E3 2015 – Bethesda Press Event Wrap Up

Bethesda Softworks Logo

Well here we go folks, E3 2015 kicked off last night with Bethesda’s first ever press event. Going in, there was plenty of talk around whether Bethesda would be able to set the tone for the week. After watching the whole show last night, I think it is very safe to say that they were more than up to the task. Let’s hit the highlights, and wrap up their first ever E3 press conference.

Doom 2016

DOOM – RETURN TO FORM
Kicking off their show, Bethesda decided to bring us back in time a bit. The franchise has been around for well over 20 years at this point, but hasn’t seen a new game in around 12. Going in, I was most curious about the feel of DOOM – would Bethesda let id keep the classic DOOM spirit, or would it be forced to play like a modern shooter. After seeing the first of three(!) trailers last night, I felt immediately that it was safe. It certainly looks like it plays super fast – circle strafing is going to be relevant again, and has that classic DOOM level of brutality. That said, they aren’t just taking the gameplay from a two decade old game and plopping it into a current-gen game. There have definitely been updates – we saw a double jump and mantle feature that adds in extra verticality to the game. We also got a look at the new melee finishers – get an enemy low on health and staggered, and you can push up and deliver unbelievably brutal finishes. We saw a glimpse of classic DOOM puzzle solving, along with a weapon lineup that look straight out of DOOM II. I was really impressed with the single player reveal – and then we got to hear a little about multiplayer.

Multiplayer has always been super important to id games – whether we’re talking DOOM or Quake, they’re kind of responsible for bringing deathmatch to the world. Based around the very short tease we got last night, it definitely looks like multiplayer is in good hands. It definitely got my mind running right back to the old days of playing Quake II and III online – the first FPS games I ever played, period. It looks fast – twitch shooting and strafing are probably going to be more important than they have been in years. Add in a couple wrinkles like the new Demon power up – a modern take on the Quad-Damage – and it should be a blast to play. But of course, id has always been really good at supporting the community too. That tradition will continue with DOOM SnapMap – a new editor that will come with all versions of the game. When they started showing off SnapMap, I couldn’t help but think that it looked a hell of a lot like the map maker in TimeSplitters. That editor did a lot of the same features – you could make custom maps for multiplayer, or co-op/solo maps using some basic scripting tools. Assuming that id is taking that idea, and bringing it up to modern standards, there are going to be a ton of possibilities for all sorts of crazy games going forward. We do have a bit of a wait ahead of us though – DOOM won’t be coming our way until spring of 2016.

BATTLECRY – MELEE MOBA GOODNESS
Bethesda then had a quick section to talk about two things – the new Bethesda.net, and also to show off Battlecry. Bethesda.net looks like it will function as a centralized hub on the web for all Bethesda games moving forward. I think really that it helps with the increased emphasis on player created content – with DOOM and a new Fallout feature we’ll talk about in a bit especially.

Battlecry was shown off briefly, talking about a new playable faction, as well as opening up global beta signups this week. I’m not super familiar with the game, to me it looked an awful lot like a melee focused MOBA style game. They call it an action arena game, which to me just is a different way of saying battle arena game. It looked cool – I dug the art style for sure. Assuming it’s on consoles, I’ll probably give the beta a try.

DISHONORED SURPRISES – SORT OF
The next section of the show should have been a major surprise – but live mics on a test kind of killed that. We found out Saturday night that the boys from Arkane would be there to talk Dishonored. Had it stayed a surprise, it probably would have been one of, if not the, biggest of the show. That said, Dishonored 2, which was properly announced, looks incredible. I have long said that a sequel was not a matter of if, but when, just because that first game was so amazing. It flew in under the radar and just was so much better than anything I expected. The sequel picks up from the first game, and adds in much more. The big reveal is that there is now a second playable character – Emily Kaldwin. If you played the first game, you are more than familiar with her – she’s a key figure in the game. Corvo will return as well, and will have a totally different set of powers. The story still is a bit of a mystery, but based around how good the first game was, I think we have nothing to worry about. It is still a ways off though, not coming out till next spring – but we are getting Dishonored this year. They did manage one surprise announcement – the Dishonored: Definitive Edition coming to Xbox One and PS4 this fall, containing the first game and all DLC. These sort of up-rezed and updated packages are great ways for players to refresh themselves with classic games from the last generation, and also help welcome new players in as well.

ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE AND LEGENDS
We got a quick look at whats going on with the Elder Scrolls franchise, at least that they’re willing to talk about. Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited just launched on the consoles last week, so instead of an in-person update, we got a video package. That makes total sense – they’re still dealing with keeping the launch stable. We did see that two new modules are being prepped for the game – the Imperial City and Orsinium.

That wasn’t the end of Elder Scrolls talk though. We then were treated to the news that Bethesda is stepping into the mobile market. This year they’ll be launching Elder Scrolls Legends, a strategy card game for iOS and Android. The best part – it’ll be free to play, just like all the other card games out there. The big question will be if it can really compete with Hearthstone.

Fallout 4 Box Art

FALLOUT 4, FALLOUT SHELTER AND JUST SO MUCH FALLOUT
We then got to the big name for this year – Fallout. The game was already announced, so we knew that we were looking at more concrete details. And boy did we get some. Let’s start with the fact that development started, in some way or form, all the way back in 2009, after Fallout 3. They took lessons from the success of Skyrim after that game launched as well to bring Fallout 4 to where it is today. Then we were treated to a wall of concept art – a TON of concept art, which I know fans are still pouring over for details that we might see in-game.

That’s all great, but we were definitely ready to talk actual game details. So we did – we started with a huge bit of news for the game. The game will actually start before the bombs fell – that house you see in the announcement trailer is your own house. That’s where the game will begin, where you make your character – using the new creator, that looks unbelievably easy to use – and where the story starts. This was the first glimpse we got of the new game engine – an updated version of Bethesda’s Creation engine, and man does it look good. Todd Howard talked about the new power of the current-gen consoles, and pointed out the memory increase. That tells me that one of my wishlist points is probably checked off – less loading with buildings.

In these first few minutes of the trailer we got a good look at the new dialogue system. Perhaps the biggest little detail in the dialogue we got was that there’s a really good chance your player name will actually be voiced. They’ve recorded about 1,000 names for players. That’s pretty damn cool.

Now, they didn’t talk too much about story. They did say that it starts pre-war, and that you emerge from the vault as the sole-survivor of Vault 111, 200 years later. That might not seem like a huge deal, but it really does answer a big question. 200 years after the bombs fell puts this game in the same time frame as Fallout 3. That’s pretty cool, since that puts this game in the same world as Fallout 3 and New Vegas, which helps players that have been around for a while find more little things to make the world even better.

The next big chunk of the video showed off the Dog from the trailer. The new companion mechanics look very similar to followers in Skyrim – contextual commands issued via the HUD/crosshairs. This section is also our first look at some combat – including the new take on V.A.T.S. Instead of freezing time like it used to, it just slows it down, and looks a little more fluid than before. The V.A.T.S. also ties in with the new PIP Boy – it’s gotten a lot of love since the last set of games. The menus are all animated now – from the Vault Boy icons, to the weapons themselves. We also learned that the armor is all layered now, adding in even more customization options for armor, as well as just adding in tons more options. We also learned that there are new meta-games that can be played in the PIP Boy. They look like they’re Fallout takes on classic games like Donkey Kong or Missile Command. It also ties in with the special edition – the PIP boy edition will come with an actual PIP boy to wear.

We then got a little break from Fallout 4 to announce the second screen app that will be coming out with the game for smart phones; as well as announcing Fallout Shelter, a free game for iOS. I grabbed it last night, since it launched after the show, but haven’t had a ton of time to really dig into it. It does look really cool – it’s basically a free game, with no micro transactions really necessary.

