When most people think video game movies, they roll their eyes and with good reason: most video game movies have sucked and have done the source material great injustice. This is understandable to most because just because a story lends itself well to a 20 hour game does not mean it will lend itself well to having that same story crammed into 90 minutes. From Super Mario to the Hitman movies, it is like no one can get the video game movie right. But right now we have our eyes set on the World of Warcraft movie and feel like this might finally be the flick that ends the “video game movies suck” curse that has followed this genre for so long.
Another June in LA means another E3 Expo has come and gone. When it comes to recapping E3 2015 there was good, there was bad, and then there was just “meh, that again?” You already know whether you want to play “Batman: Arkham Knight” or “Call of Duty: Black Ops III”. No amount of telling you how great it was or how bad it sucked is going to sway you one way or the other. Below I have a list of some of my favorite moments from E3 2015 and a few personal insights and discoveries from the week.
- Star Wars Battlefront (EA) – What else needs to be said? It’s Star Wars back in video game form, revitalizing one of the greatest licensed game series ever. It looks great and plays amazingly. And we’ve only scratched the surface. Even Kanye showed up on his own to check this game out. He apparently even cracked a smile after playing it.
- Skylanders Superchargers Meets Nintendo’s Amiibos (Activision) – Nearly everyone is getting into the Put Your Toys Inside Your Video Games trend. Even LEGO is getting in on the action with LEGO Dimensions that brings a bunch of their licensed properties like Lord of the Rings, Batman, Scooby-Doo, Wizard of Oz, Back to the Future, and even Portal (a video game within a video game!) all together in one massive adventure. But Nintendo and Activision blew everyone’s minds when they announced that they had struck a deal to put two legendary Nintendo characters into the new iteration of the Skylanders franchise. This time around, Skylanders have vehicles that transport favorite characters and brand new ones by land, sea, and air, adding a new dimension to game play. And they’re bringing Donkey Kong and Bowser along for the ride. If it’s one thing that Nintendo fans love to collect, it’s more Amiibos. And maybe along the way, they’ll learn just how fun Skylanders is… and it’s not just for kids.
- Fallout 4 (Bethesda) – Bethesda kicked off E3 2015 by dropping tons of new Fallout 4 footage on Sunday night and then capped it off by saying that deluxe edition buyers could get their own life-sized Pip-Boy. Bring the world of Fallout 4 into your day to day life by strapping this big hunk of plastic to your wrist. You know you want to. I haven’t even played Fallout before and I know I do.
- Guitar Hero 4 (Activision) – I’m not much of a musician, certainly when it comes to playing guitar, even fake guitars meant for gaming. Give me a fake set of drums any day and I’ll play until I can’t lift my arms anymore. But Guitar Hero 4 won me over just a little bit with an astounding twist on the music gaming genre: Now they let you play in front of a live audience (sort of). There are no digitally rendered bandmates or rowdy crowds pressing up against the stage. They filmed living human people to stand on stage and in an audience to react to your guitar playing heroics. When you’re rocking out flawlessly, the crowd is whipped into a frenzy and your band responds to your musicianship as if you were really on stage with them, giving encouraging nods and sneers as you blow the crowd away. However, things can quickly turn ugly if your playing isn’t up to snuff. Your drummer and bassist look at you like its your first day holding a guitar while the disappointed crowd readily boo you after a steady string of fumbled notes. But there is no way to fail out in this edition of the game. You have to suffer through to the end as everyone derides your talent until the very last strum of your plastic instrument (my experience). And speaking of the instrument, Guitar Hero 4 has changed things up with their controller, by putting the six buttons (representing the strings) in sets of three above and below the neck of the guitar to allow faster fingering on the frets and more innovative gameplay. It did allow me to have momentary flourishes of genius, but without more practice (or more training from my british Guitar Hero 4 teacher), it’s going to be a long haul until I reach any level of rock stardom.
- Pixels (Sony Pictures) – Not a video game. A movie about video games. What better movie to be promoting at E3 2015? Nestled amongst the vintage arcade machines and tables full of 80s era gaming memorabilia in the Videogame History Museum display, Pixels showed off the 4 Mini Coopers featured in the film and named after the 4 ghosts in Pac-Man, driven by the film’s stars to battle the alien invasion that’s taken the form of gaming icons we know and love. I have no idea whether the film will be good or bad, but the cars looked cool and they hopefully helped drag some curious onlookers over to check out the museum, raising awareness for their cause to preserve and display all aspects of videogame history in an official museum someday.
- Virtual Reality (everyone) – VR was everywhere this year, even though almost nobody has anything of value on the market right now. In 2016, that will change. Oculus will battle Morpheus and every ambitious developer in between for the top of the heap. Will it be the must-have gaming gadget of the next 5 years or will it go the way of the Virtual Boy and the Power Glove? And while VR headsets aren’t just about gaming, who will win the day will all come down to price, how little they will induce motion sickness, and of course, which quality EXISTING games you can play with them. Oh, and Star Wars and porn. No new technology takes off until Star Wars and porn are there to boost sales of any particular medium (see the entire home video market since the early 80s).
