Tuesday, 12 June 2012

E3 2012: Well that was a let down

PhotobucketE3 is over and we’ve had the weekend to reflect on the busy flurry of gaming news and trailers. I’m not alone in thinking that this year’s event was largely an unmemorable one. As I said last week, the show stealers were Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Other than that it was a lot of stuff we had seen last year, or largely unimaginative takes on several titles we’ve seen before, just with a 3 or a 4 tagged on the end.

So what was E3 2012 good for? I’m not entirely sure really, but I’m not going to write one of those rants asking about E3’s purpose and if it is necessary. I think it’s a glitzy, overly-expensive mega-venue to announce and showcase the biggest and best titles of the next year. As an attention drawing podium it can’t really get much bigger. It’s great for building hype and passion for new games during an annual spectacle that should be a treasure trove of greatness for anyone with a passing interest in games.

Unfortunately it wasn’t used in this way at all this year. Microsoft waffled on about sports and non-games related games console services and Nintendo went crazy and told us nothing we didn’t know about the Wii U last year. Sony brought more of a games focus to the table, but didn’t really shock or surprise us with anything new. I won’t lie, I’m not a big fan of Quantic Dream’s games and so Beyond: Two Souls didn’t twist my happy glands in the same way it has for a lot of other people. The demo still looked impressive though.

I feel that E3 2012 was just a massive wasted opportunity. I know that the Internet has made the world smaller and can make announcements just as big as those made on a giant show floor, but it still lacks the wow factor that a big event like E3 can convey. If the game giants like Nintendo and Microsoft aren’t going to utilise opportunities such as E3 to drop bombshells of awe and spectacle, should they even bother attending such events? Nintendo did a really bad job this year. They basically said “The Wii U is still a thing that you will see one day and we have changed the controller slightly.” With no hint of even a price or release date, Nintendo can’t be surprised that the reception to their virtual fireworks finale was a limp as a wet crisp.

It’s around this time of year when analysts, bloggers and devs start to wheel out the old ‘do we really need E3?’ arguments. I say that we do need it because it gives us something to look forward to in terms of potentially ground shaking technological reveals in games. I just think we need to review if we actually need to have Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony in attendance if they are just going to waste time.

If Reggie Fils-Aime genuinely thought that he was presenting a strong Nintendo conference this year, I think the company needs a restructuring. It was like watching an uncle retelling Christmas cracker jokes from last year.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Salvaging the positives from E3

PhotobucketDisappointment is a word that goes hand-in-hand with the aftermath of most E3 events, and this year is no exception. With everyone’s cards on the table it was disappointing to see that the winning hand only had a high card, with nothing earth shattering coming to the surface. The big three really left me feeling hollow inside, all seemingly wasting their big opportunity to drive excitement.

Sony’s The Last of Us gameplay was great and really has me pumped for the game, but that was it. Microsoft talked about a lot of things which seem remarkably unmemorable and Nintendo had with their wondrous Nintendo Land finale that went down like a sack of meat at a vegan convention. Even though the big players introduced next to nothing, there are still a few things to be excited about.

Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs was the surprise hit of the show for me, with the gameplay demo completely stealing my interest. The seamless on-the-go hacking gameplay is completely new, incorporated into an original IP that seems to have borrowed elements from some of the best games. I really can’t wait to see more of it.

As I mentioned above, the E3 gameplay demo for The Last of Us impressed the socks and trousers off of me. The dynamic enemy reactions to protagonist Joel were quite amazing, and it also looks like the first adventure game in a while where ammo conservation and a tactical approach are a must. My only concern is that the demo didn’t make it very clear how much was scripted. The action and encounters looked a little too good and natural for it to be completely unscripted gameplay. I would love more than anything to be wrong, but I am slightly sceptical.

I don’t think the E3 CG trailer did Assassin’s Creed 3 much justice, but the gameplay Ubisoft showed off seemed very promising. It looks significantly different from past Assassin’s Creed games, but still keeps the elements that worked in previous titles. Ezio’s accent has also worn the tread off of my brain, so it’s nice to finally have a new central character.

Aside from the non-shows put on by Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, the biggest let down of E3 was Splinter Cell Blacklist. I loved Conviction and Ubisoft just needed to do more of the same. Instead, they’ve pissed away the last remnants of stealth and made it into a generic shooter clone to please the Call of Duty crowed. I’m really not happy with it. Also, Michael Ironside is gone yet Sam Fisher remains. If you’re going to cut out his voice box you might as well kill the character all together. It would have worked a lot better if they introduced a new protagonist, rather than having the same Fisher with a younger voice.

E3 is drawing to an end now, but it’s left us with a lot to think about. Namely, when does Watch Dogs come out? Will Hitman Absolution actually be good? And does Nintendo care about its fans or investors?

Saturday, 2 June 2012

E3 excitement rising

PhotobucketAs I’ve already written an E3 speculation blog this one will merely serve as my anticipation builder before the inevitable wave of disappointment and talk of wasted opportunities that will likely follow. Despite usually feeling let down by the mammoth gaming megatron E3 sets out to be, I never fail to build up excitement like a dog longing for a meat and biscuit buffet.

Snippets that have leaked so far all look promising. Well, apart from that Hitman: Absolution trailer. It was awesome cool and action pumped; exactly what the Hitman games are not about. Not in my eyes anyway, although we’ve all been guilty of equipping the pimped out assault weapons and gunning down rooms full of anything with eyes and a smile, just to vent the frustration of all the failed ‘perfect hit’ attempts. However, the E3 demo preview over at CVG has slightly restored my faith in the potential sneakiness the game will offer, so I’m really looking forward to some proper gameplay footage next week.

What I don’t understand is the over-analysis of the nuns with guns featured so prominently in the trailer. Many femme-journos and a few of their male kin have been speaking out about the over sexualisation of gunning down ladies clad in sexy leather outfits. Have these people never seen Saints Row, GTA or upcoming zombie slayer Lollipop Chainsaw? The combination of violence, boobs and skimpy attire is nothing new to any media, and this whole uproar just seems like a pointless punch thrown to stir up controversy. I bet the chauvinistic pig men that put that trailer together are laughing at the tremendous publicity hive being shaken.

Other pre E3 leaks that make my trousers rise above my ankles include the mention of Splinter Cell: Black List, Gears of War: Judgement and Star Wars 1313. While they aren’t fresh settings, the tiny information nuggets dropped thus far suggest they might be trying something new. Talking of new things though, I’m hoping for a long look into Naughty Dog’s sans-Drake adventure The Last of Us. In fact, I’d be very happy not to see the much loved Nathan Drake at E3. I’m happy to give him a break.

So with the major platform holder conferences taking place on Monday and Tuesday we’ve got a fun week ahead of us. It’s nice they coincide with the Queen’s 60 year throne shenanigan holiday days. It means a lot of us get to step away from the tangles of bunting and flag memorabilia to indulge in gaming news as it happens. Although I’m sure only the dedicated will be up for Sony’s 2 am Tuesday slot. Happy E3 everyone!