E3 2012

Each year, all the high profile gaming companies get together in Los Angeles, and showcase all of their upcoming tech and games for the next year, and beyond. This is E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and for gamers, it's one of the most exciting times of the year.

I really wasn't sure what to expect from E3 this year. I was excited, but really had no idea what they were going to show, or what surprises might await. For some us, the anticipation and excitement of being surprised is just like Christmas.

Gaming really hasn't been all spectical and fun for the last year. Every month, another couple of game studios go bankrupt and shut down. Every month, the larger AAA games being released are more homogeneous. And the games that were once interesting and fresh, end up being canceled or compromised by the mainstream. It really feels like the games industry is dying, and grasping on to whatever sales are left.

All the press conferences of E3 felt like it mirrored that sentiment. They showed off many sequels, and "announced" many games that we had already seen, and knew were in the pipeline.

But there were a couple games I'm looking forward to. All is not lost.

Watch Dogs

Out of all 5 press conferences, this was the only surprise. A new game that wasn't leaked ahead of time, and a completely new IP as well. After showing boring title, after boring title, Ubisoft ended with a vague introduction of how digitally interconnected our society is, and how easily it can be exploited.

This went into a gameplay video where your character can make use of the digital world to get around hurdles in the physical world. You can listen to phone conversations, disrupt power, and view personal information about any random person walking around.

This character eventually gets into a confrontation, and engages in a fire fight. Even though you have these digital powers, you still need a gun to fight. :( Then he takes off in a car and drives away.

Watch Dogs is open world too, and from the content, it seems like you're connected to the mob or some other organization. So, if you boil all the elements down, it's basically Grand Theft Auto, but with internet powers. BUT! It takes place in Chicago! Plus, it looks really really pretty.

Youtube Link


Sony began it's conference by showing off Quantic Dream's newest game, Beyond. Studio lead David Cage took the stage and introduced Beyond's main character, Jodie, played by Ellen Page. They played a cutscene from the game that displayed the range of emotions and tones that you could expect from the game, and finished off with a sizzle clip of some action sequences.

I like Quantic Dream quite a bit, even though both Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain had their problems. I like the idea of interactive story, and being able to change the story based on what I've done. Both those game have that, but missed a note here or there that broke the suspension of disbelief. Overall, if you let yourself be immersed into it's direction, and atmosphere it becomes an amazing immersive experience.

Beyond looks like it continues the story driven gameplay that Heavy Rain set out to do. People who've played it on the show floor, have said that it is much more interactive than Heavy Rain too. I'm definitely looking forward to this one.

The Last of Us

Sony ended it's conference with its other big big title. The Last of Us is post apocalyptic, and takes place in the crumbling city of Pittsburg Pennslyvania. You play as Joel, and have your 14 year old daughter, Ellie in tow. It's a third person survival action game, as you search for food, water, and other supplies while avoiding confrontations, and survival any hostile encounters.

They showed off a live demo of Joel and Ellie making their way through an apartment building and running into a group of hostile men. It turns into a fire fight, but you only have so many bullets, and have to make use of the environment, and anything around you to survive. The confrontation goes back and forth between fists and guns.

Ellie and Joel react and make comments to the situation, as things happen, which is a mainstay of any Naughty Dog title these days. Uncharted was so entertaining and engaging because of all the banter between Nathan Drake and his pals. One previewer said that Ellie acted with complete shock when you, as Joel, lit a moltave cocktail and ignited a random dude, and another guy said that didn't even happen in his demo.

And Ellie interacts in the fights as well. If you're in trouble during a fight, she might run up a stab the guy in the back, or throw a brick at someone about to shoot you. The combat has a lot of variety, and she seems to react with just as much variety, too.

The environments look gorgeous, and all of their previous games have followed through with an engaging and interesting story. I'm looking forward to it.

Castlevania Lords of Shadows : Mirrors of Fate

The first game Nintendo showed off during its 3DS conference was Castlevania. It's been nearly 4 years since we've a side scrolling portable Castlevania game on the Nintendo platform. It's been so long that I guess I'm excited no matter how the game actually turns out.

It's a 2.5D game where you play as multiple character in their rebooted universe. The style reminds me a lot of the PSP game Castlevania Dracule X Chronicles. But they really isn't any word if it'll be as open world as the Igarashi games were. I hope it's open world, but a level based Castlevania with branching paths sounds pretty fun too.

Castlevania is fun, so I'd probably buy this if I had a 3DS.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

New Super Mario 2 looks pretty fun, too, even though it is just more Mario. This game is all about coins, and trying to collect 1 million coins throughout the course of the game. They don't really explain why, though, and the whole concept is rather goofy. 100 coins still give you a 1-up, so you'll be drowning in lives as your progress in the game. I doubt the difficulty will warrant that many 1-ups. Plus, isn't Wario supposed to be the money-grubbing character? Why does Mario need all this capital?

