Assaulted by a major sensory overload, we felt like we saw so much (and missed even more) at this year's E3. With everyone justly excited about 'Zelda' and 'Halo: Reach', a couple lesser hyped titles caught our eye as we perused the aisles. Here's a list of some hidden gems we unearthed, hopefully giving you a leg up on gameplay, before one of these might go on to win Game of the Year.
Maybe it's because 'Echochrome II
' was the first title we tried with the new PlayStation Move controller, but the Move's glowing ball and motion controls fit this puzzler perfectly. For players of the original Echochrome, which came out two years ago on UMD, the game will feel familiar. It has simple controls, innovative "flashlight" style of exploration where the play "casts" shadows for a figure to walk along and a soothing, simplistic (and oddly Escher-ian) landscape. This certainly won't break any records, but it's a great usage of the Move, which we've been feeling tentative about from the get-go.
Shooters often require a bit of a learning curve, so we were surprised by the incredible ease with which we navigated this title from the always-quality Bethesda. Not to say, of course, that it's easy, but firing off weaponry was more intuitive and less about tricky switching and complicated controls. The game also diverges from the average FPS by giving players different skills and roles, switching from being a mechanic, to a soldier, to a medic -- and increasingly unlocking abilities and traits as the story progresses. However, the most fun part of 'Brink
' was the intense customization, allowing the player to upgrade and change the look of their character with a myriad of traits. Pushed back from this fall to spring '11, we hope to see this game live up to its potential.
Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light
Square Enix's eponymous series was overshadowed because it wasn't in 3-D, and most gamers were more interested in seeing the online 'Final Fantasy XVI'. But Final Fantasy always ports well onto the handheld DS, and 'Heroes
' is no exception. Charming, and possibly the most richly rendered DS offering to date, the title harkens back to classic Final Fantasy, while adding fun, trendy components like touchscreen integration and character customization (finally!). Sure, it is totally PG, but we are often surprised at what fun we derive from the fully realized FF worlds on the DS. Set to hit stores this fall.
Lost in Shadow
Like the aforementioned 'Echochrome' with a touch of the haunting, successful and beloved 'Shadow of the Colossus,' and even a bit of the aesthetic of 'Braid,' 'Lost in Shadow
' is one of those cross-genre'd games that melds adventure, platform and puzzles. Only a shadow (there appears to be a shadow trend at this year's E3), the player is set about moving on the silhouettes of old, peaceful discarded machinery, finding hints to create more "shadow space" for the character to advance. Each accomplishment adds "weight" to the shadow, morphing it from a wisp to a substantial entity, advancing the plot. Gorgeous and easy to control using the Wii Motion Plus, 'Shadow' is a great example of how, after five years, the Wii is still a fresh system.
The original 'Okami' on the PlayStation 2 completely sold us on the imaginative, movement-oriented epic adventure game, even though it leaned heavily on the Zelda franchise. Since then, 'Okami's' studio Clover has folded, and 'Okami' fans have worried that Capcom wouldn't do the title justice. The smaller 'Okamiden
,' meant for the Nintendo DS however, knows that players will return to see the wolf god and the game's beautiful art, which is exactly what Capcom focused on. With the addition of a partner on your back and a stronger emphasis on puzzles, 'Okamiden' is just what made 'Okami' great, which is a pleasant surprise.
From TGC, the developer that brought innovative, strange and un-'game-like' (at least, in the traditional sense of the word) releases like 'Flower' and 'FlOw' to players is now doing a platforming, exploring desert game called 'Journey
.' Details are mum, but we've seen a richly rendered cel-shaded world, filled with no life, no green -- just sand and cloth, the two elements you can manipulate. Puzzle-solving and exploration are the core of this game -- which also has a multi-player mode, a curious choice for a game based on isolation -- but the vastness of the world is teaming with imagination. As our pals at Joystiq have said
, "At its core, Journey can probably be best described as a platformer, with a clear objective: get to the end. However, thatgamecompany isn't simply focusing on a goal -- instead, the experience is geared towards its title."