An E3 wrap-up so enormous, so all-encompassing, we drafted a fifth chair from across the pond to share the load. Sinan Kubba of the Big Red Potion podcast joins us as we tear Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft to shreds. The hate flows freely this week folks; if it gets too depressing jump to the 92-minute mark as we reveal our most anticipated games of the show. It's our longest, most vulgarity-packed podcast ever! Rejoice! Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, the aforementioned Sinan Kubba, and Tim "Billy Big Bang Blitz" Spaeth.
Tim Spaeth: Hello, everybody. Welcome to the GameCritics.com podcast E3 2010 Wrap-Up. We say it every year—if E3 is the industry Super Bowl, we are the ultimate post-game show. The Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone, and only GameCritics can satisfy your craving for an analysis and will do it with unparalleled ambivalence. An extra large cast this week: let's introduce them now. We begin with GameCritics owner and founder, Chi Kong Lui. Hello, Chi.
Chi Kong Lui: Hello, Tim. Let the hate begin.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah. Let's get that hate rolling. I was thinking, Chi: If GameCritics held an annual convention, we could call it Chi 3.
Chi Kong Lui: Okay. I wasn't expecting that one, man.
Tim Spaeth: I was just saying. It's just a suggestion. Also, joining us and ready to dazzle us, it's Brad Gallaway.
Brad Gallaway: Hey, everybody. One thing before the show starts: You actually will not find much ambivalence here at all. No, I think we lean pretty clearly in one direction. I will not say what direction that is, but you'll find out soon enough.
Tim Spaeth: And what kind of podcast would it be without kid-friendly, Mom-approved Mike Bracken?
Mike Bracken: Hell, yes. Let the bitterness begin.
Tim Spaeth: Now, because we have a big show, we have a big cast, I am thrilled to welcome a special guest. You know him from his own podcast Big Red Potion, let's say hello to Mr. Sinan Kubba. Sinan, thanks so much for being here.
Sinan Kubba: Hi, Tim; hi, guys. Thank you so much for having me on your excellent show. I am so excited to be here for your Chi 3 special.
Tim Spaeth: In addition to wanting your insight on E3, I know that Brad has done your show at least once. So bringing you here restores balance to the podcastiverse, if you will.
Sinan Kubba: It's a fine balance. [Laughter]
Chi Kong Lui: I thought you were gonna say "the Force."
Brad Gallaway: I was waiting for mention of midi-chorians.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Tim Spaeth: [Laughter] I'm not a midi-chlorian guy, not at all. The way this will work, we're going to keep the same basic format as our 2009 show. We're going to start by talking about the press conference and then the second half of the show, we'll be name-checking what we call our Games of Significance—games that we're looking forward to, games that disappointed us, and games that we were hoping to see but didn't.
Now, we should point out, we are recording this slightly out of order. In fact, what I'm saying right now is actually the last thing we're recording. I mention that only because Sinan is going to disappear for the first 45 minutes as we talk about Nintendo. But he will pop back in for our Sony discussion
With that, let's start with Nintendo, and let's begin where Nintendo began: with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. No doubt, you guys were entranced by it.
Mike Bracken: I was embarrassed for them bringing that out, and how terribly it controlled onstage. Miyamoto says afterwards that it ended shamefully. I'm thinking: "It didn't end shamefully. It was shameful the whole way through."
Chi Kong Lui: He said that afterwards? Really?
Mike Bracken: Yeah. There was a quote somewhere that he had said something about: "It ended shamefully" or something. I'm like: "Dude, it sucked from the start." If you're the guy who designed the game and you can't fucking pull the moves off, then something's a bit wrong.
Brad Gallaway: Someone kept saying that cell phones were interfering.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, that there was interference. Dude, that's such a load of crap.
Brad Gallaway: That stuff aside, though, didn't you guys think it looked totally dumbed-down and basic? It looked like it was a corridor-y thing. I don't wanna bowl; I don't wanna sit in front of the TV and swing my Wiimote for two hours.
Mike Bracken: I feel like this dinosaur gamer or something, but I just don't fucking care about motion controls.
Tim Spaeth: I didn't even watch the whole Zelda demo, so I didn't even see where the controls started to break down. When I saw Link riding that stupid horse in a forest, swinging at those stupid plants—really? This is Zelda? I just stopped. I don't even know about the controls breaking down or anything.
Mike Bracken: The big innovation now is he has a whip.
Chi Kong Lui: He shoots this little fly thingie. Ooh, exciting.
Mike Bracken: Here it is again! Miyamoto's trying to shoot shit with the bow or whatever it was, and the controls are so fucking bad, he's taking half an hour to try to kill the stuff. It's just embarrassing. He's fucking Miyamoto: he's a legend, he's an icon, and I felt embarrassed for him. He's on stage, and you can tell even he can't make this fucking thing work.
I would rather him just come out and say: "Look, it didn't go well because we had to show this at E3 and I really would've preferred to have another month to work on it and have it more prepared, but time is what it is and you have to show a big game. We had to show it before it was really ready to be seen, but we're fixing all that." But instead, it's cell phone interference.
Brad Gallaway: Let's pretend that it worked perfectly. What the fuck were we supposed to get out of that? We can swing [vertically] and sideways? You use your left arm as a shield? Who cares?
Chi Kong Lui: The funny part is, the shield blockback, that was with the nunchuck. So nothing's changed there; that's still the same nunchuck that it was before. It's the same fricking problem of what it was before; it's still a shaking thing. It wasn't a Wii Motion Plus issue.
Mike Bracken: You could just see it start to go bad the moment he got to those plants and you had to cut them according to which way their mouths were slanted. He couldn't get that fucking thing to swing the way he was trying to at all. He looked like a spaz. He's fucking trying to get it to swing and it won't swing, and he's fucking backflipping instead. I'm like: "Ooh. This really makes me wanna play this game. This looks like a blast."
Chi Kong Lui: They're trying to convince casual gamers this is something they should jump into, and it's complicated as hell. You gotta hold your sword up, you gotta hold the shield in a particular way. I was like: "What?"
Brad Gallaway: Just between us—granted, we're all a bunch of old dudes and we're all jaded and shit, but do any of us ever sit around and go: "It would be so awesome if I could swing my controller like a sword." Do you ever wanna just be "in" the game like that? I sure as hell don't.
Chi Kong Lui: It was a fun idea when the Wii first came out, but that's it. They blew their wad. They had their chance; they fucked it up. They put in the Wii Motion Plus, thinking that they could have a take two or something, or a "give me back" or something. But it's too late. That whole gimmick of "Yeah, I can swing a sword"—it was great four fucking years ago. No one gives a shit now. If you didn't think I could hate on Nintendo any more, this is coming from a Nintendo fanboy, for God's sake.
Brad Gallaway: I was gonna say: You're not a traditional Nintendo hater, dude.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: No. I love Nintendo. Are you kidding me?
Brad Gallaway: That's what I mean. It's kind of weird coming from you, 'cause you're usually Mr….
Mike Bracken: Yeah. You usually cut them a lot more slack than Brad and I do.
Brad Gallaway: You're on fire, dude. Chi's fired up.
Mike Bracken: I thought this year was one of their better press conferences in a while. It wasn't great or anything like that, but, Jesus. They didn't fucking bring out the Vitality Sensor or James Patterson's Women's Murder Club or whatever the fuck it was. I didn't hate their presentation this year, so at least they were better in that regard for me.
Chi Kong Lui: There's two things that made me hate it: one was the reactions from the people. There were reactions of "Nintendo gets us," and "We should be so grateful now that they are finally making games again." I was like: "What the fuck are you people talking about? They've been shitting on you for three years, and now you're grateful that they're actually deciding they wanna make games again?"
Mike Bracken: That's just that rampant Nintendo fanboyism that exists in the gaming community. These guys just want Nintendo to come back to them, and they're just so happy whenever Nintendo throws them any kind of scrap at all. Honestly, objectively, why should we be excited about another Zelda game? Why should we be excited about a Mario sports? Okay, the idea of playing Mario hockey intrigues me a little bit.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, dude. I can't believe you said that.
Chi Kong Lui: Oh, come on. I can't believe you said that. [Laughter] That was embarrassing.
Mike Bracken: I like hockey.
Brad Gallaway: You may like hockey, but keep that to yourself.
Mike Bracken: I won't utter that in public ever again.
Brad Gallaway: Tim, edit that out. We can't let that get out.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, we can't let that get out. That would damage my rep in an irreparable way.
Chi Kong Lui: Listen, I love volleyball, but that doesn't mean I'm excited about Mario volleyball. I thought it was embarrassing that they tried to trump that out as something special. Mario's back to whoring himself to these other games. Nintendo does a great job of…Let's face it. This is the classic Mario whoring himself out to these other genres. I'm like: "We're supposed to get excited about that?"
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. And the way [unknown] was pumping it up? Oh, my God! He's like: "You've seen him in sports. You've seen him do this sport, but you haven't seen him do volleyball!" I was like: "What?"
Mike Bracken: That was the thing. I didn't care about the volleyball or anything like that. When they showed hockey, I thought: "Well, at least that's something I didn't expect." I guess maybe it's my fucking standards. They're so low for Nintendo most days that any time they just do something that surprises me even a little bit, that's just good enough for me now. [Laughter] It's faint praise.
Chi Kong Lui: Here's the other part that angered me. Nintendo acted like gaming hadn't evolved or changed in the last four years. It was like they were introducing these concepts to these casual gamers, as it were. Is it me? It sounds like the tone of the whole thing is they're talking to these casual gamers. After the conference was over, the G4 people pretty much validated what I said. The blonde girl was like: "They acknowledged that 'Oh, yeah, it's for you. The Zelda's for you.'" And all the while, the two more hardcore guys are saying: "Yeah, it's causal, but it's improved."
I'm like: "What the fuck did that mean?" You understand that it's causal still, but somehow it's better than what it was before, because why? Why? Because of the Wii Motion Plus? Because they finally decided to make another game? That didn't make any sense at all. Like I said, it was like everything was in a standstill for the last four years. They were talking about these rudimentary concepts like platforming like it's a new thing. Platforming! [Laughter]
Mike Bracken: You have to remember, this is the company that's how many years in that still doesn't have fucking online system that's accessible to a person of average intelligence. You're still using Friend Codes and all this shit just to try to play with other people you know. Any kind of platforming is a huge technological advancement for these guys, I guess. At least it's not "connectivity" again. Thank God.
Brad Gallaway: I know—geez. Seriously.
Chi Kong Lui: I'm very skeptical that dialing back gameplay for four years is somehow gonna make it more accessible for all those Wii casual folks. Somehow they're gonna understand: "Well, yeah, I could've played this all along," or something to that effect. [Laughter]
Mike Bracken: Yeah. I have to give them credit. I want a 3DS right now.
Chi Kong Lui: I will say that; I agree. I think they did a good job on that one. I will agree to that, and I like the fact that they trumped out all the big-time developers being excited about it. Which is contrary to Sony's Move, because the developers that were talking about that, I was like: "Who are these people?"
Mike Bracken: Yeah. I am actually pretty excited about the 3DS. Not so much the 3D, but I like the fact that it has that bigger screen and the slider thing like an analog-type stick. Seriously, the graphics on it are impressive for a handheld. I think Sony maybe dropped the ball a little bit with not having another PSP ready to go. The one thing that guys I know always bitched about the DS was: "Well, the PSP has better graphics." But it doesn't look like that's gonna be the case when the 3DS comes out.
Chi Kong Lui: You know the PSP's in trouble when the thing that they trump out at their conference is that they have a new ad campaign for PSP.
Mike Bracken: That is the worst fucking ad campaign ever, too. Jesus.
Chi Kong Lui: I don't know if it's the worst ad campaign, but just the fact that it's an ad campaign is—
Mike Bracken: It was pretty bad, though.
Brad Gallaway: I looked at the videos. You couldn't see the 3D effect in any of the videos. I looked at a number of them and I couldn't make anything out, so I wasn't sure if it was my imagination or what.
Mike Bracken: I heard from some guys that this is the one potential negative to it. The 3D is great, but there's a sweet spot where you have to hold it for it to be right. If you deviate from that sweet spot even a little bit, it throws everything off. So that's a bit of a concern to me, because I like to play my DS on the toilet or in bed, and I'm always moving around and shit. So I don't know if I'm cool with having to constantly be locked into one position.
The other things I'll say is, as excited as I am about this thing, any time you mention "Nintendo" and "3D," I immediately think of the Virtual Boy, and we all fucking know how that turned out. I just don't wanna see that happen again. That thing just gave me headaches constantly.
Brad Gallaway: It's funny you bring that up, because I've already heard people start to whisper about if there's gonna be any effects on people's vision or eyes, especially younger kids, using the 3DS. It's a brand new technology that hasn't been used in other applications, so people are already raising cautionary flags about: "Well, we know how much kids play their DSs, and if this is a brand new trick of the eye kind of thing, is there gonna be any downside to it?" Nintendo's a very cautious company in general because, as Mike just said with the Virtual Boy, people were getting sick and having headaches and stuff, and they launched it. So I'm kinda concerned a little bit.
Chi Kong Lui: I think the way the 3D images are created, that's been around. Whether or not someone's staring at a 3D image for ten hours straight, that remains to be seen, I guess. You can dial it back, so that's good news. If any parent's concerned, they could just turn it off altogether.
Brad Gallaway: Very true. Now, the one thing about the 3DS that I haven't really heard anybody talking about is the new analog nub—
Chi Kong Lui: It's a slider.
Brad Gallaway: It's a slider, so I would imagine it's probably like the old TurboGraphix 16 controller. Or the NES Max. That was a slider, too. So if it's kinda like that, I haven't heard anybody give a peep. Did we really want it? I don't think we did, did we?
Mike Bracken: I didn't need it, no. And again, it's an interesting choice to me. Here was the opportunity for them to really fucking just hammer the PSP once and for all, if they'd have put two analog sticks on it. How fucking funny would that have been that Nintendo fucking comes along and does what Sony should've done five years ago, eight years ago, whenever that PSP fucking launched. So they didn't; they only went with the one. I didn't need it. I like my DS with the regular d-pad on it.
CKL But they're going 3D. You need more sensitive analog control. It doesn't bother me that that they didn't put in two, because the casual folks, their heads are gonna explode when they see two sticks. That's understandable.
Mike Bracken: On my PSP, I never use the analog nub. I hate it so much. I'll use the d-pad for everything. I can't use the analog.
