Yahtzee reviews this year's E3.
So here was the conundrum I found myself in, listener: E3 has come around again, and without my usual roundup of the show, it may inflict that most insidious of modern diseases, optimism. But at the same time, I kind of want to review Friday the 13th: The Game, which I've been weirdly absorbed by lately, and I don't want to put it off another week, so what do I talk about? This nihilistic horror experience in which a lumbering, faceless idiot endeavors to bleed numerous young people dry, or Friday the 13th: The Game? That's when I realized the answer was staring me in the face: all I have to do is review E3 using analogies to Friday the 13th: The Game.
So with that in mind, let's run down yet another handful of shows in which highly-scrubbed people with earpieces and well-trained speaking voices attempt to get us excited about games as hackneyed and unoriginal as Friday the 13th: The Game's map variety. What map shall we choose for the next round? The campsite on the lake, the other campsite on the lake, or, if we feel like a change, the campsite on the lake, but it's on the other side of the lake?
In hardware news, Microsoft have updated Project Scorpio with a somehow even worse name: the Xbox One X. There's already two X's in "Xbox", you dozy gits; this name is starting to look like a defaced game of tic-tac-toe. And I feel bringing it out alongside the Xbox One S is practically inviting the "confused elderly relative on Christmas morning" nightmare scenario, which never fails to be as disappointing as Friday the 13th: The Game's lack of an option to bind push-to-talk to one of the controller buttons. Anyway, the Xbox XXXX - an essential purchase for people who like buying all-new hardware every fucking year and lack the level-headed common sense of a demolition derby contestant - has a bunch of numbers attached that are apparently larger than the numbers of other consoles, but who the fuck cares? It's the games that count!
The only teased Xbox exclusive that gave me any kind of tickle-squirt was Crackdown 3, and even that rang alarm bells, because Terry Crews was in it, and celebrities just scream "distraction tactic"; it's as distracting as the tendency of certain public Jason players to get into character by narrating all their actions in a furious comedy bellow. I'd turn voice-chat off, but then I wouldn't be able to hear my fellow teammates calling me a cunt for not having a microphone set up. What it's crying out for is some kind of "emote" system, like maybe I can make an icon flash over my head indicating things like, "Yes, I have some car keys," or, "No, I'm not available for sexual role-playing."
Just like the Sony presentation was crying out for some games we didn't already fucking know about! Yeah, a new Spider-Man game trying too hard to be a Batman: Arkham game yet a-fucking-gain! It's got so many quick-time events, it's like watching a Transformers movie while programming a microwave. Yeah, a new David Cage game about emotionless robots with only vague ideas on how to act human! Fuck, great idea, David Cage; play to your strengths. Yeah, a new God of War! ...which, by the looks of it, is 10% actual gameplay and then more cinematic setpieces than Friday the 13th has hilarious physics fuck-ups that make rag-dolls bounce out of kill animations like they're just really excited to be getting a fresh start on their new life as a corpse.
Old Man Nintendo had a better showing, although that "Mario vs. Rabbids" game makes you wonder if Ubisoft is trying to steal their pension checks. Fair play to them; Mario Odyssey needed a new angle, and it found one: they've done "Mario becomes a raccoon", and they've done "Mario becomes a cat", but they've never done "Mario becomes a tunneling brain parasite". What is it about Mario Odyssey that screams Sonic 2006 at me? Must be the cartoon characters interacting with realistically-proportioned humans, which is always faintly sinister, like Christopher Lloyd's scenes in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? But fuck all that, because splice my urethra if Nintendo are working on a game entitled Metroid Prime 4! That's literally all we know: the title. This is where one of those shit game journalists would say, "Let's stay optimistic!", but this is Nintendo we're talking about; they've shown a bigger grudge against Metroid fans than I have against playing as Jasons with a "fast swim" ability when you need to swim about as often as a cat made of soluble aspirin.
So let's talk third-party. Oh boy, another bloody open-world action game featuring wilderness exploration and where the player can decide what approach to take, meaning they will choose stealth, followed by a direct assault after the stealth fucks up! And in the spirit of player choice, you may now choose what game I'm talking about: Far Cry 5, Days Gone, or Anthem. They really have given up on making gameplay videos that don't seem totally scripted; the people they got to voice the, open-quotes, "players" of the Anthem, open-quotes, "gameplay video" sounded like they were trying to unwind after a hard day appearing in David Cage games. And, of course, there's Assassin's Creed, emerging from its hiatus, waving its arms, and yelling, "We've figured out where our incredibly-cluttered, unfocused gameplay design was going wrong! What people really want is incredibly-cluttered, unfocused gameplay design with the mini-map taken off! Pre-order now for an exclusive golden bow with a fucking knob on the end or something! Whatever!"
The annual E3 "Bet You Thought We Were Hoping You'd Forgotten About This" Award this year goes to Beyond Good and Evil 2, although, sadly, all they had was a pre-rendered trailer, which, as we know, only tells us three things: jack, fucking, and shit. Speaking of which, what's with all the fucking profanity? It's funny animal-people pulling merry pranks on cartoonish, fist-shaking villains in an upbeat, sci-fi universe; seems ideal family-friendly fare, but everyone's f'ing like a sailor who showed up last for the queue outside your mum's house. It makes about as much sense as Friday the 13th's stamina mechanics. Standing under light makes stamina recover faster? What, is Jason mad at us for drinking all his chlorophyll?
Star Wars: Battlefront II is pulling what's known as the "Titanfall Gambit": make full-price multiplayer-only game, add single-player campaign to sequel, then expect praise for it, like a player who wastes a shotgun shell on Jason in the first five minutes when there's nothing to distract him from. A Way Out is a narrative game that's co-op only. Oh, you blighted industry with the long-term memory problems of a combat-focused player character attempting to repair the car! Linear narrative focus and multiplayer have never worked together; you can't get immersed in a story's universe when there's a human next to you acting as a constant reminder of the real world. And that title is asking for trouble from snarky critics: "A Way Out? I certainly wanted one!"
In conclusion, Friday the 13th: The Game is like most one-vs.-group multiplayer games in that it's basically hide-and-seek with extra steps, but the core rules of it create enough effect of a suspense to draw me in, despite its lack of polish and slight problems with players acting like twats. Meanwhile, E3 has all the polish in the world and is a fucking twat safari. So that's the final comparison: Jason sucks down damage and hacks up kids, E3 damages kids and sucks off hacks.
- Eccentric edgy egotist: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Also sequels to Knack and The Evil Within were announced just in case any of you still had faith that we live in a sensible reality
- You may now proceed to the comments to complain that I didn't mention X, Y and Z