Back to the main game after that little break, this is when we got some huge details. Crafting has always been a part of Bethesda games – but usually consists of taking the materials, and just selecting a recipe on a menu. Not anymore. Just about every piece of junk in the game can be broken down into materials – much more in depth than before. You still will select from a menu, but it looks way, way deeper than it was; especially because the options are way wider. Armor, weapons, mods all are craftable, along with new things tied into the new settlements feature. It all looks really cool – and looks like players will be able to get out of it what they put in; since it’s all totally up to the player if they take part in it. I think depending on how much the settlements feature – where you create and build safe settlements, across the Boston wastes – is actually used in the game will determine just how much I dig into the crafting.

We ended the show with a pretty long trailer that was solely focused around combat. It’s kinda hard to really say for sure without playing, but it does look like it’s much more fluid than it ever was. And definitely looks faster paced, but still very much Fallout. After a good taste of the combat, the biggest detail of the night was given to us – the release date. Fallout 4 will be in our hands on Novemeber 10, 2015. These next few months are going to be long.

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The Root of the Question – Immersion

Dragon Age OriginsThe last two days I’ve posed a hypothetical question – if you had the power, which game worlds would be the best/worst ones to hop into and live in; as in actually be a part of. I came up with what I think is a pretty solid start to each list, although a question like this is always going to have lots of wiggle room. I’ll admit I was trying to keep most of my picks somewhat relevant to the current slate of games out there. There’s plenty of classic games that could fit into either category.

That said though, at the core of this whole discussion is one simple factor. How immersive is that game’s world? I think, regardless of which list you put the game on, if it’s in contention for either, that’s ultimately a good thing for the game. That means that the developers have crafted a world that draws you in in some way. That could be through dialogue and writing, it could be with the action of the game, or it could just be the aesthetics of the world. Regardless of whether actually living in that world would be nice and easy, or incredibly dangerous; the fact that the thought has even entered your brain is a win.

Thief

I say that like it’s a given with games these days. We seem to expect a rich, living environment for our games. As the industry has grown and matured, that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to expect. Not every game needs to be a super serious, gritty, mature title to achieve that though. And even beyond that, creating a world that feels alive and immersive is incredibly difficult. A good example is last year’s reboot of Thief. The game tried to do too much, and as a result, the world felt stiff. It was really noticeable compared with Dishonored, which managed to pull of a much more alive feeling world, while still trying to do very similar things. Both are set in very dystopian worlds, neither would exactly be fun to live in – although our rules stated we would be the main character, which would alleviate a lot of that; both are also structured around stealth mechanics, with some super natural added in. And yet, Thief fell a little short, thanks to a convoluted story, and really no impact to the world around you. Dishonored made every decision impact the whole of the world, which made the different play styles matter more, and in turn helped breathe life into the game world.

BioWare Logo

Which is why studios like BioWare and Bethesda always deserve a ton of credit for their hard work. BioWare’s two major current IPs – Mass Effect and Dragon Age – couldn’t be more different in setting. And yet both have the very same focus – story and character – to make the worlds feel alive, and thus draw the player in much more. Add in some character customization, superb writing and acting and solid action, regardless of control style; and you have not only an incredible world to play in, but a game that’s super fun to play. Bethesda does it a little differently. Story is still important, but it’s more through the little details that their worlds come to life. Giving every NPC a schedule that the keep makes going to the towns feel just like that. Having a reputation/crime system provides consequence for your actions – good or bad. It makes it very easy to get lost in the Role Playing nature of their games, regardless of whether it’s Fallout or Elder Scrolls.

