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Jeff Thinks Back On E3 2012

Jeff talks up a few of his favorite games at the show and already begins thinking about next year's E3.

Not Pictured: Some kind of weird ghost thing.

The back-and-forth bickering about whether this year's show was a "good E3" or a "bad E3" is one of the most pointless things I may have ever followed. But, for whatever reason, I followed it. And I come down on the side of it being a pretty good E3, actually, but that's mostly because I went in with realistic expectations. This is a transition year, one where everyone wants hints of the next moves from Sony and Microsoft, but won't actually get it. It was Nintendo's show to lose, and yet they somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I don't actually believe in that whole "winning" or "losing" E3 thing, but you get my point.

Sony managed to baffle show attendees by trying its hardest to forget that the Vita exists during its press conference, but everyone else forgot about Sony's forgetfulness because we were too busy talking about Ellen Page. With the press conferences out of the way, we were left to fend for ourselves and focus on the part of E3 that we always claim really matters in the first place: the games. And again, it's a bit of a weird year for those, with a few sequels showing up that look a bit more like business realities than creative endeavors. EA picked up UFC, Ubisoft picked up steam, and I picked up a nasty head cold that made driving home from the show some kind of mobile spirit quest. Even now, I'm waiting for my spirit animal to reveal itself so that I might strangle the power right out of it. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a diseased weasel with a bum leg.

With all that hardware stuff out of the way, the air was cleared to talk about games. Actual games. Games that will probably ship over the next 18 months or so, because otherwise they'll be shipping on "old" consoles. That provides a certain air of immediacy to the proceedings that I like. We got very little of that drawn out "here's a game, we'll talk more about it next year" stuff. Instead it was a fat list of games you'll be able to buy soonish, some of which I'm pretty excited to see more of.

FLYING CAR CONFIRMED

The top of my list is Need for Speed: Most Wanted. People are often quick to write off games that aren't super story-heavy when it comes to doling out these sorts of accolades. It's something I've felt a little guilty of in the past, like we're shortchanging certain games merely because they focus more on raw mechanics than on telling some sort of moving story. That's probably something for a longer conversation about the nature of all award shows, not just gaming awards. Anyway, Most Wanted looks like it's combining elements of my two favorite racing games of this hardware generation. It's got the cops, the chases, and the cool down spots of the original Need for Speed: Most Wanted. And the rest of it is practically a sequel to Burnout Paradise that's been better-informed by the work Criterion has done on its "Autolog" concept. It's got Road Rules, there are billboards to crash through, gates to smash through, and from the look of the map, plenty of events to go around.

I primarily saw the game's multiplayer mode, which uses a sort of playlist mentality to keep players in a rhythm of driving to a meet up, where one of a number of events starts, then you drive off to the next meet up spot to get another thing going. Those events can be races, but they might also just ask you to hit a specific jump and get more distance than anyone else. That sort of light, fun multiplayer kept Burnout Paradise stuck in my Xbox... and my PS3... and installed on my PC... for hundreds of hours. The notion that Criterion is producing something that even resembles those past works is enough to let me forgive them for not including some sort of amazing/awful/amazing FMV-based story mode.

Here's an interview I conducted at the show:

I probably don't need to tell you about Borderlands 2. If you're anything like me, you already know you want to play Borderlands 2 and you don't really need to see any more of it prior to its September release. But, for the purposes of due diligence, I went and played what Gearbox was showing at E3 anyway. The other two starting classes were in, so I went with the Commando class, since it seemed to be the closest to the Soldier I played in the previous game. (Also, I already played a Gunzerker back at PAX East.) The sequence being shown had me and a company spokesman playing on the kiosk next to me rushing through a city area and guarding a large robot as it went from spot to spot, destroying statues of the game's bad guy, Handsome Jack. It played like Borderlands. Sign me the eff up.

