Sony came to the stage last night with a man questions to answer. Could they keep the momentum they had from their initial conference almost six months ago? What would their next-gen console look like? Would they have games that would wow not only their fanbase but those gamers who were on the fence? They finished the night in firm command of the conversation and possibly a hold on holiday sales for this upcoming year. The PS4 had a bunch of games that perked interest and here are the five I’m most interested in getting my hands on.
The Order 1886
- Steampunk monster hunters, with a knights twist.
- Initial story seems really interesting.
- Cool looking weapons, let’s hope with lots of variety.
- Hoping actual gameplay keeps some of this trailer’s style.
- Multiple protagonists maybe?
- Huge deal that Sony is continuing to foster the relationship with Indie Devs.
- Bringing their games to the Sony platform will just bring more to the fold.
- Don’t Starve, Secret Ponchos and Mercenary Kings all looked great.
- Indie Devs can self-publish, again huge incentive.
- Games look easily portable to Vita as well, many getting a PS+ push from the start.
- The game looked better than the initial showing.
- The new open, bright environments will do that game and the Guerrilla engine justice.
- New Combat options including the “Owl” personal combat drone should be very cool.
- Mutiplayer should be amazing as well.
Infamous: Second Son
- Graphics looked amazing, crazy particle effects.
- Really emotive characters.
- Protagonist was a snarky bad-ass (New DMC Dante-esque)
- Felt like a playable version of the Chronicle movie.
Quantic Dream Demo
- EXTREMLEY impressive detail.
- Kind of graphics we really want from next-gen.
- This kind of technology can help to create the emotionally deep gameplay we have been dying for.
Let us know what we missed and what you are excited for. Are you buying a Ps4 day one, if so tell us why in the comments below.
It looks as if the Indie game movement is saving us again from what could be an anemic spring/summer release schedule. Drinkbox Studios comes to the rescue with its wonderfully done Luchador-themed brawler, Guacamelee. The game exhibits lots of flair while being extremely accessible — it provides MetroidVania veterans a challenge, while giving newbies an opportunity to embrace the genre.
The main character of the story is a lowly farmer named Juan, who finds himself confronted by a demon in skeleton form. This mysterious creature grabs your would-be love interest, kills you, then skitters away to complete his plan of world-ending domination. While in the afterlife, you are met by a female luchador who bestows upon you a magical mask that both brings you back to life and imbues you with the strength and speed of ten Koko B. Ware‘s.
You can tell by the cadence and snark-laden story that the folks at Drinkbox have really hit their stride when spinning a comedic yarn. The jokes are funny, the memes timely, and gaming callbacks just numerous enough to not be overdone. You can tell that they love games and love having a good time; that they appreciate traditions without taking themselves too seriously. This light and airy feel is evident within the art style as well. Guacamelee taps into Mexican folk art themes and Day of the Dead lore, jumping easily between the worlds of the living and the dead. A cartoonish Mexican town is your playground, laced with beautiful earthy tones with huge splashes of neon pastels around every corner. I played the game mostly on my Vita, but when I transitioned to the PS3 via my cross-save (more on this later) the colors jumped off the screen. Along with the gorgeous graphics comes a fun soundtrack that blares mariachi and electronic music that really fits the aesthetic and ties the package together nicely. The game feels like a lighthearted homage to old-school Mexico, with a layer of modern self-effacing humor on top.
Guacamelee’s combat is mostly of the combo/brawler style. Later in the game you meet a recurring character that gives you more wrestling moves to add to your arsenal. The interactions with him are some of the best in the game and provide a small shout out to Metroid along the way. The controls are easy to pick up and provide all the tools you’ll need to dispatch of the enemies once they get bigger and stronger.
The game wraps in about six hours but felt just right. It will take you longer depending on how completion-ist you are or how long it may take to get through some of the trickier platforming levels. Boss encounters are really well done and challenging. Interactions with the town’s people provide fun and silly side quests that don’t feel tedious, and if you wish you can even play with two people on the PS3
For a $15 price tag ($12 if you are a Playstation Plus member) you get a wonderful experience chock full of dopeness. I honestly think if you’ve been looking for a game that is great for pick-up-and-play purposes, you can’t really beat this one.
