Every presentation has been conceived for maximum marketing impact, and I don't think the fans or the members of the media do themselves any favors by buying into the hype. Both in the press and in the wild, there's a tendency to breathlessly parrot every new announcement, as though it's surprising that there are sequels to popular games in the works. Besides which, there's a long history of games that made a big splash at E3, only to be delayed or canceled -- not to mention disappointing. I just want people to take games on their own merits, that's all.
Nevertheless, E3 was the story of the week, and as such, it comes up a lot in the links.
-Hardcasual absolutely killed it this week with their faux-E3 coverage. They punctured the bubble around the show, and they did it with good humor. This was the can't-miss coverage of the entire show, even though it was all lies. My favorites: "Microsoft’s Natal To Deliver 1:1 Teabagging on Xbox Live" and "Vendor Outside Los Angeles Convention Center Debuts Sleeker, More Delicious Hot Dog Wrapped in Bacon."
-Another cynical take on the show came from the Phoenix's Mike Rougeau, which, while harder edged than Hardcasual's coverage, was a welcome corrective after days of identical live-blogs and tweets.
-Speaking of which, while the real-time coverage of the Big Three press conferences was a bit much for me, several outlets did a great job afterward of looking at the big picture, none more so than Offworld. Brandon Boyer discussed "The 7 things you need to know about Microsoft's press conference," "The 5 things you need to know about Nintendo's press conference," and "The 5 things you need to know about Sony's press conference." Boyer's write-ups were free of gushing or hype, and instead took a measured look at the competitive landscape coming out of the show.
-It was also nice to see a bit more scrutiny applied to some of the games after journalists got their hands on them. Brian Crecente and Leigh Alexander wrote dueling opinion pieces about the upcoming Dante's Inferno game. Crecente is dubious:
While the developers seem genuinely interested in trying to present a tour of Dante's hell that remains at least mildly representative of the original works, it can't remain a passive experience and still be a mainstream video game.While Alexander welcomes the artistic license:
Their answer: Make Dante the game's hero, Beatrice the game's damsel in distress.
It's this shift in perspective, no matter how tangentially rooted in history, that most threatens to deflate the experience of Inferno.
The Divine Comedy, after all, is largely a poem about two guys walking and talking -- not exactly the core gameplay of an action game. In that way, the liberties the team took were intended to create a stronger video game, a more reasonable priority for, well, a video game, than focusing on a strong epic poem adaptation.
My own feeling is that once you hear the words "Dante's Inferno: The Video Game," you probably shouldn't be surprised by any departures from the source material.
-And a couple of non-E3 links. (Holy crap, this post is getting long.) I had never listened to the Gamers with Jobs podcast before, but I enjoyed their discussion of inFamous, because their experiences seemed to track with my own. That leaves them, Tycho Brahe, and me as the only holdouts, I think.
-I did enjoy the completionist aspect of inFamous, though. The city is composed of three islands. Each island starts off under the control of gang members, which is represented by a red outline on your map. Upon completing each side mission, your map shows a chunk of gang territory changing colors. This almost single-handedly kept my interest throughout the game. It was also reasonably absorbing to search for blast shards, but not nearly as fun as hunting agility orbs in Crackdown. Anyway, GameSetWatch ran a good piece about the psychology of collectors and hoarders, which seems relevant.
Have a good weekend, all.