E3 2011 - Everything Else That Mattered

Yes, still outdated, but I wanted to wrap up my E3 ramblings with a quick summary of the stuff I loved from the show floor.  

My most anticipated game from the show is easily Battlefield 3.   While I do have a lot of fun with the Call of Duty series, I did play a lot of Battlefield 2 back in the day, and I much prefer the slower, tactical aspect of its multiplayer over COD’s fast-paced “kill-die-respawn” style.   It’ll be great to see how the two games stack up against each other this Fall.

The Skyrim demo blew me away as well.   Oblivion and Fallout 3 are two of my favorite RPGs of this generation, and I’m glad to see Bethesda is bringing in that same great style to a new engine with a ton of new features added.  Summoning lightning storms? Fighting dragons? Destroying the economies of villages? Sign me up.

Other games like Mass Effect 3, Uncharted 3, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations all delivered what I think everyone was expecting and they all look incredible.   I would’ve liked to see a few more surprise game announcements like a new GTA or Tom Clancy game, but everything that was shown off looked really refined and well-made, making this year's E3 one of a kind.

Start the Conversation

E3 2011 - Nintendo Press Conference

I realize this is the most outdated post in history, but I just realized I forgot to post it before I left for Europe almost two weeks ago.

The announcement of the Wii U was definitely the biggest part of the conference.   After seeing it, I’m pretty impressed with what Nintendo has created and the various combinations of gameplay with the tablet controller and your TV help to give the system a lot of potential to come up with some pretty amazing games in the future.   I don’t think it’ll be more powerful than current consoles in terms of graphical fidelity, but there is definitely some new tech in there to help the Wii U differentiate itself from the Xbox or PlayStation.

The other big part of the conference was the emphasis on third party support, something Nintendo has desperately needed over the past few years.   It’s great to see games like Arkham City being announced for the system, while running the same visuals as the other consoles, but I’m hoping that the Wii U doesn’t just become a port machine, whose existence is to just give Nintendo fans the ability to play a Call of Duty or Need for Speed every year.   The first party demos all looked solid with the typical line-up of Zelda and Mario games.  

Overall, it was good to see Nintendo trying to get ahead of the competition like they did with the Wii way back when.   With enough third party support and a strong line-up of original first party titles, Nintendo definitely has the ability to steal the spotlight they once had.

Start the Conversation

E3 2011 - Sony Press Conference

Never start a show with a show stopper. That would be the one lesson I have for Sony after watching their press conference. The presentation opened with an epic trailer and demo for Uncharted 3, which looks amazing to say the least, featuring some original and well thought out set pieces that made the past two games so great. I kind of dozed off after that, as the press conference continued to demo games I had no real interest in with the exception of a new Sly game.

After basically rehashing EA’s presentation and explaining why their games would be better on the PS3, Sony revealed the NGP, now officially named the PlayStation Vita, demoing a new Uncharted title on it. As previously mentioned, the device features two analog sticks, front and rear touch pads, front and rear cameras, and voice chat. The device would also offer two versions; a wi-fi model and a 3G model with exclusive partnership to AT&T (boo). The tech behind the device is truly amazing, although that was the case with the PSP back in 2005, and ultimately failed since its game catalog mainly consisted of stripped down ports of bigger console games. However, the Uncharted demo looked pretty cool, allowing the player to swap between using the buttons and using the touch screens for gameplay. While that might not seem practical for a lot of people, it was definitely a nice touch, and just goes to show how much effort Sony put into this handheld. Then, as with earlier, a bunch of games were shown off that looked cool, but didn’t really have too much on an impact on me.

Overall, it was a pretty decent press conference I guess. I haven’t been a Sony fanboy in quite a while, so some of the first party stuff didn’t really interest me, but with the way things are shaping with Uncharted 3 and the PSVita, the company definitely has a lot of potential for the future.

Start the Conversation

E3 2011 - Ubisoft Press Conference

I don’t know what was worse, the annoying presenter, or the games that were actually shown. Ubisoft set the theme of their press conference to celebrate their 25th anniversary, showing brief clips of 1986 versions of games they were showing off in the presentation. While it was a cool touch, the sad part was that I’d almost rather play the 25 year old versions of some of the titles shown.

The show started with a demo of Rayman Origins. While it looked like a fun little platformer, I cried a little when I later learned that the development team behind the game was originally working on Beyond Good and Evil 2 before it got shelved in favor of a new Rayman game. Driver: San Francisco was also shown off and it looks a lot better than the past few games in the series. Of course, that isn’t saying much, since other things that are a lot better than the past two Driver games include stuff like Ebola and being on fire. Far Cry 3 was the surprise game shown off, going back to the “pacific island full of crazy people” theme from the first entries in the series. One of the characters in the demo poorly defined the word “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. I found this sadly ironic, considering this is something like the fifth Far Cry game set on a remote island loaded with mercenaries and monsters.

