Tuesday, 5 June 2012

E3 2012: Day 1 Thoughts

Hello, everybody and welcome back to the site! Well, as you may or may not have noticed, I've been absent from this site for quite a while and I haven't had any updates in a long, LONG time. For anyone who have been waiting for new content, I humbly apologise and I assure you that new episodes are coming very soon. You might be wondering what happened though and while there definitely were reasons, both acceptable and not, I won't go into detail about that now. You see, I plan on discussing it in the next update for the site when I will also release a new (regular) episode, so please just bear with me and you'll get an explanation then. In any case, I am extremely sorry for the INSANELY long wait and I assure you that new episodes will be coming relatively soon.

Right now, though, I'm here to talk about E3. Yes, today marked the beginning of what is arguably the biggest gaming event of the year and seeing as I gave you my opinions about E3 last year, I thought it only appropriate of me to deliver my thoughts this year as well. I'll do it pretty much the same way I did last time, but I decided to also talk a little bit about the actual coverage by GameTrailers and SpikeTV and their show as that is how I watched the event. I won't talk about it in great detail or anything, but I just wanted to point out a few things, both good and bad, that I noticed while watching so without any further ado, let's get started with a look at the actual E3 coverage show provided by GameTrailers and SpikeTV!

GAMETRAILERS/SPIKETV'S E3 2012 ALL ACCESS LIVE SHOW

Overall, I think GT (GameTrailers) did a pretty good job. The stream worked fairly well, although I did have a few issues. The stream kept stopping to buffer and before you say it, it wasn't because my internet connection was slow, I tested it! I'm not sure if it was just because of high activity on the site, which there definitely was, or if it was the actual video player or whatever, but I very rarely received a high bitrate. I don’t think I can blame too much of that on GT and I did manage to see everything without missing anything important, so overall it wasn't all that bad. There were some other minor issues at times, but for the most part, there weren't really a lot of technical issues, which there definitely could've been for something like this.

When it comes to the presenters, I think the main guy, Geoff Keighly, did a very good job. He seemed natural and energetic and he knew what he was doing. The same could be said for most of the other people involved as well, although I did feel that Amanda McKay was a bit phoney and awkward. She just didn't come of as natural and she made a few mistakes a few times, like looking in the wrong camera at the wrong time and fumbling her lines which she clearly read of a Teleprompter or something. She wasn't dreadful or anything and it wasn't like she was distracting, but I just think she could have been a bit better.

Apart from that, there wasn't much to complain about. The overall show and coverage was very well done and they had some pretty nice and exclusive trailers and gameplay videos. The interviews were also very well done and they delivered pretty much all of the info they could and that you would want. The only other minor complaint I have has to do with the commercials. I know this was a SpikeTV coverage as well, but I have to say that some of the commercials and by extension shows featured in them, just seemed really out of place for something like this. They just didn't have anything to do with games, gaming or the games industry AT ALL! I guess you could argue that they don't have to, but I still found it noticeable. Besides, I've heard other people mention this in regard to other SpikeTV gaming-stuff before so I don't think I'm alone in my opinion on this. Overall, though, GT did a very good job and I think they can be proud of themselves. I just hope they can repeat their performance when E3 continues tonight and also that maybe the stream will be a bit more stable.

MICROSOFT

So, the actual show got on the road with Microsoft and I have to say that I was expecting a lot more from these guys. Oh, it could have been worse, much, MUCH worse, but I still thought Microsoft would produce a lot more than they did.

Let's start with the good beginning with the reveal of the new Splinter Cell game subtitled Blacklist. This game looks awesome! It puts Sam Fisher back on the battlefield in his traditional sneaking gear and gives him, or rather you, the ability to perform some pretty impressive moves. You can sneak up and kill a guy simply and silently by stabbing him in the throat or you can run up and assassinate several baddies by shooting them in slow-motion or you can “tag” them and take them down in succession that way. There are plenty of other ways to handle the bad guys and they all look like really great fun! One thing I personally thought was fairly pointless was the inclusion of Kinect voice-recognition. You could use this to shout something and distract nearby guards and such and I guess it works, but I'm just wondering why you would need Kinect for that. Couldn't you just use a headset or alternatively just press a button to make Sam shout? Either way, Splinter Cell Blacklist was definitely one of the highlights of this conference.

