E3 2014 Day Three: Madden 15, Mario Maker and More

Thursday was supposed to be the “easy” day. I was wrong. On the last day of E3 2014, I saw more games — played — more games than the other two days combined. And I’m glad to announce that there are some incredible games coming very soon.

My day started with a visit to Capcom to try out Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the Nintendo 3DS. As a long time Monster Hunter, this fourth game (ultimate version) is by far the best. The locales are rich and inviting and the new climbing mechanic changes how hunters can bring down the game’s biggest baddies. I took on a Great Jaggi and armed with my hammer, I chased him all over the one map allotted for the demo until I brought him down with a head smash. The controls are the same from last year’s Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, but the ability to jump and climb, as well as jump aerial attacks are very welcome. This game should hit in spring of 2015 and I for one cannot wait.

After taking down a monster, it was off to EA to check out Battlefield: Hardline and EA Sports titles for the coming year. Hardline is as advertised: warfare fought on the streets between cops and robbers. Multiplayer is the one aspect that separates the BF franchise from Call of Duty is really well done with the criminals (as one team) trying to get away while the cops (as the other) try to stop them. This was only one game mode, but it was smooth and the play control added enough new features to give the Battlefield franchise a much-needed creative boost.

Over in the sports side, Madden 15 looks and plays great. The character models and shadows are finally in synch with each other and the game has never looked more realistic (on new-gen, mind you). Sure, RGIII’s hair still looks wonky, but the players on the field look awesome and the play control has been upgraded to add more realism. I cannot wait to play the final build of this come August.

NHL 15 finally gets the new-gen makeover and it is striking how good this looks. Players sweat as they skate and each face has animation emotions. Skating with the puck felt very smooth and shooting needs more precision to get past the goalie, giving NHL 15 level of realism I haven’t seen since the NHL2K franchise ended.

I skipped over UFC, as time was running short, but I did get to watch a quick match and the player models looked fantastic. I did not fight myself, so I cannot comment, but it sure looked good.

For FIFA 15, the IGNITE engine has outdone itself. The game looks and feels much like last year’s game, and the changes are cosmetic at best. Expect a fully featured title later this year, with a new FIFA Ultimate Team polish. Also, the real World Cup game was being played in the same room and the FIFA 15 game looked better than real life. Seeing these two things side by side was eye opening and is a testament to the artistry that goes into a FIFA game.

E3 2014 Day Three: Madden 15, Battlefield Hardline, Mario Maker and MoreI wrapped up at EA and made my way to the Bethesda booth to check out Shinji Mikami’s (Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, so many more) new game, The Evil Within. The father of survival horror has done it again with a dark, twisted, and truly scary game that pits a detective trying to solve a series of murders in a small town called Beacon. Yes, there are mansions and monsters and puzzles, and not enough ammunition to take them all on. It has a classic Resident Evil feel, even as it did so many new things. Expect to hear so much more about this going forward. Plus, on a side note, I got to meet Mr. Mikami himself, and for a man who has scared the crap out of so many people — present company included — he truly is a nice, unassuming guy.

Next up was Battlecry, Bethesda’s new IP for 2015. Battlecry is a free-to-play multiplayer shooter, except the world of Battlecry has no gunpowder. This means all combat is either melee or with primitive bows and arrows. Battelcry was developed in part with Viktor Antonov, the designer who also gave 2012’s Dishonored its wonderful, award-winning art direction. The game is fast paced and looks gorgeous. The Battlecry Studios team made the decision to keep the detail of the maps in the forefront and to use backdrops almost like comic book panels in their simplicity. The results are astounding. Battlecry is due to hit in 2015.

To end my E3 festivities, I finally got to tour the Nintendo Booth and to take in all that they had to offer this year. First off, I got my hands on Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and it looks incredible in true HD. The character models look gorgeous and the action is out of this world. We played a match on the Animal Crossing Village, and the backgrounds and platforms kept changing to reflect different Animal Crossing themes. Fans of the series are in for a treat when Super Smash Bros. hits stores later this year.

Next up was probably my most anticipated game of E3: Hyrule Warriors. This Wii U game is a melding of two of my favorite franchises, and the meld is seamless in its execution. Link absolutely rules the battlefield and KO’ing 200-300 enemies is just as awesome as in Tecmo-KOEI’s longtime series. There are some very Zelda-like elements, such as bombs and of course, rupees to collect, and the main boss in this demo was King Dodongo. I asked my guide for a hint of other playable characters besides the already announced Link, Zelda, Impa and Midna, and when I point blank asked about Ganondorf, the guy smiled and said that he had no information on that. Hyrule Warriors may end up being my favorite game of E3 as I’m predisposed as a fan of the two series with Zelda being my all-time favorite franchise.

E3 2014 Day Three: Madden 15, Battlefield Hardline, Mario Maker and MoreAfter clearing the Hyrule Warriors demo (in record time, according to my guide), it was off to Yoshi’s Island for Yoshi’s Wooly World for Wii U. Here, Mario’s dino friend gets the Yarn makeover as in 2009’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Wooly World plays just like a Yoshi game, but the yarn elements give the title a charm and fun factor that many expect from Nintendo. Yoshi’s Wooly World could surprise some folks when it hits stores this winter.

With time running out at Nintendo, we quickly tried out Mario Maker for the Wii U. Players are given a rather large pallet with which to create the most creative and insane Mario levels. Creation can be done in classic 8-bit or in glorious HD, last seen in Super Mario World U. My biggest accomplishment was creating flying hammer brothers. I cannot wait to get my hands on this final build and really let me creativity soar.

My last game at Nintendo was the just-announced Splatoon. Here, eight squid players compete to cover a map with their teams’ color of ink. Splatoon utilizes shooter elements and direct combat, as well as the spraying of ink on just about every surface. Players can unlock super weapons that lay out gallons of ink at a time, and players also have bombs that can take out enemies. We played this four-on-four, and our team was really into it. It looks good and the play control is smooth and intuitive. This could be a win for Nintendo when it is released in the future.

This was a full day at E3, but I wasn’t done. My last game of the show was over at the Sony booth and it was LittleBigPlanet 3. As a long time LBP fan, I am excited for the new game, and on the PS4, Sackboy and his friends have never looked better. What’s more, all 8-million plus user-created levels from all other LBP games will be available to play on day one. Some of these levels are masterfully done by creators that have the talents to do this full time as a career. And there are over 8-million of them right there to be played, which makes LBP 3 the biggest game ever launched in regards to content. Oh, and it still plays like a charm. This was the perfect way to end three hectic days of meetings, and demos, and swag grabbing, and meet ups, and parties. Leave it to Sackboy to remind me why I love video games and why I truly love covering this industry.

E3 2014 has wrapped. I have tons more stuff to write on, and will use it closer to launch of the biggest games. I will also write up a final story — complete with an extensive photo gallery — to be published sometime this weekend. For now, I really need to rest. It’s been a pleasure recapping this show and stay tuned for so much more coverage in the future.

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