A lengthy Ghost Recon: Future Soldier demo was also shown and while a lot of people complained that it just made them want to play Battlefield or Call of Duty, it was one of the only games shown that got me excited. The near-futuristic equipment and tactical nature of its gameplay looked very appealing to me, and I can’t wait to check it out once it’s released. Gearbox also announced a comical spin-off to their ultra-realistic World War 2 shooter, Brothers in Arms, which should really just be called Inglourious Basterds: The Game. This was pretty disappointing considering I would much rather continue from the great storyline left off in the past BIA games. Finally, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was given its due time as an intro cinematic showed some of the story elements that will come up in the game, followed by an action-packed demo that made for an explosive finale to the press conference. The amazing new features and the promise of completing Ezio’s storyline have me pumped for this game.

Much of the remainder of the show was a disaster, showing off casual games like The Adventures of Tintin, Rabbids: Alive and Kicking, Just Dance 3, Rocksmith, and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. While the whole casual scene worked for them in past two years, this was Ubisoft’s chance to come back and support their core audience, maybe with a new Rainbow Six or Splinter Cell title, especially considering so many have been hoping for a true revival of the Tom Clancy series. Judging by the reactions of others, I think it’s fair to say that no one really cares about a new Just Dance or a Rock Band contender. It’s fairly apparent that music games are dead at the moment, especially with the shutdown of the Guitar Hero and DJ Hero series, as well as announcement that there would be no new Rock Band games in the near future. While the other casual games might give some attention to the family gamers, many were hoping for some more exciting titles, myself included.

Start the Conversation

E3 2011 - EA Press Conference

Almost every game shown in the presentation got me excited. Mass Effect 3 looks to be shaping up quite nicely, and the new shooter, cover, and melee mechanics should make the action set pieces way more fun and memorable than the past entries. I just hope the folks at BioWare put just as much effort into the RPG elements as they have into the action elements. If they can pull that off, ME3 should make for a nice conclusion to the Commander Shepard story. Next up was Need for Speed: The Run, which looked pretty fishy to me. While I'm a huge fan of the NFS series, The Run didn’t appear as much a racing game as it did a linear, scripted, quick time movie, but if they can prove me wrong, it could be a fun, story-driven racer.

Star Wars: The Old Republic showed off a ton of features that I’m excited for, including space battles, personal spaceships, companions, and raids. Unfortunately, there was no release date, which was really the only thing I was looking for. Even still, I’m willing to let BioWare take the necessary time to tweak these features to be the best they can be. On the sports side, SSX and FIFA 12 seem to be bringing new ideas to franchises I already love and I can’t wait for both of them.

EA saved the best for last, showing off a lengthy PC demo for Battlefield 3. It completely blew me away, and I really think it has a shot to take the spotlight from Modern Warfare 3 this year. I would love that, especially since the Battlefield games have always given me that authentic shooter feel, with the guns, visuals, audio, and physics always feeling both hard hitting and realistic, while the COD franchise seems to just compensate by just adding more explosions to their campaigns these days.

Start the Conversation

E3 2011 - Microsoft Press Conference

So I figured I’d start my blogging adventures with a summary of the biggest week in gaming: E3.   I’ll be going over each press conference, and then maybe writing a final entry with all the stuff that wasn’t covered during the presentations.

Most of the conference was spent pitching new Kinect titles and Xbox Live features, both of which I have mixed feelings about.   Some of the Kinect stuff looked promising, like the Ghost Recon weapon customization, the Forza 4 integration, and the Kinect Fun Labs, but most of the other stuff looked incomplete or just plain odd.   I had no interest in Star Wars Kinect or Fable: The Journey, the actual Kinect gameplay in Ghost Recon just looked weird (moving your forearm up and down to fire weapons), and the Mass Effect 3 voice commands would just make me feel like a crazy person yelling at my TV.   As for the features, I’m pretty excited for live TV, YouTube, Bing, and cloud storage, especially the latter, which hasn’t gotten the buzz it really deserves.   The only feature that didn’t really interest me was the UFC partnership, a sport I’ve never really followed too closely.

As for the games shown, Modern Warfare 3 looks about the same as you’d expect; lots of bad guys and explosions.   In fact, despite a new engine, and a (mostly) new development team, it looks exactly the same as its predecessor from two years ago.   The Tomb Raider demo looked pretty sweet, especially the “don’t get raped” quick time events.   I want to call it Uncharted with a girl, but the first Uncharted was basically Tomb Raider with a guy, so I’ll avoid that comparison.   Gears 3 looks pretty solid, although it damn well should, considering the game was supposed to be released two months ago.   I’m very excited for Halo Anniversary, especially since I wanted to go through Halo 1 after finishing Reach back in September, but never got around to it.   Online co-op and the classic multiplayer maps should be more than enough to hold me over until Halo 4 is released next year, which I’m equally pumped for.

Start the Conversation