Then there was the gameplay presentation of the new, rebooted Tomb Raider which actually looked pretty damn good! It showed how you will be able to use a bow and arrow and it featured some really intense and exciting action-pieces. It also showed off some pretty spectacular environments which Lara will occasionally have to traverse in some fairly hazardous ways. For instance, there was a point where Lara was being dragged down a river and off a waterfall only to land in a plain where she quickly had to put on a parachute before the window she was lying on broke and then she had to fly down a forest while trying to avoid the trees and branches! Talk about intense! This definitely seems to be miles above the previous Tomb Raider titles, which, granted, wouldn't really take much, but overall this looks amazing! Personally, it reminded me a bit of the Uncharted games, but since those games kind of borrowed certain ideas from this series first, I don't think you can say this ripped it off, although I certainly believe they drew some inspiration from Mr. Drake's adventures, which in my opinion, isn't really a bad thing.

The final game worth talking about from this conference is South Park: The Stick of Truth. Fuck yeah, this looks brilliant! It seems to capture the mood and humour of the show perfectly and it looks to be a great and fun game! You'll apparently play as “the new kid” who's trying to become the fifth kid in South Park's special little group. In order to prove yourself worthy, you'll be going with them on an epic adventure fighting crab people, giants and much, much more, or at least, so it seems. This game will most likely be awesome and Matt Parker and Trey Stone, the creators of the TV series, did a great job presenting the game and telling us a little about it. I'm really looking forward to this one!

Other than that, there wasn't really all that much to talk about. There wasn't really anything all that horrible about the rest of the show, maybe apart from the presentation of Call of Duty Black Ops 2 which in my opinion was so brown and unappealing that they might as well have called it Shit-Shooter, but everything was just fairly uninteresting. Okay, so the Xbox 360 becoming more cross platform capable with the new Smartglass feature was pretty interesting and it was also nice to hear that we'll finally be getting a web-browser for it, all be it the worst one around in my opinion (read Internet Explorer), but it just wasn't what I was expecting to hear about. There weren't really any big surprises or huge reveals and it just felt like Microsoft really missed an opportunity to psyche people up for what they have coming up. Then again, maybe the reason it felt like that was because they really don't have all that many great things to look forward to as of yet and this was really all they could do.

In any case, I think Microsoft could and should have done a lot more and overall, their conference was a really big disappointment. Maybe I'm being to picky, but I still think Microsoft really did a poor job this year. Sorry, guys, but even getting Usher to promote Dance Central 3 for you didn't improve this stinker. Better luck next time.

EA

And here I thought Microsoft did a poor job! This press briefing felt like a fucking insult! There was virtually nothing, absolutely NOTHING of value in this piss-stained excuse of a show! Okay, so maybe I'm being a little harsh, but there seriously wasn't that much to talk about here.

Anyway, let's start by looking at the very few things that were okay and trust me, this won't take long. In my opinion, there were three noteworthy presentations at this briefing. First there was Dead Space 3 which looks to be a pretty decent game, but they have clearly removed all semblance of having anything to do with the horror genre! I always maintained that although the Dead Space games might have had moments that were creepy and/or somewhat scary and they definitely had jump-out scares, they were still fucking action shooters, not fucking horror games like so many people claimed and with the third game in the series, they're not even pretending any more! This is as clear an example of an action game that you can get and you know what? That actually makes it seem much better! It means that it won't be surrounded by this horror-game-wannabe bullshit that the previous games had, but it might still have some creepy and unsettling moments. I don't really have much else to say about it except that I think it looks good and I also thought the sequence they showed of the protagonist going through a huge beast's digestive system was pretty unique and interesting. This seems like a definite improvement of the franchise!

