Christ trying to pay attention to E3 is exhausting. It won’t surprise you to know that I’m the sort of person who’d only attend the actual expo if I was painting targets for the Luftwaffe. But even going into it with the intention to make snarky put downs of all the games that hundreds of people spent shitloads of time and money creating just leaves me feeling old and worn out. I mean, I do love video games. They’re the best! I love ‘em so much I try to play one for a living! But I can’t muster positive sentiment for games that do not, as of yet, exist. Currently all we have are cunningly tailored lies, spun by wicked marketeers who never learned the true meaning of Christmas, doing all they can to secure enough preorders and first week sales to keep the infernal carnivale going for another year. It just goes to show that anything truly good in this world will inevitably fall to the cunt brigade, to be defiled and broken, repackaged to the next generation who will surely despise us.
I suppose what’s truly frustrating about E3 is that it’s too easy to be cynical about it. You can get worked up about the endless fucking sequels and techy catchwords and the appalling displays of adulation showered upon Satan’s chosen and their hack colleagues (currently submitting my entry for a segment next year where Geoff Keighley and Hideo Kojima are thrown into a pit of sharks, lions, bears and tigers). Or you can just ignore it and get on with your day. Unfortunately, the former makes for better writing so here goes.
ANTHEM BY BIOWARE
Oh poor Bioware. You’ve fallen such a ways, haven’t you? Remember when you guys were the king shits of the epic RPG adventure? Sure they all had the same basic plot of being a figure of destiny who’s either a cool dude or a bad dude who must unite the realms to defeat the apocalyptic hordes. But you had soul and wit and verve and character and a bunch of other things that The Witcher 3 would go on to do so much better. Then Mass Effect: Andromeda tanks so hard you’re forced to lay off half your staff and now you’re stuck trying to make EA’s answer to The Division/Destiny, a fucking doomed proposition if ever I heard one. We’re good for four player cooperative shooters, we’re very spoiled for those right now thank you, what we’d like is something with a bit of personality.
And not the fucking fake personalities you have on display here. Would it be so hard to just record a playtest group taking on a piece of Alpha content in a natural setting? Remember that video the EVE Online guys put out that was just people playing their game and having the time of their lives? Remember how genuine it was, quite possibly on account of having been entirely genuine? The only positive I can say is at least the facial animations don’t look retarded. Good work there guys, you plugged the one gaping hole we were going to look for, too bad about having a colander for a vessel.
WOLFENSTEIN: THE NEW COLOSSUS BY MACHINE GAMES
If you’ve not played Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolf: The Old Blood then I want you to scoop out your testicles and promise me that you’ll sew them back on only after you’ve rectified this issue. Trust me, it’s worth it, just put them in some ice or something. It’s a bizarre alchemy what makes up these new ones. They take a concept as schlocky as Nazi super-science having achieved world domination, play it completely straight and as nightmarish as I’m sure the real 1960’s probably already were, and somehow not have massive tonal problems. Series mainstay BJ Blaskowicz is built like three John Cena’s duct taped together and murders Nazi’s with the sort of ferocity my dad has for yelling at the TV and yet still comes across as fundamentally likeable, fragile and sympathetic. This isn’t how it’s supposed to work, but god bless you Machine Games, you glorious wizards.
Anyway they’re making a new one. BJ’s gotta take America back from the Nazi invaders. Sure, why not. It’s a little embarrassing to hear the line “You take freedom away from the American people you’re playing with fire” but then it shows footage of a wheelchair bound BJ rolling around gorily slaying the supposed master race. The illegal immigrants may have taken our jobs they haven’t taken our sense of humour. Incidentally, what’s with this, Far Cry 5 and Homefront: The Revolution being about taking ‘Murica back? Normally I’d get more worked up about this recent trend of American jingoistic wank-a-thons but considering you guys had to choose between Hillary or Donald I suppose the nation sure could do with some of that right now.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R REMAKE, BY 4A GAMES
Looks ok. I guess. Dunno why they’ve called it Metro: Exodus though. It’s nice all the wildlife in this definitely not at all scripted gameplay footage made sure to roar when the player had to reload. What a forgiving place a heavily irradiated Moscow has turned out to be. Bit rude of you to steal Fallout 3’s memorable ‘emerging from the dark underground’ landscape shot though, you cheeky buggers.
Now I understand gameplay trailers are in vogue now ever since an innocent public had to go through what I believe is known as the Dead Island incident, but then No Man’s Sky happened and we can’t trust gameplay trailers either. I kinda think they should go back to the cinematic style, or do what Wolf: TNC did and do a mix of both. Ya gotta give us something we’re gonna talk about and 5 minutes of some Muscovite stumbling around after a vodka heavy evening having disagreements with the local fauna doesn’t really do that. Still, I’m probably gonna play it. It’s called Metro and I’m a sheep for that sort of thing. Baaaaaaa.
