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Ubisoft's E3 2012 Press Conference: Wonderful Surprises Amid Seething Acrimony

Okay, so the press conference was a complete debacle, but there were games! Great ones, even!

Oh, Ubisoft.

We knew you had something crazy in you. After last year's Mr. Caffeine-addled shitshow, it became readily apparent that reason and caution were concepts that you no longer understood. Still, nothing could have adequately prepared us for the festival of painfully acrimonious banter, awkward audio gaffes, and loopy attempts at eSports promotions we all just endured. You can't script an event that batshit crazy. It had to be organically grown.

Watch Dogs came out of nowhere and floored the audience with an incredibly impressive demo.

It was largely grown from the seething, white-hot hatred displayed between the conference's hosts, Archer star Aisha Tyler, and YouTube guy who says stuff about video games Tobuscus (I had to Google him, as I imagine many of you did.) There was clearly meant to be a bit of jabby back-and-forth between the two, but within minutes it became obvious that Tyler and Tobuscus weren't on the same page. Hell, it was like they were hosting two different events. That continued ever forward until Tyler seemed to legitimately start sniping at the guy every time he talked over her. And that happened a lot. I cannot envision a scenario in which Tyler does not put one of her heels through that guy's eye socket backstage.

The tone for ludicrousness was essentially set by the conference's opening, in which Just Dance 4 was unveiled by women dancing to a variety of songs, including Flo Rida's "Good Feeling," which was performed by the rapper himself. The combination of the suspect choreography and Mr. Rida's indifference to the audience he was performing for signaled what was to come: a ramshackle production featuring a wide variety of uncomfortable moments.

But before we dig into any more of that, we should talk about some games. As much as the production was a disaster, the games shown at the event were by far the strongest of any of the conferences thus far. Between Rayman Legends, Far Cry 3, Assassin's Creed III, and new property Watch Dogs, Ubi's lineup looked extremely strong.

Let's deal with that elephant in the room right now. Watch Dogs. What is it? Based on the demo and Ubisoft's initial press blast for the game, it's an open-world adventure game where "the city is a weapon." The demo showed what was presumed to be the game's lead character skulking around what appeared to be a modern-ish Chicago. Demonstrating an adept talent for hacking, the character, at various points, used his cellphone to short out other electronic devices in the area, including other phones, and a traffic light. That traffic light caused a fortuitously timed pile-up that allowed the character to get to his target. From there, the game launched into third-person shooter mode, with some slo-mo bullet-time stuff and the requisite cover mechanics.

Rayman Legends looks like it'll use the GamePad in some interesting ways. Looks fun, too!

Oh, but that's not all. Watch Dogs also appears to include some kind of multiplayer element. At the very least, it looks as though you'll be playing as multiple characters, as the end of the demo showed the hacker being chased off by a police helicopter, and another nearby hacker being instructed to protect him. Ubisoft's press release did little to clarify the nature of all of this, save but to say that you will be fighting to take down a "corrupt system." No platforms for the game were announced, though Ubi's press site has it listed as a current-gen title (Xbox 360, PS3, PC).

That was the show's closer, and it left a hell of an impression. But let us not forget the earlier gems that popped up. Rayman Legends, for instance, got its first spotlight session. In the game, you'll be doing the same sort of cooperative platforming as in Rayman Origins, but now there's a new character to play as. That character is controlled exclusively via the Wii U GamePad. You tap and swipe around the screen to move the character around, tripping platforms and solving puzzles along the way. This became especially prevalent during a rhythm-platforming sequence, where the GamePad player had to tap along with the music to ensure the other characters were able to move forward. Also, straight up, that game looks gorgeous.

