E3 Archive


E3 jetpacks-on preview: Hybrid

It's natural to have questions when playing a game for the first time. Questions like, "So this is Gears of War with jetpacks, right?" for instance. Or perhaps, "Is that guy shooting at me from the ceiling?" Maybe even, "What's that sou — oh god, is that a cybernetic assassin?!" Gamers who partook in the beta for 5th Cell's Hybrid already know the answers to those questions. For the uninitiated: no, yes, a cybernetic assassin and see: previous answer.

When a studio that is known and loved for creating a specific type of game — those in the Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts vein, in this case — announces it's taking that brave leap of faith from the comforts of its nest to attempt a flight towards previously uncharted territory, there can be some trepidation among gamers, perhaps some skepticism, even. Take just one look at 5th Cell's Summer of Arcade third-person shooter and it's plain that it is one such departure. Five matches in a noisy convention hall (seriously, Activision, did Black Ops II have to be that loud?) is a sample size too small to categorically abandon all concerns over whether or not the studio has the chops to pull this thing off. However, it is large enough to glean that Hybrid has all the makings of the next XBLA shooter that will keep gamers up until the wee hours of the morning on many occasions. Now might be a good time to start banking up that sick leave at work.

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E3 Hands-on: Double Dragon Neon is a vibrant mix of old and new

When I told Pete Rosky, Assistant Product Manager at Majesco and curator of my Double Dragon Neon demo, that I had never played a Double Dragon game he said "Great! I'll tell you as little about the game as possible then." Confused and incredulous, I asked why. "I've never gotten to do this presentation with someone who hasn't played a Double Dragon game before, it's a whole new perspective." Knowing then what I know now, I would have understood that Double Dragon Neon is an "old soul" of a brawler, living a life in the present with a staunch respect for the past.

Apparently, Double Dragon is kind of a big deal amongst brawler fans, so excuse me for those of you that I've offended by having not played the game. If it makes you feel better, I played this one and liked it. Double Dragon Neon is slow paced (which isn't a bad thing, mind you) and all the character models are huge and for all the brawlers I've played this felt different. It's a brawler that feels old, but looks new. I marveled at the eye-popping visuals and smooth animations, but the gameplay was nothing like the brawlers of today (because apparently it's like the brawlers of yesteryear).

Just like Majesco did for my demo, prepare for a preview from a different perspective. Read the rest of this entry »


E3 Preview: What's a Bellator and why is it so fun?

Have you ever had a friend that just doesn't seem to get it? No matter how many times he's informed that you're just not into a band, a sport or some other such thing he just keeps on dragging you out to experience it. He can only be denied so many times before you reach the end of your Seinfeldian Excuse Rolodex and bite the bullet. So it is with MMA and one of my closest friends. Despite maintaining a serious passion for a number of sports, MMA excites me about as much as the prospect of playing Superman 64.

It's of little surprise, then, that enthusiasm was low while trekking across the convention hall en route for an appointment to play 345 Games' Bellator: MMA Onslaught. The nice folks at 345 ran through a quick overview of their fighting game and demoed a match in the blissfully peaceful office off the show floor. John noted how much better the visuals were than the last time he had seen the game. Then Matt McEnerney, senior producer at 345, and company showed off the game's surprisingly deep RPG elements — character creation and progression. Once they were done tinkering, the fight was on. The more of the game that was shown, the more I suddenly found myself eager to give a try.

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View from the back — Dungeon Fighter Live: Fall of Hendon Myre

They're crowding the front of the room on the 54th floor of a Los Angeles hotel, cameras flashing in rapid succession. A small group of men are before them, footage of their last work playing on a large screen. It's difficult to get a good view of the promo vid that is running while all of the members of the Korean gaming press are nearly tripping over each other to secure the best possible angle from which to grab the perfect shot for their readers back home. The level of excitement among this crowd is palpable, if not completely understandable.

After all, what's being shown at this point is nothing new, the footage is of 2010's Dungeon Fighter Online (released in 2005 in Nexon's home country of Korea). The speakers have thus far provided a nice little history lesson for the uninitiated, but those in attendance have hardly been treated to breaking news or exclusive footage at this point. With more exciting photo ops and demos of this fall's hottest games vying for attention during E3 week than any one journalist can possibly tackle, why is the foreign press causing such a hullabaloo over a PC game that released seven years ago in their country?

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XBLAFancast Episode 65 – Todd Talks E3

Todd returns from E3 this week, so once we get the new releases out of the way it's pretty much all Todd all the time. He tells us about some of the games he saw last week, a list of which you can find below. So if you were interested by the XBLA games being shown off last week, odds are we talk about them this week.

Please subscribe, rate and review the podcast on iTunes. We appreciate it! Check us out on twitter (@XBLAFans) where you can win codes for games, give us feedback or just ask a question. We are also now on Stitcher, so you can stream the show on your smartphone, give it a go!

Big thanks to Chris Green for the awesome theme music, be sure to check out his site BlurredEdge and why not follow him on twitter too @BlurredEdge.


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What we are playing: June 10

What we are playing is a weekly column published on Sunday. Select members of the team talk about the games they’ve been playing over the past week and which they’re most looking forward to. 

Christine Mitchell – Been playing a load of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Can't believe the studio went bust, I'm really enjoying it so far.

Nick Santangelo – Like most gamers I've long wanted to attend E3. I finally did so for the first time this past week, and it was great. The Big Three conferences were mostly disappointing, but I played a ton of fun game demos, like Hell Yeah!Pid, Borderlands 2, Happy Wars, Hybrid, Quantum Conundrum and Ascend: New Gods. I also played a few that I was less enamored with, such as Resident Evil 6, Hitman Absolution and RAW.

