E3 is the biggest showcase for video games and this year, we finally got to see the first wave of post-launch, next gen games for the PS4, XBox One and Wii U. The general consensus was that the PS4 won E3 with a superior line up of games but the truth is, there are more than enough amazing games coming soon, regardless of which console you own.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 picks from E3 2014, ranked by their potential for being awesome:
1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
How do you explain a Metal Gear game in a paragraph? There is an overly complicated and intricate story running through the Metal Gear series…but if you know nothing about MGS, don’t worry just yet. MGS 5 promises large open world environments, tactical stealth action with amazing controls and top notch game design. The game is absolutely gorgeous with everything being modeled using in-game graphics. You play as Snake and the game follows your transformation from a reluctant hero into a reluctant villain as you embark on an epic quest for revenge. As games go, it is incredibly dark, angry and beautiful. Go now and play all the other games in the Metal Gear series because this is a game you will not want to miss!
2. Batman: Arkham Knight
The first two Arkham games were just incredible and now the original developers behind those games are back to deliver a truly next gen Batman experience. As Batman, you get to explore a Gotham City that is 5 times as large as previous games and…you get to do it in the Batmobile! As usual, we can expect a massive open world and incredibly tight controls that will make you feel that you are the Dark Knight – whether you are taking on a group of thugs with your bare hands or driving your tank through the crime-ridden streets. And what could be more fun than that?
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
There’s a reason that Sony closed their keynote at E3 by unveiling Uncharted 4. This is the franchise that Sony uses to showcase what the Playstation is capable of. Combining non-stop action with cinematic storytelling, there are few games that are as well polished as an Uncharted game. All you have to do is look at the Nathan Drake character model in the trailer below and you will be stunned at how incredible this game will look when it hits the PS4 next year.
4. Halo Masterchief Collection / Halo 5
The Halo franchise is one of Microsoft’s biggest draws and will be essential in helping sell more Xbox Ones. At E3, Microsoft announced that they would be bundling HD remakes of all four Halo games featuring the series’ original protagonist Master Chief. Nostalgic gamers will be pleased to know that they will be able to switch between the new HD graphics and those found in the original games on the fly. In addition to this, the game will be bundled with the over 100+ multiplayer maps from all four games. This will be a must own. And if that is not enough, Microsoft will also be launching a brand new Halo game, Halo 5, in 2015.
Destiny is a PS4 exclusive made by Bungie, the studio behind the original Halo games. Not surprisingly, it looks very similar to a Halo game, blending first person shooting and vehicle combat in space, in the future. In Destiny, you play as a guardian who must fight against The Darkness (an intergalactic evil space force, not the British rock band who believe in a thing called love). Sony has high expectations for this title but it will remain to be seen if it can match the success of the Halo series…
6. Mortal Kombat X
There was a time where Mortal Kombat games sucked for a bit but then they got good again with the release of Mortal Kombat 9. One of the reasons MK 9 was so good was that it introduced a new combat system. This system was further improved DC spinoff Injustice: Gods Amongst Us which featured different sized fighters, each with unique attributes such as speed or strength. Mortal Kombat X looks to take the fighting even further with a more fluid and dynamic fighting system, interactive environments and more blood, more gore and more violence. FIGHT!
7. Star Wars Battlefront
Not much of Star Wars Battlefront was shown off at E3. Instead, all we got was a short video of the game’s developers talking about their passion for Star Wars. The attention to detail the team is putting into the game is impressive and while it is still early days, it looks like it’s going to pay off. The short glimpse of a rebel soldier riding a speeder bike on Endor should be enough to make any Star Wars fan cheer!
8. Mario Maker
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and I’d like to think that most people who have played a video game have played the original 8-bit Mario Bros. Now, with Mario Maker, Nintendo is giving players the chance to create and share their own 8-bit Mario adventures. And it looks awesome! While Nintendo might be struggling with sales of the Wii U, this incredibly simple idea proves that the company can still bring something different and quirky to the world of video games by leveraging its iconic line up of classic games.
9. Rise of the Tomb Raider
I’ll be honest. Like Mortal Kombat, there was a time when Tomb Raider games sucked. A long time. Thankfully the Tomb Raider franchise was rebooted in 2013 and the result was a fantastic game. Sure, it stole liberally from games like Uncharted, but it stole well and even improved things by adding hunting and survival elements into the mix. The Tomb Raider reboot was amazing…and for that reason alone, with a pre-rendered trailer and no hint of the game itself, the potential of a follow up is enough to be included on this list.
10. Super Smash Bros
Super Smash Bros is one of the bigger titles from Nintendo and offers players the chance to brawl in four-way fights as classic video game characters like Mario, Donkey Kong, Sonic and others. The game is easy to pick up and play, a ton of fun with friends and seemed to impress at E3. But instead of checking out the trailer, rather watch the latest epsode of of Conan O Brien’s Clueless Gamer to get a first look:
This list shows that gamers will be spending much of the next year sitting alone in the dark, playing with themselves. But with so many good games, who can blame them? What game are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment and let me know which games you would have added to the list.
by Adam Skikne
Tech experts have predicted that smart watches are going to be the breakout product categories of 2014. The first smart watches are now available to consumers with the next generation being shown off at CES 2014. But what is it like to use a smart watch, what should they do and should you buy one? I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the Sony SmartWatch 2 to review.
Design and Hardware:
The design of the Sony SmartWatch 2 is quite impressive. With its square face, rounded corners and chamfered edges, the Sony SmartWatch 2 is a sleek device with a premium feel. It was definitely noticed when it was on my wrist and the majority of people who saw it became quite curious when they found out that it was a smart watch. So basically you can safely wear it in public without worrying if you look like an idiot.
Perhaps the most important feature of the SmartWatch 2 is its screen. And while the screen is bigger and brighter than the one found in the original Sony SmartWatch, I did wish it had a slightly higher resolution. Despite this, the SmartWatch 2’s screen is usable in most lighting conditions (including outdoors in bright sunlight) and manages to always stay on while conserving battery.
Battery life on the SmartWatch 2 is another plus. When I first unboxed the SmartWatch 2, its battery was about 65% full but still lasted me a good three days before needing to be recharged. The SmartWatch 2 charges via a micro USB cable which is quite convenient. It should be noted that the SmartWatch 2 is also water resistant. So if you ever wanted to check Twitter while you’re in the shower, this is the device for you.
Setting up the SmartWatch 2 is relatively simple as it pairs with any Android phone running Jellybean and above through NFC or Bluetooth. Unfortunately the Smart Watch 2 is not compatible with iOS devices. Once the devices have been paired, you are prompted to download the Sony Smart Connect app on your phone. The app allows you to find, link and control a number of other apps that have been specifically designed for the SmartWatch 2.
Through the Smart Connect app, the SmartWatch 2 can be linked to your phonebook, dialer, music player, SMS messages, Twitter, Facebook and various fitness apps like Endomondo and Runtastic. There are roughly 300 additional apps that you can be downloaded for the SmartWatch 2. The majority of these apps are lightweight and free but there are a few apps that offer very similar functionality. Still, these apps add additional functionality to the SmartWatch 2.
Using the SmartWatch 2:
The experience of using the SmartWatch 2 will vary based on your expectations of what a smart watch should do. Smart watches are set to become an increasingly important product category in the next few years but it is still a product category that needs to be better defined by device manufacturers.
The interface of the SmartWatch 2 should be familiar to anyone who has used an Android phone. You can swipe through installed apps and the SmartWatch 2 even has the standard back, home and options buttons found on most Android devices.
The SmartWatch 2 primarily acts as second screen that allows you to view notifications on your wrist and perform basic tasks like controlling your music without the need for taking your smartphone out of your pocket. The notifications that pop up on your wrist can make it easier to spend less time looking at your phone, which is good. However, it’s very easy to become inundated with notifications depending on which services you link with the SmartWatch 2. Messages and social media updates can be problematic but the settings for these apps can also be tweaked to improve the experience.
There are a few snags. The SmartWatch 2 does well with text based notifications but struggles with updates or emails that are image heavy. Your wrist will ring when you get a phone call but you can’t answer the call or speak into the watch. These are not faults per se but maybe just missed opportunities. I have no doubt that these features and capabilities will be included in either future iterations of the Sony SmartWatch. You can already find them in competing products like the Samsung Galaxy Gear but at a slightly higher price point.
The smart watch is a product category that currently doesn’t have mainstream appeal but this is will likely change over the next year or so. If you are an early adopter or love the idea of smart watches, then the Sony SmartWatch 2 is a definite contender. It is well designed, compatible with a wide range of Android phones and is supported by a number of specially designed third party apps.
On the spectrum of available smart watches that are currently available, I would say that the SmartWatch 2 fits in between the Pebble and the Samsung Galaxy Gear in terms of price, battery life, device compatibility, build quality and apps. If you are in the market for a smartwatch, I would recommend that you look into these three products and see which one suits you best based on your individual needs.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10
I got my Sony SmartWatch 2 review unit from the fine folk at the Orange Online store. They stock the Sony SmartWatch 2 (available from R1995.00) as well as the Pebble Smartwatch and the Samsung Galaxy Gear. If you enjoyed the review or are in the market for a smart watch, feel free to visit them at http://store.orange.com/za/p_orange_home.aspx