While the video game industry does have their own conventions such as E3 and Pax Prime, San Diego Comic-Con has secured its own place on the gamer dance card each year. My expectations going into this year’s convention were high after my 2011 trip had included sneak peeks at Mass Effect 3 and Gears of War 3. However, 2012 did not disappoint with sneak previews of upcoming Resident Evil 6 and Halo 4, and a greater presence by both console and PC gaming companies both on the exhibition floor and at off-site events.
For this gamer, a few key games really stuck out and have entered onto my GameStop pre-order list:
Ni No Kuni
U.S. release date: January 2013
This game has the easiest pitch of the convention: Studio Ghibli has made a video game.
Once you stop your nerdy shouts of glee, I can assure you, this game is as cute and as enjoyable as you imagined. Set up as a turn-based RPG, this game combines the graphics that you love and expect with an interesting story that appeals to a wide demographic. During the demo I played, small children and older adults all stopped to watch the young male hero in a steampunk tinged battle against a pig robot.
Everyone was drawn in by the unique look of the game as well as the familiar but fun game play. This short taste of the game guaranteed my household’s future purchase.
U.S. release date: March 2013
At one of the best off site events we attended, a full lounge with drinks and food was set up with XBoxes set up to play major new releases for the console. That combined with comfortable seating and air conditioning made it an oasis within the madness of the Gaslamp District. One of the first open consoles I encountered was for the new Tomb Raider game.
While I have never been a huge fan of the Tomb Raider series, this game’s art direction, graphics, and voice acting were all stunning and engaging. Additionally, the game play was easy to understand and enjoyable with challenging moments and blood-pressure raising precarious walks along cliffs for the player. Sixteen years after the first appearance of Lara Croft, this game will serve as a great entry point for new players and should provide current fans with a new challenge and new insight into a favorite character.
U.S. release date: October 2012
I knew nothing about Sleeping Dogs coming into the convention, and only happened upon it while waiting for a tv playing Assassin’s Creed 3 to finish up. While I didn’t get to try the new Assassin’s Creed (although it did look gorgeous and the Revolutionary War setting is brilliant), I did get the opportunity to try out Sleeping Dogs. Set in the underground crime world of Hong Kong, your player character works for an undercover group infiltrating the Triad gang. With an open world reminiscent of the Grand Theft Auto sandbox, but game play that resembled the Batman: Arkham Asylum/City, the game is immediately engaging and easy to learn. I’m excited to go back and give this game another shot to learn more about the story and the setting.
U.S. release date: 2013
SDCC can provide some unique opportunities if you are looking, and volunteering for the con can provide new perspective on the event, free admission for the day, and, in my case, the chance to see a panel for a game I was excited to learn about. The picture above is the room prior to the panel, all decked out in the hats provided by Epic and excited to see clips.
Fortnite is an upcoming PC release from Epic Games (the makers of the Gears of War series) that combines Pixar-like graphics, Minecraft-like world building, and the sense of humor that players have come to expect. In attempting to create a gaming experience that appeals to all players from co-op fans to solo players, and SimCity fans to Left 4 Dead enthusiasts, Epic Games has succeeded in building buzz and convincing me that I need to start looking for a gaming PC.