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Some Thoughts On E3 From Far, Far Away

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I am unwise. Instead of being attentively merged with my desk during one of the busiest times of year for us gaming news types, I instead found myself deep in some far off wilderness. It’s nice up there. And I needed a couple of hours not spent looking at a glowing screen or sleeping.

Now however I have returned to the bleeping folds of technopolis, and I am mesmerised in some kind of info-tunnel of game news. Can this really be healthy? All the games news at once? Are you sure? Well then, I suppose we’d better try to spend a few moments digesting what we’ve seen.

The hype drip-feed becoming a free flow has left me with a kind of aching pre-release tension. I was feeling unusually uptight and irritable anyway, but the forward-looking wash of coverage from the E3 massive is making me yearn for hours of gaming escapism that I know await me in the coming months. I know it’s a horrible kind of electronic-high addiction-anticipation, and I simply don’t care: I want to be engorged with imagination-meats. Feed me, entertainment industry! Feed me!

The richest sustenance in the months ahead probably lies in what Maxis are conjuring with Spore, but it’s nevertheless the candy-rush of action games that really has trying to fast-forward time. The Mirror’s Edge trailers are making me feel quite giddy, even though I suspect it’ll be brutally short and possibly even a minor disappointment. I say this simply to guard against that horrible possibility: the demonstrations and footage of the game promise so much… What if they deliver too little? It /does/ have that weird quality of being just alien enough that we simply can’t know how good it’ll be. It could be a singular piece of excellent game design that does nothing to change the course of gaming, it could be a brave failure, or it could be one of those massive shake ups that acts like an Earthquake across many game genres. I hope it’s the latter.

I’ve talked already about how much I’m awaiting Far Cry 2 and Clear Sky, so let’s skip them and move on to Fallout 3. I think it looks fucking splendid.

I suspect that it will be an uncomfortable hybrid of action game and RPG, and I predict I’ll get bored before the last third of the game, never completing it and always meaning to go back and play it “one day”. The RPG aspect will have a couple of moments of absolute genius, and then ham along as best it can for the rest of the game: but it will be enough. Fallout 3 is still clearly going to be one of the finer places to take a excursion to via your PC. The naysayers can say nay all the way but I say hurray. Okay?

Wolfenstein on the other hand does not look like it remembered to check what year it was. The visuals do seem to be trundling along in 2008, but the rest of the game really makes me think back to the grim, far off days of my full-time employment on PC Gamer, just after the turn of the millennium. Maybe it’ll be fun, but I suspect it will underwhelm like pre-packed sandwich. Perhaps Singularity will be better. There’s a video over here.

Speaking of underwhelming: That Rage trailer left me gazing out of the window… look at those lovely trees. So, Id Tech 5 is texture-breathing wonder, but there was almost nothing in that trailer of any interest or value for us, the gamers, to get excited about. Hype-gold of a very poor carat indeed.

Finally: I’m feeling like I might actually sit down and play The Witcher when the enhanced edition arrives… And I’m really not sure about the Left 4 Dead character changes. The original four we sitting in my imagination just fine. Seems like change for its own sake, really.

All in all it’s looking like a glittering final third of the year, and I’m really excited for what RPS is going to be able to write about between now and Christmas. Will it beat 2007 for incredible gaming experiences? You know, it just might.

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Jim Rossignol

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