He IS back! The war covering, zombie slaying, FAAAN-TASTIC Mr.Frank West is back (although with a different voice actor), and the Willamette Mall is back too, a “memorial mall” built over the original Willamette, that got destroyed after the event of the first Dead Rising. This might have more than a few connections with the source of this new outbreak, and looks is up to Frank to make it sure…when he’s done taking selfies and having the time of his life impaling zombies with candy shooting crossbows (yes, the absurd weapons are back, no need to worry).
So, Dead Rising is gonna be cool again, good job Microsoft and Capcom!
Next time show a longer trailer, though, will ya?
This is all the teaser trailer shown.
We know it’s from the guys that made Limbo, and that’s it.
We Happy Few
So, i had this game under my radar since its kickstarter campaign ended, a year ago or so: it’s from the dev team that made a really neat “shadow based” platformer called Contrast, which i enjoyed quite a lot, and seeing how they stepped up their game is amazing.
While Contrast was a “simple” 2.5 D platformer with a charming mid-1920s/early 1930s atmosphere, almost a la Skullgirls, this one is a bit more diesel-punkish, set in the british town of Wellington Welles, in an alternate timeline where nazi germany invaded the UK, and to stop the invasion the british had to to a “very bad thing”, an act so dire that the surviving inhabitants developed a drug specifically to counter their sense of guilt and perception of reality, killing on sight who refuses to take it, a drug called “Joy”.
You are one of them, Arthur Hastings, who realized that, after not taking joy for around half an hour, you start seeing how the world really is: the pinata you were bashing a minute ago? That was a giant rat, and people were eating its organs after you killed it. The people around him also realized he didn’t take his Joy, so they called in the happy little policemen (in the picture above) to crack hid skull open in, a similar fashion to that pinata earlier on. So now he has to book it.
And that’s the goal of the game…just the “goal”, though.
You see, under this roguelike first person survival game there’s also a whole layer of lore, secondary characters and hidden subplots that the developers won’t seem to reveal until full release: as of now all we have are the heroes who played the Early Access build for +50 hours and already put together all the bits of lore they found, which, right or not, it’s still “just” speculation. You guys did a good job though, i probably couldn’t even figure it out myself.
Needless to say is that i’m pretty hyped about this game, it’s surely going to be a…Joy to play.
…thank God i kept that one for last.
So, this is all for now: i’m not including Project Scorpio, the new Super Ultra Xbox Ex Plus Alpha because it’ll be in a separate article along with PS4 Neo, an i’m not including Tekken 7 because the trailer was just Akuma fighting Heiachi Mishima, which is a big deal in terms of story, and was followed by an actual in-game fight, but all it did was reconfirm stuff already well known about Akuma’s peculiar mechanics, having a Street Fighter moveset (originally 2D, with actual “special” moves like projectiles) in a Tekken context (3D, where special moves are just “big” normals)…technical stuff, basically.
What i AM including is this majestic picture of Katsuhiro Harada, creator of the Tekken Series, because this man, like many other japanese developers, is a blessing to this world.
Next on the list are Nintendo and Square Enix, i hope you found this report entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is The 3rd Runner, signing off.
So, it’s finally over: the gaming industry’s showcase of the year, the main event, the literal SummerSlam, that sometimes can turn in somewhat a lying contest…but we’re not here to debunk possible graphical downgrades, aren’t we? Let’s leave that to the actual debunkers.
What we ARE here to do is discuss the good stuff that e3 has brought to the table this year, focusing mainly on full fledged games…so yeah, DLC and various Updates not included. But let’s cut to the chase fellas, shall we? We got a lot to cover!
Today we talk EA, Bethesda and Ubisoft, so small fry, but with big plans.