THIS CAPTION IS ABOUT GUNS

That's not to say that there's nothing new worth saying about Borderlands 2. The version I played was running on a PC and it looked outstanding. It's really making the most of its high-resolution and every single edge on every surface, enemy, and item just looks outstanding. It really makes the Borderlands art style pop out even more than it did previously. As for the PC version's interface, I can't really say. We were playing it with a controller, so it worked just like the console version. Speaking of console version, the 360 version was on display over at Microsoft's booth. It looked fine, as well, but it clearly needs some more optimization work, as the frame rate wasn't as solid as it probably should be.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was another case of a PC game with a 360 controller attached, which is a pretty interesting choice for a turn-based strategy game. When I played it prior to the show, I was a little skeptical when I walked up to the kiosk and saw a PC with no keyboard and mouse available. But after playing it, I get what they're going for. Look, it's turn-based. Obviously it's going to play fine with a mouse and keyboard. But forcing people to try it with a gamepad is pretty smart, because it actually controls pretty well that way, too. I ran through a tutorial level or two that showed off the cool side-view home base, where you promote and equip your soldiers, research new technologies, and so on. In-mission, the game turns into exactly the sort of isometric turn-based thing you'd want out of a modern X-COM. On top of that, the developers have found a way to prevent that high camera angle from getting old by adding different views when you're aiming weapons and little vignettes that show your crew kicking down doors or performing other maneuvers as they execute their turns.

The burning ship was the coolest-looking part.

Oh, and Sid Meier's in it.

There's more, of course. The non-playable duo of Watch Dogs and Star Wars 1313 certainly caused quite a stir as people tried to determine when they'd be released and which platforms they'd appear on. The answer--unofficially, anyway--seems to be that they'll both end up straddling the line between the generations. Both are capable of scaling down to fit onto our existing consoles, but they're both clearly being developed with the next Xbox and PlayStation in mind. Of course, the specs for those things aren't exactly common knowledge amongst developers just yet, so everyone's playing it safe by just making high-end PC games. In other words, if you've already got a high-end PC and you're planning on keeping it that way, sit back and relax. The next set of visually stunning games is already heading your way next holiday season.

As for everyone else... well... there's always E3 2013, right?

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
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Posted by Jeff
Not Pictured: Some kind of weird ghost thing.

The back-and-forth bickering about whether this year's show was a "good E3" or a "bad E3" is one of the most pointless things I may have ever followed. But, for whatever reason, I followed it. And I come down on the side of it being a pretty good E3, actually, but that's mostly because I went in with realistic expectations. This is a transition year, one where everyone wants hints of the next moves from Sony and Microsoft, but won't actually get it. It was Nintendo's show to lose, and yet they somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I don't actually believe in that whole "winning" or "losing" E3 thing, but you get my point.

Sony managed to baffle show attendees by trying its hardest to forget that the Vita exists during its press conference, but everyone else forgot about Sony's forgetfulness because we were too busy talking about Ellen Page. With the press conferences out of the way, we were left to fend for ourselves and focus on the part of E3 that we always claim really matters in the first place: the games. And again, it's a bit of a weird year for those, with a few sequels showing up that look a bit more like business realities than creative endeavors. EA picked up UFC, Ubisoft picked up steam, and I picked up a nasty head cold that made driving home from the show some kind of mobile spirit quest. Even now, I'm waiting for my spirit animal to reveal itself so that I might strangle the power right out of it. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a diseased weasel with a bum leg.

With all that hardware stuff out of the way, the air was cleared to talk about games. Actual games. Games that will probably ship over the next 18 months or so, because otherwise they'll be shipping on "old" consoles. That provides a certain air of immediacy to the proceedings that I like. We got very little of that drawn out "here's a game, we'll talk more about it next year" stuff. Instead it was a fat list of games you'll be able to buy soonish, some of which I'm pretty excited to see more of.

FLYING CAR CONFIRMED

The top of my list is Need for Speed: Most Wanted. People are often quick to write off games that aren't super story-heavy when it comes to doling out these sorts of accolades. It's something I've felt a little guilty of in the past, like we're shortchanging certain games merely because they focus more on raw mechanics than on telling some sort of moving story. That's probably something for a longer conversation about the nature of all award shows, not just gaming awards. Anyway, Most Wanted looks like it's combining elements of my two favorite racing games of this hardware generation. It's got the cops, the chases, and the cool down spots of the original Need for Speed: Most Wanted. And the rest of it is practically a sequel to Burnout Paradise that's been better-informed by the work Criterion has done on its "Autolog" concept. It's got Road Rules, there are billboards to crash through, gates to smash through, and from the look of the map, plenty of events to go around.

