This week, Zero Punctuation reviews E3 2013.
Hey, who's excited for the cavalcade of cutting-edge entertainment announced at this year's E3? ...cockheads, since you asked. Although, it was interesting to see the paddling-pool levels of strategy on display. I know everyone was talking about what a great victory it was for Sony, but in all fairness, I think Microsoft did most of the work for them; it was like Microsoft walked out onto the stage of the International “Don't Fuck Up” Championship, and proceeded to shiv itself in the stomach 30 times while screaming, "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!" Then Sony came out and said, "I don't want to stab myself in the stomach; that shit hurts.", whereupon fucking confetti exploded from the ceiling and they were handed the “Sickest Burn In The Universe” trophy.
It was savvy of them to spend their airtime pointing and laughing at the competition, because then they didn't have to explain what's in it for us, the gamers, to keep supporting the whole “console war” concept, with all its anti-consumer exclusivity and insistence on flashy graphics to the detriment of actual gameplay and— "SHUT UP! MICROSOFT RAPES FISH!" You know, I thought Microsoft would backtrack during the show, not a week later, but I guess it's hard for the opinions of actual human beings to be heard among a staff largely consisting of blood-drinking lizard people from beyond the stars.
Besides that, the show was one of fairly predictable movements, not least of which those made by Nintendo; they’re kind of like a tarantula, only instead of urticating hairs they throw their IP at people when threatened. The same thing happened with the Wii: there are signs of stagnation so it's down to the stables to attach fresh jump-leads to the usual dead horses. New Zelda, new Mario. Oh, he can be a cat-man now; press A to curl up and lick your own testicles. You know, like Nintendo's entire fucking company strategy. I did wonder if they'd actually do another Smash Brothers because it would have to have new characters, and Nintendo comes up with new characters with the same frequency that Vesuvius erupts. I mean, Wii Fit Trainer? That feels like a fucking April Fool's joke; it’s like entering a mannequin at a Miss World competition. (Alright, bad example.) Surely the obvious addition would have been Bayonetta, since she's gone all Wii U exclusive on us, but I suppose her pole-dancing, pubic hair crotch-thrusting might lead to an awkward conversation between Mario and the princess later that night.
Anyway, game trailers. I must say, it's nice to see an increase in actual gameplay videos rather than prerendered trailers, which, as we all know by now, are about as much use in terms of information as showing us the shrink-wrap they intend to put around the box. Which is good for us, but not so much for the publishers, as they tend to reveal things they might've preferred we'd not know about this early; Ryse springs to mind. Before that video, I thought the "spunkgargleweewee" problem was exclusive to modern shooters, but there it is: dragged along a linear procession of pre-determined, barely-interactive setpieces through overcrowded war scenes that are so noisy and chaotic they become totally meaningless; so many NPCs that any contribution you're making is negligible at best; and no context for who you are or who you're slaughtering, except that you are obviously the aggressor and considerably better-equipped. The purest essence of spunkgargleweewee, sloshing about in ancient Rome like the sewers outside the brothel backed up. Now all we need is a derisive pun. Medal of Roma: Aegian Warfighter? Call-igula of Duty? Return To Castle Vulcan-stein? I'll work on it.
Metal Gear Solid V Colon The Phantom Pain Colon Tactical Espionage Operations was another game maligned by its own gameplay video, as well as a title longer than the queue for the toilet at a muesli-tasting convention. The footage of Snake 'n Bake or whatever his codename is now trotting through a vast desert on a horse was repeatedly fast-forwarded. Why was that, MGS 5? "Because the bits we fast-forwarded over were boring!" But presumably, you can't fast-forward over them in the actual game. "...nnnnno." So... the actual game will be boring, then. "....yyyyeees." Tell me; did you feel you had to pad it out because you were afraid the runtime would be half-over by the time the player has finished reading the title?
Metal Gear Solid has gone open world, you see, and if there was a motto for this convention, it might as well have been "Such-and-such Has Gone Open World." As in, “Mirror's Edge 2 has gone open world, and as much as we'd like to illustrate that fact in the debut trailer, we'd rather just waste time reminding you how shit the combat was in the first one and will continue to be in the second. What's that? You wanted to see some of the free-running gameplay in the free-running game? Well, hope into one hand, shit into the other and see which one fills up first, motherfucker!"
Speaking of open world, Dead Rising is a series about zombie horror made fun by cleverly juxtaposing it against bright colors and wacky violence. "What was that? Color? Cleverness?! FUN?! Not on Xbox One's watch! (stomp stomp stomp). Now eat this handful of gravel and paint yourself brown, and let's have a bit less of that lip!" Also, you have to kill zombies with artillery strikes now, because anything that is not Call of Duty is not Call of Duty enough.
The alternative motto for this E3 might as well have been "Don't Fret, Next-Generation Will Be Just As Bland And Shooty as the Current One”; I mean, they were showing off Destiny like it was the best development since crispy mint M&Ms. "Look at our beautiful skybox! Look at our cutting-edge lighting effects laid upon an unprecedented palette of browns and greys! Look at how we squeeze you down a linear path like a stubborn turd in a hosepipe! No, wait, don't look at that; look at the skybox again!" Similar statements can be made for most of what else passed as new IP, like Division or that Order: 1886 thing. "Ooh, look, a Victorian setting! That’s interesting." "I know, right? But actually, it's a steampunk setting so that we can use standard FPS weapons and-" "NEVER MIND!"
"Now, surely there are some things you like the look of, Yahtzee! I know you like to project a curmudgeonly facade, but we know all about those hearts made of pasta shapes you send to Valve.” Maybe there were, but the point of these annual sessions is to mitigate the damage already done by the insidious hype machine, so to that end, I'm going to ruin two things I did like the look of. Sunset Overdrive might be wearing the same kind of appealing styles that Dead Rising has dropped like a hot uranium potato, but the trailer was pre-rendered and it's an Xbox One exclusive, so it's both unreliable and tainted by original sin.
Secondly, in a game-trailer preview for new horror IP The Evil Within, the dude selling it says that not being able to see the floor adds to the atmosphere. ...you what? I'm thinking back to all my favourite atmospheric games, and I don't remember thinking, “Man, I'm lucky I can see the floor, or I'd be fucking terrified!" You know what does help atmosphere, though? Subtlety! Not decorating every room by throwing giblets at a ceiling fan, or chasing us down a linear hallway with a chainsaw before we've even got a chance to put our keys down by the door! Right, that should do it; just to be safe, though, I'd better go and pound an icicle into my balls.
Extra: Xbox One Correction
Oh, right. Ahem.
The author wishes it to be known that the bulk of this video was written before the Microsoft DRM backtrack, and he now thinks that games exclusive to Xbox One are no more tainted by original sin than those exclusive to other consoles.
He regrets now having to fall back on less popular arguments against next-gen consoles, such as their blind insistence on empty spectacle above all else to make AAA-developement all the more elitist and prohibitively expensive, the systematic erasure of console-gaming history one generation at a time, the flagrantly anti-consumer culture of artificial exclusivity that has created a world in which games are expected to support consoles; in which artwork exists to serve a medium on which artwork is presented, as if the words of a great novel exists to serve paper, or a great film exists to serve a piece of wall onto which it has been projected, and so on and so on and so on.
What would you do without me, 'eh: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
Maybe the Steam Box is going to take a while because they need to think of a name that doesn't sound like a Victorian sex aid
Yeah Last of Us next week whatever