I’ve just returned from five glorious days in sun-kissed Sicily, and the shock of returning to the griminess of The Big Smoke has yet to soften, although some rare outbreaks of London sunshine are helping to alleviate the transition. As Ms. D and I were waiting for our flight home, I had a quick peek at my phone to check whether the internet was still there after five days of online abstinence on my part. I was glad to find the information superhighway in full working order, and I proceeded to flick through my usual gaming haunts for any exciting news.
“What are you looking at?” asked Ms. D.
“I’m reading about E3,” I replied.
“What’s E3?” she asked, quizzically.
“It’s… well…,” I began, struggling to explain the significance of the event, “It’s like the equivalent of the Oscars for video games, except there are no prizes.” She understandably looked confused. I tried again. “It’s a bit like Christmas for gamers. No, it’s bigger than Christmas!” She looked sceptical. I pressed on. “It’s when all the companies announce their latest games,” I said, simply. She seemed satisfied and went back to reading her book, although I wasn’t particularly satisfied with my explanation. It’s more than just gaming announcements – it’s the hype frenzy, the media circus, the heightened anticipation, the mud-slinging between the console giants, the spending of vast sums of money on glitz and celebrities. In short, it’s a lot of fun.
This year, E3 feels more important than ever. After the massive PR win by Sony at last year’s E3, expectations for high-profile clashes between Sony and Microsoft are high, and Nintendo are rumoured to have something special under wraps, with lots of speculation about the release of Mario NFC figurines and new software coming before Christmas. More than anything though, expectation is high because the gaming world is in a bit of a slump right now: the release schedule is like a desert at the moment, with little but the usual yearly instalments being lined up for Christmas. Of course, we’ve just been treated to the glorious Watch Dogs/Wolfenstein/Mario Kart 8 triumvirate of releases, but there’s not much else coming up on the calendar.
That’s probably a good thing for me at least: it’ll give me some time to plough through my backlog before the next wave of must-play games. But even so, I’m hoping for the announcement of new Zelda and Metroid games, and hopefully something new in the Fallout and Mass Effect worlds. I’d love a new XCOM too (although I’ve still yet to play through Enemy Within from last year), and I’m keen to see more of Bayonetta 2 and Mad Max.
In the meantime though, I can see Mario Kart 8 will be keeping me busy for months to come. It’s the first video game that Ms. D has gotten excited about in a long time, and it’s been a long, long time since I played a video game this fun. I’m also happily finding my way through The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, although Hyrule exploration has been temporarily put on hold due to the purchase of Batman Origins: Blackgate, which was on sale at 75% off on the eShop last week. It’s a fun little game that’s got me thoroughly hooked, although obviously it’s much slimmed down in comparison to its console cousin. The odd 2.5D graphics were a bit confusing at first, and the 2D map is utterly useless, but I love the Metroidvania gameplay. Definitely worth a pop for the price.
For the next week, however, I’ll be glued to the news feeds, lapping up all the latest gaming annoucements from E3. Let me know what games you’re looking forward to in the comments below.