My E3 2019 thoughts

e319-2I’m fairly confident that the internet doesn’t need any more opinion on this year’s E3 but look here for a moment: I need to put out some quick ‘n dirty content to stop this blog from completely flat-lining. If it hasn’t already, that is (I’ll let you guys be the judge of that). On a positive side, I don’t plan on boring you with in-depth E3 2019 analysis or any attempt at “complete” coverage. What this is going to be is my thoughts in quick-fire format.

But quickly, before I get into that, I’ll just give my brief thoughts on the event overall. Personally speaking, E3 hasn’t made me feel moist for some time now. A lot of what is big in gaming at the moment doesn’t really appeal to me. Nor does the push for more power and better graphics because I’m satisfied with what we have now when it comes to the aesthetics. Lastly, I have so many games still lingering in my “to play” pile that I don’t really need anything else so unless a game strikes me as “essential”, I won’t add it to my wishlist.

With that said, let me jump into those quick-fire thoughts on some stuff I saw…

Blair Witch Project

This one came out of nowhere and despite what I’ve just said about not being interested in hyper-realism, I was very impressed by the trailer. Blair Witch Project looks creepy as fuck and I would certainly be interested in experiencing the final product.

A new Xbox console

A new Xbox is coming next year and promises to be uber-powerful. At first I was like, “really? already?”. Then I checked the dates and was horrified to see that the Xbox One was released in 2013! Where has that time gone? The XBO and PS4 still feel new to me but I guess Project Scarlett will arrive at the end of its predecessor’s 6-7 year lifespan which is consistent with previous console life cycles. One thing I WILL say however is that I’m positive that the Xbox One, PS4 and their beefed-up X/Pro versions were touted as hardware that would last longer at retail and thus save consumers from having to keep buying new consoles. Perhaps I’m mis-remembering though. In any case, I’m really not interested in more raw power so I couldn’t care less about a new Xbox and the inevitable PS5 that will surely be announced in due course.

Marvel’s Avengers

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Just…no. This is like some sort of bootleg Avengers thing. Black Widow looks like a guy in drag. [Source]
So there’s an Avengers game which isn’t surprising given the current popularity of Marvel’s superhero franchises and the Avengers movies. Ironically though, this game doesn’t look to be linked to the MCU despite looking eerily similar. The gameplay looks okay but nothing outstanding. And can somebody tell me why Black Widow looks like a man? One to try when it’s in the bargain bins methinks.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

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I know she’s just a bunch of polygons and code but damn, Aeris is cute. Aeris’ eyes > Tifa’s boobs. Tell me I’m wrong.

The first part has finally been confirmed for 2020. Honest opinion: it looks better than it did before but I’m still not sold on the action-based gameplay. Also, I think they shrank Tifa’s boobs a little bit. Because progressiveness and all that boring jazz.

Link’s Awakening

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How awesome does this look? Genuine Switch envy right here, folks.

One thing that E3 2019 proved to me was that the Switch is now a very appealling console with lots of great exclusives on the horizon. The super-charming remake of the Gameboy’s Link’s Awakening is one such game. I had great fun playing the ‘DX’ version on my Gameboy Colour back in the 90’s so I would be down for this.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I should be hyped for this because Fire Emblem WAS one of my favourite series’. Times have changed though and now all I see is the waifu content and anime tropes so I find it hard to want to be a part of the FE fanbase these days. What I need to do is try some of the other games that came after Fates (the games that killed my interest in FE) and see if my cynicism can be put to rest.

No More Heroes III

A Switch-seller for me that WILL be awesome by default. I don’t even need to see any more footage or gameplay to confirm this theory.

Panzer Dragoon

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I didn’t ever expect this to happen. Any chance of Saga next, Sega? [Source]
I loved Panzer Dragoon on the Sega Saturn so a remake was both surprising and welcome. I don’t necessarily condone excessive remakes over original games but nobody can deny that 3D games on the Saturn haven’t aged well. And that’s a shame when Panzer Dragoon has such beautiful world design so this is one instance where I will grant a free pass to a remake.

More Resident Evil ports…

This time it’s 5 and 6 to the Switch. My opinion on these? Just stop already. Enough with the ports of older Resident Evil games.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

I missed the first two games back in the PS2 era because I was busy playing other stuff but by all accounts, the Ultimate Alliance games were solid action efforts and I know that fans have been shouting for a third one for some time. Also receives bonus plus points from me for NOT being influenced by the MCU.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

It’s happening. I still haven’t finished the original though due to getting sidetracked by random exploration so I need to get that sorted at some point. I sequel that is set to follow the same formula took me by surprise but I’m not complaining.

Mai and Kula in Dead or Alive 6

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It must be her winning smile… [Source: knowyourmeme.com]
No, I still haven’t bought into DOA6 but I liked these two character reveals. Kula has long been one of my favourite characters in KOF and so I’m looking forward to seeing her fighting style and breezy personality in DOA-vision. Mai was no real surprise having already successfully integrated herself in DOA5 but I’m a sucker for Ms. Shiranui’s charms (you can read that how you like).

Those are my brief thoughts on things shown at E3 2019. I’m sure I’ve missed lots of trailers and announcements but you’ll never find me watching the live streams of videogame events or sinking my time into those mammoth recap videos on Youtube. There’s actual gaming to be done you know.

