The E3 for us gamers who couldn’t attend E3 live, is over. Five conferences from the biggest publishers at the gaming scene has been running on our screens and live at stage at the E3 showfloor – at one point over 60.000 was looking at the streaming of the Nintendo showcase at the same time on e3.nintendo.com – and this is not counting in the people who watched it on GameSpot and other available places.
I’m not too sure which one was best – they all kind of let me down with one thing or another, and some developers and publishers have been very silent as well during E3 – and THQ was hoping that E3 would swallow the fact that they closed a whole department and let go of huge batch of employees, and Activision wasn’t once mentioned. No new console was unveiled this time around, and Nintendo made sure to underline that the Wii U was a gaming console and not a gamepad. And why didn’t we hear more about the upcoming DC universe fighter in Batman Arkham style, Injustice: Gods Among Us?
First things first – as Microsoft was the first to run a showcase, I’m starting with them.
First up was Microsoft.
While Microsoft clearly – and dearly – went out of their way to make the Dance Central 3 announcement the most memorable piece from their show by having Usher making a live performance show, I think they are starting to milk the franchise, just as it happened with the Guitar Hero games.
Microsoft knows there’s a market for their console to be a media console instead of just a gaming console and they know they can take some market shares from Apple TV. They talked a lot about already implemented but also upcoming TV and video apps for the console. But something like this need an easy way to navigate with, and what better than your tablet with available touch screen? Microsoft introduced Xbox SmartGlass, which is essentially the same as Panasonics Viera and Samsungs Smart View.
Mark Witten told a us a lot of this new option, but over exaggerated it a bit by saying that it was innovative and never seen before. Granted, Xbox SmartGlass should supposedly be able to work together with the Xbox 360, unlike the other options I mentioned above, but essentially it’s the same thing. Xbox SmartGlass is supposedly the contender for the Wii U console with the included gamepad. Let’s say that the exclusivity contract for ZombiU expires, and the developers for the game sees a market in the Xbox 360 owners who did not buy a Wii U. Should be feasible to show the doorlock and make the Zombification part on a tablet, right? And how about a paid DLC for Batman Arkham City to include what the Armored Edition for the Wii U have to essentially be upgraded to do the same?
Microsoft showed Halo Waypoint on the tablet on the big screen, along with football manager options for the EA Football Club from what I recall by memory. This will be essentially launch apps/options for Xbox SmartGlass I reckon.
The Internet Explorer is coming to Xbox. Seriously? Who wants to browse online with shabby controls, huge loading times and so much flash incompatibility that it hurts? I hate to use the browser on my PS3, and I regret it every damn time I use it, unless it’s PS3 browser certified webpages – so why in the world would I use it on my Xbox? I have my laptop, which does the job on browsing, easy and without incompatibility – with mouse and keyboard, making it easy and fast to navigate. In several tabs. With right-click. And the option to update Java and Flash if needed. And a browser that remembers my usernames and passwords so I don’t have to.
I do not think these things will available in the IE browser on the Xbox 360 when it launches digitally, and therefore it’s a crappy and useless add-on for the Xbox 360.
Then Electronic Arts entered the stage
More content for their Star Wars themed MMO; Star Wars The Old Republic. The host talked for a while about how well the game has been doing since launch and made a huge deal out of sales numbers, subscriptions and so on. They promised more content for the game, including characters, missions and areas. They showed a very nice cinematic trailer that showcased the different add-ons for the game.
For me, the most interesting announcements was the reveal of Need for Speed Most Wanted and Dead Space 3. A few days before E3, EA sent out a press release containing some of their E3 announcements, and Need for Speed Most Wanted was mentioned, but without any info on the game. I love the idea of an open world game with the feeling from the Need for Speed games – I just hope they’ve included some fun game modes and playgrounds.
Another game that they announced that really caught my interest is Dead Space 3 – I haven’t played any of the games yet, but I’ve seen my fiance play through the second game. With minor improvements on the graphics and a continued story from the previous game, I’m sure we are in for a great ride. And this time with 2 player co-op which sounds so cool, and the gameplay looks intense and gratifying with some interesting dialogue. EA, please be careful on how much your characters is going to swear in the game – many gamers complained a little over the dialogues in Bulletstorm.
This might be big news for the big Battlefield 3 fans that plays the game religiously, but I couldn’t care less. EA announced their Premium subscription, which is the equivalent to the Call of Duty Elite membership. Members will get new maps and other DLC early on, and for reduced a price or for free.
