My Observations: Time for Rare and Microsoft to emphasize Everwild’s gameplay and features

Time for Rare and Microsoft to emphasize Everwild’s gameplay and features

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Everwild developed by Rare and published by Microsoft.

I have to admit that it’s been quite a long time since Xbox game studio Rare released a game that captivated me. I’m talking about their two games that launched with the Xbox 360 – Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo: Elements of Power.

They went on to make Viva Piñata, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (a major disappointment), Kinect Sports, Kinect Sports II, Kinect Sports Rivals (the commercial failure), Killer Instinct, Rare Replay (the compilation of their legacy), and Sea of Thieves (which never interested me). Lastly, I should mention that Rare’s next project Battletoads is coming out on August 20!

When I least expected it, Rare caught my attention at last during the XO19 this past November when their newest game was unveiled…Everwild. The game is being developed specifically for the next-generation Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC (also coming to Xbox Game Pass) and below is the announcement trailer.

The first time I saw that trailer, I was captivated with the great looking visuals which had stunning digital art work and smooth animation. When I noticed the characters move in the game and they faced a scenic view with birds flying in the air, I had the impression that Everwild is an adventure-type game that may have open-world exploration elements. It should be said that the animation and artistic design of the wild animals are astounding to see! By the time the trailer ended, I hoped to see more of it as I am fond of open-world games (and games with wide-open areas that still satisfy gamers’ open-world interests) with adventuring and exploration.

And this past July, Microsoft released the 2nd trailer for Everwild during the Xbox Games Showcase which you can see below…

That Xbox Games Showcase Everwild trailer looks more amazing and having replayed it more, it is clear to me now that it is an adventure game (confirmed at the game’s Xbox.com page) with a world to explore. It also shows that the characters do interact with animals, even to the point of making changes to the natural environment. There are also mystical acts performed. Even with such details visualized, Rare and Microsoft have yet to emphasize clearly (and in detail) how exactly Everwild will play and what it will feature. In reality, beautiful visuals can only go so far on selling the game and ultimately it is the fun factor and engagement that need to be strong to really connect with gamers.

My questions for Rare and Microsoft are as follows:

Is Everwild a single-play game with co-op as options or is it an online multiplier game?

Does Everwild have a living, breathing open-world or will it have separate wide-open areas meant to be explored and discovered?

Apart from interacting with animals and the environment, will the game have a good amount of action scenes to keep gamers engaged?

Does Everwild have creature/monster hunting? Village building?

Will the game have some role-playing game (RPG) elements in terms of leveling up the characters?

Will Everwild launch along with Xbox Series X?

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A shot the July 2020 trailer of Everwild.

Being very interested with Everwild, I really hope that the publisher and developer will get their acts together to emphasize more of their game’s gameplay and features. It would be very nice if they could not only show more gameplay footage but also demonstrate how the game plays in live fashion in an upcoming Xbox-focused event. I personally enjoy open-world games that have lots of exploration, action and a solid story to follow, and I hope that Everwild will have such values. If Everwild will indeed by an open-world game, it could literally break the mold with its out-of-this-world concept and possibly feature action scenes that don’t involve guns. Rare’s game just might provide the open-world experience radically different (from the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, etc.) and still deliver a ton of fun. Really, it’s high time for the game makers to emphasize the game! Oh yeah, I’d like to see Phil Spencer or Colteastwood or Dealer Gaming organize an interview with the creative team at Rare to talk about the Everwild!

For official and general information about Everwild, visit https://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/everwild

Speaking of upcoming Xbox events, check out the following YouTube videos about a possible August event by Microsoft done by Colteastwood and Dealer Gaming.

By the way, have you heard about the leak relating to the long speculated Xbox Series S? Watch these videos by Dealer Gaming and Rand al Thor 19.

In closing this, here is a video by Gaming Bolt. If you are an Xbox One owner, it should convince you to look forward to Xbox Series X.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Looks like Xbox will be the haven for fantasy RPG enthusiasts in the 9th console generation

Looks like Xbox will be the haven for fantasy RPG enthusiasts in the 9th console generation

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A shot from the trailer of Avowed.

With the Xbox Games Showcase behind us all, it is becoming clear that Xbox as an ecosystem is turning into a haven for gamers who love playing fantasy role-playing games (fantasy RPGs).

Let me emphasize my point starting with a key development from the 3rd party support that I never anticipated, a development announced during the pre-show period prior to the Xbox Games Showcase of July 23.

I’m referring to the announcement of DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition by Square Enix coming this December to Xbox One (note: the Xbox Series X guarantees backward compatibility), Windows 10 PC and the fast-growing Xbox Game Pass subscription service! Watch the video below and check out Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii make his verbal presentation.

While Dragon Quest XI was previously released on other game consoles since 2017, its announcement for Xbox is still highly significant not simply because the game’s Definitive Edition will come with a lot of extra stuff and fun content but mainly because it marks the first-time ever that the Dragon Quest franchise becomes part of the Xbox ecosystem.

“I’m hugely pleased to finally see DRAGON QUEST make its Xbox debut,” Horii stated.

For the bigger picture, the Dragon Quest RPG franchise is over 30-years-old. While the Final Fantasy RPG franchise is wildly popular in the West in terms of video game sales, the same cannot be said with the Dragon Quest franchise of games.

Square Enix’s decision to release Dragon Quest XI’s Definitive Edition on Xbox One, PC and the XGP service could not only help itself sell more games (both physical and digital copies) to Xbox and Windows users who understand English, but also set the foundation they need to potentially release even more Dragon Quest games in the Xbox ecosystem.

While I can only speculate on what exactly was discussed in the business negotiations between Microsoft’s Xbox team and Square Enix (note: Xbox head Phil Spencer confirmed visiting Japan to meet game creators and publishers there), in my view Microsoft tried hard to earn the trust and support of Japanese game creators/publishers to add variety of games for Xbox/PC users. The debut of the Dragon Quest series on Xbox is most likely the result of that.

When it comes to fantasy RPGs, Dragon Quest itself is highly significant given its commercial history and cultural impact with Japanese gamers. If the Definitive Edition of Dragon Quest XI (which is now up for pre-order) sells enough with Xbox gamers, it may lead to even more DQ games released in the future.

Next reason why Xbox as an ecosystem will be the haven for gamers who love fantasy RPG is because of the confirmed revival of Microsoft’s very own Fable RPG franchise being developed by a team within Playground Games (Forza Horizon series) for Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC.

To put things in perspective, Fable is composed of three main fantasy RPGs developed by Lionhead Studios for the original Xbox and Xbox 360. While the main games (Fable, Fable II and Fable III) were flawed respectively, they resulted mostly positive reviews from the critics and many millions in game sales. Since after Fable III, however, the series went downhill in terms of quality and reception. Not only was Fable Legends canceled, Lionhead Studios itself closed down.

The trailer that end the Xbox Games Showcase of July 23 confirmed that it was indeed true that Fable as a franchise was being revived with the Forza Horizon studio doing the hard work.

Now there were concerns raised by gamers about Playground Games’ ability to not only make the new Fable game but how it will live up to the legacy and the factors that defined the game franchise.

Pay close attention to what Xbox executive Matt Booty said in an article by The Guardian related to Fable: “I just look at what Playground has done with the Horizon series – that attention to detail, the ability to represent these naturalistic landscapes. They also have a real passion for the IP and a unique point of view on what’s core to Fable. Everything I’ve seen as the game progresses tells me this is going to be a very high-quality release.”

In addition, the upcoming new Fable game will NOT be an MMO (massively multiplayer online) game but an action-oriented RPG with the single-player experience in mind. Having finished Fable and Fable III myself, this is great news and anyone looking for compelling single-player campaigns in the fantasy RPG genre can be confident with the new Fable game.

For those of you who never played any Fable game before, below is a retro review of Fable III for your viewing pleasure.