Let me know what you thought and whether you agree or disagree with any of my verdicts.

Final Fantasy VII Remake isn’t going to live up to expectations

When Square-Enix revealed the long anticipated and much demanded Final Fantasy VII remake in 2015, they finally put their fanbase out of their misery and sent the community into meltdown mode, especially as the same expo saw the announcement of Sega’s Shenmue III. Things have gone decidedly quiet since then however with only the occasional reassuring statement to let fans know that development is still on-track.

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[Image: wccftech.com]
This isn’t a post about how I have concerns for the project’s progress though. This is going to be me exploring why I believe that the FFVII remake – no matter the eventual quality of the finished product – will fail to satisfy expectations. This isn’t just baseless doom-mongering and negativity on my part but a stance inspired by videogame history itself which has shown that remakes and sequels to beloved games/franchises have such a microscopic sweet spot to hit if they want to please everybody.

Change too little and the new game can seem unnecessary and can even come off as a quick, lazy money-spinner for a publisher. Alter too much and the developer risks alienating fans of the original products. With the FFVII remake, it is my belief that Square could run the risk of the latter. I have no doubt whatsoever that the finished product will be a fantastic, polished game of high production value in its own right but in the process of thoroughly modernising everything and going down the episodic route it could lose too much of the original’s charm and ‘feel’. To look at one example, the FFVII community has been slightly split in the years following the original game with many not entirely happy with the realistic, sometimes ’emo’ mood that the spin-offs and – in particular – the Advent Children CG movie adopted. FFVII Remake is certainly going to look a truckload more realistic than the world inhabited by Popeye characters in the Playstation original but it’s important that Square don’t try and get all serious and gritty as with more recent Final Fantasy installments.

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The game is going for a more action-based, realistic look this time around but will it put off stalwarts? [image: polygon.com]
Speaking personally, I can’t criticise the newer games because I haven’t played them but the battle systems and general gameplay have left me doubtful purely based on the footage I have watched over the years. Obviously, this could simply be me refusing to let go of the Active Time Battle system but on the flipside, I am one of millions of gamers who enjoyed the original on the PS1 and so a remake that behaves like many other action games will be off-putting. It looks a bit Kingdom Hearts-like thus far and while I had no issues with the battle system in those games, I also don’t have any overly fond or nostalgic memories of it either. Like it or not, people like me have to be catered for if you choose to remake a game that is as special as FFVII. Newer FF sequels…not really; they can do as they like and lean more towards the younger gaming generation. It’s called progress.

If you want to see some examples of remakes that succeeded in the black art of remaining true to the structure(s) and feel of the originals while also looking like fresh, modern experiences for newcomers then you need to check out the likes of Yakuza Kiwami, Pokemon FireRed & LeafGreen and last year’s Spyro Reignited Trilogy. All of these were brought right up to (the then) modern standards with minimal meddling with the original game design and mechanics.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is going to be an entirely different beast that will not resemble the original game that much at all and while I reiterate that it will be a great product, I also think it will simply be too different for those that adore the Playstation classic and still regularly embark on play-throughs of the game all these years later. This reasoning aside, it has also been too long, With all of the hype and anticipation that has built up over the past fifteen years or so (remakes were first talked about by Square in the PS2 era!), there’s very little chance for the remake to actually meet these sky-high expectations. This isn’t a damning prediction that I am levelling exclusively at the FFVII remake but at any long-awaited remake or sequel such as Shenmue III, Half Life 3 or Streets of Rage 4.

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It doesn’t look like this segment will appear in the remake which is a shame. Direct your thanks to those who would find some way to twist it into an “offense” or social injustice…

You could say then that Square were foolish to even consider greenlighting such an ambitious project that has to be realised in a very precise and specific manner. On the other hand, a lot of the old guard amongst their fanbase have drifted away over the years anyway with hardcore fans who have been there since the early days of FF not gelling with the likes of FFXIII and the the recent MMO style sequels. In this sense, perhaps they don’t fear pissing off the loyalists as much as they might have done ten or fifteen years back. At the end of the day, it will be a great end product and it’s good to see a publisher committing money and manpower to a bring into being something that their fans have pleaded for.

Me personally, I would have opted for a much more mild remake that would have risked less consumer division and taken less time to produce. I would have kept the third-person perspective that they are going with for the town/overworld exploration but ensured that things don’t get too dark by careful use of colours and music. I would have retained the Active Time Battle system (regardless of how outdated it may seem) and given the music a sympathetic mix (i.e. not transforming the OST into the “badass”, techno and rock update that I fear will actually happen) with the option to use the original composition. I would have let the visuals, CG scenes, updated script and a few extra expanded areas here and there do the talking when it comes to the actual updates and new content.

But that’s just my view as a gamer who has a special place in his heart for the original and doesn’t wish to see radical changes that will alter the atmosphere I recall. The remake will be a big event, will be a good game and will likely sell by the bucketload so the opinion of a dusty oldtimer like me doesn’t necessarily mean all that much but there are a lot of us out there and I – sadly – don’t see us all being satisfied come release day. Pleasing everybody is impossible and that’s just a fact.