I primarily saw the game's multiplayer mode, which uses a sort of playlist mentality to keep players in a rhythm of driving to a meet up, where one of a number of events starts, then you drive off to the next meet up spot to get another thing going. Those events can be races, but they might also just ask you to hit a specific jump and get more distance than anyone else. That sort of light, fun multiplayer kept Burnout Paradise stuck in my Xbox... and my PS3... and installed on my PC... for hundreds of hours. The notion that Criterion is producing something that even resembles those past works is enough to let me forgive them for not including some sort of amazing/awful/amazing FMV-based story mode.

Here's an interview I conducted at the show:

I probably don't need to tell you about Borderlands 2. If you're anything like me, you already know you want to play Borderlands 2 and you don't really need to see any more of it prior to its September release. But, for the purposes of due diligence, I went and played what Gearbox was showing at E3 anyway. The other two starting classes were in, so I went with the Commando class, since it seemed to be the closest to the Soldier I played in the previous game. (Also, I already played a Gunzerker back at PAX East.) The sequence being shown had me and a company spokesman playing on the kiosk next to me rushing through a city area and guarding a large robot as it went from spot to spot, destroying statues of the game's bad guy, Handsome Jack. It played like Borderlands. Sign me the eff up.

THIS CAPTION IS ABOUT GUNS

That's not to say that there's nothing new worth saying about Borderlands 2. The version I played was running on a PC and it looked outstanding. It's really making the most of its high-resolution and every single edge on every surface, enemy, and item just looks outstanding. It really makes the Borderlands art style pop out even more than it did previously. As for the PC version's interface, I can't really say. We were playing it with a controller, so it worked just like the console version. Speaking of console version, the 360 version was on display over at Microsoft's booth. It looked fine, as well, but it clearly needs some more optimization work, as the frame rate wasn't as solid as it probably should be.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was another case of a PC game with a 360 controller attached, which is a pretty interesting choice for a turn-based strategy game. When I played it prior to the show, I was a little skeptical when I walked up to the kiosk and saw a PC with no keyboard and mouse available. But after playing it, I get what they're going for. Look, it's turn-based. Obviously it's going to play fine with a mouse and keyboard. But forcing people to try it with a gamepad is pretty smart, because it actually controls pretty well that way, too. I ran through a tutorial level or two that showed off the cool side-view home base, where you promote and equip your soldiers, research new technologies, and so on. In-mission, the game turns into exactly the sort of isometric turn-based thing you'd want out of a modern X-COM. On top of that, the developers have found a way to prevent that high camera angle from getting old by adding different views when you're aiming weapons and little vignettes that show your crew kicking down doors or performing other maneuvers as they execute their turns.

The burning ship was the coolest-looking part.

Oh, and Sid Meier's in it.

There's more, of course. The non-playable duo of Watch Dogs and Star Wars 1313 certainly caused quite a stir as people tried to determine when they'd be released and which platforms they'd appear on. The answer--unofficially, anyway--seems to be that they'll both end up straddling the line between the generations. Both are capable of scaling down to fit onto our existing consoles, but they're both clearly being developed with the next Xbox and PlayStation in mind. Of course, the specs for those things aren't exactly common knowledge amongst developers just yet, so everyone's playing it safe by just making high-end PC games. In other words, if you've already got a high-end PC and you're planning on keeping it that way, sit back and relax. The next set of visually stunning games is already heading your way next holiday season.

As for everyone else... well... there's always E3 2013, right?

Staff
Posted by Claws_of_Death

Snipe

Posted by seanord

Thanks Jeff--nice write up.

Posted by IronScimitar

NFS is my best of show also.

Posted by BulletproofMonk

I got pretty badly burned out on Borderlands, but I'm still excited as fuck for 2.

Posted by tyxja

I just want Most Wanted right now. I'm thinking about taking a really dumb chance and getting myself put into a coma. I figure, whenever I wake up I'll be able to get a copy of it right away.

Online
Posted by Jackhole

...and that was E3. <>

Edited by TheHT

If Most Wanted doesn't have the slow-mo thing, I'll survive. I just hope it keeps that orchestral action music during cop chases.

