At last! Redemption! I finally have the chance to prove that I'm not a shrill Sony fanboy and a sock puppet for all that is amazing about PlayStation. After three years of kicking butt at E3, 2017 has proven to be insurmountably the dryest press conference Sony has put on in years.
And I think I'm a little too excited to write that.
Sony showed up with a handful of okay trailers, including a brilliant Spider-Man demonstration, but you could see on the crowd's faces at the show how bored each and every person was in that audience. All Sony had to do was not mess up, and it could have walked away miles ahead of Microsoft and its $499 blunder, but nope. Sony couldn't get it done. The PlayStation 4 has a lot of games coming to it, all of which you saw last year at E3 2016, and yeah… nothing else new or exciting, really.
Call me crazy, but after a straight hour of nothing but gameplay, I missed the talking heads!
Spider-Man is awesome. Insomniac Games blew that presentation out of the park and easily made it the next "must own" PlayStation 4 game. There wasn't a whole lot else to choose from based on the trailers we saw, but that game could have easily been a highlight in a much more eventful year.
Spider-Man soaring through the skies, wrestling helicopters, trying his best to pull off some sweet Batman Arkham combat, and oh it was all so beautiful. Maybe it was a little too far on the scripted side with some obnoxious and intrusive quick time events. but for what we got from "mash the R-trigger or die," it was totally worth it. If anything, this is the PlayStation 4 game I'll be playing next spring… maybe the only one.
Of course, I'd rather play it on the Switch and away from my television, but that's not going to happen.
I'll give a nod to God of War as well. I've never been a fan of the series, but I was shocked at how beautiful Santa Monica was able to make this game. For a series that has always been defined by violence and blood, the environment seems to have been given an overly fair treatment in this latest game. The greens, the snow, the teal and orange enemies, it all fleshes together very nicely, even the lava-esque blood effects. It makes me wonder if it somehow worked in a bit of Ikaruga into the combat.
Speaking of which, the developers have done a good job bringing the series' gameplay up to speed. Devil May Cry style action is out, and Dark Souls style action is in. God of War follows the flow of the video game industry, and this new game is now firmly entrenched in From Software's camp.
Oh, and I'll be playing the Shadow of the Colossus remake. I can be as cynical as I want about the E3 press conferences, but I won't talk smack on that.
And neither should you. Bow to your master!
Again, I wouldn't call anything I saw bad, except for maybe too much focus on PlayStation VR, but I need to stick with my chosen theme in some way. Sony played it very safe this year, and its strategy of no rocking the boat showed off a lot of safe game trailers. Nothing new from Sony was displayed on stage, and I no longer have interest in these cinematic AAA action experiences.
The only way I'll ever get around to any of these is if a review falls into my lap.
Detroit Become Human, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Days Gone. All of these have mechanics that we've see in every single AAA video game to date, and their foundations are just a retooling of what we already know, painted up so that they seem relevant in the context of their story.
For example, Days Gone. How many times have I set up some kind of trap, thrown a rock at it as a distraction, and slipped by my enemies while they help free their buddy?
I mean, I did that back in Metal Gear Solid on the original PlayStation in 1998.
Oh, the protagonist also blew up a gate to overrun his enemies with zombies, I mean, Freakers. That'd be impressive if it was an unscripted event, but clearly, that's exactly how you're supposed to handle that situation. That's puzzle solving, trudging into the realm of point-and-click adventures more so than anything else.
But hey, at least the crowd control animations are neat.
These scripted AAA games have become so tired to the point where Monster Hunter World's silly grappling hook looks like a brilliant and original idea. At least a game like Middle-earth: Shadow of War has something smart like the Nemesis system running behind them. With these games, they are just here solely for the story. You press buttons, use situational game mechanics, and aim with third-person shooting to get from cutscene to cutscene.
That's a video game nowadays.
Our group chat discussed how Detroit Become Human actually plays a lot better behind curtains, but if that's the case, why not bring it out and show us? Plant a dude on stage and have him play it in front of everyone. Don't just rely on Hollywood trailers and scripted gameplay segments to sell me games because it doesn't work anymore. It's boring, it lacks crowd intimacy, and it makes me cringe at games I might otherwise bee excited for.
Sony didn't even bother to show off indie games! What gives?
What happened? Put some life into your show. Don't listen to the fans who just want to see gameplay because that doesn't work either. This presentation boiled down to nothing more than sequential video game trailers with all the effort of putting together a YouTube playlist. Engage, explain, gives us reasons to be excited.
The video game industry in general or at least, the home console market. Sony and Microsoft have committed themselves to these powerful boxes for the foreseeable future, and they aren't evolving with nearly the prowess that they had been hoping for. Well, they all have video streaming capabilities, at least. As for games, open worlds are getting bigger and prettier while cinematic games become more photo-realistic, but these same games are also becoming less engaging and really stale in how they unfold.
And by the way, guess who has the best reviewed open world game of the last decade… that's right!
Both Sony and Microsoft left the convention floor wide open for Nintendo to come in and blow us away. While they are sinking millions of dollars into the big budgeted games and desperately trying to get unconvinced gamers to buy into PlayStation VR or the upgraded consoles, Nintendo has a machine that differs entirely from both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Nintendo offers a new way to play videos games separate from your television or attached if you so choose. It offers a fresh library of titles you can't buy anywhere else, and most importantly, the Nintendo Switch is not defined by the specs that power it. Sony and Microsoft have turned this into a numbers race where performance is more important than the games themselves. Forgive me for praising Nintendo too much in my PlayStation reaction article, but at least it's keeping it real.
The home console market is not about making innovative games anymore, it's about making the same stale tropes look better than the other guy's stale tropes, and so far, Sony is winning in the stale trope race.
And it certainly showed in their E3 presentation. Congratulations, Sony, you've earned it. At least I got my dose of nostalgia with Shadow of the Colossus.
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