E3 2012 is over. Done, dusted and put back into the cupboard to gather dust until 2013 comes around. The games have been showcased and now they’re back to being eagerly awaited by the gaming populace or loathed by the majority. However, just because the conferences have concluded and everybody has gone home doesn’t mean the continued discussion of the event’s announcements has to cease.
What will this year’s E3 be remembered for in the months to come? Unfortunately the answer to that question is likely not a positive one but despite the event’s series of problems that dragged down the event on the whole and made a negative impression of the industry, there were moments that shone above the others. In this post, we’ll take a look at the ten moments that defined E3 2012 and why that was the case.
As usual, a little note has to go in here that all of these choices are of my own personal opinion and as such, you may agree completely or disagree to the point of anger. Regardless, your own views and opinions are always sincerely welcomed in the comment box, unless you’re a raging psychopath who wants to rip my innards out for mentioning the wrong game. If you’re one of those people, please don’t hurt me.
10 – FAR CRY 3
I’ve made no secret of my disappointment at Far Cry 2. The game had so much promise and pre-release hype that you could almost smell it in the air. What was eventually sent to the shelves was a repetitive, irritating and underwhelming title that completely went against all expectations I had of it. Its potential to influence my decision on whether or not to purchase the third title is staggering but after seeing the gameplay demonstration at Ubisoft’s conference, I am convinced that mistakes have been learned from.
Far Cry 3’s game environment looks gorgeous and the combat appears to be much-improved since Far Cry 2. The promise of a return of the level editor springs enough joy in me to somersault out of the window (don’t worry, I won’t) and a 4-player co-op campaign sounds both promising and exciting.
That being said, I fell hook, line and sinker for the hype preceding FC2 and it was detrimental to how I eventually perceived the game upon its release. Therefore, as much as the game appears to look good, I’ll reserve judgement for further down the line.
9 – MIIVERSE
Nintendo’s conference underwhelmed on so many levels yet somewhere within, their social network platform managed to surprise in appearing somewhat useful and, dare I say it, rather un-Nintendo-like. The fact that the service takes up the Wii U’s main menu space will seemingly make sure that it’s used by more people than what normally would, which in turn may also mean that the number of players communicating with each other will increase, making the service more useful and not just something to ignore.
Miiverse will inevitably be plagued with sexual miscreants who will use the opportunity Nintendo has given them to write filthy messages and draw bad sketches of Mario’s nether-regions, but Nanny Nintendo has already stated their plans to screen ‘all’ messages going through the service, which could take up to thirty minutes per message. I’m not sure if this will be useful if I’m playing Mario and asking for help on a particular level after dying fifty times in a row, but the Wii U will inevitably be used by a large population of young children and therefore it’s to be expected that Nintendo will want to avoid bad press by not allowing the kiddiewinks to look at pictures of boobs whilst mommy is in the other room.
Miiverse will also be arriving on the 3DS, phones and other devices which furthers its potential at being a large social platform for gamers to interact with each other based around the content they’re interested in. It has potential and I’m looking forward to being able to use it, and not for being naughty.
8 – ZOMBIU
The Wii U’s insistence on providing material for both casual and hardcore gamers alike was a striking part of Nintendo’s conference and ZombiU is looking to be offering a substantial amount for the types who love to see guts and limbs spread across the floor. The game made good use of the British National Anthem, as well as the Wii U’s PSP/3DS hybrid controller and it looks to be a very stellar offering as a result of this. Zombies in video games are a concept that can either succeed, and offer the player a vast resource of fun and immersion, or fail miserably and result in the game being as dead as the corpse running towards you. It remains to be seen which side of the spectrum ZombiU falls on but in the mean-time, a Wii U purchase is beginning to look evermore enticing.
Unfortunately, I have read that the gameplay demonstrated at E3 was pre-rendered footage, which may lead to the distinct possibility that the game won’t look anywhere near as good as it did on stage. However, I’m one of those players who believes that the gameplay is what makes a game enjoyable, rather than pretty graphics, so I will reserve judgement.
7 – SmartGlass
In the midst of Microsoft’s overwhelming failure at E3, they did unveil something that has the potential to truly take-off in the future. SmartGlass is that concept.
