Horror Brings the Ruckus to E3.

Posted by Matt Wells - June 10th 2009 @ 1:06 am

There was quite a bit of Horror infused in E3 this year, impressing myself and horror fans in general more than I think anyone expected.  Personally, E3 had pretty much everything I wanted: New game announcements, trailers/gameplay footage of games I’ve been following and even one or two surprises.

Videos and highlights follow:


LEFT 4 DEAD 2:

This was a shock for me. I knew Valve was displaying a new game but I thought it would be another in the Half-Life series or something completely new. I can’t complain as I still play the original and love it to death.

I love the gameplay videos that were featured. The melee weapons add a new layer of depth to the game. You can make the case this is just a feature shamelessly stolen from DEAD RISING but forgery aside it’s hard to argue that L4D2 seems to open up the game like never before; along with new enemies, weapons, maps and boss creatures. I also love the southern-theme they are going for with this entry, especially the fiddle that plays during a horde sequence.

Valve went all out show casing off several maps and quite a bit of walkthroughs. Maybe I shouldn’t have listed L4D2 first, but this was the clear winner of E3 horror.

Now after all that praise I have to say, it worried me a bit. It will be released this November making it just 13 months after the original was released. It is VERY uncharacteristic of Valve to release a sequel this quickly after a game. While LEFT 4 DEAD 2 looks to add a lot of content, it still seems like all of this could be added as an expansion or DLC.  An outright sequel? Something seems amiss, but this is Valve I am talking about. When was the last time they made a bad game?


BIOSHOCK II

One of the most anticipated games at E3 this year was BIOSHOCK 2, sequel to one of the best damn games I’ve ever played. There wasn’t a whole lot of information at E3 this year, but considering the literal masterpiece the first was, I will pre-order this with no doubts in my mind it will be at the same tier the original set the bar for.

It may seem like a cop-out to just say “Oh, this game will be great, nothing more to say.” Though I can’t disagree with that statement.  This game will be great, nothing more to say.


RESIDENT EVIL: DARKSIDE CHRONICLES:

Being a huge fan of the UMBRELLA CHRONICLES, I have been excited for this release ever since it was announced. Taking place during RE2 (my personal favorite of the series) and CODE VERONICA means odds are extra side-missions will be added much like the original (UMBRELLA, that is). Just like the original, this is Wii-exclusive as well, with graphics look pretty good for a Wii game. Developers said critical headshots will be much easier to perform and a camera angle that helps convey the tension along with the ability to dodge incoming attacks (something every rail shooter ever made has needed) all add up to me pre-ordering the game when it gets a release date.


DEAD SPACE: EXTRACTION

In the vain of RESIDENT EVIL: UMBRELLA CHRONICLES , DEAD SPACE: EXTRACTION is a Wii-exclusive on-rail shooter that acts as a prequel to the first game. Call me a hypocrite, but I don’t see this working very well. By making a game a shooter you eliminate nearly-all horror elements; something that the first game easily succeeded at. It looks good for a Wii game, but I can’t get past them turning a possible horror franchise and going to route of action-sequel so damn quickly. Added with the mandatory dismemberment, it almost seems tedious when a shooter is usually fast-paced and about quick reflexes. If this still tickles your fancy, DEAD SPACE: EXTRACTION has a date set for September 29th of 2009.


SILENT HILL: SHATTERED MEMORIES

My favorite horror franchise returns with SHATTERED MEMORIES for the Wii (exclusively), which is a re-imagining of the first game. The look of SH:SM changes almost everything about the game, so much so that the town doesn’t even LOOK like Silent Hill. I have my suspicions that this game was developed and then had the SILENT HILL tag slapped on it sometime later. That’s not a bad thing mind you, as it does look quite intriguing.

SH:SM will have one of the most unique gameplay features I have ever seen. I’ll just paste this from an IGN article:

Longtime fans will recognize a few returning characters, but don’t expect the same motives and interactions as before. That, in part, is due to the all-knowing, all-seeing Psych Profile system that follows your every move. The game opens with a flash-forward to a psychologist’s office where you fill out a questionnaire, giving you a base profile to start from. That alone changes the world around you once you reach the Hill; you might run into a female cop who’s openly hostile to you if you admitted to a little infidelity on the form. From there, everything you see and do in the game continues to evolve your environment. If you’ve had a drinking problem, where another play sees soda cans, you’ll see beer bottles. Keep checking out the girly posters scattered around town, and that cop might also sport some cleavage… and the monsters crawling out of the darkness take on grotesquely female traits.