When EA had shown their SimCity Social game for facebook, the screen showed a tractor dragging away a sign that said Ville, followed by the words “Less Ville, more City”, which made me chuckle. Way to go to make a slap at Zynga, EA. It has turned out this will be the final motto for the game.
Now it was Ubisofts turn to impress the fans
Ubisoft had a huge lineup of games, and on contrary to EA which didn’t even mentioned the Wii U, they focused on their upcoming games for the console that hits the street later this year. And with Aisha Tyler as host (voice of female trooper in Halo: Reach, and starring in 24 hours, Friends and Ghost Whisperer) which presented their games well with energy and engagement. I could have done without her ping-pong talk with the guy onscreen, sitting backstage though – that was kind of weird.
They made a huge deal about Shootmania Storm, their upcoming online shooter. The game is a spin-off of Trackmania, or rather a part of the Maniaplanet world they made around Trackmania. Ubisoft had convinced a bunch of professional gamers to come onstage and battle it out on the big screen. Unfortunately the boys ended up winning over the girls.
Ubisoft surprised everyone when they showed a gameplay trailer for an upcoming game, called Watch Dogs. The time is somewhere in the distant future, where everything is tied together via computers. Traffic lights, cell phones, peoples computers – with the ctOS program. This program also contains unbelievable large amount of info on people about anything. But as always, there will be rebels and people working against the federal system – people who hack the ctOS and benefit from it somehow. You’re playing as an assassin, and with your device at hand you can change things in the world around you to make things work in your favour – tap into a cell phone nearby and listen to the conversation to locate your target, change traffic lights or cut the power if you will. Check the gameplay trailer below.
As much as the CGI trailer for Avengers: Battle for Earth looked promising, recent screens shows something entirely different. I can’t say if there’s two different versions on the way for different consoles (it’s not like this hasn’t happen before), or if the CGI trailer overstated the look of the game – which WILL bite them in the ass when the time comes if that’s the case.
Sony wrapped up the day
It’s hard to tell if it was Wonderbook or Playstation All-Star Battle Royale that took up most of the time onstage. Wonderbook looks really interesting – using the Eye camera and the Move controller along with the AR technology, you get to learn the spells and magic from the Harry Potter books. The game is made in unison with J.K. Rowling, the brain behind the books – I guess Sony was thinking “People know the Harry Potter universe and love it, and it will take too much time to work on our own spells – let’s see if Rowling are in for the idea” and she was. Learn the spells and fulfill the challenges with your newly learned skills. Sounds like this game will be driven by DLC releases where you will make use of the book that comes with the game – the new Move-pheriferal.
We knew about Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale ahead of E3, and we also knew it would be coming to Vita. The host showed some gameplay on the game, even as crossplatform, two players on Vitas, two players on PS3. I want this game, but can not settle if I want it on my Vita or on my PS3. I want more games for my Vita, but again, more friends would play with me on the PS3. Unless this will work as the RC Motorstorm game where you’ll get the game for both platforms via the store, it’s going to be a tough decision for me.
The makers of Heavy Rain has announced their next game, called Beyond: Two Souls. A CGI trailer for the story was shown, ans it’s not clear how you’ll play the game. Heavy Rain was both critically acclaimed but also criticised – people loved the stories and how it was told, but some found it a little boring being quick time events all the way through. I’ll be looking out for this game, it’s for sure. In the mean time I should play the Heavy Rain game…
Not enough love for the Vita onstage – while there’s plenty of games on the way for the handheld, Sony only managed 10 minutes of their time for the Vita. Most of which was some Assassins Creed, and we’ve known for some time that an AC game would be released for this wonder.
The next day, Nintendo was in the hotspot
Nintendo opened their showcase with the announcement of Pikmin 3, a highly anticipated title of the fans of the two first games in the series. And Nintendo knew this, so they made a big deal out of it. Miamoto went onstage with the big announcement, and showed a gameplay video for a while.
A L.A. Noire build with legos? Now there’s something fun to play. Lego City Undercover was announced, unveiling lego elements blended in with elements from the GTA games/La Noire, and with parkour elements as well. This is a game I actually really want to play that seems to be Wii U exclusive – for now.
A couple of Mario games was announced, but nothing out of the extrardinary for the series. A 2D platformer for the 3DS, a new Paper Mario game and Super Mario.Wii sequel with the same elements, apart from the option to make platforms for your friends with the gamepad.