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E3 2012

11 Jun

E3 is over for another year so here I’ll give my rundown of the five main presentations:

Microsoft ★★★☆☆

Microsoft were up first this year, and the general feel of their presentation was more about new feature of the Xbox, rather than new games. They want to bring more media to the Xbox and connect it to other hand held devices, they want the Xbox to be the only thing plugged into your TV. To do this they’ve added things like Kinect support for 12 new languages, new services to watch NBA and NHL games and Internet Explorer (which surprised me). They also announced a partnership with Nike for a fitness game that uses the Kinect to monitor and improve your workout, which looks really well done and seems like a brilliant use for Kinect. To link the Xbox with other devices they introduced firstly with Xbox Music – a music service on Xbox, Windows 8, smartphones & tablets, then secondly Xbox Smartglass. The idea behind smartglass is that your tablet or smartphone can provided additional content while you game or watch something on your Xbox, the examples given in the show included your tablet showing an interactive map while you watch Game of Thrones, allowing your tablet to be an extra controller for designing plays in Madden and displaying game info in Halo 4. It would seem that Microsoft are trying to replicate the Wii U game-pad on your existing devices, and also remove the need to buy a smart TV, and while it looks interesting I can’t really see people using it heavily for gaming, it seems far too immersion breaking.

In terms of the games they showed, there didn’t seem to be anything that was particularly impressive or surprising [1]. There was the obvious Halo 4 and another Dance Central game, an angry birds rip-off coming to XBLA called Wreckateer, a new trailer for Fable: The Journey, which looks good but I would have liked another demo like last year showing off people actually using the Kinect, rather than lots of CGI nonsense.

It was an okay presentation, and Smartglass looks promising, but overall I think they failed in terms of games.

EA ★★★☆☆

Like Ubisoft, EA don’t have any hardware to show at E3, it’s all games. Unfortunately most are games I’m not really interested in, but I’ll try to give fair representation to what they showed. They opened up with Dead space 3, specifically the new 2 player co-op feature and the planetary setting. I don’t know if being on planets is new in the Dead Space franchise but to me at least it seemed like one of the main focuses of Dead Space 3. Speaking of 3’s, we also go a nice game play video of Crysis 3 in all its gorgeous visual glory. I was very tempted by Crysis 2 when it came out, but ultimately opted for other games instead, let’s hope Crysis 3 can impress me enough to give EA my £40 this time round. The new Medal of Honor looks good, with lots of breakable physics objects, but suffers from being yet another war based FPS in a sea of war based FPSs.

They also had the obvious announcements of Fifa 2013 and Madden NFL 13, but the Madden one came with a twist. Madden 13 will be the first ever sports RPG. You can play as either a player or a coach and level up as you go, getting points to spend on skills or abilities. It also features a fake Twitter and news feed that responds to your game. Not being a sports gamer I don’t know how Madden fans will react to this, but I was impressed. In MMO news Star Wars Old Republic is going free to play up to level 15, which I thought would happen sooner or later, and people finally got to see a trailer for the new SimCity game [2], which I am told by my resident city builder enthusiast looks great. We saw the new Need for Speed Most Wanted, which is essentially a remake of the old Most Wanted crossed with Burnout. I’ve never really been ito street racing games but from what I saw I don’t think fans of the series will be disappointed.

EA showed off a lot of sequels, but luckily most of them seemed to have a few little tweaks to the formula that kept me interested.

Ubisoft ★★★★☆

Once again Ubisoft won this year’s “Most Annoying Presenters” award, but fortunately they made up for it with some of the games they showed. We got to see some new bits of Far Cry 3 including a demo of 4 player co-op, all of which looked as visually awesome as ever, a brief trailer for the long awaited Avengers MMO and some game play from Assassins Creed 3 (although the best bit, a new naval combat system was shown in the Sony presentation). We also got a glimpse at Watch Dogs, which may have single-handedly won E3 according to most of the comments I’ve seen. It looks like GTA, your standard sandbox city 3rd person game, however the premise is that you have access to ctOS, a computer system that runs the city, and you can use to do things like hack people’s phones or control traffic lights. It looks amazing and I can’t wait to see more.

