Impressive as it was, the first gameplay footage of Final Fantasy XIII-2 wasn't enough to distract us from the biggest glaring omission at Square-Enix's E3 booth: Final Fantasy Versus XIII. For many of us, Versus is the most exciting unknown in the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series, because of how strikingly different it looks from other FF spinoffs.
Developed by the Kingdom Hearts team, it's an action adventure with a story set in a completely new universe (despite the XIII in the title, it has nothing to do with XIII). The world itself looks like a huge departure from the usual Final Fantasy fare, and that's what intrigues us – it's bizarre to see FF-style characters in a comparatively realistic setting, especially since you can spot real-world locations (like St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and Tokyo’s Shinjuku) in what few glimpses Square-Enix has released so far.
Above: We haven't seen much since this extended trailer from 2009
Square-Enix has already repeatedly told fans not to hold their breath for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but the information blackout is getting ridiculous at this point. It's been five years since Versus was initially unveiled at E3 2006, and we don't know much more today than we did then. It's not the long development time that worries us, necessarily, it's that we haven't gotten more than a smattering of small updates since then, most of which were delay announcements. With FFXIII finished and no new Kingdom Hearts on the horizon, we're ready to see more of this.
Valve hasn’t avoided E3 quite as rigorously as, say, Rockstar or Blizzard – it was at E3 2009 that we got our first taste of Left 4 Dead 2, after all – but the company’s absence was total this year, making for yet another show that ended without so much as a whisper of when we’ll see Gordon Freeman’s next add-on adventure (or Dota 2, for that matter).
Above: And once again, we’re reduced to illustrating an entry about it with this old thing
In the four years since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 with The Orange Box, we’ve seen exactly two pieces of concept art, and some murmurs that Episode 3 might include sign language, but that’s about it. And while we could make yet another jab about Valve not understanding the point of episodic gaming, those wore out their welcome sometime around mid-2008. Don’t get us wrong, Valve’s other stuff has been great, and making Team Fortress 2 free-to-play is a big deal, but isn’t it time to throw Half-Life fans a bone? Please?
Forgive our impatience. We understand that building an entirely new IP takes a really, really long time and that we shouldn’t expect any details at all during this nascent period – especially when there are competing lawsuits and publisher switches involved – but come on. When the developers behind gaming’s two biggest shooters – Respawn’s Call of Duty and Bungie’s Halo – announce they’re leaving those franchises behind to create entirely new engines, stories and universes, it’s hard to remain realistic or rational. You want info and, despite both companies warning fans they wouldn’t be at E3 2011, you want info now.
Above: You also want to see something other than this photo of Respawn’s Jason West (left) and Vince Zampella. We know we do, anyway
Will Bungie’s next game be an MMO? Will Respawn take the Modern Warfare formula into the far-flung future? Can either developer top the success of its previous series? These will have to remain rumors and speculation for the time being… possibly until E3 2012.
After its announcement at Sony’s E3 press conference last year, there hasn’t been a lot of news on Sorcery, the magic-focused fantasy adventure built around Move. It appeared at the Gamescom expo last August, and a blurb on its developer’s website from February says that the project is “in full-swing,” but Sony was mysteriously silent on the game this year. It did, however, have some new Move-centric titles to show off, which led some to speculate that Sorcery had actually turned into Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest.
This doesn’t appear to be the case at all (Sony’s still promoting Sorcery, and if nothing else, the two titles have different developers), but Sorcery’s absence after last year’s polished-looking demo is a little puzzling. Will it be the game that ends up justifying Move’s existence to hardcore gamers? We’ll have to wait a while longer to find out.
Seeing as Devil’s Third was first announced at E3 2010, we were really hoping to see it this year – but, once again, no dice. Instead, all we got was a teaser video in which Japanese comedian Masaki “Hard Gay” Sumitani invades the decadent studios of developer Valhalla Game Studios and is denied a look at the game.
The third project from Dead or Alive creator Tomonobu Itagaki (and a group of former Team Ninja employees), Devil’s Third is still a largely unknown quantity. In fact, the only glimpse we’ve really had of it so far is the footage from the title’s explosive debut trailer, which features lots of wall-running, sword slicing, and bazooka blasts.
Unfortunately, it seems that we’ll have to wait for Itagaki and company to unveil Devil’s Third’s gameplay later this year, at the Tokyo Game Show.
While E3 did feature fourth entries in series starring thieving, sneaky miscreants (specifically Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and Assassin’s Creed Revelations), neither of them gave us the triumphant return of stealth-gaming pioneer Garrett, whose next adventure was confirmed in early May by developer Eidos Montreal. While the announcement’s pre-E3 timing led our sister site CVG to speculate that a Thief 4 (or “Thi4f,” which we feel compelled to pronounce “Thii-fourf”) reveal was a certainty, EM came to the show with nothing more (or less) than a playable demo of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
There’s been a lot of speculation about the game since the announcement, with fans wondering if the gameplay style, perspective and/or protagonist will undergo massive changes, or if it’ll be another adventure in the mold of 2004’s Deadly Shadows. Sadly, E3 didn’t hold any answers for us, although it’s likely that we’ll probably see something after Deus Ex: HR hits stores in late August.
The biggest news you missed from E3 2011
E3 happened so fast, some interesting news probably passed you by
The Top 7… E3 no-shows
The most noticeable absences from last year’s show (aren’t actually that different from this year’s)
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