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Three years ago I remember hearing a bloodthirsty crowd of games journalists roar as a nameless, faceless super-soldier ripped a space demon’s leg off and beat it to death with the offending limb. The game was DOOM and it was shown at E3 in glorious high definition. Since that moment every E3 since has made it clear that gaming is the most popular, immersive and batshit medium to be involved in. This year’s E3 was no different with spectacle upon spectacle delivered to the ravenous hordes demanding pixel-perfect graphics, gameplay that runs like a well-oiled machine and stories with a taught emotional core.
Microsoft gave one of their most impressive conferences in years, certainly their best since the announcement of the Xbox One. Sony blew the competition out of the water with games so impressive and good looking it looks as if you’d need an entire power plant to run them properly. Nintendo meanwhile disappointed everyone except Smash fans with Super Smash Bros being their only large-scale announcement. For me though three things really stood out overall.
The Last of Us Part II.
The Last of Us is one of my favourite games ever. It goes without saying that upon it’s release five years ago it was the swansong the PS3 deserved. Though certain elements of its gameplay have aged poorly from its rudimentary crafting to its hunkering sneak-and-shoot gameplay The Last of Us packed a punch in one area players have demanded for years. There have been games with mature stories before but the likes of the Bioshock series or even Mass Effect could never get their endings right. The lead up might have been perfect but bumbling an ending is easy. Getting it right is a herculean task. The Last of Us managed to do it.
We’ll have to see if The Last of Us Part II can live up to the storytelling chops of the original but its gameplay seems to have only improved judging by the E3 demo. The fluidity of motion both in movement and in the reactions of NPCs to the player’s actions is almost unbelievable. Anger, pain and confusion register on faces that were only ever really able to register one of the above. Also the kiss in the trailer. I’ve seen lots of kissing in video games nearly all of them bad. The Last of Us Part II seems to have got it just right. The fact that the first perfectly animated kiss in video game history is shared by two LGBT characters is nothing short of groundbreaking. I don’t know about anyone else but I know I’m taking a week off work for The Last of Us Part II when it comes out.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
From Software rarely put a foot wrong. Even Dark Souls 2 has its defenders. From Demon Souls to Bloodborne right up to their greatest hits collection Dark Souls 3 From Software have made their name synonymous with difficulty and with great level design. Their newest IP Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice looks to be similar but altogether different from From Software’s previous output. Inspired by the surprise success of Souls-like samurai game Nioh in late 2016 From Software have taken inspiration from their home country and set their game in feudal Japan.
The difference is where Dark Souls had you essentially lose your collected in-game currency and any benefits upon death Sekiro has you resurrect at the spot you died. This gives death a tactical slant which is not something many games do. Being able to resurrect and finish off the boss that just finished you off – as seen in the E3 trailer above – has great potential but it also opens up a great many options ranging from tactical advantages to reaching areas by falling to your death and promptly getting back up. It also looks absolutely stunning.
Resident Evil 2.
I never got to play the original Resident Evil 2. I played Resident Evil 0 in a friend’s house when I was 20 and from there went on to play all the early Resident Evil games that were available to me. But there was always one that was missing and short of buying an old PlayStation 1 I was never getting to play it until they finally revealed the long rumoured remake this year. No matter how good Resident Evil 7 looked it played and felt like a non-numbered entry in the series. An unimportant sidestep to the labyrinthine events happening to series regulars and favourites Chris and Claire Redfield, Leon Kennedy and Jill Valentine. Oh and of course Albert Wesker.
As noted by HeadStuff’s own Richard Drumm, gaming’s history is functionally lost to us every few years. The same could be said of Resident Evil 2. Capcom has referred to it as a streamlined remake. Where a lot of the original game had players repeat many of the same locations across two campaigns the remake will streamline it to avoid that repetition. Also instead of the fixed camera view Capcom elected to go with the claustrophobic third person view offered by Resident Evil 4 one of the most popular entries in the series. And who doesn’t want to see a rookie cop that looks like a Backstreet Boys reject shoot zombies in glorious 4K?