The big three of 2012’s E3 (Microsoft, Sony, & Nintendo) have had their big events and the only appropriate way I can describe how I feel is by calling this whole thing a dusty finish. For those of you who are not overly familiar with pro-wrestling terminology
, a dusty finish is when a match has an ambiguous ending or there is no clear winner. A "Flair Flop" is exactly what it is. Started by Ric Flair, its when someone comically flops onto the ground after taking a painful blow. We need to be frank; there was no clear winner at E3 this year. While I’m sure you can make a case for why someone may have won E3 there’s easily a counter point available to show why they in fact lost… and in general I thought all three presentations were mediocre at absolute best, actually calling any of these a winner is like saying you had the least explosive diarrhea out of all your friends.
I'm also going to cover a couple of other things E3 related in this blog too. So, if you're not entirely up for reading someone breaking down why everything about all 3 major press events kinda sucked this year, you can definitely scroll down if you feel free.
To be quite honest, I had substantially less
written down about Microsoft’s event than I did for either Sony or Nintendo. It wasn’t necessarily that I had less bad things to say about Microsoft, but it was just that everything was so consistently bad that I couldn’t find anything standout terrible to write about. In fact, one of the notes I wrote down here was simply “Bad”. I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that Microsoft is just phoning it in until next year, when they can trot out the Nextbox and blitz us with pretty new looking versions of Forza
, because they spent so much time talking about everything besides video games that I questioned whether or not I was watching an event about a video game system anymore.
I'm honestly going to keep my Microsoft segment short here, because this event was so bad that it really doesn't warrant too much time from me. SmartGlass is a very novel concept and I honestly thought its presentation was decent (a rarity for Microsoft's event), however this is just one of those things I see no reason for wanting. If I really want to know behind the scenes info on something I'm watching, I'm just going to pause my movie and go load up IMDB on my laptop. That way I can find out what I want to know about the movie I’m watching and I don’t have to take my eyes away from my TV while the movie is actually playing. There were two things about SmartGlass I did find neat – specifically the ability to start up a movie on my iPad and then finish watching it on my 360, and then the ability to use my smart-phone as a 360 remote. The remote function is the only thing I'd actively use though, because if I'm traveling on the road I'm likely not going to have the time to sit down and watch something on my tablet device and if I’m going to be gone somewhere for a prolonged amount of time I'm more liable to just bring one of my consoles along with me anyway.
Yes, Microsoft did trot out Black Ops 2
for their finale and yes BLOPS2 actually does look pretty impressive... but a third party thing that every other system is going to get shouldn't be your crown jewel for your press event. Come on Microsoft, you can so be better than this.
The Flair Flop Moment
: That instant where you realized Halo 4
was the only good thing they had to offer.
Out of the three major events at E3 I thought Sony had, arguably, the most up-and-down presentation of the three. Jack Tretton came out and gave a pretty good opening speech while looking pretty comfortable in front of a huge audience, which he normally seems to be. But then things quickly dropped to one of their first low points when David Cage walked out and delivered one of the biggest snooze-fests of E3. If Heavy Rain
made you think this guy would rather make movies instead of video games then Beyond
likely solidified that belief. Sorry, but three minutes of Ellen Page sitting in a chair with a blank face isn’t going to wow me over and neither is another 2 minute montage of things that don’t look like gameplay either.
Sony’s event quickly rebounded up to one of its higher points by trotting out some people working on Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
(y’know, an actual video game) and we even got to see a live demo of it. The game looked pretty neat and it’s on my radar, but the lack of character reveals was quite disappointing. Yes I know they revealed Nathan Drake and Big Daddy, but Drake wasn’t exactly a shocking revelation since everybody expected him to be there anyway. The Big Daddy reveal was neat even if it was spoiled ahead of time. But c’mon, just two characters? Where’s Sackboy, Solid Snake, Dante, or Ratchet? And if you’re going to reveal these guys why not actually show them in the game at least a little, if the game is due out before the 2012 holidays I’d hope you’d have some form of them implemented into the game already.
