E3 is supposed to be cancelled this year but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. While a lot of the grandeur has been lost because a lot of the big Western publishers like EA and Ubisoft aren’t putting together these big conferences, that hasn’t stopped the general gaming industry from putting together their own shows together. Most of them this year did focus more on the indie side of the gaming industry so it was generally up to Geoff Keighley and his yearly Summer Game Fest to do a lot of the heavy lifting before Microsoft and Xbox did their own non-E3 related show.
This year’s Summer Game Fest did have a nice mix of really big reveals and exciting announcements and some moments that just grinded the entire thing to a halt. So, instead of doing a deep dive into all the reveals and announcements made, let’s just focus on the best and worst this year’s Summer Game Fest had to offer.
Best: Guile for Street Fighter VI
To be frank, this is more personal bias as I’m really excited for any news that’s Street Fighter VI related. However, that’s not to undersell how good Capcom is making their upcoming fighter look really good. Even though Guile was already showcased in a full roster leak days earlier, I still felt a twinge of happiness to see him in actual action.
I get that it may not look like something special to a non-fighting game fan. But for me, who has been playing games like Street Fighter since his teenage years, you do pick up a few nuances here and there. Things like new combos he couldn’t do in earlier installments, returning techniques like his Sonic Blade and Solid Puncher and how he’s totally ditched his green camo and is now wearing an actual flight suit. There were also hints of what the actual Street Fighter 6 mechanics are going to be like, such as Guile dash-cancelling after throwing a punch and the new Drive Impact which can eat other moves. It’s really fun to dig deep despite this trailer being just around 90 seconds long.
Worst: The Last of Us Multiplayer
Look, I get The Last of Us was a landmark game. I get a lot of people still love it despite the second entry being one of the most divisive games ever made. I also understand that fans have been clamoring for a Last of Us multiplayer game and it looks like Naughty Dog is finally giving what the fans want and they did announce it was coming out as a standalone game. But that’s the only thing they did: announce it.
The only thing they did show is concept art for what they think it’ll look like. Neil Druckmann, the president of Naughty Dog, did also mention it’s going to have a story like the previous games and it’s going to be as big as well. However, it’s hard for me to get excited for something when it’s just an idea in someone’s head and someone had to draw a picture, a nice picture at that, of what they think it’ll look like. All they did was sell you a promise but I need more than that.
Non-Video Game Moments:
Best: The Rock reveals the “new” Black Adam trailer
In all honesty, whenever a video game conference like Summer Game Fest ever attempts to tie in something like a movie or a television show, it usually falls flat on its face. And even though I am awarding The Rock’s appearance during the Summer Game Fest as the Best Non-Video Game Moment this year, it was still terrible but, sadly, the only one that was actually not painful to watch.
Why was this so bad? Well, not only did Dwane go plug his upcoming movie, he also made it a point to plug his Zoa energy drink not just once, but twice during his very limited screentime. Also, it looked like this was done at the very last minute as Dwane just had to do it at his home gym instead of doing something special. Oh, and the trailer was already something that was on YouTube so it was hardly the first time anyone was seeing it. Still, at least it was a big name actor and he didn’t flub his lines like Michelle Rodriguez mispronouncing Tekken. Barely watchable… but still watchable.
Worst: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is on a boat
I was about to give this award to The Last of Us again as they plugged the upcoming HBO live-action show but I decided against it for a couple of reasons. First, they actually didn’t show a trailer so it was hardly a non-video game moment since they didn’t do a non-video game moment. Second, all they did was have Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson come up on stage and say how “amazing” it looked; I couldn’t do that to Troy Baker. So I will have to give the award to Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II for spending a ton of money so they can paint some docks with the game’s box art.
I can appreciate what they were trying to do. Call of Duty is still one of the gaming world’s biggest franchises and, while I’ve never gotten into the scene, the gameplay did look incredibly good. What I’m referring is all the pomp and circumstance before the gameplay trailer. Having the GM of the game walk out onto some empty dockyard with large posters of the game’s characters just felt so anti-climactic. There wasn’t even anyone with her on that empty dockyard! Then that final zoom into show the artwork plastered on the floor of the dockyard at the start and then zooming out to that same shot? That felt like they couldn’t think of anything better and a waste of money.
