There are lots of things we want to know: Lotto numbers for the next year, how to make a real lightsaber, when this whole “Twilight” mania will finally end… But the thing we’re most eager to know is what this E3’s most talked-about games are going to score when it finally comes time to review them. So, we’ve consulted psychics, mediums, and our own future selves to obtain one last batch of wisdom from the future – read it now or you’ll have to wait until the rest of time catches up.
The first game was a mod that became another mod that can only be called “a success” if you can describe Tiger Woods as “a golf guy”. It was the textbook definition of a smash hit. It catapulted a relatively unknown musician to geek god-dom. It made people love a lifeless, immobile cube so much they purchased fuzzy, plush versions of it. It is, to date, one of only three legitimately good uses of Autotune. And it won several Game of the Year awards despite the fact that it was only a few hours long. So, yes – it was big.
In some publisher’s hands, that kind of success would mean a new Portal every six months, the addition of meaningless ancillary franchises and extra characters, celebrity cameos and a subtitle with the word “Xtreme” in it. Thankfully, Portal 2 is from Valve. As such, you’re looking at a full-sized game that begins by respecting and retaining the things that made the original great, then expands upon the concept in a few perfect ways (brain-boggling two-player co-op, an energy bridge that extends through portals, a laser-bending refraction cube). The only thing we can’t definitely predict, even with our powers, is a release date. Neither art nor science can be rushed, and this looks to be both.
Killzone 2 was one of the most ridiculously internet-controversial games of the PS3’s lifespan, but its sequel – if the demo Sony’s showing off is any indication – should be a lot less divisive. While it uses the same bleak, gray color palette as the first game, it’s even more visually impressive – and not just because it’s playable in 3D. The ocean below the arctic drilling platforms on which the Killzone 3 demo is set bucks and rolls in a convincingly stormy way, and there’s more to do than there was in KZ2; more kinds of Helghast to kill, more things to destroy, and bigger, more destructive weaponry. The rhythm-based close-quarters kills are gruesome fun, too, and the jetpacks – while nothing we haven’t seen before in other games – are a nice addition that we hope to see a lot of over the course of the full game.
Silent Hill 8 (working title)
Shown only as a trailer, we nonetheless feel we’ve probably already seen enough to pass judgment on Konami’s latest foray into the strange grime-and-flesh dimension that is Silent Hill. First off, the series has been handed over to Vatra games, an unproven developer with no track record – though its other game, an upcoming reboot of Rush ’N Attack: Ex-Patriot, does look to be at least okay. Secondly, the last five Silent Hill games have averaged low-to-mid 70s on Metacritic. Thirdly, this one is going to be handicapped by the fact that longtime soundtrack composer, Akira Yamaoka, is no longer at Konami. The music in this trailer completely lacks that blend of beauty and tension that played such a large role in setting the mood. Finally, the graphical quality looks okay, but if this trailer is the best they can do, this series should probably stay dead for awhile.
After years of missteps involving human-kissing, idiotic sidekicks, and the worst werewolf that ever was, Sonic has finally gone and done the thing that brought him fame in the first place: Stealing from Mario! A shot of Sonic Colors’ overworld is almost indistinguishable from a Super Mario Galaxy map (save for Robotnik’s mustache) yet the game is all the better for it.
All that horrendous filler is gone, and without an idiotic storyline to adhere to, Sonic Team has been freed up to design levels from every suppressed recess of their once mighty imagination. The Wisps – collectible critters that are also power-ups – add to the exploration and also provide the perfect incentive for replaying levels in a way that half-assed letter grades never could. However, Sonic Colors’ colorful design, no matter how inspired, doesn’t achieve the level of “for a Wii game” awe as Mr. Mario’s Galaxy.