Revisit the 1990s with electric rodents, zombies and tombs in these games from E3 2018

Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee! for the Nintendo Switch will be released on Nov 16, 2018. PHOTO: NINTENDO
Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee! for the Nintendo Switch will be released on Nov 16, 2018. PHOTO: NINTENDO

LOS ANGELES - Cute electric rodents and terrifying zombies are miles apart but shared the same stage recently - the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), one of the largest video games events globally.

They hail from two of the most anticipated games at the annual gathering, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 12 to 14.

Those two games - Pokemon: Let's Go and Resident Evil 2 (remake) - are remakes of their original source material from 1998.

We take a look at those two games as well as see what Lara Croft is up to in her new adventure, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, a reimagining of the Tomb Raider games that came out in the 1990s.

Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee!

Platform: Switch

Release date: Nov 16, 2018

Pokemon: Let's Go is the first Pokemon title for the Nintendo Switch and a remake of the original Pokemon Yellow game from 1998. So, understandably, the game has a lot of hype behind it.

Let's Go features the original 151 Pokemon and comes in two versions which let you start with a different Pokemon, namely the rat-like Pikachu or the fox-like Eevee, but are otherwise identical. Neither of the starting Pokemon can evolve into more powerful iterations, but other Pikachu and Eevee you catch in the game can.

Being a remake, Let's Go sports upgraded 3D graphics from the original's 2D visuals. Going by my brief hands-on, I dig the adorable, cartoony look of the game, as well as its use of pastel colours that are easy on the eye.

Fans will likely get nostalgic listening to the game's updated music, which features pretty neat arrangements of the original game's soundtrack.

Walking in a colourful recreation of the original game's Viridian Forest, I could see wild Pokemon in plain sight in the demo.

This makes Let's Go feel a lot more alive than the original because in the latter, wild Pokemon don't wander in the game world and you meet them in random encounters instead.

Catching Pokemon in the new game is different from Pokemon Yellow and, instead, a bit similar to how it's done in the popular Pokemon Go mobile game.

In Let's Go, you use a motion controller to simulate lobbing a Poke Ball at a Pokemon to catch it. There's an element of chance involved in this and for tougher Pokemon, you can feed them berries to make them easier to catch, like in Pokemon Go.

You can use the Switch's Joy-Con controllers or hold and move the Switch in your hands to catch Pokemon. I wasn't able to try either but instead used the new and expensive Poke Ball Plus controller which costs US$49.99.

I hate to admit it but using the gimmicky ball shaped controller to do this was enjoyable.The experience made me feel like a bona fide Pokemon trainer, more so since the Poke Ball Plus vibrates and lights up when you catch a Pokemon.

I was more successful with overhand throws than underhand lobs to nab creatures, but this could be due to calibration issues.

Resting nicely in my palm, the controller is light and comfortable. With some practice, it's also easy to use. Using its joystick and buttons to move your character, navigate menus and select options is a breeze.

If you're a Pokemon super fan, you'll definitely want to get a Poke Ball Plus. It has some extra perks like having a Mew Pokemon in it, but I can still see how the ball's novelty factor will wear off quickly for many other gamers.

Battles with Pokemon trainers is a different ball game, however. These play like more traditional battles in other Pokemon games as you call on your Pokemon to fight with an opposing trainer's Pokemon.

Another neat feature in Let's Go, going by videos, is how you can ride some of the larger Pokemon in the game, like the snake-like Onix.

Let's Go looks like it will appeal to new players and existing fans - it's simple, accessible and has nostalgic charm going for it. The experience is made better with the Poke Ball Plus but the controller's price is going to be a downer for many gamers.

Resident Evil 2 (remake)

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Release date: Jan 25, 2019

Easily one of the most popular games at E3, this game is an overhaul of the original 1998 zombie horror classic.

The queue to check out the game was far too long but going by gameplay videos and reports, one of the first things you'll notice is that the game plays like a third-person shooter. By eschewing the fixed camera perspectives of the original, the new game allows you to get much closer to the action in more terrifying ways.