Then we had Medal of Honor: Warfighter and I have to admit, this was actually pretty impressive. I did find it a bit too grey in terms of visuals and it wasn't really that interesting in terms of gameplay or setting, but the graphics were fucking incredible! I don't think I've seen a more impressive physics engine in my life and since I don't usually care that much about that sort of thing, that should tell you how impressive it really was! Being able to shoot a cement block and actually have very small pieces and fragments of it break off pretty much exactly how they would in real life is just spectacular! Very impressive graphically, but sadly a bit dull in terms of gameplay.

Lastly, there was Crysis 3 which, again was very impressive graphically. It didn't hold a candle to Medal of Honor in terms of physics, but the visuals were FAR more interesting and vibrant. The animations were also very well made although there was something rather strange about the arm animations when the character was swimming. It might just be that watching how arms moves while swimming especially in an FPS just looks weird, but I still think there was something off there. Crysis 3 still looks to be a pretty good game, though and although I'm not all that sure how much I personally will enjoy it, this looks like it's going to be among the best FPS games there are!

Other than that, EA really didn't bring a lot to the table. They presented their new line-up of sports-games which, yet again basically boil down to a series of fucking upgrades disguised as brand new, full-price games and somehow EA seems strangely and stupidly proud of that fact! They're also re-releasing Need for Speed: Most Wanted which in all fairness is somewhat revamped and updated and probably will be fairly decent, but it just comes off as really lazy and it's the exact same thing we've seen this series do a bazillion times already! They're also starting a yearly run of UFC games that will undoubtedly rip-off gamers the exact same way their other sports titles do and there is a new Sim City game coming out which honestly doesn't look all that bad, but it's just not that interesting.

Overall, it just seems like EA isn't even trying any more. They're not even going to entertain the idea that the things people say about them might be a bit unfair, because this year, they basically adhered to every single complaint anyone has ever had about them: They only release sequels, they don't take any risks, they only think about the money, they're lazy and so on and so forth. I'm sorry, but EA, you really need to clean up your fucking act because this is just fucking sad!

UBISOFT

Now, this was a good conference, a REALLY good conference! In fact, it was probably the highlight of the day! Okay, so there were some not-so-great moments, but overall, this was really fucking good!

Let's look at the few bad things first, starting with the fucking unbearably awful and insanely annoying banter or “humorous” back and forth between the host, Aisha Tyler, and the co-host or sidekick, Tobuscus! Dear fuck in hell did I want to beat the living shit out of that annoying fuck-wad after a while! Okay, so maybe Tyler fed into it a bit more than she should have, but I'm sorry, the problem was undeniably that fucking ass-hat of a so-called co-host! Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but I honestly hated the extremely bad banter this guy tried to present. FUCKING FAIL!!!

Secondly, there was the Shootmania presentation. The game itself looked pretty decent, but the presentation was just weird and didn't really seem to be about the game at all. You see, instead of doing a standard presentation, they decided to go for a live competition between to e-sports teams which sort of put the focus more on the teams and the e-sports industry. I really don't know what they're intentions were with this thing, but it definitely didn't work. It was just... WEIRD!

The rest of the conference was pretty damn good! The showed of great game after great game and the host did a very good job! The first big announcement was the reveal of Farcry 3 which looked pretty damn awesome! Although I'm not really a huge fan of the FPS genre, even I have to admit that this game looks fucking awesome! Of all the FPS games shown and maybe even all the shooters overall, this was by FAR the best looking of the bunch! Not only was the graphics very good, but the visuals were so colourful and vibrant with a lush, tropical island setting. It was just SO much more appealing than almost anything else shown thus far and it felt like a really huge breath of fresh air. Apart from the visuals, the overall concept and setting was actually pretty intriguing as well. It all revolves around the main character slipping into insanity while his enemy also does the same, sort of blurring the line between the hero and the villain, as you're not quite sure who actually is the insane one or if maybe they're both insane! Okay, so it might be somewhat generic in terms of actual gameplay, but overall, this was just really impressive!

