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.

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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

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

My Observations: The Official Specs of Xbox Series X

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The components of Xbox Series X. (photo source – Xbox.com)

Very recently Microsoft and some members of the gaming press revealed the official specs of the next-generation console Xbox Series X. As a long-time gamer, this newest development is nice and exciting even though I am still enjoying my basic Xbox One console a lot for my video gaming and movie viewing (note: I’m a Blu-ray movie collector). The current generation console I bought way back in 2015 still works well and so far showed no signs of breaking down or slowing down (when compared to my previous console the Xbox 360). Even so, I intend to acquire the Xbox Series X to replace my Xbox One although not necessarily during the new system’s launch. Here is hoping that Microsoft will announce a launch price of not more than $499.

So let’s get on with the specs of the next-generation Xbox starting with the CPU (central processing unit) and the GPU (graphics processing unit).

CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8 Ghz (3.6 GHZ w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU

GPU: 12 teraflops, 52 CUs (compute units) @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU

Die Size: 360.45 mm2

Process: 7nm Enhanced

Memory: 16 Gigabytes GDDR6 w/ 320b bus

Memory Bandwidth: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s

Internal Storage: 1 terabyte NVME SSD (solid state drive)

I/O Throughput: 2.4 GB/s (raw), 4.8 GB/s (compressed with custom hardware decompression block)

Expandable Storage: 1 terabyte Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)

External Storage: USB 3.2 External HDD Support

Optical Drive: 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray Drive

Performance Target: 4K @ 60 frames-per-second, up to 120 FPS.

On face value, those specs are very impressive and worthy of being referred to as next-generation at least in terms of potential. The Xbox Series X, with those specs, unsurprisingly surpassed my Xbox One and even the Xbox One X (released in 2017) which is currently the most powerful game console in the world. With a performance target of 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160) with a frame rate of 60 frames-per-second and even up to 120 FPS, now is a great time to upgrade your HDTV by means of replacing it with an UHDTV (or 4K TV).

Apart from improved speed and efficiency, the Xbox Series X will come with Xbox Velocity Architecture (XVA) which features the tight integration between hardware and software. It’s a new architecture optimized for streaming of in-game assets and should be useful for game developers who in turn will have instant access to an estimated 100 gigabytes of the said assets.

“It’s about revolutionizing how games can create vastly bigger and more compelling worlds,” Technical Fellow on Xbox Series X Andrew Goossen described XVA.

When it comes to video games with those large in-game environments, nothing can be more annoying than load times, delayed textures and noticeable drop of frame rates. In my experience playing Mass Effect on my Xbox 360 way back in 2007, the game’s long load time (with the overly long elevator ride designed to conceal the loading) was so bad it took me out of the game. And then there were newly loaded segments in which the polygons lacked the proper textures for the first seconds. Open-world games I played before such as Saints Row: The Third, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 each had their own bouts of annoying load times or delayed loading of key visual elements. If the XVA delivers the promised benefits for both the game developers and the gamers, then such technical hiccups should be a thing of the past and the immersion should be much better for players. More on load times, they should not be a problem anymore in the next-generation now that the Xbox Series X will have SSDs.

Check out these official Xbox Series X videos about quick loading and quick resume.

As far as my Xbox history is concerned, I am a multi-generational Xbox LIVE user and my account has lots of Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles recorded with regards to playing history and achievements made. I also enjoy the backward compatibility feature Microsoft launched in 2015 which makes playing my old Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One possible without having to pay anything extra. I also love the fact that Xbox LIVE allows me to select and buy Xbox 360 games (via digital download) that I never played before and there are hundreds of titles of the 360 offered all the time!

That being said, the backward compatibility experience will continue with Xbox Series X guaranteeing that all the Xbox 360 and Xbox One games I have will never go to waste! For the next-generation, backward compatibility on Xbox Series X will see benefits like improved booting time, shortened loading times, improved resolution, more stable frame rates and enhanced visuals. I can imagine playing the Xbox One versions of Red Dead Redemption 2, Grand Theft Auto V, Resident Evil 2 remake (and very soon the remake of Resident Evil 3) and Gears 5 on the Xbox Series X in the near future with the technical improvements in place.