- Super Mario Brothers 30th Anniversary (Nintendo) – It’s been 30 years since you (or your dad) ignored all forms of human interaction for days in order to beat (repeatedly) the first Super Mario Brothers game (and then ever sequel that came from it). Side scrolling adventure would never be the same (if anything as good ever really existed back then). To celebrate, Nintendo is letting you take control of the fun with Super Mario Maker. You build your own levels, add all sorts of challenges and twists, and then challenge your friends to a Super Mario game like they’ve never seen. Get ready to shut out your family once again for another few months, possibly years.
- Disney Infinity 3.0 with Star Wars (Disney) – If there was one Toys In Video Games franchise that could have a chance of making collectors go even crazier than they do for Amiibos, it’s Star Wars coming to Disney Infinity. At this point, I don’t even care that they’re all part of a video game. I want them all. The sculpts and poses are so perfectly styled, made for displaying proudly (out of package), that putting them into a video game is just icing on the cake.
- The Walking Dead (Overkill) – This is a virtual reality game. It’s the Walking Dead. I would imagine it’s pretty scary. I wasn’t able to get close to it, but I would imagine if you were going to create a game with a strong horror element, you could do a whole lot worse than The Walking Dead. I’m just afraid that if I put on that VR headset and stuff gets fairly intense, I might never put them back on again. Causing me to blow a considerable chunk of money for 5 minutes of NOPE NOPE NOPE. Still, I think if this is done right, in the spirit of the comics and the AMC TV series, you won’t be able to keep people away from this game or their VR headsets. Here’s hoping…
- Rock Band 4 (Harmonix) – I didn’t get to play Rock Band 4, but I watched a lot of people play the hell out of the new prototype instrument controllers at the official Harmonix Rock Band 4 party at The Mayan Theater in downtown LA. Free drinks and loud music in a beautiful but grungy classic theater/club always makes for a good time, even if the musicians aren’t real. Things really got crazy when some people repping Disney Infinity showed up and offered one person in the crowd a Playstation 4, Disney Infinity 3.0, and EVERY DISNEY INFINITY FIGURE CREATED TO DATE (including the Star Wars ones) if they acted like their biggest fan while they played. While the person they picked wasn’t me (&$%#@!), it made for a thrilling site. Lots of semi-drunk people cheering on 4 people rocking out on plastic instruments playing a hyperactive version of Simon set to great music. Harmonix upped the ante by giving out more prizes throughout the night, including Mad Catz controllers worth hundreds of dollars each. By the end of the night, the crew invited the audience up on stage to jam with them one last time to Boston’s “More than a Feeling” on Expert Mode. Who knows if they played well or not. We blew the roof off the dump better than any stuffy cocktail and hipster bowtie party down the street could ever do.
If you want to see more of our favorite moments and things and people from the week of E3 2015, just keep scrolling down below. If you want to know more about certain images, feel free to comment and ask questions below.
The latest iteration in the long history of Call of Duty games brings us not just lots of 1st person shooting and in-your-face explosions, but also some existential struggles between being a man and a solider versus simply becoming a weapon, or worse, another machine as a cog within an even bigger machine.
Honestly, all emoting aside, Call of Duty Black Ops III looks like the most bombastic shooter yet from Activision. Players are thrust into a gritty future – a war torn landscape where they are cybernetically enhanced to become better, more efficient soldiers in order to face off against a horde of deadly machines without a shred of humanity. With both sides so evenly balanced technology-wise, the new reveal trailer seems to posit that the player’s humanity might be the thing that tips the scale in their favor.
This time around, developer Treyarch has given players a new “momentum-based, chained movement system” that lets you run and gun like never before. Why stop to marvel at the high res HD glory of your opponents, when you can just gun them down and JUST. KEEP. MOVING! Call of Duty Black Ops III of course has new multiplayer features and a four player co-op campaign. They’ve even thrown in weapon customization and a new Specialist system that lets you choose and rank up nine specially designed elite Black Ops soldiers, with an array of looks, weapons, abilities, and even personalities, unique to each configuration.
And don’t forget about the zombies. Treyarch hasn’t. The Black Ops 3 Zombies mode will have it’s own story and XP progression system, separate from the main game, allowing for greater gameplay complexity and an improved replay value.
Activision and Treyarch will release Call of Duty Black Ops III upon the world this November 6th, 2015. We’ll hopefully get more than a sneak peek in the coming weeks at E3 Expo in Los Angeles, June 16-18.
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You got the touch… You got the pow-ahhh…
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