Chi Kong Lui: I think the developers never used it because it because it sucked.
Brad Gallaway: If you have to use it, your thumb gets really sore. I really wish they would've launched something with a second nub. I've played a couple games which would be really great games if there was a second stick, but you always hit the same camera control problem. It's something that the DS has totally avoided thanks to the whole "move with the d-pad, aim with the [stylus,]" so that takes care of that problem. The PSP is still lagging, and now that the DS has 3D, I mean, pfft, whatever. Who's gonna go PSP now? Nobody.
Mike Bracken: I was also impressed with the launch lineup for the 3DS. They're bringing out some decent games. Not necessarily just for launch, but that first batch of games that are gonna come out look pretty interesting to me.
Brad Gallaway: They had a pretty good selection. There's lots of stuff I'd like to try, so it's looking pretty good to me.
Chi Kong Lui: I wasn't blown away by the look of Kid Icarus. I loved how Iwata [said] "graphics improvement." [Laughter] That's a new feature? The graphics are improved? Okay, thanks.
Mike Bracken: I think the thing with that is, if you look at it compared to the 3D on the DS games, it's a pretty decent step up. This is gonna be first-generation software, so they're probably not even close to tapping what it can do. In that regard, it's cool. Yeah, it's definitely not the prettiest 3D you're gonna see. In some of the stuff I saw, I still think some of the PSP games look a little bit better. But that system, they've also been developing for a long time.
Chi Kong Lui: The thing that worried me was that it looked kind of Wii-like. I'm afraid that they're gonna start spam-porting Wii games over to the 3DS. Anyone else get that?
Brad Gallaway: Oh, it's gonna happen.
Mike Bracken: It's gonna happen, yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: No one else mentions this, of course.
Mike Bracken: What are they gonna bring over, though? All that shovelware? It's not like they have a bunch of good games on the Wii to port over.
Chi Kong Lui: Oh, man. Can't you see a thousand Carnival Games coming over?
Mike Bracken: Yeah, that's pretty scary.
Brad Gallaway: Did you guys never play Chicken Shoot? 'Cause Chicken Shoot is pretty damn decent. [Laughter]
Mike Bracken: I'm still waiting for Bob Ross's Joy of Painting or whatever it was.
Brad Gallaway: That one, with the Wii Motion Plus you can really get into the finer details.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. You can get into those happy little trees. And the other thing that concerns me is nobody's talking about how much this thing is gonna cost. I'm genuinely concerned about that. I think if it comes out at the typical DS price point, $160, that's awesome. [But] I see it having to be $200.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. $250, probably.
Tim Spaeth: No, no, no, no, no. There needs to be a one at the front of that number.
Chi Kong Lui: $199.
Tim Spaeth: That's it, $199. But anything more than that, you're buying this thing for five, six, seven-year-old kids. It can't be $200.
Brad Gallaway: I totally agree. I think that with the level of hype surrounding it, though, it's gonna be like gangbusters.
Mike Bracken: [Unknown] when it launches? The way people are excited about it?
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. For anyone counting on getting one in the first six months, it's gonna be madness.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. It's gonna be like a regular console launch. It's interesting to me, because I bagged on the DS hardcore when they announced it and before it came out, and ended up loving it. So this time, it's totally opposite for me. I'm like: "Okay, I'm not gonna trash this one. I'm on board." It's the only thing Nintendo had that totally had me excited. I guess that's something, 'cause they didn't have anything last year.
Tim Spaeth: How do you feel about every old Nintendo franchise having a release on the 3DS? They've brought back Ocarina of Time, they've brought back Starfox, Pilotwings. Any interest in replaying any of that on the 3DS?
Mike Bracken: Some of it, yeah. I like nostalgia. I love that era of games, the 16-bit. Some of that stuff, I didn't have a Nintendo 64 ever. It's the one game system I've never had, so I missed a lot of that stuff, or I only played it in really small amounts. I'm okay with it. The thing that bugs me about that, though, is Nintendo does this same shit with the DS now, where they bring out these ports of these old games and they wanna charge you $35, $40 for them. I don't know that I wanna pay $30-40 for a game from that era. But I'm open to playing them.
Brad Gallaway: Games are one media where it's not really easy to get something that's old. You can always rent an old movie or get an old book at a library, and I think that that's something that we're really lacking. I really wish that we had more accessibility to older titles.
Tim Spaeth: You mean like Microsoft Game Room?
Brad Gallaway: Not like that at all. It'd have to be good games that I'd be interested in—not those crappy games.
Chi Kong Lui: Hey, hey. He's insulting classics.
Brad Gallaway: Theoretically, yes. I think that we should have access to all the older games, whether they're good or bad, just so we can see what they're like. We have that kind of access for other media, so I'm all in favor of that. But exactly like Bracken said, I may wanna play one of those older games but I don't wanna pay a brand-new game price for it, or I don't wanna pay $5 less. I wanna pay something cheap, because it's old. It's not gonna be the newest tech. Even if they're refurbished or whatever or made to look a little pretty, they're still old and they're still behind the times, and it costs a company basically nothing to put those back out. I feel like those savings should be passed along, and they're not gonna be.
Mike Bracken: No.
Chi Kong Lui: I'm not buying a 3DS so I can have an archive machine.
Brad Gallaway: I don't think that should be its sole purpose, but I think, in theory, having access is a good thing. Not that I think that should be the main selling point of the 3DS.
Mike Bracken: You know who's excited, is fucking Square. They're like: "Oh, good! We can re-release every Final Fantasy game again on another handheld and charge $40 or $50 each for them."
Chi Kong Lui: Right. "But it's in 3D this time!"
Mike Bracken: "We'll never have to make another game again! As long as they keep putting out new handhelds, I can just keep fucking releasing Chrono Trigger and everybody'll buy it over and over."
Chi Kong Lui: We are such cynical fucks, man.
Mike Bracken: How many fucking handheld versions of Final Fantasy have there been? Jesus Christ. And I buy them all like an idiot. I have no one to blame but myself.
Brad Gallaway: I totally agree. I don't think there's anything wrong with them capitalizing on their body of work; I think that's great. But at the same time, do it with a conscience. Do it with some morals. Releasing those games for so much is ridiculous. I wouldn't mind buying some of them just to have them accessible, but I'm not gonna buy them for $40.
Chi Kong Lui: I don't think StarFox and Pilotwings are gonna be remakes. I think they're gonna be updated versions, sequels. I think those are two perfect games for 3D, so I'm excited about both those games.
Mike Bracken: Someone who'd played StarFox somewhere I was reading said that it was exactly the same. He knew where the enemy placement was and everything, because he'd played StarFox 64. Whatever part of it he played was exactly the same.
Chi Kong Lui: Oh no. And this is what passes for originality these days. They're remaking GoldenEye that they should've remade four years ago. It looks like a game that should've come out four years ago, and people are fucking actually really excited about it. I love GoldenEye and I'm a little bit like: "I wanna play this." But I'm not gonna fucking jizz in my pants all over this.
Brad Gallaway: That whole part of the thing was embarrassing. When they had that fakey-ass focus group, and they're like: "Name one of the best games of all time," and they're like: "GoldenEye!" Dude, that looks totally self-serving and embarrassing. I'm sorry. I was not caught up in the GoldenEye fever when it hit. I played it; I didn't really fall in love with it; I didn't play a lot of multiplayer with people. I was like: "Okay, it's cool," and I was done with it. But I never built up that nostalgia, and when I went back to play it last year, I was like: "Oh, my God. This game is a giant pile of steaming ass. It's terrible."
I hated it. What [is it being remade] for? Why? There's so many more shooters these days that are so much more powerful and have so many new features. Okay, whatever, ride on the nostalgic coattails, but it's not anything to really crow to the rooftops about, I don't think.
Tim Spaeth: I still can't wrap my head around Daniel Craig is Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] I love that, actually. I thought that was the most hilarious part. It was so bizarre it was actually kind of perfect. The best thing they can say about the game that they can say is they put Daniel Craig in it.
Mike Bracken: Daniel Craig's in it now.
Chi Kong Lui: I'll need another episode to debate the whole GoldenEye thing with you, Brad.
Brad Gallaway: Honestly, I don't think there's much to debate. It's a historical fixture, which is great. I totally recognize its place in the history of game development and it really was something special at the time, even if I didn't enjoy it that much. But it's a thing of its time. You can't really bring that forward and expect people to fall in love with it again. Is it really gonna hold up next to all the other games that have all the multiplayer advances in the last however many years it's been—20 years or something like that? I have a hard time imagining that anybody's gonna spend more than half an hour [playing it.] They're gonna boot it up and go: "Oh, yeah, I remember this. This is so cool. Let's go play Reach." Who's gonna play GoldenEye when there's all this other stuff around?
Chi Kong Lui: I just feel like their stage design, to this day, is in a lot of ways superior to a lot of games out there. I have to test my theory here, 'cause I haven't actually played it, granted. I know the animation's gonna feel completely…16 frames per second, and it's gonna be really hard to overcome that. But I still think that the stage design and the game mechanic choices that they made were so far ahead and in a lot of ways still superior to a lot of the games that we see today. But, yeah, it's another show.
Brad Gallaway: Interesting topic. You probably know the game a lot more than I do, 'cause I never got that wrapped up in it. Like I said, trying to play it last year, I was like: "Oh, my God. This is not fucking playable." I just couldn't do it.
Tim Spaeth: Is it on Virtual Console?
Chi Kong Lui: Nope. Nowhere. That's what's made this even more—
Mike Bracken: —of a big deal.
Brad Gallaway: I have the actual cartridge for the 64, so that's what I was playing. Don't ask me why I was playing it; I just had it out one day.
Chi Kong Lui: This is one group that's not gonna question that. If anybody's gonna question that, it's not us.
Tim Spaeth: Just had it out. That makes sense. No argument. It's just out.
Chi Kong Lui: Exactly. David Stone has every single console wired up and ready to go at any single time.
Mike Bracken: I do, too. Not quite every one, but all of mine are always hooked up.
Tim Spaeth: I just had Clash of Demonhead lying on the floor. Popped it in.
Tim Spaeth: I don't know why.
Chi Kong Lui: That's what you call "Tuesday."
Tim Spaeth: There you go; yeah.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, wow. Tuesday.
Tim Spaeth: Clash of Demonhead Tuesdays. What else do you wanna talk about with Nintendo, or should we move to one of the other press conferences?
Mike Bracken: I think we've beat on the piñata enough. 'Cause we get hate mail whenever we do this, so we're fucked again. I love the 3DS. Keep that in mind.
Brad Gallaway: The 3DS did look good. We're all excited for the 3DS.
Tim Spaeth: So, you wanna do Sony next?
Mike Bracken: Sure.
Tim Spaeth: All right, let's start with Sony. Now Sony nearly destroyed the PlayStation brand to force Blu-Ray down our throats, and they're at it again. This time, they'd really like you to buy a 3D television and play their 3D games. So we will have something around 20 3D games by March 2011. Did anything that you saw at the Sony conference—anything dealing with 3D impress you there?
Mike Bracken: No.
Brad Gallaway: No.
Chi Kong Lui: Kevin Butler.
Mike Bracken: Kevin Butler was the highlight of their whole press conference. A guy who's an actor. It was the best part of their whole conference…yeah. Everybody just went out and bought hi-def TVs, and now we're all supposed to run out and buy 3D TVs a couple years later. I just don't get it. It pisses me off.
Tim Spaeth: I'm only half-joking with my introduction.
Brad Gallaway: I didn't think you were joking at all. I thought that was an accurate description.
Mike Bracken: That's what I took away from it, is that we're all supposed to go buy fucking 3D TVs now.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. No, thanks.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I'm gonna take a pass on that, guys. I don't really need to drop three grand on a television right now.
Brad Gallaway: It's funny, because I don't PC game because I don't like playing the technology keep-up game, with all the new cards and all the stuff that comes out. I feel like they're trying to shift that same thing over to the console side. There's all these new peripherals coming out, the 3D television. I don't wanna buy all this hardware all the time. I would rather buy games.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Not only are you gonna have to buy a TV, but if you wanna play Move, you're gonna have to spend how much on that? That on top of a PS3, which is $300 still. Jesus Christ, man. And the games are $60. We're in a fucking recession here. Who do they think has money?
Brad Gallaway: Do they think we're out of the recession? That stimulus package worked? We're back to the spend-happy days?
Chi Kong Lui: On the same topic, Brad, what cracked me up about their presentation and the intro, they showed all the stuff that goes into the PS3 in that little intro video that they played. I'm like: "Oh, my God! There's so much shit on the table! Just what I need at my house—more shit." They're like: "Oh, there's Move, the EyeToy, the system, all these extra controllers." I'm like: "Oh, man. Where am I gonna put all this shit?" [Laughter]
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, they totally did. But the thing about that…Maybe you guys will feel me on this one or maybe not. So I'm in my new office and I've got things set up. It's comfortable—it's very comfortable for gaming—but I don't have enough room to set up this giant active play space for me to do jumping-jacks in front of my television. I would have to move the couch; I'd have to move some stuff to the back. It's right near the doorway, so I'd have to make sure the door's closed, or maybe put on some kind of screen behind me so that it didn't interfere with the picture pick up. I don't wanna have to rearrange furniture and have this giant eight by eight no-fly zone for the rest of my family if I'm playing this game. I don't wanna have this giant space reserved for it.
Mike Bracken: Just think how exciting it's gonna be if you're like us, where you buy every console and all these peripherals. Now on top of your TV, you're gonna have a Wii motion sensor; you're gonna have a Kinect camera; you're gonna have a Move camera. Where's all this shit supposed to go? I need an entertainment center for my systems and my TV, and then a separate entertainment system for all the fucking peripherals that now go with all this stuff.
Tim Spaeth: I rarely complain about being tall. There is almost nothing bad about being tall, but I'm 6 foot 5; my ceiling where my TV is is 6 foot 6. So I'm not jumping. It killed me for EA Sports Active, because I couldn't do have the exercises without moving into the hallway and not being able to see the screen. There's no jumping; there's no flailing of arms. Unless I rearrange my entire house or move, I can't use this stuff.
Mike Bracken: Dude, you're not hardcore if you won't move for gaming. Come on.
Chi Kong Lui: I was gonna say: You're not gonna clear out all that spae for Sorcery? Come on. They couldn't even pony up for the Harry Potter license.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Or an original title. I mean, Sorcery? Some fucking marketing company got paid for that. Jesus.
