Tuesday, 7 June 2011

E3 2011 - Day 1 Thoughts

Well, the first day of E3 2011 has just come and gone and since I actually managed to watch the entire thing live this year, I thought I would give you some of my impressions from today's four press conferences.

MICROSOFT

So let's start off with the Microsoft or Xbox 360 conference.  Obviously, I can't go into detail about every single thing they mentioned, but the main theme here was Kinect.  I think every single thing they talked about had some connection with Kinect.  Okay, so maybe that was to be expected, but I still found it to be a little too much.  I know Kinect is Microsoft's big new development, but does that mean that every single thing you announce has to be about it?  They just went on and on and on about how every game would be Kinect compatible in one way or another and apart from the obvious party/casual-type games like Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster and Kinect Sports Season 2, the inclusion of Kinect was pretty damn useless.

For instance, in Mass Effect 3, the Kinect functionality basically came down to voice-recognition.  And you need Kinect for that why exactly?  Have you ever heard of, oh, I don't know, A FUCKING HEADSET!?  In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier they did at least do something with it.  There, they used it for a new weapons-customisation-option where you could basically customize everything on your weapon using Kinect.  That was more like it!  However, the gestures used to play the actual game were ridiculous!  I guess you couldn't just have the player pretend to pull a trigger, but what the hell does pushing your palm forwards while holding your other hand in the air have to do with firing a weapon?  And what the fuck was Kinect Disneyland Adventures all about?  Okay, so I get that it's basically just a collection of party-type minigames for kids based on various Disney characters, locations and rides, but why did you need to have a weird virtual Disneyland theme park around all that?  How the hell could a virtual version of a fucking theme park on a damn video game console even come close to the real thing?  And before you ask, yes, that was how they promoted it!  Like it was like actually being in Disneyland!  If I ever had the choice, do you really think I would choose a virtual Disneyland on an Xbox over the actual thing?  I mean, are they high?

Now, before you get the wrong idea, no, the conference wasn't horrible.  Hell, in my opinion, they did really well and showed off some pretty cool stuff.  Modern Warfare 3 looked pretty epic, even though it's not a game I am personally drooling over in anticipation, the Tomb Raider reboot looked like it could actually be a good game and Forza 4 looked freaking amazing!  Other than that, the new features for the console looked promising, even though some of them weren't strictly necessary and I won't be surprised if the Xbox Live TV service turns out to be unavailable in Norway.  All in all though, I think Microsoft did okay, but they could have gone a little easier on the Kinect stuff.  Also, there's a Halo 4 coming, which I couldn't care less about, and Gears of War 3 can go suck a rhino!  How loud and obnoxious can you possibly get!?

EA GAMES

This year, I didn't really feel like EA brought a lot to the table.  Okay, so Mass Effect 3 looked pretty epic and Need for Speed: The Run looked like it could be a pretty intense and exiting racer, apart from the pointless on-foot segments that were basically just a bunch of quick-time-events, but other than that, their offerings were pretty mediocre.  Now, I know some people are probably fairly exited about the new FIFA and Madden titles, but really, those people are just idiots!  If you don't know why, you either live under a rock, or you're probably an idiot to.

There was one pretty exiting game they showed off though, and that was Overstrike from Insomniac Games.  To some, this might just seem like a fairly standard third-person shooter, at least at first glance, but to me, it seems like something a bit more than that.  First off, it's made by Insomniac, which in my opinion, should be endorsement enough, and secondly, it seems to have a lot of variety.  Since this game consists of several playable characters that all have their own unique styles and abilities, this should be a game with a lot of possibilities for fun, fast-paced and varied action!  In addition, it also seems to have some pretty decent humour and knowing Insomniac, it probably does.  I'm actually going to go out on a limb here and say that so far, Overstrike was one of, if not the most exiting game announcements at E3, at least for me.  Now, some of you might be wondering about Battlefield 3, which was also revealed at EA's conference.  Well, it was decent, I guess, but I have just one thing to say about the gameplay footage they showed:

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!

UBISOFT

This was a pretty good conference!  They showed off quite a good number of games of varying quality, they had a few surprises, at least they were to me, and overall they did a damn good job.  However, there were a few noteworthy mistakes as well.

First of all, Michel Ancel, you really let me down.  Oh, sure, the footage of Rayman Origins you gave us was very nice, showing off what appears to be quite a game that I for one can't wait to check out, but that wasn't really what we wanted, was it?  You know damn well what I'm talking about!  WHERE THE FUCK WAS THE NEW BEYOND GOOD & EVIL 2 TRAILER!?  It's been, what, three years since the first teaser and we get nothing?  NOTHING!?  As I said, Rayman is all well and good,  but out of the two, I would MUCH rather hear about Beyond Good & Evil 2!  Now, to be fair, he did announce, after the press conference, that Beyond Good & Evil 2 is still a ways off, probably not coming out until the next generation of consoles, but couldn't he at least have mentioned it?  You let me down, Ancel, you let me down.  By the way, making a pun on Shakespeare's "To be or not to be" line with "Ubi or not Ubi", not funny.  Painful, is more like it.

