Tuesday, June 5, 2012

E3 2012

E3 is one of my favorite times of the year (right after my birthday). I generally call it summer Christmas. I always watch the three major press conferences, and even though I only own a PS3, I always get caught up in all the announcements. Over the years it’s become so much easier to follow along on all the surprises from the convention floor through various sources. Below are my thoughts on the major three conferences this year.

Microsoft went first this year, and they started very strong with Halo 4, and boy did it look amazing. I haven't seen a 360 game look this good. After this, game wise, it was mostly 3rd party multi-platform games that took center stage. From Splinter Cell to Tomb Raider, followed by South Park, RE6 and ending on COD Black Ops II. All looked good, but there is no exclusive out of these (outside of DLC) that could nudge XBox above the competition. Each of these five games are coming to PS3, and WiiU, so I fail to see why they spent so much time on them. The other exclusive games Microsoft showed failed to have more outside of trailers. Fable, Forza, Gears of War, and those 3 XBox Live Marketplace games; it would have been great to see more other than trailers. And what happened to Rare? Remember Rare. They made Conker. F**k you for killing that studio.

Other than games, SmartGlass seems like it could be useful, but time will tell if it works the way Microsoft advertised. I liked sports on the 360, but whats up with the lack of real Football? The Nike section was boring, as was all the Kinect enhanced experiences; I could care less. And that's the problem Microsoft has had in there last couple of conferences, they start strong, end well, but have a poor, mostly forgettable, middle. And this year they started too strong, making their end fall a little flat. Had Microsoft started with the Black Ops II demo (a multi-platform game), and ended on Halo 4, their big exclusive, they could have really stole all the attention of the people leaving their conference. They get helped, and hurt, from the over reliance on 3rd part games, and because of poor pacing and too much Kinect I can only give Microsoft a C-.

Master Chief facing down the lack of 360 exclusives all by himself once again.

Sony followed later in the day. Like Microsoft, they too started strong with the reveal of Beyond Two Souls. The game looked beautiful, and you could see the improvement since the studios last game, Heavy Rain, and I really connected with the police officer who was trying to help Jodie. After this, Sony went a little safe; they mostly showed games already revealed. From Battle Royal to GOW Ascension, finishing the show with the Last of Us. Last of Us showed well, and it's not too surprising, it's Naughty Dog, and they are one of the best right now. However, Battle Royal felt flat. The gameplay was cool, but what's up with only showing two new characters? This is E3! One of the characters they showed, Drake, was a given. What about other characters like Snake, Viewtiful Joe, anyone from Final Fantasy? I feel they missed an opportunity here. Then, for some reason, they spent time showing Far Cry 3 and Assassin's Creed III. That's great, but I can get those games on the 360 and WiiU, and I already saw them at the Ubisoft conference, so why waste time? AC III Liberation was revealed, but they did not show much outside of the trailer, which is a shame. 

Sony then showed Wonderbook. It's a cool idea, and I was genuinely surprised by the J.K. Rowling announcement, but it's very casual. I also doubt parents will shell out $350+ for their kids to play Wonderbook, but I guess Sony thinks they can convince people. So where was the new stuff Sony? Where was a new Syphon Filter, or a partnership with Konami on a new Metal Gear? Sure Last of Us is a new IP, but it's from the house of Uncharted, so I know how it's going to play. GOW is GOW, it's hasn't changed that much over the years. Battle Royal was the only new hardcore game Sony showed, and they showed it last month. Like Microsoft, Sony had a soft center. They did not waste as much time on useless things like Nike Work Out and other crap Microsoft showed, but they spent too much time on PS Move (Wonderbook did drag its heels). Vita showed some new games and functionality such as being a controller, but where was the COD trailer? Where was the AC III gameplay? Where was Bioshock Vita? By playing it safe, and preempting themselves last month, I can only give Sony a B.
Hey Jodie, I didn't see anything else new up there when I looked.

Finally, Nintendo brought up the rear by revealing all about the WiiU. They did preempt the conferences by posting a 30 minute video where they discussed some of the WiiU's controller functionality. They also reveled a very XBox 306 looking controller with a reverse PS3 button layout. But when it came time for the actual conference to begin, I expected big things, and sadly, most of what I got was either uninspired or at least a year old. Nintendo began well with showing off their greatest asset, Shigeru Miyamoto. But all he brought was Pikmin 3. New Super Mario Bros U looked exactly like all the other Super Mario Bros, and I feel for the guy who is relegated to playing on the Pad Controller while his friends are playing the game. For some reason, Wii fit was shown. Thanks for that Nintendo. The 3DS was relegated to about 7 minutes of show time, but they had some great looking games like Paper Mario and Luigi's Mansion.

3rd party wise, Ubisoft came with Zombi U, and the brief demo looked great. It was definitely the best of the show. Scribblenauts is fun, but am I going to have to pay $60 for this game? Rocksteady had Batman AC, a game that came out last year, and I see no reason to care about the WiiU enhanced version. I bet the same thing could be done using the PS3/Vita. Nintendo closed the show by showing off, for some reason, the Playstation Home. I found this a troubling move as the last time I checked, Playstation Home was only available on the PS3. Why would Nintendo spend so much time on it? It did look a little different (very Disney Channel), but no-one uses Playstation Home right now, and I fail to see why Nintendo working on it will bring any new people to Sony's virtual space. Well, I guess they know more than I do. Reggie was Reggie, which is generally a good thing, and as stated before, Miyamoto is awesome, but what about Zelda, Mario, or hell, a new IP (too much to ask for)? The show was just boring. I give them a B-, if only for the fact that they have a new console, and for Zombi U.

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