Brad Gallaway: It's like they took the product description and thought it was the title accidentally. "What is this? Oh, it's Sorcery!" "Okay, no. It's not the title." I actually did have a hands-on with the Move a while ago when they had an event here in Seattle, so of the new technology this year, I actually have played with the Move. You guys must've read my impressions and heard me talk about it before, but I just wasn't impressed with it. It was fine. It was just like the Wii, but a little bit different, a little more accurate.
But the thing that really gets me about the Kinect and the Move and everything is just: So what? I don't see anything really changing in the games. It doesn't really add anything, to me. Instead of pushing a button, I'm flailing an arm. Instead of pushing a button, I'm literally jumping.
Mike Bracken: You know what I got out of it? The one thing that changed is it looks like it made fucking Tiger Woods Golf a billion times harder.
Chi Kong Lui: The guy had a hard time hitting it, I know.
Mike Bracken: When I saw that guy, I'm like: "Dude if I wanted this to be this fucking hard, I'd just go golf for real." That's the reason I don't. I wanna sit on my fucking couch and push a couple buttons and feel like I'm Tiger Woods. I don't wanna swing the club. I'll just fucking get a golf membership if that was what I wanted. I don't want that level of aggravation in my gaming, thank you. Just let me use the controller.
Tim Spaeth: Okay, let me ask you guys this: Amongst us, we have a number of small children—young kids. Do you see your kids getting into Move or Kinect? I don't see myself doing any of this, but I could see my kids finding this very, very appealing. Kinect more than Move, 'cause I think the games were more interesting. Do you have any plans to introduce these things to your kids?
Chi Kong Lui: I let my kid play Wii Sports. Why would I get Move? First of all, the games don't even look better. Which is kind of funny, 'cause there's some kind of unwritten rule that motion-based games have to look like ass.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I think there is.
Chi Kong Lui: It's on the PS3 and it still looks like ass. What's up with that?
Mike Bracken: I did notice that, too, so I'm glad someone else validated my thought on that one.
Chi Kong Lui: I think it has something to do with the development time. They're just slapping these things together.
Brad Gallaway: I was watching the videos, and we're not on Kinect yet, but I was watching the Kinect Moles video, and my son is with me now. He was like: "Oh, that looks cool!" I'm like: "Okay, that wouldn't have been what I would have said." That was fine with me, but at the same time, I know what his play habits are like and I know what he has done on the Wii. I know that he prefers using the actual controls to the waggle controls. Even though some of those games may have some kid appeal, how many parents are gonna pony up for the significant amount of buy-in just so that their kid can have 20 minutes of fun with a game that they're probably gonna get bored of within a week.
Mike Bracken: You're talking a $300 console if you don't have it already, and then this thing's gonna be at least $150, right? It's gotta be that much. That's already what they're talking about Kinect costing, and I thought that might even be low. So, Jesus. For your kid to wave his hands at the TV.
Chi Kong Lui: Speaking of price, I thought it was funny in the conference how they put the price: "$50 for the controller!' and it was like: "Woo-hoo!" And then another $30 for the wand. There was no reaction after that. It was like: "Oh, shit." And then you gotta buy the EyeToy on top of that.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: I definitely wanna talk about the PlayStation Plus. The pricing program thing? Their Xbox Live kind of thing?
Mike Bracken: Yeah. "We aren't gonna charge you, except we are gonna charge you."
"You're still gonna get your free PlayStation Network stuff, except that if you actually wanna have any of the shit that you've become used to getting for free, you'll have to pay for it."
Chi Kong Lui: And they didn't tell us exactly what was the $100 worth of value we're gonna get.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. It was like: "You're gonna get all this value, but we don't know what any of it is."
Tim Spaeth: You have a billion dollar company in Sony. Billions and billions of dollars, and they have the most incompetent PR department. All they had to say was: "We are gonna offer a slew of services and games that you will have access to as part of your subscription." And that's it—that's all they have to say, and then they walk off the stage. But then they add the thing at the end, where they said: "You will have this for as long as you maintain your subscription." There was no need for them to say that. They did not have to say that, and yet they did.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. That's the moment where it totally fucking derailed.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah. It's the first rule of PR: You don't say something negative in your press release. That's absurd.
Brad Gallaway: That's just terrible. That was the point at which I was like: "Okay, I am now no longer even remotely interested in this." Granted, they haven't given specifics, so it may be nothing; maybe I'm just overreacting. But I'm really inclined to be more of a physical media guy anyway, and so for me to even go along with this whole download thing is a big deal. But to have the thought of: "I have all this stuff, and then if I stop paying you I lose it all, even though I 'have' it," I don't even wanna start. I don't even wanna get myself hooked on whatever it is that they may have, because I'll have to end up paying them for the rest of my life, and then you still lose it. You're not gonna have it.
Mike Bracken: What happens when the next console comes out? What are they gonna do with it then? Are they gonna refund my money when they take the shit away, or are they just gonna take it away and that's just obscene amounts of cash I've given Sony and I have nothing to show for it at the end? That's a laugh.
Brad Gallaway: People'll think we're making too much out of it, but I wanna stay as far away from the whole "We call it a sale but it's actually a rental" philosophy that seems to be on everybody's plate right now. If it's a rental, say it's a rental and call it a rental and be done with it. But don't tell me that I'm buying some content and then, as soon as your server goes down or as soon as you feel like you need to up your rates, or as soon as I've broken some kind of weirdo licensing agreement, I lose the stuff I "bought." That's not buying to me; that's renting.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, that's totally not buying. That's like going on Rhapsody and paying $10 a month for the unlimited downloads and you keep those songs as long as you keep on that subscription plan. But they tell you that upfront, so you know. I don't own any of those songs; I'm just paying $10 a month to rent them.
Brad Gallaway: Right. And if it was super cheap, that would be one thing. If they were a dollar, I can maybe see: "Okay, I'm renting something for a buck. No big deal. That's fine." But I don't see a lot of these perceived cost savings that everybody had talked so much about before this whole e-commerce thing got rolling. Everybody talked about how much they were gonna save by not having to go retail, by not having to to pay for distributors, by not having to have brick-and-mortar stores involved. And yet, I rarely see any kind of cost savings when you do downloads. To me, it's like: "Okay, you guys just proved yourselves to be big, fat liars. Why should I believe anything you say in the future?"
Chi Kong Lui: They were talking about their corporate bottom lines. They weren't talking about passing on savings to the consumer. They were talking about how their profits were gonna go up.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, well, very true. It morphed into that. But in the beginning, all they were saying was: "Oh, man, think how much money we're gonna save. Games'll be so much more affordable" and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Okay, no. I think people just got screwed. I'm just not down with that.
Mike Bracken: We've all gotten screwed this generation. There's no other way to look at it. If you play games, this entire fucking console generation has been nothing but a big "fuck you" to you. $60 games and these outrageous console prices, and the fucking things break all the time. Some days I wake up, and I'm like: "Why do I even do this anymore?" It's just one giant drain on my finances.
Tim Spaeth: Sinan, are you on?
Sinan Kubba: Yeah, hi, guys. Sorry for being incredibly late. I just had the biggest advert for a Linux drive in my city. I got held up in a night bus for an hour and a half. Yeah, there was a fight on the bottom deck between teenagers, and we had a police inquiry. Yeah, that was fun. I literally got in about 10 minutes ago, and I'm so sorry for all the [mess] up.
Chi Kong Lui: Did Epic Beard Man show up?
Mike Bracken: No; he's only in Oakland.
Sinan Kubba: It was pretty much the whole cast of Street Fighter. [Unknown] Zangief there. But, yeah, it was a disaster.
Chi Kong Lui: The big question, though, is what were you doing out on a bus at 3:00 AM?
Sinan Kubba: That's London. It's like New York; to get home is pretty much on a bus in the early morning. I was out with a friend and it's a 20 minute journey from central London to my house, but it took two hours today. So I'm really, really sorry, guys.
Mike Bracken: It's all right.
Tim Spaeth: No, not at all. That's a great story. We've never had a guest interrupted by a fistfight by uninterrupted teenagers.
Mike Bracken: We've had a show interrupted by them.
Sinan Kubba: Brad is on it.
Yeah, I reward all the punctuality Brad has shown by being an hour late. I thought that would be the best way to repay the favor.
Brad Gallaway: That's fine. I was only talking you up for days and days to get you on the show, so it's not a big deal or anything.
Sinan Kubba: I just wanted to make sure that you looked good doing that.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, yeah. Shot all my cred—thanks, buddy.
Tim Spaeth: We've had kind of an unusual show, because while we were waiting, we just started talking about Nintendo. And then we realized that we didn't want to say any of that again, so we decided that we had started the show. We haven't done a formal introduction or anything. Right now we're talking about Sony and what they brought up in their press conference, and just having a delightful, spirited discussion.
Brad Gallaway: We were talking about the digital downloads and what a rip-off it was.
Mike Bracken: We haven't done PSP yet. We kind of bagged on it already in the 3DS part.
Chi Kong Lui: It's been non-stop hate for the last half an hour. Maybe Sinan here can bring us out of the darkness, maybe say something positive about Sony.
Mike Bracken: Hopefully you like something.
Sinan Kubba: About Sony?
Brad Gallaway: Anything.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] Oh, no.
Tim Spaeth: So, Sinan, without having introduced you at all, you're just going to jump in. Would you be willing to share with us your thoughts on Sony?
Sinan Kubba: Absolutely. I thought Sony had a real tough job. They followed Nintendo, and it was a really popular, though not necessarily the best conference. They obviously had a lot to do and prove. Of course, there was extra scrutiny because they've not exactly had the best of E3 conferences in recent years.
I thought that there was, in general, a better message to their presentation than there was to Microsoft's. Microsoft's was more a split personality, where it felt like Sony were trying to incorporate all they were showing to their entire audience—the whole everything. Everything [necessarily?] was the message.
Mike Bracken: Yes. "It does everything."
Sinan Kubba: Yeah. At least it sounded like it was trying to be aimed at everybody, whereas Microsoft was: "It's just for you, and this is for everyone else. And you can't touch this. And if you touch this, then you can't have that." So I was completely put off by the way Microsoft did things. But I liked that Sony had that kind of message, and I thought Move demoed okay and some of the games looked good.
What I thought was interesting was Valve [unknown] up with Dave Neal. That's gotta be the most surprising thing I've seen at an E3 conference, when you consider what he said and his history. I don't know if anyone wants to talk about that.
Tim Spaeth: To set that up, for weeks leading up to E3, Valve had said that there would be a Portal 2 event, that people would be able to come and see and play Portal 2. And then they cancelled that, but said there would be a Portal 2 surprise instead. I don't think anyone was expecting Gabe Newell to come on and ally himself with Sony. What did you think about that, Sinan?
Sinan Kubba: My first thought was: "How much did Sony pay them?"
That was what everyone was thinking when they saw it. When you consider how vociferous he was…It was so fundamental, the way Valve was so dismissive of the PS3 and Sony. I couldn't believe it.
Chi Kong Lui: Right. The reason why he thought Portal 2 should be on the PS3 now was because of this bizarre ecosystem of social gaming. I'm like: "What does that mean?" [Laughter] "What does that have to do with Portal?
Brad Gallaway: A check is what it meant. I think that's, bottom line, all it was. They must've written him a colossal check. It must've been some ungodly sum of money. Like you guys said, he's been a total anti-PS3 Sony hater for so long, and for him to show up…That, to me, is the testament to the power of money. That shows you can buy anything as long as the price is right. That's what that says to me.
Tim Spaeth: I had a different take on this. None of you will agree with me, because it's going to sound ridiculous. This is one of my classic things.
Brad Gallaway: Are you gonna talk about Too Human somehow?
Mike Bracken: I was gonna say: Is Too Human fitting in here?
Tim Spaeth: No, this is what's going to happen. I'm going to talk, and then—
Brad Gallaway: Is this Wing Commander related?
Tim Spaeth: I'm gonna talk, there will be dead silence, and then somebody will say: "Sure." So here's what happened. Valve, historically, through Steam, releases all of their updates for free. It's how they've built their community, and it's how they've built all these Valve fanboys. So Microsoft forced them to charge for Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead updates, and they didn't want to. So now here's the PS3, who basically said: "Go ahead and install your platform on our console," and essentially gave them an open door to do anything they wanted: "Push out your updates, put your Achievements out, store game saves up in the clouds so that your PS3 saves can work on your PC version of Portal 2." And so, basically, this was a big eff you to Microsoft. Now we have this complete 180, where Gabe Newell is now coming out all disheveled and allying himself with Sony. That's what this is about. Now, yes, I'm sure there was a massive check cut, but the impetus for him going after this money was to screw Microsoft after they refused to let him play the way he wanted to play.
Mike Bracken: I think that makes perfect sense.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. It actually explains that social networking thing Gabe was talking about, in some ways.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Tim makes it all make sense for us.
Brad Gallaway: I know. It's like the first time, too.
Mike Bracken: He's like a savant over there.
Tim Spaeth: [singsong] I said something insightful.
Brad Gallaway: And everybody agreed. I can't believe it.
Mike Bracken: He thought there was gonna be dead silence. We were all dead silent because we were so stunned.
Brad Gallaway: It's funny you say that, though, Tim, and I honestly do think you're onto something there. I did think it was really weird that when those Valve updates came out on Live…I know Microsoft's policy is not to let anything come out for free, in general. But it's weird: why didn't they let them charge a dollar or something ridiculously cheap? To force them into that price structure has gotta be distasteful—obviously, not just to Valve but to other people. I've talked to smaller developers who were saying: "We know what we're putting out isn't that great, but we have to follow this price structure, so it looks like we're screwing you even though we're not trying to." It's weird to me that Microsoft is standing firm on that. If someone is so vociferous as Gabe Newell is gonna change their tune and go to the other side because of this policy, they're gonna have to reevaluate that. They're gonna have to.
Tim Spaeth: This had to be a Games for Windows Live versus Steam thing, at some point. Microsoft is still holding on to hope that Games for Windows Live could become the premiere Windows PC distribution system for games.
Brad Gallaway: Is that even still happening? Is that still around?
Tim Spaeth: That's the thing. I think at some point they were holding out hope that it would stick around, and technically it's still out there. But Steam is a quantum leap ahead of where Games for Windows Live is.
Chi Kong Lui: "And Zune is someday gonna outsell the iPod." Yeah, right.