Going back to the announcement of the specs, it has been declared at long last that the memory of Xbox Series X is set at 16 gigabytes using GDDR6 which is a more advanced RAM (random access memory). By comparison, my Xbox One has 8 gigabytes of DDR3 RAM and the Xbox One X has 12 gigabytes of GDDR5. Honestly, I was anticipating that Xbox Series X would come with 24 GB GDDR6. I’m not saying that I’m disappointed with the declared 16 GB GDDR6 and I will look forward as to how that memory of the new console will be beneficial for both gamers and game makers.

The internal storage declared was 1 terabyte NVME SSD. I’m surprised that just one terabyte will be used to launch the Xbox Series X. That’s because games as well as their respective patches, expansions and other digital stuff nowadays consume a lot of storage space. My current Xbox has only 500 GB storage and the Xbox One games alone in our household could not be fitted. This means uninstalling games and other digital pieces. I was hoping that at least 2 terabytes would be offered at launch. In fairness, Microsoft announced that the storage can be expanded with an Expansion Card (1 terabyte).

The way things are right now, I intend to buy the Xbox Series X not because the specs are impressive but also because of the very bright future of games coming. Microsoft in recent years acquired a whole lot of game studios to produce content for the Xbox and Windows platforms. Already a whole lot of new games are in the pipe line being produced gradually. Clear to say, Microsoft’s 1st party games lineup in the next generation will no longer be limited to the Halo, Forza Motorsport, Forza Horizon and Gears of War game franchises. At the same time, I am also excited for new games from 3rd party developers for this coming new console generation and soon we will find out how great their games will be on Xbox Series X.

Due to the coronavirus scare happening worldwide, we won’t see a new E3 this year and it is now up to the game publishers and Microsoft to come up with new ways to announce, emphasize and promote their next-generation games. I’d watch out for the upcoming Xbox digital event from Microsoft if I were you.

If you want to immerse yourselves with the very, very technical examinations of the Xbox Series X, I highly recommend you watch these embedded videos below.


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

 

E3 2020 Cancelled!

This coming June, the usual excitement for video gaming won’t happen as the 2020 edition of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) got officially cancelled and already its effects on the game publishers, the game developers, the City of Los Angeles and the gamers are strongly felt.

For your reference, here is the official statement at the website of the E3 Expo:

After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors, and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles.

Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today.

Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds.

We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020. Updates will be shared on E3Expo.com.

We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining E3 this year. We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media, and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry.

As you can see above, the raging coronavirus (COVID-19) negatively impacted the organizing and worldwide there are a lot of people who have gotten so scared by it their livelihood and lifestyles have been altered dramatically.

Going back to the E3, the cancellation is very unfortunate as a whole lot of game makers and publishers had previously signed up with the organizers to be part of the convention as exhibitors. All their plans to present their games and sell just vanished which will most likely affect their respective finances negatively. No amount of refunds can make up for that.

Also disappointed are the gamers who are fortunate to gain access into the event as attendees, plus the many millions of other gamers worldwide who could only view the E3 via video, blogs and website coverage. Speaking of the Internet, there are a whole lot of bloggers, YouTubers and social media personalities who won’t be able to cover the event live together this year. For Xbox-related coverage of E3 of 2019, I followed the updates from Colt Eastwood who attended the convention. Eastwood’s updates of that particular E3 were so engaging and exciting.

Speaking of Xbox, Microsoft had big plans to organize their media presentation at E3 2020 to formally showcase to the whole world their next-generation console Xbox Series X.

With the cancellation of the big event, Microsoft now has to do a digital event to show off and explain their next-generation plans. Check out Xbox head Phil Spencer’s Tweet below.

