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E3 2011 Explodorama, Part Three

Brandon Bales's picture

Thanks for coming back. This is the sad end to another year at the Biggest Show in Downtown Los Angeles in June. Ha. Ah, seriously, I was sad to see another one go. Side note: it's funny how in the last hour of the show, everyone starts to get a little more frantic as they move around. They all rush to catch that one last morsel of goodness before this massive temporary City of Promotion is ripped apart. Hey.... Maybe there's a game here somewhere... Yeah: you are Jim, Destroyer of E3! (Please do not steal this idea.)

Take me there

Journey Screenshot

My last half-day was started the right way with a delicious hands-on of thatgamecompany's Journey. These folks are like the pastry-makers of gaming. Their games are beautiful and sweet, yet filling. No, no. "Filling" is wrong: that indicates getting stomach aches or something.....There's a better metaphor here somewhere (but not now). While moving away from more abstract concepts with a human-like character, they're still allowing the world and its emotions to trump the would-be rise of regular gaming tropes. They're taking risks and making games that are focused and buttery. I applaud them. This one will delight any patient and open gamer out there. Simple, yet nuanced and unique, the game is a worthy successor to Flower.

Re-made to inspire

ICO Screenshot

Next door were the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus remakes - now with more 3D and HD.... Still just as delicious. Funny to see Ueda-San's masterpieces so close to Journey. While the first two are more traditional, they are natural companion pieces and certainly inspirations for the newer work.

Fun 4 some

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Screenshot

A curious new piece to examine was Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. You got your dudes and they do their shooty-jumpy-collecty things, but now they've got up to three friends to help. Hm. The mechanics of Ratchet & Clank in a single-player experience seem acceptably game-y, but here they seemed redundant and stretched thin. You can create odd "platformer" worlds in a single-player 3D experience and take a few liberties with design - you must. The group mechanics focus, though, makes it hard to see so many boxes, buttons, and switches made for multiplayer use set next to each other without feeling like it's all an excuse for a very game-y game. While a game is a game, yes - in a world of such obvious mechanics, the attempt at story seems unnecessary. The experience here is a little robotic.

Hands on, hands off

I spent a few minutes with the 3DS. My fingers were cramping up after five. My DS Phat has spoiled me.

Show me more

My final stop was the Atlus booth for some good old-fashioned loving from those fine folks. The Cursed Crusade was up first, and it looks like a competent co-op brawler that take place in the Middle Ages. I enjoyed the straightforward nature of the gameplay and the unobtrusive hint of the supernatural, but I wondered how many richer morsels I might encounter as I traveled through the game. My first inclination was that the game should launch at less-than-retail, and that's not an insult at all. I think it might behoove the game, unless there are some major game mechanics that the demo was not bringing to light.

Catherine Screenshot

After that, it was Persona Team's Catherine, an adventure-puzzler from the legendary RPG-ers. The player is Vincent: tempted hero who must navigate his commitment nightmares as a man scrambling up moving block towers. While the story seemed to invoke the appropriate levels of emotion with its tough, yet relatable moral quandaries, it was hard to imagine the gameplay twists from the level we were shown. Any good game will surprise you, of course, but I was hoping for a few more gameplay surprises than what I saw today. I trust that Persona Team will have plenty of craziness to throw our way in the full version, and I'm really crossing my fingers.

Sadly, this is where my tale must end. I must say again that there is never enough time at E3. Never. Look to Trent Fingland's blog for more info. He's one of the good ones! Until next year!

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