Sinan Kubba: If that's where they're coming from, then that's definitely not blown up in their face that one of their premiere associates turn up at one of their rival's conference to announce that their game is better on their rival's platform—the game which wouldn't even come to their rival's platform a year ago. I can't believe that they're putting any support behind Games for Windows Live. That [unknown] was not just done this year; that [unknown] was done last year, or the year before. That's crazy.
Brad Gallaway: Very true; very true. That was kind of the "rub it in your nose" thing, how he said it would run best on PS3. That was just out-and-out disrespect. So Gabe must've been really upset.
Chi Kong Lui: Did any of the games that they presented…Anyone interested in any of the games that they showed?
Mike Bracken: All I know is that I saw Killzone 3 and I just don't care.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. Sinan, what about you? Anything Sony-related?
Sinan Kubba: Every time I see LittleBigPlanet 2, I get excited. I actually thought it was probably one of the worst demos we've seen for LittleBigPlanet 2 since it got announced. We haven't seen many, but that wasn't that strong. It seemed a bit stale. I think it came at a bad time in the conference. But that game is going to be fantastic, however poorly it's shown.
I don't know. I'm trying to think: Apart from LittleBigPlanet 2, was there anything? The one thing that I thought was terrible abut Sony's conference was the PSP side of it. They tried to convince us that there was this great lineup of PSP games coming to us, and I just wondered if they'd shown us the entire lineup of PSP games.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. [Laughter]
Mike Bracken: This is funny, because I was watching that part. I do—I enjoy playing handhelds. I'm watching it with kind of interest. This is not meant as a dis towards Atlus or anything like that, but when you're showing Persona 3 as one of your big PSP releases…it's a niche RPG. If that's one of your big games that you're highlighting in your montage, your library might be in a little bit of trouble.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, true. Persona 3 is an awesome game. It's one of my favorite games.
Mike Bracken: It's an awesome game. It's not something that anyone other than hardcore RPG players are gonna run out and buy. I'll tell you, I'm playing it right now and I love it, but that's not the definition of "mainstream portable game."
Brad Gallaway: Very true. I think the killer for me was that it's already been out in two separate versions on the PS2, so anybody who's hardcore enough to play that game already has probably both versions. I'm sure the PSP version is great—I haven't played it myself—but, yeah, you're talking about a game that's already appeared twice before. As magnificent as it is, it's not really something that somebody's gonna be dying to get their hands on.
Mike Bracken: Even when they come out with something like that new God of War, I don't know. I should be excited for that. I thought Chains of Olympus was great, but maybe we're just over God of War right now. We just had God of War III and then they just re-released the first two in updated versions. I just wasn't even that excited about that.
Chi Kong Lui: G4 was showing numbers about how the iPhone and iPad is eating the PSP's lunch right now, and I don't see what's gonna change that.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, not really. The PSP as it is, I think, is pretty much done. There's been a few good games on it, but not nearly as many as there should've been. I think they never really recovered from the fatal hardware flaw of not having a second analogue stick. I know that people are sick of hearing about it, and as a critic, I'm sick of saying it. But honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I really, really feel that a second stick would've made a big difference. The games are so crippled when they get on that system that nobody wants to put up with them.
For whatever reason, they were so split on trying to sell UMDs, the movies and stuff, as opposed to just games. Their focus was all over the place, and instead of putting out this multimedia thingamabob, they should've just been like: "This is a kick-ass game system; it's shiny, it's sexy, it's black. You know you want it." It would've been a totally different entity than it ended up being. Now it's like a dog with three legs: you like it, but you kick it sometimes and you don't really miss it when it's not around.
Mike Bracken: Wow. [Unknown]
Chi Kong Lui: A dog with three legs?
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, we're gonna get shit later.
Mike Bracken: Holy Christ, Brad.
Chi Kong Lui: Don't let PETA…
Mike Bracken: The hate mail is already being written.
Tim Spaeth: If there ever is a PSP 2 or a successor to the PlayStation Portable, it better not contain the letters "P, S" or "P" in the name. you basically need to reboot this thing and start completely from scratch.
Brad Gallaway: It's gonna contain "D, S," and "3," but in a weird order.
Tim Spaeth: The "D Sony 3," or something. Yeah.
Mike Bracken: I look at my PSP all the time and think: "God! What wasted potential!" I like it; it's a nice-looking piece of hardware and everything, but, Jesus. It does a lot of shit, but nothing that I ever use. It's definitely a depressing thing.
Sinan Kubba: I don't mean to presume too much, but for me, when we heard the lineup of 3DS games, or the developers involved with 3DS games—Konami, Metal Gear Solid and Capcom, Resident Evil, that, for me, felt like we'd just witnessed the end of the war between PSP and DS. I can't see what Sony can do with a handheld to get back from this position.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. If they wanted to compete at all, they needed to have PSP 2 this year. And I don't even think then if they'd had it that they'd have been able to close the gap.
Brad Gallaway: The 3DS is like Nintendo dropping a nuke on everybody else. They own with a P right now everybody else. And everybody is gonna be buying a 3DS. It's a given: everybody I know in the whole world is gonna be like: "Yes. 3DS? I'm there." Sony doesn't have a chance.
Tim Spaeth: And probably best that they didn't have a PSP 2, because clearly, they are positioning themselves as the 3D and PlayStation Move company. I think to add a third pillar to that would've been just disastrous. They don't have the resources to support all three of those things at once competently.
Sinan Kubba: I totally agree. I think there's a difficulty enough in making those two pillars work, or easily to what they were trying to say they could do, with obviously no mention of the price point, barrier to entry. It's impressive enough to say: "Killzone 3 you can play in 3D, and with Move," but who is going to? I'm certainly not.
Chi Kong Lui: Did you see the way that they had the person holding the two sticks like a rifle? Who is gonna do that? I was like: "Holy shit! Really?" How do you even keep it balanced?
Brad Gallaway: You have to be so physical. Who wants to do that for an hour?
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Again, it's like the golf thing. If I wanted that level of realism in the experience, I would just go to the gun range and shoot a real fucking rifle.
Tim Spaeth: So why don't we put Sony to bed, unless you have some other comments, and let's pick up with Microsoft, the last of the Big Three conferences. Microsoft deployed an army of acrobats to announce the rebranding of Natal to Kinect. I actually like the name; I don't have a problem with it. But release date of November 4, 2010, pricing forthcoming. Gentlemen, this is true hands-free gaming. Brad, as the Internet's most famous anti-motion control crusader, I'll give you first crack at this. Now that we've seen some actual games, what's your take on Kinect?
Brad Gallaway: My take is it's the EyeToy. What the hell are we supposed to be so excited about? Granted, I'm probably one of the only seven people in America who has the EyeToy, but it looked exactly the same. There's a few features different—the voice recognition, the alleged facial recognition, a more fancy, more souped-up EyeToy—but still, it's technology and a means of control that have been out for several years. Obviously, the EyeToy went nowhere. I think there's a total of six games for it. I've played them all. They all are things that would be better off with regular controllers.
Controlling things without your hands severely limits the number and means of input. Unless all the sudden somebody makes a quantum leap with how that thing is implemented, it looks just like another step down for the complexity and the interaction that we can have with games. Holding your hands in front of you to pretend like you're driving? Why would you wanna do that when you can get so much more precise and so much more control with an actual controller? Are casuals really gonna jump on board with the Wii already out and this thing out and the Move out? What's supposed to be the hook?
Mike Bracken: That's a really interesting point. They wanna talk about these motion control things like they make the experience more complex. But really, I think it's more complex with a controller. It certainly seems like a dumbing-down of gaming, in a way.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. All this motion stuff, it's taking gaming back another four years, the same way the Wii did when it came out four years ago.
Sinan Kubba: I'm totally with Brad; I think it's definitely just a better version of the EyeToy. I don't know if it's fair to say that because the EyeToy failed, Kinect will. I'm saying Kinect won't fail. I think the EyeToy maybe failed because of Sony failing to market it effectively. Really, that thing should've sold like crazy and they just didn't take advantage of the technology and [unknown]
Brad Gallaway: Exactly. That's a very good point.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. They beat Nintendo to the casual punch. They just didn't know what they had on their hands.
Brad Gallaway: With every new piece of technology they put out, when do they ever capitalize on anything these days?
Sinan Kubba: My major problem with the Microsoft conference was twofold. The first thing was the content was all "Wii 2." We saw Wii Sports; we saw the adventure party game; everything was a Wii game I'd seen before. The worst in that was the actual delivery—the performance, the scripting. Immediately I think of Kinect Adventures and the two women coming to the stage. The first thing she said was: "Oh, wow! Look at all the water!" Her friend next to her goes: "Oh, my God! This is so much fun!" and the game hadn't started yet.
Chi Kong Lui: They actually tried to script fun. That was a first, man. How do you script fun?
Tim Spaeth: Sinan, for these conferences, would you put a professional host in place? Would you get a celebrity who's a trained performer? I know that sounds like a trained monkey, but a comedian or something. Would you put them in place to host these things?
Sinan Kubba: After watching Ubisoft's conference?
Chi Kong Lui: Bingo. I was thinking the exact same thing, dude. That was a disaster.
Sinan Kubba: You're quite right. It was just cringeworthy, horrible. I don't know the guy. I don't get E! here, so I'm not familiar with Joel McHale, but I know he's quite popular over there, at least if you're the [unknown] going: "Wow! Joel McHale is hosting Ubisoft's conference again!" But the guy just took the piss out of every single person who came on stage, and every single game that came onstage, and obviously didn't want to be there, wasn't enthused about a single product.
The Battle Tag: oh, my God, it was 10 of the most painful…Not only was the product rubbish, but he couldn't get himself excited for it. It felt like he wanted to massacre the guy and his product, but he couldn't, because otherwise he would be failing to sell the product he's been paid to sell. But in any other situation, any other setting, he would've ripped it out of that guy and that game.
Brad Gallaway: Very true. I love Joel McHale, and he is hilariously funny. I watch him all the time. He is so acerbic in his wit; he has just one-liner after one-liner and put-down after put-down after put-down. Why would you get that kind of guy to host your thing? He's the perfect guy to have for a roast; you don't wanna have him for a positive product push. That was completely miscasting him in the role. He's a great guy, but that was a bad fit.
Mike Bracken: The problem with these conferences is that they get these business guys who are not good public speakers. This is why I love watching Jack Trenton every year at Sony. He's such a bumbling oaf that you almost have to like him. So they get these guys who don't have any sense of timing, and then they don't hire anybody who can write a good joke. So they give them these lame fucking jokes, and then the guys who have no comic timing anyway go up there on stage and die with these lame jokes and have no idea how to ad-lib or anything.
That's the one thing Sony got right, was bringing this Kevin Butler guy out who's an actor, who actually gets what he's supposed to do. So he gives me hope that they could get someone, like a professional to do these things. But then I think all the time: "Look. Every year at the Academy Awards, they hire these comedians, these great actors and stuff to host these shows, and they're always awful." I guess if you don't have good writing, it just doesn't matter who hosts it. For some reason, these advertising guys are getting paid a fortune and they all suck.
Tim Spaeth: Well, the company who gets it right is Blizzard, who for the last three years has brought out Jay Mohr the comedian to host BlizzCon. He writes his own material, he plays World of Warcraft, and he kills every year. I think you just have to find somebody who knows the product and who's willing to be a little self-deprecating about the company. To have somebody come out and make fun of themselves like Kevin Butler I think kind of humanizes them a little bit. That's an important thing.
Chi Kong Lui: While we're on hosts, did anyone else think that Reggie Filsa-amie was a little by-the-numbers this year? To me, he seemed disinterested, like he's on his way out or something, like he's looking for another job. He didn't seem as enthusiastic as he did in previous years.
Brad Gallaway: He didn't have any good memes or any good one-liners or anything. I was waiting for something along the lines of his famous kicking ass and taking names or whatever, and he was just kind of: "Here I am, and I'm reading."
Chi Kong Lui: Exactly. He just stuck to the script, yeah.
Mike Bracken: He was like: "I'm Reggie, and I'm a big deal, and now you just have to like me because you're supposed to. I don't have to win your admiration anymore."
Brad Gallaway: Any of you guys think he's really ugly? It's not like I'm really into looking at cute guys or anything, but…
Mike Bracken: Yeah. He's not a good-looking guy.
Brad Gallaway: Man, he looks like he should have a knife scar on his face.
Mike Bracken: Now we're gonna get more Nintendo hate mail, 'cause I'm gonna say he's a little Quasimodo-ish sometimes from some angles.
Chi Kong Lui: We're taking the Nintendo hate this episode to another level.
Mike Bracken: It's gotten real personal in here real fast.
Brad Gallaway: I'm sure he's a great guy; I'm sure he's a wonderful person, great father, whatever. It's nothing personal, but just looking at him, I'm like: "Man."
Sinan Kubba: Reggie, I think you're a perfectly good-looking guy.
Mike Bracken: You wanna distance yourself from us.
Brad Gallaway: He's gotta go back to Big Red Potion and live up to whatever he says. Here, he's gotta totally be careful of what he says.
Sinan Kubba: Just making sure I get that in for the lawyers. The one thing I did notice…I'm assuming all of us were watching on the Internet feeds. I stayed on for the after show, and Cammy Dunaway was there, relegated to the after show, after her antics from last year. She's still there, she's still around. We have sister channels to our main channels, and you get after shows. So you turn on Popeye, you'll get Popeye a little extra. It felt like she was getting the Popeye little extra role for the Nintendo conference.
Mike Bracken: See, I didn't know she was on at all. I didn't see that.
Tim Spaeth: She's had a makeover. She looked very nice. Yeah, she did.
Mike Bracken: Better than Reggie?
Tim Spaeth: Yes. If I had to go out on a date, I would choose Cammy over Reggie.
Mike Bracken: This is good to know.
Chi Kong Lui: We're way off the Kinect topic. I actually wanted to add some thoughts on Kinect, by the way.
Tim Spaeth: Go for it. And then I'm gonna raise a couple questions asked on our forums. But go to town.
Chi Kong Lui: I actually agree with Sinan in that I think the EyeToy is not a good comparison. In the presentation of the games for Kinect, they're already far surpassed anything that was ever put out on the EyeToy already. How long has the EyeToy been out? Since the PS2? They just never put anything on that thing at all. Yeah, you could call it a better EyeToy, but to me, they never even scratched the surface with EyeToy.
