Tuesday, June 30, 2015

E3 2015


Here we go again... it's E3 recap time. In case you weren't there and also missed the hours of footage from this year's E3, here is a "short" (yeah, you know me ;) summary and as usual my personal opinion on it. Let's start with the show itself, shall we?

You might remember my coverage of last year's expo? - Yes, I was pretty disappointed to say the least... but since the transition into the next generation of console gaming has been going on for quite some time already, I am not too surprised that this E3 was better... a lot better!

First, Microsoft did really a good job. - Especially compared to last year. While the show was really nice and it was clear they put a lot of effort into the presentation, the most important thing in my opinion is that they could and did finally show a lot of games for Xbox One. Also technically they really hit the spot with the new Xbox One "Elite" Controller and the HoloLens.

Well done Microsoft, well done!

I think Sony managed to keep the quality of their presentation compared to last year. They also showed a lot of games - maybe even more than MS - and even better, they showed more actual gameplay than MS, which is pretty important for me? The show itself was pretty much the same as last year, with only one big (panaroma-setup) screen in the back. Although I think this time Microsoft stole the show in terms of visual presentation by far, Sony still did a great job.

And lastly there was Nintendo... and guys,... I really don't know what to say about this. I don't want to offend someone, I dearly love Nintendo, the great games and consoles they made in the past,... but honestly, I can't anymore. I was already heavily disappointed by their show last year, but this year simply was too much and for now I am pretty certain not to get a WiiU anymore. I don't know, games are supposed to be fun, right? Games shouldn't be that serious all the time and mostly deal with shooting, gore and violence, right?

Nintendo always offered the counterpart to this and kept the gaming universe in balance with their simple and colorful Mario & Co titles. But watching this crappy puppet show and people taking obviously nothing really serious - except their focus on handheld titles and their own local market - didn't make me laugh, it almost made me vomit. If you don't want to get into further details or you (still) are a Nintendo fanatic, you might want to skip the next section and continue to the list of games below.


I understand their strategy and it is clear that their main focus is and probably always was the Japanese market, but personally I can't hold on to that anymore. It's time to face the facts; I am a 30+ western gamer; next to PC-gaming, I prefer console gaming a lot. I want a system to be hooked up with my TV, a good controller, a couch and damn good, impressive games (which doesn't exclude indie games, naturally)! I don't give a rat's fart about any tech-goodies that are said to improve my gaming experience like a controller that makes me stand up, jump around and shake my hands like an idiot, like a connected tablet that lets me control something in the game, or even like "Big Brother" Kinect. I don't need it, I don't want it. Just focus on the games please!

Furthermore I am also not a handheld gamer. I was when I was smaller but I am not anymore. And to finish it up: It is kind of hard to actually say it, but I think I have also had it with Mario & Co. It's simply getting boring... I've been watching those titles closely but honestly everything at Nintendo seems to stay still for a long time already. I remember the time when Super Mario 64 came out and rocked my hole Mario World again, the moment I put in Zelda - Ocarina of Time and I was blown away, when I first played Metroid Prime, Luigi's Mansion or Smash Brothers on the Gamecube... but that's it. What was going on since then? In my opinion there wasn't a single good Mario game, not one good Zelda game, no new good Metroid and so on. - Please keep in mind that I don't do handhelds. I know of some pretty good games there but sorry, that's just not my platform. I am also fully aware that there are pretty good games from the known franchises out and coming like Mario Kart 8, Yoshi's Wooly World or the Donkey Kong WiiU. Also the new Zelda looks pretty nice, but in a way (except Zelda maybe) that is more like keeping the standard and not really improving, wouldn't you agree? What was the last "none Mario & Co - Nintendo franchise" that they surprised us with? - Splatoon? - Sorry, but I don't get the hype about this game, I know this will probably cost me followers, but seriously... while other companies are making games like The Division, Halo 5, Anno 2205, Alien Isolation, Batman, Horizon, The Witcher, a Final Fantasy VII Remake, Tomb Raider, Courier of the Crypts, Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery and many more, the best Nintendo comes up with is Splatoon??? And then everybody is buying into it? I don't get it... well,... actually I do, but it's still not a reason for me to get it. And what is an even stronger reason not to get a WiiU is this Amibo bullshit... sorry, I am out.

To sum it up: Again, Nintendo wasn't there. Again, Nintendo made a childish show. Again, most of their "show" consisted of too long, thus boring interviews about mostly uninteresting stuff. 50% of their "virtual event" showed handheld games, 30% of their show dealt with puppet crap, 5% was dedicated to Super Mario's anniversary and only 15% was about actual games for the WiiU...

