Well, the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo wrapped up a few days ago and it was definitely a memorable one for quite a few reasons. There was plenty of exciting news from the world of video games, as well as the typical head-scratcher or two. As with most E3s, there were far too many games shown and announcements made to possibly be able to cover everything in a single post, so I went ahead and condensed it down to a more easily digestible dozen for you. So without further ado, here are the top 12 highlights I have selected that were either unveiled or reconfirmed at the event.
There's something you should probably know about me before we dive into this review. I grew up a Sega kid. While my friends were all playing their Nintendos and Super Nintendos, I was cutting my proverbial gaming teeth with the Master System and Genesis. As you might expect, this led to me quickly becoming a pretty avid Sega enthusiast, as I still am today. Granted, as time went on, I came to eventually love Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft as well, but deep down, my heart still beats for Sega.
It should come as no surprise, then, that when Sumo Digital's 2010 masterpiece, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, came out, I consumed it with a ravenous hunger; and it was good. So good, in fact, that I actually consider it to be one of my favorite games of all time. For my money, it beats all others - I'm not just talking about copycat cart racers, the Mario Kart games as well. Some may disagree with that statement, but I will happily and convincingly tell them why they are wrong.
Sumo Digital's 2012 follow-up, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, was also a thoroughly enjoyable affair, but it came nowhere close to reaching the lofty heights of greatness as the criminally-underrated original. It had exciting things to offer, sure (new fan favorite all-stars, amazing new stages, a cool transformation mechanic), but the graphics were lacking a bit by comparison and the gameplay was plagued by some pretty awful rubber-banding that unfortunately couldn't be turned off (unlike in the first game). It just seemed to lack the same level of care and attention to detail as the original. Which brings us, now, to the third entry in the series...
In the late summer of 1998, Cartoon Network began airing episodes of an obscure (in the US at the time) nine-year-old anime series called Dragon Ball Z. The show was an immediate hit. In fact, so immense was its popularity, that it nearly single-handedly brought anime (and manga) into the mainstream in America. When I was introduced to the series in the early autumn of '99, I was instantly hooked. Watching DBZ became a daily afternoon ritual with my buddy at the time. And I didn't stop there. Over the next few years I amassed a small collection of Dragon Ball Z paraphernalia including t-shirts, posters, action figures, and even VHS tapes and DVDs.
The first licensed video game to come out following the show's US debut was the Dimps-developed fighting game, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai. After it came to the GameCube in 2003, I pretty much jumped at the chance to try it out. After all, if there ever existed a property just screaming for a truly awesome fighting game adaptation, it was Dragon Ball Z. Sadly, however, Dimps wasn't quite up to the task.
Budokai was a bit of a let down. It didn't really do proper justice to the series. Despite this fact (and the tepid reviews), Dimps was allowed to go right on churning out a slew of lackluster, half-hearted sequels, year after year, for well over a decade. With so many titles that lacked even so much as a hint of additional effort or enthusiasm from Dimps, and no sign of a developer change on the horizon, it seemed like Dragon Ball Z was doomed to an eternity of uninspired shovelware video games.
In 1994, after years of jealously playing Sega Genesis games at other people's houses (Sonic the Hedgehog, in particular), I finally decided to plunk down the allowance I'd managed to save up and buy the system for myself. I only took two games home with me that day and they were both Sonic titles, Sonic Spinball (a pack-in game that was included with the system) and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Despite the fact that Sonic 2 had already been available for two years by that point, I hadn't actually had the opportunity to play it yet, myself.
When I got home and popped it into my shiny new Genesis, I was mesmerized. Seeing that beautiful Emerald Hill Zone level was just like the first time I had seen the Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1, a few years earlier. Both times, I was blown away. The first Sonic game had turned the gaming world completely upside down, and the second, not only managed to recapture that same magic, but improve on it enough to stand on its own. But while the other great Sonic games from those Genesis days (Sonic 3, Sonic CD, and Sonic & Knuckles) were all more or less equally good, none of those games could really manage to pull off quite that same awe-inspiring first impression.
In the time since those 2-D glory days, many other Sonic games have come to many other consoles. Many have come in 3-D, some in 2, and some have even featured a mix of both; and while certain titles may have been arguably better than others, not one of them has even come close to reaching the lofty heights of the originals. None of them, that is, until now...
Well the headline says it, I love this game. "But why Scroo? We need to know." I hear none of you asking but I'm going to tell you anyway. Below is my review for yet another game I played and praise a lot. Read more
I want to tell you that Capcom has delivered yet again. I want to tell you that Street Fighter V is a worthy successor to Street Fighter IV in nearly every respect. I want to tell you that you should go out and buy this game as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I cannot.