Another serious looker was Far Cry 3, though admittedly that game received a far more incoherent demo than the rest. You could certainly see the lush jungle and environmental tech, but the action had a bit of a bizarre flow to it. Dream sequences, random tigers, and a rather risque opening sex (or at least dry humping/boob grabbing) scene gave the whole experience a real fever-dream feel. Some of that was undoubtedly intentional, but it didn't necessarily play super well while watching it in action. I've no doubt that game is probably pretty cool. That was just a very odd way to show it.

Lastly, there was the Assassin's Creed III demo. You've undoubtedly seen the game in action numerous times now, if you're a fan of this series, and the new demo mostly showed more of what we've already seen, albeit in more fleshed-out format. Multiple dynamic combat sequences were shown, as well as several sections featuring the game's protagonist, Connor (not even going to try to spell his Native American name), bounding around the woods and enemy encampments. This series has always been renowned for its fluid mechanics, but the ease of movement seen in this demo looked absolutely phenomenal. When Ubi said it was going out of its way to make the world of Revolutionary-era America look natural, they weren't kidding.

Those were certainly the highlights, though there were other titles shown as well. In addition to Watch Dogs, Ubisoft announced another new IP, a Wii U-exclusive zombie horror game called ZombieU developed by Ubisoft Montpellier. Horrendously awkward title and total lack of in-game footage aside...well, actually, I don't have anywhere to go with that. It has a horribly awkward title and the trailer was basically just the opening credits of Zombieland set to "God Save the Queen." Because the game is set in London. So it's thematically appropriate, you see.

I'm still curious about ShootMania, despite that awkward demonstration at the conference.

And then there was ShootMania, which may have gotten fucked over the most severely by Ubisoft's bewildering antics. In order to show off the game, eSports folk introduced more eSports folk we were presumed to recognize, and then proceeded to partake in a deeply confusing tournament, during which I had no frigging idea what was going on. I know some people shot some other people, and the teams were split up by gender. That's about it. The boys won, in case you were wondering. Not that it matters, since reports seem to indicate that none of it was played live. Supposedly the "tournament" was livestreamed a few days ago. Oops?

Hey, it's Ubisoft. The unexpected, unreasonable, and idiotic should be expected. But at least the games were mostly very good, and were given solid opportunities to shine. Except for ShootMania. Sorry, Nadeo. You got screwed on that one.

Random Thoughts:

  • I cannot stress the discomfort level felt during Tyler and Tobuscus' dialogue exchanges enough. You could hear a pin drop during the uncomfortable silences. Fortunately, they were usually too busy bitching at one another to allow for uncomfortable silences.
  • That said, go Aisha Tyler. She was as professional as could be expected during such a fiasco, and mostly managed to stay on script, where she could. And good on her for not dropping any Archer references. Would've been too pandery.
  • Yves Guillemot is an adorable French imp and I just want to pinch his cheeks and hug and squeeze him to death. Is that weird?
  • I just realized I totally forgot to mention Splinter Cell: Blacklist, probably because I already talked about it during the Microsoft recap. It's still Splinter Cell: Blacklist, in case you were wondering.
  • I also forgot to mention that Kinect-enabled Avengers game. Yup. Moving on.
  • I like zombies, and even I can't get excited for ZombieU. If your target audience can't even get excited, then that perhaps bodes poorly.

Sony's up shortly. Stay tuned.

Alex Navarro on Google+
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Posted by Alex

Oh, Ubisoft.

We knew you had something crazy in you. After last year's Mr. Caffeine-addled shitshow, it became readily apparent that reason and caution were concepts that you no longer understood. Still, nothing could have adequately prepared us for the festival of painfully acrimonious banter, awkward audio gaffes, and loopy attempts at eSports promotions we all just endured. You can't script an event that batshit crazy. It had to be organically grown.

Watch Dogs came out of nowhere and floored the audience with an incredibly impressive demo.

