Tag Archives: Final Fantasy VII

PlayStation E3 2015 Recap

PlayStation E3 2015

Sony this year came out with some heat. We all thought most of it would just be rumors because—let’s face it—a lot of it sounded absurd. A comeback? A remake? Oh come on. We should know better by now. Go back to your village and take your pipe dreams with you.

But wham, bam, holy shit. We really shouldn’t be calling out “winners” for this sort of thing, but this press conference did actually bring down the Internet. Feel free to read on or rewatch the entire thing.

The Last Guardian

Ummm, what? I guess sometimes vaporware comes back from the dead. After being in and out of development and existence for the past 2007, it was pretty safe to assume the long awaited project was simply dead and buried. After the trauma of numerous rumors, the latest rumblings that we’d see The Last Guardian at this E3 seemed to only freshen up old wounds.

But it’s all true. Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida confirmed it would release for PlayStation 4 in 2016. Coming from Team Ico and director Fumito Ueda, the same combo that brought you Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, its expectations were high. After all these delays, are they just as lofty?

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Guerrilla Games, developer of the Killzone series, is throwing quite the delicious curveball here. Going from a stock FPS to this is rather incredible. Perhaps filling the PlayStation 4’s required space marine quota earned them some laterality.

But Horizon: Zero Dawn has a fascinating premise. Something along the course of humanity’s development caused them to plunge back into a pre-civilization structure except machines are still rampant and necessary. So instead of hunting for food, they hunt for parts. Sure, the gameplay looks fun enough, but that setup is incredible.


Even if you don’t care for the Hitman games, this is a well put together trailer. It finely composes the idea that he’s a killer of tactics, brutality, and skill. Also, the backing track that surreptitiously features ragged breathing slowly sinks in and is reinforced by the kill shot.

The trailer itself, however, doesn’t reveal much except that the series still animates people a bit too cartoonishly. I guess Square Enix assumes we already know what to expect from the game, which is kind of a sad notion anyway. Hitman lands on PlayStation 4 and PC on December 8. (Franchise reboots that simply start off with the same name is an organizational nightmare, by the way.)


Media Molecule is still very much about games in which you create, if you were wondering. The latest is Dreams, and while the trailer is very obtuse about what you’ll actually be doing, you’ll definitely be creating…something.

It looks like you’ll be using your controller to sculpt out characters inside of scenes. The “dreams” motif comes in where everything is fast and impressionistic rather than details and builds upon a previously known (read: made) lexicon of items. You can then grab your creations and puppeteer them to life. (The short demo preceding the trailer shows more than anyone could ever say with words.)

Destiny: The Taken King

While I found Destiny to be somewhat lacking in its original release, the more that Bungie puts out for the game, the more I want to go back and play it. It seems like they’re solving the two biggest problems simultaneously with each DLC, being the lack of content for a massive world and a refinement of how to use that world in interesting ways.

Coming September 15, The Taken King will cost $39.99 for the regular edition and $79.99 for the collector’s edition, both of which will also include Destiny itself. The expansion will include new Guardian subclasses and super moves.

Final Fantasy VII

Part of the crazy heat Sony threw around yesterday. Even more dubious than The Last Guardian comeback rumors, we heard voices on the wind talk of a Final Fantasy VII remake, something fans have been clamoring for since dinosaurs walked the Earth.

And now it’s happening. This isn’t a tech demo or a PC version or an upgraded PC version for PlayStation 4, but this is a remake. At this point, it’s unclear as to what that means. This could end up just an HD remaster for all we know, but hopefully they’re not just misleading us with the word “remake.”

The bigger question, however, is if anyone still cares. Tetsuya Nomura is coming on as director after guiding the Kingdom Hearts series (and directing Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) while Yoshinori Kitase, original director of Final Fantasy VII, will be returning to produce. Is that enough to garner interest beyond the 18-year-old fan base?

No Man’s Sky

This is the first lengthy gameplay demo anyone outside of the press has seen from No Man’s Sky. Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray hopefully imparted upon the audience the sheer size of what they’re attempting with this procedurally generated universe simulator. (If you still don’t get it, read this piece over at The New Yorker.)

Still no release date, but we do learn that every world is fully destructible. Plus there are fish!

Shenmue III

And here’s the real surprise of the event. No one was even expecting this, but Yu Suzuki, creator of an immense number of classics like Space Harrier, Out Run, After Burner, and Virtua Fighter, came out on stage to announce that he’d like to revitalize the Shenmue franchise through Kickstarter.

And then everyone lost their god damn minds. Which is the appropriate response, I might add. It brought down Kickstarter itself for a brief time as it rocketed up hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes. It’s already hit its $2 million goal in its first day. If you’re not jacked for this, then you’re a fool. Or you were too young to have played the first two.

Call of Duty

Now we know why Call of Duty was mysteriously absent during Microsoft press conference. PlayStation CEO Andrew House announced that Sony will get all of the military shooter’s map packs first. The deal will start up with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, coming to PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One November 6.

Map packs have traditionally gone to Xbox platforms first since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare back in 2007. While not necessarily everyone’s thing, this is a huge move for PlayStation.