We also got a preview of a new Rayman game called Rayman Legends. It basically looked like a sequel to Rayman Origins and it will be available for the WiiU. It features the ability to use the WiiU gamepad's touchscreen to control the character which even though it seemed a bit inconvenient at times, still looked like a decent addition. You can also use the newly unveiled WiiU Pro controller or a Wiimote and nunchuck, all depending on what you prefer. This looks like a great game with a lot of intense and wonderful platforming awesomeness and I can't wait to play it!

Then there was what I thought for a while would be the biggest presentation of the day, possibly of the entire expo, Assassin's Creed III! THIS... WAS... FAN...FUCKING...TASTIC! Don't get me wrong, there could still be a ton of awful shit in this game, but based on what they showed us here, this is going to be amazing! It will be available on the WiiU and the new setting of the American civil war era, the new environments, the new weapons and attacks and basically everything else just looked brilliant! This could easily be the best of the franchise and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it won several “Best of E3” awards. This was undeniably the best thing shown so far and it would be VERY difficult to top!

At least that's what I thought until the very end of Ubisoft's conference when they revealed a brand new IP called Watch Dogs! I can only say one thing about this game; Un-FUCKING-beliavable! This is exactly what E3 is all about! An unexpected reveal of a brand new game that just happens to be one of the most interesting and compelling things announced at the entire expo! Watch Dogs seems to be a type of action/adventure/thriller/mystery game set in a world where a new computer system basically controls almost everything. You play as someone who apparently has managed to hack the system and can therefore manipulate it to do anything form disabling cell-phone-grids to set of missile attacks. In the footage shown, we got to see our protagonist knocking out cell-phones, knocking out some guy with hand-to-hand combat, and engaging in a shoot-out in between some cars in the street. All of this looked very interesting and the game had a very mysterious atmosphere leaving us to wonder a lot about the actual story and about what exactly is going on! This simply blew me away and I can not wait to hear more about it. BRILLIANT!

In addition to those things, we were also told about a new Zombie game for the WiiU stupidly enough called... Ugh.... Zombi U and a new Marvel game called The Avengers: Battle for Earth. Both games looks like they could be pretty decent, but we didn't really get any actual gameplay footage of them, just some pre-rendered images and cutscenes. Overall though, this was a fucking spectacular conference, way better than ANY of the previous one which is actually saying quite a lot. I mean, this was “just” Ubisoft and they managed to give us a MUCH better conference than even fucking Microsoft! That's just unbelievable, but at least for this year, it's also very, VERY true!

SONY

So, now we come to the final conference of the day, Sony's conference and you know what? They weren't the best ones! No, seriously, they did a very good job overall, but in my opinion, they didn't quite manage to outshine Ubisoft. They definitely had some pretty neat things up their sleeve, but they also had a few problems.

Firstly, the presentation of Sony's new brawler called Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale just left me feeling embarrassed. This is such a blatant copy of Super Smash Bros. that it's not even funny! I mean, there was nothing, abso-fucking-lutely nothing different about it, it's the same fucking game! Okay, so it obviously has different characters and levels and it still looks like it will be a lot of fun, but who the fuck are you kidding? THIS IS FUCKING SMASH BROS.! The display, the battle system, the interactive levels, the moves, they're all pretty much the exact same thing! It might end up being extremely good, maybe even better than the actual Smash Bros. games, but either way, this is just embarrassing!

Next, there was the somewhat intriguing, but overall just too “casual” and unnecessary Wonderbook. This is basically a book that when read by the Playstation Eye camera, becomes an interactive book that allows you to play games and travel around virtual worlds in an augmented reality setting using the Playstation Move. As I said, I did find this somewhat interesting and I can definitely see younger kids and very casual gamers being interested in something like this, but overall it just seemed a bit useless. I mean, not only will this have a pretty limited market to begin with, but it probably won't always work that well and I can guarantee you that it will be way too picky about the moves you have to make in order to do stuff and it probably won't always want to read the book properly. In fact, they did have some issues getting it to work properly even during the demo! Also, isn't it going to be a bit inconvenient to have to set up all of this stuff properly in the middle of an average living room? Seriously, for the demo, the people playing it sat on the floor almost directly in front of the screens. How the hell is that going to work in peoples homes? I guess Wonderbook does have potential and it could turn out to be pretty decent, but as of now, I'm not convinced.