Moreover, you’ll return to the psychologist’s office throughout the game for more and deeper tests. Barlow stayed light on specifics, but indicated they would take a more advanced tone than the questionnaire, such as Rorschach-like tests. Barlow and game director Mark Simmons brought in composer Akira Yamaoka and University of England psychologists to consult on the game, and actually went into therapy themselves as part of the research process.

If you’ve played the SILENT HILL games, you know that the town just…knows…your inner secrets forming the demons that constantly follow you around that poke and prod at your sanity (mainly SH2). So the psych evaluation at the beginning is a great way to set the stage as well as provide replay value for changing the game each run-through. How it pans out is something we will have to wait and see.

With a complete lack of weapons (sans flares) it looks as if Konami is trying to bring back true survival horror, so it’s something I can get behind. Odds are within the first week it’s released, I’m going to shell out $50 in late 2009.


THE GRINDER:

Yet another Wii-exclusive game and this one came out of left field. It looks to be a horror-themed SERIOUS SAM. While the number of monsters on screen is impressive there wasn’t much about this game that wow’d me. It seems like something that has potential but won’t live up to it. The one aspect of the game I thoroughly enjoy is how the big axe-wielding Slashers can literally appear anywhere if you lose sight of them much how other classic horror icons do. It is the same development company as THE CONDUIT, a game getting a LOT of praise these days. So hopefully I’m wrong and my underwhelming sighs will be reversed and I shell out $50 for it in 2010.


RESIDENT EVIL PORTABLE

The only PSP entry this year is the most unknown. It was announced as a side-bar. I did manage to find out that Capcom made this game based on an online petition requesting RE to come to the PSP reached over 10,000 signatures. Other than that, no release date, video or trailer was shown. It was just mentioned that RESIDENT EVIL will be made to work on the PSP. I call bullshit on this as it is hard enough to play RE on a Playstation controller, you know those things with more than two shoulder buttons. That doesn’t mean I will be smart enough to pass on the game.

(Of course this could just be a port of RESIDENT EVIL: SURVIRO [Editor’s note: Fuck me, there are a lot of RE games]. If so you can find me in the kitchen, with my head in the oven waiting for the peace I’ve so long tried to achieve.)


JU-ON: THE GRUDGE

Oh good, the game formally known as FEEL that will make me shit myself in fear was released at E3, just another trailer and no new gameplay. If you have been noticing a pattern, this is going to be Wii-exclusive just as the last few games. It will be scarring the shit out of everyone else in the fall.


RESIDENT EVIL ARCHIVES: RESIDENT EVIL

A ‘port of a remake’ is the best way to summarize this title for the Wii. It takes the RESIDENT EVIL remake for the Gamecube and just simply ports it over to the Wii adding nothing new except Wii motion controls. I have to say, this is as about plain old vanilla you can get with a port. If it was a total remake in the way of Resident Evil 4 for the Wii, I would be all about it. When the GameCube Version is ALREADY backwards compatible with your Wii, why make this? But if you have never played this and you own a Wii, this will definitely be worth picking up in the middle of June.


DEMENTIUM II

I have never gotten around to play the first game for my Nintendo DS. I have it, I am looking at it right now but I have never gotten around to actually playing it. I have no excuse as it received very good reviews and is supposed to set the bench mark for horror on the DS, proving it CAN be done. This trailer for the second one makes me want to throw out my copy of THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU and beat it another day and start with DEMENTIUM: THE WARD because this looks like a very promising series. No release date set yet.


CURSED MOUNTAIN

The final Wii-Exclusive on the list is a game I had not heard one tidbit about. Upon checking Gametrailers.com for more info, I see there have been several trailers over the past year that just went under my radar. I must say I am interested and impressed with the gameplay shown here. The real key is how fluid will the will controls be when trying to make the “prayers” that are pivotal to the game. While graphics are never a deal-breaker for me, it looks quite impressive for a Wii title. Release date is Q4 of 2009.