Firewatch is pretty much exactly the kind of game I love playing. Or at least it’s the kind of game I love thinking that I would love playing based on the trailer because the trailer sells a very particular kind of game.

The adventure game from Campo Santo and director Jake Rodkin (co-host of the Idle Thumbs podcast) tells the story of a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness in 1989. Numerous mysteries begin to unfold as he goes about his patrols.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

While the return of the Uncharted series still doesn’t seem like the best creative decision, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End still looks pretty incredible. Like, visually, I mean. It seems like it’ll play like the other games, so you probably already know if you’ll be into that or not, but there’s certainly something to be said for a masterful refinement of a craft.

After a little technical hiccup where protagonist Nathan Drake froze in front of a still animating crowd, we go on a classic Uncharted whirlwind ride of shooting bad guys, running from overwhelming odds, shooting more guys, and (as a franchise first) driving a vehicle. Oh, and crackin’ some wise. Don’t forget that.

There are some other odds and ends that came out of the conference (like a new Street Fighter V trailer), but that’s the gist of it. There were several genuine surprises, capping off a rather momentous start to this year’s E3. Look for more coverage as the show continues the rest of the week.

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A Lament For The Lost

A Lament For The Lost

Video games are moving towards their natural habitat. That is, they are becoming increasingly digital. They are, of course, already digital in the sense that all they really are is compiled code, bits of zeros and ones stamped onto a disc that exist to be read out and interpreted by a machine for your pleasure. The increasingly digital part comes in where they are being sold; digital sales through the likes of Steam and PSN and XBLA are booming and show no signs of stopping.

Physical retail has been on the decline since 2008 while digital delivery has increased since long before that. Mobile gamers are expected to double in the next couple of years on platforms that don’t even have physical media. If you look at NPD numbers for December, you’ll notice a decline in reported sales and yet the industry feels like it hasn’t lost a step. The cause? Digital sales are generally unreported.

Case in point: digital is on the rise, which—operating on the assumption that for cross-platform releases, digital vs. physical is a zero-sum game—means that physical is on the decline. But an important part of gaming is disappearing alongside the corporeal, and that is what used to go alongside the disc.

Do you remember game manuals? I’m sure you do, otherwise I’m going to have to ask to see your permission slip for the Internet. But recall how much used to go into those little booklets. By comparison, they make modern manuals look anemic. This is emblematic of several trends like going green and increasingly hand-holdy game design/tutorials, but let’s call it like it is; this is a loss of art. These miniature tomes were not only instructions on how to play the game but also were records of a world we knew little else about.

I remember that the manual that came with Final Fantasy VII on PC included biographies about all of the characters. You had their names, jobs, height, and even blood type. I spent my first half hour poring over that booklet, trying to absorb and retain everything I could so that the world that I was about to enter would be all the more inviting. There was art and hints and contextualized bits of instruction that read like you were already in Midgar.

And correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there was a walkthrough for the first section in the back. Maybe.

Compare that to today’s instruction manuals. I’ve see flyers with more real estate than that. Nowadays, most of them fold out a few times from a 4″x4″ square, half of which contains legal information and the other half a controller diagram. And that’s it. No biographies, no prologue, and certainly no hints. That tells you that either it is impossible to not understand something about the game or it is being purposefully opaque, neither of which amount to much of an apology for removing a chunk of art from your life. There were times when I, as a child, would go out with my family and I would bring a stack of manuals to read along the way, essential literature and not poor kindling.

While not on a similar decline, you can also soon kiss box art and disc art goodbye. The ridiculously large but oddly sentimental and ornamental boxes that PC games used to come in are gone (and for good reason; I’m guessing each FFVII box required at least one redwood and several saplings) and the diminutive size of modern disc cases (gooooo Green Team!) has diminished the once Idaho-sized canvases of old, but the inevitable digital future demands one especially horrible sacrifice: box and disc art.

Some of which is pretty good and some of which kind of makes you glad people won’t be able to just walk into your house and see that sort of nonsense. It could go from the metal-as-fuck cover of Doom to the painfully horrendous North American box art for Mega Man. Recall the contrasting masterful and shameful box art for Ico on the PS2. In the case of Max Payne 2, the box art was an extension of the game, setting the mood for the player before they even booted up. All the industry in-jokes and the generational milestones will be gone.

And with no box, there is no disc. And with no disc, there is no disc art. Sayonara to giggling at the fact that Tennis 2K2‘s disc looks like a tennis ball. Auf Wiedersehen to staring into the psychedelic abyss that is the We Love Katamari disc. That little movement of taking a disc and pinching it precariously between your thumb and index finger will never happen again. Spindle them up on your digits and twirl those suckers because they are going bye-bye.

That High Fidelity kind of lust for records will become a relic of a bygone time—our time—when video games still came in boxes and housed inside of them a disc with a manual. You will no longer be able to pull a case off your shelf and hold this piece of art in your hands. Your appreciation will be from afar, a maintainable and unknowable distance that stretches between the tips of your fingers and the edge of your screen. Rob Gordon’s obsession will begin to seem rational, his austere precautions mandatory, and his appreciation appropriate. And we will understand that he is a lament for the lost.

And we can only hope Catherine Zeta-Jones will one day date us.

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