Day two of E3 – always the toughest. It’s the morning after a party, it’s the first full day of the show, and the jetlag starts to kick in.
It was a busy day, too, packed with lots of little appointments all over the South Hall. There weren’t quite so many blockbusters today, but there were certainly some stunners for today’s top three games.
3. ARMA III
Holy amazeballs, this game is looking mighty sweet. With full DX11 support, and a whole HDR lighting engine, it’s possibly one of the surprise games of the show, in terms of graphics. Previous titles have always looked good, but the developers generally err on the side of view distance, over close up detail.
Bohemia has tightened up the shooting mechanics to make it feel much more like a traditional shooter when you’re on the ground; there’s a sense of responsive twitchiness to the infantry combat that ARMA has lacked before. Which is not to say it’s been dumbed down – getting into a firefight and getting rounds on target is still a much tougher proposition than any other game, and there’s a mess of layers to it as well.
Part of that comes from the advanced equipment system, which now allows you to add or remove items to not only your weapons, but also your soldier. You can opt in for different personal equipment, uniforms, even headgear, all with tangible benefits or drawbacks.
Of course, there’s also the full scope of modern warfare to enjoy. A range of vehicles, with improved controls are on offer, unit commands and artillery is smoother than ever, and there’s something new. For the first time in the franchise, operations go offshore and underwater, with mine clearing operations and other diving missions.
Oh, and for the DayZ fans – Bohemia told us the islands are bigger and more varied than ever, with direct reference to the zombie sim. So you know they’re still thinking of the mod scene.
2. Hitman: Absolution
Latex nuns aside… well, actually, speaking of the latex nuns, I actually kinda wanted to go into the Hitman demo and see a disappointing product that was in no way a proper part of the franchise, and that offered nothing new.
Sadly, it’s pretty damn awesome.
The demo took place in the game’s ninth level, and we got to see Agent 47 taking no a rather despicable greaser gang – and not a few innocent bystanders along the way.
The main takeaway from the session is that the world of Hitman is now more detailed than ever, with more ways to get the job done than ever before. You can shoot a car with a silenced pistol to set off its alarm and create a distraction, hide bodies in fridges and closets, throw objects to get people looking the wrong way… all kinds of stuff.
Square’s also added some tools to make the job of being the world’s best assassin a little easier, like Instinct mode. When this is activated, you can see all the people around you, regardless of line of sight, and tell your targets from the greater masses of people. Yes, it doesn’t seem very classic Hitman to me, either, but it’s toned down or turned off at higher difficulty levels.
The crowd system is all it’s been hyped up to be, too, able to generate a mess of AI driven people of all kinds, from cops to passersby. It adds a whole new level of immersion.
1. Crysis 3
Saw it demoed on PC, got to play it on PC, and yes, the Crytek guys are really focusing more on PC this time. It shows, too, with a fantastic looking game that actually feels like more of a Crysis sequel than 2 ever did.
On the one hand, the larger, open environments are back, though not quite on the same scale as Crysis. Rather, the spaces you fight in are more open, with more ways to approach targets, and generally more ways to play. They look remarkable, too, with amazing lighting, smooth transitions between tight, dim interiors and bright outside areas, and great water effects.
And then there’s gameplay, which actually feels more brutal and effective than any previous Crysis game. Gunfire is loud and explosive, and you can feel the impacts in your gut. Rounds spark and ricochet, there’s a lot of environmental destruction, and it’s generally a much more satisfying experience across the board.
Even better, the bow – now the signature weapon of the nano-suited Prophet – is much more than a gimmick. It looks and plays fantastic, and has the added bonus of allowing you to fire while stealthed, without giving away your position. Plus, there’s something super bad about loosing an arrow, seeing it take down a man silently, while you then stealth up to his corpse to retrieve the arrow.
Of course, E3 always paints games in a good light, but if Crysis 3 can make it to release and still look and play as well as it did today, it’s going to be a hit.