Yahtzee gives a rundown on the biggest titles and announcements from E3 2008.
A cynic can be described as someone who doesn't hold out hope that anything in the future will be good. And frankly, I find it harder and harder to understand why any gamer wouldn't be a cynic at this point. Films starring Morgan Freeman would have you believe that hope is your magical shield against the tribulations of life, but the games industry has collectively taken that shield and shoved it up our arse so many times it's probably time we started leaving it at home. To put it in another, less stupid way, if you go by the evidence of the last 10 years and just assume that the new Sonic the Hedgehog is just going to be the usual punnet of snot, then you won't get your heart rebroken.
So an appropriately mediocre E3 has limped past for this mediocre year in gaming. Nintendo have proudly announced their intention to make the Wii do what it was always supposed to anyway, while Microsoft and Sony busily compete to see who can rip off each other's consoles the most. And of course, a gaggle of upcoming game trailers were wheeled out to stir up excitement. But since the eventual quality of most games is going to be essentially determined by spinning a roulette wheel where numbers one through thirty have all been smeared with pus, I thought I'd better fly in and point out that we're still living in a cruel corporate-run society that treats you like a wallet mounted on the back of an entranced magpie. So here's why all ye should abandon hope for the shiny objects being held up for us to gawp at.
First up, Prince of Persia, now I thought the Sands of Time trilogy was the best game series of the last console generation. I'll pause for a moment so you can all go find your socks that just blew off. Okay, so the combat in game one was a basket of farts, and game two stumbled a bit when the prince went off his angst medication. But overall the characters were solid, and the time controlling gameplay worked crazy well with the sudden death platforming, to the point that now I feel my fingers unconsciously groping for the rewind button every time my toast lands butter side down. And it seems the new Prince of Persia is going to take all that and piss boiling oil into its eye sockets. Leaving aside for now that the music in the background sounds like someone teased a cat's bollocks with pliers for a few minutes while throwing ball bearings at a piano keyboard, the setting seems to have shifted from historical Persia to somewhere between Final Fantasy X and XII. And by the look of the character design, the concept artist has been spending more than a few holidays there himself. Maybe Prince of Persia's appeal lies in a grounding of reality dusted with the fantastic elements of Arabian myth, but fuck that! The kids are into anime these days, so let's all jump around on the ceiling dressed like twats!
Speaking of which, Final Fantasy XIII also has a trailer and it looks good. Of course, it always looks good. But my philosophy with game trailers is that footage of prerendered cinematics doesn't count, so bearing that in mind, the actual length of the FFXIII trailer is around point three of a second. The rest consists of androgynous twelve-year-olds running around being improbably awesome and giving absolutely no hints as to storyline. But at an educated guess I'd say it involved some kind of evil authority, one or more heroes who were once associated with same, a half-baked anti-industrial hippy subtext, and all in all will closely resemble what you'd get if George Lucas's brain fell out and he made a new Star Wars movie with everything that was ever good about it replaced with dodgy CG and laughable angst. Oh, wait.
The new Resident Evil 5 footage indicates that Capcom are counteracting the accusations of racism by including an African female sidekick resembling a white woman who's been dipped in tea. I'm sure the gameplay will be fine, because Resident Evil 4 was fine and bugger all seems to have changed, except now we've traded up from infected Spanish peasant village to infected African peasant village. And the dialogue is still going to be so bad that every single line hurls you out of the experience like you're on a fucking trebuchet.
Now then, Fallout 3. Those of you that are paying attention will no doubt notice that all these games are sequels, and for those of you who aren't paying attention, *clap clap* OI! E3 was very much Sequel Boulevard this year, which might be partly why it was such a damp squib. What, is there some kind of virus that attacks creativity going around or something? Twenty years ago, in the 8-bit era, games could be about French chefs riding giant stick insects while wielding a gun that shoots velociraptors. These days a game's considered original if the gritty, well-armoured soldier protagonist has a mustache. Anyway, to rope this wild wandering steer back on topic, Fallout 3 is an RPG about a gritty, well-armoured soldier protagonist exploring a ruined city where everyone's either a mutant or a jerk. I'll admit that it looks very pretty, but then so did Rudolph Hess. Also, it's by Bethesda, developers of Oblivion and patron saints of games that look awesome in screenshots and preview videos but ultimately play like bowls of scummy dishwater. Case in point is the demonstrated combat system where the game cuts to a dramatic angle to watch you execute a successful kill, which is groovy pants the first time, but since it seems to happen with every kill, I'm sure repetition will swiftly boil it down to just plain pants.
Finally, a brief mention of Gears of War 2. That was it.
So that concludes this little adventure in sport spoiling. I'd like to clarify that somewhere in the flinty pits of my petrified heart I'm open to the possibility of all these games potentially being fun (except Final Fantasy XIII, obviously). But my intention is not to troll for once, but to argue that it makes the most logical sense to be pessimistic. After all, if the game's good, great. But if it's bad, you've lost nothing. Plus you get the satisfaction of knowing that you're cleverer than fanboys, which is right up there with winning a beauty contest again Steve Buscemi, but still, it's a good overall rule. Never let yourself get excited by trailers, unless it's the new one for the Watchmen movie. Oh yes, I can never get enough big glowing blue men with their celestial lads hanging out.
- It's probably because he hates himself: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- I will admit that Sonic Unleashed could potentially be good when they bring in John Landis to direct it
- On the other hand Mirror's Edge looks pretty sweet