International CES 2012
This was my first experience at CES so I really had no idea of what to expect. As much as I prepared and studied the booth locations that I wanted to visit, I still didn’t realize just how big this event is. I actually should say, I didn’t realize how massively big this event is. I turned the corner into one of the area’s and started walking down the path passing booth after booth just taking it all in and being fairly overwhelmed at how expansive this event is. I kept on walking forward and there just wasn’t an end in sight. Mind you this was just one of multiple exhibit halls as well. Eventually it became more of a “this is cool” factor than a “holy shazbot will it ever end?” factor. Unfortunately, my time there was short this year, but I took full advantage of what time I had and it will help prepare me for extended attendance next year.
Let’s get into the good stuff now. I certainly checked out a lot of booths and there were more than enough cool things to see. However, my focus was on my first objective which was gaming. I made sure to check out the Microsoft and Sony booths, which were interesting for sure, but my main reason for this pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the International CES was to attend my private demo with Nintendo’s new console the Wii U – And it was a lot of fun! Sadly, I had missed E3 this past year, and I didn’t get to have any hands on time with the Wii U sooner. Thus it was important for me to gain this experience, but I will get to that in a bit.
When I first found Microsoft’s booth there wasn’t really anything that called out to me. They had the Kinect featured in an area where you could play a few of the Kinect games. They also had some previously released titles available for you to play on the Xbox 360. But then they also had a few demos of upcoming titles for you to play in. I would come back to revisit these demos later and give them a closer look. I didn’t realize it at first until I checked my twitter, but someone I needed to meet was helping with the demo of “I Am Alive,” and thus that is the demo I made sure to try at Microsoft’s booth.
Thoughts and Musings on “I Am Alive”
“I Am Alive” is an action-adventure survival type of game in which an “event” has happened and you play the role of a character trying to find his way back home to his wife and daughter. This event has caused a great deal of destruction and so while you are finding your way back home you will be climbing your way through a number of obstacles trying to figure out how to get by and press on. You also have a stamina gauge so while you are climbing your stamina will start to fall and as you take large leaps your stamina will take a big hit. If your stamina gauge runs out in the middle of a climb your character will fall. I found it to work really well and once your stamina runs out it’s not an instant fall, as you can try to get to the right area before you fall. But once your stamina is out it really is only a matter of seconds. It actually is quite fun though especially when you have close calls that your stamina is about to run out or just does right as you climb to the top and are able to stand. In another instance I was near the bottom and fell but close enough to the bottom that I survived the fall.
I must mention that these types of games don’t normally draw my attention that easily but by the time I was done with the demo I was really impressed. Now I am actually looking forward to seeing more of the game and to learn more about the story.
When I came across Sony’s booth I was more impressed with it’s layout. It was more inviting and less crowded in many ways while I played some of their games they had on display. My first order of business was to check out the Vita because, once again, missing out on E3 didn’t give me a chance to see it. I quickly ran over as they had multiple Vita’s on display, each with a different title featured. I am already regretting not checking out Uncharted but I will get to play that soon enough. However, I did see Gravity Rush and that was a title that’s interested me ever since seeing it’s trailer from awhile back. I checked out a few other titles as well but then made my way over to the PlayStation 3 area in which I couldn’t pass up my chance to play Starhawk.
Based on it’s gameplay trailer I was very interested in this title and what it could do. When I saw it at CES I made sure to jump on it as quickly as possible. The whole idea of “shifting gravity” in Gravity Rush is pretty cool and a fun idea to execute. It does handle very well in the game and was fun to perform. So much so that I can’t wait to get my hands on the entire game to see what levels present themselves later on in the game. The demo level was fairly short and simple but all in all I enjoyed what I got out of it. It offered just enough action to give you an idea of how the game will play. It did lack some excitement but you can’t judge it by one demo alone. What you can judge by the demo is its gameplay and the entire idea of the game, which overall I found to be satisfactory.
So overall I liked the demo and I’m looking forward to the actual game. I think we will see a lot of fun gameplay come from it based on what we could see from the level design. I feel that the level design will actually be extremely important in complimenting the type of gameplay Gravity Rush presents you with. Gravity Rush could end up being one of those fun titles that everyone needs to play or could slip up and be close but not close enough. I very much hope that it will be that fun title I think it has the potential to be. I should also note that the controls will probably take you a minute or two to get down and maybe even change up the sensitivity. But besides that they were absolutely fine.
Here is one of those big titles that I am sure a lot of us will look forward to playing in the near future. Thankfully, for those of us who have Uncharted 3, you will be able to get in on the public online multiplayer beta for this title coming up in the next week via your voucher code that came with Uncharted 3.
My demo time with this was fairly short, yet still a good experience. While going through one of the missions I was on foot the entire time. In my short time with Starhawk I was able to get the controls down and learn the responses to movements fairly easily, which I found the feel of it to be pretty good. Your aim on the enemy targets seems to really range in its response. It can feel as if you are right on target with your shot but the bullets still spray outward causing you to miss your target. It does a good job handling range in that aspect and at least with that particular weapon. But in the short moment of that level it felt right. When I would hit the target it would take a few bullets to put them down and other times not quite as many. I was also able to use a sniper, with which I was able to have success with. There was lot of one shot one kill action, although I did have one enemy encounter where he took a hit and kept running.