Perry Jackson – Humble Indie Bundle V for me mostly this week. Sworcery and Lone Survivor made it definitely worth the price of admission to get 6 other solid games with it. Oh yeah, that E3 thing happened. It looked pretty cool.

Steve Melton – So close to getting 200/200 on Joy Ride Turbo. What a fun game. Unlock system could have been a bit kinder, though. Other than that I dusted off my Kinect for some Fruit Ninja and Kinect Star Wars.

Matt Liparota – Been a good couple of weeks for gaming for me – I've been playing a TON of Diablo III and Max Payne 3, and I finally got around to picking up and playing Bastion. This past week I dove back into Batman: Arkham City with the Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC and enjoyed playing as Robin a heck of a lot more than I thought I would. In the coming week I'm hoping to wrap up Max Payne and my first playthrough of Diablo.

Mark Seymour – Only just recovering from a stupor brought on by the most embarrassing trio of E3 conferences in memory; buoyed by reports that there were some exciting games on the floor though. High hopes for Lollipop Chainsaw this week too.

Your turn.


Mini-editorial: E3 needs to retool the big presentations

Normally I don't go for what I largely consider the 'sensationalist journalism' that gets big hits. You know the kind — things like the Activision vs Respawn Entertainment/Infinity Ward battle. I hate 'em. It seems like a cheap way to get hits on a site, especially when there's no subtle amount of mudslinging strewn throughout those articles. But there's one bandwagon I'm starting to follow: E3 just isn't what it used to be.

I can remember when E3 was about satisfying those that actually take the time to watch it. Now it seems like the big presentations are more about the social aspects, gimmicks, and sequel games than anything else. Thankfully from everything I've seen the show floor is more of the traditional trade show flare than the presentations.

I just can't stomach the three console manufacturer's shows anymore, and I'm a big fan of all three consoles. We're introduced to all sorts of crazy numbers and stats that somehow make each console the #1 in the world. It's like car commercials; there's no way that every car in this world is the #1 car in its class. After that we get a handful of trailers, some only cinematic in nature, and every few years we get a tech demo that shows off the power of a new console. Ironically it's rare that developers ever hit that level of quality on the console. It's probably because the tech demo was merely a scripted 3D "film," whereas devs have to worry about runtime physics, controls and a slew of other things.

Thankfully once the smoke clears and the real E3 begins it begins to change. Big guns like GameSpot have near round the clock live previews of games on their site. Spike and G4 highlight the best of the best, and sites like us can finally unleash our staff on the show floor. That's where the real news comes. While a game might be announced in a big presentation, it's not until someone gets their hands on it that people can finally hear what it's like. It's moments like you see in the photo above where the real news comes into play.

I don't know, maybe I'm jealous. We had four members of our team attend E3, and I've always wanted to go myself. I'm sure that if I were to sit in a big theater with 14 foot screens I'd feel different. But I just can't shake the fact that I don't get much of anything from the presentations, and I feel like I'm not the only one by a long shot.

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E3 Hands-on: Dancing the day away with a bear and a hare in Hell Yeah!

Once upon a time, the opportunity to play it was passed over in favor of speaking at length to the man behind it. A tough decision for sure, but one for which there are no regrets. But this is E3, with all its glitz and gaudiness, its bass and babes, its bombshells and busts — both on the babes and on the press conference stages. This is the show, and Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit might just be the game coming to Xbox Live Arcade. Abstaining from experiencing firsthand at The Big Show, one of the most promising upcoming games for XBLA, simply wouldn't do. Even waiting just a wink longer until XBLA Fans' scheduled time with the game later in the week arrived just wouldn't do. Read the rest of this entry »


SmartGlass-compatible Homerun Stars coming to XBLA

Talking behind closed doors at E3 2012 with Game Informer, Microsoft let slip that Homerun Stars is a thing. The previously unannounced title will have Kinect and SmartGlass functionality built into it. Also, as the title implies, it is a baseball game. No developer was mentioned in connection with the Arcade title that is set to release at some point during the coming holiday season.

Games Beat was later able to pry a few more details loose about Homerun Stars' SmartGlass elements. In the example given, one player picks up a traditional Xbox 360 controller and uses it to try to go yard. Meanwhile, a second player channels his inner Cole Hamels and goes for the kill on a tablet device while playing as the pitcher. The roles can also be reversed, says Microsoft.

"I think the most exciting thing about SmartGlass is that developers can use this extra screen to offer extra buttons and input options to players that the regular controller doesn't have," Robert Bowling, president of Robotoki and former creative strategist at Infinity Ward, said of SmartGlass' potential to change how games like Homerun Stars are played. Officially announced yesterday, the Xbox app for mobile devices is quickly building a nice stable of games that will operate with it in some way, such as this November's Halo 4.

Kinect presents yet another control option, although no mention has been made as to precisely how the motion sensor fits into the equation. Presumably, however, it will present an alternative to pitching and/or batting with a controller or tablet.

Sources: Game Informer, Games Beat and Xbox Kinect Fans


Dust: An Elysian Tail will feature casual and challenge modes

Speaking with XBLA Fans on the E3 show floor today, Microsoft revealed that forthcoming Dust: An Elysian Tail will contain an arena-type gameplay mode and difficulty setting for casual gamers. Challenge Mode is designed to keep gamers coming back for more after they've cleared the campaign of the Summer of Arcade release.

The casual difficulty is pretty self-explanatory, but the manner in which it was play-tested is a bit unusual. Humble Hearts didn't lean on a team of seasoned game testers to exhaustively play through every scenario in the game on casual in order to properly hammer out its balance. Instead, the studio stayed inside the family. Dean Dodrill, the sole man slaving away on everything that is Dust besides its music, had his four-year-old daughter play through it. When she was able to beat it with "no issues," its difficulty curve was deemed just right.

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