Bethesda Softworks Logo

I think it’s very easy to look at the current state of gaming and say that the big determining factor for progress has been graphics. In just about 30 years we’ve come incredibly far, really quite fast. I don’t see it being a huge stretch to say that in the same period of time in the future we might get to see games that are as close to life like as any CGi movie is. But that’s not really where the growth has been, in my eyes. It helps it, sure, but really the growth is best shown in the increase in games with impact. We’ve gone from an industry where the best selling and most loved games are literally two-dimensional; to now one that craves stories with weight, characters with life and action with impact. All mass forms of entertainment have gone through this growth – movies, comics, books, TV, even music. It’s part of truly becoming mainstream, and earning our spot as part of the mass pop culture. We still have a very long way to go, just look at the last 6 months of gaming culture to see why; but I truly believe that we’ll get there eventually. And when we do, it’s going to be thanks to these games, where immersion is the key.

Wrapping Up the Xbox 360: The Best Games on the Console

Xbox 360 LogoOver the last couple weeks, I saw Game Informer put out a series of columns talking about the editors picks for the best ____ game of the last generation. They hit topics like best racing game, action game, PS3 game, overall game and 360 game. As the transition to the Xbox One and PS4 continues and the 360 and PS3 begin to truly become “last-gen,” I thought I would also look back at the console that I probably spent more time playing than any other before it. While I could narrow it down to just ten, I feel like that discounts a lot of very good games that I am a big fan of, so instead of just doing the same thing everyone else does, I’m just going to toss a whole bunch of games out there in no real order (save for the last two.)

ASSASSIN’S CREED II, BROTHERHOOD, and REVELATION
While there are three more Assassin’s Creed games that appeared on the 360, the Ezio trilogy is really where I think the series shines. The gameplay is much more refined and streamlined, the story is a very compelling one, told over the course of three different games, and this was really the point where the Desmond sections also started to actually mean something, and not just feel like they were arbitrarily breaking up the action. Plus Assassin’s Creed II was the first full game I every got every achievement in once I decided to start actively hunting them.

BioShock Cover

BIOSHOCK (SERIES)
A series that is both highly critically successful as well as commercially, and for good reason, the BioShock games were really important games that showed that shooters could still tell incredible stories, while still having solid action. The original BioShock still stands as one of my all time favorite games – the Plasmids adding in strategy and RPG elements to a shooter that already worked well, the enemies were unique, Big Daddies were terrifying and it still has one of the coolest settings in games in Rapture. The second game gets a bum rap as being a step backward, but I think that’s unfair – it’s more that it wasn’t as big a step forward as people expected. The single player is still really solid, but the multiplayer I think detracts from it a little. BioShock: Infinite on the other hand was a true return to form – incredibly heady story, engaging characters, action that played out perfectly and a new setting that still captured the same feeling as Rapture in Columbia.

BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM and ARKHAM CITY
Despite being an incredibly successful franchise in film and tv, Batman hadn’t ever translated well to games for whatever reason. Older gamers will remember an NES sidescroller that for whatever reason had the Batman wearing a bright purple suit. Rocksteady Games changed all that with Arkham Asylum though, hitting all of the important parts of the Batman mythos. The cast of characters all had the same feel that they did in the Emmy award winning cartoon series, there was a real sense of darkness about the Asylum, and Batman felt truly like a superhero. The corridors of the Asylum are tight, creating a really tense experience, requiring Batman to use his most important weapon – stealth. Arkham City took that same idea and bumped everything up to ten and beyond in some cases. Rocksteady has some guts to kill off the most important comic villain around – we’ll have to see how the Arkham arc will end next year in Arkham Knight.

Borderlands

BORDERLANDS SERIES
Mixing humor, action, RPG, co-op and random loot grabbing, the Borderlands games are a hard bunch to pin down. At their core they’re shooters – but then they really are also RPGs, doing both well. The series is built around four-player co-op, with random loot drops ensuring that players are always finding new weapons, grenades, shields and other goodies to use as they tackle all sorts of enemies. All of that would be well and good, but on top of all that, Gearbox and 2K have always made sure that the games are also really funny, never taking themselves too seriously at all. Both games in the series so far have been supported with awesome DLC and remain standouts on the console – with a third game on the way, during a time when most developers are pushing forward to the Xbox One, Borderlands; The Pre-Sequel should do really well on the 360.