Following All-Stars we had the announcement of a Vita bundle with Assassin’s Creed, which pretty much ended any further mention the Vita would get, and then got a live demo of Assassin’s Creed III. Not going spend too much time talking any third party titles, but the ship combat admittedly looked pretty nifty. Following a neat but not mind blowing FarCry 3
presentation, everything seemed to be going relatively smooth for Sony’s presentation. Then everything came to a screeching halt once Wonderbook was introduced.
Now I’m not against Wonderbook or anything like that, I’ll get into my thoughts about it in a second. I was against how long Wonderbook was on stage for Sony’s event. The entire Wonderbook segment only lasted about 10 minutes but man it felt so much longer, partially because it was such a boring segment. Like I said, I’m not entirely against Wonderbook, however, the whole augmented reality thing has never really gotten my attention much. My only experience with augmented reality comes from my 3DS, but the whole novelty of “oh my god this stuff is in my living room” and everything else with it wore off in about 15 minutes with me. Personal tastes aside, I have trouble seeing how people will want to buy Wonderbook considering the investments required for it; a Playstation 3, Move, and then Wonderbook plus the book/game.
After Wonderbook finally came to an end the event went on and the two other heavy hitters showed up; God of War: Ascension
and The Last of Us
. Without going into too much detail, I actually felt like they stuck with God of War
a little too much. If they were going to do a single-player only demo they could have trimmed a minute or two off of the demo, this is the sixth God of War
game after all so we all know how it looks when Kratos fights. I personally would have liked to have seen more of the multiplayer. The Last of Us
was obviously the crown jewel of Sony’s presentation and I was glad that they ended up on an up note instead of a down note. I’ll get into more about TLOU
later in this blog, but I’ll make two points now; I liked that Jack Tretton was even a little flustered a bit after the demo when he came back out on stage, and whoever that guy was that demoed TLOU
should go down as having the most boss exit ever.
The Flair Flop Moment
: When Wonderbook got more time on stage than Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
or the Playstation Vita.
The presentation Nintendo threw wasn't as up and down as Sony's, nor was it as flat out terrible as Microsoft's, it was its own kind of consistent mediocre from start to finish. Yes, it had moments that were definitely better than others but it never hit the highs of Sony or the lows of Microsoft (in my opinion).
The Wii-U was definitely presented much better than last years completely botched reveal, that goes without saying. And I will admit, from what Nintendo showed the tech that goes into the Wii-U does have me mildly interested. While I ultimately think most games will treat the Wii-U's second screen exactly like they treat the second screen on the DS/3DS (a place to just show a map or inventory) stuff like ZombiU
(which I'll get to later) did show that there's potential here, although at the same time there's plenty of ways the whole concept can go horridly wrong. It was also revealed that the Wii-U will support two tablet controllers on one system. While I'm not entirely surprised by this, given that having more than 2 would be taxing on the system, I did openly laugh when Reggie said “This will support two Wii-U controllers, just like the NES”. Obviously I understand the context of his statement, but you really shouldn't point out a parallel between your brand new system and your 30 year old system and try to pass it off as a positive.
We also got a glance at the dashboard that the Wii-U has. This only makes me ask one thing – why cant we have a normal dashboard anymore? The Vita went to this silly touchscreen OS that doesn’t even let you scroll with a d-pad like it should, the 360's dashboard looks like the side of a NASCAR vehicle with minimal room devoted to actual gaming, and the Wii-U uses this goofy Miiverse. While it isn't the only reason, I'm moving more to PS3 and PC gaming because the PS3's XMB and Steam interface aren't clunky attention whoring GUI's.
Nintendo also showed off New Super Mario Bros. U
and New Super Mario Bros. 2
for Wii-U and 3DS respectively, and I was significantly underwhelmed during their big event. As I've said in a previous post
, I really hated the ultra-clean conservative art style that the previous two New Super Mario Bros.
titles used. Obviously I was disappointed to see that art style continue on, and to be quite honestly I couldn't tell the difference between the 3DS and Wii-U versions. Remember when each new Mario game looked unique compared to the rest of the series? Someone on Dtoid wrote a similar article talking about that, but there's about 12 pages of E3 coverage I have to sift through to find it and I don't feel like doing it. If any of you stuck around for Spike TV's coverage after the Nintendo presser, Adam Sessler actually called out Nintendo about the NSMB
games and said that the totally-identical 3DS version completely undercuts the value of the Wii-U version.