From the top of my head, here is an example of what I want, Nintendo:

Get your secret Metroid WiiU back to the drawing boards and make it a dark, realistic and frightening experience in space and on some planets. Make it 3rd-person or even better a 1st-person-shooter style game, that already worked with Metroid Prime and everybody knows western gamers love shooters. Make it like a mixture of Doom, Halo and Farcry with astonishing visuals, next-gen lighting and shading technics and wrap it in a cool Metroid story. - How about that? Just for once make something serious and not the next colorful clone. You have the means, you have the money, so please just stop playing with puppets and do something worthwhile. I think you are relying too much on your established brands and the Japanese market. From what I see happening around, I just have to doubt that this will hold up for you... and I am afraid not even making your brands mobile will be enough in the end.


Ok, (enough of the Nintendo stuff) let's have a bit more fun and watch some trailers of the great things to come. Please note that the videos are not categorized between Xbox One, PS4 and the few there are from Nintendo or even PC, because most of my highlights are anyway cross-platform. Instead I will give you my documented first reaction to each video... :)

  • HALO 5 ("Yep... I can't wait for that! Impressive as always.")
  • RECORE ("Hmm,.. this looks like an interesting action adventure... I hate/love robots")
  • FALLOUT 4 ("Well, it's Fallout... just great and now modding is coming to consoles too?")
  • DARK SOULS 3 ("Not much from the game there, but the production value sure looks nice.")
  • THE DIVISION ("Curious if we will still see trailers about that at next year's E3 or if...")
  • XCOM 2 ("Ohh-Yeah!! Overwatch!")
  • RAINBOW SIX - SIEGE ("I think I could get into Rainbow Six again...")
  • BEYOND EYES ("Awesome! But damn it, another idea of a game I wanted to make!")
  • ION (" 'A game that is not a game?', in space, and with great graphics... count me in!")
  • RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER ("Gameplay please... and Lara is again falling.")
  • FABLE LEGENDS ("Can this be a good part again after the last disaster?")
  • GEARS (of War) 4 ("Trying it again? Hope you learned what you did wrong with the last.")
  • THE LAST GUARDIAN ("Rat + Chicken + Dog = wtf? And more voice samples please.")
  • HORIZON - ZERO DAWN ("Wow! Robot dinosaurs and Barbarella! Brilliant!")
  • HITMAN ("I think you forgot a number in the title... but it still looks nice.")
  • STREET FIGHTER V ("Street Fighter just rocks... also with new characters.")
  • FIREWATCH ("Mysterious... who is in your tower? Exciting... I like it.")
  • FINAL FANTASY VII - REMAKE ("Crying like a small girl at Christmas. Thank you!!")
  • SHENMUE 3 (" 'Perhaps they're out?' and qicktime-events all over again! I am ready.")
  • STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT ("OMG, a Wilhelm scream! Is it going to feel THAT good?")
  • UNCHARTED 4 ("I have to play this franchise sooner or later!")
  • DEUS EX - MANKIND DIVIDED ("Here we go again... impressive, epic, futuristic,...")
  • XENOBLADE CHRONICLES X ("Wished they'd make a Xenogears remake but that'll do."
  • MARIO TENNIS ULTRA SMASH ("Yesss! A new Mario sports game.")
  • YOSHI'S WOOLY WORLD ("Too cute to be true...")
  • ZELDA ("Oops.. didn't make it to E3... hope you don't promise too much for next year.")
  • STAR FOX ZERO ("Wow, looks like an old Xbox game... no, no,...")
  • SUPER MARIO MAKER ("Think I'd rather use Unity to make levels...")
  • ANNO 2205 ("This is just going to be awesome! They always top their previous part!")


Finally I feel the current console generation starts to offer something. I haven't been this excited for quite a while and besides wanting that delicious new Xbox Controller, there are easily 10 games in this list I consider an absolute must-have. Have you seen Star Wars Battlefront for example? - I think similar to Alien Isolation, the creators of this game will finally produce an outstanding game for a movie franchise that was waiting a long time for just that. Also Horizon - Zero Dawn (of which I haven't even heard before E3) made me hover above my chair. Then there's Halo 5 and I think I don't have to say anymore about the Final Fantasy VII Remake, right? Oh yes, and they are even making a new Shenmue! How awesome is that?

- Well, actually that one was also kind of sad at the same time because I don't really agree with what they did with kickstarter in that case. How is a million going to help a game that will easily cost 80 million to make? I think that was just promotional and an intended as well as calculated audience appeal test. - I hate when platforms like kickstarter are "abused" in that manner because they should be helping other people and independent projects. Imagine how many great indie titles could have been funded with that million spent on Shenmue solely to prove to investors that there is a market for it.