They announced this game along side New Super Mario Bros. U for the Wii U, which is a completely separate game. I'm not really sure what their gameplan is when they saturate the market with two nearly identical games.

I dunno... I liked New Super Mario on the DS, but didn't like New Super Mario on the Wii, so I think that I'll enjoy this new one for the 3DS.

Other Games

I'll probably buy those 5 games in the future, but there were a couple other games that seemed like they might be fun, but I wouldn't really want to own them.

The new Tomb Raider looks like it's taking a page out of Uncharted's book, except with worse dialogue and horrible acting. The whole Uncharted series was based on Tomb Raider, so it feels somewhat odd that originator is now the follower, but whatever. I'd like to play it.

Assassin's Creed 3 looks kinda fun too. The whole series is about going back in time viewing key moments in history, and now the setting is the American Revolution is the foundation of our country. I'm interested to see how that fits into something I know a little bit more about rather than Italy, and the other settings. Also, the ship-based combat looks really pretty, and I love running around in snowy environments.

The new Need for Speed looks a lot like Burnout Paradise, one of my favorite racing games. Criterion is behind both games, and as long as it controls more like Burnout Paradise and less like Need for Speed, I think I'll be playing this game quite a bit.

Huge Disappointments

There was good to be found, amongst all the negativity. But there were two particular moments of E3 that were absolutely disappointing for me.

Dead Space 3

I like Dead Space 1 quite a bit. It had a wonderful immersive atmosphere that made full use of sound to convey emotion. There were some points where the environment was so loud, you couldn't hear anything else, and there were points of silence where you begged for something to make a sound. I was completely immersed through and through, and felt like I was there.

Dead Space 2 began tearing away at that immersion. Sound wasn't used as heavily, as it relied on scare tactics and some particularly grotesque and horrorific moments to make up for it. Ultimately, the whole experience felt cheap. Dead Space 2 was now a horror action game. You were no longer immersed in exploration. Plus, they added a multiplayer mode to the game? The fuck?

The Dead Space 3 demo shown during the EA conference makes it seem like they don't even know what made Dead Space unique in the first place. It's completely co-op, and cover-based now you're fighting other humans. Your weapons no longer rotate or have secondary fires, and you combine them into new weapons? No more unique ammo either? They're basically phoning this one in.

During the demo sequence Isaac and Harry(?) are fighting a drill that has gone hay-wire, and the whole time Harry is freaking out and screaming, "Oh my god", "Shit", "Fuck". Does this time even know what terror is? Having a character forcing his emotions on you is not compelling or immersive, it's fucking annoying. I would probably try to kill him during the fight just to shut him up.

Wii U

I came into the conference pretty excited for the Wii U. My Wii has got quite a bit of use over the last 6 months with Legend of Zelda, Xenoblade, and Rhythm Heaven. Plus, there's The Last Story coming out in a few months, too. I wanted to know that these games will look great on the new console, and when it'll come out, and how much it'll cost. Plus, I wanted to know what games I might want to play on it.

They showed off the finished version of the console, along with a proper Pro controller perfect for playing games without any gimmicks. They showed off a whole lot of boring games, along with some Wii U version of games already released for PS3 and 360. They showed off Pikmin 3 which looks fun but not a lot different than Pikmin 2. And that's it.

They didn't give a price. They didn't give a date. They didn't announce any compelling game experience. They didn't say anything worthwhile at all. Why should I buy the Wii U? They gave me no reason at all. And that's especially disappointing because before this week, I was excited. I didn't really need a whole lot of convincing. I only needed a really great game, and I probably would've bought one. But Pikmin 3 is not that game, and there's NOTHING else that looks interesting at all. NOTHING.

Gamers are supposed to be excited for a new console, and there's nothing compelling or interesting. Plus, the lineup doesn't have anything from EA or Activision. The largest 3rd parties have no presence on this console. So, the only games we'll ever really play on this thing are going to be from Nintendo? It's going to be the Wii all over again. It's a complementary console, rather than your main console.

What a waste...


So, anyways. The Playstation 3 looks pretty good in the next year. And the 3DS is starting to build a decent library. There's plenty of other games that were shown off on the floor for these two platforms that look great such as Sound Shapes, and Unfinished Swan. Other interesting games have been announced for the USA such as Tokyo Jungle, Code of Princess, and First of the North Star 2.  There's also Bioshock Infinite, and Ni no Kuni coming out too!

E3 was pretty disappointing but there's lots of random stuff to look forward to.