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At its start Xbox Live Arcade was merely a showcase for bite-sized, fun experiences that wouldn’t really work at retail, games like Pac-Man CE, Geometry Wars and Uno. Since then much fuller experiences have been showing up and expanding just what downloadable console games are capable of (Hydrophobia and Limbo come to mind), though the potential of XBLA games never looked better than with Shadow Complex in 2009. SC was treated like a major release, not just some quick cash-in, and we feel it’s long overdue for a sequel, if for no other reason than to push the envelope all over again.
Built with the Unreal 3 engine, Shadow Complex wore its love for Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on its sleeve, but it certainly wore it well, looking better than any game like it ever had. The mix of high production values and retro love made it an instant hit and one of the best sellers in XBLA history. Even though SC developer Chair has been busy making huge money off iOS hit Infinity Blade, the devs have stated their willingness to make a sequel, it’s just a question of when. With Sony showing off impressive looking PSN titles like Journey, Microsoft will want to reassert itself as king of DLC, undoubtedly with a new Summer of Arcade promotion. The surprise announcement of another Metroidvania coproduced by Epic/Chair would give that promotion just the prestige it needs.
Heavy Rain was officially one GR editor’s most favorite game of last year. It was by no means perfect and there was plenty to point and laugh at, but it was certainly a different (in a good way) console gaming experience. And we desperately need more of those. Ideally with fewer dodgy accents and a plot that won't fall on its ass quite so easily under scrutiny. But let's not rush things. One step at a time. With the guidance of boss man David Cage, Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream is clearly interested in approaching video games from a fresh, exciting angle.
Above: Heavy Rain. It's not a shooter
We know that Quantic Dream is working on two still under-wraps projects at the moment. We know that neither of those projects is a Heavy Rain sequel. But without wandering into the woolly realms of speculation and guesswork, that's pretty much everything we do know for certain. However, if Quantic Dream does decide to use this year's E3 to reveal at least one of its secret projects, it's guaranteed that it'll be unlike anything else at the show. Unless, of course, Activision surprises everyone by announcing Call of Duty: Emotional Warfare.
For a while there, we really thought we’d had enough of Kratos. His story – or at least, the story of his revenge against the Greek gods –concluded with God of War III, and the quick follow-up from Ghost of Sparta didn’t exactly leave us wanting for albino-psychopath action last year. We’ve since gone on record applauding the developers’ decision to give Kratos a break, at least for now. But hey, even a little oversaturation can’t take away the fact that God of War is an excellent franchise, and as fans, we want to know what’s next. So if Sony decides to tease a new God of War at E3 – even if the actual game is years away – we’re still excited to see it.
Above: We might see this re-released on PS3 as a PSP Remaster edition, but that’s not what we mean
Will it be a sequel? A prequel? A wholly unnecessary cash-in that retroactively taints the entire franchise? These are just a few of the burning questions we want answered. There’s also been a lot of speculation that a new God of War would pit Kratos against a new pantheon of gods, or that he might not even return as the protagonist – we’d like to see that settled, too. Whatever God of War IV turns out to be, though, it’s guaranteed to be interesting – and so long as it ends up delivering the same sadistic brand of gore-spurting hack-and-slash as its predecessors, we’ll probably have a lot to look forward to.