DEAD RISING 2

The long-awaited sequel to DEAD RISING finally has an official trailer. New protagonist (I doubt this one has covered any wars, ya know?) I am disappointed that we do not have any gameplay ready. My philosophy is that any company can make a cool trailer but not every company can avoid a game that’s buggy, broken and needs about 3 months more development before it is released. I still have high hopes that this will fix all the bugs and AI issues of the first and will be a great game to waste a few weekends on sometime in 2010.


SAW

The concept of a Saw video game seems to border on the realms of ‘fucktarded’. I remember when this game was first planned, I laughed at the futility. When it was cancelled I laughed once again and then breathed a sigh of relief that I would never see it. Well, it’s back! I must say, watching the gameplay I am honest-to-God interested in this game. Maybe it’s just that I’m a fan of the series (for some unknown reason), or I am a sucker for suspense. Whatever the reason I will be monitoring this game when it is released. I do NOT have enough faith in it that I will just blow $60 before reading several reviews when it is released on October 20th of this year for Xbox360 and PS3.


HEAVY RAIN

Teetering on the edge of horror is the next game from French developers Quantic Dream, of whom I am a fan of their prior release INDIGO PROPHECY. A lot of the features from INDIGO PROPHECY that weren’t fully realized look to be pretty polished here and will take over the gameplay instead of playing second stage, such as the ability to play as several characters to solve the mystery and guide the plot and player along. Even though no one likes QTE (quick time events) these days, this looks to correctly utilize the feature. If you get something wrong it is not the end of the game. There are ‘recovery points’ and failure may even lead to a different path in the game. Added along with this is the fact that if one of the different characters you play as dies, the game simply continues, even if all characters die you are given an actual ending rather than a game over screen. With the emphasis being put on “choice” and “consequence” I must say this has HUGE potential to be the sleeper hit of E3. If Gamestop decides to throw in a pre-order bonus for Heavy Rain, I will probably pick this up when it is released at the beginning of 2010.


PENUMBRA ULTIMATE COLLECTION

This is easily the oddest game at E3 period. The PENUMBRA COLLECTION is comprised of three games released from March 2007 to August 2008. The Collection was released February of this year. It seems odd to save up for a table to display your game(s) so long after they are released. I know this is a small development company and odds are they couldn’t afford it last year, or they just got so little coverage last year they decided to do it again. It seems like a wasted effort. But anyway, bashing aside I am interested in the collection after seeing some footage (mission accomplished guys!). It looks to use something similar to HALF-LIFE 2’s engine, utilizing physics very well while throwing in some interesting puzzles and stealth gameplay.


As for the final thoughts of E3. It was one of the better ones of the last year (including and excluding the horror genre.) I will say this, if you don’t have a Wii, you should think about picking one up.  Despite the rather stupid statements that Epic Games (GEARS OF WAR) President Mike Epps said, more and more companies are going to be developing for the Wii because it is slaughtering the competition in the console wars. All of these Wii-exclusive games you see are just a taste of what’s to come. If you still want graphics, there are a hefty amount of rumors stating that a new Wii could be released around 2011 that is capable of 1080p at the very least 720.

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rss 4 comments
  1. Cody
    June 10th, 2009 | 9:14 pm | #1

    I’ll definitely pick up Heavy Rain, Indigo Prophecy was an awesome game.

  2. June 10th, 2009 | 9:25 pm | #2

    Yes Peter, there are a fuck load of Resident Evil games, only one I don’t have is Resident Evil Gaiden for the Gameboy Color, a game so shitty CAPCOM said it was too shitty to be canon…yet Resident Evil Survivor is still part of it.

  3. Ender's Wiggin Out
    June 11th, 2009 | 7:40 am | #3

    I’m confused. You say someone made a generic horror game, then after the production was finished they (allegedly) slapped the Silent Hill seal of canon on it.

    That accusation means everyone who is literate should avoid that game like facerape. But then you go and quote IGN for those cool-ass features.

    MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

    Im curious what crazy easter eggs will be available from that psych system: Spend 5 minutes staring at the comic book rack in the Shop N Mart to play as The Hulk O.o

  4. June 11th, 2009 | 9:10 am | #4

    I never said someone made a generic (or bad/bland/etc) horror game. I said it looks almost nothing like Silent Hill so they may have just slapped the SH name on the game to sell more copies, and then I immediately say that’s not a bad thing as it looks intriguing. I then quote an IGN article as proof that it looks quite intriguing.

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