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While RaiderZ was on the E3 floor for all to play, Gamer Limit shuttled off into a dark and quiet room for an exclusive sit down demo of MAIET Entertainment’s upcoming free-to-play MMORPG. At first glance, it is a typical open world, fantasy game. Players are immediately met with the typical tropes — warriors and mages, goblins and dragons, skills and quests.

However, as I began to partake of some goblin genocide, the game’s strengths started to stand out. Then they started to sing.

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If I had to describe El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron in one word it would be ”gorgeous”. After seeing the game it probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear that El Shaddai’s develop was headed by Okami lead character designer Sawaki Takeyasu.  The brightly coloured, pastel ce-shaded visuals are a dead give away, and they just absolutely ooze style.

But is it more than just a pretty face? Hit the jump for my impressions.

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Earlier this afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit down and play Capcom’s latest spinoff in the Resident Evil series. Capcom has partnered with SOCOM Confrontation developer Slant Six Games to push the series in an entirely new direction with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.  Together, they have created the franchise’s first third-person team-based shooter and it looks like it’s shaping up to be something special.

The game follows the Umbrella Security Service (USS) through the Raccoon City Incident – previously seen from the perspective of Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield in Resident Evil 2 and Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Operation Raccoon City features three-way competitive multiplayer between US Spec Ops, Umbrella security forces, and the infected threat of zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons. While at the Capcom booth I had the chance to sit down for a fifteen-minute single-player demo.

Hit the jump for my impressions.

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Gamer Limit went hands on with Star Fox 64 3D on the Nintendo 3DS. There were three levels to choose from for this demo, essentially easy, medium and hard. We chose the middle, Meteo level. First impressions equate to the original Nintendo 64 title, just a little more sharp and a little more enjoyable.

The gameplay ports very well to the handheld device. The default button layout makes for almost the same experience fans had with the original game, with the circle pad just as responsive as the joystick. The depth of field with 3D offers an immersion that seems perfect for the game. Especially for the Meteo level, with humongous space rocks and bots  flying in and out of the screen, it all at once reminds fans why the game was so exciting on the 64, and how 3D can contribute to a new experience if done right.

For the most part it’s right. For the most part.

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Before I went to film school, I watched the Academy Awards. I believed they were a sincere arbiter of what the “best” movies were in a given year. I did not understand how those decisions were made, but trusted that the people making them had expertise which I lacked, and so I did not question their decisions. I learned in school that a small minority of the members of the Academy were people who actually knew anything about the art of filmmaking, i.e. directors, actors, cinematographers, or screenwriters. The rest of them were producers, agents, distributors, and other “suits” who really only knew about one thing: money.

Hollywood has patted itself on the back with award shows like the Oscars for decades, and no one wanted to see that the emperor had no clothes. Whatever clothes he’s wearing now are being seen on Blu Rays or DVDs sent through the mail instead of through film projected onto movie theater screens, and fewer consumers are willing to purchase those Blu Rays or DVDs every year. There’s a reason why ticket prices are skyrocketing, and why we’re being flooded with a series of remakes. Hollywood is creatively drained. They’ve beaten the tropes to death. The audience has figured out that there’s nothing under the hood, and aren’t willing to pay what Hollywood is asking.

I’m finding distressing similarities in the seeming mentality between those who hand out the Oscars, and those who handed out the E3 Game Critics Awards; considering the similarities between the two industries, the present state of film may say a lot about the future of video games.

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I know what you’re thinking: yet another shooter on the Xbox 360. But while shooters are certainly a dime a dozen, some manage to separate themselves from the competition and bring about a fresh experience. Sniper: Ghost Warrior sets out to do just that.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 was one of the more recent games to make me fall in love with sniping. It really is amazing what realistic bullet physics can do for a game. Sniper: Ghost Warrior takes sniping to a whole new level while stressing the importance of stealth. A combination that may not be for everyone, but sure as hell shows potential for an engaging experience.

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As someone who has neither been into the Grand Theft Auto series (I know it’s not the same developer or publisher) nor even laid eyes on the original Mafia, I went into the demonstration with no knowledge and low expectations.  When I came out, the first question I asked the proctor was, “When is the release date?”

There’s something refreshing about a game that suddenly spikes one’s interest after a simple 15 minute demonstration.  And whether much of that is credited to how well 2K games presented themselves this year or just the overall gameplay of the demo, they really did an excellent job of getting the public excited for its soon-to-be release.  Lest it to say, it did have some minor flaws, but from my initial impressions, its fun factor is what counts and it definitely delivers. Read more… »

After previewing and then getting a hands-on look at Bulletstorm, I really have no idea what to think about it.  On its surface, the game seems like it caters towards low IQ players who get their adrenaline pumping by smashing wooden furniture.  Basically, it comes off as one of those games where it’d be the focal point of a huge controversy should a kid get an impulsive rush to stab someone while playing it.  In other words, it’s an excellent college frat game.

On the other hand, your ability to rack up high scores is limited by your creativity to kill as many guys as you can in the most diverse and graphic ways possible.  Essentially, if you can’t get a high score, this game makes you feel very dumb for not being able to think in one of man’s most basic instincts, killing.

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How does one improve the best sports franchise in the last three years? No, don’t say it. Don’t argue with me here. NHL is, without doubt, the best EA Sports franchise there is – the 22 Sports Game of the Year awards the franchise has received over the past three years speaks for itself after all. Sure I am a huge Madden fan, but the realism, the polish, and the amount of content in NHL 08, NHL 09, and NHL 10 have been a few of the reasons why it has been so successful.

After last year’s title, it was hard for me to fathom exactly how it could be improved – hence the previous question. Well, that question was answered for me by getting my grubby hands on it behind closed doors at E3. However, before my mind could process the changes and improvements that have been made in NHL 11, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Read more… »

Never having played previous entries in the series, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I stepped behind the curtain at the Square Enix section to take a look at the latest Deus Ex entry. One thing I did know was that as the show wore on, more and more people I met were talking excitedly about it.

By the time I left the hands-off gameplay demo room, I thoroughly understood what all the buzz was about. There’s a lot of awesome on tap for this upcoming title; just for a taste, you can punch through a brick wall, grab a guy, and snap his neck. Do want.

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LBP captured my heart in 2008 with its adorable, adventurous gameplay, and its undeniably charming sackboy mascot.

Now, the sequel is preparing for its launch later this year, and I can’t help but get excited. Especially since they are ramping up the already powerful level design tool. Media Molecule is promising that LBP 2 is not only a fun platformer, but also a “platform for games”.

With that in mind, I took some of the mini-games they had on the show for a spin.

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Over the course of the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a ton of producers, play a zillion games, and witness a million more previews.  After a while, one begins to notice certain attitudes from the developers that actually provide a ton of information about their products without much being said.

Games you know that will sell well to the public, but have poor demonstrations, naturally lessen the enthusiasm.  On the other hand, games you may not know anything about suddenly pop-up on the public’s Christmas list due to their solid presentations.  And I’ll be the first to admit, Senior Producer Greg Hounsom sold me on the game.

While it’s impossible for me to know how Brink will do once it’s released, it is a game that instantly went from invisible to a massive fleet on my radar. Read more… »