Now that the Press Conferences have wrapped up for E3 2012, you have to consider which of the big three companies came out looking the strongest from theirs. So let’s take the time to compare the overall presentations of Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft.
Frankly, I think there’s no question that Microsoft’s presentation was probably the weakest of the show. Obviously, they had supplied us with trailers for upcoming games like Halo 4, Gears of War: Judgement, and Forza Horizon. They even gave us a decent look at the gameplay of Splinter Cell: Blacklist. But it seemed like once they had gotten past telling us all about the Kinect Voice support these games would have, you could start to feel the conference heading in a rather uninteresting direction.
It’s not a bad thing that the 360 is getting new features to expand it’s multimedia capabilities, but, as Steve said in the run-down of the presentation, it doesn’t make for a very interesting show on its own. And for as neat as it might be to go online with the 360 or to consider the potential applications of Microsoft Smartglass, by the end of the conference you couldn’t help but get the feeling that the actual games were one of the last things on the company’s mind. Maybe that’s just where their current focus is right now, but it’s just not a very exciting focus for E3.
So with Microsoft out, the real matchup, I feel, was between Nintendo and Sony.
Now with Sony, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect (I only knew it wasn’t The Last Guardian! Oh, snap!), but I knew that Nintendo was going in with the benefit of new hardware to show off in its practically final version. And the changes to the controller that were revealed before the event do seem to be almost entirely for better, I feel. And the idea of using the device for Ubisoft games like the absolutely gorgeous Rayman Legends and Zombi U was one I found interesting from that company’s own conference.
Unfortunately, I feel like beyond the unique hardware, Nintendo didn’t bring enough to the table for the Wii U here. While there were some big announcements such as Pikmin 3, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and New Super Mario Bros. U, there was a strong focus on third-party support. At first, this is great because that’s where Nintendo has been really struggling over the years. But a lot of time was spent showing off Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, which was merely just a Wii U version of the game you had probably already bought by now for another platform. A montage showed other games (Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Ninja Gaiden 3) that could potentially come with the system’s launch, but most of them are either already out or will be out before you’ll pick up a whole new console just for some tacked on touch screen feature.
Overall, I expected more major announcements regarding the games the Wii U will find itself with. The hardware is functional, but it feels like Nintendo is going through the motions a bit on the actual games now. I guess I’m waiting to see at least one game that will really blow me away, and sell me on the system.
I will say, though, when it got around the Wii U and the expected hyping of features like Hulu and Netflix, the 3DS actually had a pretty decent showing. With footage of New Super Mario Bros 2, Luigi’s Mansion 2, and the officially titled Paper Mario: Sticker Star, I had some trouble holding in my enthusiasm. Mostly because of that last one there.
Meanwhile, Sony didn’t have the advantage of immediately interesting people with a new console, but they did seem to be the company that really seemed to be trying to focus on pushing the games primarily, I think. Of course, there was plenty of muck to wade through in the form of cross-platform marketing (just as exciting as it sounds, trust me), cross-controller support with the Vita, and fucking Wonderbook (which could very well have been the most terrible thing at the show, period.).
But if you could get through the crap (like any press conference), you got some great exclusive looks at some big titles. We got to see God of War: Ascension‘s single-player in action (it looked good, even if the gameplay looked pretty much identical to previous iterations), as well as the reveal of naval combat in Assassin’s Creed III (I could only be more stoked if there was an AC game where you played as a full-blown Pirate). There was also a decent amount of time given to Playstation Allstars: Battle Royale, including the reveal of Nathan Drake and Big Daddies as playable characters.
It was also announced here that Far Cry 3 would have a 4 player co-op campaign and we were given a glimpse of that sort of gameplay. What they showed didn’t bring the same excitement that the bizarre single-player stuff shown in Ubisoft’s Press Conference did, but the game really does look better and better every time I see it. I’ll certainly take more if they’re willing to give it.
But the probably the two biggest punches from Sony landed in the form of Quantic Dream’s showing of their next title Beyond: Two Souls starring actress Ellen Page. While there are certain things about David Cage I vehemently disagree with him on and as much as I want to see some actual gameplay, I won’t lie and say it wasn’t a huge reveal. As much as I hate to say it, I’m pretty interested in seeing what they’re doing over there.
The best thing I think I saw of the whole show so far, though, was what closed out Sony’s press conference. We were given a gameplay demo of Naughty Dog’s latest project, The Last of Us, which you really should check out. It’s absolutely awesome.
There’s not anything I didn’t enjoy about the demo. The disturbing atmosphere of an overgrowth-filled Pittsburgh, the believably delivered dialogue between Joel and Ellie, and the truly brutal feel of the combat. Joel has to fight just about any way he can to survive, and this meant the demo showed a lot of versatility in his combat options. Whether it be hiding behind cover in a shootout, catching a guy off guard and choking him out, or bashing the bastards with whatever object you can get your hands on.
But what really gets me so excited is the attention to detail. When Joel gets shot, he physically responds in a believable manner. When an opponent finds himself looking down the end of barrel, his pleads for mercy are haunting. With as much violence as there is in games, it’s pretty impressive when a game can make me feel appropriately uncomfortable with the brutality going on here.
The Last of Us, so far, is showing us a genuine grittiness that I’m not sure can be topped if Naughty Dog can keep impressing like this. And Sony should be jumping for joy over having it exclusively for the PS3 right about now.
So, if you ask me who did the best, I would have to give the nod to Sony. They just seemed to have a slightly stronger focus on the games that will really matter later this year and going into the next. Nintendo had some noticeable titles, but all E3 did was make more nervous as we slowly get closer to the Wii U’s launch. I just feel like if you’re going to be releasing a brand new console this year, you need to be doing more than Nintendo did here to get us excited for it.
But that’s just my opinion. What about yours? Which company had the best presentation this year? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below.Posted in Op Ed by Ben Matlock on June 5, 2012