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I myself have been anticipating the Xbox Series X not only for playing video games but also for my household’s home entertainment. I have been looking forward to not just new, cutting edge technology and special features, but also the many upcoming games that are already being produced by the many game studios that Microsoft acquired to strengthen the Xbox brand.

From this point on, in the absence of E3, those who are anticipating Xbox Series X and future games will just have to wait for new details from Microsoft as to when their planned digital event will be held, how will it be presented, how much will they be able to show, etc.

Watch out for updates right here.


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

 

 

A Look Back at Aerobiz Supersonic

When it comes to playing economic simulation games, I enjoy playing them on the personal computer (PC) using the keyboard and mouse. Back in the mid-1990s, there was one particular economic simulation that I played on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES or SNES) and found it to be very enjoyable and easily to play with using the console’s control pad.

That game was Aerobiz Supersonic, a simulation about the airline industry developed and published by Koei for both the Super NES and the Sega Genesis. Here is my look back at this old video game from the 1990s.

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The cover of the Super NES version of the game. Its art and style is really nice to look at.

Concept and Game Design

In the game, you get to play the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an airline and your goal is to beat your rivals in the global air travel industry. How to achieve the goal and succeed? There are tasks that need to be accomplished such as buying commercial airplanes (that include such real-life companies like Boeing and Airbus) for use, establishing flight routes, securing slots in airports worldwide, selling tickets and filling up each flight with as many passengers as possible, achieve profitability and finish the game’s imposed time period ranking #1. Adding zest to the game’s challenge is the selection of a certain era of world history that include 1955-1970 (the dawn of jets), 1970-1990 (the Cold War era), 1985-2005 (the present era) and 2000-2020 (the age of continued flight advancement).

Within the game, time passes by means of clicking a certain on-screen button that ends the player’s current turn. Of course, before pressing that, the player has to set things in motion like sending a representative to a certain overseas airport to negotiate and secure slots (which takes months to complete), set the ticket prices, buy a new airplane or two, etc. The game even allows players to micro-manage their airline like adjusting internal spending (salaries) or adjusting the quality of their airplane and services. Also nice is the option offered for players to buy a hotel or resort, a theme park or a travel agency that can bring in additional revenue.

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The airport slots, local businesses, economic and tourism details per city displayed.
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Visit an airline and choose from one of many models of airplanes to buy.

There are other small details that need paying attention to such as the economy and tourism meters of each city displayed (note: a higher tourism score means the city is more attractive to travelers), the population, etc. Also noteworthy is the current state of relations between your home nation with the nation of the city airport you are trying to establish routes with which can affect your business.

When the turn ends, a series of events will happen showing what happened around the world, how your company fared in the competition during the lapsed time period, and, occasionally, a random event will occur that most likely will affect your business (examples: the Olympics hosted by a city helps draw in additional passengers or the 1970s oil crisis raises the cost of your operation).

Regarding the game’s imposed time period for competing with the artificial intelligence (AI) opponents, the period is twenty in-game years.

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This is part of micro-managing your business in the game.
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After the end of each turn, news and updates not only about your company but also your competitors are flashed.

Quality

Being used to playing simulation games on PC, I found Aerobiz Supersonic to be very enjoyable, addicting and easy and efficient to play (in terms of controls). Considering the above-mentioned gameplay options (buying an airline, sending a representative, etc.), they are pretty easy to adjust using the Super NES controller although there were a few moments when I accidentally pressed the button putting into motion a different option.

Gameplay aside, this game has a whole lot of charm with its visual presentation. You launch a brand new flight route, the game shows a short animation sequence of the jet taking off. You buy an airplane, you will see a short animation of it entering your facility once it arrives (complete with a visual design reflecting the model). You conduct a board meeting, your company’s officials are present making reports to you and you get a series of choices to make on what to do next. A historical event or a global development occurs, you get to see original art reflecting them (example: a nation joins the EU with people wearing suits and neckties together in a formal ceremony). You make a move to buy slots at an airport overseas, a company official will have his or her face shown talking to you. When looking at the regional map, you see lines connected between cities (highlighting the establish flight route you made) and there are icons of airplanes flying between them.

