By: Jeb Haught
Video games used to be considered a childish endeavor, but the average age of modern gamers is 37 years old. In addition, a whopping 72 percent of American households play video games! With such a large audience, it’s not surprising to discover that the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the largest gaming conference in the world. I had the pleasure of attending this year’s show in Los Angeles, and the following games were the highlight of my experience.
Action games don’t get any better than Bethesda’s open-world futuristic title, “RAGE,” for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. With a large selection of customized weapons and armed vehicles, this title will surely please both shooter and racing fans. Players encounter all types of enemies ranging from humans to mutants to gigantic monsters in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world. In addition, challenging A.I., which differs dramatically for each enemy type, forces players to adapt in order to survive.
Modern warfare fans will surely salivate at the mere sight of EA’s first-person shooter, “Battlefield 3,” on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. This incredibly gorgeous game features destructible buildings as well as awesome infantry and vehicular combat on gigantic battlefields. Firefights are very intense when chunks of concrete rain down on players and enemies blow away their cover. These destructible environments affect each battle differently, which alters the standard play style found in most FPS games.
Activision’s “Spider-Man: Edge of Time” for the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 dabbles with the concept of time-based causality. Players control the amazing Spider-Man in present day as well as Spider-Man 2099 in … well, you can figure it out. Both web-heads share the same basic move set with subtle variations and can communicate with each other through time. Through certain actions, present-day Spider-Man can alter the future, while the 2099 mutant must adapt to these changes.
Batman returns in Warner Bros.’ “Batman: Arkham City” for the PS3 and Xbox 360. When the former warden of Arkham Asylum becomes the mayor of Arkham city, he has a giant section walled off. Batman is called in to protect the area and subsequently encounters the Joker, Two-Face, the Penguin, Harlequin and countless minions. Fortunately, he can now perform double and triple takedowns and combine gliding with the grapnel gun for maximum maneuverability. Players will also be able to control the unpredictable Catwoman in certain areas.
If you think download games aren’t worth their time, you will change your tune after playing Warner Bros.’ “Bastion” on Xbox Live. This action RPG features both ranged and melee weapons as the hero attempts to build a safe haven from the ashes of a dying world. Giant blocks quickly drop from above to form platforms and structures as levels are literally constructed before the player’s eyes. Exceptional narration rounds out this unexpected gem.
From Ubisoft, “Driver: San Francisco” offers high-octane action for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Get behind the wheel of over 100 licensed vehicles, including muscle cars, sports cars, sedans, trucks and tractor-trailers. Players will feel the adrenaline kick in as they experience thrilling car chases and huge jumps in a realistic recreation of the infamous city by the bay! A cool new feature called “shift” allows players to leave their vehicle and enter other vehicles to help them complete objectives.
Capcom enters the open-world, action RPG arena with their fantasy-based title, “Dragon’s Dogma,” for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Players begin by choosing a class and then progress through each level with the aid of a “pawn.” Deep customization options let players tailor their hero to suit their play style, and the pawn is also upgradeable. Temporary pawns can be summoned to round out the party, and all pawns can be given basic commands. Forming a strong fighting group will be necessary to defeat hordes of enemies and giant bosses in combat.
On the PS3, Sony plans to unleash the infantry and vehicular-based action title, “Starhawk” (the sequel to “Warhawk”). In addition to vastly improved infantry combat, this fast-paced game now allows players to construct a wide variety of buildings on the fly, including energy generators, supply bunkers, walls and vehicle bays. As a result, none of the single or multiplayer levels ever play out the same way. One of my favorite additions is the ability to pilot a giant mech that transforms into a flying machine.
Sony’s “Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One” may have cartoon visuals, but the addictive game play will satisfy fans of all ages! Featuring a deep storyline, lots of humor, wacky weapons and full-sized levels, this four-player coop title resembles others in the popular series. Unlike most coop games, “All 4 One” stresses team play instead of competition. For example, if one player falls in battle, his or her character must be resurrected or all players are reset to the nearest spawn point.
Fans of “the little plumber that could” will definitely flock to play Nintendo’s “Super Mario 3-D” on the 3DS. This fun-filled game lets players see environments in 3-D, which makes them easier to navigate. Developers have taken the liberty to hide items behind objects and make levels that stress the use of roaming around in 3-D. Players will feel familiar performing rolling somersaults and dashing, while alternate versions of the plumber, like Tanooki Mario, offer additional maneuvers to conquer challenging levels.
Anyone who thinks most games coddle to the player will appreciate the action RPG, “Dark Souls,” by Namco Bandai. This extremely challenging PS3 and Xbox 360 game will test the player’s skills and patience, but the sense of accomplishment gained with success is unparalleled. As the developers stressed, “Expect to die frequently while playing this game.” Players feeling particularly unfriendly can actually invade other player’s games and attack them on sight.
The highly successful “Tomb Raider” series has received a “reboot” and will be available on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Square Enix decided to create a prequel that stars a younger, more vulnerable Lara Croft that doesn’t resemble the perfect, mega-heroine portrayed in the movies. Environmental puzzles and exploration are still the main focus, but Lara can use her new Survival Mode to highlight objects in the area where she can interact. In addition, enemy encounters are much more personal and stress her inexperience as a spelunker.
Editor’s Note: Photos from the video games “Battlefield 3” and “Dark Souls” are included with this column.
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM