E3 2016 in Retrospect

Well another E3 has passed and it’s unsettling to think how fast this one has come and gone. It seems not long ago I was sitting down to watch the reveal of Fallout 4, and now it’s been nearly a year since it’s release. I’m not here to talk about what was and wasn’t at E3 or what the games are like in terms of features, gameplay, story etc. That’s all already been covered by press insiders and the likes, as always I’m here to give my opinion on the last couple of days while I sip on a freshly made brew.

I always look forward to E3, the build up before the conferences can only be compared to the sleepless nights as a child on the eve of Christmas Day. I become very excited and giddy to see what the next year holds for the gaming industry as a whole. As many of you know I’m a PlayStation and Nintendo gamer at heart, but that’s not to say I don’t like to dabble in what Xbox and the other third parties are up too.

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Gears of War 4 is looking absolutely incredible, a big miss for PlayStation fans.

Xbox seemed to have a very strong conference this year, far improved to what was shown the year previous. Every year there’s always a game from their conference that I wish would be coming to PlayStation, this year it was Gears of War 4. I’ve only ever played the first two from the series and although enjoyable I’ve failed to work through the whole series, but the latest instalment looks incredible and is sure to be making a lot of GOW fans very happy.Project Scorpio was also revealed, something to get very excited about, as of now I’m a little wary about the whole concept. I’d like to see how developers will provide the better game for the newer consoles when they will always need to cater

Project Scorpio was also revealed, something to get very excited about. As of now I’m a little wary about the whole concept. I’d like to see how developers will provide the better game for the newer consoles when they will always need to cater for the lowest denominator. However, they could take the approach of a PC mentality, where the game is able to run at low, medium and high settings. Allowing Scorpio to take advantage of the high end and the original consoles run on the low end. Still no confirmation has been made although I’m very eager to hear more.

When voicing my opinion I try to avoid the negativity surrounding games and focus on the more positive aspects of the industry, but I really can’t fathom the words to describe the EA conference in a positive way. I feel like EA is kind of going through an identity crisis at the moment, in terms of where they stand or who they really appeal to. Their conference and genre of games seem too diverse in relation to the audience in a way that their showcase is never going to appeal to everyone. Once again the word on Twitter was that there was far too much talk about sports games, with FIFA and Madden taking up most of the show. I would’ve loved to have seen more of Mass Effect personally, as well as the Star Wars game from Visceral, sadly that wasn’t the case as it appears that both titles are too far away to devote any solid time to either one.

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Dishonored II’s setting is definitely remincient of the Bioshock series.

Without fail E3 always causes me to face off against my backlog of broken dreams, all those games I pictured finishing but just never got round to. In this case, it was Dishonored. As the second instalment began to unfold on stage it reminded me that I really needed to get back to the first game. The showcase of Dishonored II was glorious. Drawing me straight into that living, breathing world. The setting, atmosphere and culture of Karnaca, known as “the jewel of the south” in game, seems to absolutely thrive. It reminds me of the Bioshock series, which holds, in my opinion, the most unforgettable setting in a video game to date.

The conference I most look forward too is Sony’s. Mainly due to Nintendo not holding a traditional conference and PlayStation being my go to console ever since I was young. Last year’s conference was described as the “Year of Dreams” due to how well-received it was. They had a lot of competition this year from Microsoft and I thought that Xbox may steal this year’s event. That was until PlayStation came out firing on all cylinders, the conference kicked off with the reveal of five PlayStation exclusives off the belt, all revealed alongside a live symphony orchestra that was playing the score along to each trailer.

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God of War made it’s triumphant return and is looking as beautiful as ever.

It was great to see God of War return, many have said that it’s a little too close to the Last of Us, yet I’d disagree. Kratos, the main protagonist of the series, has never been a character that I’ve cared much about. The God of War games always had a fantastic concept in terms of reference to Greek Gods and Norse Mythology, yet Kratos was just an angry ball of fury and the games just seemed to be a tech demo for each console. However that changed with the reveal of this new title, Kratos seemed to convey more emotion in that one trailer than all three games previous. The game looked stunning and I can’t wait to see more of it and who can deny Kratos’ new epic beard.

I was also blown away by how great Horizon: Zero Dawn looked too, the animations when taking down the mechs were incredible. The fights seemed to convey the protagonist in the form of a dancing duel with the walker while using whatever she had in her arsenal to take it down. it’s so great to see the folks at Guerrilla, who’s portfolio consists of nearly nothing but the Killzone series, excelling on every level in order to create a fantastic looking game with a truly unique concept.

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In terms of sheer beauty, Horizon definitely took the show for me. The game is shaping up to be one of the best I’ve seen.