It was largely grown from the seething, white-hot hatred displayed between the conference's hosts, Archer star Aisha Tyler, and YouTube guy who says stuff about video games Tobuscus (I had to Google him, as I imagine many of you did.) There was clearly meant to be a bit of jabby back-and-forth between the two, but within minutes it became obvious that Tyler and Tobuscus weren't on the same page. Hell, it was like they were hosting two different events. That continued ever forward until Tyler seemed to legitimately start sniping at the guy every time he talked over her. And that happened a lot. I cannot envision a scenario in which Tyler does not put one of her heels through that guy's eye socket backstage.

The tone for ludicrousness was essentially set by the conference's opening, in which Just Dance 4 was unveiled by women dancing to a variety of songs, including Flo Rida's "Good Feeling," which was performed by the rapper himself. The combination of the suspect choreography and Mr. Rida's indifference to the audience he was performing for signaled what was to come: a ramshackle production featuring a wide variety of uncomfortable moments.

But before we dig into any more of that, we should talk about some games. As much as the production was a disaster, the games shown at the event were by far the strongest of any of the conferences thus far. Between Rayman Legends, Far Cry 3, Assassin's Creed III, and new property Watch Dogs, Ubi's lineup looked extremely strong.

Let's deal with that elephant in the room right now. Watch Dogs. What is it? Based on the demo and Ubisoft's initial press blast for the game, it's an open-world adventure game where "the city is a weapon." The demo showed what was presumed to be the game's lead character skulking around what appeared to be a modern-ish Chicago. Demonstrating an adept talent for hacking, the character, at various points, used his cellphone to short out other electronic devices in the area, including other phones, and a traffic light. That traffic light caused a fortuitously timed pile-up that allowed the character to get to his target. From there, the game launched into third-person shooter mode, with some slo-mo bullet-time stuff and the requisite cover mechanics.

Rayman Legends looks like it'll use the GamePad in some interesting ways. Looks fun, too!

Oh, but that's not all. Watch Dogs also appears to include some kind of multiplayer element. At the very least, it looks as though you'll be playing as multiple characters, as the end of the demo showed the hacker being chased off by a police helicopter, and another nearby hacker being instructed to protect him. Ubisoft's press release did little to clarify the nature of all of this, save but to say that you will be fighting to take down a "corrupt system." No platforms for the game were announced, though Ubi's press site has it listed as a current-gen title (Xbox 360, PS3, PC).

That was the show's closer, and it left a hell of an impression. But let us not forget the earlier gems that popped up. Rayman Legends, for instance, got its first spotlight session. In the game, you'll be doing the same sort of cooperative platforming as in Rayman Origins, but now there's a new character to play as. That character is controlled exclusively via the Wii U GamePad. You tap and swipe around the screen to move the character around, tripping platforms and solving puzzles along the way. This became especially prevalent during a rhythm-platforming sequence, where the GamePad player had to tap along with the music to ensure the other characters were able to move forward. Also, straight up, that game looks gorgeous.

Another serious looker was Far Cry 3, though admittedly that game received a far more incoherent demo than the rest. You could certainly see the lush jungle and environmental tech, but the action had a bit of a bizarre flow to it. Dream sequences, random tigers, and a rather risque opening sex (or at least dry humping/boob grabbing) scene gave the whole experience a real fever-dream feel. Some of that was undoubtedly intentional, but it didn't necessarily play super well while watching it in action. I've no doubt that game is probably pretty cool. That was just a very odd way to show it.

Lastly, there was the Assassin's Creed III demo. You've undoubtedly seen the game in action numerous times now, if you're a fan of this series, and the new demo mostly showed more of what we've already seen, albeit in more fleshed-out format. Multiple dynamic combat sequences were shown, as well as several sections featuring the game's protagonist, Connor (not even going to try to spell his Native American name), bounding around the woods and enemy encampments. This series has always been renowned for its fluid mechanics, but the ease of movement seen in this demo looked absolutely phenomenal. When Ubi said it was going out of its way to make the world of Revolutionary-era America look natural, they weren't kidding.