Of course, how exactly Playground will craft the new game and decide what kind of features it will have, and how it will balance between old features and new features for gameplay remains a mystery. Still there is hope that it will be high quality product since the Forza Horizon developer have people who previously worked on big projects that have nothing to do with racing games. Listen to the excerpt in Dealer Gaming’s video below.

“With any kind of franchise like that, where you’ve had existing versions, there’s always that balance between what you’re going to bring forward, what still stands up, and what you want to add that’s new,” he says. “It’s like the challenge of making a new Star Wars movie – there’s stuff that everyone wants you to bring along, but then you’ve got a responsibility to take that to new places and I trust Playground has a good vision for that,” Booty added in The Guardian.

If the new Fable game turns out great, it should inspire other game developers to make more action-oriented fantasy RPGs for the next-generation Xbox Series X.

Finally, the other factor as to why the future is bright for fantasy RPG enjoyment on the Xbox ecosystem is Avowed, the ambitious new first-person fantasy RPG developed by RPG specialists Obsidian Entertainment for Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC.

Beyond the trailer, here are some details. The game is set in the world of Eora which itself is part of Obsidian’s established Pillars of Eternity games franchise. In terms of gameplay, not much has been revealed but the trailer suggests first-person movement and action will be the core way of playing which is fine by me since I played Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. Potentially, Avowed will feature exploration of a large fantasy world laced with mysterious creatures, magic, varied locations and eventually varied quests to take part in. There is no release date yet although it is speculated it will be released in 2022. As it is being made for Xbox Series X, gamers sticking with their aging Xbox One consoles should upgrade if they really want Avowed.

Having enjoyed The Outer Worlds (a sci-fi, first-person shooting RPG) so much on my Xbox One, I really believe Microsoft made the right move on acquiring Obsidian and providing them the resources and time to make something that will be enjoyable and engaging. I also believe that from a business point of view, the Xbox executives know there is a huge group of gamers/consumers who are willing to spend good money on big budget, content-heavy, deep exploration fantasy RPGs like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I am confident Team Xbox knows their history that a great majority of the 3.4 million copies of Skyrim sold within the first two days of release in 2011 were on Xbox 360 (more than double what was on PS3).

As such, by now the Xbox executives should believe that making similar ambitious games like Skyrim makes great business sense and Avowed being made for Xbox Series X alone adds great value to the Xbox brand and ecosystem.

With Microsoft heavily investing in Avowed, this should attract the attention of other game publishers/developers who have vested interests in making fun, lengthy single-player RPGs to make such games on Xbox Series X.

Conclusion

With the new Fable, Avowed and the Definitive Edition of Dragon Quest XI coming in the foreseeable future, the Xbox as an ecosystem will be the hot spot for gamers who love fantasy RPGs. Apart from those future RPGs, there are already several Final Fantasy RPGs already available on Xbox not to mention the past Fable games and past RPGs developed by Obsidian such as Dungeon Siege III, Pillars of Eternity and Pillars of Eternity II.

Be confident, gamers! Xbox’s appeal to gamers will no longer be limited to Halo, Forza and Gears of War. Microsoft’s two fantasy RPG franchises will break the mold and raise the level of enjoyment and engagement for Xbox fans and new gamers. Do not forget that there are other Xbox game studios that have yet to reveal their upcoming exclusive games on Xbox Series X. Who knows? There could be even more fantasy RPGs coming from those studios! What else? If the 3rd party game developers and publishers are watching the rise of prominence of Xbox in the 9th console generation, they may go ahead in bringing even more video games to Xbox Series X!

In ending this, posted below is Colteastwood’s newest video about the next big Xbox digital event…


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Xbox Games Showcase

It has finally happened. Microsoft organized this past Thursday the much-awaited digital event Xbox Games Showcase. Let me cut to the chase that, for the most part, I actually enjoyed watching. It’s not a perfect showcase of games for Xbox fans and other gamers, but it sure is a major improvement over the disappointing 3rd party games showcase of last May.

For one thing, Xbox head Phil Spencer himself confirmed that less than ten of the fifteen Xbox game studios had prepared for the showcase. This is not surprising because it takes a lot of time and work to make video games nowadays and it is a fact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had forced game developers (as well as countless other surviving businesses) to adapt the work-at-home model which tremendously slowed down production. Regardless, the showcase included unveilings of five new first-party games.

“What you’ll see today is how Xbox game studios are harnessing their passions to bring their dreams to life,” Phil Spencer said in his welcome message to viewers.

With those words declared, here is what I think about the games that I personally find the most interesting or the most notable (note: not all games discussed below are exclusive to Xbox Series X), and what it all means for the upcoming launch of the next-generation Xbox Series X console and the remaining life of the Xbox One.

The showcased games

Halo Infinite

Two long years since I first saw the original unveiling of Halo Infinite, the gameplay demonstration of the game (note: it actually ran on a PC, NOT the Xbox Series X itself) was actually worth the long wait even though there were some imperfections. What made it compelling to watch was the presentation of the ring world’s environment which recaptured the wonder and beauty of the original landscape first seen in 2001’s Halo: Combat Evolved (note: I’m talking about the landscape where Master Chief first crash-landed). Apart from the in-game environment, the gameplay rocked with the classic Halo formula of shooting (fast-paced and intense) which got shook up with the implementation of the grapple plus a few new animation sequences and moves seen on the Covenant. It’s classic Halo but also modernized in terms of look and gameplay.

What caught my attention was the freedom for gamers to explore an entire Halo ring confirmed by 343 Industries’ Studio Head of Halo Chris Lee. Even though the term open-world was not stated, this confirms that Halo Infinite will have a much bigger in-game environment and locations for gamers to discover. Hopefully, this also means that there will be a wide variety of activities to do on the locations very much like other open-world games. The game demonstration is only a taste of what is to come. Not only that, Lee also confirmed that the game will run at 60 frames-per-second (60FPS) which for me is the sweet spot for playing in the modern age.

When it comes to imperfections, I saw some pop-in during some sequences of the demo and there also seemed to be some slight dips in the frame rate during the most intense sequences. Right now, 343 Industries still has months left to optimize the game not only for Xbox Series X but also the aging Xbox One. Now I wonder how the developers will be able to get good enough performance from the basic Xbox One (which I own) and the slightly upgraded Xbox One S to play Halo Infinite. One last thing…I should express my disappointment over the revelation that the demo did NOT run on the Xbox Series X hardware itself.

To Microsoft and 343 Industries, please, please make the best you can with Halo Infinite using real Xbox Series X hardware! Also, please at least try to include ray tracing at launch, not after launch. Disappointments aside, I know you guys can do better and I still am looking forward to this game. The ball of time is on your side of the court, Microsoft and 343 Industries. You still have time!

Everwild

Everwild is a brand, new game developed by Rare (Sea of Thieves, Perfect Dark games) mainly for Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PCs. First unveiled months ago, the new video of the game at the Xbox Games Showcase showed a lot more of the game with what looks like a wide-open world to explore with lots of wildlife and creatures that are out of this world. The animation also looks great. My only problem here is that the new trailer had scenes done in a cinematic fashion and left no clear sign as to HOW THE GAME WILL PLAY. Will it be a single-player game or an online-multiplayer game? Will it have a good combat system? What is the story if any? Please, Microsoft and Rare, do explain if Everwild will be fun to play. Enough with the beauty and take time to really define the game. Thanks.

As Dusk Falls

This new game by Int./Night and Microsoft is easily the most intriguing of the Xbox Games Showcase. It’s described as an interactive drama that will follow and explore the lives of two families across thirty years starting with a robbery in Arizona. Players will determine the fate of the characters by making choices (kinda like the Choose Your Own Adventure pocket books in concept). At least in this game’s trailer, there is a clever mix of 3D polygons with 2D art. If I were you gamers, don’t just ignore this game. If you are already an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, As Dusk Falls will launch on Day One on the said service.