Brad Gallaway: So just to defend myself real quick, because I can already visualize the e-mails coming in. Yes, I agree with everything you guys said. My saying that it was like the EyeToy was, it's the same basic concept. Like Sinan said, it all comes down to implementation. So while Sony had this great product with a lot of potential—I don't know anybody who didn't have their jaw drop the first time they saw the EyeToy in motion. Mine did. Everybody I know's did. But it didn't go anywhere,
So it's like Microsoft is trying the same thing. Granted, technology's better, but seeing the implementation so far, it to me feels like the same kind of lines. Yeah, it may be better tech, but I don't see them pushing more boundaries; I don't see them doing anything that Sony didn't try. But then again, Sony didn't really try that hard.
Chi Kong Lui: Exactly
Brad Gallaway: They didn't put a lot behind it, yeah, for sure.
Chi Kong Lui: It's not like the Wiimote versus the Move. Nintendo definitely did more with the Wiimote, as much as they could've done, given the technology and all. The EyeToy was like a never was.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. It was like a big non-starter. So I'm definitely not making a one-one comparison, but just first impressions were: "Wow. This is the EyeToy all over again. We're gonna try this idea again." I'm probably about as enthusiastic for the Kinect as I was for the EyeToy, which is not much. But you guys are both completely right, and I do definitely agree that it is all gonna come down to how it's used.
Chi Kong Lui: Second of all, I thought Kinect Star Wars looked like absolute shit. I thought that was the worst-looking thing. It reminded me of the second coming of Rebel Assault. The guy's just standing there and shit's going around on screen, and you're just shooting at a CD-Rom, multimedia-type thing. I thought that was horrible. I don't know what people where thinking. They interviewed people: "Oh, yeah, I was excited. The minute they said Star Wars, I wasn't bored." I was like: "Not after that, dude."
That being said, none of the games looked particularly compelling. But I'm optimistic, for whatever reason. I think the Kinect is still a little bit different from the wand. Yeah, there is the facial recognition. If it works, that's gonna be pretty interesting. Putting stuff in front of the camera and it accepting it, I like those concepts. Maybe it's not the second coming of the Wii motion controls, but I can see it adding a lot of interesting gameplay elements to current games, and perhaps add to the evolution of current games, which is what I'm all about. I wanna see gaming progress, and not take this four steps backwards thing every single time another controller comes out.
Brad Gallaway: It's brilliant, what you just said. I totally, 100, a thousand times agree with that. I think the key thing is that whenever one of these things comes out, everybody at Sony or Microsoft or Nintendo is like: "Okay. This replaces what we had." Okay, wrong. That's a total fail. The only way that these things can work in my view—and I don't know if you guys agree with this or not—is as supplementary. If you have a regular controller and you have facial recognition, or some voice control on top of that regular controller, that to me is a move forward. But taking away all your regular controllers and replacing them with "wave your hand here, tilt your head over there," that to me is a total step backwards. What do you guys think about that?
Mike Bracken: I agree completely. That was actually a point I was just about to make before you did. We do this show, and, like you, I bitch about these things every time they come up. It's not that I'm inherently against games using motion controls. It's that I don't want motion controls to become the standard method of control for games. I don't think it offers the same level of responsiveness or the same kind of interactivity with the game. If you wanna have them as these little minigames and stuff like that, and its own thing, then that's cool. But I don't want every console to be like the Wii, where I'm constantly having to stand up and swing around a controller like an idiot all the time.
Chi Kong Lui: One comparison that I don't see made too often is that the Kinect can sort of be like the touchpad for the DS. There's still the gamepad and the four buttons and the shoulder buttons, but there's also that touchpad in the middle for the DS. The Kinect could be like that, too. It's just adding another level of things.
Sinan Kubba: I'm gonna come at it from a slightly different angle, actually. I disagree, in terms of Mike's point about it being for the minigame side of it and not for the main part of the games. I think that actually was one of the worst things about Microsoft's conference—that you had this first half-hour of very bloodthirsty, violent enthusiast games. You had Gears of War 3, Missile Gear, Solid Rising. I can't think of one game in that five or six games we saw which didn't involve lots of gore and violence. And then we got on to Kinect, with fluffy kittens and—
Chi Kong Lui: Skittles! Skittles!
Sinan Kubba: That was the creepiest thing in the world, by the way, the Skittles game. I applaud Nintendo with what they did with the Wii, 'cause at least they tried. At least they tried to incorporate the motion controls into games like Super Mario Galaxy and Zelda. Okay, it's not worked every single time, but playing Super Mario Galaxy 2, I wasn't offended by the motion controls. Spinning to attack and jump and stuff actually kind of works now. It doesn't always work, but just to take [unknown] of Microsoft and say: "We're just not gonna do this. We're not gonna put your Kinect into any of our mainstream games" is pathetic. It's rubbish. It immediately removes any interest I have for the product.
Chi Kong Lui: But there are certain games, like Children of Eden, that one is gonna have an option to use the Kinect controls.
Sinan Kubba: I'm kind of [unknown] about the conference in most [unknown.] That presentation, it was so separate and split down the middle.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. I think that's a problem with their presentation in general, as we all pointed out earlier. They tried to split everything in a "This is for you, and this is for you," and there isn't any synergy between the different products they have. Yeah, that's definitely an issue. My thing is, if they're going to put Kinect stuff in games like Gears of War, then I would hope that they would also keep the option to play it with a regular controller. But I'm like you. Honestly, the second they start showing people petting animals with it and shit, I'm like: "I'm not interested in this. This is not for me." If I wanna pet the dog, I have a dog. Why do I need a video game to fucking pet a dog or pet a lion?
Tim Spaeth: Theoretically, I was the perfect audience for Microsoft. Here I am, I'm the father who loves his violence. Show me lots of violent stuff. But it was all violent stuff we've seen before. And then I'm the father of two four-year-old girls, and now here's the motion control stuff, and I could see where Dance Central might be appealing to them. But then there's the Kinectimals and the girl petting the tiger on the screen, and I'm like: "I would never subject my daughter to that. Why would I want to do that to her? That's the most horrible, most unfun thing I've ever seen." Here I am. I'm the perfect audience for what they're trying to do, and they just miscalculated with the types of games they were presenting.
Chi Kong Lui: You should be a man. Get them a real pet, right? [Laughter]
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Do I wanna teach my four-year-old daughters that it's okay to pet tigers? Isn't there a potential lawsuit in all this at some point, when some kid gets mauled at the zoo?
Tim Spaeth: The most egregiously awful thing was that the little girl in the Kinectimals video was touching the television screen. I'm like: "I don't want my daughters' hands on my Sharp Aquos."
Mike Bracken: I just spent four years telling them not to do that.
Brad Gallaway: It's not about parenting; it's about your love of technology.
Tim Spaeth: So let's pull some questions from the forums here before we wrap up our press conference talk. I will ask for a quick answer from each of you. coils3 asks this simple question:
"Which of the two new motion-control technologies do you think will have the biggest impact for gaming?"
Sinan, I will start with you: what do you think? Move? Kinect?
Sinan Kubba: I'm gonna go with Move, because it was incorporated for some games and the price was more competitive than what we'll likely see for Kinect.
Mike Bracken: I'm gonna go with Move as well, for the exact same reasons. I think the way they have tried to already incorporate it into stuff like Killzone 3 and things of that nature is going to be something that makes it a little more interesting to the core gamers who have a PS3, whereas the Kinect has that minigame vibe to it.
Chi Kong Lui: I'm gonna go the other way. I think the $150 is a huge barrier, but I think Kinect just has a little more potential. The whole Move thing, with the waggle, waggle's had it's day already. I don't think people really care to have a more precise waggle. We know what it feels like to swing a bat. Do we really need it to be harder? 'Cause that's what it is. It's a harder version of what it was, and I don't think anyone wants that. Kinect is more interesting to me from a technology standpoint. Didn't like the demos either, but we'll see.
Brad Gallaway: I'm gonna go with Move, just because with my limited hands-on, I could see how it could be used in the right way. It is very sensitive. If the right game had it and you used it wisely, it could be an okay thing that I wouldn't mind using, as long as it didn't have me doing jumping jacks all across my living room.
Chi Kong Lui: Which it will.
Brad Gallaway: No, that's when I turn the console off. But I'm gonna go with Move.
Tim Spaeth: I would love to see Kinect succeed, because, like you said, Chi, we already have waggle. But, man, every Move ad is gonna have that $50 price tag on it, and that's gonna be huge. Even if that's deceiving, and $50 isn't giving you enough to have a full Move experience, that $50 price tag is gonna be plastered everywhere. If there's a real battle, I think that's gonna play a major role.
Also from our forums, just a couple comments about motion-control in general. This comes from Vince. Vince writes:
"First, I think it should be obvious that Sony and Microsoft pushed ahead with their motion controls because of pressure from stockholders and investors. This is important because the reason behind the controls. Nintendo did it not to stay alive…but because they had game ideas that needed this input in order to work. Because of this, Sony and Microsoft will not have that 'killer app' that Nintendo does with Wii Sports (whether or not you feel Wii Sports is just a demo and not a true game)."
Chi Kong Lui: I almost laughed when I read that part, that Nintendo did that out of necessity. Sorry. I'm not buying that at all, man.
Brad Gallaway: No, I think he's right. I think that what he said is basically fundamentally right, in that they weren't under pressure to come up with that particular technology. I think Nintendo was under the gun to do something because they weren't keeping up in the microchip wars with Sony and Microsoft. But I would say that I don't even think Nintendo had a killer app for it, once you got past Wii Sports. I think Vince is right, because nobody, as far as I'm concerned, has had a really killer app for the motion controls. Of course, I don't think that neither Sony nor Microsoft are really gonna go anywhere with it. But, yeah, it's certainly a cause-and-effect situation.
Tim Spaeth: Also on our forums, we had a survey: Who had the better press conference at E3 2010? 58 percent vote Nintendo, 24 percent Sony and 18 percent Microsoft. Our user Macstorm responds with this. He says:
"It's not so much that Nintendo was amazing. It was just that, compared to Microsoft's dull conference that pandered to certain media outlets over others and Sony's too-long conference of nothing new, Nintendo's retro rebirth games were shown quickly and were games some people at least wanted. Like it or not, Nintendo knows its audience and played them well."
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I would agree with that. Sony's conference was way, way too long, and Microsoft's was very bizarre. Nintendo almost wins by default, for not fucking it up as bad as the other two did. I can go along with that.
Tim Spaeth: Last comment before we pause here that was titled: "Does there have to be an E3 winner?" and this was written by Fuchal. He says there is not a winner; everybody lost. He says:
"I was hoping Nintendo would bring some ray of light to the table for the Wii, as that platform has been treading water for the past 18 months. Apart from a new Zelda title, my realistic (cynical?) outlook for the Wii was confirmed. No new IPs from Nintendo or 3rd party devs, more casual party games skinned with a Mario interface, and yet another DS variant to dump onto an already bloated market…Ultimately, there was no "WINNER" of E3. Two companies who lit the gaming world on fire from 2005 through to 2007 seem to have either lost their ways or stagnated in the ideas department."
Mike Bracken: Wow.
Brad Gallaway: Nice. I'm liking this guy.
Mike Bracken: I like this guy, yeah.
Tim Spaeth: He fits right in, he really does.
Chi Kong Lui: I actually agree with that. If you were gonna ask me the previous question, I actually changed my mind. I originally thought I was gonna say Microsoft by default, but after hearing you guys' comments, you actually convinced me that Microsoft did kind of fuck up on a lot of levels there, and I was just gonna call it a draw. So I totally agree with what he's saying, man. I don't feel anyone particularly won this one.
Mike Bracken: The only thing I would disagree with there is the assessment of the 3DS. I know, it's easy to call it yet another DS iteration, but I do think it offers enough, not so much in the 3D, but it's definitely a better level of graphics than what we've played on the DS up till this point. I wouldn't be quite that cynical about it, but everything else is pretty much spot-on there, I think.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. The 3DS is the only sure sell right now. There's been some negative comments, but we all seem to agree that we really want one. That's the only thing that's been a sure thing in this whole E3, I think.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, definitely.
Sinan Kubba: I'd get on with what Mike says, but I've actually said it does give Nintendo the win when you consider how cynical we were [about the] 3DS only a few months ago, when they were first talking about it. I'm not saying it's a huge Nintendo win. I still think it is a Nintendo win, but it's definitely a huge loss for Microsoft. I think it was a disaster for them.
Tim Spaeth: I don't know. In the history of this podcast, there is very little that all four of us like. So for 3DS to come around and for all of us to be excited about it, that says something.
Mike Bracken: Very rare.
Tim Spaeth: So why don't we pause? When we come back, we will name-check our "Games of Significance." Stay with us through the music. We'll be right back.
Tim Spaeth: As is tradition for our E3 podcasts, we will now talk about what we call our Games of Significance. These may be games that we're really looking forward to, or they might be games that we were looking forward to, but now that we've seen them at E3, maybe not so much anymore. We might be talking about some games that we were hoping to see but didn't. Sinan, as our guest, I will offer you the floor first. What are your Games of Significance?
Sinan Kubba: LittleBigPlanet 2. I think it's got the potential to be the best game if it comes out this year. I think everything we're hearing about it is immense and incredible—stuff like the AI for vehicles and four Sackboys. Everything sounds good. I was a bit disappointed it didn't demo quite as well as it has previously, but if that game lives up to expectations whereas the first one didn't quite meet them, then my God, that's gonna be a must-buy and probably gonna consume more time. When [unknown] software comes out, it's just gonna be incredible. I don't know if anyone else is excited. I feel like I've become a LittleBigPlanet 2 fanboy in the last few months. Just everything I hear about that game has made me so excited for it.
Tim Spaeth: If I'm not mistaken, I don't think any of us have spent much time with LittleBigPlanet.
Mike Bracken: No. I spent a little bit, but I don't own a PS3, so it was just when I was at a friend's house. But, yeah, the first game is cool. I definitely liked it. You could see where it had some potential that wasn't realized, so I'm interested in seeing what they do with the sequel, for sure.
Brad Gallaway: I spent a little time with it, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. I don't really have a lot of interest in designing levels, and when I saw how much work had to actually go into it…I'm sure that a lot of people like it, and I think it's cool that those tools are out there, but it's not something that I personally have a lot of interest in. The main game, I didn't care for the floaty controls and the way that the depth of field was fudged in there. It didn't do much for me, but then again, I can see the value in it, so I'm not gonna totally bag on it. I'm just gonna kinda recuse myself, since I know I don't like it already.
