E3: The Third Party Shuffle

E3 is right around the corner now, and this is my last weekend of respite before next week’s onslaught of craziness. I’m sure covering E3 is a lot more work if you’re actually at the show, but it’s pretty busy from home too. I’ll probably be writing double my amount of stories.

So now that the console manufacturers are out of the way, time for some quick thoughts on third parties. And since I can’t possibly touch on every third party, here are five games I’ll be keeping an eye on. Some of these might not even show up, but they’re worth discussing as we get ready.

Untitled Respawn Project – While Activision continues to milk the Call of Duty name, this would be a great opportunity for EA to respond using West and Zampella. They have a knack for making huge franchises, and it’s been long enough to at least give us a taste of what they’re working on. The only problem is that EA needs to be careful — with this project, they run the risk of competing with their own shooter market between the Battlefield, Bad Company, and Medal of Honor series.

Halo Remake – To paraphrase Dan Rather, if this rumor isn’t true, it ought to be. 343 has some talent in-house, but they’re unproven. They need to win over the Halo crowd, and what better way to do it than with a loving 10th anniversary remake of the original? In fact, I’ll kick the ambition of this rumor up a notch. Halo and Halo 2 remakes packaged on one disc, so that the full set is available on 360. 343 might never replace Bungie in fans’ hearts, but this would go a long way to winning them over. And speaking of Bungie…

Untitled Bungie Project – Whatever Bungie is working on, it’s big. We’ve heard rumors that it’s still an FPS, but will be a larger and persistent world, almost like an MMO. Those seem to be the most tenacious rumors, so there’s probably a kernel of truth to them. Bungie has announced it won’t officially have a presence this year, but Activision could still surprise us with a teaser-trailer as we wait for Bungie’s official reveal, set for sometime in July.

Batman: Arkham City – This is one of my most anticipated games, and it’s pretty beloved by gamers of all stripes. It would be a big win to have it shown off at one of the press conferences, and I’m as curious as any Batman fan to see the improvements for this one. Plus apparently you can play as Catwoman, so nothing wrong with that.

BioShock Infinite – Garnett called this the likely Game of show, and reading the previews so far, I can’t say I disagree. Hopefully they show a little more than the footage we’ve already heard about from previews. In fact, some hands-on time would be great. Even if I wish it involved my hands, I’d be curious to read how different reviewers made different choices and how that impacted the combat scenarios.

Today was a surprisingly big news day. Apparently a lot of companies decided to hit some of their mid-tier news (mostly release dates and new trailers) before everything gets lost in the wash of E3.

  • I keep hearing about Demon’s Souls, so I might try out Dark Souls. I’m wondering if I should rent Demon’s Souls first, though, just to see if I have that kind of tolerance for frustrating bullshit.
  • I can’t possibly see this working out for EA. Sure you need your own dedicated storefront, but trying to go head-to-head with Steam is a fool’s errand. I suppose I just don’t see the point of pouring the resources into making a Steam-like overlay for just one publisher. Is anyone really going to use it?
  • Welcome Back! Wait, wait, one at a time. I can’t blame Sony for the influx of users, I can’t even blame the service for having outages, but they probably should’ve come up with a better way to manage this. Finding your missing game if you lost one in the process is a headache that the casual consumer won’t even know about. I still don’t even know if I can get my second PSP game, because the work-around solution didn’t even work.
  • If you’re going to make a first-person shooter, at least give it a creative hook. Pulling off an Oceans Eleven style heist is original, if nothing else.
  • Du-dun. Du-dun.

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