E3 2012: Ubisoft and Sony

Ubisoft

I must admit, I was a little disappointed by the lack of Mr. Caffeine this year, but I was rather happy to see the appearance of Tobuscus. He had that vague sense of comedy terribleness that Mr. Caffeine brought and continued Ubisoft’s fantastically baffling tradition of injecting slightly-off comedy performances into their press conferences every year. In fact considering this was an Ubisoft affair I thought Aisha Tyler got away relatively unscathed; a little manufactured interest here, a comment about “girl wood” there, but apart from that not too bad.

The verdant jungle of Far Cry 3.

Much like with EA though, my expectations were not through the roof here, so when the whole thing started with a Flo Rida performance promoting Just Dance 4 it wasn’t terribly surprising for me. Fortunately, from then on things started really looking up. In Far Cry 3 the gameplay looked solid, I was intrigued by the whole “insanity” theme, and the world it was set in was irresistibly vibrant. Visually, it might be the most striking game of E3 and it’s always good to see a modern FPS with a splash of colour.

The new Rayman was also a very picturesque game, and I wasn’t expecting the whole rhythm-platforming section, I thought that looked really good. It’s cool to see big companies doing some original and really fun-looking things with platformers in this day and age, and that looks like one of the few real gems we’ve seen on Wii U from the conference.

Assassin’s Creed III certainly stood up as a very strong game and after what has seemed like a slightly depressing attempt to squeeze what they could out of the franchise post-AC2, it’s encouraging to see Ubisoft releasing another Assassin’s Creed which is up to the standard we’ve come to expect from the series. In particular I liked the way the change from cities to a more rural area altered not only the environment the player explores, but also the way the player interacts with the environment. Good stuff.

Uh, go e-sports?

However, then came perhaps the oddest part of the conference; a professional ShootMania match which was apparently entirely staged, and in fact consisted of footage from a tournament held before the show. The act of trying to force an e-sport seemed a bit dislikeable to begin with, but add in the weird “battle of the sexes” element, the whole female team being dressed in hotpants, and then Ubisoft trying to deceive the crowd into thinking they’re seeing something they’re not, and it all created a rather unpleasant air. As for the game itself, I can’t say it looked particularly appealing. Even considering it was an alpha build there’s a certain standard of presentation that I don’t feel it met and it neither looked like a shooter from 2012, nor seemed to trump retro shooters in any particular way either. Still, tell us we can have our own custom playlists on servers and they might have something.

Finally, Watch Dogs was of course the game that really blew everyone away. I think some people have been a little quick to guarantee it a complete success, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the game, like how much freedom we’ll have in the way we can tackle missions, but from what they showed it has the potential to be something fantastic. It touches on an interesting real-world issue, it shows a new but empowering way to tackle challenges, and it looks very sleek. I can’t wait to see more of it.

Sony

So this may be a little off-topic but this seems as good a time as any to talk about the audiences at E3’s press conferences. I know it’s something the Giant Bomb staff touched on in one of their videos, but since basically the start of E3 it’s been confusing me, it is my E3 mystery if you will. How are there so many people in the crowds excited for Internet Explorer and Bing, and swaying along to Usher? In the case of Sony specifically there were people in the audience who were not journalists or part of the industry, but got in because they lined up early for the conference, and I had heard some people there won contests to get in, but in the other conferences were there really that many Microsoft or Ubisoft or EA employees in the crowd to generate that kind of buzz? If there were that’s kind of strange, and if there weren’t then as Alex put it, who are these people? Regardless though, the level of excitement for brutal and merciless pain being inflicted on characters was a bit over the top even by video game standards. Crowds are strange.

David Cage shows us a much more tragic interpretation of Ghostbusters.

Getting back to the conference, Sony’s included a little more talking and a little less demoing than I would have preferred, but as with the other companies this year, among their line-up were some very promising games. They got things started commendably with Beyond: Two Souls, and while it’s still not entirely clear what Beyond is as a game, I can’t help but have a certain admiration for what Cage is doing. Cinematically the game is definitely breaking boundaries.

