Just checking in here. I've been too busy with end-of-the-semester college work lately to finish my Top PS3 Games countdown (only the finale is left, which should be up by next week), but I did want to put forth my two cents on some of the cool news and trailers that popped up over the last couple of weeks.
I don't consider myself a huge Star Wars nerd by any means. I grew up with the prequel trilogy after all, which took away much of the magic of the original trilogy for me. As I recall, I watched the original trilogy back to back to back when I was in first or second grade. Then came Episode I almost immediately after, which was one of the first DVDs that I owned as a kid (Tarzan was my very first). Of course, I love Episodes IV and V and I always preferred the old episodes over the prequels. However, I do think that Return of the Jedi is a lot worse than people think it is. Ewoks, Boba Fett dying like a fool, the characters being split up, that cheesy ending, etc. On the flip side, I happen to think that Revenge of the Sith is a lot better than people give it credit for. There are just so many amazing scenes in that movie that make the entire trilogy worth it, in my opinion.
Anyway, the Episode VII was amazing. I was always skeptical of the new trilogy and I thought it was being rushed by Disney. This teaser put my worries to rest. After watching it about 10 times, I really get the feeling that JJ Abrams and his crew are really putting care into this movie. I get that by looking at the handmade props and practical effects and how everything just points back to the original trilogy and its magic. It's familiar, yes. But it also looks like a fresh approach to Star Wars. I really do hope that the guy at the beginning of the teaser is indeed an enlisted Stormtrooper. It would be such a fresh, interesting perspective over the whole been-there disguise thing. I really loved the opening scenes of chaos and fear just like I loved seeing the Millenium Falcon again with that iconic theme playing. I also loved the trailer's darker moments like the Stormtroopers getting ready to exit their vessel into the night and of course, the shot of the mysterious Sith staggering into the woods and almost furiously whipping out that badass lightsaber. The whole trailer was awesome and I can't wait to see more.
Before Star Wars stole its thunder, Jurassic Park had an awesome, nostalgic trailer that had everybody talking. I'm loving what I saw from it. I especially loved the shots of the lab experiment and the gates opening. Both shots really took me back to my childhood, especially because I've only seen the original one time (over this past summer) since seeing it over a decade ago. I especially loved the classic piano theme at the end. It gave me chills.
Well, we couldn't expect all three to look unbelievably good, could we? I'm sorry, but this movie looks terrible. I don't get what they're doing with this movie's plot and the acting looks pretty bad.
The Game Awards
So, this past weekend was a good time to be a fan of video games. Especially if you were a Nintendo or Sony fan (Microsoft was nowhere to be found this weekend at all and I seriously want to know how they plan on reacting to this weekend). Every year, we get some type of awards ceremony for video games. We used to have the over-the-top VGA's, we had the face-palm VGX last year, and not we have The Game Awards. The truth is, the actual awards that are handed out are usually questionable and forgettable at best and this year was no exception. But what I get excited for every year from these events are the slew of announcements, trailers, demos, world premieres, etc. that are shown between the awards. To be honest, I'd actually say that the awards are in between the world premieres. At the past VGA's, we were first shown giant games like Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, and The Last of Us. VGX last year had relatively nothing worth remembering. This year's The Game Awards certainly didn't drop the mic with a Fallout 4 or Deus Ex teaser as I was hoping, but a lot of cool stuff came out of this ceremony in the form of trailers.
The highlights for me weren't really the big games which simply had new short trailers, but the smaller indie games. Which is funny because I'm not much of an indie game fan. I loved what I saw from Before, ADR1FT, and Tacoma. Especially "Before", which was my favorite game from the ceremony altogether. I love the art style, the open nature world look it has, and the sense of depth it looks to have for an indie game. It looks a lot like PS4's Rime, which is one of my most anticipated games right now.
As for the bigger games at the show, I was a but underwhelmed. The whole time I was expecting some giant announcement from Rockstar, a Fallout 4 teaser (even though Bethesda said they weren't going to show anything), or at least a trailer for the next Dishonored or Deus Ex game. Nothing like that ever happened. I did like what I saw from The Witcher 3 and Battlefield Hardline actually looks pretty cool. Then there was the unexpected demo for The Legend of Zelda Wii U (in the small corner of the screen for some reason) that featured Link riding around on Epona, dodging trees and shooting arrows in midair. This was cool and the game looked really good, but I was left wanting a bit more. I wanted a 5 minute trailer that showed the actual game and not just a tech demo. But hey, it's coming and it looks great. I'll finally pick up a Wii U when it is bundled with this game. There are so many games on the Wii U waiting for me, which should be fun.