Those were certainly the highlights, though there were other titles shown as well. In addition to Watch Dogs, Ubisoft announced another new IP, a Wii U-exclusive zombie horror game called ZombieU developed by Ubisoft Montpellier. Horrendously awkward title and total lack of in-game footage aside...well, actually, I don't have anywhere to go with that. It has a horribly awkward title and the trailer was basically just the opening credits of Zombieland set to "God Save the Queen." Because the game is set in London. So it's thematically appropriate, you see.

I'm still curious about ShootMania, despite that awkward demonstration at the conference.

And then there was ShootMania, which may have gotten fucked over the most severely by Ubisoft's bewildering antics. In order to show off the game, eSports folk introduced more eSports folk we were presumed to recognize, and then proceeded to partake in a deeply confusing tournament, during which I had no frigging idea what was going on. I know some people shot some other people, and the teams were split up by gender. That's about it. The boys won, in case you were wondering. Not that it matters, since reports seem to indicate that none of it was played live. Supposedly the "tournament" was livestreamed a few days ago. Oops?

Hey, it's Ubisoft. The unexpected, unreasonable, and idiotic should be expected. But at least the games were mostly very good, and were given solid opportunities to shine. Except for ShootMania. Sorry, Nadeo. You got screwed on that one.

Random Thoughts:

  • I cannot stress the discomfort level felt during Tyler and Tobuscus' dialogue exchanges enough. You could hear a pin drop during the uncomfortable silences. Fortunately, they were usually too busy bitching at one another to allow for uncomfortable silences.
  • That said, go Aisha Tyler. She was as professional as could be expected during such a fiasco, and mostly managed to stay on script, where she could. And good on her for not dropping any Archer references. Would've been too pandery.
  • Yves Guillemot is an adorable French imp and I just want to pinch his cheeks and hug and squeeze him to death. Is that weird?
  • I just realized I totally forgot to mention Splinter Cell: Blacklist, probably because I already talked about it during the Microsoft recap. It's still Splinter Cell: Blacklist, in case you were wondering.
  • I also forgot to mention that Kinect-enabled Avengers game. Yup. Moving on.
  • I like zombies, and even I can't get excited for ZombieU. If your target audience can't even get excited, then that perhaps bodes poorly.

Sony's up shortly. Stay tuned.

Edited by huser

Hell yeah

EDIT - Didn't even mean to on this one, I just heard the Wii U game was awesome from Ryan's Twitter. I figured it was Rayman but wanted to make sure.

Also, ZombieU might work better mentally as Zom B U given what I've heard about the mechanic of being able to die and becoming another survivor...that has the opportunity or requirement to go off your former now zombified ass.

Edited by davidwitten22

It was so good and so bad at the same time.

No platforms for the game were announced, though Ubi's press site has it listed as a current-gen title (Xbox 360, PS3, PC).

Awwww yeahhhh

Posted by Voxus

Did Jeff yell YEAH when they mentioned Trackmania?

Posted by Animasta

Totes not weird. I don't want to myself, but I can see why you would :)

Posted by tsiro

Man, that was such a great press conference. Even when it was terrible, I found myself able to enjoy it. And the games were great, too! That FarCry 3 demo was super weird, but I must admit, it definitely piqued my interest. Can't wait to see more of many of the games that they showed!

Edited by HarlequinRiot

Kinda bummed I had the conference on mute after reading this. It sounded pretty awkward.

Posted by Smokey_Earhole

Wouldn't have thought it possible, but that Tobuscus retard actually outdid Mr. Caffeine in sheer stupidity, toe-curlingly bad jokes and overall shitty presentation.

Amazing how throwing stupid boring Youtube videos together can land you a gig like this. Whose dick did he really suck is the real question I guess.

Posted by nonplayer

great article, best conference so far. both in the games themselves, and ridiculous-ness.

Posted by deskp

Ubisofts confrences are so much mroe anjoyable the the others. (not seen this eyars sony & nintendo) atleast its entertaining and they show games, compared to being boring and showing games.

