Top 10 Unconfirmed 360 Exclusives @ E3 ’08
What we know, but don’t know we know
©2006-2008 XboxOZ360-gamer – Aaron Bertinelli
Previously we’ve covered this year’s strong and broad exclusive AAA lineup, but it wouldn’t be E3 without at least a few surprises. Microsoft has already promised two unconfirmed titles will be revealed for this year’s lineup, but on the strength of rumours on software and secret projects this year we’ve been emboldened to speculate on more than a couple. Or perhaps we’re spreading our bets? Either way enjoy our take on what exclusive cards Microsoft is holding up its (very long) sleeves.
So come, join up, sign in, login and generally let us know what you think in the comments below and join us this E3 ’08 as we celebrate our first Electronics Entertainment Exposition with you our loyal readers. So do the name of games such as Huxley, Dead Risings 2, All Points Bulletin, Online Universe ring any bells, well they should, so what are you still doing here.
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Come inside and let the gamers debates begin . . . .
10. Where are the MMOs?
For all the promises of MMO’s on the 360, we’re scraping at the bottom of a very big library to find one. The 360 is made for MMO’s. Or more specifically Xbox Live. It has a gaming base of 12million subscribers who consider playing online as standard practice and who’ve shown a propensity to purchase and consume online content. It’s a potential cash cow and easily accessed market for any developer.
Huxley, All Points Bulletin, Champions Online and Age of Conan are all being developed for consoles, in addition to persistent rumours of a Bioware MMO related to KOTOR, an MMO based on the Aliens film franchise, and console versions of Lord of the Rings Online and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning..
All we want from E3 is confirmation that none of these are pulling a Marvel Universe disappearing act anytime soon. If we get that far, then some more concrete details, dates and prices would be most welcome. If we get some hands on gameplay we’ll consider ourselves blessed!
9. Dead Rising 2
The original Dead Rising, beyond its obvious Dawn of the Dead references, was a sleeper hit and technical showpiece in the early days of the 360, whilst still standing as one of the most fiercely inventive titles of this generation. It took the idea of a sandbox and replaced it with a shopping mall; filled the place with zombies, psychopaths and a group of innocent bystanders; gave you the keys to every shop for every conceivable way of defending yourself (chainsaw, bowling ball, TVs, furniture, dvds, orange juice, etc); added an RPG levelling and skill tree: covered it all in bucketloads of B-grade gore and humour; and then threw the player, as a wise-cracking photojournalist, into a demented and surprisingly deep tale of government conspiracies and gruesome atrocities. The catch was you only had 72 hours of game time (much less in real time!) to get stuff done before you got the hell out of there.
The result was a highly intense and replayable game with multiple endings, hundreds of side missions and lots of hidden objects and collectibles. It was only held back from true greatness by some odd design issues (restrooms as save points!), some inconsistent AI and an unapologetic hardcore attitude to story progression.
Rumours have swirled for years of a possible sequel, and just this week fresh rumours have surfaced that the sequel is relocating from a small town mall to the big lights of Vegas. All we want at E3 is confirmation along with some juicy, squishy, bloody details of a slightly more forgiving game, a better save system, refined controls and the scope for some online madness including the possibility of co-op.
8. GTAIV DLC
Nobody knows what Microsoft has got for their $50m dollars other than Rockstar and Take Two, but anyone can tell you that’s not small pennies (Halo 3 cost approx $30m). What we do know is that at such a price both parties must have believed at the time that at least $150m in sales revenue would result from the DLC (Michael Pachter). So based on a widely assumed DLC price of $15 and revenue of $150million that’s 10m downloads across two DLC parts, or 5m individual downloads per DLC.
So how big is the DLC? We think big enough to make that many people pay up and put that disc back in their trays which means it’s not just clothes or cars, but far more likely a new, albeit smaller, narrative and/or some new destinations.
