Surprising line up from Square Enix at E3

Once known here in the United States as the Final Fantasy company, Square Enix is now much more that.  Surprisingly, few of the games on display at the E3 Expo, in Los Angeles had that Japanese feel that is associated with publisher.  None of the games I got to play at their booth were even RPGs and best part of it was they were almost all really good.  Tomb Raider, Hitman and Sleeping Dogs are all action games and from what I saw and played, they could all be hits.

Hitman: Absolution was playable on the floor as well as in the theater for a developer playthrough though both were from different parts of the game.  On the floor a mission in China Town was available to play and while the controls took a little bit of getting used to, it was a good looking and deep experience.  As deep and good looking as being a hit man can be.  In the developer playthrough, Agent 47 was in a Midwest town looking for a kidnap victim.  The possibilities are nearly endless in Hitman and in both scenarios, this bloody adventure never felt overly game-y.

Sleeping Dogs, though it looks like a lot of other games already out, will probably be a sleeper hit.  It is a sandbox action game like Grand Theft Auto or Yakuza but what differentiates it from the pack is the combat.  Sleeping Dogs has a combat system much closer to Assassin’s Creed than other sandbox games.  The physics in driving have also been adjusted but, whether or not that is an improvement will be up to the player. Sleeping Dogs takes place in Hong Kong, where you play the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop trying to take down the Triads from the inside. Remarkably, the voice and motion acting is excellent and really help bring the city to life.

A little bit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a little bit Portal, Quantum Conundrum looks to be an amazing Xbox Live/PSN game.  You play as a young boy, are dropped off to visit your uncle, but first you need to find and ultimately rescue him by using his newest invention, the Inter-dimensional Shift Device, to switch between dimensions and solve puzzles.  The levels are laid out very similarly to Portal but the art style is much more whimsical.  There is a fluffy dimension where nearly everything is light as a feather, an anti-gravity dimension where things float upward and more.  It will also take quick reflexes because many times multiple dimensional abilities are needed nearly simultaneously.

The new Tomb Raider was present but not playable on the floor as it is a good way out but, the more they show of it, the better it looks.  Microsoft even used some gameplay footage in their keynote.  A bit of a surprise was a tech demo for Agni’s Philosophy produced with Luminous Studio, Square Enix’s next-gen game production engine, currently in development internally at Square Enix.  Those that can’t wait for the next Final Fantasy will soon have a new Kingdom Hearts next month.  Though more action-adventure than RPG, Dream Drop Distance is sure to feature many beloved Final Fantasy characters.

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