Microsoft wants the Xbox experience to become the main source of media and entertainment consumption in your house. You’ve got the games, the Kinect and the ability to watch various TV channels and on-demand content if and when you choose. Now they’re aiming to expand that to your mobile phones and tablet devices, using SmartGlass as that source of connectivity. Your phone can connect to your console, meaning you could watch movies or listen to music on the Xbox and then resume it later on the phone. Or, you could browse the internet on the console using your phone as a mouse cursor.
However, what Microsoft failed to talk about whilst unveiling SmartGlass were the the true possibilities the concept opens up in regards to actual gaming. Yes, they showed Waypoint data being unlocked in the middle of playing Halo 4 and then being available to read on a connected tablet device, but that offers nothing. I’ve read various examples of the uses SmartGlass could potentially have, mentioned by random people after the event, that make me want to try it out right this second. One such example was having your character’s cell phone in Grand Theft Auto be accessible on your actual phone. Another would be having your phone or tablet function as a rear-view mirror whilst playing a racing game, or as a keypad for entering passwords or codes in various titles.
SmartGlass has the potential to offer so much to the games that we play. It’s unfortunate that they choose to demonstrate it using functions that are neither impressive or revolutionary. The key to seeing SmartGlass’ true potential is to look past what Microsoft showed you and to think about how developers can utilise it to offer another layer to your gaming experience. Once you’ve seen that, you’ve seen the real SmartGlass.
6 – HALO 4
The vast majority of Microsoft’s announced titles this year were sequels, most of which demonstrated very little difference between the new and the old. In the midst of those announcements arrived a lengthy gameplay demonstration for Halo 4 and the continuation of the franchise that came to a natural end back in 2007.
Let’s get one thing straight: Halo 4 looks like more of the same in regards to the Halo franchise and formula. There are a few alterations of course, which most likely spawn from a change in developer, but the parts of the Halo equation are all there and working in harmony with one another. Anybody who’s read my article on the issue with sequels in the video game industry will understand my frustration at sequels that have been dragged out purely to make a quick buck but despite Halo 4 looking annoyingly similar, it still looks damn fine.
I do consider myself a fan of the Halo franchise and I still love Halo Reach to this day but no Halo game feels complete without good ol’ Master Chief in the driving seat. He’s back, the story’s back and so are the players. It may be an unnecessary sequel but it’s a good-looking one nevertheless.
5 – LEGO CITY UNDERCOVER
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises to emerge from E3 2012 was how brilliant Lego City Undercover is looking. It’s quite bizarre how a game where everything and everyone is built of plastic square bricks looks so appealing and if there is a game that makes me want a Wii U right here and now, this would be it.
Is this basically Lego Grand Theft Auto? Maybe, but would that necessarily be a bad thing? Hell no. The open-world aspect, coupled with the crime-solving concept, make for a very enticing experience, which will also be arriving on the 3DS as well as the Wii U. As for other platforms, that’s not apparent but if Nintendo have managed to scoop this as an exclusive for their newly-launching console, they’ve hit the sweet spot.
We’ve had many a Lego game over the years, from Batman, Harry Potter and even Indiana Jones, but this is the first time we’ve seen a Lego title that isn’t based off the successes of other franchises and is purely its own game. As a result, it looks fresh, exciting and full of plastic goodness.
4 – TOMB RAIDER
Lara Croft and her delectable bosom have had many an adventure over the years, some rather enjoyable and some that should be wiped from existence. She’s climbed many a mountain, fought many a beast and escaped death many a time. What next? Back to the past, it seems; back to the origins of Ms Croft and how she transformed into an adventuring mastermind.
Square Enix’s reboot of the Tomb Raider name looks gorgeous and certainly not underwhelming. Comparisons to the Uncharted franchise are not too difficult to find and it’s not hard to see why, but as I’ve said before, the two games have very similar concepts and designs and I’m sure both have taken inspiration from one another at some point. Regardless, this is a reboot in all sense of the word. Lara Croft has been taken back to the very foundations of her being and I’m looking forward to absorbing every last drop of the experience.