Avowed

The rumors turned out to be true and I’m very happy to say that the RPG specialists Obsidian Entertainment is working on a brand new, fantasy role-playing game (RPG) titled Avowed. Set in the fantasy world of Eora, Avowed is a first-person view RPG. Having played Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim on Xbox 360 long ago plus last year’s The Outer Worlds (by Obsidian) on Xbox One, I really am looking forward to this new game and I have full trust in Obsidian’s, dedication, legacy and specialty on making RPGs that are fun and compelling.

To say the least, Avowed will mark the beginning of a new fantasy RPG property (soon to be a franchise…) for the Xbox ecosystem as a whole adding variety for Xbox fans who love fantasy RPGs alongside the already established Fable.

Speaking of Fable…

Fable

The long-time rumor is also true! Fable is being revived and the new game is being produced by Playground Games, the very same studio behind the best-selling and highly acclaimed Forza Horizon series! While the above trailer is purely cinematic and carried nothing to suggest gameplay, at the very least the Fable franchise is on its way back after years of being dormant. What I hope to see next time is real-time gameplay complete with how the Playground employees can present the fantasy world in this new generation of console gaming. I personally enjoyed playing the original Fable and still managed to get some fun from the disappointing Fable III. For the future of Fable, things are looking promising.

Forza Motorsport

While this one is too short and lacked gameplay sequences, the Forza Motorsport official video composed of real-time graphics (note the Footage Captured In-Engine posted on the lower-left corner of the video) is very impressive and the future of next-generation simulation racing looks very bright. I know the experts of Turn 10 are working hard with the new Xbox Series X technology as I write this and in terms of presentation of the Xbox Games Showcase, this extremely short look of things to come from the Forza Motorsport franchise is ironically one of the best (and most transparent) presentations from Microsoft. Too bad Halo Infinite was used with a PC and lacked transparency on its presentation which Microsoft knew. More on the game, I wonder if Forza Motorsport will be the definitive title of the next-generation sim race from Turn 10 following 2017’s Forza Motorsport 7. Gamers expected Forza Motorsport 8 as the title. The video presentation’s shortness is a missed opportunity for Microsoft and the developers to show a lot more of what simulation would look and feel like on Xbox Series X. An additional sixty seconds of in-game footage with some gameplay sequences (like driver’s seat view with steering wheel) would have made the Forza Motorsport video even greater and more engaging. Now that the Xbox Games Showcase is over, we can only wait as to what MS and Turn 10 can update us with. Right now, I am passionate with simulation racing thanks to the Forza Motorsport franchise and I am confident that the next entry coming out on Xbox Series X will be worth the wait.

Tell Me Why

Here’s another new Microsoft-published game that surprised me. Tell Me Why is developed by DONTNOD, the same team behind Capcom’s Remember Me and Square Enix’s Life is Strange. Given the French game developer’s dedication on making original, narrative-driven games, Tell Me Why follows twins Alyson and Tyler and players will get to use their unique bond to unravel mysteries in their lives. Visually, it does not have the next-generation look as the game itself was made specifically for Xbox One and Windows 10. How it will look on Xbox Series X remains to be seen. This should attract the attention of gamers who enjoyed Life is Strange games.

Psychonauts 2

This multi-platform game made by Double Fine will be released sometime next year and I should say that what was shown during the Xbox Games Showcase made me confident about it. For the newcomers reading this, Psychonauts 2 is the sequel to the award-winning 2005 game Psychonauts (then published by Majesco Entertainment) and as a platforming game this one could stand out in the modern age for its artistry, creativity and promised fun gameplay. Microsoft promised that the game will be optimized for Xbox Series X.

Honorable mentions

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon

I love Obsidian Entertainment’s work in The Outer World which is easily one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played in this current console generation. As such, the revelation of the previously announced story downloadable content (DLC) is something I find very delighting and it sure gives me another reason to replay The Outer Worlds on my Xbox One. The Peril on Gorgon DLC’s description is as follows: A severed arm and a mysterious message lead the crew of the Unreliable to the Gorgon Asteroid, formerly the site of one of Halcyon’s most ambitious and disastrous scientific undertakings – now a lawless den of monsters and marauders. Wealthy recluse Minnie Ambrose tasks the crew with finding answers about Dr. Olivia Ambrose, her mother and the doomed project’s disgraced director, but they are soon ensnared in an intrigue that will change the colony forever.

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon will be released on September 9, 2020.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light

It’s kinda weird to see Destiny 2: Beyond Light part of Xbox Games Showcase, the same event highlighted by Halo Infinite. This is because Bungie created Halo on its own before they got involved with Microsoft and played a major role in the respective success of the original Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles with several acclaimed Halo games that sold a lot. Now that it is no longer involved with Activision, Bungie is now a standalone developer and publisher, and the Destiny games franchise is what they are carrying now. The above video presentation looks good and energetic.

Conclusion

Overall, the Xbox Games Showcase was good, not great. The efforts to showcase the 1st party games and the potential of next-generation gaming Xbox Series X were made but felt uneven here and there. Halo Infinite had a good presentation but there were shortcomings that prevented it from being great which is too bad because the game was supposed to highlight Xbox Series X and prove that there is a promising future of fun and engagement with the Halo franchise. Ironically, the very solid but short video presentations of Forza Motorsport and Avowed proved to be better efforts on selling Xbox Series X than Halo Infinite. When it comes to disappointments, I should point to the complete lack of new stuff regarding Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

While imperfect, the Xbox Games Showcase still had nice surprises that kept me interested enough to finish it. At the very least, Xbox Games Showcase was a big improvement over the disappointing showcase of 3rd party games last May.

Now that the Xbox Games Showcase is over, Microsoft and its Xbox teams still have time left to improve their efforts to sell their games and prove that Xbox Series X will be worth buying for the next several years of home entertainment. They also still have time to emphasize how the optimization of games on Xbox Series X and how the Smart Delivery can be beneficial to gamers.

In ending this, watch Colteastwood’s interview with Xbox’s Major Nelson.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Xbox Gaming?

Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Xbox Gaming?

Previously I expressed what I hoped to see in the upcoming Xbox games showcase by Microsoft. Now that it has officially been announced that the event – Xbox Games Showcase – will take place officially on July 23 at 9AM Pacific Time in the United States, the moment of truth is at hand for the Xbox team led by Phil Spencer, their technology partners and makers, and, of course, the loyal Xbox fans and others who love video gaming.

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Take note of the details here.

To makes things clear for everyone, Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg stated via Twitter: I know everyone is excited for Xbox Games Showcase next Thursday. Seen some wild expectations so if helpful this show has one focus, games. No business, devices or similar news, just games. A whole show about hour long focused on games. Hope you enjoy it!

Greenberg’s Twitter statement made clear that the July 23 event will be all about the video games and that expectations that go beyond games are unnecessary. What is clear is that the showcase itself is an opportunity for Microsoft to show to the world what its many Xbox game studios are working on for future release on the next-generation Xbox Series X console.

On Xbox.com, Greenberg wrote: Xbox Game Studios is pushing the industry forward with a huge variety of games, all of which support services and features that put the player first, including Xbox Game Pass and Smart Delivery.

He also confirmed that there will be the first-ever preview of the campaign gameplay from the much-anticipated Halo Infinite.

For his part, Xbox head Phil Spencer emphasized that gamers and fans are essential in their video game business efforts and the launch of the new console generation. He wrote:

At Xbox, we listen to what you – players, game developers, and content creators – tell us you want from the future of gaming. Based on your feedback, we’re building a future where you and your friends can play the deepest, most immersive and interactive games ever created across your Xbox console, PC, and mobile devices.

At the dawn of the next generation, it’s important to be clear about what you can expect from the future of Xbox.

Our vision has one hero at the heart of it all: You.