I really, really wish I could've gotten more into Borderlands. Something about it was just, well, boring. The loot didn't impress, the combat was OK, and the world was bleak in a not very exciting way. Maybe dubstep and cyborg ninjas will help keep my interest.

X-COM is actually the most surprising to me. I didn't think I'd want to play it so bad, but seeing it and hearing about it and discovering how much fun Civ V is recently has me super excited to try it out.

Bad E3 for hardware and big shockers, but a great E3 for some good goddamn games. It was G3. This E3 was G3. Get it? Ok I'll leave now.

Posted by nickux

This was such an enjoyable read, thanks Jeff. Before the show, I was most looking forward to seeing Dead Space 3 but I'm not thrilled with the demo they chose. Lots of other good stuff though.

Posted by dOm_CaTz

e3 2013 year of the bow all over again

Posted by 2kings

Fuck I love these. Makes me thirsty for some jar water though... *cough* *clears throat*...

Posted by Begilerath

Why is the title in 3rd person? Why does that bothers me?

Posted by Trace

Forza Horizon's kind of fucked releasing around the same time as Most Wanted. Can't stress how much I both love the fact I'll have two awesome racing games in October and hate how that could ruin Playground Games before they properly establish themselves.

Moderator
Posted by bassman2112

Thanks for focusing on the positives of E3, Jeff. It is getting so old seeing sites going off on "Who failed most at E3" and "Who lost the press conferences?!"

I'm really looking forward to X-Com ever since seeing the little demo they had going at PAX East this year.

Posted by bennym6

Great

Posted by chilibean_3

It is really weird when the title and the, what would you call it, summary(?) have the writer of the post using the first person.

Posted by brownsfantb

@dOm_CaTz said:

e3 2013 year of the bow all over again

Every year should be the Year of the Bow!

Edited by Fattony12000

NEW SIM CITY NEW NEED FOR SPEED/BURNOUT NEW XCOM NEW AND INTERESTING UBISOFT IP NEW BORDERLANDS NEW STAR WARS THIRD PERSON ACTION GAME NEW ASSASSINS CREED NEW BETHESDA FPS NEW DAVID CAGE GAME HALO 4 PROJECT P-100 NEW PIKMIN GAME LAST OF US NEW 2D RAYMAN GAME.

This year was total shit and games are not art.

Posted by TheHumanDove

First

Posted by Redsox44

Yes I'm hyped for Most Wanted too. This year was great for E3 to me, Planetside 2, Halo 4, and XCOM are enough to make me happy. There was a bunch more that looked great too though.

Posted by tourgen

I can't wait to play the hell out of Borderlands 2.  UFC news was pretty good - I liked the EA MMA game.  Plenty of high-$$$ shooters getting made but also a big-$ turn-based strategy game, a city simulator, racing games, plenty of alright RPGs coming, fucking tablets and secondary screens everywhere, some mechwarriors, some brothers in arms.  Gaming is good these days.

Posted by ptys

I don't get the Ellen Page thing? I've seem Hard Candy, Juno and Inception... She's a good actress but I wouldn't go see a film just because her name is in the title. George Clooney however is a different story as he picks great scripts!

Posted by huser

@brownsfantb said:

@dOm_CaTz said:

e3 2013 year of the bow all over again

Every year should be the Year of the Bow!

We need an infusion of Big BO, however.

Posted by dOm_CaTz

@huser said:

@brownsfantb said:

@dOm_CaTz said:

e3 2013 year of the bow all over again

Every year should be the Year of the Bow!

We need an infusion of Big BO, however.

Big BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Posted by beard_of_zeus

I'm also super pumped for Most Wanted, Jeff. Glad to hear the console X-COM game controls well, too - everyone has been talking it up, so I'm looking to try it, but I am sans fancy PC.
 
Thanks for the writeup.

Posted by jasondesante

project p-100

Posted by fox01313

Surprised that Forza's new game didn't make it on the list for Jeff as it seems right up his alley.

Posted by TheUnsavedHero

Totally looking forward to Borderlands 2. Game looks really sleek and more guns isn't a bad thing at all.

Posted by Capasso

ACT?

Posted by kollay

I'm so goddamn pumped for Hitman.