Kudos to Sony
Besides the awesome game and reasonable price tag, there are a couple of other things of note with this package. Some months ago Sony started rolling out some games under their “Cross-Buy” banner. So if you owned a PS3 and a Vita you could basically get the game on both systems at one price. Guacamelee is one of those games. Usually with a feature like this, the cross-save feature is implemented sloppily or in a convoluted way within the game. But Drinkbox does this simply and eloquently. Navigate through a couple of screens, upload your save, head to your home console, download and you are playing where you left off.
If this is a glimpse of what Sony was taking about with the connectivity between the PS4 and Vita, then I’m sold. It works extremely well and made me love the game as a commuter. One other added bonus is “Cross-Control”: you can also use the Vita as a second controller via Remote Play! The Vita’s screen becomes the games mini-map while you control the game you see on the television.
I love stuff like this and thought it was an awesome addition to the game. If you’d like some instructions on how to get this up and running check out the blog post on the Guacamelee site
The Champ is Here
After finishing the game I totally understand why there were long lines and lots of smiles to be seen coming from the Guacamelee station at IndieCadeEast this year. I wondered what all the commotion was about and now I get it. Beautiful games that provide nothing but fun should give people that kind of reaction. If you are tired of trudging through another shooter or sequel, you need to play and share Guacamelee with everyone you can.
Media Molecule’s next project is coming to a Playstation Vita near you on October 22. Tearaway’s papercraft art style, innovative touch control features and whimsical story will try to resurrect the struggling handheld and give folks a reason to care again before the launch of the PS4. I for one loved what I’ve seen so far and with MM’s track record, I am sure they will make a delightful and fun game.
They dropped some cool tidbits that you should check out here
The Sony PS4 hypemobile officially revved its engine yesterday and started the next generation of console gaming. A two-week period of hype that began with a forty-five second trailer ended with a date. It looks like after a two-hour, TED-talk-esque performance they should have used the date for their E3 conference. I walked away more underwhelmed than anything, and Sony left me with more questions than answers.
I know it’s too early to see the console, I know it’s too early for a price. Sony needed tangible things to lay its hat on tonight and they were so abstract that it made me wonder if they can actually pull off what they are hoping to do.
Let’s break down the important takeaways from last night’s conference.
THE CONTROLLER – All the rumors and leaked dev kit pictures were true. A sleeker design, touch pad, new triggers and analog sticks. The infamous “share” button and light bar were there too. What I found interesting was how the new dualshock was constructed. It looks like the bottom part of the controller looks to be of a different material than the top. Maybe it’s just cosmetic or it could be functional. (Maybe less slippery?)
THE CAMERA – The new Playstation Camera looks more like a Kinect than its predecessor but smaller in form factor and possibly a little more advanced. This looks to be what the light bar on the controllers will interact with.
SOCIAL INTERACTIVITY – The “Share” button honestly is a damn cool idea. If Sony did learn something from its competition last generation it was to take some of the cool stuff the other guys have and put it into your tech. The On-Live platform’s community spectator feature is making the jump to the PS4. As a sports gamer, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS. This will be the ultimate trash talk button — no longer will people be able to run away from those $5 “oh so I didn’t beat you the other day in NBA2k right?” bets. Let me put this video up on my Facebook page for everyone to see.
The ability for people to also help you in games is a welcome addition; I know damn well I need a Dark Souls chaperone.
GAIKAI – This can’t be understated, if Sony can get this right it will be a game changer. From downloadable games being playable while still being downloaded, realistic backwards compatibility across multiple consoles, and giving the PS VITA a brand new life via real remote play. Gaikai will be the most talked about part of this new console if they can pull it off. With the US’s current internet infrastructure I honestly worry about this being as smooth as they think it should be. Early adopters will take the brunt of this hit for sure.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT– When Gueriilla Games got on stage, I hoped they wouldn’t show another Killzone game, but they did and it looked pretty and I didn’t care. I already know I will get pretty with a new console, show me something different. Same thing with Infamous and Diablo, these are established IP’s but that’s not what I came here for. Destiny would have wowed me if it wasn’t announced a couple days earlier.
