Fresh off their convention in Los Angeles in June, video game makers are setting their sights on a new audience as they arrive at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego this week.
Game makers and developer not only get to show off their best and brightest material again, but they hone in specifically on games that have a comic character tie-in. “DC Online Universe” (Sony Online Entertainment) and “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” (Capcom) have direct relationships to the superheroes and villains from the comic book world, but other companies know that readers of those publications also play video games.
Nintendo doesn’t attend Comic-Con every year, but when they have a game that they know might appeal to the comic world, they step up. Marc Franklin, director of public relations for Nintendo of America said hands-on demonstrations of two new games — “Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies” and “Metroid: Other M” — will be featured at the convention, because those themes and characters resonate with the attendees of Comic-Con.
“We have been seeing these kinds of trade shows attract a broader, more diverse audience,” Franklin said. “Which fits right in with Nintendo’s goal to expand the world of video games to new audiences.”
Eric Levine, Sony’s manager of product public relations, agrees. He said Comic-Con isn’t just about comics anymore.
“The show celebrated pop culture from gaming to movies to television and everything in between,” Levine explained. “This show allows us to engage an audience that is passionate and excited about games, so it makes perfect sense for us to be involved.”
Online game review site editor-in-chief Richard Torres says over the past four years, companies are taking Comic-con seriously and plan to debut new material at the convention. He points out that game developers will also experiment with how much they show and even allow attendees to play unreleased software.
It is all about building a buzz with the audience, he explains.
“You live and die with these people,” Torres said. “Now with tweets, you can just see ‘oh my God this panel sucks’ or ‘oh my God it’s really cool.’ It is a great way to find out where on the cool scale they’re going to land.”
In additions to the games already mentioned, here are some other titles looking to find their place on the “cool scale.”
- “Halo Reach” (Bungie/Microsoft) – The end of the legendary series is coming and Microsoft will be showing off new material and revealing details about the final battle between humanity and the alien Covenant.
- “The Force Unleashed 2” (LucasArts) – This title is set six months after the events of the first game and a year before “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” takes place. Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, returns as the protagonist to use new Force powers and stronger enemies.
- “Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions” (Activision) – Everyone’s favorite wall-crawler is making a return by sending Spider-Man across time and space to keep reality in balance. The game’s story was written by “The Amazing Spider-Man” comic writer Dan Slott.
- “Pro Evolution Soccer 2011” (Konami) – This sports title hopes to piggyback off the World Cup euphoria and ride the wave through Comic-Con. The soccer game will feature leagues from all over the world and include Argentine star Lionel Messi on its cover.
- “Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood” (UbiSoft) – The follow-up to the immensely popular “Assassin’s Creed” game will be on display. But in a twist, the game publisher announced they will be showing off the first issue of a three-part comic book mini-series based off the franchise.
If you ever wanted to sing and dance like the King of Pop, a newly announced game will give you the chance to moonwalk and scream like Michael Jackson.
Game-maker UbiSoft revealed some details on a game that will let players “step into the shoes of Michael Jackson.” The game is expected to test players’ abilities to sing and dance just like the pop icon.
No game play or trailer videos were shown during UbiSoft press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) on Monday. Real dancers came on stage and performed to Jackson’s hit single, “Beat It,” but no other details, including a title for the game, were revealed.
It is not the first time the singer has been featured in a game. Jackson was a digital character in an arcade game and also had his own title with a game tie-in to his 1998 movie, “Moonwalker.” Development of the upcoming game has the blessing of Jackson’s estate.
“It is a game that the entire family can experience and enjoy together and this is some that would please Michael tremendously,” said Michael Jackson Estate co-executor John McCain.
Only one other song, “Billie Jean,” has been mentioned for the game, but a UbiSoft press release said the game will include the most famous tracks from the singer’s catalog of hits. Fans on the singer’s website are already excited about the idea of dancing and singing with Jackson.
UbiSoft spokesperson Lisa Revelli said the title will be available using Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360, Sony’s Move for the PS3, and Nintendo’s Wii as well as the handheld PSP and DS devices. She said for the Kinect/Xbox 360 version, the game will not feature avatars to represent the player, but the actual players themselves on-screen.
The game is due out for the holiday season and will likely be timed with a new album of never-before-released songs from Jackson.