EA: It May Be In The Game This Time
Aside from a whole lot of FIFA-related news, including a “story mode” similar to NBA 2K16 (hopefully better written, Spike Lee sure has lot his touch), the Scrooge McDucks of gaming didn’t bring nothing too spectacular or unexpected, the highlights of the conference being:
-The Titanfall 2 trailers, one for the regular multiplayer and one for the long-waited singleplayer Campaign. The game seems to improve the already pretty good formula of its precedessor, with new pilot and Titan abilities like a device that will make the pilot go invisible for a short period of time after being hit (in a similar way to the Dead Ringer clock from Team Fortress 2), AoE “moves” for the Titans like what looked like an energy beam and a ground pound, better Titan melee, specific “anti air” weapons -still for the Titans- to punish pilots who jump in front of them, hoping to land on the “weak spot”, Zero-G grenades to make opponents float in place, incapacitating them, and the Grappling Hook, an item that we’ll see come back many times during the rest of the event.
-A one-hour long match of Battlefield 1, confirming that the pacing of the game will be similar to the previous games in the series but in much bigger maps (no soul crushing trench warfare and suicidal bayonet charges), the playable “classes” (Assault, Medic, Scout and Pilot), vehicles ranging from the british Mark V proto-tank to bike-sidecar combos, and the presence of the Behemoths, massive “special vehicles” that need +4 people to be manned and consist of a Zeppelin, an Armored Train and a Battleship, each one specific to a particular map.
-A trailer dedicated to all the “Star Wars” related projects that EA is working on, one for each dev team, apparently, which didn’t show much of the actual games (sadly), but gave some insight on where the Star Wars franchise is going, videogame wise, and fortunately it’s not just EA Battlefront and mobile games.
Bethesda: The Bring-Backers
Bethesda loves to play Frankestein these days: when it’s not announcing DLC for Fallout 4 (Nuka World and Build-Your-Own-Vault) or another repackaging of Skyrim (a remastered, this time, with mod support enabled on console), it’s resurrecting franchises, and after Wolfenstein and Doom, now it’s Quake’s turn, confirming the pre-e3 rumors.
…And yeah, about Quake…it’s called “Quake Champions”, and it looks like it’s going to fill the slot of “Character-based multyplayer FPS” that Overwatch created the need for. Now, i know that the purists must be freaking out in pure desperation, but i wouldn’t be so quick to judge: the last time we did that (Doom), it turned out pretty awesome, hasn’t it? Even if i myself don’t like the idea of Over-Quake, let’s give it some time, shall we? Bethesda may have an card up their sleeve.
Also, Dishonored 2 looks amazing, Corvo and Elisabeth (who grew up from the last game) will be playable and will have some different powers to eachother, Elisabeth’s signature technique being…the Grappling Hook.
Ubisoft: Potential and Lies
O Ubisoft, Ubisoft…wherefore art thou, Ubisoft?
You see, these guys have the potential, so much potential, and sometimes they even let some of that slip out of the curtains, with a Watch_Dogs 2 or a South Park: Fractured But Whole…but then it comes to delivering what they promise, and everything just falls down…it’s like they don’t want to use that potential!
Their big promises this time are:
-Watch_Dogs 2 looks really fun, both in trailers and gameplays: San Francisco is a good choice for the sequel’s setting, Silicon Valley and all, and looks much more vibrant than Chicago, and the new protagonist himself, Marcus, feels a bit more of an actual character than his predecessor, Aiden “Irish Punisher” Pearce, showing actual humour and personality…something nice to see, once in a while.
This time you’re part of DedSec, the most “gangsta” hacker group i’ve ever seen, and act out of a mixture of conscience and boredom, exposing all kinds of corporate and political scandals like it’s a game, to initially tear down some congressman’s presidential campaign, who is apparently using social media to manipulate the opinion of the voters…you know, your tipycal cyberpunk-ish plot where hacker groups are involved. Your options have been greatly expanded, with more non-lethal weapons (like the melee Clacker Volley) and hacking options to compensate for the variety of 3D printed custom guns you’ll have at your disposal, to offer a freedom of approach similar to the latest Deus Ex games.
There also seems to be a greater emphasis on hacking, and now nearly every object in can be manipulated, even in multyple ways: cars, cranes, forklifts, choppers, cellphones, and other electronic devices like cleaning robots, televisions and so on are all toys for you to play, to either cause mayhem and destruction on your way to your objective, or to provide a swift escape by making everybody’s cellphone in a radius of 30 minutes vibrate at the same time.
