Square Enix has a very, very full booth at this year’s E3. Everything from action-adventure to role-playing, puzzle, and stealth, games were pouring out of every corner of the publisher’s massive space in South Hall. Quantity? Check. But how about quality? High-profile titles such as Kingdom Hearts, Hitman, and Tomb Raider abounded, and there were a few surprises that stirred the pot and kept things fresh and exciting. While it’s hard to list them all, here are some of our picks.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is a new 3DS title in the franchise that will finally bridge the gap between Kindgom Hearts 2 and the (presumably) upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3. We’re also fairly certain the title was made up to fill in the required 3D’s, as it is nonsense.
Players were allowed to choose from two separate experiences, depending on which character they selected: Sora or Rikku. Regardless of whether you choose Sora or Rikku, players are magically whisked away to the world of Disney’s The Three Musketeers, the 2004 straight-to-video animated film that is currently at 33% on Rotton Tomatoes. After wrapping your head around that for a bit, it’s worth noting a few new features. For one, all of the original cast of voice actors is back — meaning the child robot star Haley Joel Osment will be leading the cast. The entire cast has always been pretty stellar, so it’s comforting to know they’re stil on board for a series that is now celebrating its 10th anniversary.
The controls for KH3D are fairly similar to previous games in the series, with the exception of a magic bar that has to refill after being used and can be switched on the fly. The flair of Kingdom Hearts 2 combat didn’t shine through in the demo, making it feel more akin to the staler fighting system in the first game. The ability to wall jump will consume all of a player’s time. Leaping from walls allows characters to dash around through the air quickly and can be followed up with an devastating attack that slams down to the ground. Not only is it cool and an excellent way to move around, but it’s addicting. So very addicting.
At this point it’s hard to tell what to expect from the game. Mega fans will love it regardless, but everyone else might need a little more convincing. While not terrible, it was a pretty average experience that didn’t have me jumping out of my seat like the main series’ sequel did.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance will hit the 3DS July 31, 2012.
Hitman was always a series that was hard to resonate with for some. Slightly overshadowed by another popular stealth game at the show, Square Enix is touting Agent 47 as the “original assassin” to mark territory and keep interest in the series.
With a greater focus on action and gunplay, Hitman: Absolution opens up even more choices in how to eliminate targets. The demo provided several options for players — everything from poisoning a meal, to luring them into an ally disguised as their drug dealer (very elaborate), to sniping, to just running in gun a-blazin’. Personally, it didn’t feel like a giant leap from its predecessors. The controls were solid and the capacity for creative kills makes it an interesting title, but its pacing and lack of innovation makes this one that probably best left for fans of the franchise.
Hitman: Absolution hits PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 on November 20, 2012, just one month after its competition. Ouch.
How does a game designed by Kim Swift, former Valve lead designer and co-creator of the critically acclaimed Portal, play? Just as you’d expect: fun as hell. Quantum Conundrum may borrow a bit from Portal‘s idea of testing through puzzles, but the game has a lot of personality and is a uniquely humorous romp through a funky world full of unpredictability and wonder.
There were three dimensions available to play with: the “Fluffy Dimension” makes everything soft and light as 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton, “Heavy Dimension” will turn things to steel, making them exceedingly heavier, and “Slow Motion Dimension” sort of speaks for itself. Causing these shifts helps player navigate several levels that involve utilizing everything from safes to living room furniture.
While I didn’t fall head over heels in love with it, and the big laughs weren’t as rapid fire as I’d hoped, I still wanted to play more, and I took into account that Portal has spoiled me rotten. It certainly has concepts I’ve never seen anywhere else. The ideas are fresh and a demo is only a taste of what is available. Quantum Conundrum has a lot of potential and it’s more than likely that the completed game will provide a lot more of the exciting surprises and fancifulness we’ve come to expect from the creative mind behind Portal.
Quantum Conundrum hits the PC on June 21, 2012, and PSN & XBLA Summer 2012.
Set in modern day Hong Kong, this dramatic crime story has elements of several gaming genres sprinkled throughout. Beginning after a brief meeting with a triad boss, undercover police officer Wei Shen is sent to find and cause trouble for a guy that has crossed the triads.
Sent out into the world, gamers are required to navigate a very authentic city that is rife with all of the sights and sounds you’d expect to find in a real, bustling metropolis. The sightseeing tour ends quickly, however, once the target is found, who immediately makes a break for it. Wei must maneuver his way through people and over obstacles using a system that is inspired heavily by parkour. Smart, on the fly decisions are the only way to survive the gambit and catch your target. Along the way there are a few scuffles with some cronies.
Fighting is similar to the Batman: Arkham City combat system, though more realistic as there aren’t any gadgets or extraneous backflipping. Objects in the environment can be used to damage, and even kill, enemies. Grabbing an bad guy and throwing them into a dumpster is just one example — impaling them on something sharp is another. Wei will eventually confront the target and take him out, before the cops show up and ruin the party.
Sleeping Dogs has a lot more than what was shown on the floor. This action movie style game will include chase sequences by speedboat, car and on foot. With tons of customization, players can make their character unique — always a nice option. The voice acting seems solid, but timid players should expect cutscenes to be either incredible violent or brimming with foul language. It’s gritty, exciting and loaded with explosive action — but above all else, it’s fun. Also, 8BitBomb.