E3 2012: Games Roundup

We’ve been focusing on the console manufacturers and the major publishers over the course of the first two days of E3. Today, we change the focus from the publisher to the developers. Not everyone gets to show off their game in a massive presentation with the eyes of the gaming world focused on it. Most developers make the press rounds to announce and promote their games. Here are a few of the bigger announcements and news updates from the first few days of E3.

Star Wars: 1313
On Monday, LucasArts showed off the first gameplay footage of the new Star Wars: 1313 game. The game takes place on Level 1313 of Coruscant which is the home of the criminal underworld of the capital of the galaxy and about 1,000 levels down from the planet’s surface. The visuals are pretty good, even for this console generation. The gameplay shown looks very reminiscent of Uncharted in terms of the platforming and the duck-and-cover third-person shooter combat. Buzzwords that people are throwing around about this are “darker,” “grittier” and “more mature.” I thought that’s what we were getting from The Force Unleashed. We’ll have to see how that translates to 1313.

Dead Space 3
From the co-op gameplay demo it looks like Dead Space 3 is Dead Space meets Mass Effect. Isaac Clarke has a friend, John Carver, to buddy around with him in necromorph dismembering action. Isaac seems much more agile in this edition as evidenced by the dive and roll into cover. I’d suggest that DS3 is leaving the survival horror genre for something closer to a shooter horror game.

Sim City
Next year’s reboot of Sim City looks to change how you look at the franchise. The trailer and reports about the gameplay show that your created city is teeming with life. This is reflected in the multiplayer component where multiple people’s cities combine into a sort of Sim Nation and what happens in one city can affect the others. Interestingly, after the disastrous launch of Diablo III, Maxis says that Sim City will be always online, whether you play single or multiplayer. They claim it’s for syncing the Sim world that’s being built by all the Sim cities created. I think that’s code for it being an anti-piracy measure. Hopefully they’ll learn from Blizzard’s experience before launch in February.

In case you’d rather not pay a full $60 for a new Sim City game, Maxis is also launching a Facebook version of the game called Sim City Social. EA and Maxis are going head-to-head with Zynga’s Cityville which a Sim City-esque game. It’ll be fun to see if Zynga’s first mover advantage will keep it ahead of Maxis when the real Sim City hits Facebook.

Tomb Raider
One of the surprises from Monday was the trailer for the Tomb Raider reboot. The original Lara Croft was the famously large-breasted heiress who explored the world as a mercenary and thief after a plane crash left her stranded in the Himalayas. The story has changed to make Lara a 21-year-old college graduate who ends up shipwrecked on a deserted island where she’s forced to fend for herself. The reboot examines the newly written origin story of Lara Croft. If you haven’t played Tomb Raider games before, you won’t be missing anything as we’re all starting from scratch. It also remains to be seen what, if any, influence Square Enix will have on the first new (rather than ported from PS2 for a PS3-compatible collection) Tomb Raider that is being developed with them as publisher.

Agni’s Philosophy (Square Enix Tech Demo)
Speaking of Square Enix, they also unveiled a realtime tech demo of next generation graphics. Square used their Luminous Studio game engine which they developed in-house for the next console generation. The press release says that realtime rendering of the Luminous Studio engine is of the same quality as the current level of pre-rendered CG video in the current console generation. Agni’s Philosophy isn’t specifically a Final Fantasy video but it is based on the same type of world “where ancient magic and advanced science coexist in a near-futuristic world.”

Mass Effect 3
Well, we know that it’s coming to Wii U. I wasn’t going to waste your time with just that tidbit of news, though. While researching what BioWare had planned for E3, I came across an article in which Mark Meer, the voice of male Commander Shepard, said he was recording lines for Extended Cut. If Meer is back recording lines, it’s all but officially confirmed that Jennifer Hale will be back with new lines as Fem Shep.

Since I’m running trailers with everything else, here’s a fan trailer for ME3. It’s better than anything that BioWare produced themselves to promote the game.

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