Did anybody else notice how Nintendo went almost an hour before actually having a live demo on stage for their presentation? I honestly don't remember any other live demos happening before they trotted out dancers to be tortured by Reggie during that Just Dance 4
presentation. Which, by the way, was my personal highlight of Nintendo's event mainly because it was fun seeing Reggie actively dick with those people and them compare it to running Nintendo of America, well played Reggie. Speaking of music games, Nintendo also showed a video for the working title Sing
. This honestly looked terrible, not only do you now have to listen to your friends pretend they're Grammy award winning artists but now you have to actively dance along with them? Yeah, I'll just stick to karaoke night at the bar thank you very much.
The Flair Flop Moment
: Wasting time on your E3 event showing Batman: Arkham City
. A game that, by the time the Wii-U is actually available in retail, will have already been out for every other system for an entire year.
My Random Ways To Improve E3’s Presentation
Yes, I know what a controller looks like
When your friends come over to your house to check out that sweet new game you got, how many of your pals stare at you or your hands while you play that new game instead of watching your TV? Nobody, so why do people suddenly assume that’s what we want to see at E3? Stop cutting away from the neat gameplay footage to show a guy standing there hitting a couple of buttons, unless it’s some motion-control or touchscreen game nobody wants to see people hitting buttons. No offense to the people who put the hard work into making their games, but we don’t want to see you – we want to see what you made. This isn’t one of those things that necessarily infuriates me when it happens, but my reaction is more akin to when Bill Murray slaps that calculator out of Dan Aykroyd’s hand in Ghostbusters
and goes “Would you stop that!”
Wow, that audience sure looks nice
This is another one of those “it happens no place else, why do it here?” kind of issues. All three of the big E3 presentations started up with some neat video package to set the stage for everything, yet the cameras during the internet and TV streams would constantly cut away from whatever was playing on the screens to show off the stage or look at the audience. How many times do you remember cameras cutting to the crowd in the middle of a play during the Super Bowl, or jumping to a long distance shot of the football field where you can barely tell what’s going on (again, in mid-play)? Cut that shit out, we knew what the stage looked like the first time. Unless the stage transforms into a giant visage of Stone Cold Steve Austin shot gunning a beer, I don’t need to see the stage again.
Blah blah blah, video game
I constantly grow perplexed as to why developers feel the need to come out on stage and lecture us about why we should be sold on their new game before showing us their new game. It reeks of a cheap used car salesmen tactic where they try to sell you the car before you drive it. And some of these speeches are getting a little ridiculously long too, like David Cage before the Beyond
video. It’s gotten to the point where we need to have a band available to start playing music to cue these guys to get off stage, like what they do with the Oscars when that guy nobody wants to hear talking starts talking too long. You guys remember when the Capcom reps came out and said “We are going to show you Resident Evil 6
”, showed the game, said “Thank you”, and then walked away? Or that guy from Naughty Dog who never said a thing
and simply played The Last of Us
? We need more of that. Go out there, show your game, and let your actual work be what hypes people up for your game. That way you not only don’t waste our time, you open up more time for other people to show their stuff too.
Cable TV? What’s that?
To get away from griping about the presentation of E3, the developers and publishers who bring their content to their presentations need to do a better job remembering that this content goes on live television. By that, I mean don’t bring stuff that you know is going to be continuously censored. The demos for Watch Dogs
and The Last of Us
were especially ruined for me because every fifteen seconds everything would get bleeped out and pull me back out of the otherwise engaging experience. And I’m not really exaggerating about this either, I watched the Sony event on G4 that night and the preview for TLOU
was bleeped out for comically long amounts of time. I know you want to give the most appropriate preview possible about what your game is about, but if you know your content is going to sound like an episode of the Jerry Springer Show then you should really put together a more cable TV friendly version of your audio.