Sinan Kubba: Sure. I think for me, the positive things that are coming out of it are that they are trying to streamline finding the levels, which was one of the biggest problems in the first game. Hopefully, that will be much easier to do if they're talking about integrating social networking into it and proper search functions. That was one of the biggest problems with the first game: you couldn't really search for levels very effectively. The other thing is: How do you make it easier for people to play the levels? I think that's gonna be their biggest barrier again.
But I'm hoping that, because it won't be just platforming this time—you can do so much more. They're showing Space Invaders and racing games and all kinds of stuff, and I'm hoping that will maybe give it a bit more interest. I think it was a bit limited by being just a platformer. After a while, even with all the imagination in the world, a platformer just tires. I really want it to be as good as they promise. I don't usually get like that about games; I'm usually more pragmatic. But with LittleBigPlanet 2, I really want it to be as good as they're promising it to be.
Mike Bracken: As long as Peter Molyneux's not involved with it, you have a chance.
Sinan Kubba: Final Fantasy XIV as a game of significance, in terms of how little we saw of it, or how little it impressed. I'm starting to fear for that franchise. I wasn't a big fan of Final Fantasy XIII, and I've seen nothing to suggest that Square-Enix gets MMOs this time around. They've not really been forthcoming about talking about the shortcomings of Final Fantasy XI, which I felt like they need to be. It looks so familiar and typical and derivative and dull every time I see it.
Mike Bracken: It looks like Final Fantasy XI with high-res graphics. I agree with you, as someone who played the hell out of Final Fantasy XI. They have never come out and admitted the things that they screwed up in that game, and they screwed up a lot of things in that game that really held it back. From what I've seen of the alpha and everything, it does look like more of the same. Although a friend was showing me the other day that they have sped up the combat at least, so there's maybe some hope.
Chi Kong Lui: So now you'll only waste a million hours.
Mike Bracken: The funny thing is, I don't understand the rationale behind doing everything like Final Fantasy XI, because Final Fantasy XI didn't work in a lot of ways. Why didn't they go in an entirely new direction or something like that? I definitely look at it and feel that "Ugh" kind of "been there, done that" thing, too. [But I still will probably play?]
Sinan Kubba: Project Dust. Again, once I got to the conference, I felt like Ubisoft didn't sell us a game which we really should be more excited about. Do you think the name Eric Chahi's gonna be recognizable to anyone, beyond real enthusiasts?
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. When the name came up, my jaw dropped. I almost stood up. But I don't think anyone else is gonna really care.
Sinan Kubba: But when we get down to it, this is a game made by the guy who made Another World, and it's gonna be like Populous, and that's all I need to know to be excited about that game.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, me, too.
Chi Kong Lui: I'm not crazy about the whole Populous, Black and White vibe. But the name alone—I love Another World, Out of this World.
Mike Bracken: Man, you don't like Populous?
Chi Kong Lui: I never got into it. I wouldn't say I didn't like it; I just never got into it. It was a little before my time, or it wasn't the right time for me. That whole god genre, I'm not a big fan of.
Mike Bracken: Funny enough, I'm not either, except I love Populous for some reason.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah, the name alone for me was just like: "Man, this guy's made literally just two games." If there's an Orson Welles of video games, it's him.
Tim Spaeth: That's good. That's a good analogy.
Mike Bracken: That's a good line.
Chi Kong Lui: Him and Kenji Ino who's made three games, I think. What do these guys do to—
Mike Bracken: —feed their families? Yeah.
Sinan Kubba: One of the other ones was Epic Mickey, because I thought it was the most interesting demonstration in terms of how Warren Specter is probably one of the best speakers about video games. I could listen to him talk about video games all day long. He gave a fantastic speech. It's just a shame about the game that we saw next to it, which looked like a very standard N64-like platformer.
Mike Bracken: People were so excited about that, too, and I was like: "What are you seeing that I'm not seeing here?"
Brad Gallaway: I totally agree. When he finally demoed it, I was like: "This is what we've been looking forward to all this time?" Not like I was with bated breath awaiting its arrival, but I looked at it, and I was like: "Man, this looks dull. It looks boring." I'll play it, sure, but—
Chi Kong Lui: The art style is awesome, though.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, yeah. Capitalizing on the Disney vibe is always a win for sure, but the takeaway, the ink and paint and thinner mechanic of it? I was like: "Man, that looks totally prefab and boring and dumb" and all Warren Specter kept saying was: "You're creating your own experience," and "You're gonna craft your own world." I'm like: "No, you're not. You're gonna make this bridge appear that disappears and appears. There's nothing original about that."
Chi Kong Lui: All right. And now I'm gonna draw the line on that one. If anyone deserves a little bit of leeway, it's Warren Specter. He had me at the quote of: "Playstyle matters." I really do believe in that quote, and I'm excited about Epic Mickey for that one reason. I agree, the demo did not show it…if anything, it reflected what I said earlier about how all Nintendo's games look like they were stuck in a vacuum.
Brad Gallaway: Dude, don't get me wrong—I love Warren Specter. The dude is somebody that I honestly, genuinely respect, so this is not a personal attack against him at all. But when he got to the part about: "This is a quest zone where you talk to people and find your quest. This is a travel zone, where you walk from the quest zone to the action zone," I'm like: "Dude, oh, my fucking God. I cannot believe this." I was like: "Seriously?"
Sinan Kubba: If you removed that bit and go to the first half of his speech, it sounded pretty good. All the stuff about going through Disney's history and making Mickey Mouse a serious video game star. I'm like: "Yes, yes. Okay. Brilliant. I'm with you." If there was no game there, that would've been the best moment of E3.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. If it was just him talking. "You'll see this at some point in the future, but I'm just gonna tell you about it now."
Chi Kong Lui: I've played games at E3 that I thought were gonna be the shit, and when the final version came out I thought it was the worst. I'm thinking of Dead to Rights mainly. So I'll still stand by Epic Mickey, even though I haven't played it and the demo doesn't look good, based purely on that speech. I loved it as well.
Sinan Kubba: Me, too; me, too. My last one was Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. I just wanted to gauge everyone's thoughts on multiplayer coming to that, because I've never been a big supporter of Ubisoft and the Assassins Creed franchise. I don't know how I feel about multiplayer, because I feel like it should be a single-player game, that series. At the same time, after playing Assassin's Creed II, I'm willing to listen to new ideas.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. I think we're all pretty much anti-multiplayer on this show, aren't we?
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, for the most part.
Mike Bracken: Brad and I don't do a lot of multiplayer, and I hate Assassin's Creed. I haven't played II but I hated the first game with a passion. When they announced another one, I was just like: "Oh, I so don't care."
Brad Gallaway: I will say though: Granted, I'm with you on hating Assassin's Creed. I hated the first Assassin's Creed. I hated Assassin's Creed II.
Mike Bracken: It's so disappointing, 'cause it should be so fucking awesome. It's such a great idea.
Brad Gallaway: It should be 100 times better than it is, and it's not. But I will say that even though we are not the biggest multiplayer fans—I'm certainly not, that's for sure—this brought me back to Tenchu. Tenchu was a really cool game when it came out, and the thought that you could be a ninja going from rooftop to rooftop, doing team assassinations? Totally awesome. I was so down for that. Unfortunately, that never really came to fruition, and I'm hoping that maybe this new Assassin's Creed will pick up on that a little bit. If it does, I might really start to turn around on that franchise. But as it is, I'm gonna flat-out say I have no hope.
Mike Bracken: I have no faith that they will pull that off.
Brad Gallaway: Exactly. Exactly.
Chi Kong Lui: The tagline for our podcast should be: "United in hate."
Tim Spaeth: I am going to play the contrarian, because I adored Assassin's Creed II. One was what it was. I adored number two. When [Brad] did it on the show, I hadn't played it yet. I adored the game, and I'm gonna say "adore" a lot. I was all in on the narrative. I am just completely hooked on the story. What I want, though, is Assassin's Creed III, and I want the resolution to that story. I'm not ready mentally for anything else in Assassin's Creed. I think it's too soon. Give me a couple years, bring me the end of that trilogy and I will be perfectly happy. But multiplayer isn't something I ever considered as a possibility in that universe, and it's completely unappealing. It's kind of like multiplayer in BioShock. Why would I want that? That's not why I came to BioShock. I don't want it in Assassin's Creed, either.
Chi Kong Lui: I actually haven't played Assassin's Creed, but the one thing I will say is: In three parts, why can't they create a fighting engine that doesn't look completely borked? There's always guys that are just standing around.
Mike Bracken: It's like a Chuck Norris movie where they attack one at a time, seventeen guys in a row.
Chi Kong Lui: Exactly. They just stand there, and then the counter system, the animation is completely fucked. They attack him, and he just magically is blocking them. Dude, why?
Mike Bracken: I agree. Can I interject something off the record here? We fucking forgot to talk about the new Xbox.
Tim Spaeth: Oh, damn, we did. We at the very least wanna give Mike a chance to announce his new Xbox. Why don't we finish name-checking games, and then we'll do the Xbox, and then we'll do the introduction?
Mike Bracken: I just wanted to talk about it, 'cause I think it's hilarious that they're like: "This one won't red-ring because we got rid of the red rings."
Tim Spaeth: Right. "There are literally no red LED lights. Therefore…"
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, that's what they meant.
Chi Kong Lui: Why don't we just append it afterwards? Mike can say: "Oh, I forgot to mention, I got the new Xbox" and all that.
Mike Bracken: I didn't get one of the new ones. I just got one of the cheap ones. Because they lowered the prices, I went to Target and it was $130 for the Arcade with two games, and they gave me a $50 gift card on top of it. So I got one for $80.
Brad Gallaway: Hard to beat that price.
Mike Bracken: I'm all excited. That was a hell of a deal.
Chi Kong Lui: It's a good deal, yeah. I was just gonna say, it's not gonna change how we felt about Microsoft one way or the other. I think we could just tack it on at the end, as part of Mike mentioning that he's got an Xbox again. What do you guys think?
Tim Spaeth: That's fine. As long as we talk about it.
Mike Bracken: I just thought it was kind of a big thing. We should probably mention the 250 gigs and that ugly black that looks like it's a fingerprint magnet. It looks too shiny, and ugh.
Brad Gallaway: You know what would make me happy? If they sent one to everybody who's had at least two red-rings.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, that would be nice, huh?
Brad Gallaway: I've bought [unknown] worth of 360s, so I think they just owe me one gratis.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Or those people who got screwed because their 360 red-ringed after it was out of warranty.
Chi Kong Lui: Mike.
Tim Spaeth: As opposed to Oprah-ing the event and giving one to all the game journalists who probably have access to five 360s.
Chi Kong Lui: That burned.
Mike Bracken: I'm like: "Man, all the years I go, we get a fucking bag."
Sony gave us notebooks and pens one year.
Brad Gallaway: The pens were good, though.
Mike Bracken: Those were good pens. I will give you that; they were nice pens.
Chi Kong Lui: That shit really particularly burned, 'cause I was really considering going this year. I was really thinking about it. Man, so that really fucking burned when they did that.
Mike Bracken: All the years I choose not to go, and when it comes up I'm like pissed that I didn't go. It really burned this year because of that.
Tim Spaeth: All right. Well, I think we just talked about your new Xbox, Mike.
Mike Bracken: I think we did.
Chi Kong Lui: It burns!
Mike Bracken: I think it's funny, though: 250 gigs. I have 120 gig and I can't fill it up, so I don't know why they thought we needed that much.
Chi Kong Lui: You know what's filling it up for me? When you start porting over all the Rock Band and Guitar Hero and all that shit. It's like one game. Oh, man. My 20 gig is maxed out already now, so I desperately need a new hard drive.
Tim Spaeth: I just like being able to have four or five Xbox games just installed to the hard drive. I keep Mass Effect on there, 'cause there's gonna be DLC that I can go back to. I keep Borderlands on there, and then whatever games I'm playing. It's just nice to have.
Mike Bracken: So you actually install them on there? You don't just play them off the disc?
Tim Spaeth: I install every game to the hard drive.
Chi Kong Lui: It's a three percent improvement. Why bother?
Brad Gallaway: I don't notice when I do it at all. It's barely any difference.
Chi Kong Lui: That's why I don't do it. Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: It's not like it takes effort to install it. You pop the disc in, you let it install for five minutes.
Brad Gallaway: Five minutes is five minutes you could be playing instead of sitting there.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, you could be killing all kinds of shit in Too Human in that five minutes. You could've died 26 times in that five minutes.
Tim Spaeth: It's five minutes I spend doing push-ups and picking up chicks. That's what I'm doing in that five minutes.
Sinan Kubba: I do, too, but I think it's because I got my PS3 first before I got my 360 and that's all I know.
Brad Gallaway: They've indoctrinated you. You've been brainwashed.
Sinan Kubba: I feel weird playing a game straight from the disc.
Chi Kong Lui: Sinan is confused 'cause he didn't get that e-mail where we're supposed to be all high on coke while we do this show. He's like: "What the fuck is up with these guys?"
Brad Gallaway: Yeah.
Mike Bracken: We tend to derail a lot in the hour of the show that takes four hours to record. There's lots of side journeys.
Chi Kong Lui: We're really hyped up for this episode, for whatever reason.
Mike Bracken: I swear a lot.
Tim Spaeth: We get juiced for E3; I'm not sure what it is.
Mike Bracken: This is the one show I wasn't tired before we started. I was all ready for this.
Tim Spaeth: That's said, let's keep moving on. Let's move to Chi, who will now share with us his Games of Significance.
Chi Kong Lui: This is gonna sound weird because—
Mike Bracken: Dynasty Warriors.
Chi Kong Lui: Right. Well, that and all my main picks were already taken, so I'm not gonna mention them again. I'm gonna talk about Dance Central.
Tim Spaeth: There we go.
Brad Gallaway: This podcast has officially fucking jumped the shark.
Mike Bracken: Yes, it has.
Tim Spaeth: We don't know why it's significant yet. Perhaps he felt repulsed by it.
Chi Kong Lui: No, I just thought it was the one legit application for Kinect—mainly because of Harmonix's association more than anything else. The gameplay looked legit also, but that was the one game that seemed like a real game, as opposed to a minigame. Because of Harmonix, it may actually be a franchise. I secretly wanna know how to dance like a Backstreet Boy.
Brad Gallaway: Sure.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah.
Mike Bracken: Now it comes out.
