Sunday, 4 December 2016

Playstation Experience 2016: My Verdict

For a long time now, the "big three" have tended to generally underwhelm at large gaming events such as E3 or the Tokyo Game Show (TGS), instead favouring their own specific events. This year's E3 was no different and even though there were a fair few things that I liked the look of, it didn't really blow me away. Well, here came Sony's Playstation Experience 2016 show, riding in on a white horse to save the day. Just like with E3, I didn't watch the show live but since I'd heard a few rumours about what was to be shown/revealed, I checked it all out afterwards and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of items that tickled my fancy. Obviously it was just a coincidence but the majority of the PSX show seemed geared towards my tastes.

"Make Mine Marvel"

Was it a shock or already expected? Sources had leaked the information that Marvel Vs Capcom 4 would be unveiled at PSX but coming hot on the heels of a batch of (proven) fake MVC4 posters, I was sceptical. It is however a very real thing and will be titled Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite.

Carol looks MEAN.

The reveal trailer was the usual sub-2min dramatic CG fluff that didn't actually show any gameplay but it was enough to get the crowd excited. It showed Ryu and Mega Man X (hey, Capcom still care!) squaring off against Iron Man and a very angry-looking Captain Marvel. That's not the original Captain Marvel by the way but Carol Danvers, formerly Ms Marvel, Warbird, Binary and so on. Just a bit of nerdy comic book info for ya'll. Fortunately there was a little bit of gameplay also shown later on:

Graphically it looks quite attractive and the fighting seems even more furious than MvC3 (if that is even possible!) even at this early stage with just four characters. Of particular note is the ability to use the different Infinity Gems to enhance your character's powers and turn the tables on the opponent. This reminds me of the similiar system that the very first in the 'Versus' series - Marvel Super Heroes - employed so it's great to see one of the original ideas revisited, whether it was an intentional nod to the past or not.

So yes, this reveal was fantastic news for a fighting game and Marvel fan such as myself. Yet I remain cautious because what we do also know is that the character roster might be a little different this time. For their input into the game, Marvel want the character selection to better reflect who is currently popular or 'big' in terms of the blockbuster superhero movies that we are constantly bombarded with. So expect to see the likes of Ant Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers making it in but in a real shocker, the X-Men may not make the cut. Marvel want the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four back from 20th Century Fox so from what I have read or been told, they are putting less focus on the characters in the comic books themselves and likely won't want them in this game. Killing their popularity off somewhat might damage the success of any future Fox-produced movies and encourage them to give up the rights. Even so, can there be a MvC game without Wolverine? It seems unthinkable.

My other reason for being careful with my hype is that while I really enjoyed MvC3, it didn't make me mess my pants (in a happy way) quite like the older installments did. It was a great game and I played it a lot but without the beautiful 2D sprites, awesome music and some of the older characters, it was more a 8/10 game whereas I'd personally give MvC2 a 10/10. In this respect, Infinite won't be much different but as long as they get some solid single-player content in there, don't release it in a half-assed state as they did with Street Fighter V and get the Capcom side of the roster right (Morrigan and Akuma are a must!) then I'll be happy.

Oh and as a little bonus, Capcom confirmed that Ultimate MvC3 will be returning to the PSN store for PS4 and Vita (with all DLC included) now that they have hopped back into bed with Marvel and regained the rights. Yay!


It was a Capcom-tastic show as they also finally unveiled the much-anticipated return of a fan favourite (and certainly my favourite) Street Fighter character for V...

Did the local barber go out of business, Akuma?

Aside from the terrible new Lion King style hairdo, Akuma looks utterly bad-ass in the gameplay trailers and with his arrival imminent, it seems I might have to finally buy Street Fighter V. A lot of content has been added since the initial disaster of a release so at this point, I'd say it's probably worth me getting involved with. Oh and thankfully you can revert to Akuma's classic look to get away from THAT hair. What the hell were they thinking?!?

This wasn't all though as five silhouettes of future new characters were teased. According to the director they will all be "brand new to the Street Fighter universe" so...does this mean completely brand-new characters or perhaps some from other Capcom fighting games?

I couldn't even begin to guess...

To finish off with the SFV news, a batch of seasonal-themed DLC costumes were also recently shown which will be available until January 2017. Some are predictably ridiculous but others are quite cool considering some of the awful alternate outfits that get designed for recent Street Fighter games. Do Karin, Laura and R.Mika need more clothing for fighting in the winter? Definitely. Do I care? Nah.

Beauty is skin deep

I previously posted about The King of Fighters XIV getting set to shrug off its graphical woes with an upcoming free update patch that will vastly revamp the quality of the visuals. Well, a trailer for the update was shown at PSX '16 and it's looking good. Obviously, it has really come to something when we have teaser trailers for fixes to underwhelming graphics but this is modern gaming for you and I for one am just glad that SNK recognised this weakness and decided to do something about it.

The update patch will be completely free and lands sometime in January of next year. I've kinda neglected the game for a while now (due to various reasons I'll explain in an upcoming write-up on KOFXIV) so this will be the perfect excuse to get back into it again.