CASTLE CRASHERS
The Xbox Live Arcade had been around really since the Original Xbox as a way for developers to put smaller games out to fans as direct downloads, at a lower price point. Until 2008, there really weren’t any major standouts, aside from Uno and Geometry Wars; but in the summer of 2008 (the first Summer of Arcade) the XBLA got a real shot in the arm. Spearheaded by Braid (a game that I actually never played for whatever reason) and Castle Crashers, the XBLA became a place for not only smaller developers to push games, but for really good games to live. Castle Crashers is still one of the better co-op games on the system – a terrific old-school beat em up with a unique art style, good music, and solid leveling process – but most importantly, it’s just a plain fun game.

Modern Warfare 2

CALL OF DUTY MODERN WARFARE, BLACK OPS SERIES
Activision really hit the lotto with the Call of Duty franchise this generation. I’ve talked a lot in the past about this franchise, both because it’s so popular and because I’m a big fan of the games, generally; so I won’t belabor the point too much here. Modern Warfare changed the shooter landscape, end of story. That group of three game blew sales records away, and changed the way that people played a multiplayer shooter. Black Ops took that new formula and applied a little different spin on it thanks to a different developer. Across the five games in the two series, I had more fun playing Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops 2, than any of the other entries.

DEAD SPACE
Survival Horror games were in a tricky spot going into this generation. At the end of the previous generation, Resident Evil 4 changed the game by giving the player way more control than ever before with the over-the-shoulder camera, but still had the horror present. After that, with the added control to increase the action, how could games truly be scary? Or at least that was the question before Dead Space came out. Even with a solid action system that made it easy to aim and attack the enemies, there was still plenty of terror to be found on the USG Ishimura. Instead of relying on tired and true zombies in space, Visceral came up with something much more horrifying – the necromorphs, and more to the point – the humans bent on turning everyone into them. It was a tense, dark, claustrophobic game that really helped invigorate the genre, and stands out as the best in the series.

Dishonored

DISHONORED
Every once in a while a game should shock you. Dishonored did that for me. I went in with muted expectations, but was totally blown away by the experience. A stealth game that did both stealth and action well? And didn’t punish you for choosing to play loud? Crazy talk, I thought. Of course, playing the game loudly may not have punished you explicitly, but through the “chaos” system in the game, you would make later levels harder or easier depending on how you played through. It’s a game that showed that stealth totally still works in games, and adding in the supernatural just made the game that much more engaging, helping you get to even more different routes to sneak around. Criminally we haven’t gotten a sequel yet, but I’m excited to see what one would entail on the Xbox One.

GRAND THEFT AUTO IV and V
Rockstar has always brought the very best with the series, and that was no different with the latest two offerings. It took me a while to really get into GTAIV, just because of how different it felt from GTAIII and Vice City, my favorites from the previous generation. Once I “got it’ though, IV became much more engaging than before, relying on using Niko as the main storytelling device – his backstory and conflicted morals really set the stage for a wonderfully designed final set of missions. Emotional, but still possessing the GTA trademark humor and freedom, it was a great step forward. With GTAV though, the real strengths come from a more refined control scheme, and the addition of a truly online world with GTA Online. You can play it online or off, either way there’s more to see than ever, but it doesn’t feel that overwhelming. That said, I think it’ll really shine when it launches on the Xbox One and PS4 this fall.

Halo 3

HALO SERIES
Not counting Halo 3: ODST or the Halo: CE Anniversary, Microsoft’s go-to franchise had three winners this generation. Going in, Halo 3 was set up to be a huge game, telling what we thought was the end of Master Chief’s story – we found out it was really just the end of the war with the Covenant. Giving players the ability to play four-player co-op, adding in the scoring meta-game, Forge maps – Halo 3 really was the game that players had been waiting for. Bungie had one hell of a farewell in store for us too with Halo: Reach which might be my pick for the best of the series on the 360. Forgoing relying on Master Chief to tell the story, Reach put the player into a Spartan that was their own – then we were forced to play through his last days thanks to a story that was intense, and really had some weight behind it.

