This week, Zero Punctuation reviews E3 2016.
Here is a joke that I just made up: What's the difference between E3 and a pen full of excited pigs fighting over the stinking corpse of a sheep? Microphones! In all seriousness though, while I must again dutifully walk up to the pig pen and ready my castrating shears, it's looking like most of the pigs already curled up and nibbled their own balls off. There was something very half-hearted about the show this year. It's almost like publishers have realized that they could make all their announcements on the back of a used envelope at midnight on Remembrance Sunday and the excitable little spurt-burglars of the internet will still start ejaculating out of their eyeballs.
Nintendo stopped physically showing up to the annual swimsuit contest years ago, preferring to send pre-recorded videos like an ISIS execution squad. And this year they could barely summon the effort to do that, with just a livestream that very conspicuously didn't mention the upcoming NX console but made it about the games or, in real terms, game. Yes, stem thy frothing nostrils, ye predictable fanboy sod. The Wii U's finally getting that fucking Zelda game you want so much, although it is going to have to share it with the NX which at this point could be anything from an upgraded Wii U to a dancing bear in a fez.
Sony also absentmindedly failed to bring up the rumoured PlayStation 4.5, and if I were them I'd at least have given it a fancy codename like..."Project Buttery Thighs", just so we could call it something less tedious. Otherwise, a few updates on things we already knew about: PlayStation VR, a real, no crossed fingers-backsies release date for Last Guardian which will now have to come free with a clone of Jesus to live up to the wait, and the corpse of Silent Hills has emitted a couple of unexpected farts.
Kojima Productions announced something called Death Stranding, with the emphasis on thing, a let's childishly call it a, "proof of concept" which proves very little, except the Kojima shouldn't watch so many music videos.
And then there's Resident Evil 7, which has boldly leapt into Silent Hills' smoking shoes with the new and yet hauntingly-familiar playable teaser in a first-person spooky house. A style shift worked wonders for Resident Evil 4, but this is a shift so radical that even calling it Resident Evil borders on duplicitous, except for the fact that game is now literally about an evil residence. Still, what else could they do? Follow on from Resident Evil 6? That'd be like trying to serve dessert after the main course consisted of filet of asbestos in dogshit.
Out of the big lads in the playground, Microsoft was the only one still turning in its schoolwork. But with pimping the Xbone cellulite-covered ass officially written off as a lost cause, we're being introduced to two younger, hotter sisters: the slim-line One S, where the S presumably stands for "stick it up your bum", and a slightly upgraded model called Project Scorpio. If you're going with the zodiac names, Microsoft, then personally I would have gone with "Cancer". What's with all these announcements for not quite next generation updated consoles? Is the big idea to turn this into the smartphone industry where we buy a new one every two years 'cause they slightly upped the resolution and smoothed another corner off? I'm not going to do that, assholes, 'cause I don't keep my smartphone in a nest of cables under the TV that I'm loathed to venture into without a native guide and a week's provisions. On the other hand, Microsoft have also declared that Xbone games will be playable through Windows 10 and the console may even get mouse and keyboard support, which indicates that Microsoft's plan may be to become a developer of gaming PCs so gradually that nobody notices.
Getting back to the subject of VR, I still think that it's a way forward, but the push towards it is starting to remind me towards the push towards motion controls and that makes me uneasy, like my preferred political candidate got endorsed by Hitler. I do wish they'd stop trying to pair VR with motion controls, 'cause that path never ends. You can buy hand puppet controllers and a treadmill and force feedback vests until your living room has more wires running through it than a foreign embassy in Moscow. And then you'll realize you can't smell the in-game gore, so you hire beautiful Filipino boys to slaughter chickens under your nose, and it still won't be as immersive as a standard button controller that you barely have to think about. And I don't think there's any reason that games should be exclusive to VR, 'cause I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd want to play it but don't want to take a break every two hours for a nice, cleansing puke. Anyway, that Star Trek bridge operations game intrigued me in a slightly shameful dad's train set sort of way. But of all the generations of Star Trek we could pretend to be in, we're stuck with reboot Trek? That's like inviting the Spice Girls to an orgy and only Sporty Spice shows up!
Speaking of dad games, what's with God of War turning into The Last of Us? Kratos is hefting his massive new beard around, teaching his moist son how to hunt. All I could think about as I watched him slowly trudge through pretty environments having Sony-branded character building moments and being a bad dad was the start of the original God of War in which Kratos was in a room full of monsters, yelled, "Monsters are a thing that I kill!", and that was it, straight into gameplay to start bouncing them around like kittens in a candy floss machine. These first five minutes of gameplay videos don't count for a whole lot if those five minutes are wholly unrepresentative of the rest of the game. I mean, we all know damn well that kid's not gonna survive past the second act, 'cause it wouldn't be a God of War game if Kratos wasn't using deicide as impromptu bereavement counselling.
Right, what else? Did someone trip over the wires that were making Sony-tron 3000 remember that zombies are completely overdone? Cause that's the only explanation I can think of for Days Gone, whose principal selling point seems to be, "It is a zombie sandbox", apparently unaware that Dead Rising 4 and State of Decay 2 were doing shots in the next room. Christ, it's not even the first zombie sandbox with the word 'Day' in the fucking title!
Relatedly, Ubisoft continues to scream the word 'sandbox' every time someone enters the room like a malfunctioning Furby, despite Assassin's Creed having been let off the milking machine for a quick stagger around the meadow. WATCH_DOGS is getting a sequel, based on the principle that shit is a good fertilizer. And I see they'd abandoned the "boring hero" strategy for the, "blisteringly irritating hero, who's watched too many Jonny Lee Miller films" approach.
You know what? E3 2016 was a show of names. Lots of familiar names, some with incremental numbers on the end, some without. And I know that's pretty much the case every year, but there was an unusual spike in familiar names appearing over totally unfamiliar things. Resident Evil has never been Hoarders meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Prey was a lot of things, most of them retarded, but none of them are evident in what is now being referred to as Prey. And since Doom, Bethesda clearly feel they're onto a good thing wiring up their milking machines to old id properties. But Quake Champions seems to have bugger-all to do with the original Quake and bugger-lots to do with Overwatch being more successful than the MMR vaccine. If they keep this up, then soon we'll enter a world where names are totally fucking meaningless which would come as a relief to my friend, Patrick Childmolester.
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