Posted by RobotHamster

Ubisoft is definitely in the lead so far, but that's not saying much.

Posted by Itwongo

Ubi is the new Konami

Posted by Shinmaru007

So ridiculously hyped for Assassin's Creed III, and that Watch Dog game certainly has my attention.

Online
Posted by MusiM

How have you not seen a Literal Trailer?

Posted by Maitimo

It was certainly uh, memorable? For reasons both good and bad. I don't regret watching, however genuinely terrible Tobuscus was.

Edited by TheGorilla

Easily the best press conference I've ever seen. Shitty jokes and banter, and that asshole guy - but GOD DAMN THOSE GAMES LOOKED AWESOME AND I LOVE E3 DISASTERS! That thing was half disaster and half amazing games. The perfect combination.

Posted by Ronald

You're right, they have a real strong looking lineup of games, which were wrapped in some terrible segments. And after that great looking Watch Dogs showcase, they had to sour the ending of the press conference with more banter between the hosts before saying goodbye.

Posted by Cooley

Can't wait for Watch dogs. The game look amazing and original. Think I might get a Wii U just for that game.

Edited by Sil3n7

WATCH_DOGS.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog

E3 2012: The year Ubisoft didn't give a fuck
 
Showing Wii U games before Nintendo? Sure.
Boobies all up in yo' face? Okay.
Pre-recorded Shootmania tournament? Absolutely.
 
I sincerely hope they never change. So far they have been the most entertaining part of E3 this year.

Posted by murisan

Did anyone else think that Flo Rida was NOT "indifferent" to the audience? He seemed pretty thankful/decent...

Edited by LiquidSwords

WHERE WERE YOU SNIPERS! WHERE!?

Posted by Orange_Tory

The banter was really uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time cringing. Still, there is more than a few games that I look forward to.

Posted by Yummylee

At this point, Watch Dog is miles in the lead for winning the entire damn show. I mean... nobody new anything about anything until this very moment; to go along with how incredible it all was, it also the element of surprise to spin everyone's heads. I suppose there's going to be a lot of Wii U stuff to possibly act as some competition, but besides some other equally flabbergasting surprise reveal, I don't think there is anything else that stands a chance. Last of Us?... Nah, for as amazing as it still sounds (and looks, oh how it looks).

Posted by 617_jbug

best conference in terms of games but the other stuff was bad.

Posted by RockinKemosabe

Watch Dogs is pretty much Person of Interest the Game.

Posted by Eribuster

"I like zombies, and even I can't get excited for ZombieU. If your target audience can't even get excited, then that perhaps bodes poorly."

That's not surprising given no play demonstration and lack of any recollection of the game's previous incarnation, Killer Freaks from Outer Space. Hell, even I'm not sure if Killer Freaks had any sort of concrete demo last year.

Nice to see the Wii U's demo debut with Rayman Legends. I hope Nintendo can keep the momentum up.

Posted by kalmia64

I can only hope that some of that banter was scripted.

Girl-wood? Gay jokes? YUCK!

Posted by Phatmac

WATCH DOGS

Posted by Abendlaender

Wow Ubi, that was an impressive show. Host problems aside, they showed execellent games, they showed new IPs an most importantly: They were able to keet Watch Dogs and ZombiU secret. I don't care that ZombiU is a stupid name and there was no gameplay, I'm just so happy to see a game that wasn't leaked a month ago (but it was Killer Fr SHHH! It's a new game....yes, a new game)

Posted by Dixavd

Your going to say that Aisha was good and professional - are you insane?! She was clearly the cause of the disjointedness and the sole reason for the tension between her and Tobuscus - the script was bad but her entire presence was aweful. Both had problems and I wholeheartedly blame the script but don'e bring your biases in on like Aisha - I bet just as many people had to look up who she was as had to look up Tobuscus (I did). It was a fiasco, don't try to blame it all on the guy and claw the woman out of it.