This reboot is exactly what Tomb Raider has needed. The series has always had a lot of potential but the last few titles (not including the Guardian of Light downloadable game) have not utilised enough of it. One of two things could’ve happened to the franchise after the disappointing sales of the previous titles: a complete abandonment of the franchise or a significant move back to the drawing board. Whilst rebooting the series isn’t exactly the most imaginative way to reinvigorate Tomb Raider, it appears to have had the desired effect and made Lara Croft exciting once again.
3 – THE LAST OF US
I did not watch Sony’s press conference but I did catch a few trailers that they unveiled later on. Despite a completely unnecessary new God of War game and a dismal outing for their new ‘Wonderbook’ (don’t ask), their conference did unleash a terrific gameplay demonstration for the upcoming The Last of Us. Naughty Dog have once again shone their creative genius onto a game and filled it with brilliance.
The Last of Us takes the post-apocalyptic scenario and transforms it into something less gloomy and depressing into something exciting and prosperous. The gameplay demo showed off a strong combat system, gorgeous visuals and a fairly decent enemy AI system that wasn’t imbecilic. Not only that, there were various moments during the demo that looked scripted, at least to me, and the fact that they weren’t only adds to the overwhelmingly positive impression it left on me.
I do not have a PS3, nor do I intend on getting one any time soon, and therefore I will not be able to check out The Last of Us when it’s finally released. Instead, I’ll have to sit and watch YouTube videos telling me how good it is and how unlucky I am not to have a replenishing bank balance. Nevertheless, a post-apocalyptic world has never looked so fantastic and inviting before. Naughty Dog, you’ve done it again. Bravo.
2 – ASSASSIN’S CREED 3
It’s finally here. After the underwhelming release of Revelations last year, the franchise is finally getting a breathe of fresh air blown into its brilliant lungs. Brotherhood and Revelations were by no means bad games but their existence only served to fuel the opinion that the franchise was being milked for all it’s worth rather than continued in a natural manner. I don’t necessarily agree with that but irrespective of those titles, we’re coming around to entry number three, and what a wonder it’s looking to be.
The setting has changed, the character is different, the environment is more responsive and things look much-improved. You still climb structures with inhuman ease, kill enemies as easily as killing ants and fade away into the shadows as though you were never there, as per the Assassin’s Creed formula, but the gameplay demonstration still offered enough to make this latest entry feel different to what we’ve already seen, and it just looks fantastic.
I’ve loved Assassin’s Creed since the second title (I prefer to forget the first ever existed) and the story, both in the past and the present, still has a lot of room left to manoeuvre and Assassin’s Creed 3 is looking to be moving things along significantly. Whether it brings the current story arc to an end remains to be seen but October is looking ever so exciting right now.
1 – WATCH DOGS
So yes, Watch Dogs is my highlight of this year’s E3. And in other news, meteorologists have concluded that the sky turns blue in the absence of clouds. Anybody that’s read any of my E3 coverage, both on here and on Twitter, will be aware of my absolute love for Ubisoft’s wonderful new IP and should not be even remotely surprised of its position on this list.
Watch Dogs looks too good to be true (or even current-gen). Exquisite graphics have been intertwined with fluid combat, intuitive hacking elements and an open-world environment to create a true GTA/Deux Ex hybrid. The result is an interesting, exciting game that has a release date that’s simply far too long off.
As I’ve mentioned before, E3 2012 demonstrated the heavy reliance on sequels more than ever before. It’s one of the main contributory factors as to why Watch Dogs looked so impressive and surprising and gave Ubisoft a massive edge over its competitors. The game looks far too good to even belong in this current generation of consoles and yet it’s arriving in it anyway. It’s rare that a game can truly astound me with such ferocity.
Also, if you think of the ways in which Microsoft’s SmartGlass technology could enhance the experience, you have an open-book of possibilities. This is what E3 should be about.
So, there you have my ten moments from E3 2012 that defined the event for this year. With the exception of Sony, I’ve written lengthy pieces on each of the main conferences, given my opinion on the announcements made within and written an article that was born from the event’s book of errors. I think I can finally say that my E3 coverage has concluded with this post and although the event has been somewhat of a failure, I have enjoyed discussing it at length here and elsewhere. Even at its lowest point, it still gives us much to talk about and that’s why I love it.
What did you think of E3 this year? Good? Bad? Completely and utterly abhorrent? Speak your mind in the comment box!