E3 was last week, quiet affair, wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it. As low key and uncovered as this event was, quite a few people on the site were paying it attention. So rather than everyone flooding the site with their view and opinions of both E3 and the many games on show there, I thought we’d shove everyone’s views into on big article. Of course, organising something like this takes a bit of time and that’s my excuse for why it took me so long to get this article up on the site.
Me, Jon and Jacob gave our opinions of E3 in quite some depth in our last podcast, but now is the chance to get a few more opinions from us, as well as from the other writers you might recognise from the site.
Most Anticipated Release:- I’ve been waiting to get back in the boots of the Master Chief ever since I finished Halo 3 back in 2007 and with all that I saw from E3 I can not wait until November 6th so I can get my hands on this game.
Best of Show:- As a huge Halo fan I had my concerns as to whether 343 Industries was going to be able to fully carry the torch. Then when I saw the amazing footage from the game’s campaign at Microsoft’s press conference, with terrific looking new enemies and weapons as well as a really interesting story arch for Cortana, all of my concerns were put to rest. It was a really tough call but for me the slight edge goes to Halo 4.
Biggest Surprise:- While there are other surprises that left me more excited and that I was gladder to hear, I would have to say that my biggest surprise was Xbox SmartGlass. Not only was it really surprising that Microsoft had so quickly come up with a counter offering to the Wii-U’s Gamepad, but the fact that they didn’t limit this multi-device interaction to Microsoft branded products. They could have easily tried to push their phones and upcoming tablet by giving them the exclusive ability to interact with the 360, but instead they did it in the way that would please fans the most by allowing it on other devices including those owned by one of Microsoft’s biggest competitor’s, Apple.
Biggest Disappointment:- Not sure exactly how broad I can make this but I was disappointed in the Wii-U as a whole for not putting out any must have games aside from ones that have already been out for months on other consoles like Arkham City & Mass Effect 3 and acting like the little changes or additions warrant a second full price purchase. Also the lack of a price point and release date even for Japan was disappointing. On specific games though I was disappointed that they chose to do a classic 2D side-scrolling Mario game with New Super Mario Bros. U instead of giving us Super Mario Galaxy 3 or a completely new 3D Mario adventure using the Wii-U’s improved graphics. Especially since they have New Super Mario Bros. 2, which is really similar, coming to the 3DS.
Best of show:- My Best In Show award has got to be Ubisoft. They came out swinging with an awesome line-up, a partnership with every console developer, and a lot of live demos for their games to show how close they are to a finished product. Assassins Creed 3, FarCry 3, and Rayman Legends all got my attention, but Watch_Dogs was the star of the show. Everything they had on the table this week was brilliant, and it was impossible not to notice how much they kicked butt. Ubisoft all the way!
Most Anticipated Release:- I’m stuck in a tie here between The Last of Us for the PlayStation 3, and Ubisoft’s surprise hit Watch_Dogs which will be on PS3, Xbox 360, and I believe PC. Forced to choose one over the other, I’d go for Watch_Dogs.
Biggest Surprise:- Biggest surprise thus far is the games we didn’t see, especially from Nintendo. No Metroid, Legend of Zelda, or Star Fox for the Wii U, even as a basic display? No Smash Bros.? When Nintendo used to try and sell us their newest big consoles, it was all about lighting up the sky with their big name games…this year, it was all about social media, and crappy titles like Sing. La de da, wake me when it’s over.
Biggest disappointment:- Even if it was the absence of something rather than a bad showing. – The biggest disappointment, without a doubt, was Sony’s Wonderbook presentation; I wrote about it in my press conference recap, but I wasn’t necessarily joking about falling asleep during this part of the broadcast. The product looked very basic and unrefined, the demo team seemed like they had no idea what they were doing, and it just looked boring, which isn’t exactly a good sell. Maybe it will provide some great Edutainment for kids in the future, but for adult gamers? YAWN!
Best of show:- I think that the best of show was Ubisoft, simply because of its surprise that was Watch Dogs.