Tim Spaeth: It's funny. Something struck me. Vince on our forums mentioned he has four daughters and that Dance Central is the perfect application for them. I was thinking the same thing for my girls. Four-year-olds don't stop moving: they're constantly in motion. They love to dance, they love music. I could see introducing that to them in their video game indoctrination that I'm planning for them.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. And my other game is kind of similar. It's Karaoke Revolution: Glee.
Mike Bracken: Jesus!
Tim Spaeth: Oh, no!
Mike Bracken: What the hell is going on here?
Tim Spaeth: Chi, what's happening?
Brad Gallaway: This is the most hardcore game podcast ever.
Chi Kong Lui: I love Karaoke Revolution; that's why my Xbox hard drive's running out. I decided to make it into a karaoke machine with Rock Band and Guitar Hero—not for the instruments, but for the karaoke. I love Karaoke, I love Glee. It's one of my favorite shows right now. Put the two together? Man, you just can't beat that.
Mike Bracken: I have to see Chi singing karaoke. This is something I must see before I die.
Chi Kong Lui: I know it sounds strange, but us Asians, man, we love our karaoke.
Mike Bracken: Yeah!
Brad Gallaway: If anybody but Chi said that—
Mike Bracken: —we would get so many letters.
Brad Gallaway: I know. I'm glad you said that, Chi, and not me.
Mike Bracken: We already got PETA pissed off this show; now we're gonna get the Asians mad.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, shit! Mike just said "the Asians."
Mike Bracken: "The Asians." Now we're done.
Tim Spaeth: God. Sirens going off outside my house.
Chi Kong Lui: The only other game of note that I wanted to mention is one of Brad's picks, so I'm not gonna steal it from him. It's Lost in Shadows, Brad, so why don't you take that one away. Go ahead.
Tim Spaeth: Let's transition to you, Brad. Your games of significance are…?
Brad Gallaway: Lost in Shadow to me looks like a winner. It's definitely got an ICO, arthouse vibe. It's about a boy who gets turned into a shadow or something. I couldn't make out exactly what was going on from the video. But rather than having a physical form, you play in shadow form. All of these levels that you play through are really detailed. There's lots of buildings and scaffolds and all kinds of weird archetectural things happening.
The player maneuvers the light sources in each level to manipulate the shadows into creating pathways for the shadow boy to travel. So you're actually playing everything in the background, even though there's all this stuff in the foreground. Seems pretty original, pretty fresh, and I really like the arty vibe to it. I'm a sucker for those kind of games. That one looked good to me.
The other game that caught my eye was one that I'm sure a million people are gonna pick—Metal Gear Solid: Rising. I'm actually not in love with the Metal Gear Solid franchise anymore. I was a really big fan of it for a long time, but Metal Gear Solid 4 was just the biggest steaming pile of horse crap to me, and I just really did not care for it. I lost a lot of respect for the series with that game.
Chi Kong Lui: In just one part? 'Cause I know you liked 3.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, I really liked 3 a lot. I liked 95 percent of 3. I thought it was really well-done, for the most part. 4 was this giant…Every time I think of 4 I think of Kojima stripping down to being naked and painting his wanker red and running down the street.
Mike Bracken: Doing cartwheels?
Brad Gallaway: Yeah. He just went off the deep end. It's like: "Dude, what the hell were you doing with this?" I have no clue where he was coming from, what he meant to do. The whole thing just screamed "Fail!" to me. But this one seemed interesting because of the "slice" mechanic. I wasn't aware previous to E3 of how in-depth the slicing was and how big a role that was gonna play. I thought it was just gonna be another Raiden shows up and he kicks people's asses or whatever. That's not too interesting to me.
But the way that they showed the in-depth dissection that can occur, and time stops, and you pick your slice of the enemies onscreen….It may turn out to be a one-trick pony, and there may not be more to the game than that, but that to me was something interesting that I hadn't really quite seen before. I'm kind of inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt. What did you guys think of that?
Mike Bracken: I'm so weird. Metal Gear just holds absolutely zero interest for me. I don't know why; I just have never been able to get into them. I look at every one before it comes out and I think: "Man, that looks pretty cool." But then if I get around to ever playing them, I never finish them. I don't ever make it very far into them, for some reason. It's a series that just doesn't click for me.
Sinan Kubba: I'm fully on board for it. I think everything you said, especially the cut mechanics, there's a lot to them. There's so much creativity that could be there in terms of how you use it, how you use the environment to get rid of enemies. The one thing that struck me was when it said: "What will you cut?" and I thought: "Oh, the trailer," 'cause it was only about three minutes long and I wondered where the other ten minutes were. I'm definitely excited for it.
Brad Gallaway: Cool, cool. The next one on my list was Vanquish, which I'm sure is gonna be another popular pick. I'm a sucker for mecha and powered suits and robotics and that kind of stuff. To have a fast-paced shooter with some kind of quasi-jet pack action and boosting and a lot of weird armor and stuff, that just kind of fits my fetish. It looked really good to me from that perspective. Honestly, it looked like nothing so much as Gears of War 3 running in fast-forward, so I'm not really expecting a ton of originality. But stylewise it did catch my attention.
One that I'm really expecting a lot out of, hopefully, is the new Deus Ex title. I'm a huge, huge, huge Deus Ex fan. I didn't really even come to that game until 15 years after it was originally out. And even at that time, it was still a mind-blowing experience. It was just incredible, and I cannot say enough good things about the original Deus Ex.
This one, I really hope that they nail it, and I hope that they bring the same kind of elements that made the first one so special. I would be totally fine with the original Deus Ex just totally revamped: better graphics, smooth out the rough parts and just have that, because the game is such a classic. That to me is one of the true touchstones of game history. It's a title that stands alone above so many others. I'm a little bit hesitant to hear the Square-Enix is involved in it.
Mike Bracken: Uh-oh.
Chi Kong Lui: Emo boy.
Brad Gallaway: The cut-scenes are great; everybody knew the Square cut-scenes were gonna be great, 'cause that's what they do best. But I don't really think that they've proven themselves in any other arena, and so I'm really, really holding my breath. Deus Ex is something that I don't wanna see crapped all over. Even though I didn't think the sequel was as bad as people said it was, the third one was really bad. Hopefully they get it right. Are you guys interested in this one at all?
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I am. It's interesting, you talking about: "I would like to just see the original redone, cleaned up." We just talked about GoldenEye, and redoing Deus Ex would make way more sense to me than redoing the original GoldenEye.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, dude, I totally agree. I think that Deus Ex has so much to offer. It has so much groundbreaking stuff. It's so deep, and so many games have tried to ape it and just failed. The funny thing is, it's so old, but still it trumps over so many other games.
Mike Bracken: It's aged surprisingly well, I think, for as old as it is. When you go back and play it, it's ugly and certainly technology has advanced and it suffers in that regard. But when you start thinking about how old it is, it's definitely aged pretty well. You can still sit down and play it and have fun with it even now.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, it's amazing. Once you get past the graphics, it's just a superb, superb, unparalleled experience.
Sinan Kubba: Not to derail you too much, but can someone explain to me with GoldenEye what's going on with Daniel Craig?
No one's been able to explain to me what he's doing there. I don't get it.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: We were wondering the same thing earlier.
Chi Kong Lui: Tim actually did explain it: He's playing Pierce Brosnan.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Sinan Kubba: Oh, I see! That makes perfect sense. Okay, sorry. Stupid question on my part.
Mike Bracken: [Unknown] moment of clarity on this show.
Tim Spaeth: That's right.
Chi Kong Lui: I had one question on Deus Ex. Had they hinted at any of the new features, or what's the new hook or anything like that?
Brad Gallaway: They've said in a couple of interviews that they're gonna remain as faithful as possible to the source material. In that, they've talked about changing some of the options that the player had, but making everything integrated into the new human augmentation system that they have. It sounds basically like the same thing that was happening in the first Deus Ex, just a different name and a few different tweaks. But it sounds like they still are on board with having everything be an upgradable power and letting the player pick and choose what abilities they have. As long as they stay in that vein, I think everything's gonna work out.
Tim Spaeth: I've never played Deus Ex.
Mike Bracken: Really?
Brad Gallaway: It's one of the best games of all time, without question.
Mike Bracken: That's your homework for next week.
Brad Gallaway: You must play that game.
Tim Spaeth: All right. Done.
Brad Gallaway: Even in this day and age, even with how ugly it's gonna look and how rough it's gonna control, that game is mind-blowing, dude.
Mike Bracken: Yep.
Tim Spaeth: I will see if I can pull it down on PC from somewhere. Brad, what else is on your list, sir?
Brad Gallaway: As cynical and jaded as I am, I do have a little bit of fanboy in me kicking around somewhere. I do have to say that I let out a little bit of a girlish squeal when I saw Kid Icarus for the 3DS. Kid Icarus is a good character. Even though the original game is not really that fun and not very good, I have really fond memories of it and I acknowledge that.
I think it's a great license that never got its due. There's a lot of potential there, and I was so disappointed that over the years Nintendo just failed to do anything with it except for Smash Brothers, which I fucking hate. To have Kid Icarus get a real, genuine action title, which looked pretty good—nothing mind-blowing, but it looked really solid and good—I'm thrilled. I'm glad that Pit is finally getting his due; he's making a return in an actual game all to his own. It just made me smile.
Mike Bracken: I'm the same as you. I think back fondly to that game, yet I know it wasn't very good. Why are we all so nostalgic for this game that actually, when you think back to it, kind of sucked?
Chi Kong Lui: I wasn't gonna go there, Mike, but since you put it out there, I don't quite get the…I wasn't a fan.
Tim Spaeth: I know the answer to this question.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, I can answer it, too.
Tim Spaeth: Now my answer is going to be wrong. What we all remember is when you finally assemble the gear and you're on the last level, when it basically becomes a shooter. You get the wings and the shield and the laser-bow or something, and there's that glorious Kid Icarus music. It basically becomes Gradius for the last level of the game. That level is magnificent and completely eclipses everything else in the product. That's what I remember about it.
Brad Gallaway: Interesting, interesting. My answer's completely different than that one. I was gonna say, when the Nintendo first hit and Nintendo was branding all their boxes with the same font and the same design, they all had that 45 degree tilt to all the characters. When Nintendo first hit, it was Super Mario Bros, Metroid and Kid Icarus and there was the same giant push. They were all being pushed as these triple A-tier characters. They all had the same box; they all had the same designs, so you felt like, buying this game: "Oh, I love these other games. This is a big game; this is an important game; this is a big character Nintendo's gonna stick with, and so I'm on board with this."
And everybody bought it. Everybody I knew had played it, so it was a common theme for everybody to be able to talk about it. I think, really, it's the branding more than anything else. It just was really brilliant marketing at the time, positioning Pit to be the equal of Samus and Mario, although history has shown that really didn't pan out. It was certainly burned in my mind that way.
Tim Spaeth: That's a good point. If you remember, the original Nintendo boxes were black with that slanted text. But Metroid and Kid Icarus had silver-gray boxes.
Brad Gallaway: Special boxes.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah. They were special boxes, and they were pushed as the first two "password" games, so you could save your game with a password. Yeah, you're absolutely right.
The other thing was, I had gotten Metroid, and I convinced my mom to purchase Kid Icarus for me as well by telling her it would teach me about Greek mythology.
Mike Bracken: And she went for that, huh?
Tim Spaeth: Well, I realize now she was just being nice. Now that I'm a parent, I realize—
Brad Gallaway: How much slack she cut you?
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, exactly. I get it now. She wasn't falling for that in the slightest.
Brad Gallaway: Sinan, we all are aware of what kind of presence Kid Icarus had in the States, but how did it play over on your side of the water?
Sinan Kubba: I was just gonna say, I didn't want to piss on your parade too much. But I was watching the Nintendo conference with a friend, and he did say: "Wait—the little dude from Captain N?
Kid Icarus was not a big game over here, I'm afraid. The NES wasn't big over here, full stop, so it's not impacting outside of America at all. We're just going: "What? Okay, sure."
Brad Gallaway: Interesting, interesting. Well, that's my list.p
Tim Spaeth: There you go. Thank you, Brad. Mike?
Mike Bracken: Yes. Here I am with your daily dose of bitterness. I watched all this E3 coverage and saw a lot of games. I know last year we got a lot of flack for being cynical and bitching. I don't know: maybe I'm just pissed off and cynical and a jerk. But everything this year had this sort of "me, too" vibe to it again. I like Gears of War, but I'm not super-excited about Gears of War 3. Bullet Storm looks like Gears of War with different characters, basically, and slightly different ways of killing people. And Halo: Reach, yeah, I'm sure I'll play all that stuff and it's kind of interesting. But none of it was super-exciting.
But instead of things I was excited about—although we did talk about a couple of them along the way—I found things that were more like big disappointments for me this year. So I'm gonna share some of the games that I thought were hugely disappointing, or things that didn't resonate with me at all. First off was the new Front Mission from Square. Did any of you guys see that trailer at all?
Tim Spaeth: No.
Chi Kong Lui: I saw it; I was actually excited by the trailer.
Mike Bracken: Let me clarify then, because maybe I misunderstood it: Did they just take Front Mission, which has been a mech strategy RPG and basically just turn it into fucking MechAsssault instead? Is that what they did?
Brad Gallaway: Yes. I think that's correct.
Chi Kong Lui: Did they really do that?
Mike Bracken: Yeah. It's not a strategy RPG now; it's an action mech shooter.
Chi Kong Lui: I didn't know that. They always do that. They always have this kick-ass intro. [Unknown] with the robot doing all this crazy shit, and then it's a turn-based game.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. I was: "Okay, new Front Mission. Those are generally fun strategy RPGs," which I like. So I was excited, and I sit down and watch the trailer. Dude, now it looks just like fucking MechAssault. We have enough of those kind of games.
Chi Kong Lui: But there hasn't been a good one.
Mike Bracken: No, there hasn't. But this one doesn't look like it's going to be a good one either. This is one of those things like we were talking about earlier. Square has certain strengths, and I don't think action mech shooter is necessarily something they're going to excel at. I was definitely disappointed by that.
I was also disappointed by Castlevania: Lord of Shadows—the new 3D Castlevania—which looks like God of War in Castlevania-Land. Castlevania's this franchise that I've fucking loved. I've loved Castlevania all my life, 'cause I'm a horror guy and it was fun. Those were some of the first horror games on a console. It doesn't translate to 3D. They've tried it how many times now? It just doesn't work.
