I spent a good chunk of last week at E3, where I was inundated by games striving for authenticity. Most of these were shooters, most of them boasted impressive motion capture and textures, and most of them started to blend together after a while. In between explosions, I kept thinking about Botanicula (a humble point and click adventure game from Amanita Design) and how much more alive it seems than many of these photorealistic spectacles.
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The third and final day of E3 2012 has come to a close. Some highlights include plenty of hands on time with the Wii U, new information about Assassin’s Creed 3, and the balance between creation and destruction on the show floor. It’ll take a few more days for everything to truly sink in, but until then, here are some more impressions:
Day 2 of E3 2012 has ended, and I can’t help but feel I’ve made it over the hump. Jorge and I started our day the way that most Angelinos do: we sat in freeway traffic for 45 minutes. That proved to be the last slow part of the day, as our schedules were packed with huge publishers and our downtime dedicated to combing the floor for interesting titles. Here are some of the highlights:
In 2002, Charlie Cleveland created Natural Selection, a Half-Life mod that combined the first-person shooter genre with a top-down real-time strategy game. Heavily inspired by the atmosphere of Aliens, Natural Selection pitted a team of regular machine-gun wielding marines against the Kharaa, a race of mutating alien species. Back in 2002, the game stood out from the pack because it offered something new: competitive but asymmetrical combat. Ten years later, the game’s forthcoming sequel, finally becoming a reality, is still a notable outlier amidst the plethora of military shooters. I talked with Charlie Cleveland and Unknown World’s Advocate Hugh Jeremy at E3 yesterday and took a look at the game’s upcoming release. Natural Selection 2 looks to carry its burden of ten years with aplomb, even while venturing into a market that has changed a great deal since its predecessor first built a group of core players.
At the turn of the millenium, the shooter genre was at a turning point. Natural Selection was released in between Halo and Halo 2, and the first-person shooter genre was moving away from the Doom era and was incorporating strong narratives, adventure-game conventions, and RPG elements in games like Metroid Prime and Deus Ex. Rainbow Six had already brought in tactical game play, but the strategy genre and the shooter genre were still relatively distant from one another. Natural Selection was unique, yes, but it also came at a time when the large studios were redefining the FPS market and were doing so with flare.
It’s my first E3, so seeing the massive spectacle itself was strange. Almost everything about the show is loud: the colors, the music, the people. Being on the show floor, surrounded by thousands of people who are there to celebrate and profit off of the medium creates a strange manic energy. While everyone says they are there to have a great time, there is a lot of business being done.
What made the day even stranger was my relatively open schedule. Jorge and I booked most of our appointments for Wednesday and Thursday, which left us with a strange amount of unstructured time. A fair amount of this time was spent waiting in various lines, but the lack of structure also let us stumble on a few less-trafficked parts of the show and also get a sense of some of E3’s less tangible qualities. Here are some highlights as well as a podcast covering the day’s events…
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