Overall, I thought the ceremony was a step in the right direction. It was a night that celebrated video games and the people who make them and play them. There weren't any cheesy celebrity appearances (Sutherland and Imagine Dragons acted like they cared at least) and the jokes weren't too forced. I take my hat off to Geoff Keighley for hosting and bringing the show together. From this, The Game Awards can learn what worked and what didn't and simply improve. Also, I don't think publishers would be afraid to announce their giant games here in the future. It certainly had a huge spotlight in front of a live audience, their peers, and hundreds of thousands streaming online.
I had no idea what to expect from the first annual PlayStation Experience. I suspected that some cool stuff was going to go down since it was held right next to The Game Awards in both date and location. Maybe a few announcements here and there, right? I had no idea that it would be some giant, E3-esque conference. In fact, I thought that this went over even better than Sony's E3 presence. Which, along with Nintendo's random "Direct" livestreams, could mean that the end of E3 is near. But seriously, this livestreamed keynote conference featured announcement after demo after trailer after announcment after demo after trailer, etc. There were an unprecedented amount of games shown in such a quick pace with no "Wonderbook" or "Powers" buffer in between. It was awesome.
The highlight of this conference was obviously the Uncharted 4 demo, which lasted about 15 minutes long. First off, holy **** does this game look pretty. There were animations in this demo that must be shaming big name developers in the industry right now. But that's just how it looked. It played amazingly and almost unbelievably. I would be skeptical right now if it wasn't for that one moment where the demo-er missed his jump and caused Nate to die in classic Uncharted fashion (flute sound and all). The way that this game played was like a dream. You can see the "The Last of Us" influence packed into it. It doesn't match TLOU's tone or grounded RPG-ish gameplay, but it does have that same level of approach. You are pretty much given an area of enemies and you get to decide how to tackle them. What the demo-er was doing looked scripted but it wasn't. He didn't have to slide down that slope shooting a guy, jumping off of it, and kicking him in the face. He didn't need to get caught climbing by the badguys, only to drop down and take care of them in dramatic fashion. The AI in this demo was insane. The programming and code that must have gone into it must be so advanced. The whole demo was insane. I'm pumped for some Uncharted 4.
The Order: 1886 looked much improved (with The Witcher 3 being delayed, I may just buy this game when it comes out), Until Dawn looked goofy but fun, Arkham Knight looked great as usual without showing much, Street Fighter V was confirmed to be a PS4 console exclusive which is HUGE (I don't care for fighting games personally, but a lot of people love Street Fighter and must be either pissed or happy about it), and BloodBorne looks like it's going to make a lot of people happy (not my type of game, but it looks impressive). I was also again impressed by the smaller, indie games, which is unlike me. The Forest looks interesting and What Remains of Edith Finch looks like the type of game I've been waiting for for a while now. I think it's cool that these games got to share the spotlight with the big dogs. Also, it was cool to see some older games being confirmed for the PS4/PS3/Vita like Yakuza, Shovel Knight, Bastion, and Final Fantasy VII. By the way, I feel a bit sad for Square Enix. No, this isn't the FFVII remake that people have been waiting for, but it does look like a neat remaster. I like that they kept the art style but smoothed the graphics up. It looks cool but all people did was complain about it not being an all-out remake. You just can't please some people, I guess.
Overall, I love the idea PSX had. I seemed like it was a gift from Sony to unite PlayStation fans. With the original PlayStation turning 20 last week (just a few months after I did), there's a lot of history for PlayStation fans to embrace as a culture. This experience just had a feel good vibe to it, which I loved. The event also made a lot of sense marketing wise for Sony as well, don't get me wrong. The Uncharted 4 demo has over 2 million views on YouTube while a small game like The Forest has over 700,000. It definitely raised interest for Sony's upcoming games. I would have loved to be there, but just streaming it was quite the experience. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next year. Long live PlayStation!
That was a much longer blog than I thought it would be! There's just so much to talk about from these last few weeks. Thanks for reading and please comment :)