Personally we’d like to see a new narrative, but we’ll just have to wait and see…
7. Forza 3
Whilst arcade racers are a dime a dozen and the hybrid racer is having a comeback with the outstanding and gorgeous GRID, the reality is that a lot of us are still playing Turn 10’s unparalleled simulation masterwork. Forza 2 was released well over a year ago and yet it is still a mile ahead of any other racing sim on the market. The physics engine, 300 cars, full damage models, a sleek 720P with 60 smooth frames per second, exhaustive tuning and modification toolkits, and a fully integrated online community with a thriving user created content economy were all stars in a well ahead of its time package. Put simply, we love it!
So why do we want a Forza 3? Well the rumours are too good for us to simply ignore and we’ve been fuelling them since October last year! 400 cars; 100 tracks compared to only 14 with 47 configurations in Forza 2; a variety of new race types beyond the circuits including drift, drag, oval and point to point; even more customisation and user creation; and an enhanced online feature set.
Turn 10 had us sold right there, but then Forza’s community manager, Che Chou, decided to drop a tiny bombshell of over excitement this week by stating “(we) have figured out ways to push the 360 in ways I didn’t think were possible in terms of both visuals and performance…You’ll pardon me if I sound a little excited, because, frankly, I’m frickin’ psyched.”
Well guess how we feel?!
6. Mistwalker’s Lineup
One of the best investments Microsoft has made in a developer in recent times is the financial backing and creative freedom it has extended to Final Fantasy creator Hironbobu Sakaguchi and his Mistwalker studio. Whilst Blue Dragon was moderately successful, it was this year’s Lost Odyssey with its stunning visuals, subtle JRPG gameplay tweaks and the far more mature themes compared to his more traditional Final Fantasy games that really hailed the studio as one to watch.
Strangely absent from Microsoft’s Xbox 360 RPG Premiere show in Tokyo last month, we’re expecting big things from this blossoming studio come E3. The mysterious RPG/action-adventure Cry On has been kept under wraps for well over two years and we’d like to know more about the cell shaded art design, the deliberately tear-jerking story and the intriguing use of dual analogue sticks in combat and puzzle solving. We’d also love some footage and details about the rumoured Blue Dragon 2, the possibility for another epic Lost Odyssey title and whether Sakaguchi is still interested in developing an MMO.
5. Splinter Cell: Conviction
Sam Fisher has been hiding in the shadows far too long. Maybe it was the depression that set in after the high of the sublime Chaos Theory to the more moderately enjoyable Double Agent? Or maybe he was just over reaching a bit with a Conviction over his head? But for whatever reason, Ubisoft has continued to keep gamers in the dark about the king of stealth gameplay and his next outing.
Conviction is one of the most ambitious titles Ubisoft have ever announced. To totally strip a franchise to the bone and then dump the key gameplay mechanic from which the franchise found it’s incredible success involved a whole lot of cojones and maybe several screws loose. But it was, and still is, an incredibly exciting prospect full of potential. By shifting gameplay from the largely linear mechanic of light vs darkness to a far more dynamic and reactive form of gameplay based on the player vs his surroundings, remains an inspired idea that was ever so briefly touched on by Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed.
What we’d love to see at E3 is the return of Sam in a near complete version of Ubisoft’s bold vision. There is a sore lack of stealth titles on the 360 and a story driven cinematic-thriller, dripping with references to films such as The Bourne Conspiracy, The Fugitive and Enemy of the State sounds like a hell of a good time. Add in the dynamic and reactive gameplay for stealth and combat and Sam may yet make a successful return to the single and multiplayer arenas, and perhaps even better than ever before.
4. Bioware’s Lineup
Bioware has been an integral part of Microsoft’s console gaming history with genre defining console RPG’s Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), Jade Empire and more recently last year’s phenomenal Mass Effect. And despite it’s acquisition by EA we believe this relationship will continue to provide 360 gamers with superlative RPG’s that are at the forefront of Western developers.
What titles specifically? Well we’d first and foremost loved to see Mass Effect 2 revealed. Hint at the story arc, show us the gameplay and technical refinements, and perhaps most importantly tells us how our own uniquely created Commander Shepard from Mass Effect will seamlessly continue their journey into the world of Mass Effect 2.