With regards to the next Xbox generation, Spencer stated:

Xbox Series X is designed to deliver a new level of fidelity, feel, performance and precision never seen before in console gaming. All games will look and play best on Xbox Series X – whether they come from our 15 Xbox Game Studios, like Halo Infinite, or from our world-class publisher and developer partners. Packing over 12 teraflops of GPU power including new technologies like hardware-accelerated Direct X raytracing and variable rate shading, and with four times the processing power of an Xbox One X, Xbox Series X enables developers to provide you with transformative gaming experiences through richer, more dynamic living worlds, more realistic AI and animations, and support for higher frame rates including support for up to 120 FPS.

Xbox Series X also enables you to spend less time waiting and more time playing, as it virtually eliminates load times with the 40x boost in I/O throughput from last generation. With our custom next-generation SSD and Xbox Velocity Architecture, nearly every aspect of playing games is improved. Game worlds are larger, more dynamic and load in a flash, and fast travel is just that – fast. The Xbox Velocity Architecture also powers new platform capabilities like Quick Resume, which enables you to seamlessly switch between multiple titles and resume instantly from where you last left off without waiting through long loading screens. Right now, Xbox Series X is in the hands of our 15 Xbox Game Studios teams and thousands of third-party developers, empowering them to create a new generation of blockbuster games for you to enjoy.

Furthermore, Spencer stressed that the subscriber system Xbox Game Pass will continue and provide gamers choices when it comes to games (complete with Day One releases of games under Xbox Game Studios) and memberships. He added that Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud will be offered together this September at no additional cost for those who already signed up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Backward compatibility, which is one of the most defining features of the Xbox experience in this current console generation that has been very positively received by gamers, will continue and anyone who acquires an Xbox Series X unit will be able to play games of four console generations right from the start.

The brand new Smart Delivery will be in effect and this means that gamers – (Spencer’s own words) don’t need to buy the same game twice – once for the current console generation and once for the next generation. You always have the best available version of supported games on whatever Xbox console you are playing on, at no additional cost. If you own a title that supports Smart Delivery like Destiny 2, Gears 5 and Halo Infinite, you automatically have access to the version that plays best on your Xbox console. Highly anticipated games from the world’s biggest developers, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Marvel’s Avengers and more have already committed to supporting Smart Delivery and more will be announced soon.

The Xbox games up for showcase

As I write this, we are just days away from seeing the Xbox Game Showcase happen. This is easily the one big event that Microsoft will organize themselves and there is very little room for errors to happen. With the focus on games, we can already rule out the possibilities of Microsoft formally announcing the rumored Xbox Series S (Xbox Lockhart), the launch price for Xbox Series X, and the like.

Previously, I mentioned what I hope to see happen or showcased. Let me go a bit further with the following:

Halo Infinite – Already confirmed by Aaron Greenberg to be featured, I should say that showing how the game will play is exciting. I hope to see not just the action and shooting, but also see the rumored open-world gameplay get implemented. Frankly enough, I have gotten tired of linearity in the level designs (no matter how wide open specific areas got) of Halo games and therefore having a more open-world design will be very welcome. In addition, I really am curious as to what situation Master Chief has gotten into as far as the story goes, especially given the disappointing story and conclusion of Halo 5: Guardians. I only hope that uninteresting characters like Agent Locke will be limited to strictly supporting roles or short appearances, and that the plot will be more character-driven following Master Chief. As for The Banished, I’d really like to see them brought to life within the main storyline of Halo and become the new opposition for Master Chief to take on.

Obsidian Entertainment’s fantasy RPG – Previously I hoped to see RPG specialist Obsidian Entertainment announce a sequel to their hit game The Outer Worlds which would add tremendous value to the Xbox brand by being Xbox-exclusive. In his July 7, 2020 video (related to the Xbox Games Showcase), YouTuber colteastwood stated that Obsidian has hundreds of people working on the next fantasy RPG to rival the awe and wonder of the Elder Scrolls franchise. Considering that The Outer Worlds is still new, it makes more sense for Obsidian to work on a brand new project than a sequel to the mentioned sci-fi RPG. I hope that the fantasy RPG project is real and that it would be announced that it exists and is progressing with production. I don’t expect to see a trailer announcing it but if Microsoft and Obsidian could pull it off this early, that would be great!

Check out colteastwood’s video here.

A new Perfect Dark game – Whether it will involve Xbox studio The Initiative or not, it is high time for the Perfect Dark game franchise to be revived with a big budget production involving great game makers who could ensure a new game will be a lot of fun. I really hope that Microsoft will at least announce a new Perfect Dark game is coming for Xbox Series X and assure that the protagonist Joanna Dark herself will come back big time. While the past Perfect Dark games had been first-person shooters, having the new game redesigned as a 3rd-person view, action-adventure game much in the style of Splinter Cell (if possible, mixed with some of the rapid firing of Gears of War games) will be a welcome development. Apart from crafting a new PD game for the sake of selling games, it is high time also to explore more of the universe that Joanna Dark is in, not to mention emphasizing her character for the new generation of Xbox fans. There is so much untapped potential in the Perfect Dark IP and I hope Microsoft have decided to really invest in it. In my honest opinion, Perfect Dark can add even more excitement to the Xbox brand alongside the shooter, action-oriented Halo and Gears of War.

PDzero
Joanna Dark and the Perfect Dark franchise returning big time?

Potential surprises? Well, if Microsoft announces that their studio Undead Labs would temporarily move away from the State of Decay series to make a brand new, single-player, story-focused open-world game involving zombies and monsters, that would be something! Announcing the reboot and complete redesign of the Crackdown game franchise can still surprise. What would really be surprising would be an announcement of a sequel or a prequel to Lost Odyssey with or without Mistwalker, and that it would be redesigned from the ground up (because Lost Odyssey’s design is outdated by today’s standards). I personally do not expect to see the Xbox team revive the Lost Odyssey franchise but, who knows what will happen on July 23?

While Microsoft clearly stated that their showcase will be focused on the games, I believe they will make room for an exception – the announcement of something so significant they will really have to make an exception and that would be the acquisition of Warner Bros. Interactive which has several experienced game studios under its umbrella including the acclaimed Rocksteady (Batman Arkham games) and NetherRealm Studios to name a few. As reported already, Microsoft has been exploring the possibility of acquiring WB Interactive as a result of WB’s parent company AT&T considering selling off WB’s game division to raise funds and pay off a massive debt. Compared to other reported potential WB Interactive buyers like Activision, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two Interactive, Microsoft has the financial muscle (and the ambition to strengthen its gaming business drive which includes producing new content) to make the deal.

YouTuber Dealer Gaming discussed the possible buyout of WB Interactive in this video below.

The Xbox Games Showcase is only a few days away from happening. Better get yourselves ready for the expected excitement and surprise as this is easily the single most important event yet from team Xbox in a long time.

See you soon!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

What I Hope to See in Microsoft’s Xbox Digital Event this July

This past May, Microsoft organized its first digital event of the year highlighting upcoming games produced by their publishing partners and independent developers for its next-generation Xbox Series X console. In case you missed that, watch the video.

Okay. There were several games showcased but in my honest opinion, the event felt underwhelming overall due to the presentation – there was just not enough real-time gameplay sequences shown as there was too much emphasis on showing the games’ concepts in a more cinematic fashion. Even The only games from that digital event that interested me were Dirt 5 and The Ascent.

This July, Microsoft has another digital event coming only this time it will be a showcase of upcoming Xbox Series X video games made by varied game studios working under the Xbox banner. A date has yet to be announced as of this writing.

As this will be a showcase of products from the 1st party game makers and announcements from Microsoft to prove their dedication with the next-generation of gaming, I hope to see the following happen.

