Conference Call

My internet connection has been giving me real problems of late, which has made this piece a little later than I would have wanted. Alas.

That magic week in worldwide gaming news has already come and gone for another year. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for the affectionate/professional/lazy, delivered less surprises than in past years, but there was still plenty to talk about. The aftermath has been dissected a million ways already. Chief among the topics of conversation, as always, were the five big press conferences. Here I throw in my 2c on them by ranking them in terms of how strong I thought they were, from least to most.

E A
Link: here
What they showed: Some standard sports game stuff, Dead Space 3, the new SimCity, Crysis 3, Medal of Honor Warfighter
Highlight: Crysis 3
Impressive-ness: Nothing really got me at the EA conference, although if I was a SimCity fan I would probably be pretty excited at how that game is shaping up. Crysis 3 looks incredible but I ain’t got no good PC to get the most out of it and all that. I always play a fair bit of FIFA in some form or other every year, so I’m keen for 13. Medal of Honor looks like it might be able to take on Call of Duty, but so did the last reboot of the series and it flopped. I’mma stay away from the scary Dead Space 3, please.

N i n t e n d o
Link: here
What they showed: A tough one to break down, since they technically had four big conferences at E3 2012, but at the “main one” it was a whole bunch of Wii U stuff, chief among them Pikmin 3, New Super Mario Bros U, Wii Fit U, Batman Arkham City: Armored EditionLego City Undercover, ZombiU and Nintendo Land.
Highlight: Shigeru Miyamoto on stage to show off Pikmin 3
Impressive-ness: A disappointment for most. thanks largely to the predictability of the reveals, the amount of time devoted to updates of older games (see Armored Edition) and perceived casual games (see Wii Fit U, Nintendo Land), the lack of a brand new announcement of a fresh entry in a big Nintendo franchise, as well as the absence of price and release date information for the Big N’s new home console. But Nintendo’s online drip-feed of information has been more consistent of late and so maybe they don’t quite hold E3 as highly in their news release schedule than they once did. For me personally, the 3DS Showcase conference later in the show was far more impressive.

M i c r o s o f t
Link: here
What they showed: Halo 4, a whole bunch of third party stuff i.e. Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Tomb RaiderSouth Park: The Stick of Truth and CoD: Black Ops 2, a new tablet-syncing feature called SmartGlass, a LOT of Kinect-related filler
Highlight: South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone arriving on stage to take the piss out of Microsoft’s rambling
Impressive-ness: The conference could scarcely have opened better, with a super-impressive Halo 4 demo onscreen for a fair while. Usher dancing felt kind of out of place, as those Just Dance demos kind of tend to do. SmartGlass looked interesting and seems to be clearly inspired by the Wii U’s GamePad, with some quite different implications. Tomb Raider and South Park look even more impressive now than when they were first announced. The Kinect fitness stuff etc etc dragged the conference way down, especially the lengthy Nike segment, and the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 demo was hardly impressive enough to make up for it. Show me multiplayer stuff already!

S o n y
Link: here
What they showed: Beyond: Two Souls, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, FarCry 3, Assassin’s Creed 3, Assassin’s Creed Liberation, a new accessory called Wonderbook, The Last of Us
Highlight: The Last of Us
Impressive-ness: The Playstation conference was defined by its opening and closing games. Kicking off with the next game from Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream was a masterstroke, as was finishing with the mightily impressive The Last of Us. Spending so much time on new PS3 accessory “Wonderbook” was not quite so smart, even if J.K. Rowling’s new Harry Potter game/book thing was used to show it off. Naval warfare in AC3 looked incredible, but outside an Assassin’s Creed announcement there wasn’t much in the way of Playstation Vita announcements. Disappointing, especially since all that was shown of the portable CoD Black Ops Declassified was a logo. Still, out of the “Big 3” games hardware companies, Sony probably had the most impressive overall showing.

U b i s o f t
Link: here
What they showed: FarCry 3, Assassin’s Creed 3, Just Dance 4, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, ZombiU, Rayman Legends, Watch_Dogs
Highlight: Watch_Dogs
Impressive-ness: It’s normally quite odd to see a games publisher take top honours at an E3, but Ubisoft really brought the goods in 2012. They dispensed with the awful Mr Caffeine from 2011 and brought two hosts with solid online reputations, then proceeded to show game after awesome-looking game. Their strong presence at all of the “Big 3” conferences was backed up by awesome looks at the new Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell games as well as one of the most impressive Wii U demos of the whole show in Rayman Legends. Their killer punch was an unveiling of one of the only true surprises of E3 2012, Watch_Dogs. The tech-focused espionage action game looks to do a host of clever things and is perhaps more relevant to today’s digital world than anything else shown at E3. Bravo.

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