All of this is pretty cool, and a vast improvement over the first chapter, and -like the naive fool i am- i have somewhat high hopes for this game…Ubisoft, don’t screw this up.
-Sout Park: Fractured But Whole is just all i wanted from an eventual Stick of Truth sequel: it leaves the fantasy-role playing game aesthetic behind, becoming a parody of modern superhero movies…hell, the whole premise of it it’s how Eric Cartman, the “con artist” of the bunch, fails to impose his business model for their new superhero “franchise” on the rest on the rest of the kids, causing a Marvel-style “Civil War” between them (way ahead of schedule, apparently).
Gameplay wise is a straight improvement from Stick of Truth, adding a movement grid reminiscent of games like Fire Emblem, farts so powerful that switch the turn order (it’s South Park, people) and “shoving” moves that can knock enemies into props and your own alllies for extra damage (cue to people screaming “Wombo Combo”). This is, of course, as far as they’ve shown, and we’ll probably hear more about it in the near future. Again, the hype is pretty real, but i’m sure these guys will deliver.
-For Honor: the year is…somewhere around the middle ages. An earthquake of apocalyptic proportions killed EVERYTHING other than a few thousand survivors in europe and japan, and each of the three big “clans” of survivors is guided by a “raider”, a warrior of ungodly skill who took them under his wing and rebuilt their respective civilization: these three warriors are a samurai, an european knight and a brutish viking, and the gameplay trailer at the conference, introduced by the sexy beast that is Jason Vanderberghe, showed quite the” cultural clash” between the viking survivors and japanese survivors.
As far as we know it’s gonna be a hack and slash game somewhat similar to Ryse: Son of Rome, with a singleplayer story mode revolving around leading one of the three factions to supremacy, and a multyplayer pvp mode that will probably play similar to a Souls game, but with a bit less weapon variety.
Even though i personally despise everything regarding the Middle Ages, this game has me quite intrigued, and there’s not much for Ubi to screw around either, so let’s keep an eye out for this one.
-Ghost Recon: Wildlands looks like The Division’s big brother, ditching the futuristic look of Future Soldier for something more “present”, but plays like a mix between regular Ghost Recon and Metal Gear Solid V, so you got this big open world with towns, outposts, gas stations, roadblocks and fortresses and so on, vehicles to travel it (choppers included, unlike Metal Gear, and this time you can literally HALO jump from them!), and of course the missions sprawl through it, with stuff like “interrogate guy in point A to know where point B is”, and you can either massacre everyone bewteen you and your target or slowly crouchwalk your way to him, occasionally popping some “hombre”‘s head with your silenced pistol, if they get too close.
About hombres and cabrones, this time your “sandbox” is -apparently- the whole Bolivian state, offering a great lot of enviroment variety, since this little South American state has got everything a good tactical shooter map needs to be interesting, ranging from Metal Gear Solid 3-style jungle enviroments to montainous deserted regions, with your urban enviroments here and there. The game will have, of course, an online co-op component, but if the bots are as good as Future Soldier’s, it won’t be a Payday 2 scenario, where playing without human players means certain Death.
Another incredibly promising game, what a coincidence! It would be a shame if bad business practices were to ruin it…
-HONORABLE MENTION TO-
Steep…a really weird way for Ubisoft to finish the conference, this “sports action game” is basically a playable version of those go-pro extreme sports videos that Red Bull posts constantly, an unexpectedly violent first person snowboarding, skiing, skydiving and parachuting simulator with possible VR support that…well…looks really neat. It’s not a groundbreaking game frankly, but i think it deserved some recognition just for the shenanigans that are going to ensue, being DEATH in gruesome ways enabled and all…
…So, this one was just a warm up, to get the small fish out of the way: from here on out it’s gonna get better and better, with the literal Umbran Climax that was Sony’s conference, so, if you don’t find me literally painful to read, stick around, ok? It’s gonna get really hype up in here!
I hope you found this report entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is 3rd Runner, signing off.