HEY YOU FORGOT SOMETHING – If you aren’t going to show the console, talk about things you are going to put in the box, like the mic you said you are going to include. Instead of hearing this in the conference we learn this in a Press Release on the Playstation Blog. I don’t remember hearing anything about it during the conference and that is a mistake. I add this to the list because I honestly believe it’s a big deal. We know just how many people didn’t use their mics on the PS3 and how that doesn’t foster community. Telling people that a mic comes in the box just makes the deal sweeter and lets consumers know that this time you want people to play together and interact.
TOO LONG, TOO AKWARD – Last gen, one of the biggest knocks against Sony was that they didn’t know how to engage with the public, through PR or in the way that you interacted with their systems. This two hour dog and pony show totally could have been cut down to forty-five minutes or an hour. Front man after front man trying to conceptualize things that most gamers didn’t really care about did not help their cause. The lasting image of the four Bungie guys on stage at the end of the conference looking like an awkward boy band with synchronized robot arms will never leave me. Sony needed more Jack Trenton and less Jack from Lost. They need a “face” for the company — they still need their J. Allard.
NOT ENOUGH NEW GAMES – You have a dedicated event with the whole world watching and you kinda stiff people on the new stuff. Two new games, with only one being partially demoed. This is not the way to make people want your system especially if you are going to wait to pull anything else out until E3. This gives your competition time to figure out a plan of attack and focus on things you left out of your own showcase. I bet Microsoft will show all of the goods when and if they pull anything out before E3 and they will take the spotlight and momentum Sony should have had.
I think for all the hype and set up for this “game changing” announcement we really didn’t get lots of meat on the bone. Sony still has a way to go before they convince me and many other gamers that the PS4 is a necessity and a must have.
by Jill Adams
I am from the elitist camp of bookworms that might have avidly played Super Mario 3 from start to finish in 1988, but then happily went a decade without owning a television, right up to my late 20s. Post-Mario, my understanding of video games evolved via media stereotypes: Guns!! Rape!! Sedentary, mind-poisoned, racist tv zombie bros!!
Then I was swept off my feet by a gamer. This charming, adorable, hilarious man with a devotion to making me happy pranced in, and we now live happily ever after. With a very big television. And two gaming consoles. A PlayStation Vita (handheld gaming system, for the uninitiated), Trittons (advanced headphones with a built-in mic, meant for gaming in groups), at least 7 controllers of various shapes and sizes… you get the picture. Never in my life would I have imagined emotions other than disdain for this sort of thing, but much to my gamer’s credit, I enjoy a nuanced appreciation for what I now understand is an emerging art form. Or, an emerged art form, little did I know.
So this post is to explain my conversion experience: how I went from hearing “gaming” as “slobbering nerds or douchey guys shooting stuff,” to being genuinely impressed.
L.A. Noire came out in 2011, and was very highly anticipated in my house. Set in 1940s L.A., you play as a detective working his way up through the ranks by solving cases around the city — stolen trinkets, jewelry heists, missing starlets. The art style is solidly film noir, and does a lovely job of putting you in full Sam Spade mode. The art style alone was enough to impress me, but L.A. Noire’s biggest accomplishment was that it brought humanity into the game in a way that completely surprised me.
The developers employed a new technology called MotionScan, which turned the game’s characters from plastic Ken dolls into people — people who could lie to you. Convince you. Evoke a sympathetic response. The game is all about solving cases by reading the clues, including reading the witnesses and suspects. You are asked to assess people’s truthfulness, in order to make progress. Seeing someone squinch their eyebrows at the wrong moment, or shift weight in an untrustworthy manner — these added a real twist of intrigue that I didn’t expect to ever get from a video game.
Not to mention that the MotionScan technology is completely amazing.
It always seemed to me that there was no place for irony or cleverness in gaming. I only ever heard about machismo and a kind of sardonic cruelty, or alternately, puffy silly games for kids. It didn’t seem like there was any place for my inner snark — a world that would correlate to “The Royal Tenenbaums” or “Napoleon Dynamite.”
