If you were on The Flickcast last week, you no doubt got hit with our bombardment of E3 coverage. With a convention so big, it was obviously impossible to cover everything but there are a few major things that everyone should know about this E3.
Of any of the big E, Sony had the most impressive E3 presentation because of two games. Beyond was the surprise game announcement of the show that was visually striking and has people talking, much like the trailer for The Last of Us did last year. Speaking of The Last of Us, we got to see actual gameplay this year which showed both the awesome tension and brutality of the title without even having to focus on the virus or mutations it causes and instead only showing the ongoing human versus human conflict happening in it.
Sony also brought out the Wonderbook which creates a virtual storybook, with their big announcement tied into the work of J.K. Rowling. While on paper, this sounds like an interesting concept and probably would have been a huge hit at an event like Toy Fair, it didn’t resonate with the E3 or gamer audience. Instead, it felt like it took up time on stage when gamers were hoping to hear announcements or see gameplay of other big games.
Also somewhat lackluster were Sony’s on stage demos of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Assassin’s Creed III. Battle Royale looks like a game that while it may be fun to play, it doesn’t translate well to a casual observer as there is often too much going on on-screen to focus on if not playing as specific character so any eye-popping moments end up being missed. Assassin’s Creed III debuted its new on water battle system where players control ships on the high seas which was fairly slow-paced even though it looked beautiful. There is also a new God of War which looks exactly like previous God of War games. Shockingly, The Last Guardian was not shown yet again.
Nintendo did exactly what critics thought they would and didn’t do what optimists were hoping for. Nintendo had a Wii U focused presentation which makes sense since the console launches this year. What it did not do that it needed to was give players a “Must Own” title for the system. Instead, it was a lot of what had already been shown before and a set of simple casual titles and continuations of franchises like New Super Mario Bros. that led the lineup. Instead of giving a new Mario Galaxy, Metroid, Zelda or even Star Fox title, Nintendo closed out with NintendoLand which was a collection of Nintendo inspired mini games which they hope to have fill the Wii Sports role. They had also planned to close out with an on-screen fireworks display with confetti shooting off in the conference but the confetti never went off which lead to a very awkward close for them.
Like Sony, Microsoft kicked off and closed with its two biggest guns, not surprisingly FPS games with a whole lot of filler in the middle. Halo 4 started things off and it is kind of what was expected, a graphical update and some new weapons, but it still had that great Halo vibe. But after so many Halo titles, it was hard to get completely pumped over another sequel. Things closed out for Microsoft expectedly with their biggest franchise, even though the only exclusivity is on timed DLC releases, with Call of Duty: Black Ops II which could again potentially set sales records. The extended gameplay demo was what people needed to see to set aside Black Ops II from previous Call of Duty titles but it still wasn’t drastically different enough to set it far enough apart to be a Game of the Show contender.
Other than the great Tomb Raider gameplay which looks much more like Uncharted than it did the original series, the Microsoft conference focused more on Apps and entertainment features than huge game announcements. That doesn’t bode well for big exclusive titles for Microsoft for the rest of 2012.
When looking back, E3 2012 is a year that most likely won’t be remembered. There weren’t any moments or announcements that have set the industry flying forward by leaps and bounds (unless somehow Wonderbook becomes the sleeper sensation of 2012). Sadly it also lacked any WTF moments of years past like PlayStation 3’s $599 price point announcement or the Kinect Cirque de Solei fiasco. Instead, E3 2012 will be just another year where people got what they expected.