I’m still not quite sure what to make of Playstation All-Stars. For all the talk that these kind of games seem to inspire about how all games copy from other games, I can’t help but feel that here Sony is copying way more than is the norm. What’s more, I don’t feel like the characters Sony are presenting fit together in one game as well as Nintendo’s characters and I just can’t conjure up the same attachment for characters like Kratos or Fat Princess as I can for Mario or Link, but then I guess I’ve never been much of a Sony gamer. While the crazy on-screen action could also be one of the game’s greatest strengths, I felt like it held back the demo a little. Even with a commentator it was hard to keep track of the game, but none the less it looks like a well-crafted game that could pay homage to some great titles for those particularly into the PS3.

I thought Assassin’s Creed: Liberation looked pretty cool, and showed off the hardware capabilities of the Vita well. In Assassin’s Creed III’s second showing, the visuals still looked great and I must admit I am a sucker for old-timey ships, I just hope they don’t steer too stiffly as has been the case with naval warfare in a lot of games. Far Cry 3’s co-op looked like a fine offering in every regard, but then came WonderBook.

Can you not feel the wonder?

Watching it back the demo of that game took a lot less time than it felt like it took, and yet I’m not sure that’s really a good thing. In its defence I suppose it is a clever way to try and come up with something new in the motion control space, especially as Microsoft are so against the idea of having physical objects as part of their motion control experience, and kids are unpredictable, maybe they’ll really enjoy it if it gets the right support. None the less the not-Harry Potter demo was certainly one of this year’s low points. Poor, poor WonderBook.

The new God of War seemed to have a really nice flow to it and looked fun, but I do worry that it’s going to give diminishing returns for anyone who’s been following the series. I don’t see them doing much new and after the epic battles of God of War III and the amount of Greek mythology they’ve exhausted, I wonder where they can take it while still keeping the series as much of a hit as it has been.

On the up side, the closer for the show was something to behold. Much like Tomb Raider, the Last of Us managed to crack through our cold indifference to violence and show us something gritty and jarringly visceral. The usual route games take to presenting a dark and troubling world is making the environment, enemies, and the actions of the enemies seem gruesome and ugly, but I think there’s just as much, if not more to be said for a game that make the player carry out gruesome and ugly actions themselves. I don’t know how it’ll play, but the Last of Us presented a world that was wonderfully merciless and a pair of characters with a lot of potential. Overall, some very nice things from Sony.

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Posted by Gamer_152

Ubisoft

I must admit, I was a little disappointed by the lack of Mr. Caffeine this year, but I was rather happy to see the appearance of Tobuscus. He had that vague sense of comedy terribleness that Mr. Caffeine brought and continued Ubisoft’s fantastically baffling tradition of injecting slightly-off comedy performances into their press conferences every year. In fact considering this was an Ubisoft affair I thought Aisha Tyler got away relatively unscathed; a little manufactured interest here, a comment about “girl wood” there, but apart from that not too bad.

The verdant jungle of Far Cry 3.

Much like with EA though, my expectations were not through the roof here, so when the whole thing started with a Flo Rida performance promoting Just Dance 4 it wasn’t terribly surprising for me. Fortunately, from then on things started really looking up. In Far Cry 3 the gameplay looked solid, I was intrigued by the whole “insanity” theme, and the world it was set in was irresistibly vibrant. Visually, it might be the most striking game of E3 and it’s always good to see a modern FPS with a splash of colour.

The new Rayman was also a very picturesque game, and I wasn’t expecting the whole rhythm-platforming section, I thought that looked really good. It’s cool to see big companies doing some original and really fun-looking things with platformers in this day and age, and that looks like one of the few real gems we’ve seen on Wii U from the conference.

Assassin’s Creed III certainly stood up as a very strong game and after what has seemed like a slightly depressing attempt to squeeze what they could out of the franchise post-AC2, it’s encouraging to see Ubisoft releasing another Assassin’s Creed which is up to the standard we’ve come to expect from the series. In particular I liked the way the change from cities to a more rural area altered not only the environment the player explores, but also the way the player interacts with the environment. Good stuff.

Uh, go e-sports?

However, then came perhaps the oddest part of the conference; a professional ShootMania match which was apparently entirely staged, and in fact consisted of footage from a tournament held before the show. The act of trying to force an e-sport seemed a bit dislikeable to begin with, but add in the weird “battle of the sexes” element, the whole female team being dressed in hotpants, and then Ubisoft trying to deceive the crowd into thinking they’re seeing something they’re not, and it all created a rather unpleasant air. As for the game itself, I can’t say it looked particularly appealing. Even considering it was an alpha build there’s a certain standard of presentation that I don’t feel it met and it neither looked like a shooter from 2012, nor seemed to trump retro shooters in any particular way either. Still, tell us we can have our own custom playlists on servers and they might have something.