Retro Styled Games:
Best: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
I was never a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon during its height of popularity back in the late ’80s. That didn’t stop me from playing the heck out of the arcade game of the same name! I have such fun memories of jostling to that massive four-player machine and just beating up the Foot Clan with either my friends or some total strangers. Well, it looks like the upcoming Shredder’s Revenge retro styled game is going to be the same thing.
This game was already announced a while back but they did have something up their sleeve for Summer Game Fest. Having Casey Jones playable was already a big deal but making it possible to have six players go play all at the same time is massive! This game already looks like a ton of fun and just making it possible for five of your best buds go through it will make it extra special. Oh, and the pixel art looks phenomenal. It managed to capture that old school Super Nintendo aesthetic without actually copying any of the TMNT games that came out before.
Worst: Flashback 2
To be fair, Flashback 2 is the only other retro styled game I can think of which showed up during the entire Summer Game Fest. So I am kind of sad I have to give it such a dubious award. I didn’t play a whole lot of the original Flashback but it looked cool for its time. I honestly can’t say the same for Flashback 2.
A lot of the original’s charm comes from its rather unique look. The rotoscoped models and the smooth movements looked otherworldly then. The really blocky graphics also made it stand out among a lot of the games of the time. The new trailer, unfortunately, did not show any of its predecessor’s charm. Don’t get me wrong; it looks good. But the problem is it looks like a lot of other sidescrollers nowadays and nothing makes it really stand out anymore.
Best: Goat Simulator 3
You gotta love how even Geoff Keighley was in on the joke. He introduced the trailer by saying things like “don’t get bitten” and mentioning this is an update of a game that was supposedly announced so many years ago. Even the intro hints at it being Dead Island 2… at the start as it opens the same way. Then you realize the graphics look slightly janky. This isn’t an update for Dead Island 2 It’s Goat Simulator 3!
I honestly can’t believe how excited I am for Goat Simulator 3. I played the heck out of the first game and the second game just improved on everything! But Goat Simulator 3 will simply blow both of them out of the water! I certainly hope they’ll be more skins and more missions than the two previous games combined. And, yes, I am aware there really isn’t a Goat Simulator 2 but I might as well play along with the gag.
Worst: Fall Guys Season 1 Free For All
I’m actually glad Fall Guys is becoming Free for All in the near future. It’s an honestly fun game and I think more players, both hardcore and casuals, should play it. However, the trailer announcing it just wasn’t all that good. It’s not supposed to be a masterpiece and I get the gag that anyone, even old ladies who aren’t known for gaming, can play it. But the joke of people transforming to the Fall Guys look just felt tired.
The thing is, I don’t really know how I would make a better trailer announcing it. It’s ultimately fine but I certainly wish they actually showed more of the visual chaos from the games itself. Maybe have real people try to go through some of the Fall Guy stages ala Takeshi’s Castle or Wipeout. This just felt very safe for a game that’s super creative.
Games Made by Disgruntled Developers
Best: The Callisto Protocol
Summer Game Fest spent a good amount of time showing off the upcoming The Callisto Protocol. If it looks, sounds and plays a lot like the old Dead Space games, that’s because it’s being made by one of the minds behind it. And, honestly, it looks good!
There’s a lot to like here. The mood is perfect, being horrific and gritty and earning every bit of it. It’s also incredibly gory and brutal, which makes sense when you have to fend off alien monsters who can’t be bargained with. I never played the Dead Space games but this did make me think of trying them out now. That’s how impressed I was with the trailer and gameplay they showed.
While the Callisto Protocol seems to be paying homage to Dead Space with the way it looks and plays, it still feels different enough for me to differentiate the two. I didn’t get the same feeling when I was watching the trailer for Stormgate. In fact, I was so sure it was a trailer for some upcoming StarCraft game because, well, a lot of the characters looked like they came right out of StarCraft! It even had a Ghost and a Marauder shown! The new creature, well, I just assumed it was a new Zerg unit. But I was wrong. All that confusion could’ve been alleviated if I actually heard Geoff Keighley mention this was a new IP. This was a trailer for Stormgate, an upcoming RTS by some of the people who made the original Warcraft and StarCraft games.
I actually have no idea if Stormgate looks good or bad because all they did during Summer Game Fest was show a cinematic and no actual gameplay. It may be the game is ways off from being finished so I can’t fault them for that. What I can fault them on, however, is aping the old designs of a game they made while working for another company.
What was your best and worst moment during this year’s Summer Game Fest? Let me know in the comments section below!