News and clips of Quantum Break have been scarce so far, so the amount of confusion surrounding even the game's premise is hardly surprising.
It’s being promised as - get ready - a video-game in which time travel provides a central plot mechanic and where your actions influence a live action TV series. So we’re not really that surprised if details surrounding the game…show…thing are few and far between.
Set in a college town where an experiment with a time machine has gone wrong, the game’s disc will also include a full series of the accompanying TV show. How exactly one will influence the other is unclear as of now, but it seems that the studio behind Quantum Break have gone to new extremes to create a back and forth.
Speaking to gaming site Polygon, creative director Sam Lake detailed how when actors were first cast they were also sent to the dentist to get dental molds made. These were then digitized and implanted into the video game characters’ mouths.
Lake also stressed that he hopes Quantum Break will be consumed in the same way as a television series watched via an on-demand service. This unity of TV and video game – in terms of both production and consumption – perfectly exemplifies Microsoft’s strategy for the Xbox One.
What better way to stress that the console is there for both mediums than to create a product that incorporates both strands? And like the One itself, Quantum Break seems like a hell of a gamble for Microsoft.
Super Mario 3D World:
Although Nintendo kept a low profile at this year’s E3, the announcement of Super Mario 3D World still managed to brighten the general outlook, showing off a polished looking outing that builds on Mario’s previous successes.
3D Marios we’ve had a plenty, but this is the first to offer multiplayer, and Nintendo’s decision to keep multiplayer offline only indicates that they want this to be a game for gatherings – one for friendship and bitter rivalry alike.
You choose from one of four characters, each with their own advantages and disadvantages with Nintendo’s traditional rock-paper-scissors-Luigi approach to gameplay balance. Mario is the all-rounder, Peach is a little slower but can float when she jumps, Luigi’s tough to control but can jump higher, whilst Toad has a speed advantage but can’t leap too far.
Super Mario 3D World:
Gamers can choose whether they want to work together or try and undermine each other in the 3D world, with players competing for points via collecting coins and defeating enemies, but with teamwork necessary for actually progressing through levels.
But if there was one addition that set the blogs a-buzzing over the new Mario, it was the cat suit, a new transformation that lets players bounce around maps on all fours, climb walls and even scale the end-level flagpoles.
It might not be the biggest step forward Nintendo, especially considering how far behind they currently are in the console competition, but it’s a title that will certainly be worth your time.
And continuing from Quantum break in our theme of genre-bending and general experimentation is Destiny, the next effort from don’t-call-us-the-makers-of-Halo studio Bungie (they made Halo by the way).
The trailers and screens so far show a mash of influences – Mass Effect’s grand sci-fi overtures, a little bit of Metal Gear Solid in the feel of an eternally weaponized landscape, the world-gone-to-seed styling of Fallout and – of course –the solid shooter mechanics of Halo (did we mention Bungie made that? So clever).
The story is set sometime after mankind’s fall from a Golden Age and you play the guardian of the last safe human city, set to defend its squishy citizens from marauding alien races that are scattered across Earth, looting the wonders of the past age with the type of violent insouciance not seen since the British Empire.
Add to this the mystery of The Traveller - it’s capped up so you know it’s Portentous - a mysterious alien artefact hovering over the city, empowering certain chosen individuals but whose real purpose remains enigmatic and just possibly dangerous.
Magically this manages to reference Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, and Ian M. Banks’ Excession all in one go – which probably explains my warm feelings towards the game in general.
Despite this gorgeous serving of plot though, the real excitement for Destiny is the hope of a seamless blending between single and multiplayer action.
Bungie promises that matchmaking in the game will be frictionless, with players able to step off from the storyline into instance-like public battles, but without progress bars, waiting time or matchmaking lobbies. It should be heavenly – if it works.
Cloud-computing will bear the strain on processing power such a system demands, but even if the system architecture is perfect the game might still feel unbalanced. Bungie, however, promise that the choice of how to play the game is entirely up to the player. They don’t care, as long as you play.
Octodad: The Dadliest Catch
And now, moving in weird shuffling gait away from the shooters, a game whose coverage has been co-opted somewhat as proof of Sony’s indie credentials. However, Octodad: Dadliest Catch (it's a sequel) deserves attention in its own right. It’s a game with depth and integrity but most importantly, it’s a game with an octopus in it.
You play as the eponymous Octodad, with the game’s challenges based around your struggle to keep your marine identity hidden from your wife and children. The real innovation is the game’s slapstick controls, with each of Octodad’s tentacles controlled separately to complete suddenly-impossible tasks like walking down a hallway or picking up a key.
And it’s actually funny for a game - a rare, rare achievement. Not necessarily because of the written gags (though they are good) but simply because of the the continual visual joy of watching your eight limbs splaying haphazardly across rooms in an attempt to accomplish some mundane domestic chore.
Octodad: The Dadliest Catch
For such an unabashedly silly game, it’s also one that’s remarkably easy to over-intellectualise. I’m tempted to praise the game for its inspired unity of gameplay and story (when Octodad thrashes about a room, knocking over tables and chairs, his conspicuous jerking becomes an oddly effective metaphor for what it feels like to be a social outsider), but the appeal is much more basic than that:
You really want Octodad to make it - he’s just such an inherently loveable character. Playing the game is like watching a drunken best friend teeter uncertainly from bar stool to bathroom, listening to their whispered self-encouragement of ‘goddamit Frank, keep it together’ and wishing them luck, but all whilst waiting for the inevitable crash as they hit the deck, and you go help pick themselves up.
If you can’t wait for the PS4 version of the game, then you’re in luck – the original title is available for free download at www.octodadgame.com
And moving back into more familiar gaming territory with another game of mashed game modes: Titanfall, an online-only multiplayer title that sees players duke it out in a Call of Duty style tech shooter, with the addition of mechs. Massively murderous mechs.
The product of Respawn – the studio that resulted from the firing/mass exodus of employees from Infinity Ward after it was bought out by Activision – Titanfall seem am eminently flexible shooter, offering the variable gameplay that Call of Duty: Black Ops tried to deliver with gadgets, but just ended up confusing by offering too much.
Game environments will vary, sometimes offering advantages for the railgun-toting mechs, and sometimes for the rocket-pack jumping pilots. This dual style of warfare promises a cat-and-mouse style of gameplay, where knowledge of your environment and second-guessing your opponent’s style of play will offer as much of an advantage as reflexes.
Players hop about as the pilot, tacking off walls and using the auto-aiming Smart Pistol to knock out the easily disposed-of grunts, but can then call down their mech from orbiting space ships, get pulled into its chest by the mech itself, and then unleash some heavy fire power on nearby gawkers.
Again, the cloud-power of the next gen consoles will be utilised heavily by the game, and it seems than this – rather than say, moving away from the shooter genre – will be the definition of ‘next gen’ gaming. Mixing with this the forgiving and exhilirating experience of a CoD shooter though, and it seems like a winner.