Surprisingly, it was Ubisoft who showed off some of the best Wii U games of E3, not Nintendo. First was a new Rayman game that allowed the Wii U game pad to control one of the characters using the touch screen, and it had obviously been designed that way from the start, I’d be surprised to find you could control the character any other way. The game pad also got a slightly different view than the other players, making for an interesting fast paced section of the game. Ubisoft also showed of an amazing trailer for a game called ZombiU, although they left it to Nintendo to show some of the game play features.

Despite the terrible presenters Ubisoft showed off some solid games, and their new IP Watch Dogs stole the show.

Sony ★★★★☆

I don’t know whether this is because I’m a Sony fan-boy, but I thought they had the best show of E3. They seemed to boast the most exclusives this year and the most new IPs [3], and seemed to be far more focused on games than Microsoft. They showed off: Beyond: Two Souls, a brand new atmospheric game with phenomenal graphics from the people who made Heavy Rain; PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, which while technically a new IP is just a ripoff of Super Smash Bros., and while it looks fun it’s not something I could really see myself buying; Wonderbook, an augmented reality book-Move combo that looks great for kids, although the live demo was a bit buggy; God of War Ascension, which looks like more of the same which I don’t mind at all; and Last of Us, a post-apocalyptic survival game with brilliant graphics and what seemed like brilliant game play.

It’s worth noting that during thePlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale demo, 2 of the 4 players were using the PSVita instead of controller, essentially showing that the Vita can be used in the same way as the new Wii U game-pad. It would seem like both Microsoft and Sony are trying to invalidate the uniqueness of the Wii U’s biggest selling point quite quickly.

Sony didn’t really show off anything in terms of hardware, but they did show a lot of love for the gamers with some new games and new used for current peripherals like Move and the Vita.

Nintendo ★★☆☆☆

Unlike Microsoft, Nintendo was all about the games with a small amount of focus on the Wii U. They mentioned the Wii U will be getting YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Video and then basically said if you want more info Google it, we’re here to talk about games. The rest of the presentation was just one game after another (most of which were Mario). They started with New Super Mario Bros. U which is just a rehash of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, then we got to see Arkham City: Armoured Edition which looks good, but I don’t know how it relates to the original, is it just a port or has a lot been changed for the Wii U? We were also shown a trailer for WiiFitU, in which the Wii U game pad spends a lot of time on the sidelines, but can be used as a monitor if someone else wants to watch the TV. Although the amazing trailer for the game was teased in Ubisoft’s presentation, it was Nintendo that showed off some of the interesting game play mechanics of ZombiU.

I thought it was investing that only two 3rd party developers, Ubisoft and WB, were showing lots of support for the Wii U, the rest of them seem to be waiting for something, maybe info on the price or release date?

In terms of party games there was SiNG, which displays the lyrics on the game pad so you can face the room when you sing, which I think could work really well if you combined it with a game like Just Dance 4, which was also shown. The new feature in this iteration of Just Dance is the game pad can be used to edit and control the choreography of the dancers on the fly. And in 3DS news, there were 3 new games announced new 3DS games: New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. What seemed to be Nintendo’s biggest announcement came at the end: Nintendoland. Nintendoland is a hub like area that features 12 minigames designed to show-off the game pad, and for some reason they only chose to show one of them. With the Wii U supposedly close to release I wonder why they didn’t take the opportunity to show off as many awesome features as they could?

Almost the opposite of Microsoft, Nintendo focused almost entirely on games, but unfortunately they were pretty much all generic sequels.


  1. I’m not counting games like Madden 2013, Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider etc. as they’re cross platform.

  2. It has a massive online multiplayer component so I’m classing it as a MMO for the sake of this blog post.

  3. It’s not usual to see 2 big first party IPs released this close to what many are predicting is the end of this generation. Maybe a autumn 2013 PS4 is a bit premature?

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Blog

 

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