This year’s E3 had a number of surprises, some cool some lame. The games that weren’t there were somewhat surprising so I’ve listed the ones I care about.
Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 4 was really great, but controlling it still wasn’t perfectly easy. If Resident Evil 5 can maintain 4’s quality and sharpen controls then it’d be gold in a PS3 case. RE5 not showing up at this year’s E3 was a bummer not just because we all want to see more of it, but because we need to know exactly what systems it’ll be on. I need to know if I should start saving pennies for a PS3 (that’s 60,000 pennies).
Dragon Age is the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate 2, and as such has me palpitating in anticipation. Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights was good, but it changed the party based gameplay that made Baldur’s Gate amazing. Apparently I’m not the only person who thought so. Bioware is even making Dragon Age for PC only so we don’t need to fear a crappy console friendly battle system or the dumbing down of RPG elements (Jade Empire, I’m looking at you). We could assume they’d even have named the game Baldur’s Gate 3 if they still owned the D&D license.
So where the hell is Dragon Age? It was a no show at this E3 and we have very little information about it. I want to know more but take solace in the fact that Bioware takes as long as they need with games. They could rush it, but then it could end up like Knights of the Old Republic 2.
Culdcept is amazingly addicting. I must’ve played well over a hundred hours of it. Though most Americans aren’t familiar with this Monopoly meets Magic card game, there are Culdcept tournaments in Japan. I enjoyed this game so much that I tracked down the first in the series (our Culdcept on the PS2 is actually a sequel) for the Saturn.
So then why was Culdcept Saga announced for the 360 then not shown at E3? A better question is why was it announced for the 360 at all? The pics of the game look really terrible. The graphics aren’t great but even if they were I’d be upset because they completely changed the series art style. It used to be a cartoony style and now it looks dark and brooding. I guess Xbox is the most metal of all systems, and as such needs angsty and mature looking card games.
The Fallout series of PC RPGs is great. The turn based combat was a blast, the deep character creation system kept me up at night thinking through the different heroes I could build, and the dialog and environments were some of the best in any game I’ve ever played. Thus, when Interplay closed Black Isle Studios in order to focus on more shitty console games that dishonor Black Isle’s franchises, the world mourned.
Fallout 3’s fate is one of the few video game industry stories that really make me sad. The game was started, and then scrapped. Then a new Fallout 3 was started then scrapped when Black Isle was closed down. It’s impossible for a fan of the series to not wonder what he missed by these games getting axed.
Finally, Bethesda (Morrowind, Oblivion) bought the Fallout license from Interplay and have begun their own Fallout 3. I’m scared to be excited about it. Without the people from Black Isle, how is it even a Fallout game? Throwing a pile of money at something doesn’t make it yours. I can buy the Beatles catalog (actually, I’m much too poor) then release a new CD with that name. It doesn’t make me the Beatles. Maybe it’s good that Bethesda didn’t show anything from Fallout 3 at this E3.
And now for the most pleasant surprise of E3… drumroll please…
Super Paper Mario
The Paper Mario games are high quality RPGs. They have a sense of humor and dump most RPG clichés and gameplay mechanics in favor of a simpler interface and design that incorporates real time button mashing. The titles are a breath of fresh air to RPG fans.
Knowing the pedigree of the Paper series but also the dire situation the Gamecube is in, I was very shocked and excited to hear Super Paper Mario announced at E3. Designer Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem series, Advance Wars series, the other Paper games, etc.) has taken the series trademark flat art style and sense of goofiness and turned it into a platformer.
The game is reported to not only stick to the series graphical roots, but will have some RPG features as well. This sounds like hype that will prove false, but even without any RPG elements I’m really looking forward to this game. Notice the bizarre 2D/3D look of the screen shots. It’s a 2D platformer that sometimes has Mario slip between dimensions. I’m as unclear on what that means as you, but it sounds interesting.