WELCOME TO THE FUTURE: THANK YOU, E3 2012

This article comes to us from our guest writer, Anish Kataria. Anish is a passionate gamer, a car and bike enthusiast, and a generally happy guy. He can be reached on twitter @AnishKataria.

Gamers in India have never had it easy!  Trying to find a little bit of gaming nirvana has always been a difficult task in our country, and has led countless gamers to tread cautiously across narrow by-lanes and deal with vendors whose products left a lot to be desired.  The delayed software/hardware launches, freakishly high import tariffs, inaccessible network services (thank you, Sony!), and the overall apathy of the international gaming community toward us.

Sony-E3-Never-Stop-Playing

E3 is the annual carnival for the computer and video games industry.

But lamentations aside, let’s get to the reason why I am writing this article.  The Electronic Entertainment Expo (better known as E3) is the annual carnival for the computer and video games industry and is presented by the Entertainment Software Association.  E3 2012 was held between June 5th and 7th in Los Angeles.  So, here’s my take on the 5 titles that gamers should look forward to.  Unfortunately, some of them are tied down to certain platforms but that just means that we’ll have to call upon our brethren for access, unless you’re one of the lucky few who have both the PS3 and the Xbox 360!

Crysis 3

Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Q2 2013

The Crysis series of games has always been the top of any list that I’ve created as a result of the exhilarating game-play, brilliant graphics, and well-written storyline.  Initial trailer reveals that Crytek (the game developer) has another ace up its sleeve and ‘Prophet’ (the main protagonist) looks amazingly cool handling the killer composite bow with 4 different arrow tips (remember John Rambo facing the Russians in Afghanistan?). The trailer shows that the developers have made it easier for gamers to use multiple paths/ways to plan your attack before each mission!  Other interesting bits include being able to control alien weaponry for the first time in the series and multiple pre-scripted settings for the nanosuit.

The game starts with the Prophet returning to New York City in 2047 and finding the city enclosed by a nanodome that turns most of the city into a rainforest.  The corrupt Cell Corporation (Yes, every cool game must have one evil corporation!) is trying to grab both land and technology, while Prophet battles wicked aliens and Cell’s thugs for payback!

Medal of Honor:  Warfighter

Platform(s):  PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  End October 2012

Medal of Honor:  Warfighter (also called Medal of Honor: 2) builds on, and is a direct sequel to, the critically acclaimed series reboot Medal of Honor from 2010.  Expect some breathtaking visuals and immersive surroundings from this game as it’s based on an evolved version of DICE’s Frostbite 2.0 engine (the one used in Battlefield 3!).  The single player mode will continue to follow the story of Tier 1 operators who are the most precise, aggressive, and disciplined (make sense?) warrior in the US arsenal.  Every single mission in this game is aligned to an actual historical event or a real world hotspot (e.g. Somalia).

The game’s stage-debut at E3 provided a great insight into the vast number of preferences on offer in the single player campaign.  This includes taking out entire buildings with air support, using a remote-controlled robot that offers grenade launchers and Gatling guns, and engaging in firefights in different ways.  To top it off, the multiplayer mode features 13 playable Tier 1 special force units from 10 countries!

Watch Dogs

Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release: 2013

You are no longer an individual; you’re a data cluster bound to a global network—so says the trailer (woah!). Storyline, good storyline, the most awesome storyline! This game from Ubisoft Montreal has unleashed a torrent of tweets across cyberspace, left the gaming community stunned, and is undoubtedly the most anticipated game coming out of E3.

The game takes you to Chicago of the near future, one of many cities controlled by a supercomputer called ctOS (Central Operating System).  ctOS controls almost every piece of technology in the windy city and collates/processes information on all its residents.  In the game, you’ll play Aiden Pearce, a highly skilled hacker who can kick ass in the physical domain as well.  Gameplay demo from E3 showed Aiden jam cellphones to serve as a quick distraction, access personal information from the central hub to start conversations, tapping phone calls to retrieve critical information, and manipulate traffic lights to cause massive damage.  The game seemed a bit GTAish when the gameplay demo was demonstrated but slowly started revealing the strategic insight and behavioral tendencies of our antihero (?).

Overall, cyberpunk comes back with a bang!

Tomb Raider

Platforms:  PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Early March 2013

Guess who’s back?  Yes, she’s back—the fantasy of every teenage boy at the turn of the century.  Tomb Raider became a household name (Angelina Jolie may have played a small part) because of the way Lara Croft was designed (sexy, suave, intelligent, and dangerous), the depth and multiplicity of plot (first 3 titles mostly?), and the ever changing game environments.

This new game is a fresh start for the franchise and is a prequel to the original series.  In this game, a young naïve Lara Croft gets stranded on a tropical island in the dragon’s triangle after the ship she was travelling in is hit by a storm and shattered in two.  The game shows how Lara developed her tomb raiding skills because of chance and not by choice (she’s really scared of tombs in the beginning of the game).  Further, it makes Lara more human, more believable, and develops her character/her physical presence slowly as the game progresses.  More so, it makes you forget the cold icy Lara of the past and gives her a heart (she apologizes to a deer she had to kill in order to get some much needed nutrition!).

It looks like the developers have done a really good job of adding some RPG elements to the game, making it a wee bit more open-world rather than the linear (reach-your-objective games of the past), and making her physical movements more authentic.

Halo 4

Platform(s):  Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Early November 2012

Personally, I’m not looking forward to this game since I feel this franchise is over-rated (and I don’t have an XBOX 360) but since this is the highest selling game on the Xbox platform, I just had to include it (yes, double standards!).  On second thoughts, the new game actually looks pretty cool.  Graphically, the engine in Halo 4 seems to be doing a better job than the one in Halo 3 as the lighting effects feel better and Master Chief’s character model looks a bit more detailed.

The game continues 5 years after Halo 3 ends and marks the return of Master Chief and his best friend Cortana after they were lost in space.  Action in the game takes place on an unknown Forerunner (race of ancient beings) planet.  Other game elements highlighted across gaming discussion boards include Cortana’s insanity, increased emphasis on exploration/discovery, and aligning the multiplayer campaign with single player story elements.

Other notable mentions from the event include:

The Last of Us (only PS3)

This game is going to be awesome! Check out this discussion from the great guys at http://www.ign.com.

God of War Ascension  (only PS3)

Epic series comes back with a bang and also adds a multiplayer mode!

Assassin’s Creed 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and WiiU) 

Shows potential.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

I feel that the series is over hyped (especially after the last one) and I’m not really looking forward to it!

Dead Space 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Scary, very scary!

In other gaming news – DICE has just launched Battlefield 3 premium.  This membership service costs a one-time fee of USD 49.99 (Rs 1899 in India, if I remember correctly from the figure I saw late last night!).  This service is a must have for any BF3 aficionado as it offers all five expansion packs (Back to Karkland, Close Quarters, Armored Kill, Aftermath, and Endgame), exclusive in-game items, online double XP events, and insider tips/tricks from DICE.  I really want to get this but I’m wondering how to bypass Sony’s hackable payment structure. Sigh!

Till we meet again, may the force be with you!