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  • Halo Infinite showcased in both cinematic and real-time gameplay demonstration – It has been two years since Halo Infinite was first announced and with the expected Xbox Series X launch happening late this year, the time is right to emphasize that game’s concept with real-time cinematic scenes and show how it plays and what new gameplay features have been implemented by 343 Industries. Here is hoping that the developers have learned from the mistakes they made with Halo 5: Guardians.
  • Forza Motorsport 8 and Forza Horizon 5 announced together – this is a long shot but I hope to see the next-generation games of both Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon to be announced in the same event as this will be Microsoft’s chance to show why Xbox Series X will be the console of choice for gamers who love cars and racing (be it simulation or open-world) as well as the machine that will give racing-driving car developers all the resources and opportunities they need to make their dream projects come true. There’s no telling yet if the expected Forza Motorsport 8 will be a launch title with Xbox Series X but it is clear that a follow-up to Forza Motorsport 7 is already due. As for Forza Horizon 5, I don’t expect it to be released until 2022 but an early announcement would not hurt. Going back to Forza Motorsport 8, if any gameplay footage will be shown, here is hoping it will run in 4K resolution with 120 frames-per-second frame rate and ray-tracing turned on.
  • New Fable – Considering how long the next-generation Fable RPG (popularly referred to as Fable 4) has been rumored to be in production under Playground Games, this year is the right time to finally confirm it and show at least some concept art if no gameplay footage is available. The game makers should also make clear if the new Fable is a sequel or a reboot, and more importantly, emphasize what its fantasy concept will be, what kind of gameplay can be expected, and what the game’s tone will be like.
  • Brand new, 1st party open-world video game – When it comes to open-world games involving Microsoft, I am NOT a fan of the Crackdown franchise of games and I certainly don’t want to see that game series to continue at all. Considering how many game studios are working under the Xbox banner, I’d rather see a brand new open-world game that will not only be different from Crackdown but be a lot of fun (regardless of what its concept will be), be very engaging and be made with high-grade quality production values. It will also be an opportunity for an Xbox game studio to make an open-world adventure game that can be different from the fantasy, crime or post-apocalyptic concepts.
  • The Outer Worlds sequel plus new RPGs from Obsidian Entertainment – I love playing and replaying The Outer Worlds on my Xbox One, and I certainly hope to see Obsidian Entertainment announce a sequel (at least show a video), only this time it will be Xbox-exclusive now that they are owned by Microsoft. Given the very positive critical and commercial success of The Outer Worlds, making a sequel that can be bigger and even better is the way to go. Going beyond The Outer Worlds, I hope that brand new RPGs will be announced.
  • More from Ninja Theory – I hope to see more of what Ninja Theory could do. They already showed a video of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II some months back and I hope they will show actual gameplay of it this time. Apart from that upcoming sequel, it would be nice to see what new games they are working on will be announced.
  • The Initiative’s first game – The Initiative is a new game studio set up by Microsoft which reportedly has a lot of very talented game developers working together in Santa Monica, California. What they are working on remains unknown but I hope that at least an announcement about their first game will be made.
  • Xbox Series S console – While I personally want the Xbox Series X to replace my aging Xbox One, to see the rumored Xbox Series S console (expected to be smaller, less powerful and more affordable) get confirmed and showcased will still be welcome. I hope to see it having a very compact design (note: most likely it will come without an UHD Blu-ray drive), very good graphical and technical performance and a $199 tag price.
  • At least one new game each from the other Xbox game studios announced – The other Xbox game studios like Undead Labs, Rare, inXile Entertainment, Double Fine and Compulsion Games should each have something new to be announced. I’m talking about new, Xbox-exclusive games that gamers are willing to wait for to be completed and released. As for The Coalition, I don’t expect a new Gears of War sequel to be announced yet.
  • $399 launch price for Xbox Series X – This is something I really hope will be confirmed by Microsoft. Considering that Microsoft itself can afford to lose some money on launching hardware as they make money from Xbox Game Pass and paid services and game sales via Xbox LIVE, a $399 launch price will definitely make Xbox Series X a very attractive next-generation console for consumers. Granted, the technologies and components for Xbox Series X are surely expensive (apart from the amount of money spent on developing the console) and the Xbox One X itself was launched at $499 in 2017, but still a $399 launch price is not impossible for Microsoft to pull off. In terms of competition, the attractive launch theoretical launch price will add tremendous pressure to Sony to follow suit with PS5.

Now that those are the things I hope to see, we can only wait for Microsoft to announce exactly when this July they will organize their digital event. Stay tuned!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Game Review: Resident Evil 3 Remake (single player)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing the video game Resident Evil 3 Remake and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Even though 1999’s Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was a side-story and its concept was smaller in scale compared to the acclaimed Resident Evil 2 (1998), I still had a lot of fun with that game and its key features made it very worthy of replaying. Like last year’s Resident Evil 2 remake, RE3 was remade and shortly after it became available on April 3, I got to play it, finished it three times and I should say I also had fun with it.

You must be wondering…how much fun is the Resident Evil 3 Remake? Is it anywhere as deep as the remake of RE2? Does this new game honor the legacy of its original counterpart from 1999? Is it worth the full retail price? Let’s start with this game review focused mainly on the single-player story campaign.

Early Story

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Raccoon City ruined.

The story begins on September 28, 1998 with Raccoon City getting infested with zombies as a result of an outbreak of T-Virus (directly connected with the events that led to Resident Evil 2). People have no choice but to run for their lives as the police struggle to save civilians. Meanwhile, Jill Valentine is inside her apartment making moves to leave the city since the city police force don’t believe her story about what happened at the Spencer Mansion (Resident Evil).

After answering a phone call from a very concerned Brad Vickers, a huge human figure (Nemesis) covered in dark material suddenly breaks through the wall and attempts to kill her. Jill fortunately fights back and after enduring a few close calls, she manages to get away from the monster and out of the building.

She makes her way to the street where she meets Brad Vickers and together, they face an onslaught of many zombies. After barely getting inside a joint, Brad (who got bitten by a zombie) struggles to keep the door closed and urges Jill to run away to survive. Now on her own, Jill has to find ways to survive and get out of the zombie-filled Raccoon City

Gameplay

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An encounter with Nemesis is often intense.

Like last year’s big budget remake of RE2, RE3 Remake is a 3rd person shooter mixed with exploration, item management, problem solving and the like. As required to move the story forward, you will control Jill to collect items, manage them carefully with the limited space for carrying, fulfill objectives and meet characters at key points of the story. Along the way, you will encounter zombies, grotesque monsters and, of course, Nemesis.

There are some notable differences from RE2, however. The most obvious difference is that RE3 remake was designed to be somewhat faster-paced (note: it’s not like the characters you control really run fast) and more action-oriented in terms of shooting as well as evading. In obvious tribute to the 1999 RE3, this game allows you to dodge attacks from zombies/monsters/Nemesis. If you succeed with perfectly timing your dodge, you will be granted a few seconds (with some slow motion) to immediately fire back at the enemy that you evaded.

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If you damage Nemesis enough, he will drop a supply case which often contains a very useful item. 

Unlike RE2 remake, the personal knife does not degrade and therefore it could be used as many times as you want. However, when a zombie grabs you to bite you, there is no prompt to use the knife to fight back and avoid getting bitten (this particular function was normal in RE2 remake). Another new thing in this video game is the presence of item boxes which you can “open” by shooting or using a knife to break it.

Because the in-game environment of RE3 remake includes the ruined streets and alleys of Raccoon City, you get more spacious places move around. Of course, this means more zombies occupying certain spaces for you to kill or strategically pass by. With the street-and-alleys set-up, there are a few red barrels that are explosive (you can destroy many zombies with one blast) and a few generators that electrocutes and stops monsters (even Nemesis) to shoot at.

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The return of the Hunter Beta is a welcome challenge!