So here we are again. I guess we're supposed to be excited because Kojima's overseeing it or something, but when you watch the footage it literally just looks like God of War and Dante's Inferno, basically. I like God of War as much as the next guy, and I thought Dante's Inferno looked like a good rip-off of God of War. I haven't played it, so I can't really comment on it. But it's like: "Really, Castlevania? This is what we've come to now? We are so desperate to make this work in 3D that we're just gonna reskin God of War?" It was totally disappointing.
But then on the same token, we've got yet another Metroidvania game coming for Xbox Live Arcade, which I guess has multiplayer as its big selling point. It looks kind of cool, but again, they're taking the same sprites that they used in the last couple DS games and just reusing them here. I'm not really sure why we're supposed to be excited about this stuff. Those were definitely disappointments as well.
A weird thing that was a disappointment, even though I expected it would be was Splatterhouse. Namco's bringing that franchise back. Because I cover a lot of horror games, I'd seen a lot of stuff about it leading up to its release. The trailer, the gameplay footage was absolutely awful-looking. Really, it just looked really repetitive and boring and just like a typical beat-em-up type thing. And then it does this weird thing where it shifts to sidescrolling platforming, so I don't know who thought that was a good idea.
Tim Spaeth: How about Golden Sun?
Mike Bracken: Oh, yes, Golden Sun, yeah. I'm excited about Golden Sun because I like the Gameboy Advance games. On the other hand, though, the move to 3D, I thought the graphics in the trailer looked like ass. Why take this series that was so…Golden Sun had really pretty battle screens and stuff on the Gameboy Advance in 2D. Why take that and mess that up and make it 3D if you're gonna make it ugly 3D? Disappointing E3 for me.
Chi Kong Lui: What about Star Wars the MMO?
Mike Bracken: I was gonna let Tim talk about Star Wars, and then I was going to discuss with him, since we're MMO guys.
Tim Spaeth: That'll be a private MMO discussion. I'm just letting the gang know, we don't want you interrupting for that private discussion.
Mike Bracken: Yes. Leave the MMOs to us.
Sinan Kubba: I got the impression when they said Golden Sun at the Nintendo conference, it was the same eight or nine people cheering as it was last time.
Mike Bracken: Yes. Yes. I did, too. It's funny. The weird thing about Golden Sun is, you look at it and neither of those games are groundbreaking or anything. The reason I always liked them is because they're throwbacks to the 16-bit RPGs, where everything now RPG wise is so fucking convoluted and complicated for no good reason. The way they did the battle screen—the turn-based battles—it was cool-looking, especially on a handheld. Then you look at this now, and it doesn't even really look like Golden Sun. So what is the point of bringing this franchise back, only to change it completely into something that nobody really wants in the first place? It was definitely a bummer. And that's my bitterness.
Tim Spaeth: That's Mike's bitterness. Very bitter, and that's how we like you.
Mike Bracken: Thank you. I don't like to disappoint, so I always bring the bitterness.
Tim Spaeth: I have two games I'm looking forward to. I have two games I'm disappointed we didn't see, and I have two games that disappointed me that I was actually really excited about, coming into the show. The two games I'm really looking forward to: the first is Civilization V for the PC. I have played every iteration of this franchise. This will not be an exception. The game looks fantastic. This is a Civ with actual cutting-edge graphics, which we have not had before.
I think the transition from a square-based world map to a hex-based one is very interesting. It harkens back to my old board game, war-gaming days. The elimination of unit stacks—we'll have just one unit per hex, so no more stacking 12 musketeers to wipe out a Gulf War-era tank. That's something that's very appealing. I think it's gonna be very interesting strategically. Full support through Steam and SteamWorks. I support that platform, so I cannot wait. I know you guys are huge Civilization fans. Who's with me?
Mike Bracken: I actually like Civ, so yeah. I'm not one of those people who's nutso about it, but I can see how you get addicted. Yeah, I definitely was excited when I saw it.
Tim Spaeth: Also looking forward to Dead Space 2: Return of Dead Space. Big fan of this game. Mike, I know you are too. My excitement for the franchise rekindled with the Wii version of Dead Space, Extraction, which I think is a really underrated game, and I would recommend anyone check out.
Doing some interesting things in Dead Space 2. Isaac, the protagonist, he is no longer mute. You're actually going to see his face. He's going to have dialogue; he's going to be an actual character who reacts to the hell around him. I think that was a criticism that you had, Brad, of the original game. It was another "mute protagonist" game. I think that having a really good character and having an interesting story and narrative is gonna enhance this game quite a bit. Any of you excited about Dead Space 2? Mike, I'm sure you are.
Mike Bracken: Yes, definitely. Definitely looking forward to that one.
Brad Gallaway: I'm cautiously excited. Like you said, I had a lot of criticisms of the first game. It was beautiful and smooth and polished, but I felt that it was lacking a lot of soul, and it made a lot of stupid decisions in terms of task design. The silent protagonist I felt was just utterly ridiculous that they would try to pull that off. I would definitely be willing to give it a shot. I didn't hate it; I just didn't think it lived up to expectations. It sounds like they're addressing some of those issues.
Tim Spaeth: So that's what I'm really looking forward to. Two games that I was hoping to see any hint of. The first was Borderlands 2.
Chi Kong Lui: Oh, God.
Brad Gallaway: Whatever, dude.
Chi Kong Lui: This is the new Too Human.
Mike Bracken: Too Human 2: More Humaner.
Tim Spaeth: I'm not so deluded that I would think that I'd see a Tooo Human 2. Borderlands 2, or some are hinting that it's going to be called Borderworlds, because they bought the URL for that. Just a trailer, just a teaser, anything. A poster, just so I know somebody's thinking about it. Somebody's working on it. And this was on my list from last year: Whatever Ken Levine and Irrational Games is working on. How they have managed to keep it a secret for so long, I don't know. But they have basically bought a guaranteed purchase from me, thanks to BioShock and Freedom Force and System Shock 2. I will go down whatever path Ken Levine takes me down. I just wanna know what he's working on. Waiting for that announcement.
Now we come to two games that I'm now a little bit nervous about, kind of disappointed in. The first one I think will come as a surprise to long-time listeners of this show, and that's Portal 2. I'm a little nervous about Portal 2. So much of the original's charm was in its simplicity, its minimalist design. Portal 2 really looks overdone, overweight, over-designed. I get that it takes place hundreds of years in the future, allegedly. The test lab is overgrown with a jungle. But there's just so much clutter in the game. There are power-ups now and colored ooze that makes you run faster. It just seems like Valve has decided to throw as much into this game as possible. It just seems like the obvious direction to go with that design.
This is what I would expect if Valve have given Portal 2 to another developer, to a less creative developer, and they said: "Oh, we'll just blow it up! We'll make it four times as long, and we'll make the puzzles ten times harder." That's what this looks like to me, and I expected more from Valve. I expected something different. Certainly, this is gonna be a game that I purchase and it's something that I play. I hope I'm wrong, but I have a bad feeling about Portal 2. What do you guys think?
Chi Kong Lui: We had this discussion on our site, actually. During the Uncharted 2 controversy, we were debating that. Someone had brought up: "Where does Portal really go?" That game in particular has a challenge of exactly what you're describing. Do they just up the ante, or do they really need to go in a different direction? I think what you're saying is reflective of that.
Sinan Kubba: The disappointment for me was that Portal 2 ever got announced in the first place. I always thought the natural progression would be that we would get Half-Life 2: Episode 3, foolish thought.
And that we'd see the Portal demo in it. That's the one thing that I didn't get to mention earlier: Where was anything about Half-Life? How many years can we go? I just don't know.
Mike Bracken: Portal 2 left me very concerned about it, and almost disinterested, but not nearly as excited as I wanted to be.
Brad Gallaway: It's exactly like BioShock. I think that the appeal of something like a BioShock or a Portal is that it's new; you don't really know what it's about, and the newness and the freshness and the surprise and the discovery of that game is half the appeal. Everybody knows what the Portal gun is now. I would've rather had them put out random level packs for it or something. That would've satisfied people who wanted more Portal, and it would've made more sense. Like you guys said: Where do you go with it? I have a concern that it's just gonna cash in.
And also, Sinan, like you said, what's up with Half-Life? It's almost a joke, how long it's taking. I think expectations are getting raised so high. When it comes out, it's gonna automatically disappoint, because we've been waiting so long, and they've put it off for so long. There's no way it can live up to what people are expecting.
Sinan Kubba: They'll have to rename it Half-Life Forever.
Tim Spaeth: The last game on my disappointed list: I have done a complete 180 on this. This was on my most looked forward to list from last year, and I could now not be less interested in this game: Star Wars: The Old Republic. A lot of this has to do with my perception of BioWare. I really believe that BioWare is overextended. I think they are reaching. Mass Effect 2 was fine; it wasn't special. I think those last 90 minutes that most people seem to think were the best 90 minutes were not earned by the 20 hours that preceded it. Dragon Age, so help me, God, I have tried so many times to get into it, guys. It is so boring. I cannot go on, and I have given up. Every character blathering about grey wardens: "Grey Warden, grey warden, grey warden." I can't do it anymore.
I just don't feel like BioWare in this generation past the original Mass Effect have shown that they can create a complete experience with all cylinders firing. While the CG trailers for Old Republic had been amazing, it's not indicative of what this game is at all. It's Star Wars World of Warcraft.
Chi Kong Lui: Exactly.
Mike Bracken: Warcraft, yep
Tim Spaeth: I'll be completely honest: If a Star Trek MMO—a really good Star Trek MMO—couldn't pull me away from World of Warcraft, I don't think a BioWare-managed Star Wars MMO will be able to, either. Look, BioWare has no MMO experience, and their post-game support, their DLC has been abysmal. They have a terrible track record here. I just don't feel like this game is gonna do it for me. Mike, tell me I'm wrong.
Mike Bracken: No. I agree completely. When I saw the footage I was surprised, 'cause I'm like: "Oh, it's Star Warcraft." It looks like another WoW clone. I understand that you're making an MMO, and here's Blizzard, who has this game that's the runaway success of this genre, you're gonna take another license and try to do what they do to make it work.
But I just looked at it, and I was really, really let down by what I saw. I quit playing WoW, because after I got to a certain point I just lost interest. I totally don't wanna start over; I don't care if I can be a Sith Lord or not in the process. There's just a lot of concern there, and I agree with you about BioWare's downloadable content and stuff. I haven't played all their games this generation, but I've heard from other people that the downloadable stuff is not as good as it should be. Them coming in as a new company that hasn't run an MMO before, that doesn't mean it's going to be bad but it's definitely an area of concern. Then when you see the gameplay just doesn't look very exciting, I'm just really not interested now.
Chi Kong Lui: But there's gonna be voices!
Sinan Kubba: I'm also 100 percent with you, Tim. Regards the CGI trailer, I was shocked. I was following EA's conference with a lot of friends on Twitter, and I was shocked at how many of them were going: "OH, my God! That trailer's amazing! Day one purchase!" It's a CGI trailer. Unbelievable response
The second thing is the arrogance of BioWare with regards to bringing storytelling to MMOs, and saying that they will do something new to this when Blizzard have put huge amounts of lore into World of Warcraft. That game is full of story. I don't quite see what BioWare are actually bringing to the table. They've said a lot of [good talk?]. When you get down to the nitty-gritty of what they're actually bringing in terms of story, there's nothing to suggest that, beyond it being Star Wars, woo-hoo!, it's actually gonna be different from any other MMO, like you said.
Chi Kong Lui: The G4 demo focused on how you can create a tank, and there's a healer.
Mike Bracken: It's just all the same MMO shit, just with Star Wars skins, basically. I don't expect them to reinvent the wheel or anything, but when I look at it and I go: "Oh, that's basically just the World of Warcraft interface," why wouldn't I just go fucking play World of Warcraft, then?
Chi Kong Lui: I agree 100 percent with Sinan that the CGI trailer at this point is an embarrassment. In this day and age, you gotta be showing in-game footage and not teasing us with stuff that will never happen. Games actually look like the trailers now. You don't have to make a trailer to try to sell a point like you did in Resident Evil: Code Veronica, which I'm amazed that people actually think that the intro is great. All it did was highlight how much you couldn't do in the game. Metal Gear Sold 2 was great because in their E3 footage, they showed you actual gameplay that was there. That's a legendary E3 moment. Take a note from that.
Tim Spaeth: It is very, very late. In fact, Sinan, can you see sunlight where you are?
Sinan Kubba: Oh, I saw sunlight about an hour ago.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, no!
Tim Spaeth: Dawn is breaking. Thank you so much for staying up with us and sacrificing sleep. Let's mention again your podcast: Big Red Potion, is available on Internets all over the world.
Sinan Kubba: I just wanted to say thank you so much for having me on and for waiting for me. I'm sure they're too humble to mention it, but these guys have waited 45 minutes for me whilst I got stopped by police. Not arresting me, or anything, but that's a long story I'm not gonna go into.
I'm the co-host of a show called Big Red Potion, which Brad has been a guest on quite a few times now, actually. We're very much like you guys. We like to talk topic and break it down and try to get into the meat of it and spark some debate on gaming stuff that really matters. I'd like to think that fans of your show would enjoy our show.
Tim Spaeth: I know you have a Twitter, if you'd like people to follow you on Twitter. Folks, you should follow him on Twitter.
Sinan Kubba: You will be disappointed. I am at twitter.com/shoinan
Tim Spaeth: Beautiful.
Chi Kong Lui: Way to sell that, man. Way to sell that.
Sinan Kubba: I'm looking forward to that huge litany of followers.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. You should get at least 3. I think there's 3 people who listen to this show.
Chi Kong Lui: Sinan's one of them.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I was gonna say: But you might only get two, 'cause you're probably one of them."
Sinan Kubba: I certainly do follow me on Twitter.
Brad Gallaway: Follow yourself, buddy, follow yourself.
Tim Spaeth: All right. Sinan, thanks again for being with us, and my thanks also to Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway and Mike Brakcen. To our listeners, if you survived this nearly three-hour epic, my hat's off to you. We can't thank you enough. Leave your comments at GameCritics.com—your questions, your thoughts, your hopes and dreams. That's all from us. E3 2010, the book is closed. We'll do it again soon. Have a good night, everybody, and bonne chance.
That's not my closing; that's not what I say. What the hell? What the hell am I doing? I don't say "Have a good night." I say "Good night." Anyone else wanna say it?
Brad Gallaway: No. You can put it in later, dude.
Tim Spaeth: Good night and bonne chance. Okay, now here we go.
But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).
Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.