Most Anticipated Release:- Star Wars 1313
Biggest Surprise:- Watch Dogs
Biggest Disappointment:- Nintendo not giving a price for the Wii U and not showing more first party titles. Also Microsoft.
By far the standout game of the show so far, The Last of Us blew everyone away at the Sony press conference. Much to my disappointment though, Naughty Dog haven’t been forthcoming with much more information. Most of the stuff they talked about was to do with how the developed the game.
They did however, reveal that in the game’s post apocalyptic world, the military is still present, and their role is to shoot anyone who the even suspect might be infected with the virus that’s torn the world apart.
So what else did we find out about The Last of Us from the gameplay demo? Well first we now know that you’ll be playing as Joel from a 3rd person view. We also know that the game is challenging Battlefield 3 and Crysis 3 in terms of stunning graphics. As we see Joel and Ellie drop into a building through a window, the exceptional lighting and sound design are on full show. The devs have created an amazing looking world that manages to look beautiful despite being covered in wear and tear from that whole apocalypse thing.
The gameplay is just as jaw-dropping. We see the stealth mechanics on show and Naughty Dog’s approach to violence in the game. When Joel chokes out the first enemy, it’s brutal and prolonged. For all but the most desensitized, psychopathic gamers (me), it’s disturbing to watch as the supposed hero of the game gradually strangles the last of the life from the man’s body.
Very few games manage to bring any impact to their violence, but The Last of Us may do it better than any game we’ve ever seen. We also see the fantastic job that’s been done in making Ellie isn’t dead weight who’s only present to serve the story. In the gunfight that ensues, Joel gets clipped in the shoulder by a bullet. Ellie then asks him if he’s okay, to which Joel replies that he’s fine. It’s such a small act, but it’s huge in the sense that no other game has this kind of dynamic dialogue between characters mid-combat.
True to the survival image of the game, you have a very limited amount of rounds for your weapon. The player only fires half a dozen shots during the whole demo. When he runs dry, the gun clicks because it’s empty. The remaining enemy shouts that he heard the click and knows you’re out of ammo, at which point he charges you. Again, it’s such a small thing but this standard of AI is often taken for granted.
Here’s where we see Ellie really come into her own. Rather than cowering in the corner, she rushes in to save Joel, shouting “Hey Asshole!” before clocking the assailant in the face with a brick. It’s worth reminding you at this point, this isn’t a cutscene! Not even a pre-rendered one! this is all happening in real-time and it makes the characters so easy to relate to because they appear to be so real!
We get another reminder of this when Joel sets an man on fire with a Molotov cocktail. After seeing the man go up in flames, Ellie exclaims “Shit, Joel! amazed that her friend can bring himself to commit such a violent act, even in self-defense. Take notes games writers, I’ve never seen two characters with more personality than Joel and Ellie.
A moment later, when Joel is pinned by another assailant, Ellie takes it upon herself to draw her switchblade and come to his rescue, stabbing the man in the back of the shoulder. He knocks her away, but this gives Joel time to get free, grab the man’s shotgun and beat him to the floor with it. The man has a couple of seconds to beg for his life before Joel blows his face clean off with the weapon. This whole sequence left me, and the crowd, stunned. This is violence with meaning; something you don’t see much of in games. Joel and Ellie may be ‘the good guys’, but they know there’s no room for compassion and mercy in a world this dangerous.
Nothing could have prepared us for The Last of Us. I listed it as the most anticipated game of E3 and by fuck has it delivered.
Best of show:- I don’t think anyone but Ubisoft can get this title, like we said in the podcast. They had games out for every other platform and all of them looked brilliant. Their Wii-U games alone would make me buy a Wii-U not even counting all of the first party titles that they’ll be getting into as well. As for best of the console developers? This year should have belonged to Nintendo, they had a new console to show off while their competitors had very little to show this year.
The thing is though, I don’t think Nintendo wowed us as much as they could have this show, the pins were all lined up for them and they still bowled a split. Which isn’t to say that their show was bad, I had just hoped it had been better. Either way though, Sony and Microsoft didn’t have all too much to show off either, So I suppose Nintendo has to take it.
