OCC E3 2012 AwardsClayMeow - June 17, 2012
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Best New IP
Winner: Watch Dogs (PC)
Announced and shown in playable form at E3, Watch Dogs is definitely the new IP to look out for. Part of Ubisoft's strong lineup of games at the show, Watch Dogs is an open world game taking place in present day Chicago. Visually, the game looks amazing; realistic pedestrians, particle effects, lively animations. But you soon realize there is much more underneath; the moment you walk by a person on the street, a white ray connects you and the NPC, allowing you to read their identity and past. The main focus on this game is our reliance on technology; in this game, phones, city lights, and majority of the city has become connected to an ongoing ctOS (Central Operating System) network. Watch Dogs is about being able to hack into these devices and manipulating the people who use them. You play as a skilled hacker, Aiden Pearce, who has the power to control the city's trains, instantly view profiles of citizens, and hack into cell phone conversations, just to name a few. As such, the game provides a wide variety of options to complete objectives. In the E3 demo, the mission involved assassinating a man accused of murder. After jamming mobile communications outside and sneaking into a night club, Aiden hacks into a phone conversation to find the location of his target. At this point, the game opens up further ways to kill; chase after the target car, gun him down, or crash his vehicle. It's not long before Aiden manipulates the traffic lights and causes a multi-car pileup in the middle of the intersection, with his target trapped in the thick of it. This is where Ubisoft Montreal touts the game's dynamic environment. The moment the crash happens, nearby NPCs run up to trapped civilians in concern and help them escape from the wreckage. A rare feature in such a game, Aiden can even save trapped civilians in the middle of the impending firefight. Quite simply, Watch Dogs brings a unique game experience unlike that of other free-roaming games such as Grand Theft Auto. So far, little is known about the plot, such as Aiden's backstory or his motives. Is he a good guy or bad guy? Whatever the case, this game is sure to be on peoples' radar for quite a while.
Runner-Up: BEYOND: Two Souls (PS3)
After the success of the cinematic experience that was Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream is back with a psychological thriller titled BEYOND: Two Souls. As the first announced game at Sony's E3 Press Conference, the game follows Jodie Holmes (played by Ellen Page), a strange young girl who seemingly possesses supernatural abilities with the help of an imaginary companion (at least, that's what it looks like so far). Very little is known about the plot at this point, other than what was shown by the trailer, but if Quantic Dream's previous games have shown, this may prove to be another blockbuster in video game story-telling. I'm still anticipating on seeing how the gameplay itself will pan out, and whether it will be different than that of Heavy Rain. Much more information is yet to be released and thus, it earns a runner-up for Best New IP.
Winner: Watch Dogs (PC)
Watch Dogs is a very interesting and different game coming from Ubisoft. It is set in the present day but with a lot more technology connecting everything. At the heart is the Central Operating System (ctOS) that controls everything inside the game's take on Chicago, and it looks like your character can hack into it at will. You can hack into practically everything to help you on your way, which can open up a ton of possibilities. Watch Dogs is an open world game where "everything is connected and connection is power." This is an important aspect of the game as single player and multiplayer seems to become one, with another player able to ensure a meeting with your character. There is an interview to watch with the explanation of the online experience and it is something to look forward to. The only problem is Watch Dogs will not be shipping this year, so it is anyone's guess as to when and which systems it will launch on.
Runner-Up: The Last of Us (PS3), Star Wars 1313 (PC)
Choosing a runner-up for new IP was a little tough as I feel there are two worthy contenders. You could also say there are several others to look at, but I have decided on The Last of Us and Star Wars 1313. The Last of Us is the latest title from Naughty Dog and it is exclusive to the PlayStation 3. The world is falling apart after an apocalypse and you control grizzled survivor Joel. Helping you try to survive is 14 year old Ellie, who remembers practically nothing of how the world was before the apocalypse. The Last of Us is a survival horror game that should have you on the edge of your seat as you try to keep Joel and Ellie alive. The Last of Us will not arrive this year sadly, but I look forward to when it does. My other runner-up is not exactly a brand new IP since it is in an established universe, but it is a new series. Star Wars 1313 takes place on the 1313 level of Coruscant and focuses exclusively on bounty hunters. There is nothing at your side but a good blaster as the bounty hunters you encounter may not always be looking out for your best interests. Star Wars 1313 is being billed as a mature Star Wars game and that is something we have not had in a long time.
Winner: Sacrilegium (PC)
"A dark, thrilling tale with captivating atmosphere, full of twists and turns, surprises and rewards", "breathtaking graphics", "ultra-realistic motion-capture", "unparalleled animations" – those are just some of the features being touted for Reality Pump's brand new IP called Sacrilegium. Developer Reality Pump, famous for the Earth and Two Worlds franchises, is taking on the survival horror genre with Sacrilegium, putting the player in control of 20-year old female protagonist, Alex, as she battles against the vampiric Moroi. The survival horror genre has been severely lacking over the past few years, with established franchises like Resident Evil moving closer and closer to the pure action genre. There is no gameplay or even cinematic video currently available, only a few screenshots and concept art, so it was tough choosing this over the runners-up, but it's highly promising. The game is being developed on the new GRACE 2 engine, a follow-up to the highly acclaimed GRACE engine used in Two Worlds 2, so it should look quite good. It's also a PC exclusive, at least for now, which is always a plus in my book. That typically means the developers won't have to make concessions – they can make the game they truly want to make, with all the graphical fidelity they can muster.
Runners-Up: BEYOND: Two Souls (PS3), The Last of Us (PS3)
There are really only two things you need to know about BEYOND: Two Souls: it's being developed by Heavy Rain's Quantic Dream and it stars Ellen Page. Sold yet? Quantic Dream used performance capture technology to place Page in the game as protagonist Jodie Holmes, who happens to be haunted by some mysterious entity that she calls Aiden. Personally, I view Heavy Rain more as an interactive story than a game, but BEYOND definitely seems to have a bit more action. The Last of Us, on the other hand, is most certainly a game - an upcoming post-apocalyptic third-person action-adventure game from developer Naughty Dog. You control Joel, while the AI controls a 14-year-old orphan named Ellie, as you escape a quarantine zone and fight for survival against infected humans, other survivors, and even law enforcement who aren't happy you escaped. The game essentially looks just like Uncharted with a female AI companion, but that's not surprising considering it's the same developer and same engine. That's also not a bad thing, since Uncharted is arguably one of the best looking series on the PS3.