Mass Effect

MASS EFFECT SERIES
BioWare was already a well-respected developer thanks to the Knights of the Old Republic and the Baldur’s Gate games going into the 360’s lifespan. In 2007 they took their already solid RPG elements and mixed them with a solid real-time third person shooter combat system, and together with a really solid story created Mass Effect. Over the course of the three games, we faced down the threat of the Reapers, and depending on who you talk to, tied up the story completely. While Mass Effect 3‘s ending got a lot of ire from the internet, I don’t think that is on BioWare at all – I actually thought the ending was totally fine. The idea that there would be hundreds of endings depending on your choices is just silly. The series still remains a favorite, each game feels different enough to distinguish themselves, and to me the best parts of the games remain the awesome characters that make up Shepards team.

Rock Band Blitz

ROCK BAND SERIES
The rhythm game genre came to a head pretty quickly during the 360’s lifespan, thanks mainly to Activision pushing their Guitar Hero games out far too fast and flooding the market. On the other side was Rock Band a series that Harmonix took a different approach with. Featuring full band gameplay and strong on-disc setlists for each game, Rock Band really brought the genre back to the beginning – party games. Getting people together and playing songs that everyone knows and loves. Instead of releasing new games every year (or in some cases, quicker) Harmonix went with a smarter route – release a few new songs every week. There was weekly DLC for the series from November 20, 2007 straight through to April 2, 2013. That’s over 5 years of uninterrupted DLC – and a whole mess of songs, 1,689 to be exact. The variety in the songs ensure that everyone can find some that they love, and that’s why I still play the games to this day. Plus there’s nothing quite like nailing a tough solo in a great song and getting that 100% completion.

SAINTS ROW SERIES
When the Xbox 360 launched, there really wasn’t anything along the lines of a Grand Theft Auto style sandbox game. Rockstar’s series was seen as almost untouchable at that point, thanks to the success of the PS2 era games. But in 2006 along came Volition with a little game called Saints Row. It wasn’t trying to be GTA – instead it took the basic formula, added in a pretty robust customization system, a story based around rebuilding the Saints respect, and it took off. The first game wasn’t quite as insanely over the top as the later games got, but still featured a strong sense of humor that didn’t take itself too serious. As the series progressed, the gameplay was refined, expanded and the story pushed over-the-top. As much fun as the series is, I worry about the future, just based around my thoughts with Saints Row IV – which I felt wasn’t nearly the game it could have been. I hope that was just because of the mess that the THQ bankruptcy was.

Now for the games that I think are the absolute best on the console:

Oblivion

ELDER SCROLLS and FALLOUT SERIES
Bethesda has really gotten it right this past generation. They were there way back at the start with Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which might just be my favorite game on the 360, and they were there for what a lot of people say is the best with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In between they put out two more absolutely amazing games with Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. At their core, the four games are very similar – First Person RPGs with a strong emphasis on freedom, it’s in the details that differentiate them (obvious setting differences aside). All the games feature huge game worlds to explore that truly feel lived in – NPC’s follow set routines depending on the day of the week, different factions behave differently when they interact with each other, the world itself is alive (or as alive as the Fallout world allows for). And once you get past the initial starter dungeons, you have 100% free reign on what to do.

Fallout 3 Cover

Want to tackle the main storyline right away? Go for it. Feel like wandering aimlessly around the world, fighting and looting? No problem. One area that that freedom is more standout in the Elder Scrolls games is the amount of sidequest options. In Fallout the sidequests are more limited to single quests scattered about the Wasteland. In Oblivion though for example, you can work your way up through the ranks of the Imperial Arena, or become the Arch Mage of the Mages’ Guild. The sheer volume of different things you can tackle in the Elder Scrolls games really makes them almost unending. I’ve been playing Oblivion – through two characters – since I got in 2006 and am just now going through and finishing the main storylines, after sinking well over 200 hours across them, and that’s on the low end for players. I cannot wait to see what Bethsda has in store for us – Fallout 4 is supposedly in development right now, and I would expect to hear more about it in the next year. As for Elder Scrolls VI – well we just have to keep waiting, it will most likely be after Fallout 4 has it’s run, but knowing Bethsda it will be a huge undertaking.