The pacing of the Sony show was total perfection and every game they revealed was something that genuinely interested or intrigued me. The surprise of the show was definitely the Crash Bandicoot remastered collection, I never thought the Bandicoot would see the light of day again, but as promised the three greatest crash titles will be remastered from the ground up. A highlight was seeing Hideo Kojima unveil his new game while uttering the words “I’m Back” with a smile beaming across his face, it was certainly a special moment for the fans. A truly magnificent way to round off another great year of games for Sony.

Last but not least was Nintendo, although they were showing the least amount of games I was fully aware that Pokemon Sun and Moon and The Legend of Zelda were the only ones being shown. It was great to see new additions to generation 7 of the Pokemon franchise, although I do feel as though more could have been shown, especially the next evolution line of the starter Pokemon.

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It was brilliant to finally get an in depth look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and what an incredible one at that. 

The Legend of Zelda was finally given its title, Breath of the Wild. I have a lot more to speak out on about the title, which will be coming in my next post, mainly to talk about my biggest gripe with the game. However, the game looks beautiful. The art style is right up my street and the general design aesthetic in terms of monsters, clothing, weapons and architecture is just stunning, going as far as to exceed Windwaker on a visual level, in my opinion.

All in all, it has been a fantastic E3, There’s so much to look forward to in the next year. Not only are all these great games coming out in the next year and onwards, but we have the reveal of the NX to look forward to along with VR and the 0.5 releases of PlayStation and Xbox. Certainly a lot to look forward too.

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The Evolution of Video Games at ‘Game On 2.0’

Last week I was given the opportunity to attend the opening night of the ‘Game On 2.0’ exhibition at the Life Centre, Newcastle. This exhibition showcases the biggest collection of playable computer games in the world and I was delighted to be attending, courtesy of Komodo – my place of work. 2015-05-22 17.05.58

The entrance to the Life Centre, Newcastle welcomed by Super Mario and the Game On 2.0 event.

This major international exhibition appeals to all ages. The place was stacked full of playable games, some from before my time; with classics such as Pong, Asteroids and Space Invaders dating all the way to the modern titles we see today, such as Minecraft, Smash Bros and VR titles. The event catered for everyone – literally. We were greeted with lots of waiters dressed head to toe in Super Mario attire, they served a variety of food and drinks, which I happily took advantage of – It was a shame not to see Luigi anywhere though.

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Complimentary food and drinks were served at the event. You can’t go wrong with Fish & Chips and a good beer.

Although the event started at 5pm, we waited in the main foyer of the life centre where there were a few smaller exhibitions unrelated to the event. We weren’t able to attend the event right away and were instead subjected to an array of quite lengthy talks and speeches from those who had hosted the night.

Which was fair enough, but considering mostly everyone was waiting to get in and play some games, I felt as though these could have been kept brief, as opposed to the 40+ minutes they went on for. The night it’s self only ran for 2 hours and most of that was held up by talks. Coming from a gamer and probably speaking for many others, all I wanted to do was jump in!

Once we finally got through the doors we were greeted by a game that many would say started it all – PONG. Although the original cabinet wasn’t playable, we were linked up with original controls and a playable game on the big screen. My competitive nature was straight away revealed and I challenged one of my colleagues, Paul, for a game.

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PONG was one of the games I really wanted to play – having never played it before. It was a barrel of laughs and I can see how it become beloved among many.

The controls were very unresponsive and hard to get used to, as they were basically just dials, which resulted in the paddle on screen moving when you turned it. But what else would you expect from a game that was released in 1972. As soon as the game kicked off the pixels started to increase speed from either side of the screen. I was already in a fit of laughs at how competitive me and my opponent became.

I instantly forget about how old it was, the controls, lacklustre graphics and instead became engrossed in the competitive game play. It was a very close game, with the score going back and forth throughout, resembling the game play itself. In the end I came back from an 8 point gap to win the game (which I was delighted about and proceeded to make sure Paul knew about it).

I can see how a lot of people found so much fun in such a simple form of entertainment. It’s not really about how good the game looks or plays, but how people react to it and what they get out of it.

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A few arcades from around the early 70’s.

From the pong machine there were various other consoles from around that same generation, some which weren’t playable, such as a look into what those from the 70s thought what arcades might look like in the future.

As I looked along the horizon of flashing neon lights coming from the arcade cabinets my eyes caught one in particular – Space Invaders, which had an Asteroids cab sat parallel to it. I was definitely up for both and had never played the games in their original cabinets before. It was certainly an experience and I would love one for home use.

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Standing in line to play the original Space Invaders cabinet. Absolutely love this game.