When it comes acts and action, Jill gets to fight using the knife, grenade, flash grenade, handgun (including the burst gun), shotgun, magnum and the grenade launcher while Carlos uses the assault rifle (apart from the knife, grenade, flash grenade and handgun). Jill can evade, enter tight spots and use the lock pick while Carlos can do the defensive strike. For the most part, the controls are responsive which is good.

In terms of gameplay, RE3 remake is faster and more action-oriented counterpart to RE2 remake.

Presentation

As far as production values are concerned, RE3 remake is more cinematic and has improved visuals technically and artistically. For the visuals, the photo-realism has been pushed forward more by the game developers on the characters, the monsters and their in-game environment. The protagonist Jill Valentine looks very lifelike and with model Sasha Zotova’s likeness used, she sure beats Gears 5’s heroine Kait when it comes to photo-realism and looking very human. The facial expressions are top-notch and I love the way how in-game lighting showed its effects on the environment on the characters.

The photo-realism and impressive facial animation are not limited to Jill, obviously, as other characters like Carlos, Mikhail (who was made to look older this time), Tyrell and the villainous Nicholai (who was made to look younger and slimmer than his previous version) really look great. On top of that, the voice acting is excellent across all the characters. That being said, Carlos now sounds more mature and believable as a person which is a tremendous improvement over the voice of his original version in 1999.

And there is Nemesis, the one over-sized bio weapon that targets members of S.T.A.R.S. Nemesis was redesigned with photo-realism in mind and he sure looks monstrous, especially in the later stages in the game. Compared to his original version in 1999, Nemesis is very strong, can use weapons of his own, uses a tendril to pull Jill to him, can actually leap ahead of Jill and even mutate zombies on the spot. Another noticeable difference that’s been dividing fans of the original RE3 and this game, is that Nemesis in this remake is limited to scripted events in key locations and as such, he is not the constant stalker that Mr. X was in the RE2 remake. In the RE3 game of 1999, Nemesis would randomly appear and run after Jill. That’s not the same experience in this remake which is disappointing.

Another disappointment I have state here in relation to encountering Nemesis (and other monsters) is the absence of live selection sequences which was a defining feature of the original RE3. Once you encounter Nemesis in this remake, it’s either you avoid and outrun him, or you can fight him and strike him hard enough to stop him temporarily (and make him suddenly drop a huge equipment case for you to pick up). You encounter the Hunter Beta or the Hunter Gamma or the Pale Head zombie, it’s either you kill them or they kill you. Without the live selection sequences, there is really no variety in the encounters.

When it comes to the in-game environments and the overall story structure, this game is noticeably shorter and locations are noticeable smaller and more linear. This is another disappointment because the ruined city environment failed to live up to expectations as it was designed to be limited in terms of places to visit and explore. Even the ruined city environment in 1999’s Resident Evil 3 has literally more locations to explore compared to this remake. Also don’t expect to see the city park, the city graveyard and city clock tower from the old game to appear as explorable levels here.

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One of many in-game zombies players will encounter.

The game designers apparently knew fans would notice what places from the old game are lacking, and so they heavily expanded exploration in the medical center and they even included a secret passageway into a certain underground facility which made the game still feel fresh.

On the story structure, RE3 remake followed the concept of the original game but made a major twist which really caught me off-guard the first time I finished this game. It’s a nice twist and I never imagined that I get to use a specific character (note: as with the old game, only Jill and Carlos are playable in select sections) visiting a notable location.

When it comes to the presentation of the characters compared to the 1999 game, I can say that Jill is pretty much like her past version but says some lines with sarcasm and makes clear to Carlos that she’s tougher than she looks. Having played the past Resident Evil games, I can tell that this remade Jill Valentine is struggling with the frustration over the mission at the mansion since her superiors refused to believe her (note: lack of evidence and the destruction of the place). Ultimately, this remake succeeds in telling a very defining story about Jill which added more to her status as an icon of the Resident Evil franchise as a whole.

Carlos meanwhile is a more believable character thanks to not only the above-mentioned improved voice acting but also because of better writing. As for Nicholai, he’s more motivated by greed and mentions working for an unnamed client. He’s the type of character who annoys you and makes you wish he would be killed. Mikhail does not change much apart from looking older but Tyrell’s role here is heavily expanded.

Horror? Unsurprisingly this game has some elements of horror but nowhere does it come close to what was presented in the RE2 remake. It’s an action-oriented game after all but that’s not to say it’s the mindless, blazing guns festival like Resident Evil 5.. Also I should mention that there are very few puzzles here.

Conclusion

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We gamers want more value for our money, Capcom!

Resident Evil 3 remake is action-packed, engaging and a fun video game to play even if you are not a fan of the long-running video game franchise. It has very high production values and the best cinematic cut-scenes in any RE game to date. What prevents this game from achieving excellence, apart from having a smaller concept compared to RE2 remake, is that the game is rather short and there is only ONE ending. This makes this game’s replay value much lower when compared to the original RE3 of 1999 which had more than one ending and references to other RE characters displayed (each time the 1999 game got finished). Sure the remake rewards players with points for fulfilling challenges and allows them to use the points to acquire post-game stuff in the in-game store, but this does not make up for the short length and single ending.

If there is anything Capcom should do to boost the replay value as well as the overall value of this remake, it’s for them to produce and release a story driven DLC (downloadable content) to expand the story campaign and add an additional ending. By now, the game makers should realize they missed several opportunities to deepen and make the remake great.

Overall, Resident Evil 3 is recommended only when its price is at least 50% off.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Latest Previews of Resident Evil 3 Remake Revealed Too Much

Hey fellow gamers and geeks!

Chances are, you may have seen the latest video previews of the much-awaited remake of Resident Evil 3 as published by varied media outlets like IGN, GameSpot and others in coordination with Capcom.

Like anyone else, I am personally excited for the remake and I was fortunate enough to have played the original version of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the original PlayStation way back in 1999. How different were the times back in 1999 – no Xbox LIVE yet, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram and no YouTube yet.

Out of curiosity, I went on to watch the video previews of the RE3 remake hoping to see the latest.

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Jill in an encounter with Nemesis.

To my regret, it turned out that Capcom gave the gaming press too much to show. In short, spoilers were made without restraint. Apart from story and character details, there were key sections and visual elements from the game that I believe should have been kept secret. Those details, sections and visual elements could have been saved as big surprises for the gamers (especially the millions of younger gamers who never played the original Resident Evil 3), but they were spoiled! How unfortunate it was for me to have seen them.

In writing this, for those who have not yet seen those recent video previews, I will not share those here. In fact, I urge you to avoid seeing them. Regarding new stuff from those previews, I only used two screenshots to keep spoilers very minimal here.

What I can share here that is not a spoiler at all is that Capcom’s developers implemented a modernized way of dodging in the game effectively even as the default 3rd person, over-the-shoulder is used. The way it looks, dodging in the remake seems more responsive than the hit-or-miss dodging in the original RE3.

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Jill and Carlos.

Just wait for the game’s April 2020 release instead and enjoy the game with limited exposure to the online previews (including text articles that shared a lot of the spoilers that the recent video previews carried).

You have been warned.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

In this age of photo-realistic 3D graphics in video gaming, I sure miss the days when 2D gaming and highly detailed pixel art were the standard. I’m referring to the so-called 16-bit era of the Super NES/SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) back in the 1990s.

In 1991, Super Star Wars was released on the Super NES and it became a big hit with the gamers, the critics and fans. That game was heralded as one of the best video game adaptations of movies.

Naturally, a follow-up to that game was released in 1993 – Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

That being said, here is my retro gaming review of Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

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The experience of using a Rebel speeder to bring down an AT-AT walker with the cable remains awesome.

Developed by Sculptured Software and LucasArts and published in America by JVC, this game is based on The Empire Strikes Back which today has been considered to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever. Of course, in order to make a cohesive video game adaptation out of the classic movie, a lot of liberties were taken when it comes to following the story. This was inevitable as the game developers needed a lot of creative freedom to make a cohesive video game.