Shall we move away from fighting games now? "Yes please" I hear you say...

Playstation Experience 2016 was also a fantastic event for fans of Sega's awesome Yakuza series. I've been a die-hard fan of what is an action-packed, emotional, meticulously detailed and very Japanese series ever since I picked up the original game for PS2, mistakenly believing it to be a "Japanese GTA" but recently, it has been tough for Western Yakuza fans. Yakuza 5 arrived here years late (and even then only as a digital download) while the historical Kenzan spin-off series was never even translated. Due to the overt Japanese-ness of the series, it's understandable that sales will never encourage Sega to work flat out on localising the games for us "Gaijin" so with all the incoming installments in the series looking very tasty, fans were concerned about whether or not we'd get a look-in at all. The prequel installment - Yakuza 0 - was confirmed some time back but the real positive bombshells were dropped at PSX '16 with the double announcements of localisations for both Yakuza 6 and the remake of the original, Yakuza Kiwami.

You can wipe that frown away now Kiryu; you're heading West in 2017!

This is top, top news indeed and really unexpected. One must assume that Sony - in their quest for high quality content and exclusives for the PS4 - have added their clout to this deal to make it happen. However it went down, I'm so pleased. That's three massive Yakuza games heading our way in the near future and will mean that all of the mainline titles will have been released over here. Honestly, with how late Yakuza 5 limped onto the PSN store without warranting a physical release, I was highly doubtful that Sega would want to continue funding these localisations but I have been proven incorrect. When it comes to matters such as these, I am happy to be proven wrong constantly. Oh and speaking of unexpected announcements going against my cynical outlook...

Jamming with the Wind

I recently made a list of Neo Geo classics that I'd like to see re-issued digitally rather than the same old ones that get wheeled out. In said post, I was highly critical of digital download services for retro software and probably more than a little negative about the chances of some of my picks ever being dusted off again but one particular announcement at PSX blew my mind apart: Windjammers is coming back!!!

Yes, the developer DotEmu - known for their re-releases and conversions of retro titles to newer platforms - have acquired the rights from the IP holder of Data East's back catalogue to remaster the game for PS4 and PSVita. This new edition will feature online play and new modes which are both nice additions. I just want to play the game though as it's one that has really appealed to me for many years now but short of emulating (which I've never bothered to have a look at), there hasn't been a chance to have a go. What's also interesting is this willingness of the IP holder to allow one of their properties to be re-issued...does this bode well for future re-releases of Data East classics? If so then there are a few I'd like to see!

It was probably one of the more unexpected announcements as far as I'm concerned as it's one of those things I just assumed would never happen but here it is. Speaking of retro revivals, I'm going to lie about being done with the fighting game discussion and quickly mention another retro re-release of a Neo Geo legend that was also dropped at the Experience: Garou: Mark of the Wolves is being re-released for PS4 and PSVita AND it's available right now?!? Holy sh*t. This is one of the few well-regarded fighting games that I've missed out on over the years and I've always been meaning to track down the Japanese Playstation 2 port but now I might not need to. This one has online which I'm not too fussed about but it's there anyway. Man, I need to get my PS Store wallet topped up!

N-Sanity Approaches

Well, I've been eager to see what THIS would look like for a long time now and I have to say that it's lookin' good! Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy throws away all the woeful crappiness that wrecked the series once Naughty Dog had jumped ship and aims to bring back a much purer Crash experience by re-mastering the original PS1 trilogy from the ground-up. I'd been a bit worried that they might chance things up a little too much but looking at the graphical comparisons in the reveal trailer, we can clearly see that these will be the original games just with fantastic new visuals. For me personally, they HAVE to also get the music, sound effects and humour spot-on and faithful to the originals or else it just won't feel right but as it stands right now, I really like what Activision have done thus far. It seems like a game that will really please old-school retro heads like me (who are notoriously difficult to satisfy!) while also appealing to a new generation. Here's hoping that it's successful and perhaps justifies a brand-new game done in this style without all the gimmicks that ruined the franchise in the past.

To finish off with, it's great to see that after approximately 1,227,987 years of waiting and nearly as many rumours that the game had been cancelled, the Last Guardian is here at last (I'll get my coat):

It looks beautiful and it looks interesting. That's all I have to say and all there is to really know since the developers of Ico and Shadow of the Collosus really don't need to justify themselves. Will it be amazing? I can't say but I do want to find out for myself.

...aaaand that's all I have to say. Obviously there were a lot more big games announced that have gotten people very excited and a lot of new footage for existing projects also shown off but these were the things that appealed to me the most from 2016's Playstation Experience event. It really does feel like Sony have completely shrugged off their early PS3-era arrogance and been doing their best lately to woo gamers both old and new with all of these sorts of announcements plus the likes of Final Fantasy VII and Shenmue III revealed last year so long may it continue. It's certainly rekindled my fire for gaming which had admittedly been burning a lot dimmer this past year.

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