Square Enix E3 presence – 8/10 – We knew they’d be there, we just didn’t know they’d be there in force!
- Final Fantasy Versus XIII finally with gameplay footage…sort of
- Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD/III, FFXIII-3, FFXIV:ARR, FFXV, Murdered: Soul Suspect, Deus Ex: The Fall, and Tetsuya Nomura – all looking fantastic
- They really should have had a Day 0 or 1 press conference
- Several live streams totaled nearly 20 hours of footage but only half was real content
TRG’s surprise of the show came in the form of a beloved though much maligned publish in Square Enix. Everyone expected some announcements and at Sony’s PS4 reveal event back in February, Shinji Hashimoto encouraged gamers to “please be excited,” a roughly stated hype phrase from a man who knows little English that was derided and dismissed as a poor excuse for their lack of real new information. Turns out, the former RPG king had good reason to tease their E3 presence.
Though Square didn’t hold their own conference, they made themselves available to Sony and Microsoft and did so in impressive fashion. On the Xbox One front, the Thief reboot was unveiled amidst doubts that Square could manage to retain the feel of the original classics Also confirmed for PS4, the Microsoft demo showed off an incarnation that showed an abundance of potential and an evolved sense of being a thief in an open world.
Later that day, Square returned and at Sony’s mega press conference in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, they finally began unleashing their power franchises to the masses. Beloved Final Fantasy character designer and game director Tetsuya Nomura graced the stage and presented an update in the evolution of the hotly anticipated title Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Only it wasn’t FfvsXIII anymore. Retitled Final Fantasy XV, an extended trailer flashed before the world with combat sequences and the signature Square Enix quality of cutscenes. As usual, the next numbered title looks absolutely gorgeous and the masters of role-playing weren’t done yet. After a brief trailer featuring Kingdom Hearts 1/5 HD Remix’s updated progress, Kingdom hearts III was finally announced and drew some of the most audible cheers from the crowd in attendance. Oh, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn also received a hype piece, reminding gamers that a PS3 and Xbox 360 version was also on the way…and a PS4 version is in the works for 2014.
Day 1-3 presence
This hits didn’t stop on press day, either. Square would spend the next 3 days hosting live streams and replaying the dozen or so trailers for all of their upcoming games through their newly minted Youtube channel called Square Enix Presents. Deus Ex: The Fall was revealed in support of prior claims that it would be a tablet game in “triple-A style” and it certainly looked the part. Great visuals will accompany a classic Deus Ex experience with a small price tag rumored to be less than $10. It was also playable on the show floor and received good reviews muddled by skepticism.
Murdered: Soul Suspect was also given some attention. Considered by many to be a dark horse hit, it will feature a storyline involving the death and subsequent trek by the game’s protagonist into a sort of limbo where he is a ghost trying to solve his own murder. The concept itself is thought-provoking and Airtight Games has of Quantum Conundrum fame are heading up development so outside the box gameplay and unique puzzles are sure to be involved.
Where Square really shined, though, was on the show floor. A playable instance of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn featured a gathering in a small town where players could get accustomed to its complex MMO controls before dispensing them into a boss battle against the formidable Final Fantasy monster staple, Ifrit. While similar in nature to most MMORPG assaults, the combat system revealed environmental hazards as well as a need to work as a unit with other players to achieve success. It remains to be seen how FFXIV will distinguish itself in the genre but the game shows considerable promise.
The biggest confirmation came in the way of Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III’s inclusion of Tetsuya Nomura in directorial duties and character design. He was available all week long and gave some in-depth interviews to both Square representatives and other media outlets alike, expanding on processes that led to these games’ focus. Final Fantasy XIII-3, although not playable, was given major attention and received considerably positive reception. Every game they presented left onlookers with open eyes and extinguished much of the doubt surrounding them.
Stay tuned to TRG for expanded coverage of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on PC and PS3 as well as a reaction from the staff after we played the Beta version of this cross-platform experience. Also be on the lookout for more information regarding the Thief reboot. These look to be the cult titles that Real Gamers relish.
Overall Performance - 8/10
In the aftermath of a vast restructuring, Square Enix had been relatively silent regarding its current projects. Bringing Tetsuya Nomura to Los Angeles signified a return to its roots, placing him at the helm, once again, of their most popular franchises in Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy. His presence alone was enough to raise eyebrows beyond the impressions that all of their games left onlookers and E3 attendees. The silence now broken, expectations are high for the mercurial developer and they nailed a surprise omniprescence at the world’s largest video game spectacle.