Well the dust is still settling from the opening keynotes of E3 2012 and in fact there are more announcements and revelations still going on. With the big 5 over, I thought I would put together my reactions to the keynotes from the opening 36 hours.
Overall this has been a good E3 in my opinion we have had substantial service developments from multiple companies, a new console, a raft of excellent look sequels and some killer new brands announced. I was worried that this year was going to be quite disappointing with a lot of big sequels already announced, either at last years E3 or over the previous 12 months. This made me concerned that we might just have new trailers relating to those games, which while good to see progress can get a little stale. I was pleasantly surprised and we saw, I think, an almost perfect balance between new and returning.
I’m just going to stick to the highlights in this entry. If I don’t cover something you want to talk about, stick it in the comments.
So my highlights from the big press conferences that opened E3 2012.
First of all comes Microsoft’s SmartGlass for the XBox360. This is a service that looks to combine tablets and smartphones with the console experience. The general gist of it seems to be that it is the main selling point of the WiiU without the need for extra hardware (assuming you already have a table or smartphone or both.) The example shown was that it can be used to pull up extra information or control the game in a different way. Specifics were in Halo 4 upon reaching a waypoint the table flashed up with extra info about the environment and location the player found them self in. It was also demoed that game invites can appear and be accepted from the tablet. The smartphone example they gave was the ability to use it as a track pad to control the new XBox live internet browser. All in all this seems like a cool add on and almost a direct response to some of the functionality of the WiiU, it does make me a little jealous that i don’t have an XBox.
The other stand out points were mainly the games on offer. Some exclusives, sequels and some new IP’s that look exciting.
The game i am probably the most excited about was the announcement of ‘Watch Dogs’. This is a new IP that is being touted as multi-platform, consoles and PC. The basic premise is that you play a character who is part of an organisation that can hack into the computer systems that control cities. So the network that controls bridges, traffic lights, water, etc.. In the demo the player sneaks into a club by cutting out communications in an area, scans the people in the club for personal information, makes his way outside and causes a car crash by meddling with the traffic lights, and in the extended version he proceeds to escape by jumping over a bridge he has triggered to open to prevent followers. It looks really good and the potential flexibility using the hacking system really interests me. It seems to have a very GTA inspired style, big open world, violence, car jacking and all the usual bells and whistles. I guess one reservation i have is that there is the potential for the solutions to missions being very scripted, this would drain the excitement from the premise. If the developers give the player a chance to be creative i think this game could have huge success. I’m certainly excited.
Another new IP i was excited about was ‘The Last of Us’, this is a survival based game in which you play a man in an abandoned city escorting a small girl around. The demonstration given seemed to suggest a shortage of weapon ammo, so combats would be a mixture of firefight, melee and stealth based takedowns. The ability to ‘craft’ items was shown, in game a bottle and a cloth were mixed to make a molotov cocktail. This grabbed my interest , a good survival game is always fun, especially if it was that promotes the balancing of strategies through careful thought. When mentioning this to some of my friends i was told that is almost identical to an older game, although i can’t remember the name of it. If it rings any bells feel free to let me know. I might even do a 60s review of it.
Quantic Dream revealed their new project as well. This was ‘Beyond:Two Souls’, this was revealed with a very creepy trailer in which a women in questioned at a police station. It was very atmospheric and culminated in apparent poltergeist activity and then the arrival of a SWAT team. The first thing that struck me was the quality of the graphics present in game, but then this is a follow up to Heavy Rain so i guess it was to be expected. I have subsequently seen another trailer of this game, in that one it played up the supernatural element, and it was made clear that you possess the ability to wield these powers, i felt this diminished it slightly but not enough to disinterest me. It will still be interesting to see where it goes. Not only that but it has prompted me to play Heavy Rain which i have been told is excellent and still haven’t got round to playing.
That about covers the new IP’s which takes us on to sequels. There were 3 that really stood out. One of these is Simcity, i am extremely excited about this but i’m not going to talk about it to much. I am going to plan some stuff around the launch of that, maybe some pre-launch plays of the precursors, 60s reviews and all sorts of other goodness.
The other 2 are Assassins Creed 3 and God of War:Ascension. These stood out for different reasons. Assassins Creed i was not excited about at all, not only that but it’s been announced a while and i think it was shown in 3 of the 5 conferences. It looked dull, there i said it, sorry if you are a fan but that’s what i thought. They showed some gameplay of you stalking through a snowy forest, being attacked by wolves and then an assault on a fort, and it just looked a little dull and samey, and i was not interested. Then Sony showed it, now it’s not because i’m a Sony fanyboy (i am a bit, but ignore that for now), but my opinion changed. The reason it changed was that they showed something new. They showed part of the game that involved commanding a boat in the Caribbean, this section had navigation and broadsides as well as up close and personal boarding operations. It was something that was new and fresh and it looked really cool. It was mentioned that there was a dynamic weather system that could change at will (surprise surprise it changed at that moment of the demo, coincidence?), and that was shown as the nice calm blue waters turned grey and almost mountainous swells rose and fell. That clip was enough to awaken my interest in the franchise and i will be watching it more closely than i previously was.
This leaves us with God of War:Ascension. Now don’t get me wrong i love God of War, i have played the PS2/3 versions not the handheld ones and loved them. One of my favourite series of games without a shadow of doubt and i am super excited about the new one. That being said, i have to admit…i was a little disappointed (please forgive me o mighty Kratos). The reason i was disappointed was that it’s the same, and i think after 3 games same needs to change. The first one sets the tone/scene/style, the second one develops that/experiments with ideas and the 3rd one nails it shows off the polish (It must be noted that the Metal Gear Solid series is the exception to this, it needed 4 and 4 was a masterpiece!). I feel God of War is losing it’s edge, yes it looks amazing, yes they have refined the combat again, yes they have added new powers, yes IT NOW HAS MULTIPLAYER! OMGOMGOMGOMGWTFBBQ! …BUT they are on very delicate ground. It’s true i don’t want a complete overhaul, i’m not looking for God of War:Accountant but maybe some big changes could really reignite interest, i know it’s risky but it may pay off. Although in conclusion i am still very excited and i will still get it at launch and i will still rave to everyone has amazing it is, but still change can sometimes be good.
So overall i think there was some interesting stuff and i am now excited about the next year of gaming, which before E3 i’ll admit i wasn’t, except for Simcity.
Well that’s what i think, let me know what you though in the comments.