The "tank" controls of the original have also been replaced by more modern controls, where moving the controller stick left or right means you move in those directions instead of turning on the spot like a tank in the old game.

Another big change is that the remake is a lot darker now, with your trusty torchlight becoming your main source of illumination. This raises the scare factor immensely, as if things weren't menacing enough.

The updated graphics, from the environments to the characters, are wonderful. The game has a great cinematic quality and the Raccoon City Police Department you're trapped in looks amazing, with plenty of nice details. This also means Leon Kennedy, the character you play in the game, has even more immaculate hair than you might remember.

But on the flip side, the gross and gore factor of the remake has been ratcheted up several notches, with more bloody and scary-looking zombies.

It doesn't help that the audio was improved too, so those zombie grunts, growls and screams are more nerve-wrecking than ever before.

Thankfully, the voice-acting has improved considerably, although B-horror movie fans who loved the original game's cringe-worthy voices might be disappointed.

There are a number of other changes too. Besides layout tweaks and new puzzles, you'll encounter new non-playable characters, while some existing ones have been retooled.

But back to the zombies, they appear to be much tougher and take more hits to kill. Trying to avoid them also seems harder.

This rework of Resident Evil 2 looks to be turning out really well and it won't be too long before you have to muster the courage to pick it up at stores.

Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Release date: Sept 14, 2018

Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is a third-person action adventure and the last game in a trilogy of rebooted Tomb Raider games.

These games retell the origin story of famed video game character, Lara Croft, but with a more realistic take than when she first graced computer screens in 1996.

According to developer Eidos Montreal, Lara is more gritty this time and the third game is also darker than the past two games.

From what I've played of demos and seen elsewhere, the game looks and sounds great. There's a lot of attention to detail, with the lighting and ambient sound heightening the atmosphere in the game considerably.

Like the previous titles, Lara can wield guns as well as a bow and arrow. But she can now craft new types of arrows using items she finds, like powerful fear arrows made with rare materials.

A foe struck by such an arrow becomes hysterical and will turn on his pals. It's an effective way to help Lara thin enemy numbers, which is important since she can't take many hits.

In fact, there's an emphasis on sneaking in the jungle environments of Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, though charging to confront opponents is still possible, if a bit risky.

Besides trying to avoid enemies by hiding in bushes and clambering up trees, Lara can also take down foes instantly with a well-timed sneak attack, such as swinging down on a rope from an overhead tree branch, or leaping out from the bushes at an unsuspecting foe.

If you're not great at combat and stealth, the game has quieter moments, such as puzzle solving and exploration, and you can even tweak the game's difficulty to make combat easier while maintaining the difficulty of the puzzles.

On the other hand, action fans who don't fare well with puzzles can adjust the difficulty to keep combat challenging but make the puzzles easier by having more hints given to them.

Exploration can be made easier by changing some settings so you can, for instance, find more obvious visual cues for areas that you can climb.

I didn't see this in play but, if it works, it's a great way to cater to different types of gamers.

For those who want even tougher puzzles, the challenge tombs of the previous game make a return.

Eidos said the number of these tombs in the new game is similar to the last one, but they are larger and can be more cerebral. There'll also be challenge tombs with online co-operative elements that will be released as downloadable content after the game launches.

While I didn't get to try out a challenge tomb, there was a simple puzzle I tackled in one demo that involved moving platforms so Lara could get across a chasm. Things moved along at a nice and steady pace, thanks to the grappling, jumping and climbing involved, as well as responsive controls.

In a hands-off demo, Eidos showed off a beautiful, hidden South American city where Lara can explore, shop and talk to the natives to get side quests.

These side missions can involve a string of dialogues, fights and puzzles. They'll be more narrative driven, too, and won't just be simple fetch or hunt quests, the developer said.

The game is shaping up to be pretty interesting and we'll see how this reboot trilogy ends soon enough.