The next bout between Paul and I was on Mario Kart 64. I’d like to think of myself to be quite the veteran Mario Kart player, having played everyone bar this one. As we both struggled with controls we didn’t get off to the best start, but Paul was soon eating my dust and I took an easy point to make the tally 2-0.

Looks like Paul was going to have to step his game up. I then went on to view a series of older consoles, playing the likes of Castlevania as well as Pitfall on the Atari 2600. It was amazing to get a feel for some of the consoles that basically built the foundations of what we have today.

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There were tons of old consoles and game I’d never experienced before.

Paul eyed Dead or Alive on the original Xbox and we were quick to get it underway. I’d never played a DOA game and had never owned the original Xbox, so I was the underdog for this battle. Paul quickly made sure of that and before I could even get a punch in he’d made it 2-1. As soon as we’d played that I had to find a fighting game In which I’d be able to match or beat him. I spotted Street Fighter 2 and the challenge began.

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Street Fighter 2 – It was a shame they never had an original cabinet. But still great to play this after so many years.

I took the first game to make it 3-1, by using Honda, the match was extremely close. I like to think I fair as quite a good Street Fighter player but just couldn’t seem to deal with the pressure of the competition. I used Ken and folded almost instantly, bad idea. I couldn’t even execute the simplest of Hadoken’s (I blame the fight stick) I was trashed by Blanka and Paul drew a point back – 3-2.

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I’d love to add the Atari 2600 to my console collection. All of the consoles were displayed extremely well throughout the exhibition. 

It was a great idea to show off museum type collections of all consoles past and present. I particularly enjoyed the handheld console section that has been displayed. I’d started my handheld gaming on the original Gameboy, which held a lot of good memories for me, playing the likes of Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon.

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A showcase of different handheld consoles from throughout the ages.

There was also a section that showcased Artwork and Concepts Art from classics such as Jak & Daxter, Lara Croft and Uncharted. This was accompanied with memorabilia from these games, some pieces being very rare.

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Concept Art was featured throughout the exhibition and it was great to see what characters looked like before the ones we know and love today.

There was also a children’s section, it was great to see the younger generation being able to experience games that I played when I was their age. With games such as Animal Crossing, which is probably one of the best games for a child to start on. I have many fond memories sinking countless hours into that series, something that I still often do on the 3DS.

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It was great to see newcomers interacting with classics new and hold.

I then eyed a gamecube, four controllers were laid upon the table, the game running was Super Smash Bros. The amount of hours I’ve played Smash as Kirby is no ones business. I was quick to challenge Paul and a few other colleagues of mine to a game. With five stocks each I was tactfully watching, waiting for the right moment to pounce.

I love how fast and intense Smash is. It’s a right laugh and if you’ve never played the game before I highly recommend it. The fight was chaotic, hectic, like any other smash game. It’s amazing to see how well the Gamecube version still holds up.

Four stocks quickly turned into two and I had the advantage over Paul with one stock up on him. I bided my time, struck at the right moment and made it 4-2 with ease. By this stage Paul new he was beaten, seeing as as though the as the night was closing to an end. Poor Paul.

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Super StarDust HD in 3D on the PS4.

We still had time for a few other games. As I’d never played a game in 3D before, it was great to get to experience that with a Super Stardust 3D on the PS4. This game was a brilliant example of how 3D can work in certain games. It added to the experience, with asteroids shooting out towards me and explosions taking on a whole new dimension.

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There was a fantastic selection of Arcade cabinets on offer.

I was so pleased to see the Oculus Rift at the event. I first experienced this in 2014 at EGX. I was blown away once again, I’m usually not one for “gimmicks”, I like my old school ways – Couch, controller and TV. To me though VR is not a gimmick, if you ever have a chance to experience Virtual Reality as part of the Oculus Rift then please do – you won’t be disappointed.

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Donkey Kong was definitely one of favourites I played throughout the night.

As the night was quickly approaching 7:00pm the doors were about to close, what better way to end the night than to play an arcade cabinet that I can only dream of owning – Donkey Kong. It was brilliant to experience this game for the first time. The colours just looked fantastic and the game play was totally addictive. I can see why this machine swallowed up countless amounts of loose change back in its day.

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Destroying the Death Star. A great way to end the night.

With five minutes to kill I played a game I’d never seen before, this was a Star Wars cabinet. With the bright, green, neon lines flashing about on screen, I piloted an X-wing through space, destroying TIE Fighters – before descending onto the Death Star to give that final last shot.

With my team of colleagues stood behind me, giving off that true arcade atmosphere and on the clock before the exhibition closed, what better way to end the night than to destroy the Death Star!

