E3 2012 recap

Here's what went down at this year's E3.

I remember how I used to feel when E3 rolled around. Stocking up on snacks and coffee, I stayed glued to my monitor all night watching various game conferences eagerly soaking up any details regarding my favourite franchises or new IPs. You’d think now that the industry has grown so much over the years, these conferences would only get better, but sadly, they haven’t. If anything, they’ve become flashy, yet empty events catering mainly to the casual, motion controlled gaming crowd. Megatons have been replaces by pop icons gyrating on stage, while sequels being churned out year after year are killing any form of excitement that was left. 

This is why I was most excited for Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. In an industry that’s being run to the ground by sequels, Ubisoft’s new IP is like a breath of sweet, fresh air. The game’s shrouded in a cloud of mystery, but the trailer seemed to suggest Watch Dogs would be a sci-fi heavy, open world third person action game in which players are free to hack nearly any electronic device from phones to traffic signals. The game also seemed to balance out the Assassin’s Creed variant of stealth (blending in with the crowd) with some balls-to-the-wall action. Plus the whole sci-fi, Matrix-ish angle on the whole thing just seemed cool. The rest of Ubisoft’s conference was relegated to gameplay videos that you can see here.

EA babbled on about casual games for a while, before they switched to the games people actually cared about. Medal of Honor Warfighter, something I wasn’t too confident about actually looks quite nice. It’s the same mission structure we’ve seen in countless military shooters by now, but thanks to DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine, the game looked and sounded real good. We’re also hoping the game’s multiplayer does not disappoint as there are virtually no good competitive shooters on the horizon.

When EA officially announced Dead Space 3, I was genuinely excited because that’s one franchise that has consistently delivered so far. However, what I saw on stage was far scarier than any Xenomorph out there. Visceral Games have taken a very tense survival action game and turned it onto a complete frat boy co-operative shooter. Gone are the days when you feebly explored hulking, desolate ships afraid of what monstrosities lay in the darkness. Now it’s all about boring, clichéd run and gun action against big giant Lost Planet inspired monsters that come with giant glowing weak spots on their body.

Most Wanted is finally getting a reboot by Criterion games, so that’s nice. To be honest I would have rather had a new Burnout game and I’m not talking about some crappy top-down knockoff. I’m talking about the blistering speeds and chaotic destruction of games, like Takedown and Revenge and not the confusing navigation of Paradise.

The biggest surprise from EAs’s conference ironically came not from a game, but from a tie-up between EA and UFC. For those who don’t know, the UFC license was officially tied to THQ for a certain amount of games, but it looked like they jumped ship as soon as their contract got over. While no games were announced, you can bet your bottom dollar/rupee that EA will begin churning out yearly iterations of UFC games, real soon.

Oh and if you still play Battlefield 3, you can now purchase Battlefield 3’s premium service. Go on, roll your eyes. You know you want to. If you do end up purchasing this service for $50 (which is ironically more than what you paid for the game in India), you’ll receive five DLC map packs in addition to exclusive weapons and loadouts.

The day ended with Sony’s press conference that like all press conferences failed to excite. Quantic Dreams, the team behind Heavy Rain introduced a new IP called Beyond: Two souls. The game seems like Heavy Rain, but with more supernatural action thrown into the mix. However we’re sure the game will take eons to release.

The Last of Us finally got demoed and we were genuinely impressed. Unlike the Uncharted series that’s general quite light in tone, The Last of Us is real gritty and brutal with a strict emphasis on survival. Gameplay does involve a certain amount of platforming, but it seems action and stealth are two very important pillars of gameplay as well. God of War: Ascension just felt like more of the same with Kratos yelling at and stabbing stuff. Don’t get me wrong; I have all the respect in the world for this man’s rage, but after three console and two PSP games, I’d like to try something different. Hopefully the game’s multiplayer will add some much needed variety to this franchise.

And finally we come to Microsoft’s press conference. No I haven’t saved the best for last, it’s just that their conference was so boring, I forgot it existed. I think Microsoft really does not understand that there is a world beyond America and Canada, because they keep revealing Xbox Live features that aren’t accessible anywhere else. Then they just went on and on about Kinect for the longest time during which I nearly passed out. When I came to, I saw Usher dancing on stage. Thinking I was having some weird dream, I slapped myself multiple times, but this was no dream. This was actually happening. And that’s when I realized, this is what the industry has evolved into. Innovation is dead and I don’t know how this happened, but the casual gamer now dominates the industry. Now if you excuse me, I’m going back to my corner to cry myself to sleep.

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