Our Plans For E3

Video Game Article is going all out with its coverage of this year's E3. This will be our first time in attendance at the event, and our schedule is jam packed. On the first day alone we have appointments with:

  • Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who has agreed to answer one question for every punch in the shoulder that I can endure
  • Sony's lead architect for the PS4, Mark Cerny, to stand over a sink eating microwave burritos while shouting at one another about Tomba
  • Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who will not be taking questions, but will be available for a Lenin's Tomb-style viewing as he contentedly sleeps in a cocoon of money
  • Microsoft's Basket Of Kittens, which is not an eccentrically named person but is in fact a basket of kittens, and is therefore completely unable to answer questions like "What the heck is going on with the Xbox One?" and "No, seriously, what are you thinking?"

Of course, with all of these appointments on deck we're not going to have a lot of free time on our hands. After some quick math we realized that writing about our experiences will be a waste of what little time we do have, and that it would be more beneficial to schedule more interviews. What does this mean? You're not going to see any VGA coverage of this year's E3. Be assured, however, that I am going to personally experience it and have a lot of fun.

We hope you'll understand, respect, and eventually cheer us for our decision. Thank you.


Tablet Mania

Handheld games crash and burn when they set out to recreate the experiences of console or PC games. At best, they are second rate versions of the experiences they emulate. Truly great 3DS and Vita titles take advantage of their platforms' strengths. They become something unique.

Mobile games are similar. Well, mostly. They only have two strengths to take advantage of : 1) You can touch a screen. 2) Pretty much everyone has a smartphone or tablet.

Games that work well on the platform tend to be rather simple. Virtual controls have been and always will be terrible. Even arcadey genres like twin stick shooters fall apart faster than your repeated mantra of "Well I only paid $1". If recreating a console game on the Vita or 3DS is a bad idea, attempting it on a touchscreen device is like trying to toss a paper airplane into outer space. No matter how enthusiastic you are or how fast you run before pitching that thing, the result is going to be disappointing.

In light of that, say hello to the new Deus Ex game. Teased for months, many assumed Deus Ex: The Fall was either going to be an expansion to Human Revolution or a full sequel. Instead, it's a tablet game. A neutered version of a highly systemic, action driven game. With touch controls.

The newly announced Halo: Spartan Assault isn't a first person shooter, but it is a twin stick shooter. Without the sticks.

Everyone can see that mobile is a big market. For years analysts and the press have fretted (or drooled) over the prospect of cell phones and tablets taking over gaming. The mistake comes in assuming that there is a significant overlap between these platforms and traditional video game systems, and that games for one system make sense on the other. When we try to homogenize everything from video games and entertainment and communication into one vague platform with no distinctive borders, nothing stands out.


Hooray For New Stuff

Sometimes it feels as though every genre has been mapped out and laid bare, smoothing out a sterile foundation for bigger, more detailed, but not necessarily more interesting experiences. It's easy to think "I guess this is it", resigning yourself to an infinite horizon of combat-centric games pretending to be bad movies.

Every now and then, however, something comes along that's wonderfully different, and you realize how much is out there waiting to be explored.

Gunpoint stands as its own unique thing, the result of Tom Francis having a very specific idea and following through with a great deal of care. It isn't a complete re-invention of games as we know them. It's just a clever, funny experience that forges its own path instead of plopping down obligatory genre elements. Playing it, you get the feeling that if a similar level of personal investment and clarity of purpose were behind every game, we'd never run out of new genres and weird offshoots.

Gunpoint
You can rewire a security alarm panel so that when a guard presses it he inadvertently opens a door, allowing you to escape by jumping out of a third floor window and landing safely thanks to your magic tech-pants. 9/10

Remember Me
The setting and premise are as great as the voices and character animations are terrible, and I really wish I could be open minded enough to not let those quirks bother me as much as they do. 7/10

The Swapper
It's missing the solution to one puzzle, the one called "What do we do with all the atmosphere that we've built up?" 8/10

Grid 2
Still no hex grid turn-based mode, still not interested. 6/10

– Dennis "Corin Tucker's Stalker" Farrell

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