Well, anyway... I very much enjoyed this E3 compared to last year's. Everybody - in my opinion except Nintendo did a good job and I am more than positive that great gaming times are just around the corner!

Play more! Hover more!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015



Without hesitation: This is one of the best games I have ever played! I wasn't too sure what to expect from it because I kept myself in the dark and didn't do any research before playing... but it was absolutely worth it and in order not to spoil you the experience I will keep the following words as short and thoughtful as possible.

What you shouldn't expect from the game: A horror game with a ton of jump scares similar to some of the games I recently reviewed. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (web / steam) is not one of these games, it's different. This game has a clear focus on story and ambience and I would thus - if at all - classify it at best as a horror game similar to Silent Hill. The game also lacks any action whatsoever so I think for some people this game might not be the right one. The main goal in this game is exploration.
You have to look very carefully, search for and then skillfully combine clues. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but actually this is what takes the already great story to the next level by telling it in the most interactive way and keeping it exciting to the last minute.

And while the game on the one side withholds you for example even the ability to jump, it is most generous in giving you one of the most beautiful environments, complete with a perfectly fitting soundtrack, I have ever dwelled in. The realism in this game, the natural feeling of the sun endlessly setting in the area surrounding a small barrier lake together with its dam, some old houses, even a mine and more, is simply incomparable!

In my opinion, the developers, The Astronauts and especially the writers Tom Bissell and Rob Auten, who also worked on parts of the Gears of War, Battlefield and Uncharted franchises, deserve a lot of credit for this master piece. This game, that I think would even be a bestseller in form of a book, shouldn't be missing in any serious collection. I am definitely looking forward to become Paul Prospero - the "gifted" detective - again, although I am afraid the game doesn't have multiple endings,... which is maybe one thing it misses.

Play more! Immerse more! 

Thursday, June 4, 2015



This game, ladies and gentleman... this game! I wouldn't say it's the best horror game but it definitely is the best when it comes to shocks and scares.

This game is brutal and if you are easily spooked, you might seriously wet your pants with this one... no joke!

Daylight, developed by Zombie Studios who did quite a few horror games already but also sadly closed at the beginning of this year, was released roughly a year ago (steam). It is about a woman who is trying to escape from a hospital/mental facility. Well, that's new, isn't it? No seriously, I realize the stories of - this kind of - horror games all seem a bit similar and probably boring, but there's always a difference in how they are told. And ultimately we should also ask ourselves if we play these games because of the story. I think setting, atmosphere and shock stand out much more in these kind of games. If you want play a horror game with a great story you might consider playing the Silent Hill series. Then again, there aren't as many heart-stoppers...

It is very interesting that after so many horror games I have yet to play one that combines both: A great and deeply psychological story with jump-scares that put you on the floor. But again: Regarding the latter, Daylight is most certainly the game that does it best from what I've played so far!

The game isn't that long but with a total playtime of approximately five to six hours among the longer (modern) horror games and surely a great deal for the money they charge for it. Your goal is simple: There are five (or was it six?) locations, ranging from hospital corridors to sewers and even a forest. In each location you have to explore as much as possible in order to find documents (no, you heard right). Depending on the area you are in there are about five pieces of papers that you have to find in order to spawn an artifact. After picking up the artifact you can open the exit and proceed to the next location. - That's it. Fairly simple, but you might laugh if I told you that it took us more than an hour to figure that out! You know how much I love those endless papers and letters in horror games, right? So naturally I didn't care much about picking them up. - However the documents in this game, while being the general mechanic behind it, are actually what they are supposed to be: additional to the story! You can follow the main story easily without reading them, since there is enough spoken dialogue and the story is well told as it unfolds naturally the more you progress in the game.

You might think that the goal of the game seems fairly easy and ask where the fun or rather spook is and to make it short: In exploration. Daylight scatters these documents you have to find randomly when you start an area. And although they have a small red light indicating their position, they are pretty hard to find. So you are forced to explore...

And the worst is, that while you are out exploring with your limited supply of glow sticks, you are hunted. There is always something on your heels, literally!

Aside to a lot of great (environmental) jump scares, just from cart board boxes falling for example, the ghost they made in this game is just perfect. They made everything right with this one! - It even looks super creepy and not like some sort of exaggerated monster. This ghost is relentless and it creeps on you all the time - even more the more documents you pick up. You can hear it, you can feel it. There is constantly something around you and you are never safe.

In all honesty, Daylight is a game where you just don't want to turn around... especially when you've run out of flares! Featuring great atmosphere, decent graphics, full controller support and the most terrifying spook I have ever felt in a game, I cannot but recommend this game to everyone who - at least from time to time - loves to be scared to the bones!

Play more! Relax more!