Well, ladies and gentlemen. It’s nice to see you again. It’s been a while.
I ended up moving to a new apartment… back in April. However, in the ensuing six weeks following the move itself, I had the honor, the privilege, of getting to do battle with the ineptitude of Verizon.
Six weeks and eight technicians.
That’s what it took the company to actually provide me with an internet connection that even functioned as advertised. Over the course of the first three weeks, they couldn’t even provide any connection. Like, at all. I kept calling customer service, and they’d keep sending out these bumbling oafs (the first of which I’m fairly certain was Carl Winslow) who would come to my apartment, do nothing, and leave after telling me to call customer service. You know, to schedule another bumbling oaf to come to my apartment, do nothing and tell me to call customer service.
Verizon’s customer service kept insisting that this was business as usual, that this was all just part of their process. I kept insisting that this could only be considered “business as usual” if we were all trapped in the movie Brazil. Only the technicians they kept sending weren’t nearly as cool as Robert DeNiro.
Once they did finally manage to get me connected to the internet, I quickly found that it ran at speeds that I would’ve laughed at back in 1997. That… isn’t even hyperbole. These were sub 56.6k speeds. Netflix couldn’t stream. PSN couldn’t sign in.
There was a dark, cob-webbed corner of my brain that would take one look at my internet speed and instinctively try to download some Primitive Radio Gods mp3’s on Napster, while checking my AOL 2.5 account to see if anyone wanted to play some Tribes. Or Carmageddon. Or whatever.
Luckily, all of this happened right around the launch of Diablo III. It just sat on my shelf, staring at me with big, wet accusatory eyes. Didn’t I want it? Didn’t I want to explore every loot-slathered nook and cranny of its sexy, twelve-years-in-the-making body?
“It’s not you, it’s me, baby,” I would coo into its ear. “Well, actually, it’s not you and it’s not me, either. It’s just that Carl Winslow doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing.”
Long story short is that Verizon isn’t so much a telecommunications corporation so much as a publicly-traded, multi-national Far Side cartoon. But one of the lesser ones in which the devil is handing out accordions. You know, because Heaven has harps.
Ah, it feels good to let the rage consume me, to let the hate coarse through my veins.
So…E3. That just happened.
I found it all to be a little underwhelming, to be perfectly honest. Outside of Sony and Ubisoft showing off promising new IP’s, there were no real surprises.
Nintendo finally started pulling back the Wii U curtain. I’m not entirely sure I’m sold on it, though. They seem to have gone for a kitchen sink approach with the damned controller.
Camera? Double check.
NFC? Gyroscope? Accelerometer? IR?
All of the above. In fact, it may or may not give out handies while you play. Nintendo’s probably just holding that card until closer to launch.
The one thing that did impress me is that Nintendo seems to have loosened its sphincter considerably when it comes to delivering a functional internet experience. Gone are the days of Friend Codes, and the company seems to be embracing the very basics of what everyone else has been doing since 2006. Their MiiVerse system is clearly taking nods from social networking sites, and the fact that you can tap the touch-screen to ask other players (in real-time) where the hell the boomerang is in the newest Zelda? A nice touch.
However, knowing the internet and its sub-human denizens, the answer is almost always going to be “up in yo mamas ass crack bitch LOLOLOL.” On second thought, maybe it’s not going to be that useful.
I then prepared myself for what I had imagined would be a deluge of first-party awesomeness. After damn near six years of teasing, Nintendo finally got around to making a third Pikmin game, and damn, does it look good. EAD didn’t try and reinvent the wheel and stuck to simply expanding on the winning formula that was the backbone of one of the most engaging console RTS games ever developed. HD graphics running at a rock-solid 60 FPS with online functionality and some new Pikmin species? That’s all I was looking for in a second sequel to Pikmin, to be honest. When used in conjunction with the Wii U GamePad, it definitely seems to doing what it can to alleviate the inherent control issues commonly associated with RTS’ on home consoles.
I peed a little when I saw that their premiere launch game was called Nintendo Land. Finally, Nintendo is making an epic action/adventure game that throws together all of their legacy characters. Visions of Mario and Link traversing Planet Zebes in order to rescue Kirby from Andross fluttered ‘twixt my ears.
Luckily, Reggie pumped the brakes on that little fantasy before I made a real mess of my pants. No, no, Nintendo Land is just a goddamned mini-game collection that takes place in a Nintendo-centric theme park.
Bizarrely enough, this isn’t the first time a Nintendo console has launched with a mini-game collection that took place in a theme park. Back in 2001, the GameCube launched with Universal Studios, a game widely considered to be a digital hate crime by everyone who ever so much as looked at its box art. In their infinite wisdom, Nintendo seemingly looked at that disaster and thought, “yeah, more of that shit, please.” What’s even more baffling is that one of those mini-games is just a repackaged version of Pac Man VS, a game that caused people to roll their eyes way back at E3 2003. I’m not sure that the public will have any more interest in it nine years later.
My heart fluttered a touch when the new WarioWare game was demonstrated… only it wasn’t a WarioWare game. WarioWare games are nothing more than hundreds of absurd, delightful games that only last about three-to-five seconds. It’s frantic, and so damn weird that it’s become one of my favorite first-party Nintendo titles.