Posted by igloochan

" EA picked up UFC, Ubisoft picked up steam" this line made me do a double take.

Made it seem like Ubisoft bought Steam and I was like, that didn't happen.

Posted by DukesT3

Ellen Page is pretty hot.

Posted by s10129107

What the hell does he mean Ubisoft picked up steam? Not THE steam right? Somebody tell me i'm confused.

Posted by Sooty

Watchdogs really didn't look that good visually, Star Wars I admit as next gen.

Posted by Jayzilla

Ellen Page: The Console.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

@Sooty said:

Watchdogs really didn't look that good visually, Star Wars I admit as next gen.

The two things that really stuck out to me were the wind/cloth physics on the dude's trenchcoat (Capes are the future!), and the facial animations in the cutscene. I honestly thought that stuff was better than Ellen Page's face stuff - which makes sense in regards to the higher-end graphics it was using- both in how detailed it was, and how I didn't have any Uncanny Valley problems with it.

Posted by NocturnusFatalis

Jeff Gerstmann

Based on that one podcast, weren't you excited for The Last of Us? Did it disappoint you at the show?

Posted by brownsfantb

@dOm_CaTz said:

@huser said:

@brownsfantb said:

@dOm_CaTz said:

e3 2013 year of the bow all over again

Every year should be the Year of the Bow!

We need an infusion of Big BO, however.


Big BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

YEAR OF THE BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Posted by huser

@brownsfantb: Damn straight! Gotta have more of Bo in 2012!

Posted by Peacemaker

Need for speed is going to be one of those games I completely forget about until it comes out. Then I'll buy it and spend a bunch of time playing. I actually played Hot Pursuit more than I have any other racing game probably since Burnout Paradise.

Posted by bkbroiler

@ptys said:

I don't get the Ellen Page thing? I've seem Hard Candy, Juno and Inception... She's a good actress but I wouldn't go see a film just because her name is in the title. George Clooney however is a different story as he picks great scripts!

Yes, because those two actors are comparable.

Posted by buft

My dissapointment didnt come from the lack of games, in the UK i have no spike tv so i was forced to watch the press conferences in a hope to see the announcements first hand as i have done for the last 5-10 years.

Biggest mistake ever, i watched hours of pure crap and ended up with all the second hand knowledge from others on forums or via articles on gaming sites and it really broke my enthusiasm for E3. I miss watching the spectacle of a game being shown live on stage for the first time and im there to see it in spirit or seeing the trailer for the game you have waited for, those are special moments.

Now all i get is an article which reads " we played game x on the show floor it was great, heres a picture" maybe next year it will be more like years gone by.

Posted by Game_Baron

Interesting...

Posted by crimsonlordofwar

All this E3 did was make me never want to leave my PC for a console, Last of Us didn't really excite me(or the other Ellen Page simulator), I guess I'm getting a little worn out of 'thematic gameplay', but that's not to say Naughty Dog isn't on their A game. For that game was ever bit as amazing as it needs be, just not what I'm interested in atm.

Posted by ThePhilatron

Glad I built this PC relatively recently

Edited by Brackynews

I'm honestly curious if we'll see quite as many "straddled" releases (pun 'em if you got 'em) for the next transition. Probably? I played most of my Hitman: Blood Money on the first Xbox and it was fine. 360 port didn't impress enough to start over at the time, even for points - and it has some doozies.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

@Top8cat: Best way to go is PC+PS3. Microsoft publishes a larger percentage of their games on PC (duh, I guess).

Never leave your PC.

Posted by Kiri90

This was a great read, Jeff!

Posted by MightyDuck

NFS: Most Wanted, Borderlands 2, and XCOM: EU are three games I'm very psyched for. Also curious about Black Ops 2, but haven't heard as much about that. RE6 looks pretty solid too.

Posted by BBQBram

Nicely done putting all that negativity in perspective. I liked this E3 because it was for the tail-end of the generation and all the games are kinda known quantities that'll come out soon. It is like making room for the next gen. I'm curious if Nintendo will step up their Wii U launch line-up, but that aside it's looking like we're on the cusp of bigger and better stuff. For now it's expectation management time, but there's sure to be some swan songs for these old consoles we're still hanging on to.

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