Gaming

My Top 5 Best Games of E3 2015

These are my top 5 games of E3 2015, judged by how impressed I was from their respective showings. I watched a ton of E3 content this year on YouTube, and if you’ve read my previous posts then you already know how much I loved this particular crop of games. Without further ado, here’s My Top 5 Best Games of E3 2015:

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  1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

This game has Hideo Koijma written all over it. And while it’s sad to know this will be his last (Konami’s parting ways with him after development’s done), at least he’s going out with a bang. It’s ironic then that instead of being a traditional MGS, the fifth iteration is more of a rebirth for the franchise, which bodes well for its future. Expect open-world infiltrations, more options than ever and lots of creative ways to deal with enemies.

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  1. The Last Guardian

Seeing The Last Guardian’s massive dog/bird hybrid for the first time in years and taking advantage of PS4’s graphical prowess was like the first time I saw that infamous E3 2005 trailer of Killzone 2. In short, I was completely, utterly amazed. It’s not just the feathers, no; just as unexpected was the perfectly-animated star of the show. It moved and behaved like a real animal, and it made him all the more believable.

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  1. Horizon: Zero Dawn

Talk about surprises. First it was The Last Guardian then this: a brand-new IP from graphics powerhouse Guerilla Games, and an RPG mixing prehistoric and post-apocalyptic themes, no less. I’ve got high hopes for this one, as I’m curious how much farther the studio can push the PS4’s power and the gameplay reminds me of Monster Hunter.

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  1. Doom

Could this be the Mad Max: Fury Road of video games? Reboots don’t always translate to better games, but if this reveal is any indication of the final product, then we’re in for a fast-paced, no holds barred thrill-ride. Expect lots of severed limbs, demon guts and “big effin’ guns.”

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  1. Fallout 4

Bethesda sure dropped a nuclear bomb of a game reveal for this highly-anticipated post-apocalyptic RPG. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of Fallout, then take comfort in the fact that it’s from the creators of Skyrim and will probably raise the bar once again for role-playing and open-world games. Fallout 4 didn’t hold back at this year’s E3, and expect the same when it launches this November.

Honorable Mentions

There were many noteworthy games at E3 2015, so it’s natural there will be a few notable omissions on every best-of list. These games were also great, just not as earth-shattering as the previous list:

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Total War: Warhammer

Angry Joe had a great interview with this game’s battles designer in his YouTube channel. Total War has long been known for its historical settings, but this one’s set in the popular Warhammer fantasy universe. It’s not quite as faithful to the source material as you’d want it to be (not a lot of troop customization), and the series’ recent struggles with enemy AI dampens expectations a little, but the promise of aerial battles, massive spells and units and story-driven quests are enough to tickle the Total War fan’s fancy.

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Just Cause 3

Talk about practical thinking. Gamers love explosions, stunts and destruction. They love open world playgrounds ripe with customization options even more. Put those two together in the most fully-realized sense of the words and you’ve got every action fan’s dream game in Just Cause 3. The only thing missing is multiplayer.

 

One Last Thing…

Microsoft did the smart move of partnering with Oculus and Valve in implementing Rift and Vive for Windows 10 and Xbox One. Sony’s coming out with Project Morpheus next year, after all. Oculus did a good show on their own, but this year I came away more impressed with Hololens as the potential killer app was finally shown. That Minecraft demo was an eye-opener for the potential of Hololens in gaming.

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Gaming

Some Standout Games from an Incredible E3 2015

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Fallout 4

You’re not gonna get mad at my predictable start are you? Fallout 4 made a splash at this year’s E3, with the world premiere gameplay, “the best gimmick I’ve ever seen” and a demo showcasing the surprising amount of customization courtesy of the dynamic game engine. Knowing this is just the beginning has me very excited indeed.

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Dark Souls 3

Now I know they only showed a trailer, but what a trailer it was. You could feel the beauty, the dread associated with every Souls game. More of those can’t be bad, right? I’m just glad we’ll be having more of what Hidetaka Miyazaki’s so good at: extremely hard but equally rewarding action-RPGs set in game worlds dripping with detail. Bloodborne was a fantastic game; Dark Souls 3 will most probably be too.

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Dreams

Media Molecule is best known for creating one of Sony’s well-known mascots, Sackboy. The LittleBigPlanet games were easy to understand, kid-friendly platformers that came with tools to create levels that you then share with the world. Dreams is quite hard to understand. I was honestly confused the first time I saw it, but the more I did, the more I saw its beauty and potential. You have to see it to believe it.

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands

I was never interested in the Ghost Recon franchise. Except maybe the first ones because they reminded me of Socom, or GRAW for the novelty at the time. Wildlands though, is a completely different beast. It’s an approach how you want it squad-based shooter set in a massive open world filled with vehicles, jungles, human settlements, etc. What a way to blast into my consciousness.