When my gamer got his Vita a few months ago, Escape Plan was the first game he had me play to understand why this $300 toy was worthwhile. In a black-and-white factory universe, this game features Lil and Laarg, two herpaderp characters that bumble along, doop-a-doo.
Your job is to help them through the gauntlet of factory dangers to escape from level to level without being sliced, squashed, imploded, or brained by any number of blades, traps, or other dangers. (Remember Happy Tree Friends?) I am convinced Escape Plan was developed by a dry, evil wit of British origin, down to watching Lil’s drunken, bubble-induced hiccups float the character over a lethal threat.
Another mention in the strange humor category goes to Frobisher Says. Frobisher is akin to a Monty Python skit gone even more mad.
Frobisher barks absurd commands in a British accent, faster and faster, demanding that you “Deliver my pudding!” “Fight this bear!” “Poke the otter with a stick!” The Vita has both front and back touch screens, joysticks, arrow controls, trigger controls, and each task uses different means of accomplishing the command. Meaning that you begin to look like a crazy person, waving, whacking, and wielding the Vita in whatever way necessary to keep Frobisher from mocking you when you’re too slow, in order to receive the coveted, “Splendid!”
Community Investment and the Artistic Process
There are lots of anti-gaming arguments to be made in favor of moving your ass off the couch and having a real conversation with other humanoids, in an effort to be a viable member of society. That said, it’s very easy to discount the real bonds that are formed in the gaming community.
For me, the most impressive example of this to date is Sound Shapes. TheSpawnPoint has done some extensive coverage on this game recently, for good reason. The basic principles are about levels and music. A player moves through a screens of a level, collecting little coin-like symbols. The faster you complete a level, and the higher the percentage of coin-things you collect, the higher you’re ranked. The muscial element comes in from the creators — each coin-thing represents a musical element, perhaps a percussion sound, a synth riff, or a melodic hook. So, as you go along playing the level and collecting coins, you build a song.
But Sound Shapes has a dual purpose: both to play levels, and to make levels. Players are provided with some pre-programmed sound bits and graphic elements, which with my creative juices would stay pretty basic. But the community has gone wild, using these elements to create elaborate soundscapes and story lines, and even stop-motion animations that the Sound Shapes developers didn’t realize were possible.
A little sample of what’s possible starting with geometric shapes and small sound elements, from maker Daftbomb.
Watching my gamer interact with the developers and level makers has brought on a wholeheartedly positive vibe. All these guys genuinely appreciate the labor and focus that go into the creative process, and spend a lot of time commending each other and talking about method and process. It’s akin to watching friends in design discuss typography or collage, and deeply centered in the art of the experience.
The Art of Place
This one was a real conversion point for me. It’s one thing to have a generic battlefield, or an outerspace outpost with an alien war underway. It’s another thing to show beautiful crumbling mosaic tile murals in Istanbul (Uncharted 2), or climb some historically-accurate buildings in 15th century Florence (Assassin’s Creed II).
The attention to detail is astonishing, both as a consumer, and from the perspective of art direction. Not to mention historical accuracy, as the makers of Assassin’s 3 are about to demonstrate.
And then there’s the idea that gaming can be an existential contemplation. Journey is hard to describe — imagine being a faceless, robed, monk-like being, traveling the desert alone. Your destination: a mountain in the distance. Your means of travel: floating along on a mystical drift, or the occasional flying carpet or draft of magic sparkledust. Along the way, you pass through ancient stone cities… Perils appear, mirages and oases shimmer in and out of reality, and occasionally you bump into another lonely traveler. With only a speech of singing bells to help you, you can help each other gather more energy, in the form of a rune-covered magical scarf that grows. And in the end, you arrive at the mountaintop nirvana (*spoiler alert*), to be transfigured by a ray of cosmic shooting light into a sparkling comet.
It was so beautiful, so uplifting and magical, that both my gamer and I nearly wept at points.
Which is all to say: given the choice between watching reality tv and playing a game like Journey or Sound Shapes, my husband chooses gaming. And I’m glad.