All round I had an absolute blast. Sure the pictures aren’t the best, Hopefully an investment in a camera isn’t far off, but I can’t recommend the event enough, especially if you live in, or are travelling to the area soon. The event is open to the public now and runs until 1st November 2015. For more information – Visit Life Centre, Newcastle Game On 2.0 Exhibition.

/ CR

A new year, a new chapter, a new saved game.

I suppose I best introduce myself, I go by the name ‘CreativeRhino’ and this is the start of my new blog. So, another place where someone talks about video games. Just like the thousands of others that do it. So why should you use your precious time to sift through my blog posts? why am I the special one? The truth in the matter is, I’m not someone who thinks they are. Here at ‘WhatRhinoSaid’ isn’t somewhere that will spurt out the same old rubbish you may see everywhere else.

You won’t be seeing the 2,449,254th rendition of ‘Minecraft: Lets play part one’. No.. This blog is for myself, it’s views, points and opinions are of my own. I’m not here to do what every other tom, dick and harry is doing. Because what would be the point in that?

I love video games as much as the next man.. woman.. or thumb wielding, nocturnal, pixel junkie. I want somewhere to share my experiences, something to look back on in years to come and think wow I remember those times. Like a virtual diary of gaming nostalgia. I want it to be somewhere to talk about these points with people who may share similar views, whether they agree or not.

I want to use it as a pedestal to lavish the games I love.. and those I don’t. I want to share my view on the industry, my nostalgic throwbacks to the old days and what the future may hold for video games and throughout it all I want you to listen, experience and share it all with me.

So here’s how I want to start. The new year is here, 2015 is already upon us and a week of it has gone already. I have a lot of big plans for this year and one of them is to game my rear end off. The dexterity within my thumbs and fingers has not been taken advantage of as much as I’d of liked it to have been and my mind lacks the wondrous adventures it so desires.

The last year was a great one for me, I got the job I’d always wanted, lost weight, built up a portfolio of work through it all I’ve had such a supportive family, friends and girlfriend by my side but throughout the last year I’ve not found as much time as I would of liked for gaming due to this busy schedule.

We’ve seen a few big game delays in 2014 meaning the year ahead proves to be an even greater one for Video games. So this year I’d like to list a few game related resolutions I’d like to stick too, hoping by the time 2016 comes I’ve stuck to or completed all of them. Firstly..

Complete more games: I tend to pick up a lot of games at once and depending on how much I’m into them I’ll play continuously for days on end and then after a few days/weeks, depending on what life is throwing at me or if Ive picked up a new game, the old ones tends to get left in the past and I usually don’t get round to going back to them. This annoys me personally. I look at my shelf full of games stacked with titles I’ve barely even touched upon and think why do I bother buying new games without first completeing the old ones . Completing those games is something that needs to start this year, Which brings me to my next point.

Stop buying games I don’t need: I have a seriously bad habit of buying games and then just not playing them, due to either already having to many im already working on or not enough time to play them all now i don’t mean not playing as in; do a few missions, spend a few hours completeing various tasks in the game then never going back to it. No, I mean not playing them at all – the bloody shrink wrap doesn’t even come off! As of now i have thirteen games sat on my shelf which still remain in that shiny cellophane.. Thirteen!! And I’ve not touched them since I walked out the shop with them. Hopefully 2015 will put a stop to that.

Focus on my Most wanted List: Now this in a way contradicts my last two points. If I’m to keep up with the latest games, but have to stop buying them how will I experience them? Now I usually make the mistake of buying so many games in one go I just play bits of each and can’t keep up with them all. Other games come out, news releases hereand there and I just fall behind in the whirlwind of those virtual worlds and never get to finish any. So this year I want to just focus on my most wanted titles which will be covered in another post.

Clear my Backlog: probably one of the most dreaded words for any gamer to hear… Just glimpsing at the backlog I have in front of me sends shivers down my spine. So many games, so little time. Sometimes I feel like creating a cut off point, turning my back on all of it and starting afresh. But something makes me stick at those that already remain in my collection. Don’t get me wrong this may sound like I’m making it out to be a chore rather than something that’s fun. It’s not, but when you know that all the games will take hours and hours to complete, taking up time you could spend catching up with current releases it makes me quiver.

Stop becoming so hung up on Trophies: Ahh trophies, those virtual dings we hear when completing various tasks throughout a game, those shiny pieces of pixlated silverware that I long for along like so many others. Some may not care, others obsess over them. Well now If a game has a trophy list that may seem off putting, who cares. The time is hear to stop worrying about these sometimes mundane tasks and to start enjoying the game for what it is.

So there it is, a little intro to myself and some motive to continue into the new year itself. Hope everyone has had a great start and here’s to making 2015 a great one!

/ CR