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Unravel

Honestly, if I didn’t see the introduction to this game, I wouldn’t have included it in this list. But what I heard makes this really interesting. Unravel’s concept was conceived at a family vacation, and it’s a game about love. You play a small character made out of yarn that unravels as you go further in your journey. Go check it out, it’s a charming little indie game.

Side Note: E3 2015 wasn’t all console games; Oculus had its own press conference and the all-important PC had its own too. You might want to watch them in YouTube if you’re interested in VR and/or PC gaming.

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Gaming

Doom for the New Generation

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An entire extended console generation passed without a Doom release, save for a high-definition remaster of the third iteration. So it’s understandable how gamers loved seeing the series’ iconic chainsaw pulled from a bloody corpse and used to cut enemy demons into two. Does it look good after the nostalgia wears off though?

This reboot blends elements old and new so well that it’s actually my 2nd best game of E3 2015. Both singleplayer and multiplayer look like natural evolutions of the tried and true formula. The best thing is they didn’t cut and paste Call of Duty but appropriately modernized the gameplay without sacrificing what made Doom such a blast so many years ago.

It’s a relief id seems to be back in their game after the disappointing Rage. They’ve managed to keep their graphics chops afloat with id Tech 6. This new vision of Doom looks phenomenal AND old-school, reminding you of the days when weapons weren’t limited to two slots and cover systems weren’t invented yet.

Bethesda has said Doom’s difficulty will be challenging, another deviation from today’s crop of shooters. In the demos shown, enemies big and small swarmed the environments, some even sporting jetpacks. Expect to have a fair fight, because the arsenal feels meaty from a viewer’s standpoint, and ones leaning more on the sci-fi side look appropriately powerful. New elements introduced include added agility, double-jumping and the oh-so-satisfying and over the top executions. I’ve already mentioned the returning chainsaw, but the BFG does too.

But let’s be reminded it was the multiplayer that got people talking about the original long past its release. This time over the top power-ups change the gameplay in ways other shooters can’t. The power-up shown at E3 turns players into one of the enemies they face in singleplayer, letting them use its powerful abilities including the jetpack. And that’s in addition to the gameplay evolutions I’ve already mentioned.

Doom looks to be the perfect reboot, offering old players a nice sense of familiarity while adding enough new features for a whole new generation of gamers. This year’s crop of E3 games is absolutely amazing. You’ve got to see at least some of them. See one of my recent blog posts for more information.

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Movies

Jurassic World Movie Review

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Michael Bay claims his Transformers films are made for the audience. Jurassic World has the same function, but with that old-school sense of wonder sorely lacking in today’s blockbusters. Steven Spielberg may just be an executive producer this time, but you can clearly see his influence in this nostalgic crowd-pleaser, even though cliches and cheesy one-liners get in the way of true greatness.

I can imagine the next film, which is virtually guaranteed at this point, won’t feel as special as this one. It’s been over twenty years since the original, after all. Jurassic World takes all the anticipation and good memories and uses them to great effect. Seeing all these dinosaurs come alive on the big screen still looks amazing, and the childhood fantasy of dinosaur battles feels as epic as ever when fully realized. The humans hold their own as well: Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are two charismatic actors that I hope the filmmakers keep in the inevitable sequel.

Jurassic World is best experienced with your brain turned off. Look past Vincent D’Onofrio’s one-dimensional antagonist and the nothing-special story and you’ll get all your money’s worth. Let the thrill of the ride take over and don’t mind the technical imperfections, just like real thing.

It’s not a perfect film, but judging by entertainment value alone, Jurassic World gets a 9 from me. If you like fun films like Furious 7, then you’ve got to see this one. And even more so if you loved the original. Novices don’t need to worry, as it doesn’t take too much to get into the story. Relax and enjoy this return trip to that wonderful island full of dinosaurs.

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Social Issues

The Real X-Men

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I guess many of you read my Facebook post a few years ago. It said about my first bout with this type of illness. I deleted it a long time ago, just because I felt it wasn’t necessary for people to see it, in its content and the way it was written. But now I have a blog I write in sometimes as well as a clear mind, I just want to tell a part of my story in this almost eight-year battle.

I’m part of what I call the next big issue society will have to discuss and act on, the mentally ill. No, I’m not ashamed and I don’t think being open about this will harm me. There are far worse cases than what I am experiencing. More and more kids are being diagnosed with mental illnesses such as ADHD. Maybe it’s because of all the radiation, I don’t know, and that’s not what I came here for.