The Wii U’s Game & Wario is just another mini-game collection. The games last several minutes, and there will be only ten featured in the final product, which seems to go against the very mission statement of WarioWare.
Luckily, Ubisoft sort of saved the day, what with their six-hundred fifty-eight upcoming Wii U games they had on display. Granted, some of them were just ports of existing or already-announced titles. But then there was ZombiU.
Does anyone remember Zombi? I used to play it to death on my buddy’s C64 way back when, but I was relatively sure that I was one of seven people who ever did. Seeing a reboot for such an obscure, yet personally adored game was awesome. Also, it retains the gameplay hook from the original, in which if you get bitten, you become a zombie. You start as a new character, and have to go back and kill your old self in order to recover your inventory.
I’m not big on FPS games in general, but ZombiU was the one Wii U title that made me mull over early adoption. And it wasn’t even a first-party game. Bizarre.
On the Microsoft front, there weren’t any surprises. There’s more Halo this fall, which is always good news. There’s also more Call of Duty if you’re… one of those types. There was more Kinect nonsense, as expected.
But it was SmartGlass that had people talking. Utilizing Air-Play-esque push technology, Microsoft seemed to be aiming its sights squarely at Nintendo. SmartGlass will be compatible with the majority of touch-screen devices on the market, and can also, theoretically, function as a controller for the 360. There seemed to be an implication on Microsoft’s part that, while one could dole out hundreds of dollars for a Wii U, one could also just save their money and use the phone/tablet they already own in conjunction with the 360 they already own.
Now, I doubt that SmartGlass will receive anywhere near the amount of developer support that the Wii U will get, in terms of dual-screen gaming, but the fact that Ubisoft could offer the whole ZombiU experience on a console most people already have in their living rooms/pockets should make Nintendo a little wary.
Time will tell if SmartGlass even gives the Wii U a run for its money. Lord knows Sony’s Move controller didn’t make the Wii break a sweat.
Speaking of Sony, they were the one of the only companies to announce a new IP.
The fact that it’s a game from Quantic Dream starring Ellen Page was simply too much for me to handle, as I was a huge fan of Heavy Rain. Sure, the dialogue in Heavy Rain was pretty bad, and the voice-acting bordered on Roger Corman levels of terrible, but it still stands as one of my favorite games this generation. Even with all its flaws, it’s a game that I’ll remember years from now, unlike the vast majority of this generation’s AAA cock-swinging retardathons.
Beyond: Two Souls seemed to continue David Cage’s attempts at making interactive drama a thing… only now the drama was liberally peppered with lengthy sequences involving ghost-monsters murdering the faces off of dozens of police officers with an intensity only the most dedicated of face-murdering ghost-monsters can truly muster. Also, Ellen Page says “fuck” every four seconds.
But yeah… interactive drama, and all that.
Then there was some nonsense about an AR Harry Potter book. Yeah, I know, folks. I can barely contain my excitement, either. In fact, watch a video of Sony’s press conference, and you can actually see the vast majority of audience members pulling out their phones in order to engage their brain in anything, ANYTHING, that didn’t involve watching a damn video of an AR Harry Potter book. I imagine some were even Googling queries like “what’s the quickest way to feel the sweet, sweet embrace of death?” Hilarious.
Sony Smash Bros. made another appearance. I’m still kind of chuckling at what a blatant and shameless rip-off it is. I’m also still kind of dying to play as a Big Daddy so I can drill Nathan Drake in his smug, stupid face.
Also, The Last of Us. Still looking sexy.
But, for me, the game of show was undoubtedly Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. The idea of an open world game where I can hack any single element of an entire city’s infrastructure is the coolest thing I’ve seen in years. Hopefully, it’ll let me indulge those deeply sadistic urges that haven’t bubbled to my emotional surface since I trapped my Sims in tiny rooms with no doors, surrounded by nothing but sad clown paintings and left with no options but to pee themselves repeatedly until they finally keeled over, dead.
Will Watch Dogs let me hack into people’s pacemakers, stopping their hearts with the push of a button? Better yet, can I turn off the city’s power and water supply? Can I single-handedly cause millions of people to riot in real-time? These are the questions that roiled about in my muddy brain space while drool slowly worked its way down my chin. As long as Ubisoft takes this gameplay conceit to its logical (and deliciously malicious) conclusion, I can see Watch Dogs being every bit the success that Assassin’s Creed was.
Also, Assassin’s Creed III. Sill looking sexy.
Maybe I’m just becoming a cynical curmudgeon as I grow older, but this E3 was a bit shit for all three of the major console manufacturers. I was excited to finally see what Nintendo had planned for the Wii U… until I actually did. I was excited to hear what new games Microsoft was going to announce… only they didn’t. I was excited that we, as a society, would continue to live in a world without AR Harry Potter books… but now Sony has doomed the entirety of the human race with their complete disregard towards the laws of God, towards the laws of human decency. Their hubris will unmake us all.
Oh, well. Back to Diablo III.