OCC E3 2013 AwardsClayMeow -
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Best Xbox One Exclusive
Winner: Ryse: Son of Rome (XBO)
The tale of Ryse is a curious one, as once upon a time developer Crytek was touting it as a first-person, Kinect-required game for the Xbox 360. Somewhere along the way it turned into a third-person, controller-friendly Xbox One launch title. A big change to be sure, but one that looks to have paid off. You take on the role of Roman general Marius Titus, however you don't immediately start as a general. You get to see aspects of Titus' life from his early days to being a leader in the Roman military machine, while also showing his quest for revenge. The combat in Ryse: Son of Rome looks absolutely brutal, and yes, there are a great number of QTEs to perform executions. The E3 demo was modified in a way so the enemy health levels were all real low, so you won't just thrust once with your gladius (sword) and then get a QTE to outright kill the guy.
Being a Crytek title, Ryse: Son of Rome runs on CryEngine 3, and boy is it looking good. Everything shown at E3 looked phenomenal, with blood spurting, fire balls engulfing ships, and water that really looked like water. Those impressive visuals also lend itself to combat, with enemies that look and act like barbarians. You have to watch how the enemy moves to determine when to block with your shield or thrust your gladius, while also keeping an eye on any enemies around you. It looks positively brutal, in a good way, but hopefully there's more to the game in the long run. Don't get me wrong, playing as a Roman soldier is going to be awesome, but there's a small part of me that worries if Ryse is a showcase of the Xbox One's potential and then you don't bat an eye at it in a year. I guess we'll just have to see when the Xbox One and Ryse: Son of Rome arrive later this year.
Runner-Up: Dead Rising 3 (XBO)
The Dead Rising series is a very enjoyable zombie killing series, with some comedy mixed in with the horror. Dead Rising 3 looks to continue that trend, but on a much larger scale as the game is now open world in the city of Los Perdidos. There's no loading times, supposedly, and you can now save wherever you are instead of in the nearest bathroom. You take on the role of Nick Ramos, a mechanic who has to fight off the zombie horde and escape the city before a military strike wipes it out. The weapon crafting feature from Dead Rising 2 returns, but this time you can make weapons anywhere you are. Driving is also a huge element of DR3, as getting around the seemingly massive city is going to be much easier in a car. Oh, and you can hit zombies with it too, but just try to keep an eye on the amount of damage you're taking. There's also no time limit in DR3, so you can take your time exploring Los Perdidos before it isn't there. A Nightmare mode is being included to give players a time limit, just there's no idea yet how long it lasts for.
Dead Rising 3 makes use of both the Kinect and SmartGlass, however each one is an optional feature and not required. The Kinect gives the zombies some situational awareness, where loud sounds you make can draw their attention. It can be used to your advantage however, as shouting at the Kinect (try not to laugh too hard) can help you distract some pieces of the horde. As for SmartGlass, it enables you to set waypoints, find abandoned buildings, and specific items, as well as unlocking air strikes, flares, and drone support through exclusive missions inside the game itself. Both Kinect and SmartGlass are optional, which is nice to see. Overall, DR3 looks like it'll be a great way to show off what the Xbox One can do at launch, just I have the same reservations about it that I do Ryse: Son of Rome.
Winner: Ryse: Son of Rome (XBO)
Ryse started out as a first-person, Kinect-only, Xbox 360-exclusive. It's now a third-person, action-adventure hack-and-slash exclusively for the Xbox One; it also gained the "Son of Rome" subtitle. You control a Roman soldier named Marius Titus, on the road to becoming general, but hell bent on revenge for the death of his family. Ryse: Son of Rome is brutal, but the brutality in Ryse is a lot more realistic than your typical hack-and-slash game. The game has a very cinematic feel, but combat is at its core. The gameplay shown at E3 showed the Roman Empire storming a beach that was very reminiscent of the Normandy scene portrayed in several World War II games and films. The ships were massive, the characters were highly detailed, and flaming arrows flew threw the air. Powered by CryEngine 3, the game looks absolutely gorgeous.
Then Titus encounters his first enemy and the scene quickly shifts to a dramatic slow-mo quick-time event (QTE) to perform a death blow. Nooooo! Sorry, but I loathe QTEs! That being said, the demo shown at E3 was heavily modified to show more, with enemy health levels reduced so they would fall in just one or two hits. In the actual game, combat will be deeper and more involved, usually requiring five to six blows before you can kill an enemy. An enemy can be killed with a normal attack, but you can activate the execution feature and be asked to perform a QTE. So while QTEs do exist in the game for death blows, at least they're only done if you choose to do them. Since the executions were beautifully brutal, I can see performing a few here and there, but it's nice that one can stop when it starts to feel repetitious.
Runners-Up: Dead Rising 3 (XBO), Quantum Break (XBO)
Like its predecessors, Dead Rising 3 is an open-world, zombie survival game. It's also reportedly larger than both of the previous games combined. Players assume the role of a young mechanic named Nick Ramos who must escape the fictional city of Los Perdidos, California before a military strike wipes it off the map. As in Dead Rising 2, a lot of the fun comes in crafting and customizing weapons to create some really oddball combinations, and now that can be done on the fly, anywhere. But Dead Rising 3 has a very different feel to the previous games – mainly, it leans more toward realism, rather than over-the-top humor. For those that love the Dead Rising franchise because of its humor and craziness, this may be a bit disappointing. But on the flip side, that just means the game is more about creating your own humor. For instance, in the GameSpot Stage Demo, the player created a Sledge Saw (sledge hammer + buzz saw), and then at one point decided to throw it at a zombie ten feet away, sawing it perfectly in half, vertically. If that's not funny, I don't know what is.
Quantum Break is an ambitious project that brings together a video game and television show into one package. It's not like Defiance where there is an actual television show, but rather live-action scenes that are included with the game. At key points during the game, there are junction points and your decisions at these points will determine what scenes you see during the show. Quantum Break is being developed by Remedy Entertainment, the studio behind the Alan Wake games. Those games were broken up into episodes, so it's likely that's how Quantum Break will be handled as well, just with the television show mixed in. The game itself has something to do with a science experiment involving time going horribly wrong. What was shown at E3 made it seem like an adventure game, but it's apparently a third-person shooter with cover mechanics. Confused yet? Quantum Break is either going to be awesome or flop hard.