You will have a knife that you are able to use in case you get caught up in close range combat and you need to quickly use the knife option. I did end up using all of my grenades way too quickly because I accidently threw them when learning the controls. This was unfortunate because there surly would have been times that those would have come in handy later in the game. There where random barrels laid out on the map for you to blow up of which enemies where standing next to. It basically has all your typical stuff that you see in a shooter until you get into the reasons that makes Starhawk different. But without delving too far into that I will say that this game does get the most important factor down right, that being that it handles well as a shooter first and foremost. Your character movements, the enemy AI and the entire setup of the maps seem to be handled very well thus far.
One of the factors that makes Starhawk different is that with the build and battle feature you get to build something and then use it in battle. I was able to get something built during my demo but ran out of time to implement and use it. So I still look forward to seeing more from this option and being able to play around with it. I think it will be a lot of fun to change up the battlefield by building it to your own specifications with that option. But either way, it handled well and feels good as a shooter so that automatically gets me interested in how the rest of the game could possibly play out.
Wii U Demo
The entire Wii U demo presented ideas and gave a snapshot of the type of things you would be able to do in games. Everything we played merely gave a sample of options and was meant to give developers ideas of different ways you can use the Wii U controller. When I first picked up the Wii U controller it really didn’t seem as big as I expected it to. It’s light weight, fairly comfortable and works extremely well based on the mini games I was able to play with it. The game types that you can do with the Wii U controller could be really impressive. Simple ideas like the mini game we played of “hide & seek” where four people were on the TV chasing me down as I used the Wii U controller to run away and hide. The big difference is that they can’t see a map on the TV as they chase me down, but on the Wii U controller I had a map so I knew where they were coming from. They used good team work and communication to still track me down but it was a fun experience.
There are so many great possibilities that it can create in gameplay situations that I really look forward to seeing what developers do with it. For local multiplayer alone it could potentially change the way games are played and make it even more competitive and secretive at the same time. But for additional gameplay features developers could really push for a lot of neat features, especially with what we have seen from the DS/3DS and what that second touch screen could be used for in games. Such as basic maps, inventory with your items and being able to go about using those things on the Wii U controller more quickly are all potential features.
I really enjoy first person/third person shooters and if used really well just think about the tactical options that the Wii U controller could be utilized for. Leave the gameplay and shooting for the big screen but use the map below to call out enemies in selectable locations. Use the Wii U controller to draw a line on the map of where you would like a bombing run to come in. You could even do little things such as if you were a sniper; you could zoom in and it shows up on the Wii U controller instead of on the screen. Just a random idea there. But also think about strategy games as well and how that could work using the two different screens. There are so many possibilities that the Wii U controller can create for an even further and more enjoyable game experience. I was really impressed by it and I can’t wait to hear about actual titles that are coming and then just imagining the possibilities those titles can bring.
The other great and simple thing about the Wii U controller is that you can actually just use it to play your games and don’t have to use the TV. I watched an entire video presentation on the controller as well as the TV and I found it just as enjoyable on the Wii U controller. There example is perfect also. If someone needs to watch something on the TV but you want to continue to play uninterrupted then you can do so with the Wii U controller until you get the TV back. Or if you just need to get away from the big screen and go sit on another comfortable couch in the vicinity of the Wii U console you can do that as well with this wireless device.
The other test game we got to play was a shooter where two of us would use a wiimote playing on the TV while the other would play using only the Wii U controller. I got to experience it by playing with the wiimote first and then using the Wii U controller. The controls of handling the Wii U controller are really smooth as I had to turn my body in order to move and shoot down targets. It was just as easy using the Wii U controller and shooting as it was to point and shoot with the wiimote. Both providing fun gameplay but then really getting to feel how good it is to play on the Wii U controller itself and having it all right there in front of you was a great experience. It especially got fun when we would face each other in a multiplayer versus match. This introduces another dimension of gameplay and game modes that can be a whole lot of fun in multiplayer.
Here is a video of us playing the shooter with me using the Wii U controller only and them using the TV. Note that the cord you see the Wii U controller connected to is there for security purposes during the demo and not actually a part of the controller. The Wii U controller is wireless.
Overall, I loved the Wii U demo. The controller really is very nice and easy to handle. Even though the concept games were short I enjoyed every moment I had with the Wii U controller in terms of handling and gameplay. If it evolves well we will certainly see a lot of great ideas come into play which will no doubt take gaming to yet another level of fun. Therefore, I can see the Wii U capturing all type of gamers attention. I can also imagine it bringing in the best of all game genre’s and opening the door for new innovation that continues all the excitement and enjoyment that we expect to get from video games.
If I were to ever become a PC gamer I would certainly have to look into the Razer. I observed some intriguing features at their booth that that peaked my interest in PC gaming. Not only was their new concept gaming tablet interesting, but also what they call the worlds “first true gaming laptop”. It is designed specifically for us gamers and the way we would rather play games. I also found it impressive that their computer mouse’s have side buttons that can make things much easier, especially in terms of a first person shooter while you are running and gunning. Thanks to visiting Razer’s booth and just simply getting a glimpse of the direction that PC gaming is going has gotten me really excited for trying PC games in the future. You can check out their website at: http://www.razerzone.com