Other than that, I also thought Sony used a bit too much time talking about PSN, cross-play and Playstation Suite, now named Playstation Mobile. I guess they kind of needed to mention that stuff, but I think they could have shortened it and it really wasn't that interesting either way. However, Sony did manage to deliver a lot of very cool stuff as well starting with the announcement of Quantic Dream's new game called Beyond: Two Souls. It stars Ellen Paige as the protagonist who has a strange connection with some sort of supernatural entity and it seems to be a somewhat action-oriented, horror/mystery/adventure type game. The opening scene that was shown was very impressive and had a very suspenseful and somewhat creepy atmosphere that made it seem like this is going to be an extremely great game!

Sony also showed off footage from God of War: Ascension which will probably turn out to be pretty damn good overall, but I don't know, I didn't think it looked all that impressive. Don't get me wrong, it looked like a good game and the graphics, although slightly too brown, were very good, but it didn't exactly bring anything new to the table. It looked like the exact same thing we've seen before. There's not necessarily anything wrong with that, but I would've liked it to have something new. By the way, the GT stream went really screwy during this presentation. During the demo, the audio suddenly switched over to the audio from the commercial breaks and it stayed like that for a pretty long time. This, obviously, distracted from the actual demo quite a bit, but I don't think the audio would have changed my opinion of the game that much. In any case, God of War: Ascension will probably be decent, but it just didn't really "wow" me that much.

Finally, there was the demo of Naughty Dog's new game, The Last of Us. This, once again proves why Naughty Dog is one of the greatest companies in the gaming industry, it looks fucking outstanding! Taking place in what seems like a post-apocalyptic world that Naughty Dog still manages to make sort of appealing, at least visually, The Last of Us features what I would describe as survival-gameplay. I originally thought this would be some sort of zombie game, but in this new footage, the protagonist and his partner make their way through a dilapidated building where they have to fight off a bunch of hostile people wielding various weapons. There may still be some sort of zombie creatures in the game, but it seems to be more about surviving in a world where everyone fights each other over the probably sparse resources of this world. I might be way off on that assumption, but I think I'm at least in the ballpark. Either way, the game will most likely rock and I definitely think it lives up to Naughty Dog's usually high standards!

Apart from that, there was a Playstation Vita exclusive Assassin's Creed game, subtitled Liberation, announced, some pretty cool sea and ship travelling and battling sequences in Assassin's Creed III were shown and a four-player co-op mode in Farcry 3 was revealed. Overall, Sony did pretty well and although it wasn't exactly thrilling all the way through, Jack Tretton managed to still make it pretty interesting and he definitely held my attention, which is more than I can say for certain other presenters. The conference was still a bit on the “meh” side of things, but Sony managed to put on a generally pretty decent show. Nicely done, guys!

SUMMARY

So, with the first day of E3 over with, I'm really anxious to see what Nintendo have planned for tonight. I don't know if they'll be brilliant, but I anticipate that they will be among the best this year, maybe even “winning” altogether. As for this first day, I found it okay. Not fantastic, not awful, just okay. Oh, there were some really, really, REALLY good moments, but there were also some really disappointing and really bad moments making the overall experience pretty underwhelming. I was disappointed that there weren't any news on Beyond Good & Evil 2, The Last Guardian or Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time to name a few, but things could have been a lot worse. In closing, I would say that EA was the worst, Microsoft is third, Sony is second and the best of the day was Ubisoft. The best game of the day was probably The Last of Us although I really liked Watch Dogs, Beyond: Two Souls and Assassin's Creed III as well, so if either of those were to “win” E3, I'd say it was deserved.

Well, that's it for my E3 opinions so far. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and please return here tomorrow for my views on the second and last day of E3 conferences in 2012! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get some sleep before the show continues. Bye!

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