Ubisoft may have stolen the show at E3 the year with the announcement of ‘Watch Dogs’ and demonstrations of the Wii U. Meanwhile, played it safe until making one show-stopping gaffe.
Start the Party
While Ubisoft’s presentation began shakily with another ‘Dance Party’ and some awkward co-hosting antics, the company had already struck big with the ‘Splinter Cell: Blacklist’ reveal and extended ‘Far Cry 3’ videos. Although fans of the ‘Splinter Cell’ series are upset that Sam Fisher is no longer being voiced by Michael Ironside, I’m excited for the return of “Mercs vs. Spies,” a multi-player mode first experienced in ‘Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow’ and my favorite aspect of the series. I’m a little unsure of the Iran/Iraq setting, but I’ll wait to learn more about the game before getting too concerned.
A Far Cry, a Wolverine and a Rayman Walk into a Bar
As for ‘Far Cry 3’, I have my doubts. I loved ‘Far Cry 2’ despite all of its flaws. Its portrayal of Africa was even more fascinating for me than the movie ‘Blood Diamond’. Unfortunately, with ‘Far Cry 3’ under new direction, my expectations have been lowered. That being said, the only aspect of the racy trailer that bothered me was shooting the tigers. I hope that particular interaction is cut from the game.
My thinking is that Ubisoft had to rush a trailer for ‘Avengers: Battle for Earth’, especially since the majority of the trailer focuses on Wolverine battling Venom, and lacks a shred of gameplay. This for a game due out this fall. Hopefully, the money saved by not making a demo has gone towards making the gameplay excellent. By comparison, the ‘Rayman: Legends’ demonstration did more to illustrate the Wii U Gamepad’s ideal functionality than most of what Nintendo has shown thus far.
Shootmania – Railgun vs Rocket Launcher
I’m not exactly a fan of e-sports – mostly because it’s difficult to watch, both in terms of streaming the match coverage and the simple difficulty of following completive gameplay, regardless of genre. That being said, the Spectator Mode in the ‘Shootmania’ demonstration was brilliant. Despite the fact that the game is still in Alpha state, and that the match took place on a somewhat basic map (just a block-out with castle textures and ramps), the match was compelling, right up until everyone remembered that the rail gun owned the rocket launcher. Still, if you like competitive FPS matches, I recommend signing up for the Beta.
Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs
As has become a regular part of E3, the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ videos continue to amaze. Honestly, I tried to avoid watching the ‘Assassin’s Creed 3’ footage for fear of spoilers. This franchise has come so far with its yearly installments that I think few remember its rough start. “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” While I was completely taken in by the Assassins’ and Templars’ fight for the Golden Apple during the Crusades, many gamers found the first ‘Assassin’s Creed’ to be too repetitive. The second game was almost too ambitious, but I digress…
I want to mention that Ubisoft has an interesting way of handling its franchises. A lot of the top talent (for example, the animators) move from project to project, only staying long enough to establish the direction for the junior developers before moving on. Neither EA nor Activision, nor any other number of companies with multiple developers that I am familiar with, do it this way. In Japan, almost the exact opposite philosophy is followed, with little to nothing shared between teams. My long-winded point is that much of the direction present in the original ‘Assassin’s Creed’ (and carried on in that franchise) is evident, almost like a digital footprint, in the newly revealed ‘Watch Dogs’.
Dude-Bro, Let’s War-Fight
Then comes EA’s ‘Medal of Honor: Warfighter’, which looked unbelievably better than ‘Battlefield 3’. In fact, I don’t believe it will look anywhere near as good when released. EA made a point to explain that every theater of play in ‘Warfighter’ is based on a real-world conflict occurring right now. EA used the term “hot spots,” but the phrase that comes to my mind is “poor taste.”
More is Not Less for EA
EA had some big announcements that just didn’t present well at all. These include the ‘Madden’ NFL social initiative, the expansion of the ‘FIFA’ football Club platform, and the ‘Battlefield’ Premium service. The respective audiences are probably already sold. I’m sure that ‘Battlefield’ fans know if they want five expansion packs, each with exclusive two-week early access.
A Tale of Two SimCities
EA went to great effort to introduce the latest ‘SimCity’. As part of the company’s “We have ten top-notch studios” presentation, Maxis was given some serious stage time. In theory, they have a great plan for bringing ‘SimCity’ back with an impactful multi-player where your ever-present online neighbors (and their cities) affect your city and vice-versa.
What’s more, the footage shown revealed a ‘SimCity’ that could bring fans back in droves. Unfortunately, just prior to introducing the game, Maxis unveiled ‘SimCity Social’. The issue isn’t the merits of browser-based, free to play, viral dependant games such as Zynga’s ‘Cityville’. Rather, revealing such a game dramatically in front of a captive E3 audience has a large potential to suck all of the energy out of the room.