Early story (and some notable differences from the movie)

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back begins with Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun. Unlike the movie, Luke (controlled by players) visits some places of the wasteland of Hoth, notably caverns and hills fighting several forms of wild life (including wampa beasts), and even some probe droids.

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Luke jumping on to a wampa beast.

Unlike the movie, Luke does not get rescued by Han Solo in the wilderness. Instead he defeats a giant-sized probe droid and a giant-sized wampa beast (as in-game bosses) and make his way back to Echo Base to rejoin the rebels. Upon returning at the base, he finds it filled with Imperial troopers and their machines (where are Luke’s fellow rebels?) and fights his way through to fly a rebel speeder (note: without the movie co-pilot Dak) and proceed in the Battle of Hoth.

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This never happened in the movie.
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Luke jumping into a snow speeder without a co-pilot.

Back at Echo Base, Han Solo (player-controlled) has to make his way through a wave of Imperial enemies and machines to meet Princess Leia, secure her and ride away on the Millenium Falcon. The Falcon (player-controlled) enters the asteroid field being attacked gradually by over twenty TIE Fighters. Once all of them have been eliminated, the Falcon jumps into light speed (which contradicts the movie).

Gameplay

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is composed mostly of 2D, side-scrolling action sequences in which players control their characters moving from left to right in order to make the game progress. The sequences are filled with lots of action-packed moments mainly due to the MANY enemies challenging the players plus sequences of shooting, jumping and using special weapons (note: the thermal detonator was awesome to use). When it comes to filling up the health meter of your character, defeating enemies result random releases of hearts (symbolizing health) which you need to pick up. Key side-scrolling segments of the game will have players facing off with in-game bosses or enemies that are large, intimidating and have their own health meters for players to reduce to zero.

As typical with most 2D side-scrolling games of the era, this game is really tough and will take gamers some patience and perseverance to complete.

What really stood out in this game are the makeshift 3D segments (made possible by Mode 7) which were pretty extensive and really interactive. The Battle of Hoth in Mode 7 was pretty engaging as players get to fly a rebel speeder over a snowy field complete with lots of Imperial enemies (including the AT-ST walkers and the AT-AT walkers) and each of them is composed of multiple 2D sprites making them look 3D as the speeder moves around. Apart from simply shooting, the interactive sequence of tagging an AT-AT walker with a cable, flying around it and wrapping it with the cable, and then watching it fall to the ground really is an awesome gaming experience which really showed how hard the game developers pushed 2D visuals and pixel art.

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A Mode 7 sequence late in the game had players using an X-Wing fighter.
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The Battle of Hoth was a great and lengthy use of Mode 7.

Apart from the Battle of Hoth, there was also another Mode 7 sequence involving the X-Wing Fighter approaching Cloud City. That particular sequence was noticeably shorter and did not have a standout action sequence as it was limited to the X-Wing Fighter simply shooting Bespin fighters. Another non-2D segment was the Millenium Falcon’s flight through the asteroid field which was done with the cockpit view (first-person view exactly) in which you move a cursor for targeting and moving the ship to. This segment was pretty tough because players were not only required to eliminate more than 20 TIE Fighters but also avoid incoming asteroids and maintaining the Falcon’s energy shields (which serves as a health meter)

Going back to the 2D side-scrolling segments, the use of the lightsaber by Luke remains a lot of fun to do. Not only could he slash bad guys, he could use the lightsaber defensively protecting himself from incoming energy blasts (which get deflected by the lightsaber). On the offense, Luke can jump into the air and spin with the lightsaber turned on making him an aerial slasher over the bad guys.

In keeping with the theme of the movie showing Luke Skywalker learning to be a Jedi, the Dagobah segment in the game has Luke gaining varied Force powers and he also has a separate Force energy meter. The Force powers can be used in subsequent segments of the game and they are quite useful when Luke encounters Darth Vader as the final boss in Cloud City.

The fights with Darth Vader were nicely designed. With creative freedom, the game developers expanded on Darth Vader’s use of the Force to move several pieces of debris and machines towards Luke who has to defend himself from all sides. Fighting Darth Vader with the lightsaber was tricky and for the most part, I had Luke slashing on villain with just enough space between them and many times I had Luke use the lightsaber on him while jumping and spinning in the air. Defeating Vader was a requirement to complete the game.

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Very nice artwork made for the storytelling cut scenes.

Finally, like in Super Star Wars, players can also play as Han Solo (special attack: grenade throw) and Chewbacca (special attack: offensive spin) but only in specific segments of the game supposedly to keep in line with its story.

Conclusion

Even by today’s standards, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is still a high-quality video game that is a lot of fun to play with even though it is tough (a password system is used for in-game progress so that gamers can come back to continue) all throughout. Gameplay aside, the presentation of visuals and audio is also very solid. The sprites for the in-game characters, enemies, machines and animal were detailed to look at while the background art were immersive (like in the movies, Cloud City, Hoth and Dagobah had their distinctive visuals). The Super NES audio chip was greatly used on recreating 16-bit sound from the movies, especially John Williams’ movie scores and lightsaber sound effects.

Take note that this game was released in 1993 which is significant in the sense that people had moved on since the release of the movie Return of the Jedi (1983) and the Star Wars prequel trilogy did not begin until 1999 with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This game was released at a time when 2D gaming was still in strong demand and most gamers did not expect that 3D polygonal graphics would reshape video gaming eventually. In retrospect, the polygon-focused gaming consoles Sega Saturn and the original Sony PlayStation launched in late 1994 or more than a year after Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

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The inevitable battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

I myself had lots of fond memories playing this game back in the mid-1990s. I simply endured the many challenges of it and ultimately had a lot of enjoyment completing it. I even replayed the game from the start even though I knew how the game presented the ending and key story elements of the movie. I also got to replay The Empire Strikes Back on home video around the time I played this game.

Believe it or not, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was the first of the Super Star Wars trilogy on the Super NES that I actually played. After completing it, I borrowed the Super Star Wars cartridge from a friend and later bought a copy of Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I completed those two other games and I can clearly say that Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back remains the best in game design, the best in terms of fun factor and the most memorable of them all.

If you love Star Wars and you want the best 16-bit era video game (note: you’ll need a working Super NES console or Nintendo’s Virtual Console for any Super Star Wars game) experience of it, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is highly recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Wonder Woman 1984 First Movie Trailer is Impressive

Hey readers, moviegoers and geeks! Were you able to watch the official, first movie trailer of Wonder Woman 1984? It was released globally today online and, in case you have not seen it, here is the movie trailer for your viewing pleasure.

That movie trailer, which was released around the time the Wonder Woman 1984 special event at the CCXP in Brazil ended, was a blast and having seen it, I am more excited for the movie’s June 2020 release. I plan to watch it on an IMAX screen by then.

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Official movie character poster for Wonder Woman 1984.

What can I say? It does not only have the 1980s setting (hence the year on the movie title), but the said time setting was made to be very lively in terms of visuals, fashion, style, music and feel. When it comes the decade in real life, it was the same decade when DC Comics published the maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Following Crisis, a major relaunch of the entire DC Comics universe followed and along the way Wonder Woman was reintroduced under the creative direction of George Perez. The George Perez-era of Wonder Woman, at least seen in the trailer, is looking like a big influence on the new movie starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (whose character Steve Trevor returns somehow) and directed by Patty Jenkins. This brings me to my next point.

Early in the trailer, Diana/Wonder Woman was shown talking with archaeologist Barbara Ann Minerva (played by Kristen Wiig). What’s so significant about Minerva? She is none other than the super villain Cheetah, specifically the 3rd version of the character that debuted in the comic books during the George Perez-era of Wonder Woman!

Here are some images from the pages of Wonder Woman #9 from 1988.