More Classic Series That Deserve Some Attention

Last week I talked about 10 specific series that I feel really need a new entry. Continuing that thought process a little more today, I have a few more franchises that haven’t seen action in at least a couple years, and deserve to get new games or in some cases, remakes/HD updates. There really isn’t any order with these, just games I enjoy playing, even today.

Dishonored

Dishonored
This is probably the closest to a cop-out I have – there was DLC for this game within the last year after all. But for my purposes here, I am disappointed that there hasn’t been any real talk of a true sequel yet. Bethesda mentioned back in 2012, after the sales were strong, that they intended to develop the game into a franchise – two years later (which seems like an eternity in gaming these days) and still no news. I was hoping maybe at E3 to see something, but I think we’re stuck waiting at least another year for news.

Decap Attack

Decap Attack
Decap Attack is a weird one to explain – it’s a platformer about a mummy with no head, but a face in his chest, doing the usual platformer fair – saving the world. The art style was really cool, there was the right style of humor to go along, and the gameplay itself was really strong. It was included in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on the 360, which is great, but I think it needs a true HD update, like what Earthworm Jim got, and a solo release on the digital markets (PSN, XBLA, and Virtual Console) to get the ball rolling on maybe a sequel.

Vectorman

Vectorman
Another fantastic game from the Genesis, this game actually did get a sequel that was just as good as the first. Both are also included on that Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, but again, I’d really like to see them on the Arcade for download separate from the collection. They’re good examples of platformer/shooters that had really unique art direction, and had great gameplay to back it up. I think they would look pretty incredible with an HD update, and thanks to the revival of classic 2D games, I think a third game would do well.

Gunstar Heroes

Gunstar Heroes
One of my all time favorite games, and my favorite game on the Genesis hands down. Treasure had a really great gameplay system in place with this one – switching weapons and combining the different shot types let you fine-tune the way you play. Plus, in typical shoot-em-up fashion, there are a ton of enemies on screen at a time, and lots of bosses to fight through. Add in a great soundtrack, and I still say you have an all time classic. The good news is that it is available on the 360, PS3 and Wii’s digital marketplaces, for a good price no less. There’s a GBA remake/sequel out there too, but no true sequel, which is a travesty.

Bloody Roar

Bloody Roar
While I’m not a huge fighting game fan, mainly because I’m pretty bad at them, I do have a fondness for the old Bloody Roar series. As far as fighting games go, they weren’t the smoothest combo based games, nor were they the best special move based ones. What they had was a pretty neat gimmick where each character can transform into an anthropomorphic creature, with a good variety in the animals they can change into. The last installment came out in 2003, and while Hudson Soft closed down a few years back, I think there’s probably an audience for a reboot of the series, especially if they approach it similar to how Killer Instinct did on the Xbox One.

Shadows Of The Damned

Shadows of the Damned
Another pretty strange game, but one with really great gameplay behind it. The story is a little odd, and full of more dick jokes than any game outside of Saints Row; but the game still somehow manages to be serious enough to really dig into it. The oddness really shouldn’t be a surprise though, since it’s a Suda 51 game. I had never played this game until Ray from Achievement Hunter talked it up a lot, and I’m very glad I played it. With Suda busy working on his new zombie game, it’ s unlikely we’ll see a sequel anytime soon, which is already rare with Suda games.

There are a ton more games and series out there that I know need to see a little more updated attention, but these were the ones that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Next week’s post will probably be Wednesday or Thursday, as I will be playing the Destiny Beta starting Wednesday and want to sink my teeth in it before I put any words to print about it.