Finally, Watch Dogs was of course the game that really blew everyone away. I think some people have been a little quick to guarantee it a complete success, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the game, like how much freedom we’ll have in the way we can tackle missions, but from what they showed it has the potential to be something fantastic. It touches on an interesting real-world issue, it shows a new but empowering way to tackle challenges, and it looks very sleek. I can’t wait to see more of it.

Sony

So this may be a little off-topic but this seems as good a time as any to talk about the audiences at E3’s press conferences. I know it’s something the Giant Bomb staff touched on in one of their videos, but since basically the start of E3 it’s been confusing me, it is my E3 mystery if you will. How are there so many people in the crowds excited for Internet Explorer and Bing, and swaying along to Usher? In the case of Sony specifically there were people in the audience who were not journalists or part of the industry, but got in because they lined up early for the conference, and I had heard some people there won contests to get in, but in the other conferences were there really that many Microsoft or Ubisoft or EA employees in the crowd to generate that kind of buzz? If there were that’s kind of strange, and if there weren’t then as Alex put it, who are these people? Regardless though, the level of excitement for brutal and merciless pain being inflicted on characters was a bit over the top even by video game standards. Crowds are strange.

David Cage shows us a much more tragic interpretation of Ghostbusters.

Getting back to the conference, Sony’s included a little more talking and a little less demoing than I would have preferred, but as with the other companies this year, among their line-up were some very promising games. They got things started commendably with Beyond: Two Souls, and while it’s still not entirely clear what Beyond is as a game, I can’t help but have a certain admiration for what Cage is doing. Cinematically the game is definitely breaking boundaries.

I’m still not quite sure what to make of Playstation All-Stars. For all the talk that these kind of games seem to inspire about how all games copy from other games, I can’t help but feel that here Sony is copying way more than is the norm. What’s more, I don’t feel like the characters Sony are presenting fit together in one game as well as Nintendo’s characters and I just can’t conjure up the same attachment for characters like Kratos or Fat Princess as I can for Mario or Link, but then I guess I’ve never been much of a Sony gamer. While the crazy on-screen action could also be one of the game’s greatest strengths, I felt like it held back the demo a little. Even with a commentator it was hard to keep track of the game, but none the less it looks like a well-crafted game that could pay homage to some great titles for those particularly into the PS3.

I thought Assassin’s Creed: Liberation looked pretty cool, and showed off the hardware capabilities of the Vita well. In Assassin’s Creed III’s second showing, the visuals still looked great and I must admit I am a sucker for old-timey ships, I just hope they don’t steer too stiffly as has been the case with naval warfare in a lot of games. Far Cry 3’s co-op looked like a fine offering in every regard, but then came WonderBook.

Can you not feel the wonder?

Watching it back the demo of that game took a lot less time than it felt like it took, and yet I’m not sure that’s really a good thing. In its defence I suppose it is a clever way to try and come up with something new in the motion control space, especially as Microsoft are so against the idea of having physical objects as part of their motion control experience, and kids are unpredictable, maybe they’ll really enjoy it if it gets the right support. None the less the not-Harry Potter demo was certainly one of this year’s low points. Poor, poor WonderBook.

The new God of War seemed to have a really nice flow to it and looked fun, but I do worry that it’s going to give diminishing returns for anyone who’s been following the series. I don’t see them doing much new and after the epic battles of God of War III and the amount of Greek mythology they’ve exhausted, I wonder where they can take it while still keeping the series as much of a hit as it has been.

On the up side, the closer for the show was something to behold. Much like Tomb Raider, the Last of Us managed to crack through our cold indifference to violence and show us something gritty and jarringly visceral. The usual route games take to presenting a dark and troubling world is making the environment, enemies, and the actions of the enemies seem gruesome and ugly, but I think there’s just as much, if not more to be said for a game that make the player carry out gruesome and ugly actions themselves. I don’t know how it’ll play, but the Last of Us presented a world that was wonderfully merciless and a pair of characters with a lot of potential. Overall, some very nice things from Sony.

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