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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

(GAMES) Glorious E3 - One gamer's opinion

I'm one of those hardcore gamers or "core" gamers, so much so that I look forward to E3 like it's a true holiday.
When the month of May comes around and all the pre-E3 speculation starts, I get excited and become a major annoyance to my friends. (Does this sound like you or someone you know?)

As E3 gets closer, I start sending emails and messages about checking this or that out. When E3 week finally happens I have to hold myself in check from spamming my friends with my opinions and updates. I love gaming, and like any "core" gamer, I tend to be very opinionated and passionate about it. It seems I am one among many, as there are forums and message boards filled with love and disgust at what happens at E3 every year. I am usually spouting my opinions right there with everyone else, but now I have my own blog, so I can go into much greater detail and not have to mail bomb my friends.

The conferences - Microsoft

I never know what to expect with Microsoft's E3 conferences.
I want the same thing every year; new surprise AAA titles and online/offline features to build excitement for the Xbox 360 until the next E3. I think that is what most "hardcore" gamers want, nothing too extravagant presentation wise, just awesome games, new hardware, and new features and services.

At E3 2012, MS decided it was a good idea to have Usher perform a track at their conference, WHY?
I remember when the 360 announced in 2005, MS threw a party shown on TV and invited celebs and The Killers to perform. I remember at the time thinking that was ridiculous but it made more sense than taking time away from your gaming announcements.

MS could learn some lessons from Sony's E3 presentation, as Sony mostly kept their presentation about games. MS focused much of their presentation on non-gaming items like the very interesting smartglass, and the kinect's voice recognition for searching movies, TV, and music on XBL. From the comments I have read online, many gamers are disappointed with that focus.

The conference opened up with Halo 4, and it was very impressive. 343 Industries had a big job and a ton of pressure to create a new Halo that was as good or better than what Bungie has done with it's prior trilogy. From the intro and gameplay they showed it seems they have delivered.
I loved the FMV mixed with the CGI that flowed right into game play, the transition was smooth and the graphics were beautiful. Halo 4 looks to improve on Reach graphically and that alone is impressive.

During the conference, MS gave us Splinter Cell: Blacklist, a new Forza, Fable: The Journey, a new Gears of War, COD: Black Ops 2, the new Tomb Raider, and a few others. There was simply nothing new here as all the games listed were expected or yet another sequel. Outside of Halo 4, the best gaming highlight was when Matt Stone and Trey Parker appeared on stage talking about South Park: The Stick Of Truth. As a South Park fan I am hoping this title turns out to be as awesome as it should be, go Obsidian!!

Much of the conference was spent talking about new entertainment apps for XBL, Smartglass, Nike+Kinect, Usher and Dance Central 3, Kinect and voice activation. While the voice activation demo was impressive as well as what Smartglass will be able to do, it took away from the games, and it felt like MS was padding their conference to fill time. This could be exactly the case as the rumormill suggests the next Xbox will arrive next year, and maybe they are saving for the 2013 E3.

Rare didn't make an appearance this year, which indicates they are working on games for the next gen. Crytek's Ryse didn't make an appearance though it was teased last year, so it looks to be canceled or will be a next gen game. Overall I felt the MS conference was disappointing but looking back on 2004's E3 (which was the E3 before the 360 was shown in 2005), I guess it's not any worse.

The Conferences - Sony

Sony's E3 presentation was mostly what the hardcore gamer wanted, except no Kevin Butler. I imagine they will bring Kevin back for Sony's next console, at least I hope so!

Sony started off with a NEW IP (MS take note!) called Beyond: Two Souls, and the game looked amazing. The facial technology is the best I have seen in a console game this generation. It looks like it's going to be a fantastic game.  Sony ended with The last of US which looked amazing and had a very intense game play experience. Both games were more exciting to me than anything MS showed outside of Halo 4.

In between we had a chance to see an EPIC Assassins Creed 3 naval warefare battle (Seriously impressive!), God of War: Ascension, Playstation All-Star Battle Royale, Far Cry III Co-op Multiplayer, entertainment apps, and the incredibly boring Wonderbook presentation. What I noticed we didn't see much of was new Vita software, they mentioned a few titles but I thought that they would really push that at E3. The large amount of time they filled with Wonderbook would have been much better filled with new Vita games and information. Overall, I think Sony had the best E3 conference as they had little fluff and eye rolling moments (except for Wonderbook) and kept it about the games. The rumor is that they are also releasing a new console in 2013, but unlike MS, they weren't holding back.

The conferences - Nintendo

I had hoped at the start of the conference that Nintendo would show me, someone who doesn't own a Wii, the reasons why I HAVE to buy a Wii-u. Unfortunately, I never got that excited while watching their presentation.

Nintendo focused much of their presentation about what the console can do and it's controller. The controller itself was re-designed, it looks nice and even comes in a Black model rather than just White The conference started with videos about a new Pikimin, and it looked cute and interesting, but not a killer app. They talked about Nintendo Land which seems to be the Wii-u's family killer app, but it's another collection of mini games, and didn't really do much for me. They talked about Miiverse which is their online dashboard, and it looked interesting, but nothing really wowed me. They showed a New Super Mario game, but I was very disappointed it's not a sequel to Super Mario 64. If they would have showed a graphically gorgeous 3D super Mario game, that would have been an amazing Killer app, instead we get a game that looked more like a Wii game than a Wii-u game.

When the conference started the audience was so excited, and when it was over they seemed very underwhelmed. The normal cheers that you would expect at a new console reveal wasn't there, and I don't think that is a good thing for Nintendo. Now they have to get us excited somehow before launch, and that will be tough. No one I knew that was on the fence about a Wii-u has changed their mind, nothing shown made them want a Wii-u. This was the most anti-climatic new console launch I can remember.

In conclusion

This E3 was not really that exciting overall, no major "megatons" were revealed, and the Wii-u's major reveal was not what most of us had hoped for. The standouts so far are games that show what the next gen will be able to do, or what a high end PC can do now. These games are Ubisoft's Watch Dogs and Lucasarts's Star Wars 1313. These two games show the future of gaming and induced the "OMG" effect I was hoping to have at this E3. I highly recommend checking them out!
Now, how can I get tickets to E3 next year?

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