The Only Non-PS4 Blog You’ll See Today

Well, November is finally hitting stride – today is the official launch of the PlayStation 4. Of course we all have decisions to make in life, and I decided to stick with the Xbox brand for now, so next Friday when the Xbox One launches, I’ll probably have my initial impressions out; but for now, since I’m still playing the current gen, I want to take a quick last look back at the games that really, if you haven’t played, you’re missing out. Not necessarily a Top 10 list, but just a list of games that you really need to play. I should point out, I’m mainly talking Xbox 360 here today, only because that’s what I’m most familiar with.

Xbox 360 LogoFirst off, lets look at some shooters that seriously, you need to play. Going back a few years, if you missed Halo 3, which was just free On Demand, you really owe it to yourself to play it. I think it’s the best Halo title since the first game myself. Don’t get me wrong, Reach and Halo 4 were both fun, but the third game just has something else about it I always loved. Next, obviously the Call of Duty titles – all the Modern Warfare games are fun, the story is actually pretty damn strong, as is the case with Black Ops. I know Ghosts just came out, but I’ve been enjoying it so far – we’ll have to see how it holds up over time though. Both Battlefield: Bad Company games were also pretty damn good, adding in a real story to the Battlefield formula that they tried to replicate with Battlefield 3, but really, that’s a multiplayer game. Still fun though.Getting a little away from the big three, I enjoyed Far Cry 3 a bunch, at least until the ending kinda turned me off of the game.

Halo 3

Looking more at games where story and narrative are the focus, if for whatever reason you missed Borderlands, Fallout, BioShock, Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect or Dishonored, you really need to go back and play each game in those series. Both Borderlands games are great four-player RPG/shooters with a good story, and humor to keep you engaged. Fallout 3 might just be my favorite game of the generation, and New Vegas was a great follow up. The first BioShock honestly gives Fallout 3 a run for that title though, and Infinite was a fantastic experience this year. All three Mass Effect games tell a really unique story, with strong characters and action, and honestly, the ending has always been 100% fine to me. I also always kind of felt that Dishonored slipped through the cracks a little bit last year, but it really is a really amazing experience. And honestly if you missed either Oblivion or Skyrim, I have no idea what you were playing, because they’re two incredibly games, both gameplay-wise and also in terms of the setting and immersion that they present.

Dishonored

For a few more games that you really need to play before you upgrade, try out the Darksiders games – really awesome story and setting for a hack-and-slash adventure game. Or Dead Island – four player FPS/RPG combo with zombies and melee combat that is actually a lot of fun. Or the Dead Space games – the first two are probably the best horror games of this generation. The no brainers – GTA IV and V – are probably already in your collection, but if not, go play them for sure; Rockstar did a wonderful job crafting living cities for you to play around in. Also play the Rock Band or Guitar Hero games – there really isn’t a much better feeling than strapping on that plastic guitar and shredding a solo with friends. For a no effort, huge reward experience, pick up some of the LEGO games – I played LEGO Batman and LEGO Lord of the Rings, and I will pick up LEGO Marvel on the Xbone. If you like the GTA style games, but want the game to just not give a shit about being serious at all, play the Saints Row games, the fourth entry is the weakest for sure, but they really are a lot of fun still. And if you want to play one of the better reboots out there, Tomb Raider from this year was a really great game – solid story telling and emotional impact with Lara feeling human now. Or if you like your detectives more hero-like, the Arkham games were some of the best of the generation for sure.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

But if you pick up only one game I recommend to play before you upgrade to the next-gen, make it the Transformers: War for Cybertron or Fall of Cybertron games. I don’t think they ever really got the attention they deserved, because in general Transformers games haven’t been good, but these two games definitely bucked that trend. Great campaign, and a really fun multiplayer mode made for a really fun trip down memory lane, and the gameplay actually backs it up.

Now, enough dilly-dallying, get to playing so we can all upgrade and get the next-gen really kicked off.