When developers and publishers of the world’s most popular games get together, expect big announcements, big promises and a few surprises. This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles promises to be bigger than ever.
Most of the focus will be on console makers with motion controller and 3D news from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. But game makers are ready to make their own noise with titles that should be ready to take advantage of the console advancements.
Fan favorites “Gran Turismo 5″ and “LittleBigPlanet 2″ will be getting upgrades with more realism, better graphics and more sharing between players. “SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs” will allow players to lead a 5-person squad on a six-day battle in Asia and it will be supported by the new Move controller.
“Killzone 3″ is ready to bring the realism into your gaming room. The first-person shooter will support full 3-D gameplay. Steven Ter Heide, Senior Producer of Killzone 3, said having larger areas to explore and an increased sense of immersion was challenging, but ambitious, to pull off.
“3-D really helps to heighten that sensation of being in the middle of this epic war,” he said. “The increased sense of immersion makes the environments and enemies almost tangible. It’s very much a foreground thing.”
Sony will also be showcasing their online role-playing game, “DC Universe Online”, and the latest incarnation into the God of War mythos, “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” for the PSP.
“Halo Reach” was released as a beta in May. More than 2.7 million players played over 17 days and Microsoft is ready to show the rest of the game during E3. It has already been tapped as the biggest seller in 2010 by a survey of game insiders.
Microsoft showcased many exclusive titles at a press conference prior to the opening of E3, including many games that will utilize their new motion-controller called Kinect. Big names like “Call of Duty: Black Ops”, “Gears of War 3″, and “Fable 3″ will be coming out later this year.
The early Kinect games (“Kinectimals”, “Kinect Sports”, “Kinect Joy Ride”, “Kinect Adventures”) are all played without a controller. Many will require games to be in pretty good shape to truly succeed and enjoy.
Likewise, Nintendo will be announcing games to go with their new 3-D handheld console, Nintendo 3DS. But they aren’t neglecting the Wii.
Samus returns in “Metroid: Other M”, which is expected to be release in 2010. They are also going to release info on a game that is currently called “Zelda Wii”, although that title is expected to change.
UbiSoft is trying to aim for the major genres with a first-person shooter, a driving game, and a sports game. “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” will offer players the ability to become nearly invisible while completing their missions.
“Driver: San Francisco” brings the series to UbiSoft for the first time, staying true to the franchise while offering a high level of grittiness. And Olympic medalist Shawn White returns to his roots for the new “Shawn White Skateboarding” game.
Ubisoft president Laurent Detoc said this is a great time to be into gaming.
“3-D gaming will improve our storytelling, immersion and experience for the players,” Detoc said. “We think it is going to be enormous and continuing down a path we’re already on.”
Holding a press conference the day before E3, the company also unveiled a new fitness game to be used with Kinect, a shooting game that isn’t played in front of a computer and a video game inspired by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Best of the rest
Starkiller is back to take on Darth Vader in “Star Wars: Force Unleashed II” from LucasArts. The cinematic trailers for the game have fans gasping and an early demo video shows some new powers. Then again, it is Star Wars, which means it will have an instant fan base ready to praise or bury the game.
Electronic Arts will have their latest versions on “Madden NFL 11″ and “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11″, which will offer online play for Ryder Cup action. “Bulletstorm” is a new game that will be revealed for the first time at E3 and offers “kill with skill” gameplay. EA is also ready to show off follow-ups to two of their big titles — “Crysis 2″ and “Dead Space 2″.
2KGames will be revealing more about their work on “Civilization V” and “Mafia II”.
Disney Interactive Studios is banking on games with movie tie-ins. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned”, “Tron Evolution”, and “Toy Story 3″ (which will be Move compatible) are going to be featured at E3. Mickey is also going to make an appearance for a new title called “Epic Mickey”.
Bethesda will be display their follow-up to the 2008 Game of the Year “Fallout 3″ with “Fallout: New Vegas” (Oct. 19). Imagine all the post-apocalyptic grime and grit, but amp it up and set it in Vegas. And what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay there.
Capcom is showing off the latest installment in the VS series with “Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds”. And what would a gaming conference be if there wasn’t a zombie sighting? “Dead Rising 2″ will give players the opportunity to turn everyday objects into weapons to repel massive zombie attacks.