Our friends over at Videogamer.com recently found out that the PS5 will allow developers to build “far more interactive worlds” than with the current generation of consoles. That’s some quality journalism over there (actually it’s based on an EDGE article), but why stop with the PS5? So let me present to you:
Why the PlayStation 6 will allow far more dynamic, interactive AND intimate gaming experiences than the PlayStation 5.
You weren’t expecting a living and breathing city, did you? If so, you’ll be in for a disappointment. Every now and then you’ll encounter a police car chasing someone, but otherwise it’s mostly thugs and some plants that make up the biological diversity in Gotham. Can’t have Batman accidentally kill some innocent bystander while he travels around in one of the new additions to the game: The Batmobile.
I'm pretty sure at least 2 people died during this scene ...when I did a burnout on their faces
This is not without reason. Scarecrow has two more hidden roles in this story. One becomes very obvious early on through the side effect his fear toxin has on Batman. The second one is to keep you guessing, questioning the “reality” Batman experiences.
In a way, he is acting as a sort of psychiatrist to Batman, and the fact that, despite him being the direct threat to the city, he’s still only a delivery tool for the more intricate bits of story, is a clear testament to the writers understanding of the world and the intelligence that went into crafting this final adventure of Batman. Sadly, this doesn’t help Scarecrow’s underdeveloped character fill the main antagonist shoes and urgency in dealing with him is something that you probably won’t experience much of.
Still: The reveal of who’s behind the mask? Underwhelming. The person beneath it? No surprise. The timing of the reveal? Not working in its favor. It’s astonishing when you think about how little time the game spends on a character whom it gives three or four boss fights. The Knight is great as a character concept, but there just isn’t a whole lot of character in him at the end of a game that wears his name.
Still, the way they are sewn into the underlying open world game play fabric is to be commended. Every villain serves as a master of ceremonies for a unique set of side missions. Be it stopping Two-Faces goons from robbing banks, incl. an interesting twist on the stealth mechanics, beating up Penguins henchmen with Nightwing, doing some detective work to discover who’s behind a serial murder case, or chasing down Firefly in your Batmobile. All of those do a great job at keeping the game from becoming stale. A special shout-out goes to Hush, who has an amazing role to play in this game, easily beating out everyone else when it comes to twists.
The collectibles? Screw that. Even if we don’t count the over the top amount of Riddler Trophies (and yes, you need to collect all for the complete ending), there are too many watch towers to “climb”, mines to destroy and guarded checkpoints to clear. Even worse: new ones spawn throughout the story and they don’t show up on the map at all unless you’ve found them previously, or the “police” discovered them (which happens about once every full moon or so). It took me about an hour to find the last 2 mines and it was the second worst time I had in the game.
The Batmobile consists of two flavors put into one sexy package. First off, the traditional role: The Bat-car. It’s fast and gets you around. You’ll need some time until you’ve mastered the steering, but once you do, it’s the fastest option to get from point A to point B. I suspect that Rocksteady is using some sort of guided steering, which makes it feel rather awkward at first, but I never really had any problems with it besides one instance that we’ll discuss shortly. The most offensive thing about it is the engine sound. It’s like a mid 90’s Honda Civic motor stuck into a modern supercar.Depending on controller configuration, pressing/holding a button switches you into mode of operation #2: The Bat-Tank. That thing is a beast …on a vegan diet. Keeping with the spirit of Batman, you are of course not allowed to kill. Thank god the Arkham Knight is so technically advanced and uses remote controlled tank drones. Why he never thought about strapping some goons on those tanks remains a mystery.
I wonder how Batman would have handled that situation, if he couldn't just blow up the tanks.
It’s a fun, mindless, almost zen inducing game play loop every now and then, breaking up the “monotony” of punching bad guys, but tends to outstay its welcome. Especially later on, when you deal with up to 50 enemy tanks, spawning in waves. At this point, it would have needed some deeper mechanics. And don’t get me started on the stupidity of the pseudo-stealth “boss fights” you have with that thing. It’s fun once, not 3 or 4 times.
But that alone possibly can’t be where the frustration about the Batmobile stems from, right? No, most people would probably still be fine with that. The real problem is that it’s everywhere, often feeling shoehorned in. You use the tank for platforming puzzles. Do I need to say more? It also doesn’t help that the worst parts in the game all happen while you are behind the wheel.
Not sure if Rocksteady planned for things like this, but it's still great if you pull it off.
It’s not all bad however. Again, driving works well, the change of perspective is nice (would have loved a real cockpit view though), tank combat is fun every now and then, there are some fun riddles and challenges revolving around it, and you will experience some great scripted and emergent gameplay moments thanks to it.
The FEAR takedowns are new to the series and allow you to take out multiple opponents. Nobody knows how they work, but the guy at the end shows that quantum physics are probably involved somehow.
It’s not the best entry in the series, but still the second best Batman game ever. Full recommendation from me.
For a more in-depth analysis of the gameplay mechanics and an opposite point of view, make sure to hop by Cody’s review.