Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Video Game Review

E3 Celebrates Exploration of the Virtual Realm

By Jeb Haught

Every year, thousands of journalist, analysts, vendors and game developers descend upon Los Angeles for the largest gaming convention in the world. Billed as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, this dazzling show displays future cutting-edge video games and related technology. Now that 67 percent of American households play video games, everyone from the average pimply-faced teenager to their hip grandmother values the information obtained at E3. Enough with the formalities, let’s get to the highlights of the show!

HARDWARE

Without a doubt, the most impressive hardware was the Nintendo 3DS. This amazing piece of technology features a 3.53-inch widescreen that is capable of displaying both 2-D and 3-D images. A handy switch on the side lets users change between both displays at any time. No glasses are required to view images in 3-D, but users must view the screen straight on to get the full effect. The processor and Ram have also been upgraded.
I was shocked at how realistic the 3-D display was and can’t wait to play games on the system. With two cameras on the outside, it’s possible to take 3-D pictures and store them on a SD card. However, they must be viewed on the 3DS to see the 3-D effect. All of the other features of a standard Nintendo DS are also included, such as: a separate touch screen, wireless communication, a microphone, stereo speakers and backward compatibility.

FIRST-PERSON SHOOTERS

If I had to choose the best game of E3 2010, it would be “RAGE” for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Published by Bethesda, this gorgeous open-world FPS drops players in a post-apocalyptic world where deadly clans rule what’s left of civilization. Players can venture into towns to gather info, acquire quests, upgrade vehicles, and much more! Then it’s time to pursue objectives, search for items and technology blueprints, or just explore the wasteland. Enemies range from crazed humans to nimble mutants, who swing on the rafters and jump off of walls for surprise attacks. Fortunately, there are many types of weapons and gadgets, such as electro arrows and shotguns, to use against any threat.
Fans of the classic Red Dawn will enjoy “Homefront,” which tells the tale of an invasion of the U.S. by a unified Korea. Available on the Xbox 360 and PS3, this unusual title is published by THQ. When a Korean satellite hits the U.S. with an EMP blast and then overruns the disjointed military, citizens are forced to cower in makeshift camps and plan their counterattacks. I felt sorry for the enemy because they didn’t seem to have a chance against the might of the freedom fighters. Phosphorus scatter bombs rain fire upon entire camps, while the player has access to various weapons and can also target enemies for an unmanned vehicle to blast with rockets. This is one seriously intense game that features action-movie cinematics to enhance the experience.
Old-school gamers will appreciate the Wii-exclusive re-imagining of “Goldeneye” by Activision. Featuring Judy Dench as M and Michael Craig as 007, this reboot isn’t what most people would expect. Since it’s based on the movie and not the popular game, there is much more freedom allowed. For example, Bond is now much grittier and won’t hesitate to eliminate any threat he encounters. He also makes occasional mistakes that make him seem more realistic. Players have the option of using stealth to sneak around or simply go in with guns blazing! Of course, multiplayer is the real draw of the new “Goldeneye,” so both splitscreen and online matches are available. There is also persistent online character building and “perks” to enhance abilities.

THIRD-PERSON ACTION GAMES

EA scared the pants off of players with “Dead Space,” and the sequel promises to be even more terrifying! “Dead Space 2” on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC eliminates the repetitive nature of the first iteration and adds new enemies, armored suits, weapons and abilities. I love the javelin gun that pins enemies to the wall as well as the technological puzzles. Another welcome feature is the ability to navigate in zero gravity instead of simply jumping from wall to wall. Since the story takes place on a space colony, this title also offers expansive views of the futuristic city. Visuals aren’t obstructed because health and kinesis power are displayed on Isaac’s armor instead of a traditional HUD.
Square-Enix is bringing their classic mech series to the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC with a big twist. “Front Mission Evolved” isn’t a turn-based strategy game like its predecessors, but it does offer similar features like an extremely in-depth customization mode, which lets players change everything from weapons to body parts to the paint job. Since the timeline is the furthest into the future for the series, both old and new Wanzers (walking panzers) will be available to use and customize. Four versus four online multiplayer action will offer classic death matches as well as Supremacy and Domination for those who aren’t content to simply blow up A.I. enemies.

OPEN WORLD GAMES

Sony’s “Infamous 2” on the PS3 looks to be even more outstanding than the original, thanks to the fact that Cole’s electrical powers from the first game don’t disappear. This means that he transforms from a superhero to a mega superhero throughout the story. His Parkour abilities are enhanced, and he now wields a giant club that electrocutes enemies on contact. As a result, Cole’s melee abilities are much more elaborate, and he can use slow-mo finishers to quickly terminate most enemies. Because this title is set in the South and offers cities and the untamed Bayou to explore, Cole will have to battle freaks, humans and gigantic monsters in order to survive.
“Mafia 2” by 2K Games makes Xbox 360, PS3 and PC owners an offer they can’t refuse. It follows an up and coming “made man” as he works his way up the mafia ladder. Players can look forward to blasting enemies with vintage weapons, including pistols and Tommy Guns, while using a cover system for safety. Some missions include fellow mobsters that help out and sometimes require assistance of their own.
Anyone who played the original will appreciate the fact that vehicles have been sped up a touch to avoid the frustration of driving at 20 mph everywhere. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that cops actually chased me for simply running a red light or speeding, because most open-world games don’t offer such realism. “Mafia 2” also features excellent voice acting that helps embed the player in the storyline.

MISCELLANEOUS

Platforming fans will rejoice at the mere mention of “Epic Mickey,” which is a paint-based Wii exclusive by Disney. This incredible-looking game lets player assume the role of Mickey Mouse as he smears his way through a harrowing adventure. Combat takes a back seat to imagination as Mickey can use his paintbrush to “paint” items into the game in specific areas. One example of this mechanic lets him paint a partially invisible platform into existence and then use it to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. He can also use paint thinner to remove certain items, and then paint them back into existence if the player chooses to do so.
Anyone with a lead foot will enjoy playing UbiSoft’s “Driver San Francisco” on the Xbox 360 and PS3. As the fifth game in the series, it takes players back to the roots of the franchise and lets them drive 120 different licensed cars at a silky smooth 60 frames per second. This is almost required to avoid the many vehicles and pedestrians that get in the way during intense car chases. Realism is enhanced by thousands of objects that litter the city as players can smash through them to enhance the chaos.
One major addition is SHIFT, which allows players to actually leave their vehicle as a sort of “ghost” form and quickly enter any vehicle they see. Think of the agents from “The Matrix” movie and you’ll get the picture. Thankfully, the in-depth movie editor is back to let players create their own cinematic experiences.

To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM.

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