Second on the wish list, is the franchise that just won’t go away in KOTOR. We know something’s up with the secretive co-development with LucasArts, but we’d love to find out exactly what that is. Whether it’s a turn based RPG, a real time RPG, or an MMO we don’t much care so long as the franchise continues on and continues to drop jaws in its wake.
Third, we’d love to see Jade Empire continue. It was an inspiringly original and surprising setting for a Western RPG and was only ever surpassed on the original Xbox by the original KOTOR in terms of critical praise. And whilst Dragon Age looks great, we just don’t know enough about it (yet!) to want in more than the entirely unique kung fu and martial arts fantasy of Jade Empire.
3. Bungie’s “Superintendent”
Ever since Bungie and Microsoft amicably parted ways soon after the release of the ridiculously successful Halo 3 in September 2007, there’s been one question on the very substantial and loyal Bungie community… What’s next?
Well we’re sorry to say that this is tightest kept secret this E3 and we have absolutely no idea! But that doesn’t stop us speculating. And as great as a Halo 4 would no doubt be, we really don’t need it for a couple of years because we’re still playing the multiplayer and creating bucket loads of content each and every day through the unparalleled online feature set. In fact Forge is so good I’m personally convinced I would have bought it as a standalone product if given the chance!
What we really want to see at E3 is a new IP, and even if that mysterious platformer-like Superintendent logo of a green plumber has half the features of Halo 3, we’d still probably buy it. But then that’s not the Bungie way and whatever they unveil come Monday we have no doubt we’ll be blown away like every other time they’ve stepped on stage. How many more sleeps did you say?!
2. Alan Wake
Is Alan Wake awake? Is he at his own wake? Or are we finally going to see him again after all these years? We know it’s supposed to be a thriller, but the suspense is killing us!
Remedy first showed Alan Wake way back at E3 2005 and after a grand showing at X06 in September 2006, it’s gone back into a silent slumber ever since. At the time it was a surprise hit at both gaming conventions, with a dark, cinematic tale set in an open world about a writer who loses his grasp with the distinction between reality and his traumatised subconscious. It was a technical and artistic showpiece, a fiercely promising premise, and an atmospheric, noir nightmare.
But that was 2006 and a lot has changed since then. Remedy hasn’t released a game since the equally mind bending Max Payne 2, Bioshock has redefined cinematic storytelling, GTA:IV has set an impossibly high benchmark for open worlds and numerous titles have far exceeded the technical showcase of 2006. And yet it’s testament to the early promise and the strength of the original ideas that gamer interest just won’t die. Shane Kim has hinted about the reawakening of Mr Wake, and whilst we may be optimistic we can’t help but think E3 would be the perfect time to confirm a release date and fill out the adventure/thriller slot for an even more diverse Christmas ’08 lineup.
1. Halo: Chronicles
Well you know we’re excited about something when we post a fact grabbing, leak tapping article like this one, because we can’t wait another week!
But in the simplest of terms when you put Peter Jackson’s vision, Bungie’s track record, Frank O’Connor’s scripting magic, Microsoft’s financial/marketing muscle and then announce that you intend to do nothing short of revolutionising “interactive entertainment”, you pretty much have our full and undivided attention. When you have a habit of delivering on such ridiculous promises, your confidence simply makes us impatient!
The Halo universe is rich in lore and even richer in opportunities (Halo Wars) that can expand the franchise beyond the bread and butter of the FPS. Giving gamers a perspective of the Halo world outside of Master Chief’s eyes may seem a risky one, but could pay huge dividends in the long run by allowing gamers to more clearly identify and understand the world outside of an almost invincible seven foot tall suit of armour.
Out of all the rumoured titles at E3 this is the one we want to see most. We want Halo to feel fresh again; we want consequences to our actions; and most importantly a feeling of vulnerability without Master Chief’s presence that will only make us appreciate him more when the time inevitably comes for his return in Halo 4. So last but not least… we want it this year!
©2006-2008 XboxOZ360-gamer – Aaron Bertinelli
(Ed Note: Be sure to check out the rest of our E3 Top 10’s and visit the XboxOZ360-game E3-’08 Video News Page when you’re finished here and let us know what you think.)