The best of E3 or games I bothered to experience
By Chris O'Neal 06/19/2014
This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was a bit of an anomaly. Previous years had a big buildup of anticipation. Months ahead of the event, gamers would speculate on what Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft would bring to the table, but this year . . . well, this year things seemed a bit toned down, and it showed on the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center, too. Small booths were squeezed out by the ever-increasing size of the big three. Nintendo’s booth, if you could call it that, took up enough space to fit a cornucopia of games that seemed as out of place under the strobe lighting and chipper tunes as did I when I first stumbled into Bayonetta 2.
If you remember Bayonetta, the fast-paced, gun-slinging, clothes-dissolving shooter from Platinum Games, then you’ll understand why I say that Bayonetta 2 was both the most confusing and most exciting moment of the show for me, and thus will be awarded the Gamer’s Notebook Give-It-to-Me-Now award.
The demo begins with the titular (pun intended) character Bayonetta as she fights demons, angels and the gravity that pulls her clothes off as she engages her enemies. Standing next to the Nintendo representative, a young woman who could recite the back of the box as well as anyone, I experienced what hundreds of Japanese children must have experienced when the Pokémon TV show sent them into a fit of epileptic seizures — an all-out frenzy of lights and colors that ended with me as Bayonetta putting the boots to a giant walking statue.
The Gamer’s Notebook Biggest Turnaround award goes to Homefront: The Revolution. If you recall 2011’s Homefront from gaming giant turned pile of ashes THQ, you’ll remember that it didn’t exactly live up to the hype as it was almost incompetent, mechanically. While the story was neat — a unified Korea invades the U.S. and occupies à la Red Dawn — playing the game was a frustrating task.
What was previewed by Crytek and Deep Silver behind closed doors was anything but. Homefront: The Revolution takes place four years after the original, and boy how things have changed. Instead of a linear shooter, Revolution appears to be a guerrilla warfare simulator with a backbone. In the demo, your character uses an RC car with plastic explosives to infiltrate an enemy base, fully customizes his own weaponry, and it all sure looks pretty. Homefront: The Revolution is made by a completely different developer this time around, so expect it to be a sleeper hit sometime next year.
It would be way, way too easy to say that CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3 was once again this year’s best game in show, so I won’t. I will, however, say that it is living up to the hype and then some; the play demo featured Geralt of Rivia, the Witcher himself, as he fought, talked and swam his way through the massive immersive world of The Witcher 3, which is, apparently, 20 percent larger than The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and 30 times larger than The Witcher 2.
This year’s Gamer’s Notebook Best in Show awards will be split up into two categories: Best Little Game That Could and Most Destined to be a Best-Seller.
The Best Little Game That Could is a tie between one that seriously deserves it and another that pulls at my own personal fanboy heart. Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest brings the kind of whimsy back to gamers that Journey left at our doorstep. A young creature loses its mother and you, as Ori, must persevere through a dangerous forest in equal parts Super Mario Bros. and Metroid fashion. It’s a beautiful game with an amazing score that you won’t want to miss, coming for the Xbox One and PC.
Also receiving this award is Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments from Frogwares, shown at the Focus Home Interactive booth. Blending the classic style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with the intricacies of the more modern take on Holmes in BBC’s Sherlock, Crimes & Punishments promises to be a challenging puzzler fit for a coke-addicted detective. At one point, as Holmes questions a young man, time comes to a standstill as clues are deduced from his suit. It was then that I felt all giddy for the first time on the show floor — and that says everything you need to know about me.
Finally, the Most Destined to Be a Best-Seller award goes to The Legend of Zelda, the game that single-handedly convinced the world to run out and buy a Nintendo Wii U. Shown briefly in a trailer at Nintendo’s press conference, if the murmuring on the floor is to be believed, the next Zelda will be an open-world, perhaps customizable experience — the stuff dreams are made of.
That’s what E3 is, after all; dreams. Because half of this stuff will never make it out of your head or L.A. (I’m looking at you, The Last Guardian).
Chris O’Neal did see Nintendo’s Mario Maker and confirmed that it is real for Gamer’s Notebook reader Chris Yanez. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @agentoneal.