Star Fox Zero, a game that torn apart Nintendo fans and gamers in general more than all those Marvel Civil War smear campaigns between teams. Some call it pretty good, some say it’s Satan’s spawn, some just play it and shut up about it. Did i play it? Yes. Did i like it? After reading all those reviews, i was slightly afraid i wouldn’t, but in the end i found it a pretty alright game. Am i going to blindly defend it? Hell no! Nintendo did handle some aspects of it pretty poorly, but it doesn’t make it the antichrist some communities are making it out to be.
Today we answer the four questions i found asked the most when dealing with this game:
#1. Is motion control aiming literally the worst thing ever created by mankind?
#2. Are the new vehicles the worst vehicles ever implemented?
#3. Is 90% of the content recycled from Star Fox 64?
#4. Is the new control system the weakest in the series?
So, let’s Rock and Roll, shall we?
So, the first point on the list is the Gyro Aiming System, one of the most controversial control choices for a game since microsoft’s Kinect: why is it the bane of so many players? Let’s break it down: the Gyro Aiming System uses the Wii U gamepad as a second screen, displaying a cockpit view of the vehicle you’re in, and the firing reticle is controlled by tilting the gamepad itself with little wrist motions, so you have a third person view on your TV and a cockpit view on your gamepad, and your job is to know when to look where…like driving a car, isn’t it? Exactly! And driving a car takes some time to get used to, that’s why this felt so unnecessary: it added a layer of difficulty seemingly for the sake of it, and it felt so unnecessary it managed to actively hurt the sales of the game.
Now, while i can agree on how i found incredibly weird Nintendo’s completely disregard for control choice, and hell, how they actually balanced out the entire game around punishing “old school tactics” like “nosedive aiming” (ramming into your target to shoot them, then changing your altitude before collision, tactic necessary in Star Fox 64, since there wasn’t indipendent aiming), with my fair share of hours clocked into this game i can say this: even with a bit of a learning curve, it actually opens up the whole system to some new tricks and strategies.
The most useful strategy i found for All Range battles, that now occupy a big portion of the game, actually comes from outside of the typical Star Fox mindset, and it’s the good old “circlestrafing”, typical of early first person shooters and tank/mech simulators like MechWarrior and World of Tanks: aim at your target with your indipendent turret while circling around it, and as simple as that 70% of the enemies in the game can’t hit you. It works wonders with big, stationary targets with immense firepower like battleships, several bosses in the game (even the more mobile ones) and even in dogfights to some exent, to rack up some damage while baiting your enemy into getting on your tail, only to Somersault a second later.
About dogfights, learning how to “joust” with your enemy using Target Mode is another fundamental tactic, and even this time is not that much of a hassle: it just consists of using 3rd person view and Target Mode to get a lead on your target’s position (like in the picture above), and then adjusting your trajectory to get them into your line of fire, via Somersault, U-Turn, Brake or whatever method you see fit. Even then, remember: your turret has a turn radius of around 75 degrees, and your enemy’s doesn’t. It may mean turning the gamepad a bit awkwardly, but it’s worth a shot.
Another slight improvement i found about the Gyro Aiming, it’s how makes on-rails sections less about positioning into a spot with more targets and more about positioning into a spot from where you can hit more targets: in Star Fox 64, clearing out a section with enemies placed all around you was pretty hard, since you couldn’t stay still, they wouldn’t stay still, and you could aim only in the direction your craft’s nose was facing, so you had to worry about dodging parts of the scenery, dodging enemy fire and hitting more targets you could. In Star Fox Zero this issue disappears, since you can hit virtually anything from anywhere, and it allows for more enemies to be placed on-screen, in more complex “formations” without having to worry about how the player will ever shoot them all down and dodge their fire at the same time.
So, the answer to the first question is: No, they’re a bit counterintuitive at first, but pretty functional on the long run. Don’t be ashamed to try out stuff in Training Mode.
Variety is the spice of space combat…kinda.