Edited by MeatSim

The best lineup of games at these press conferences by far. As of right now anyway.

Posted by flanker22

even flo-rida was good. aisha tyler with the "MAN WOOD" 
 
only shit bag was tobiscuailwweuiwf

Posted by PenguinDust

"I cannot envision a scenario in which Tyler does not put one of her heels through that guy's eye socket backstage."

Now, that would be my ultimate E3 moment.

Of the three press conferences I've seen so far today (Sony's is up next) Ubisoft's is clearly leading the pack with the most impressive games and the added bonus of Aisha Tyler. She's cool and held it together despite being paired with a chimpanzee.

The AC3 demo was freakin' sweet.

Posted by Adaptor

Maybe I'm getting too old but E3's seem to get more predictable and annoying each year. I used to look forward to E3, now it's basically about enduring mindnumbingly stupid shows just to get a glimpse of a game like Watch Dogs...

Posted by kerse

The games looked great for the most part, consider Watch Dog near the top of my list now. But god were the hosts awful, especially tobuscus, who the fuck was that guy? Does Ubisoft do this on purpose or did they think we like guys like him?

Posted by kingando420

I liked it....

Posted by Smokey_Earhole

@kalmia64 said:

I can only hope that some of that banter was scripted.

Girl-wood? Gay jokes? YUCK!

I believe the correct term is yikes!

Posted by froggeh

I don't get the complaint that the shootmania gameplay was hard to follow seemed pretty straight forward to me.

Posted by leejunfan83

@Itwongo: I was thinking that too I miss Konami

Posted by Toug

Seriously. Aisha Tyler is a stand up comedian who was forced to share the stage with what amounted to a terrible heckler, except she couldn't say the stuff to him she would if it were a comedy club. Really cringe worthy.

Posted by vikingdeath1

Man, I HATE how I had a class during this one, because I fucking Love Tobuscus! but everyone seems to be giving him hate!

So I gotta see how hard he blundered, or maybe it's a perspective thing and that chick was just being Crazy, Cant wait and I hope when I see it it is completely unedited!

Posted by Dylabaloo

the QR Code head man, in Watch_Dog actually leads to a website. Here's the link for anyone who's curious.

Watch_Dogs is the highlight of E3 by far, I love seeing something original whereas other games have been devolving into heavily scripted "ACTION" feasts (Medal of Honor, Black Ops, Splinter Cell, Resi 6 etc..) Far cry 3 was deliriously awesome with such enemies as Tigers and TV's. Also first WiiU sighting and it looks better than I thought. Altogether I enjoyed Ubisofts conference the most, by far, its highs outweighed its lows (Which were sometimes hilarious).

Posted by artofwar420

I really liked Aisha Tyler, she did a bang up job.

Posted by Sbaitso

Girlwood. That is all.

Posted by Mechanized

Girl boners.

Posted by takkun169

gotta say... Ubisoft kinda killed it this year. Aisha Tyler was funny and they had some pretty impressive games to show. And hey... TITS! Of course they had to drop in an obnoxious tool to annoy us but even that wasn't as bad as Mr. Caffeine.

Does the conference being good make it satisfying or disappointing?

Posted by Smokey_Earhole

@vikingdeath1 said:

Man, I HATE how I had a class during this one, because I fucking Love Tobuscus! but everyone seems to be giving him hate!

So I gotta see how hard he blundered, or maybe it's a perspective thing and that chick was just being Crazy, Cant wait and I hope when I see it it is completely unedited!

Brophemism overload.

Posted by BonzoPongo

@alex Great write ups for those of us that are at work and cant watch, cheers.

Edited by kingando420

"white-hot hatred displayed between the conference's hosts, Archer star Aisha Tyler, and YouTube guy who says stuff about video games Tobuscus "

what a load of sensationalist bullshit

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