There will be music games (“Rock Band 3″, “DJ Hero 2″), re-imagined classic characters (“Sonic the Hedgehog 4″, “Mortal Kombat”, “LEGO Harry Potter”), and sports games (“NBA Elite 11, NBA Jam”).
Many more game titles are going to be announced once the console makers release the new information about their hardware changes. There are sure to be some surprises (possibly a Michael Jackson dance game?).
As one participant said, “We’re going to have the biggest entertainment announcement of E3.” We’ll see at the end of the week who can really lay claim to that title.
Fresh off a huge announcement during the Microsoft press conference of their new fitness game called “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved”, UbiSoft came out for the presentation with a wild display of sights, colors and sound.
All that was part of a new game called “Child of Eden”. Called a cavalcade of sensory inputs, the game features music and targeting color shapes. While it wasn’t clear how the game was actually played, it did garner quite a bit of crowd reaction and apparently was using the Kinect controller to handle the action.
Joel McHale was the host of the press conference and he promised that UbiSoft was going to assail the senses with the new line-up of games.
“Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” action was next up on the screen as 16th Century Rome was shown during a parade. The protagonist, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, appears to attack the main wagon alone, but mysteriously, several of his opponents fall victim to unseen hands. The climax of the cinematic shows Ezio being flanked by other assassins in going after the Templars. Battle sequences showed fighting from horseback, using cannons as well as his typical weapons. There is an online multiplayer component that will pit players around the world against each other in the battle of good versus evil.
Heavy metal rock and roll music kicked off the introduction of the new skateboard game from Shaun White called, appropriately enough, “Shaun White Skateboarding”. The Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding is also an accomplished skateboard and was very excited about achieving a world safe for skateboarding. The main story is to take a world devoid of color and fun and it is your job to bring back the life of the world doing tricks on your skateboard. The game world physically changes as more tricks are completed and the game can also be played in 3-D.
In a combination of two worlds – laser tag and a first person shooter, UbiSoft introduces a game that you play away from the console. Called “Game Master”, it features laser guns, indicators and a targeting system. It won’t be available until the end of the year, but it will be interesting to see who plays this game away from the game.
In another unusual game, “Innergy” hopes to reduce stress through play. It puts an energy sensor on your finger and asks the player to focus on breathing exercises. Called cardiac coherence, the sessions hope to encourage better health through relaxing gameplay. UbiSoft executives talked about using the games and controllers to help people lead better lives and draw inspiration from everyday life.
In keeping with those thoughts, two new titles for the Kinect controller were announced. “MotionSports” is an active sports game that featured skiing, soccer, and football. They also ran the same demo for “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” that was featured during the Microsoft press conference.
Just to make sure that they prove to everyone they are still a gaming company, the rabbids are back and changing history in “Raving Rabbids Travel in Time”. Riding their time/washing machine, they help mankind find fire, knock the nose off the Sphinx and prevent Arthur from becoming king. The game will be out November 9 exclusively on the Wii.
The soldier of the future has exoskeletons, smart ammunition and an up close targeting system. He is also the main character in “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier”. The soldiers are special operations, have the latest equipment and have the ability to disappear, reappear to take out an enemy, and then disappear again – active camouflage. The demo shows how stealth and teamwork are integral to the game play.
Taking to the roadway, “Driver: San Francisco” lets players take the muscle cars of old through the streets of the Bay City. Not only is it about driving, but it is a game that returns to the roots of the franchise with a storyline with a violent and explosive past. They are using licensed cars for the first time and they will get dinged up.
Three new projects are revealed. The first is called “Dust”, which shows a mystical world when magic bends the forces of the world.
Next, the next project is about creating tools to let designers and developers the ability to create interactive and unique works. Five people used the new tools to create a new game called “Rayman Origins”.
The third project involves a new platform called ManiaPlanet. It features “ShootMania” (a first-person shooter game), “TrackMania 2” (follow-up to the hugely popular racing game) and “QuestMania” (a role-playing game). It will be available in a staggered release date throughout the next two years.
A final surprise to close out the program — a Michael Jackson dance game. Dancers took to the stage to “Beat It”, but no game play was shown. It is expected to be released by the end of 2010.
UbiSoft’s tagline this year is “Games You Can Feel” and they have tried to put different sensory experiences in their line-up.