Ah, the allure of the big top. The vibrant techno-circus we all know and love/hate. Over the mid-show hump of 2014’s E3, and while it hasn’t been a personal winner across the board, this year has me quietly champing at the bit for two specific games. This dual hegemony walks away with the inaugural, and thus freshly-esteemed laurels of being my event picks.
Here’s a tasty morsel. A small team consisting of LucasArts and Pixar folk have built a stylish, retro-themed 50s/60s stealth action game; a side-scrolling affair involving all manner of tasteful action in an effort to cool an escalating cold war. Looking like a heady mix of Mr. Exit and Shadow Complex, this spy tale can be spread across a multitude of devices – tablet, mobile, PS3, PS4 and – most awesomely – the PS Vita.
Visual austerity begets a fine style, and the mission flow seems visibly dynamic. Snapping into cover propels the player camera into the level; an act that goes beyond merely slipping into the shadows to conceive the next action. Whipping a guard into a concussed slumber to spraying small arms fire down a facility hallway, the change of perspective affords a deliciously heightened sense of intimacy that would otherwise be just another platformer encounter.
Colour this title my most anticipated for 2014.
Ever since Killzone: Liberation – one of the best multiplayer games in the history of the world, Senet included – I’ve yearned for another game that nails a strong, semi-arcadey isometric shooter. Many have tried, many have failed. But I’ve a feeling Helldivers will take the cake upon release.
As a follow-up to Magicka, there remains that mortifying element of your comrades being as dangerous as the foe. Friendly fire is as great a hazard to your health as the xenobiology you’ve been sent to waste. It immediately elevates the combat beyond simply another twin-sticker. There will be calls of ‘Check fire!’ and ‘Grenade out!’ and ‘Oh God, I’m so sorry!’ as myself and three others trudge across alien worlds for the glory and light of our ancestral home.
Coupling that with some sort of intriguing persistent online territory control against the alien hordes, and you’ve got a good match. Oh, and cross-platform play between PS4, PS3 and – again – PS Vita.
Indeed, the common thread here is the platform.
The Vita is where I get my console experiences, and despite having a terrific inbound line-up, the press at large have continually sought the easy grab-bag of it being a beached system. Suffering, indeed, a similar plight to the Wii U. In any case, I go where intriguing games are.
In PC land, it’s technically always E3 – a perennial garden-bed of the exciting and exotic – so I don’t find big press events terribly enthralling or useful for the beige box. On Vita, it’s a mix of compact nobility, economy and a very accomplished library that spans the modern era, PS2 ports, indie gems and a towering superstructure built of Playstation and PSP back catalogue titles. What’s not to love?
Comrade Pete Davison elucidates far more eloquently on the position of the Vita and press complicity, so I shall simply link you to his fine wordage.
But in short? Bring forth the spy and my charred remains on a distant world.