Week in Review: 5/2/2014 – Sony Sets the Stage For E3 and Announces a Bunch of Indie Titles
Welcome to the Week in Review, a feature where Dan Oravasaari and Alex Osborn will break down what happened over the last week and discuss what it means to the industry as a whole, and to you the gamer.
Dan: These are one of those comments that just lead everyone to run rampant with speculation about what amazing things we will see at E3. But, as this is the first year of the PS4’s life, I can’t help but be excited. Short of the fact that we will probably be seeing more about Uncharted PS4, The Order 1886 and a slew of other announced titles, I am most excited about seeing new and interesting IPs coming down the pipeline. Much like the PS3/360 generation kicked off titles like the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which defined the majority of that cycle, I think we have a good chance of seeing the beginnings of that again, this year.
Alex: Agreed. I’m such a sucker for these hype-inducing comments from industry executives. I really can’t wait to see what Santa Monica Studio has been working on, along with other first-party developers at Sony, not the least of which include Media Molecule, Bend Studio, and Guerrilla Games. Let’s also not forget about Team ICO and The Last Guardian. I really think this is year we’ll hear more about that title. Something tells me Sony’s presser is going to feature that hulking creature in a big way, with some actual gameplay footage and a release date. There’s no doubt it’s been pushed to PlayStation 4, and I can’t wait to see how it looks on next-gen hardware.
Alex: I’ve never been a huge fan of racing games, so the delay of Driveclub really hasn’t bothered me in the slightest. That said, I know how important this type of game is to so many other consumers, especially when the competition already has an exclusive next-gen racer in Forza Motorsport 5. I really hope the delay has paid off, and that racing fans will be delighted with what Evolution Studios has created. It’s definitely ambitious in what it’s trying to do, so there’s a lot of potential buried within this racer.
What about you, Dan? Are you excited to take Driveclub for a spin?
Dan: I have been a casual racing fan, in that I love cars and racing, but find it difficult to have little more than an affair with the genre. Driveclub was a game that I was looking forward to, but after playing the initial build, I didn’t have high hopes for it. Thankfully, it was delayed and hopefully the mechanics of the game have turned around for the better. But, I still would have rather have seen what a Motorstorm would have looked like on the PS4, and I think it is safe to say that I am not the only one.
Dan: Not only did Sony launch the 1.70 firmware update for the PS4, but they also released 3.15 for the Vita and updated the PlayStation App. The PS4 update had a number of changes that I think will be useful, but many of them felt like they should have been around since launch, not this far out. Dimming the light on the DualShock 4 is a useful thing to have, but I still don’t get why you can’t just turn it off. Being able to flag a live stream for inappropriate content is a smart thing to have, but obvious enough to make me wonder why it wasn’t there from the start.
The biggest change to the Vita was the ability to use a DualShock 4 while remote playing a game, which is conceptually a great idea. But, as I said on Bad Gamers, if you are out of the house remote playing a PS4 title, who brings a controller with them and if you are at home, why aren’t you just playing on the console itself? Ultimately, it sounds like an interesting feature, and one I am glad to have, but it does feel like it will only be useful to a select few.
Alex: Agreed. All of these little additions are nice, but nothing particularly game-changing. Some of this stuff really should have been there at the outset, but it’s nice to See Sony remedying those issues now rather than never. The addition of SHAREfactory is perhaps the most exciting, and will be great for all those who are into video editing and the like. I for one have little interest in sharing my gameplay sessions with the rest of the world, so it doesn’t do much for me, but again, I can see why a lot of other gamers will enjoy it.
Alex: We knew it was coming, and now it is official: Marvel’s cast of iconic superheroes are making their way to Disney Infinity. I’m amazed at how well the team has managed to seamlessly integrate all of the characters into the Disney Infinity universe. The figures are going to look awesome, and millions of kids around the globe are going to want to collect them all. There’s no doubt that this is going to bring in a whole lot of dough for Disney, and something tells me that when they inevitably announce the addition of Star Wars characters next year, this NFC-based game franchise will only get bigger.
Dan: Disney really have positioned themselves in a way to destroy Activision’s Skylanders, a title that set the stage for the NFC-figure game genre. I have always like the concept behind these games, but having characters that I have grown up with makes it all the more appealing. Star Wars is the next obvious push, and that will obviously coincide with the movies next year, which probably means that we will be seeing this franchise around for a long time.
Dan: There really isn’t too much I can say about this, other than this is really why Sony has been taking the lead this generation. The amount of indie support we are seeing is incredible, and just about all the games we have seen so far are fantastic. Honestly, not all of the games announced spark my interest, but Chasm looks fantastic and I am sure the others will appeal to gamers of a different crowd. So, good job Sony. Even though we are just over a month away from E3, we are still getting a plethora of new games being announced, I just hope that they are still holding onto some big cards.
What about you Alex, did any of the new titles peak your interest?
Alex: As I’m sure you already know, I’m not a huge fan of most indie games. That said, I played Skulls of the Shogun back when it first released on Xbox 360 and absolutely adored it. The other games I know little to nothing about, so I’m honestly rather indifferent. That said, more games is never a bad thing, as it provides a wide array of options to the PlayStation faithful. As someone who favors big budget triple-A games over these small scale indie endeavors, I hope this slew of announcements frees up Sony to show off more of its bigger games during its E3 presser.
Child of Light
Alex: I can’t get over how gorgeous Child of Light is, thanks to the stunning UbiArt Framework. Both Rayman Legends and Origins looked absolutely incredible, so I’m glad to see another game take advantage of this jaw-dropping engine. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but the traditional JPRG-inspired gameplay has me intrigued. The release of Child of Light is undoubtedly a great way to close out the month of April, as the early spring into the leadup to E3 is usually rather dry when it comes to game releases.
Have you had a chance to try Child of Light yet, Dan?
Dan: Yes, I actually did the live stream for Child of Light yesterday. Sadly, one of the negative aspects about having to start a new game, is that Child of Light doesn’t allow multiple saves. This meant that I had to lose all of my progress to host the stream and due to that, I probably will never finish the game.
It looks absolutely beautiful, and has enough about it to make it a great experience. My only issue with it was the rhyming or speaking in rhythm that the characters did, which had zero appeal to me. This basically ruined any real chance I had to care about the story, as it became more of an annoyance than anything.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Dan: Since the Batman Arkham titles, we have been seeing a drastic increase in the quality of comic book based video games and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is no different. In fact, just by watching the trailer you can see some influences, such as the ability to scoop up enemies while hanging upside down above them. But, one addition that I thought was interesting was the new ability to move quickly from one spot to another and take down a foe. The other improvement that I like is the subtle change in web slinging that will no longer attach itself to an invisible structure above you, but will instead hit the nearest building, or make you fall if there is nothing to cling to.
Alex: I’m sorry, but I just can’t get excited about another Spider-Man game. I’ll go see the movie, but that’s about as far as my comic book love will take me. That said, the quality of superhero games has definitely improved over the past few years, so I hate to write it off completely. However, it’s just not my cup of tea, so I’m going to have to pass on this one. Hate me if you want, but that’s just the way it is.
This was a decent week overall, Sony kicked off a bunch of features that should have stopped the internet from whining for at least 15 seconds. The long awaited Driveclub has finally gotten a release date, and even though it is about a year from when we were planning on getting it originally, it should hopefully have benefited from the extra time. Disney launched some pretty awesome Marvel figures, so kids and grown ups alike can run to the toy aisle once they get into the store. Among the other things coming down the pipeline are a number of new titles for the PS4, which will be great once they get here, but sadly that isn’t today.
Overall Score: 7.5