Welcome To Earth

The Mass Effect series is on its way to becoming an epic trilogy, perhaps the most cohesive trilogy in games if it achieves what it set out to do. BioWare first introduced the sci fi saga in 2007, with a promise of a story that would span three games, each a self-contained episode of a much larger overarching tale. Moreover, they promised a personalized experience that recognized the player’s decisions along the way and shaped the world and events around those decisions, right up to the conclusion. It was an ambitious idea, a plan that could be easily disrupted by changes in an unpredictable industry. With the sequel making a great start to the year last January, it seemed like they have begun to deliver on that promise, and we’ll know for sure once the final installment arrives early next year.

Mass Effect 3 was announced at last year’s Spike VGAs, along with a teaser trailer that set the tone for what is to come. Check out said trailer below. While the release date stated at the time was “Holiday 2011”, the game has since been delayed and will be out “in the first three months of 2012”1. In the meantime, the game is set to have a grand unveiling at E3 this week, with a live demo likely to be shown during EA’s conference2. (more…)

  1. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150170133576645.300911.85811091644 []
  2. http://www.spike.com/press/2011/05/24/spike-tv-to-air-exclusive-broadcast-of-eas-2011-e3-showcase-event/ []

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There Is Something In The Sky

E3 2011 is in just over a week, which is just enough time for me to catch us up on some games that I am very much looking forward to. We’re just about halfway through the year and there have been some great titles already, but some of my most anticipated releases are yet to come. We’ll start with one that has recently had a fresh round of press coverage ahead of its E3 showing.

The last time we looked at Irrational Games’ BioShock Infinite, Martyn walked us through the newly unveiled teaser trailer and some of the early details about the game. Not much to go on in this all-too-brief CG video, a finely crafted reveal of the world of Columbia, but the details paint a grim picture. Posters touting the city’s motto describe an ultra-nationalist, xenophobic society, clearly the core philosophical theme to be explored by the game in true BioShock fashion.

Infinite takes place in 1912 on the massive floating city of Columbia. You take on the role of Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, on a mission to seek and assist in the escape of a young woman by the name of Elizabeth. It seems that she is no run-of-the-mill damsel in distress, however: your NPC companion has a mind and will of her own, and a host of supernatural abilities to boot. She will aid you in combat with her various powers, and you can choose to exploit these abilities at a cost not yet fully defined.


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E3 2010: Microsoft Press Conference

Microsoft had the unenviable task of beginning E3’s series of press conferences, especially since the major trend for many spectators this year seemed to be the hope and the wish to be, simply put, surprised: Here at the Slowdown, we were above all looking forward to non-sequels and all-new IP.

Unfortunately, the one major announcement from Microsoft – the seemingly abrupt re-branding of “Project Natal,” a move that G4TV speculate was an extremely recent decision – had been spoiled only days before much in the same vein as Sony’s PSP Go last year. Nonentheless, the Microsoft hype train steamed forth as planned, with Senior Vice President Don Mattrick (on the left) opening up the show.

Despite first airing footage from the decidedly nondescript Call of Duty: BLOPS, the behemoth got off to a great start once Kojima Productions founder Hideo Kojima and producer Shigenobu Matsuyama (on the right) waltzed on stage to show off Metal Gear Solid: Rising in what ultimately turned out to be the most notable announcement of the whole conference.


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E3 2010 Ubisoft Press Conference

What decade is it again - the 1970s? I ask this for what just went on during Ubisoft’s press conference was totally psychedelic, dude, even discounting the fact that the host, Joel McHale of “The Soup,” apparently took his part in the proceedings very, very seriously and quite possibly ingested beforehand a wide assortment of magic mushrooms.

In any case, let us just linger on for a moment on these fantastic quotes I pulled from the show - a veritable checklist of games marketing bullshit:

“Games you can feel.”
“Full body experience.”
“A magic inner journey.”
“The mind and body are controllers.”
“The player is a design pillar.”
“Playing in the real world.”
“Feel the magic of my environment.”

McHale’s off-kilter performance equally reminded me of a story from CVG’s Vernon Kay, called “How NOT to host a games event” (Kay’s list delightfully also includes what can be classified as the Pong Trap.)

The host’s constant barrage of sarcastic interjections and one-liners came relatively close to Jamie Kennedy’s classic E3 2007 Activision press conference, which he started off with “This is exciting. We’re at E3 and… I just wanna say… this place is the only place… that makes the guys at ComicCon… look like Ocean’s 13.”1, instantly breaking Kay’s final rule of “Assume your audience are a bunch of closeted shut-ins.”

Another example of game-changing hosts is Jay Mohr, who single-handedly soured the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards. You can watch his potty-mouthed performance at Joystiq - this was a show after which 3D Realms’ George Broussard asked for his contract terminated “so he *never* does another AIAS awards show.”2

The difference between McHale on the one hand and Kennedy and Mohr on the other, though, is that McHale actually focused on the relative ludicrousness of Ubisoft’s line-up instead of lingering on the apparent deficiencies of the crowd and the industry overall.

This minor detail made for vastly more amusing a show!

  1. http://www.gametrailers.com/video/e3-2007-activision/22401 []
  2. http://twitter.com/georgeb3dr/status/9321107453 []

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