E3 2012: Round Up
The dust has settled. The conference has cleared, and the games are official. This year’s E3 has ended, and in its place now comes a flurry of questions, comments, speculations, and criticisms. Here’s a look back at some of the biggest surprises, presentations, and of course, biggest disappointments.
The Big Three Conferences
Pros: Halo 4. The opening to Microsoft’s press conference started with a look at one of Xbox 360’s biggest titles. Some new gameplay from anticipated titles Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 6, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II was welcome. The games looked fantastic and the glimpse built up more anticipation for their release. The confirmation of other titles from the Forza, Splinter Cell, and Gears of War series was also a nice sign that Microsoft still cares about its most popular franchises.
Cons: Kinect, Microsoft Glass, Nike, and dozens of other applications for the Xbox 360 that seem nifty but did not deserve more than a mention. When a new Gears of War game gets about a minute of stage time and a Nike fitness app gets nearly 8 minutes, you know priorities are not where they should be. The lack of attention given to games was very disappointing. The message this conference sent was that Microsoft wants to create a complete entertainment experience with the Xbox 360. It was clear games were an afterthought.
Pros: While Sony lacked surprising announcements, its conference had arguably some of the strongest titles and most impressive displays of upcoming games among the big three. Big titles such as God of War: Ascension, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, and Far Cry 3 all got a decent amount of screen time. Some new and interesting looks at games including Beyond: Two Worlds, the new title from Quantic Dream, and some new gameplay from The Last of Us showed us that Sony still cares about its exclusive titles and is willing to take risks on new and interesting ideas. The Last of Us with its intense gameplay and emphasis on raw, kill-or-be-killed survival was easily one of the best games of the show.
Cons: Where were the Vita titles? Besides the announcement that more PSN, PSP, and PS 1 classics would be available on the Vita, the announcement of a Vita port of PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale and a new Assassins Creed title (which, of all things, featured naval warfare gameplay), there were no new titles or big announcements. It’s still early in the Vita life cycle, but the lack of big announcements was a bit jarring. Also while the PS Move’s storybook was an interesting example of AR entertainment, it felt out of place and garnered far too much attention when other titles deserved the focus. Also, where were the other exclusives that have been announced ages ago and have yet to see release? The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy XIII Versus, and Agent were nowhere in sight. With Sony being mum on their current status, it’s hard to stay excited for a title that may still be years away, or even worse, no longer in the running.
Pros: With Nintendo finally unveiling the Wii U, gamers were given a clear example of what this new system is and the type of games it will offer. The additional functions to games seems impressive and looks to provide an experience that clears up the clutter of health bars, ammo counters, and other indicators to create of more immersing and seamless experience. The third-party titles for Wii U launch look strong and with some support from third parties like Ubisoft and EA, the lineup is already looking stronger than Nintendo’s past console launches.
Pros: The 3DS also had a good showing with some strong first-party titles such as a new Super Mario Brothers, Paper Mario, and Luigi’s Mansion along with great third-party support from Konami, Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Activision. Epic Mickey looks like a great platformer. Castlevania also appears to have solid gameplay and beautiful visuals. Scribblenauts looks to be as engaging as ever with more words and options. Even games meant for the DS, such as Pokemon Black and White 2 will be getting exclusive features on 3DS.
Cons: While the Wii U had strong third-party support, most of the titles were either A) titles released on other consoles previously, or B) lacking enough new features to warrant a second playthrough. Who's already played Mass Effect 3 or Batman: Arkham City? Most likely 90 percent of the gaming population. This leaves very little incentive to pick them up again when a cheaper version already exists. This would be fine if the third-party titles were strong, but that was also lacking. Besides the announcement of Super Mario Brothers U, Pikmin 3, and Nintendoland, there were no other third-party titles in sight. Where was news on the Smash Brothers announcement made last year? Where was Zelda? Where was Metroid? Where was Starfox? Heck, where was Animal Crossing? Sure, there's still time to reveal more titles, as this is the console’s first year, but the fact that Nintendo had nothing else to announce was flat out sad. Right now, all we have to look forward to is third-party ports and the hope that better titles will come.
Watch Dogs was, simply put, the best game of the show. It's stiff competition considering that The Last of Us and Dishonored were also equally amazing. From playing as someone who can hack into the world at will, to using the environment to stop your foes rather than brute force, to the amazing visuals, Watch Dogs was a new IP that not only offered an interesting gameplay mechanic, it showed that big publishers still have some creativity left in them.
Best Looking Game:
Whether it’s a next generation title or PC exclusive is yet to be determined, but Star Wars 1313 looks fantastic. Despite the rather run-of-the-mill looking gameplay (take cover, shoot, climb objects that are crumbling down around you, etc.), the visuals and animation were simply jaw dropping to see in motion.
Biggest Let down:
Nintendoland was something that was unexpected and very disappointing. It appears to be nothing more than a collection of Nintendo-themed minigames. For a new console attempting to try something different, this looks like more of the same that has long been a part of Nintendo's schtick. Time will tell if this game will be great or not, but as of now, it looks like it’s been done before, something that should never be associated with a new console.
And so concludes this year’s E3. While it may have been somewhat of a disappointment, there were enough interesting titles and revelations to keep most gamers happy and looking forward to the future. Here’s to E3 2013 and more gaming goodness.