Then, of course, there was the so-called Mr. Caffeine who I forgot the real name of.  He basically introduced almost every announcement and he did okay, but my shit was his comedy stupid!  Not only did he repeat this joke about what these new games would look like twenty-or-so years ago several times, but he, off course, had to introduce these segments with a dumb little hand-gesture and a Wayne's World-ish dissolve sound.  It just came off as so ridiculously stupid and it will probably be mentioned several times at several places.

Apart from that, though, this conference was very good.  Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was probably one of the best shooters shown all day, the new Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 was kind of reminiscent of Inglorious Bastards, which I, for one, actually liked and of course, there was the gameplay footage and trailer from Assassin's Creed Revelations which looked pretty damn awesome!  There were a few other announcements as well, like the new Driver: San Francisco, The Adventures of Tintin the Game based on an upcoming film by Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg and Farcry 3, which was actually a little intense and kind of creepy...  In a good way.  Overall, Ubisoft did a great job and in my opinion, upstaged both EA and Microsoft.  Not by much, but I would still give them the edge.

SONY

One thing's for sure; Sony knows how to hold a press conference.  Not only did they start off by acknowledging and issuing an apology for the recent Playstation Network problems, which I for one, thought was a necessary move on their part, but they proceeded to show off some pretty exiting new content, both on the software and hardware side.  However, let's start off with the few things I have to complain about.

First off, the NBA 2K12 presentation where Kobe Bryant played the game using Playstation move, was just embarrassing.  Not only did Kobe and the other guy, I forget his name, have some truly pointless and awkward banter, but Kobe didn't really manage to show off how great Playstation Move could work as he really struggled to play particularly well.  They probably hadn't planned on that whole bit going like it did, but I'm sorry, Sony, that was still a huge fail!

Then there was the slightly long-winded and at least from my perspective, insincere rant from Ken Levine about Bioshock Infinite and the Playstation Move.  Basically, he said that at first he was hesitant to integrate Move into Bioshock, but after Sony pointed out that it could bring in more gamers, he tested it and found it to actually be quite useful.  That probably doesn't sound too bad, and it wasn't, really, but it was just so long.  He went on and on and on saying the same thing over and over and I felt like he just didn't know how to get out of it.  Thankfully, he eventually did manage to move on, no pun intended, and he did deliver a great presentation.

Finally, the Next Generation Portable was unveiled along with it's actual name, Playstation Vita.  It looks like a pretty cool little handheld and they showed off some impressive stuff for it, but I have to say, they went on for WAY too long about it.  It felt like forever!  It was actually kind of weird.  Up until that point, the conference had a pretty nice pace and everything seemed to be moving along nicely, but then, all of a sudden, it slowed WAY down.  Maybe there was no way around it or maybe I'm impatient or something, but it honestly felt like they just dragged it out as much as possible.  Okay, so the Playstation Vita was probably their biggest announcement, but still, they must have used way over half of the conference on this one device alone.  It just got more and more boring as it went on, so instead of going out with a bang, the conference pretty much deflated to a halt.

All that considered, though, I think it's safe to say that Sony definitely delivered the best show today.  They had lots of awesome games to show including Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Bioshock Infinite and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.  They also revealed two HD Collection packs, God of War Origins, which includes the two PSP titles Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, and the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection, both of which will include full 3D support.  However, one of the coolest and most surprising announcements was their new Playstation branded 3D Display.  This really awesome device is a 24" monitor that allows gamers to play games in 3D for a much lower price than before.  In addition, it also features technology that makes it possible for two players who are playing a two-player game to view their own full screen view on the  same monitor.  For 499$ you'll get the monitor, a pair of 3D glasses, an HDMI cable and a copy of Resistance 3, with additional glasses costing you 69$ a pair.  I'm not really big on all this 3D bullshit, but this thing is so awesome, I can only say one thing:  ME WANT!!

Other than that, there were a few other titles revealed for both PS3 and PSV and overall, Sony did a fantastic job.  I could go into even more detail about all the stuff they revealed, but I think I've already gone on way too long.  Sufficed to say, Sony really delivered and, in my opinion, they were by far the best of the day.

SUMMARY

All things considered, it's been a pretty decent E3 so far.  There were a few mistakes, a few dull moments and some overall dumb stuff, but there was also a lot of really great stuff.  If anything, I would say that the overall atmosphere was a little on the "meh" side of things as there wasn't really all that much to get too exited about, but I did still find it satisfactory.  In a nutshell, I would say EA was the worst, then Microsoft, then Ubisoft and the best was Sony.  However, there is still one more contender left and it's no small fish either.  You see, tomorrow, well, actually, today, it's Nintendo's turn and without jumping the gun too much, I think it's safe to assume that we will see some pretty amazing stuff from them as well.  First and foremost, we'll probably get to see the new Nintendo console, but I also think we'll see a lot of great games and maybe a few surprises.  At least I hope so.

Anyhow, it's now very early in the morning where I live and since I've been up all night watching E3 and since I plan on watching it tomorrow...  Wait, I mean, today as well, I think I better head off to bed and get some shut eye.  I hope you enjoyed my opinion on E3 so far and I hope you check back here tomorrow...  No, later today, for a new episode of the show and also a post on today's E3 conference.  Thanks for reading!  Bye!

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