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All of the above images are properties of DC Comics.

As I mentioned before, the involvement of Cheetah in the movie is alone a great attraction. As far as the trailer goes, we only see Cheetah in her normal human form with Kristen Wiig. The way I see it, we will eventually see the super villain in her terrifying, animal-like form. I am speculating the filmmakers will save that for the movie’s release and will only show very brief, body part shots in the next two movie trailers leading into June 2020. It’s much better this way especially under the watch of Walter Hamada.

Regarding the return of Steve Trevor, I don’t want to speculate as to how he returns given what happened in the acclaimed Wonder Woman movie of 2017. Still, it sure is nice to Chris Pine return as Diana’s romantic partner because he and Gal Gadot have solid chemistry together and there is indeed a need to present more cinematic adventures of them together just like in the comic books!

As seen in the trailer, some shots showing Wonder Woman and Steve traveling together in a foreign land (with a desert environment) where they encounter military hardware operated by some group (or a government perhaps?). This is clearly a Cold War reference although which particular setting or historical event the movie is emphasizing remains to be revealed.

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Maxwell Lord.
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Barbara Ann Minerva/Cheetah.
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Steve Trevor.

The Cold War setting is the new era emphasized for Wonder Woman 1984. Story details are unintentionally light but what was shown in the trailer made the movie very promising.

As for other elements like the cinematic Maxwell Lord, shots of Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s armor and others, I’ll discuss those next time. Right now, things are looking great for Wonder Woman 1984 and we’ll see more what the filmmakers have left to offer in the next two movie trailers.

If my sources are correct, the creative synergy of director Patty Jenkins combined with passionate work implemented by Gal Gadot on playing the Queen of Superheroes should result a great Wonder Woman cinematic story as well as a solid superhero movie. On the part of Warner Bros. Pictures, it seems the studio and its creative teams are now in more solid footing when it comes to making new DC Comics superhero movies. The DC Comics cinematic stuff will resume on February 2020 with the release of Birds of Prey.

Wonder Woman 1984 will open in cinemas around the world on June 2020.

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Wonder Woman 1984 star Gal Gadot with cosplayers and fans during the CCXP in Brazil. (photo source – Wonder Woman Facebook page)

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man

When Marvel Comics launched its 2099 franchise back in 1992 with Spider-Man 2099, clamor for having the futuristic hero meet up with the classic Spider-Man (Peter Parker) quickly followed.

Back in those days, crossovers were already popular and sold nicely with collectors. The Infinity Gauntlet of 1991 was an epic, universe-wide crossover done nicely by Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim. That limited series sold well, Marvel followed it up with The Infinity War (1992) and The Infinity Crusade (1993).  Even the disjointed The X-cutioner’s Song crossover of the X-Men comic books of 1992 kept the fans coming back for more.

For the 2099 universe, the franchise had strong launches with the respective first issues of Spider-Man 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099, Ravage 2099 and even the first latecomer series X-Men 2099. Back in 1993, having the said 2099 heroes mix together was realized in the 5-part crossover The Fall of the Hammer.

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The cover by Rick Leonardi with ink work by Al Williamson. 

No matter what the trends back then, Spider-Man 2099 proved to be the most engaging series of the 2099 line of comic books arguably due to the in-depth storytelling of Peter David. Back in the 1980s, David worked at the direct sales team of Marvel Comics before moving into the editorial team as a writer. And, yes, he got to write for the Spectacular Spider-Man (originally titled Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man). Early on, Peter David made quite an impact with readers with the 4-part story The Death of Jean DeWolff in the said monthly series.

Many years later, David joined other comic book creators – including the late Stan Lee – on launching the 2099 franchise with Spider-Man 2099. He created a lot from scratch to establish the futuristic Spidey and made his mark on the 2099 universe.

“I don’t remember exactly which aspects of the 2099 were already part of the initial setup when I came aboard. I do know, though, that there was almost nothing specific for Spider-Man other than that he was, well, Spider-Man and (I think this was part of what I was handed) an employee of Alchemax. I was the one, though, who came up with his identity, the way his powers worked, the supporting cast, all of that. I even had a hand in designing the costume; not that I could draw a lick, but I sat there with Rick Leonardi during the first 2099 get together and described to him what I wanted, and he executed it perfectly, building upon what I suggested and improving it. I watched that costume come to life for the first time under Rick’s pencil. It was one of the single best collaborative moments in my life,” David said in a CBR.com interview.

This brings us back to the year 1995 when Marvel published the one-shot special crossover comic book designed to attract Spider-Man 2099 fans and the many millions of followers of the classic Peter Parker Spider-Man. That comic book was Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.

Let’s take a close look.

The comic book

The story begins in the far future of 2099 wherein Spider-Man (Peter Parker) from the 20th century finds himself lost in time and chased by the floating law enforcers who saw him as a danger to the public. Even though his costume is different, one of the law enforcers mistook him for Spider-Man 2099. Predictably, Spider-Man struggles to overcome and get away from them.

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Spider-Man in 2099!
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Spider-Man 2099 inside the Daily Bugle.

Meanwhile in the 20th century, Miguel O’Hara mistakenly arrives “home” only to find himself (naked no less) on the same bed as Mary Jane Parker (Spidey’s wife) who is also naked. This only confirms to him that he is lost in time. He immediately decides to get away from MJ and explore the city of New York which does not have the futuristic society he grew up with.

In an attempt to deal with the new reality, Spider-Man 2099 visits Peter Parker’s workplace – The Daily Bugle. He encounters Peter’s boss J. Jonah Jameson who mistook him as their time’s Spider-Man just wearing a new suit.

“You think you can fool me with a wardrobe change, you wall-crawling freak? Whatever your demented plan is, it won’t work,” Jameson told the disguised Miguel O’Hara who reacts by putting web on his mouth in front of the employees.

While the two superheroes struggle with being lost in time, Tyler Stone of Alchemax and Hikaru-Sama discuss something sinister.

Quality

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Spider-Man with Miguel O’Hara’s brother and Layla.

In terms of storytelling, Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man is messy even though there were efforts to have the two superheroes switch time settings that would allow them to explore different societies and mix up with their past supporting characters (example: Peter Parker Spidey meeting with Miguel’s brother and artificial intelligence Layla). What also hurt the storytelling was the lack of a very engaging antagonist. The futuristic Green Goblin the creators came up with was very lame.

The art by Rick Leonardi was barely satisfying and the sad thing is that none of his visuals – including the 2-page shot of the two superheroes together – delivered any impact. As Leonardi worked regularly on Spider-Man 2099, his art style of 20th century New York did not give me much immersion. J. Jonah Jameson was barely recognizable with Leonardi’s drawing.

To get straight to the point, this comic book is a major disappointment. It failed miserably to bring the two main characters together in a satisfying manner as there was an overabundance of build-up. By the time the two superheroes met, it was way too late for the comic book to be engaging and fun to read. With only seven pages available for the anticipated encounter, there was way too little of having Spider-Man and his 2099 counterpart together. So much could have been done to make the two superheroes interact and work together with a lot of impact but I suppose Marvel did not give the creative team enough time (and pages) to work with which resulted this disappointment.

By comparison, I found Spider-Man 2099’s encounter with Venom much more satisfying to read. Spider-Man’s encounter with Vulture 2099, meanwhile, was satisfying. Sometimes I felt that it would have been better for Marvel to publish a Spider-Man 2099 versus Venom standalone crossover comic book than this 1995 crossover disappointment!

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This is the BEST thing about this disappointing comic book. 

If you are determined to risk wasting your money by actually getting a physical copy, then be aware that a near-mint copy of Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man will cost you, believe it or not, over $40 at MileHighComics.com

Financial value aside, this comic book’s entertainment value is pretty low. It’s not a badly made crossover comic book but it sure remains a big disappointment considering its concept. Ultimately, Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man is not recommended. You have been warned.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com