GOD OF WAR 4(?) BY SIE SANTA MONICA STUDIO
What happened to you Kratos? You used to be cool. The Kratos I feel in love with, well, admired from a distance, well, nervously appreciated while no-one else was looking was the kinda guy who would refuse to star in a game that would spend 5 consecutive seconds without a gruesome slaying or an exposed titty. It takes 2 whole minutes into this new trailer before you see some blood. When you do it’s hardly enough to fill an ashtray. And it’s on his fucking kid, not Kratos! So instead of being a juvenile celebration of gratuity and excess, God of War has now become the videogame equivalent of Oscar bait. It’s the story of an emotionally jaded and darkly violent man going on an odyssey with an impressionable youth, no doubt with a scene where the lad must take his first life and it’ll be SO FUCKING DRAMATIC YOU GUYS.
Look, my beef with God of War isn’t that they’re trying to do a good honest piece of dramatic storytelling with one of gaming’s beloved antiheroes. Well, ok it kind of is. I just can’t take this seriously. I know what you did with the last family you had Kratos, you don’t deserve a second shot at happiness. You are a monster. And whilst it’s darkly gratifying to control you balletically twirling through levels like some kind of murder hurricane, turning foes into macabre balloon animals with a simple button press, I can’t forgive the fact you’ve murdered dozens of innocent bystanders just to see if they bled healing orbs. I’d be willing to put money down now that it’ll turn out Kratos killed your mum, kiddo, best you get the fuck out now before he hacks your legs off and makes a pogo stick from your spine.
But my real beef is thus. I played God of War 2 at the ripe young age of 16, and that’s the most ideal possible time to do so. We don’t see it’s like anymore and whilst I’m probably too old to enjoy God of War as it used to be I’m sure there’s legions of impressionable teenagers growing their first bum fluff moustaches and who still think ancient Spartans are cool, and who’d be foaming at the mouth for the chance to get on the mad lurid rollercoaster that is a true God of War game. And they’re not going to get it. And that’s sad.
Smashing beard tho, 10/10 Kratos me ol’ mate.
ASSASSIN’S CREED: ORIGINS BY UBISOFT
Ubisoft missed a trick here. Putting Assassins Creed to bed for 2016 was a pretty good move. It had become apparent that a Call of Duty-esque once a year schedule was too ambitious for their studios to manage. The gifs and bug laden screenshots had spoken: this Assassin’s Creed shit needs to take a nap. Sure they put out a movie that inevitably flopped hard as these things do, but that’s not really the same and it’s good they avoided burning out the audience with yet another mashed together game about implausibly talented men and women doing horrible things to hundreds of poor, innocent henchmen. Unfortunately they only kept it asleep for a year and not for a few decades like they’d ought to, but here we are, Assassin’s Creed: Origins. A fucking prequel.
If you thought the hiatus would produce some originality then you can suck a dick. It starts and ends with that subtitle, everything else is just nicked from other Ubisoft products, hastily stitched together to convince you fucks to keep eating from that massive fucking content trough you revolting porcine sons of bitches. Sure it’s unfair to judge a book by it’s cover, but come on. Origins? The best you guys could think of in two years was Origins? That’s the fucking Model T Ford of videogames right there. The audience can have it in any colour they want, so long as they can only have a minimap after they climb a big tower. Fuck you Ubisoft, you have a veritable cornucopia of developers and studios and yet you keep falling back to this assembly line garbage. I hope this is the fucking death knell for this pathetic contrived bin-juice cocktail of a series and whilst I like to imagine a reality where it leads to you regaining some fucking integrity we all know you’ll just piss it away in the next sandbox, you fucking cretins.
What kinda irks me about Assassin’s Creed is that it’s impossible to get invested in the central conflict. Ok so a group called the Templars believes that their utter dominance of the world will usher in an era of world peace with them as an invisible guiding hand and the Assassin’s believe humanity’s salvation lies in the opposing extreme, ie complete anarchy. Both sides have been locked in a war that’s gone unknown for millennia despite hundreds of notable famous people taking part, and with neither side achieving total victory. First of all, wow you guys are really shit at war if you nobody wins for that long. Secondly, how is it you want me to be on the side of the anarchists? Yeah it’s a pisser when the occasional Eddie Obeid is discovered to be pinching a few million pennies from the public good but that’s a fine tradeoff for public works, laws, regulations and other nice shit. Bring on the Templar utopia, I'd trust that Deus Ex ending.
SPIDERMAN BY WHO CARES
I liked it better when it was called Arkham City. Or Uncharted. Actually I guess nicking ideas from Uncharted is appropriate when making a game about a quippy brown haired white boy who’s desperately crying out for a wedgie so bad it tears the fabric of the cosmos.
TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER 2
A dragon bodyslams a dinosaur that can shoot laser beams. Game of the year right here folks. Videogames are over.
All E3 can ever do is cement a few truths I hold dear: that trailers are dumb, that too many trailers at once is a disservice to our species and that the true delights in games tend to come from games you were never hyped for in the first place. An open mind is a good thing when we’re consuming our art, it’s just a damned shame that for one week every year we gotta keep the thing closed. Keep riding that cynicism wagon my friends. It’s good for you.