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Random tourist hot spots get highlighted as you keep playing.

More on the aspect of starting the game, I like the options offered for me to select which city shall serve as my airline headquarters. Among the many cities included, there are cities of my native Philippines namely Manila (the international destination) and the nearby city of Cebu. I still remember how delighted I was to see my native Philippines included in the game, complete with Asian character designs to reflect the company and its region.

Conclusion

Ultimately Aerobiz Supersonic (which was actually a sequel to Aerobiz) is a gem of a console economic simulation released at a time when 2D sprite gaming was still the standard and 3D polygonal gaming was just about to make an impact on the global video game console market. Back then, 2D side-scrolling action/adventure games, sports games and role-playing games (RPGs) were so common on the Super NES and Genesis combined and the idea of enjoying economic simulations on consoles was highly unusual. Aerobiz Supersonic is proof that economic simulations can come with a lot of depth, deliver a good amount of strategy and can be highly playable and enjoyable on consoles.

If you want to enjoy this game, it can be quite difficult to do because you need to acquire an existing copy of the game as well as a fully functioning Super NES or Sega Genesis. As of this writing, there has never been a re-release of Aerobiz Supersonic (note: in line with legitimacy, I will not consider those browser versions or file sharing of ROMs) and it is not even included on Nintendo’s Virtual Console. There’s not even a version made for smartphones.

Now if only the executives at Koei Tecmo Games would consider revisiting Aerobiz Supersonic with today’s consumers in mind.

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You can choose what kind of plane, how many planes, how many flights and how much you set the ticket prices whenever you start a new flight route.

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

 

Macross at Toycon 2019

Sorry for this late feature but I wish to share to you geeks and hobbyists that during the 2019 edition of the Toycon held this past June at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, I spotted the display of Macross.

I’m a Macross fan and I always make it a point to find stuff related to my favorite anime franchise whenever a convention happens. Here are some that I spotted during the Toycon.

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The YF-19 from Macross Plus and its weapons on display. Behind it are varied video games and manuals.
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A close look at these mean machines. The one on the right reflects the model of used by Hikaru in the first few episodes of the 1980s Macross anime TV series complete with holding Lynn Minmay for safety.

At the 2nd level of the convention center was a function hall which has a large display of collected items of varied entertainment franchises. The one showcasing Macross had toys, action figures, plastic models, video games, music CDs and some printed materials.

What caught my attention was the display of the YF-19 from Macross Plus complete with its weapons in full view.

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Memories of the 1980s anime TV series as well as the 1984 classic movie Macross: Do You Remember Love? entered my mind.

Also seeing an original copy of the 1990s Sega Saturn video game adaptation of Macross: Do You Remember Love? instantly made me remember playing and enjoying the PlayStation version of that game. The Sega Saturn game can be seen in the picture below.

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Art, books, soundtracks and the Sega Saturn video game.

As much as I enjoyed the display of Macross memorabilia, I regret to say that I was unable to find any more related collectibles or products for sale among the many vendors at the lower level during the Toycon. I searched for whatever Macross stuff I could find (t-shirts, comic books, action figures, models, cards and others) but ended up with nothing.

Then again, it should be surprising at all. Macross as an entertainment franchise is not exactly popular here in the Philippines and Macross Mania in the country has ended long ago. To say the least, the popularity of Macross here in the Philippines is limited to older fans and collectors. Anime is a lot more popular among Filipinos in this modern age but that does not mean Macross found a new nor large audience.

If ever the legendary Shoji Kawamori (whom I met at AsiaPOP Comicon Manila in 2017) or any notable Macross-related talent comes here in the Philippines, only then will the Macross brand gain attention.

 

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Another close look.

If you love anime or Macross, then I invite you to read my retro movie review of Macross: Do You Remember Love? right here. I also wrote about the famous Lynn Minmay here.


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