Top Five Games of E3
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
If you have no solid hack and slasher to turn to now that DmC
has been rebooted or because Ninja Gaiden 3
is probably a game you should heavily keep your eyes on. The people behind Bayonetta
and the sexy-and-underappreciated Vanquish
look like they have a winning formula on their hands with their collaboration with Hideo Kojima. There are some circles of people complaining that this doesn’t look like a traditional Metal Gear
game, I can only use the word “idiot” to describe them simply because this was never meant to be a traditional entry in the series. The combat looks super fluid and the visuals look pretty impressive, basically this looks like the game all of the fans of Gray Fox and MGS4
Raiden have been waiting for. And it seems like everybody who’s played a hands-on demo of the game agrees that the game is shaping up to be mighty sexy. On a semi related note, the “slash any direction you want” mechanic that is apparently mapped to the right analog stick seems to be very quickly becoming the counter-point to all of the people who thought Skyward Sword
would be impossible on a standard controller.
While I gripe to Microsoft about Halo
being the best thing about their presentation, admittedly Halo 4
did look pretty impressive. As a fan of the series
for a long time I have to admit that I grew a bit apathetic with Bungie’s attempts to evolve the series, and to a certain extent I think Bungie was too stubborn to admit that Halo needed to change. The E3 presentation showed me that 343 Studios can definitely keep Halo looking and feeling the same as it did before, and the new videos I’ve been seeing of the gameplay make this look like the first Halo game in a while that actually looks like it’s taking steps forwards instead of steps sideways. Some questions still obviously remain, like why are the Covenant still hostile even though the war is over, but all signs are pointing to this new game looking like the best Halo in a while in my eyes.
This seems to be the consensus title at E3 that caught everybody by surprise. Fellow Dtoider Trev expressed a viewpoint about this game in his E3 blog
that’s pretty similar to what I thought. Watch Dogs
seems have the same dystopian style to it that that RoboCop
had where the world is pretty grounded except for one outlandish element, gun twirling justice robots for the former and a city wide operating system for the latter. Also, the game was fucking gorgeous to look at. When people are mistaking your game for a next-gen title you should definitely give your art department a huge high five. I’m not entirely sold on Watch Dogs
yet, this game could fall to the same pitfalls that Assassin’s Creed
seems to have where it’s an open world game where you are supposedly able to do things the way you want… only to find out there’s usually only one good way to do things. I’m also holding out on this a little until more news about the PC version becomes available, since this is Ubisoft and they seem to perpetually screw up their PC games all the time. However, this game is totally on my list.
I’m putting this here mainly because I like the concept of it. I think this could be one of those games that uses the Wii-U’s second screen in some neat fashion and not as a goofy mini-map or inventory screen like the DS does with almost everything. I’m also 100% on board with the idea that when you die you start over with a new person and have to hunt your old-self down in order to get your supplies back, it just makes sense from a zombie-apocalypse perspective. It also reminds me of having to find your blood stain in Demon’s/Dark Souls
, except this time your blood stain can murder you and is probably surrounded by several other flesh hungry blood stains. It will probably be another fun kind of meta-game that will feel both punishing and rewarding at the same time. I’ll definitely need to see more about this game, but if this looks as good as it is on paper this could be a game that puts a Wii-U next to my TV.
The Last of Us
Admittedly, I actually think they picked a bad section of gameplay to show off for The Last of Us
. It was more ducking and weaving behind cover while popping up to peg a ruthless bad guy and it very quickly reminded me of Uncharted
, except with a little girl throwing bricks into people’s faces. I was kind of hoping they would show some more stuff that would help make this look less like Uncharted
in a post-apocalypse setting, like show off some of the zombies or something. But despite my nitpicks the gameplay they did show still looked damn fun. Some people have talked about how they didn’t want Joel to shoot the other guy at the end. Personally I smiled and chuckled when it happened because it was set up pretty well, and it’s hard for me to get any sort of emotional attachment to something after a 4 minute preview where half of the audio is censored out. But the fact that it did trigger some sort of emotional response for people is a big enough signal for me that this game does have something special going on for it.