E3 2012 has lacked the historic lows of a Jamie Kennedy or Mr Caffeine, but that doesn’t mean the event hasn’t been a crushing disappointment. Punctuated by a lack of surprises and conferences dominated by feature-sets as opposed to games, E3 2012 is a victim of generational transition.
With the Wii U releasing by the end of this year and the impending announcements of the Xbox 720 and Playstation 4, it’s clear that the platform holders are saving their big announcements for the near-future.
That said, it wasn’t all bad news. There were a number of really cool games on display and some of the hardware announcements look promising. Below are some of the notable highs and lows of E3 2012.
- The Games
Microsoft kicked off their press conference with gameplay footage from the biggest title headed to the Xbox 360: Halo 4.
First things first, the game looks incredible. The jump in graphical fidelity from Halo Reach is simply astounding and the brief clip is enough to confirm 343’s claims that this game will push the Xbox 360 to the very limit. Lighting effects look amazing and seem to match if not surpass the visuals on the console versions of Crytek’s Crysis 2.
We also get our first glimpse at a number of new enemies. Each creature reacts in a unique manner and seems to keep the Halo tradition of intelligent enemy AI alive and well. There’s small and weak enemies which will overwhelm in packs. Pesky flying enemies which offer tactical advantages to the enemy squads. And then there’s the Knight, a towering trooper which appears to be Halo 4‘s replacement for the Elite.
We also get a look at some new weapons. 343 have added Forerunner weapons to the rich and diverse weapon sandbox which Halo fans have grown to love over the years. From the brief footage of the new rifle and shotgun, it’s clear that the Chief is going to be packing some serious heat. And if you don’t like change… there’s always the battle rifle.
With the way Halo 4 is shaping up, the latest entry in the Chief’s legend appears to be a worthy continuation of the series.
Between Ellie, the lookalike in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us and the lead in Quantic Dream’s new game, Ellen Page sure seems to be everywhere. The first game from David Cage and company since Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls tells the tale of a young woman with special abilities on the run from a government organization. ThinkÂ Heavy Rain with a touch of Carrie.
Visually, the game looks great and appears to have built on the impressive achievements of Heavy Rain. The top notch facial animation is now accompanied by equally high quality full body motion capture, thus creating visually believable characters.
However, the primary knock on David Cage’s games has always been the degree of interactivity. We won’t know for a while if we’ll end up being spectators to another interactive movie. For now though, I’d suggest cautious optimism.
A breath of fresh air in a sea of sequels, Watch Dogs didn’t just capture everyone’s attention because it’s a fresh IP… it boasts a fascinating premise which combines the best elements of Deus Ex, The Matrix and Hackers. It’s a cyberpunk tour de force.
Placing the gamer in a world which has seen increasing control by computer software, you can utilise the city of Chicago’s centralised operating system (ctOS) to set or spring traps, find information and hunt targets. In the gameplay demo, we see the protagonist Aiden Pearce in pursuit of a mark. He uses a smartphone to pull information on the people around him, change the colour of traffic lights and jam phone signals. The premise offers a really cool twist on gameplay and looks to have far reaching implications on the game design.
It’s also a little surprising how no one caught wind of this title. A pleasant surprise in an E3 full of tired old beats.
Gears of War Judgement (X360), South Park: The Stick of Truth (X360),Â The Last of Us (PS3), Playstation All Stars Battle Royale (PS3), Nintendo Land (Wii U), ZombiU (Wii U), Splinter Cell: Blacklist (X360, PS3), Assassin’s Creed III (X360, PS3), Tomb Raider (X360, PS3)
- Smart Glass
A piece of software which will work on smartphones and tablets which you already own, offering a seamless new way to interact with your Xbox 360. That’s the gist of Microsoft’s Smart Glass and if it sounds familiar, you need only search YouTube for Nintendo’s Wii U announcement from last E3.
If it’s any consolation to Nintendo, the announcement seems to reinforce the notion that the Big N is truly the chief innovator of the video game industry. Why else would the company that Bill Gates’ built announce such a product one short year after the unveiling of the Wii U? Flattery indeed.
Ultimately, the biggest selling point of Smart Glass is the ability to use any device which you already own to interact with your Xbox 360. This ranges from Windows phones to iOS devices. It lowers the barrier to entry and looks to offer up stiff competition to Nintendo’s next console.
Sony’s decision to devote a chunk of stage time to this head-scratching oddity will go down as the worst moment of E3 2012. Look, we get that throwing in the towel is not an option for the Move. Heck, we even understand the importance of targeting a younger demographic. But, taking valuable stage time away from the under-performing Vita is not a way to appease the audience and early adopters. The most telling bit might have been the fact that J.K. Rowling did not make an appearance or even record a video to promote the thing. Baffling.
- Wii U
Nintendo went nuts with the sheer number of conferences this E3. Insisting that one conference simply wouldn’t be enough, they announced a series of events to take place over the week. Naturally, Nintendo fans everywhere commenced gleeful rubbing of hands in anticipation of all the cool Wii U nformation headed their way. We settled in to get all our questions answered…
So, how much does it cost? You’re not telling right now? Well, ok.
Just how powerful is the GPU? Any details on the amount of RAM? No? Hmmm.
Well surely you can tell us when we can pick one up? I love you Nintendo! I just want one for my entertainment console right now! Wait… what do you mean ‘in due time’?
To recap, we don’t know what we’re getting, how much it costs or when we can get it. So what did we learn over the past couple days? Well, the Wii U can support a grand total of two Wii U Gamepads. Each pad holds a charge of between three and five hours. And there’s a new Mario game launching with the system… which looks exactly likeÂ New Super Mario Bros. Wii. How many conferences did you have again, Nintendo?
Kinect is kind of a big deal for Microsoft and the first two Dance Central games are two of the best examples of what the device can do. Microsoft ‘ushered’ Â (wow, it’s just as bad when I try it)Â inÂ the third instalment by enlisting that TLC girl’s ex-boyfriend, Usher. Trying to get an E3 audience on their feet at 10 am in the morning has to be the very definition of an exercise in futility.
So what made your highlight and lowlight list from E3 2012? Sound off in the comments below!