Another often-criticized aspect of this game, is how relatively bland the sections in vehicles different from the standard Arwing starfighter seem to be, and the Gyrowing is often used as the most blatant example. This is a half truth: overmarketing vehicles as a bigger part of the experience than they actually were, like the Blue Marine, has always been a (bad) tradition since Star Fox 64, and this time just like the last, it doesn’t terribly scar the experience as much as some people say: yes, the Gyrowing appears just in a couple of levels and it’s a whole different beast from the Arwing, but it does its job in adding gameplay variety without becoming too “intrusive” for those that didn’t like it. Is it wasted potential? A bit, but this isn’t a perfect game, sadly.
Now with the Walker/Raptor/Chicken Walker transformation of the Arwing, it’s a whole different story: the thing has actually a lot of uses, and even if it’s a bit cumbersome in some situations it still manages to be a good option, offering radically different approaches to situations that normally could only be dealt with with the Arwing, since it can stand in place, jump/float and actually strafe when using Target Mode.
The Gravmaster transformation of the Landmaster battle tank is a multi-locking, slightly slower Arwing, it’s more of the same but more offense-oriented, and it performs really well in all the levels it’s in.
So, the answer to the second question is: no, not that much at least.
Star Fox Remix Album
About the campaign, we can say that Nintendo did play it safe: just like in 64, you go from one planet to another, starting from good old Corneria and ending up on Venom, from where the mad scientist Andross is leading his army in the attempt of conquering the Lylat System, pretty classic right? Well, just in the premise. Like the title implies, all the levels have been “remixed” and twisted in some way, and the results are pretty good, my personal favourites being Sector Beta, a massive space battle now epitomous of Star Fox’s level design, the Salvadora battle, where you tear down what is basically a Star Destroyer one cannon at a time, and Sector Omega, a high-speed on-rails section, the “last stand” of Andross’ army before the final Venom level. It helps that Platinum Games helped with the development, managing to sneak in some good old “Platinum tropes”, like a greater emphasis on dogfights with Star Fox’s rival squadron, the Star Wolf, and a level (Area 3) that looks just like the Providence Colony, the setting of one of their best games, a third person shooter called “Vanquish”.
So, as far the third question goes: Not at all, even if it may seem like it.
Quality of Life Improvements
Platinum Games may also have had some sort of influence on the new button layout, as odd as it is to say it, since this new layout actually discourages the use of buttons, revolving around the use of the control sticks to perform faster versions of U-Turns and Somersaults and using the Gamepad’s triggers as attack buttons, completely throwing out the window the classic A-spam for faster firing…so, what the hell? Platinum’s titles are mostly button focused, aren’t they? Well, this new system, even while privileging motions rather than presses, adds stuff like an input shortcut for the new Barrel Roll, described in the picture above, boost and brake canceling (techniques already experimented in Star Fox 64 3D’s local multiplayer) and even a way to “bunny-hop” with the Walker, all little changes that created interesting exploits similar to various advanced techniques found also in games like Vanquish, that immediately made me think “Yeah, that’s Platinum alright.”…but this might as well be a bit of speculation on my end. What’s sure is that those “quality of life” improvements to the system really made it feel a lot better than most of its predecessors.
So even the fourth question is down: Nope, it just takes a minute to figure out how much stuff you can actually do.
By the way, here’s the command list for the “techniques” i just mentioned:
Boost/Brake Cancel: mash forward/backwards on the right control stick, you’ll gain/lose speed without consuming meter.
Walker Bunny Hop: alternate between backwards and forward on the right control stick, you’ll start hovering and gain speed while falling down, going a bit slower than with a regular boost, but consuming much less meter.
Instant Barrel Roll: instead of flicking in a direction twice on the right control stick, go “right, left” or vice versa, the Barrel Roll will come out much easily.
So, what IS the deal with Fox Mcloud’s new (mis)adventure?
Well, despite some slight flaws and bad marketing decisions, it’s not bad at all, if you’re not that much into arcade-style games than maybe buying it at full price isn’t the best option, but Star Fox Zero is a actually a nice reboot of the series, and definitely one of those games you have to try once in your life, thanks to its control system, that love it or hate it, ends up taking the cake for one of the most unique applications of the Wii U gamepad to this day.
I hope you found this article entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is 3rd Runner, signing off.