Hello. Yes, it’s that time of year again. No, not E3. PrE3. The last-minute build up to E3 proper during which a few overzealous publishers and developers are so overwhelmingly thrilled to announce the eleventh sequel in their annual franchise that they can’t quite keep the announcement holstered.
This is traditionally the time of year when Microsoft coughs its entire roster of “surprises” onto the internet. That hasn’t happened just yet, but other publishers, perhaps concerned that their games are in danger of being asphyxiated by the hundreds of other titles at the show, have been volleying out trailers, announcements and teasers like it’s nobody’s business.
With that firmly in mind, here’s a rundown of some of the games that we’ve seen or heard whispers from during this year’s PrE3.
Gears of War: Judgement
To the surprise of nobody, Microsoft will be unveiling a new Gears of War during its conference on Monday. News of what we now know is a prequel came from a hit-mongering Game Informer post that provided scant details, just a silhouetted image of a beefcake in chains. Turns out that beefcake was long-term Gears companion Baird. Doesn’t he look angry? Rar, what a man. Cole will also star.
While it’s hard to muster any excitement about another Gears of War, particularly a prequel, you can feel buoyed by the news that it’s being created by Bulletstorm-developer People Can Fly. Here’s hoping it’s a colourful, first-person spin off with riotously gory murders and a cracking single-player multiplayer game bolted to the side.
Splinter Cell: Black List
A since-removed post on XboxGameZone ousted this follow up to the rather tame Splinter Cell: Conviction. Supposedly being developed by Ubisoft Montreal under the watchful eye of Jade Raymond – notable for her work on the first two Assassin’s Creed games – it will surely feature gravelly man Sam Fisher, some shadows and some silly-sausage NPCs wandering off down lonely avenues. Less Bourne, more stealth please.
Arkane Studio’s Dishonoured, which looks to borrow elements from Thief, Bioshock and Half Life, was unveiled a few weeks back but in the build up to E3 the developer hurled this classy artifact out into the intersphere. It looks violent as all hell, with half the trailer focusing on men being stabbed in the throat while a cute ickle girl croons: “slice his throat with a rusty cleaver”. Good grief.
Of perhaps greater note, ACTUAL NEW IP.
Dead Space 3 & Need for Speed: Most Wanted
EA verified the existence of Dead Space 3 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted earlier today and promised to exhibit both games at E3. Drip-fed rumours over the past months have suggested Dead Space 3 will take place at least partly on an ice planet and feature a co-op mode. EA dished out a graphic novel style trailer earlier in the week starring a chap named John Carver. In it, Carver watches on helplessly as the dreaded Marker plonked right in the middle of his favourite city (doh) is attacked. Chaos ensues.
“This is just the start of John Carver’s saga in the Dead Space Universe.”
Meanwhile, Need for Speed: Most Wanted is being developed by Criterion who were last seen at the helm of the magnificent Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Most Wanted may be a reboot of the 2005 game by the same name. Can we ditch this trend please? Most Wanted 2, More Wanted or Most Wanteder are all perfectly fine.
Star Wars: 1313
In the continued absence of a Bioware-developed Knights of the Old Republic sequel Star Wars 1313 might have to do.
Lucasarts unveiled the “mature” Star Wars title earlier today; a third person action adventure game complete with its own cover system, platforming and some cinematic bits. It takes place on Coruscant and dumps players in the shoes of a bounty hunter. That means blaster rifles, not lightsabers.
There’s not much else to go on for now, so we’ll judge it purely by its name. Fucking hell.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Platinum’s contribution to the Metal Gear universe launches early 2013. This trailer, which accompanied the announcement, features Raiden as he stabs his katana sword through things like a CONCRETE PILLAR and a HELICOPTER. I love you Platinum.
Unfortunately we’re also subjected to the story boiling away beneath the consummate violence. Child soldier. Innocence lost. Civil war. Mind control. Ideals betrayed. A corsage of words splattered across the screen while some idiot croons about being born at the wrong time. It sounds vile but hey, it’s called Revengeance, what the bloody hell were you expecting?
Remember that time Lara duked it out with a tyrannosaurus rex? Not this Lara. Crystal Dynamic’s reboot of a franchise that desperately needs a kickstart continues to look promising and now has a concrete release: March 5th 2013.
In this PrE3 trailer we get a look at more of the survival gameplay, more shots of Lara in extreme pain (bear traps, ouch) and get a little idea for the story and other gubbins beneath beneath the adventuring. Uncharted is the immediate comparison but I think it looks more like Ubi’s impressive I Am Alive, particularly in tone. Visually it’s off the chain too, which is an added bonus.
Naughty Bear (LOL)
Naughty Bear’s nearness to being any amount of fun was the nearness of planets, so it may come as a surprise to hear that an XBLA sequel is in the pipeline. Subtitled Panic in Paradise, it rekindles Naughty Bear’s pugnacious relationship with the bears of Paradise Island. A curious mashup of stealth that didn’t work and melee combat that kind of did, Naughty Bear was how a Kill Bill game might have panned out had it been created by an unruly nine-year-old on a budget of one week’s pocket money.
Panic in Paradise promises a completely revamped combat system, a new levelling system, equipment customisation (heartbeat sensor taped to a fire axe?) and over 30 levels.
Will we see more at E3? Probably not.