Most Anticipated Release:- I’m not really sure what to say on this one, there were plenty of games on show that turned my head, but none stuck out head and shoulders above the others. Star Wars 1313 looked cool, and as a Star Wars game it was bound to grab my attention, but there isn’t enough of it on show at the moment to really get me excited about it.
Aside from games I was already looking forward to, like Assassin’s Creed III, I’d have to say that the Nintendo games were the new announcements that got me interested. Like Scribblenauts Unlimited and the new Paper Mario Game. Mainly, I’m looking forward to the release of the Wii-U, can’t wait to get my hands on one of those.
Biggest Surprise:- My surpise comes from the fact that there were a lot of games I had expected to see but didn’t. No Super Smash Bros. No New Monster Hunter Details and no new Phoenix Wright. Maybe they were there, but they weren’t highlighted in any major light. I’m also surprised that Dead Space 3 is actually happening; a series I always thought would fall flat on its face after a lacklustre sequel.
Biggest Disappointment:- My biggest disappointment this year was how underwhelming E3 felt this year when compared to the previous years I’d watched it. It all seemed a little phoned in, even Nintendo, who should have had a killer showing, were just kind of meh. I was also hoping to see how much I would be paying for the Wii-U when it came out. the fact that they’re putting it off is a bad sign in my eyes.
Ubisoft really shone out as having the best and most interesting games on show while everyone else seemed to be holding it back. Which is probably exactly what was happening, based on that assumption, E3 2013 will be a mind blower.
Best of Show:- Since neither of the 3 console players really stood out for me, if possible I’d say Ubisoft stole the ‘King of Conferences’ crown. They showed good gameplay videos and even managed a really neat surprise or two. The on-stage banter was hit and miss, but the games more than made up for it.
Most Anticipated:- I’ll list three games that I’m personally looking forward to in order:
1) Watch Dogs: Game of show. Blockbuster announcement by Ubisoft. Some rumors even say it might be for ‘next-gen’ consoles. Either way, it looked epic. Loved the notion of using the ‘city’ as your sandbox to get things done. The demo shown was outstanding, and the gritty atmosphere suits my tastes well.
2) The Last of Us: Game looks like it’ll be a mix between action and survival. It looks like a slower paced game than Uncharted, but the chemistry and interaction between the two main characters looks like a winning formula.
3) Dead or Alive 5: While not shown at any conference, DOA5 is at E3 and the build at E3 is looking great. DOA is a divisive fighter amongst players, but the core changes incorporated into DOA5 look like great improvements while still managing to be over-the-top with it’s cast and stages. And we haven’t even seen tag matches yet.
Biggest Surprise:- Hands down, Watch Dogs. Excellent surprise from Ubisoft. Not much is surprising anymore it seems, what with most games at E3 already known for a while. But Watch Dogs is exactly the surprise the industry needs. It looks like a near futuristic open-world game reminding me of Deus Ex. The game could rival the GTA franchise, although no release date means it could be a while away.
Biggest Disappointment:- Lack of surprises. Whether it be the fact some games were announced earlier, or leaked just a week before E3 (Beyond: Two Souls), E3 this year felt lacking in terms of surprises. We don’t even know the Wii U pricing or proper specs yet (as of now). Coupled with the absence of other titles like The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy Versus XIII, again it felt lacking in surprises.
Final Thoughts:- I don’t personally mind that ‘next-gen’ isn’t here yet, as I still feel fine with what is currently available. Watch Dogs provided the biggest impact so far at E3 for me. Of the console conferences, I’d say I preferred Sony’s mostly because there were some small surprises and exclusives mentioned. Microsoft only had Halo 4, whilst Nintendo didn’t convince the non-Nintendo gamer in me. It will be interesting though to see if Microsoft adopts the SmartGlass app and uses it in the same way the Wii U is looking to, ie. having games display on your tablet/smartphone as an adjunct to the TV. It may steal some thunder from Nintendo.
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