Thursday, 18 June 2015

[Feature] E3 2015 -- Dan's Highlights

10.) South Park: The Fractured But Whole

South Park: The Stick of Truth was a downright successful love note to fans of the TV series. The Fractured But Whole (heh, heh) looks to provide just as much love for the fans. I trust that Matt and Trey will deliver the goods once again.

9.) Sea of Thieves

We don't really know too much about this based on the trailer alone other than to say it's a Pirate game, but it is being made by Rare so it has my attention.

8.) Recore

Recore came out of nowhere and definitely was one of the bigger surprises at Microsoft's conference. The game is being directed by famed Megaman creator Keiji Inafune and developed by a team consisting of people who previously worked on the Metroid Prime series. Fantastic, you have my complete and utter attention. Can't wait to see more of this in the near future.

7.) Unravel

Very much has a LittleBigPlanet aesthetic going for it and it looks kind of adorable. Cool, I'm intrigued.

6.) Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

I'm just going to let the video below do the talking since it says everything that needs to be said way better than I ever could...

5.) Super Mario Maker

LittleBigPlanet by the way of Mario...only it looks far more accessible to build levels and features Nintendo characters instead...fantastic!!! An instant must-buy for me.

4.) Final Fantasy VII Remake

Oh Square-Enix, what masters of trolling you have become. Talk about your "Holy S**t" moments, well this was one for the ages. Let's call it redemption after that horrible disappointment from last year's PlayStation Experience event where Square-Enix trolled us all. It's happening Final Fantasy fans, it's finally happening. I feel your glee.

3.) Horizon

Of all the new IP's announced this past week, it was Guerilla's Horizon that stood out the most. The best way to describe it based on the first trailer is to call it Monster Hunter. Only the monsters have been replaced with Robot-Dinosaurs. What struck me the most is just how polar opposite this game looks in tone by comparison to Guerilla's prior franchise, Killzone. The drab grey tone of dour-industrialism is gone and in its place is a focus on rich colour where nature has reclaimed its domain in this distant post-apocalyptic setting. Where human survivors battle Robot-Dinosaurs in what looks to be an epic fight for survival. Bring on 2016 as Horizon looks like it could be a complete blast to play.

2.) The Last Guardian

After 7 long years in development hell, Fumito Ueda's The Last Guardian finally re-surfaced taking the opening spot at Sony's conference. It most definitely has the Team ICO aesthetic written all over it. It's art style is consistent with both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, the Dog-Bird is absolutely adorable, and in every conceivable way it looks like it's set to recapture the same magic that made both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus beloved classics. Welcome back Team ICO, welcome back.

1.) Shenmue III

It's real, oh my freaking god, it's real! Never in a million years did I think that I would ever hear that glorious theme music on an E3 stage again, but I'll be damned, it happened. It took just three notes of that music combined with a single cherry blossom peddle falling from the sky for me to lose my mind. Shenmue III is real! During Sony's press conference, Yu Suzuki came out on stage and announced his intent to start a Kickstarter campaign to help Shenmue III become a reality.

Within mere minutes of its launch, Kickstarter's website crashed under intense server traffic. Another 8 hours later and the campaign reached its $2,000,000 goal. Currently, the campaign sits healthfully at $3,000,000 with 30 days remaining. Making this the most successful campaign that Kickstarter has ever promoted.

So why did Shenmue III top this list? The first reason is obvious. I am a massive Shenmue fan (yes, I'm one of those "crazies"). I was hooked right from the very get-go when the original game released on the Dreamcast way back when. For its time, the game was unlike anything else out on the market. It's cinematic aspirations were breathtaking. It's graphics were mind blowing, it's attention to detail remained unrivaled for almost an entire console generation. But perhaps most importantly, the narrative was the real draw for its fans. Not only was it an epic quest of a young man seeking vengeance for his fallen father, but it was a coming of age story.

It was bold, daring and uncompromising in its vision. However, it was not without its issues. The glacial methodical pacing of the first game helped divide audiences right down the middle. For those who loved it, they were rewarded with something unique and something that no other game has ever really matched.

Shenmue II left fans with an unresolved narrative as the game ended on a cliffhanger. When the Dreamcast met its untimely death in 2001, Shenmue II was ported to the original Xbox leaving fans with some renewed hope that it would open the doors for part III. But due to poor sales, Shenmue III never saw the light of day.

14 years laters and the fans still carry the torch. Holding on to a glimmer of hope that somehow, someway Director Yu Suzuki could revive the franchise and give the narrative long due closure. After 14 years of waiting, E3 2015 finally delivered and gave Shenmue fans the early Christmas gift they have been waiting so patiently for and it was nothing short of glorious.

My fandom for Shenmue is not the only reason it topped this list. Shenmue III's announcement was a true left-of-field "holy s**t" surprise. Something that E3 has lacked for the past couple of years. If nothing else, it was the impossible dream becoming a reality.

The announcements of Shenmue III and Final Fantasy VII: Remake were dreams come true for their respective fanbases. Never in a million years did I realistically expect to hear that theme music on an E3 stage again, but that's what makes E3 so damn great. It's moments like these that bring out real emotion and passion. Don't believe me? Then check out this one reaction video.

It's moments like these that make E3 week so damn good.

-- Daniel M



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