Reactions to Day 1 of E3 2012

Courtesy of ESA

 

Jordan Wade’s Reactions to Day 1 of E3 2012

 

Microsoft Press Conference

Provided By Microsoft

Pros: Trey Parker and Matt Stone talked about South Park: The Stick of Truth, Madden 13 will use the Kinect’s voice recognition to allow the player to call out audibles, Baird gets his own game with Gears of War: Judgment, Microsoft SmartGlass.

Cons: The audience was subject to a mandatory performance by Usher, NO PRICE DROP ANNOUNCEMENT?!?!?!?!?

This (sadly) wasn’t the meme-fest that was Microsoft’s 2011 Conference and there weren’t any hokey child actors present.

Microsoft presented a pretty predictable conference: Halo 4, Black Ops II, more MediaBox stuff. But they did remember that E3 is about the games and showed plenty. We received trailers for a new Gears game as well as Forza: Horizon. Microsoft was even able to bring in Trey Parker and Matt Stone to talk about the new South Park: The Stick of Truth! (Never thought I’d see them at an E3)

The thing that, honestly, was the most exciting to me was the prospect of having the ability to call out audibles using a Kinect while playing Madden 13. Those that play Madden understand how frustrating it is to navigate button inputs at the line of scrimmage so calling out the changes is a WELCOME (and overdue) addition.

Microsoft’s announcement of SmartGlass was cool, but it was a predictable move. Microsoft knows what makes the Wii U intriguing, so they have revealed their answer to it. SmartGlass will give gamers the ability to use a tablet, iPad, or smart phone to control aspects of their Xbox experience. It’s a nice perk, but nothing earth shattering.

The big disappointment was the lack of a price drop announcement…  but that is for selfish reasons as my 5 ½ year old 360 just died on me last week.

Grade: B

 

EA Press Conference

Provided by Electronic Arts

Pros: EA can certainly craft some good looking games, EA snags up UFC, Star Wars: The Old Republic is free-to-play up to Level 15

Cons: NBA Live is returning (apparently without the “Passion of the Bynum” mode), EA is content with rolling with just established IPs, Battlefield 3 Premium subscription service for $50 with Medal of Honor arriving this fall?

We are obviously toward the end of a console cycle and it was none more apparent than at EA’s conference. All of the games that they showed off were established IPs. With that said, all of their games looked gorgeous. Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Need for Speed: Most Wanted were two of the stand-outs with impressive visuals. Strong visuals are nice, but I would have liked to see a little more innovation for the American-based juggernaut.

The big surprise to me (though it shouldn’t have been) was EA Sports snagging up the UFC license. EA attempted a mixed-martial arts game a few years ago with EA MMA and found little success (other than succeeding in pissing of UFC President Dana White). The UFC license ensures that they will now dominate in that sport as well.

Grade: C+

 

Ubisoft Press Conference

Provided By Ubisoft

Pros: Watch_Dogs reveal, Assassin’s Creed III footage, ZombiU trailer

Cons: What was going on with their hosts? No Beyond Good and Evil 2?

Jeezus. Ubi brought it. Simple as that. Hokey hosts aside, Ubi had the most impressive conference today. While EA played it safe with established properties, Ubisoft showed that they aren’t afraid to be inventive and try new things even at the end of a cycle. Assassin’s Creed III continues to impress. Splinter Cell: Blacklist looks promising. Far Cry 3 looks…well…pretty.

The real show pony of this year’s show was Watch_Dogs. The start of the trailer made it seem like it was going to be some sort of downloadable strategy game. At least those were my expectations. I did not foresee Ubi coming up with something so jaw-dropping (I mean AC3 is their lead horse this year). Then the gameplay footage booted up and I was instantly mesmerized.

Mr. Mike Phan described it as Assassin’s Creed in the modern-day from his first impression. I believe this to best way to describe it, but I will throw in a mix of Max Payne and Hitman. I think underneath the hood there could be so much more. The visuals are stunning. The gadget use is clever. The gunplay looks satisfying. The general consensus seems to be strong hope for this title and I will surely be watching this one closely.

