Shooter Showdown from the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo
Last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the trade show for the video game industry, can really be summed up in a single word: LOUD. While the graphics and visuals of video games maybe the first thing that comes to mind, at the big shows we often hear them before we see them. No games stood out more on the audible front than the shooters and action-focused games.
This is fitting, because in combat you often tend to hear the enemy long before you see him. It is also the sound that makes the games more immersing, more intense and more thrilling. With a good surround system your friends will envy you and your neighbors may hate you as well.
Return of the Favorites
Shooter fans can expect to see the return of their favorite games once again as the Medal of Honor (Electronic Arts) and Call of Duty (Activision) franchises will both be making a return this fall.
Medal of Honor 2: Warfighter – a strange name considering this series has been around for a while, and is actually the 14th game in the series – essentially picks up from the 2010 reboot of Medal of Honor from 2010. For those fans of the World War II historic based games this will no doubt reaffirm that EA is likely moving away from tales around the greatest generation, but given that the Second War World was played out this might not be a bad thing either.
The game’s single player campaign will focus on Tier 1 combat operations in the Philippines and Somalia, which could be welcome changes from the sandbox of Afghanistan. Given the locations it sounds like it will be counter-terrorist stuff in the jungles of the Philippines (something that has been going on for more than 100 years, since the days of the Moro War) to some anti-piracy operations at the Horn of Africa. The multiplayer version will reportedly offer 13 playable Tier-1 special forces units from around 10 countries – but how these operate together hasn’t fully been made clear. What we do know is that each outfit utilizes its own weapons and equipment so the Polish GROM will be different from the Canadian JTF2 or Australian SASR. One of the big additions will be the use of Fire Teams to allow players to work closely with their buddies – not just for re-spawning but also to share ammo and health.
This could be a game that does the international thing even better than the popular Rainbow Six series, proving at least in Spec Ops teams we can all get along. MoH: Warfighter will utilize DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine, so it looks fairly intense. Players will be able to get into the action in October.
The Future is Now
As noted MoH won’t be the only game gunning for players this fall. Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will arrive in November, but it could also be like seeing a few minutes into the future. Unlike the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare line of the franchise, Black Ops is going to a futuristic setting, with a journey to the past as well.
That seemed a little surprising given that CoD has maintained a solid grip on history with its World War II settings as well as the modern day. The original Black Ops took the novel approach to be set during the Cold War – and while it offered some “zombie” levels, these weren’t considered a serious part of the franchise but sort of something fun.
The game actually offers two connected storylines, with the first set in the 1970s/1980s and then a jump to 2025. This means some action in Central America and even Afghanistan (when the Soviets were there). The future jump will focus on another Cold War between China and the United States – maybe someone defaulted on loans! It will be interesting to see how the franchise, which has been so rooted in history, will handle the near future weapons – especially since true sci-fi games aren’t exactly that hard to come by these days.
Battlefield Gets Premium Treatment
Surprisingly CoD isn’t the only modern day shooter to take things forward a bit. The popular Battlefield 3 (Electronic Arts) shooter will see a variety of new downloadable content (DLC), the second of which – Close Quarters – arrived during the show. This features four new infantry-oriented maps with 10 new weapons, new assignments and even a new game mode. In Conquest Domination the traditional Conquest mode has been adapted for smaller spaces, making for more intense action – where things can get personal very quickly.
But clearly E3 and game developer DICE are far from done with Battlefield 3, which arrived last fall. Additional DLC has been announced including Armored Kill, which will arrive later this year, and will be about tank warfare, including what is promised to be the “biggest map in Battlefield history.”
And that’s not all. The Aftermath DLC was also unveiled and this will feature “survival themed” gameplay. What that means isn’t entirely clear, but it sounds like it could be post-apocalyptic – and let’s not forget that EA released the popular Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 zombie shooting games. Could this be such a game? We’ll certainly see.
While EA might not have an end in sight for BF3, there is going to be the End Game expansion next winter, which will focus in jungle combat. And to get all this “new stuff” players will have to sign up for Battlefield 3 Premium, a new subscription service. This will grant access to the Close Quarters maps and equipment, plus be given new abilities such as resetting stats.
While not technically a shooter in the purest sense, the Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft) franchise has always been a fan favorite. You won’t learn much history from this series – but probably about as much as movies such as Kingdom of Heaven or Showtime’s The Borgias provide – but it is still loads of fun in a historic setting. The upcoming third act in the “reliving memories of your ancestors” game jumps from the Middle Ages to the American Revolution.
The game’s world is larger than past games and includes open countryside as well as late 18th century New York and London, and it takes place from 1753 to 1783 – so basically the French and Indian Wars through the end of the American Revolution. The gameplay is similar: players take the role of an assassin and must complete a series of missions to unlock a “truth.” The revolution can be restarted in October.
And the rest…
Of course those weren’t the only shooters at E3, and here is a recap of some other games to keep an eye out for in the months to come:
Spec Ops: The Line (2K Games)
This third-person shooter, which is based loosely on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, has the player leading a Delta Force team into the ruins of Dubai to rescue a U.S. Army colonel – aptly named John Konrad. As expected things don’t go as planned. In addition to the single player the game will feature a robust multiplayer mode set in this city’s landmarks – like the indoor ski resort in the desert. The madness, the madness indeed!
Arma II: Army of the Czech Republic (Bohemia Interactive)
The official sequel to Operation Flashpoint is one of those of games that might have fallen off the radar, but the Bohemia Interactive announced at the show the latest expansion. The new DLC, which had hands on time at E3, features the Army of the Czech Republic (as the titles suggests) heading into action in Takistan. The game features a range of authentic Czech Army units and vehicles. Given that many of the games have moved to more “over-the-top” style of play and weapons, this is a shooter that actually might keep things grounded.
Click here to read Top Strategy Games from E3 2012.