E3 2012: Round-up
After three days of dubstep, shotgun facelifts and overconfident suits talking about video games, E3 2012 has drawn to a close. For the most part it was a disappointment, as we saw Microsoft and Sony struggle to bridge the gap between this generation and the next. Unwilling to even allude to future hardware, Microsoft were unsure of what to do with themselves and Sony were content to send out conflicted messages. Nintendo played their next gen hand, and it looked like a slightly prettier re-run of the current.
But there is more to E3 than the headline conferences from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, as the week saw countless show-floor trailers, demos and announcements. Of all the third parties, it was Ubisoft who made the biggest splash, providing highlights for both the Sony and Nintendo conferences, while proving to be the most dependable of developers.
Far Cry 3 is fast becoming one of my most anticipated games of the year. I have fond, albeit selective memories of the violence, freedom and sunsets of Far Cry 2 and am expecting the sequel to go a step further. I like the premise and with a separate co-op campaign, it’s looking like a hefty beast. A selection of Assassin’s Creed 3 trailers and demos assuaged many of my initial concerns and it already displays the polish that was missing from Revelations. Splinter Cell: Stab List and Rayman Legends both look promising.
Despite all these well-established franchises, it was a surprise new IP that stole the show: Watch Dogs. While a sandbox of guns is nothing new, the hacking and use of digital intelligence was intriguing. It didn't hurt that it looked stunning and rumours persist that Watch Dogs was in fact running on next gen hardware. All in all, this was an excellent showing for Ubisoft, even if their own stage show was hosted by hyper-active clowns, communicating in a language that was as confusing as it was embarrassing. Girl wood indeed.
Congratulations to Dead Space 3 for joining God of War as the series that I no longer give a rat’s arse about. Battlefield 3 Premium was exactly what we thought it would be as was Medal of Honour: (insert joke tagline). EA's conference wasn't a complete waste of time however, as I was treated to 2009 flashbacks of stunt ramps, drifting and custom soundtracks. Burnout: But Not Burnout, otherwise known as Need for Speed: Most Wanted will be coming from Criterion in October of this year.
There were two notable announcements from Nintendo outside of their multiple press conferences – one good, one bad. The positive was that Fire Emblem: Awakening will be getting a US release on the 3DS, though there was no mention of Europe. The bad news was that online messaging, an important part of MiiVerse, will be moderated and censored, which will delay receipt of what could be time sensitive messages. Despite their protests to the contrary, it seems Nintendo are still afraid to fully embrace the realities of online connectivity. Fortunately, Nintendo's online censorship does not stretch as far as this blog, so I’m free to say that MiiVerse looks like an uninspired, half-ars Mario Tennis Open: Hit the court for intense fast-paced action this summer. Out now.
Tomb Raider had its moment in the spotlight earlier this week and the more I see of Sleeping Dogs the more I like it, but otherwise Square-Enix was pretty quiet on the game front. However, they didn't leave LA without making an impression, thanks to the real-time tech demo for their brand new engine, Luminous. It makes sense that a company as famous for its pretty pixels as SE should choose to branch out in this direction.
Capcom had new, explosive trailers for Resident Evil 6 and Lost Planet 3 and Bethesda's Dishonoured continued to draw plaudits, though I’m far from convinced that this dystopian adventure will be any more exciting than its pallet of greys. Sony confirmed that Tokyo Jungle will be getting a European release, which is great news for anyone who has ever dreamt of making a Pomeranian fight a dinosaur. Last Guardian was once again a no-show, supporting my theory that it will never see the light of day. I can appreciate a developer wanting to take the time to get everything perfect, but surely that wouldn't preclude Sony from releasing a new trailer, the first in nearly two years, if only to reassure the fan base that it has not been cancelled.
Sony spent the week attempting to dodge Vita shaped bullets. They apologised for the lack of portable games during their presser, claiming they were trying to keep within a self-imposed time limit, which precluded them from doing anything of note with Vita. The excuse was worse than the crime and their words and actions at E3 will further the perception that Sony are increasingly out of touch. It's interesting to compare Nintendo's 2011 E3 press conference, following the early struggles of the 3DS, and Sony's showing earlier this week. Nintendo addressed the problem and were pro-active in reversing their fortunes, whereas Sony seems content to bury their head in the sand and continue with business as usual.
To be fair to Sony, there were some intriguing Vita titles on show this week, even if they were low-key and missing from the main event. PS All Stars Battle Royal, Sly Cooper and Jet Set Radio HD all attracted attention and I was pleased to hear that Sine Mora will be coming across from XBLA. PSone classics will be a popular addition to the Vita and Sony have clearly put some thought into the transfer; left analogue stick control will be available while the back panel will stand in for the L2 and R2 triggers.
What caught your eye at E3 2012?