The other title of note for me was the Wii U exclusive ZombiU. All that we received was a trailer today, but there could be more from it tomorrow at Nintendo’s conference. Apparently, this title evolved from the Wii U title from last E3 called Killer Freaks from Outer Space.

Grade: A-

 

Sony Press Conference

Provided By Quantic Dream Production

Pros: Beyond starring Ellen Page is revealed from Quantic Dream, The Last of Us continues to prove that it is a title to anticipate

Cons: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale looks like little more than a Smash Bros. rip-off, who actually cares about PlayStation Move?

Sony has the lead in the console war at E3 2012. Their conference wasn’t as strong as Ubisoft’s, but it topped Microsoft’s by a slight margin. Much like Microsoft’s, the Sony press conference checked off a to-do list: media options, motion gaming, online service, and games. Where it set itself apart from Microsoft is in the quality of games. Whenever a company can trot out titles such as God of War, Assassin’s Creed, Beyond, and The Last of Us, then you know they have something good.

I have never been a huge God of War fan so it is hard for me to get overly excited for Ascension. It looks like it offers more of the same from the franchise just this time with multiplayer tacked on. I’m sure it will appease longtime supporters of the franchise.

Quantic Dream, the creators of the critical darling Heavy Rain, returned at this E3 with their next cinematic title called Beyond. There was little in the form of gameplay, but what was shown were some of the most impressive facial animations in gaming seen this side of L.A. Noire. David Cage (the founder of QD) stated that the game would deal with death and he hinted at elements of the afterlife. Color me intrigued if only because it has the lovely Ellen Page involved in it as the game’s protagonist.

(The Last of Us floored me and I will touch on it later in this article.)

The only major issue I had with Sony was there attempt at trying to keep the Move alive. It’s disappointing to see them pour money into technology that seems to net them no profit. They should face the music and realize that motion gaming just isn’t their thing this generation. Wonderbook is not the killer app they are in need of.

We didn’t get an announcement for The Last Guardian which more than likely spells doom for that title. That’s a shame.

Grade: B+

 

Biggest Surprise: Watch_Dogs

 

Provided By Ubisoft

This was an unannounced game prior to Ubi’s press conference so it sort of blindsided me. The graphics were amazing. The gameplay looked thrilling. The concept was intriguing. There are rumors that this game could be for the next-gen. Here’s to hoping that it is just a case of a developer pushing modern tech to its limits and not something that we have to wait a long while for.

 

Biggest Disappointment: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

Provided By Sony

I know it is slightly ridiculous for me to have some hope for this game. After all, it appears to be nothing more than a Super Smash Bros. copy. There have been rumors of Kevin Butler being in the game in some capacity, so my anticipation rose because of that.

E3 2012 brought no word as to what Kevin Butler’s participation is in the game…if any.

Not even a Big Daddy could save this game for me.

It’s Kevin Butler or bust for me on this title.

 

Most Anticipated: The Last of Us

Naughty Dog’s latest made a great first impression at the VGAs in December. Since then we have received a trickle of information here and there. E3 needed to be its grand debut and it didn’t disappoint. The game is giving off a Cormac McCarthy’s The Road meets Uncharted and that is a GREAT thing. I have long wanted a game that captures the essence of what humanity would devolve to after a global catastrophe and The Last of Us appears to do that and more. There is a sense of urgency and brutality in this game that other titles have only hinted at in the past.

I want this game.

And I want it now.

E3 2012 Game Power Rankings

  1. The Last of Us
  2. Watch_Dogs
  3. Tomb Raider
  4. South Park: The Stick of Truth
  5. Assassin’s Creed III
  6. Star Wars 1313
  7. Beyond
  8. Madden 13
  9. Forza: Horizon
  10. Resident Evil 6

Check back late Tuesday night for my reaction for Day 2 of E3 2012.

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