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E3 2012 wasn't hailed as being the best E3 we'd ever seen but that said, I enjoyed it a lot. So many games and tons of surprises left me really excited. It's hard not to view everything as great during E3, hard not to get super excited about everything announced and revealed – even about the ultimately rubbish stuff. Indeed it takes a good few days of getting your senses back and reviewing what you've seen before you can really pass judgment on the vast array of announcements.
One thing that I was really excited and a little shocked to see was Gears of War: Judgment. Certainly shock came first, after all, weren't we told it was over? No more Gears is what fans had drilled into their skulls and so I far from expected a new installment to be revealed at this years E3. After the shock came excitement, however that was short lived. Ah yes, here's the tricky part; here's the part I start criticising – again. Well, it is hard not too.
GoW:J is almost certainly set after Emergence day and the Pendulum Wars. It looks to be following Baird and The Cole Train and giving us a nice back-story to them. That pretty much raps up what it is going to be about. On the more worrying side, it's not being developed by Epic Games and is, instead, by People Can Fly – you know, those people who co-created Bulletstorm next to Epic Games themselves!
It seems Microsoft is going through a bit of a mid-console crisis, although I think the term "mid" is a little late used. Maybe "Near-end-console crisis" would be better, after all I think it is agreed by everyone that both the Xbox 360 and PS3 are going to be replaced very soon. I was OK with the fact Microsoft wanted to keep Halo going, but with a different developer and, indeed, what we saw of Halo 4 at E3 impressed me, but doing it again, with GoW? Maybe you need to stop trying to revive series that don't really need it and starting some new IP's. I'm a big Xbox and Microsoft fan, but this is getting irritating now.
I'm being brutally honest when I say this but I'm one of the few people who actually found Gears of War 3 a bit of a struggle at times. Not because of difficulty but because of boredom. Some parts were really dull, repetitive and just boring. It had lost a lot of the gritty effect GoW had always been about and replaced it with settings and colours that didn't quite feel right. I think it was a great game, but if I found GoW 3 a bit of a struggle then People Can Fly might have to come up with something special. Being set very much before Gears 3 will put pressure on PCF to make the game gritty, make it more original – something the latest installment lacked.
It was hard not to wish for a new Gears game after the series "ended" last year, and I’m sure if you asked any fan they'd say they wanted a new installment, however I think we all knew, in our hearts, it was over and that was the best way it could be. We didn't and don't need a new one, it is unnecessary. No matter what story it might tell I can't help but think that we don't need it and, in a way, don't even want it. If a new IP had been announced instead of Judgment I’d probably be more excited, but instead we are given the prequel to an already established and "finished" series.
In a time when people are sick of FPS games, sick of the same old same old GoW:J doesn't seem like a break from this. I'm waiting patiently for Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, Metro Last Light and Spec Ops: The Line to be released. Why? They offer different experiences from what we're used to. Even Spec Ops: The Line has a different take on the TPS genre with a promising story and setting and even some gameplay quirks. Multiplayer has been overused to the extent where no matter where you look it all seems the same. What different escape and experience does this game offer to that one? Who knows, and who, quite frankly, cares.
We are in need of the new Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a game to come and pick us up and show us the way to go. I'll tell you a game doesn't promise to do this but does offer something totally awesome: Last of Us. Yes the upcoming PS3 exclusive blew me away. It looks amazing. It won't revolutionise the way developers develop or think because it isn't universal – ie. It’s strictly it's own game, not one that can be easily mimicked.
While PS3 users get a totally new experience we're left to ponder on Gears Judgment. Halo 4 seems very promising don't get me wrong but that, combined with Gears of War: Judgment makes, makes me feel like the Xbox is relying on the old guard – quite like how (English Football fans will get this) Manchester United needed Paul Scholes to help them out. Yes these game series are great, but in a way they had their prime, we need something fresh. Microsoft, you can't rely on some older game series reboots to make everyone go "Oh yes, we knew you had something planned!" we need something new – now!
The impression that Microsoft can only focus on one thing at a time, like updating Xbox Live to use IE9 and their Windows Phones and abandoning the Xbox's lacking IP list, is one I’m starting to have. For all those Xbox fans who need re-convincing of their console choice, I’m not sure it's going to happen for a while, which is sad because the more time Microsoft wastes the more Xbox users will get bored and jump ship. I'm sorry Microsoft but the Judgment part of the title might be something people are passing on you and your series.