Just a while ago my dad told me people don’t get ashamed when they have disorders in their kidneys, or heart. The brain is just another part of the body, so why treat it differently? That’s one way of looking at it, but he’s the kind of person who’s both outspoken AND well-informed. In my opinion, the world isn’t prepared yet to tolerate us at the same level as the LGBT community. It’s their time right now, same as females. Push a bit more every day, and someday I imagine they won’t be bullied or looked at as inferior. But when you look at a news item, say a shooting spree at a school and the suspect has bipolar disorder, you’re pretty sure he did it.

Before I went to college, my parents were considering putting me in this place where I’ll get to live and study with peers who also have mental problems. The guy pitching the place to me described the students as like the X-Men: a minority, people whose potential the world doesn’t understand yet. I didn’t end up staying there, but I understand the connection. We’re not part of the mainstream, at least not while the seeds are still growing.

Right now I’m being treated mainly for Bipolar symptoms and anxiety issues, plus a host of other more minor disorders. I’ve had anxiety since Grade 6, and people didn’t know until that Facebook post I mentioned. What many people don’t know is anxiety can destroy lives, it can be that awful. And sometimes what you don’t see in a person’s face, words or actions is the worst part.

My sickness led me to do very bad things to my family. But I know in my heart the real me didn’t mean any of those things. I regret doing those things, because I saw and felt them, even if it was like another person controlling me. I move on every time my mind clears, and I write whatever happened so I can tell my psychiatrist and improve my condition.

When I walk in the mall by myself, I remember the agony of the early days of my anxiety issues. When the day starts I’ll have minor fever and palpitations. When I’m in school I’ll have cold sweat all day and go to the restroom to puke at least once. And when I arrive home I’ll crash at my bed so tired because I didn’t have a rhythm in my walking (every step required great effort). No one knew what I was going through because even I didn’t.

So there’s always hope when everything’s pointing the other way. I honestly thought my situation was hopeless, and maybe I was too young to understand. Now I realize my condition’s taken a quantum leap for the better, and I can’t imagine how better life can be after the next one. Those kids who are having suicidal thoughts, they’re in the dark. They think their situation is hopeless, but it just needs a single person to light one match in their consciousness.

The key really is just two things: communication and the support system. I have those and they’re the two main reasons I’m much better now. When you’re always alone, dwelling on your problems, then you’re not opening yourself up for others to help you. I can even argue that because I opened myself up, my family’s been closer and more understanding than ever. Going to mass, reading the Bible, praying from the heart are part of our lives now. And trust me, God is one of those you can open up to.

So that’s all I wanted to say. Let’s all do our share in erasing the stigma associated with the mentally ill. We offer the same potential as those who are in the mainstream, we just take a little more time and a little bit of tweaking to reach our peak. Don’t judge us so quickly, because you never know, the people you idolize might be hiding the same things you despise. Like all people, we’re just a little broken inside, but we can do great things in spite of our flaws, amazing and inspiring things.

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Gaming

Sony Won E3 2015

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Never have I imagined a game announcement would give me goosebumps. That happened TWICE on Sony’s E3 2015 press conference. I was watching a few hours after it ended, oblivious to all the hard-hitting announcements they were expected to make. It all started with The Last Guardian, and even though the sight of maybe a hundred thousand ruffling feathers running in real time on PS4 wasn’t exactly hair-raising, it was completely, undeniably amazing; a fantastic jump-off point to PlayStation’s most important showing of the year.

What followed after that felt like the second of a lightning fast one-two punch from Manny Pacquiao. Horizon: Zero Dawn from what I believe is the Crytek of SCE Worldwide Studios presented an intriguing world that gives a prehistoric twist to the familiar post-apocalyptic environment of today’s games, movies and TV shows. Mechanical dinosaurs, ranging from the small and harmless to the alpha predator, roam the landscape. What’s more surprising is the female lead, which Sony acknowledged felt a bit risky.

The two biggest announcements came from Sony in my opinion, and it was a very close battle. The Final Fantasy VII remake edged out the Shenmue III kickstarter due to the sheer magnitude of gamers who were requesting the title ever since that E3 2005 tech demo. You could almost feel the ground shaking as the thousands in attendance roared in approval. Shenmue III on the other hand, was exceptional in the way you saw how much gamers respected the franchise’s creator. I couldn’t see a single person in the audience who wasn’t standing, smartphone in hand, trying to capture that historic moment in PlayStation. The long-awaited Shenmue III is coming to PlayStation; let that sink in, because it’s already been funded in Kickstarter, and it only took less than half a day.

This year’s E3 was the best in recent years, with Microsoft showing their best lineup in company history (Halo 5, Gears of War 4, Forza 6, etc.), Bethesda showcasing my game of the show Fallout 4, Ubisoft revealing Ghost Recon’s huge open world comeback, and many more. This show’s sheer magnitude of quality showings and announcements is awe-inspiring, and to think Microsoft held back some games for Europe’s Gamescom. Judging by this year’s E3, the future of gaming looks bright indeed.

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