June 19, 2012

E3 2012: The Final Grades

E3 is over, but the discussion sure ain't. So how'd everything go? More importantly, how accurate were my predictions? Find out inside.
|Sony| Perhaps the biggest disappointment of this year was that Sony only had one montage. Granted, it opened the show and was mega long but it's still a new low for them. And no slides with statistics! None! Anyway, here's what I got right:
  • Last of Us demo
  • God of War: Ascension demo
  • Sony Smash Bros demo
  • Assassin's Creed 3 demo
So this was all fine and dandy for Sony fans, and they probably ate it up, but the only thing that interested me was Assassin's Creed which was actually shown earlier that day. Sony got an exclusive reveal of naval combat, though, which was pretty awesome. God of War looked like... God of War. Sony Smash Bros seemed really boring to me, and I'm not just saying that because it's another Nintendo knockoff. The gameplay looks pretty broken. Basically, you just wail on your opponents until your super meter charges up and you can use your super attack which kills opponents instantly. It'll be interesting to see if anyone ever goes for the weaker characters who can't build up super fast enough. As for The Last of Us, well, I feel I'm the only one unimpressed with that game. It received several game of the show awards and I just can't understand why. Look, I'm not a Sony fan at all but if they showed off a game awesome enough I'd get excited anyway. But this? It didn't look fun. The shooting mechanics looked terrible and everything else they showed involved your run-of-the-mill stealth takedowns. Sure, maybe there's a nice character dynamic going on here but I'm from the oldschool and I put gameplay over story any day. 

There was a lot I didn't get right, though:
  • No Dust 514
  • No focus on Vita
  • No Vita/PS3 connectivity
  • Move was not shoehorned into everything, and the only Move "game" required the thing
Dust 514 was not a big loss. Instead, they announced a new game, Beyond Two Souls. It would have been a big surprise if it wasn't leaked earlier in the day. But the "demo" of it was terrible. It was just a cutscene (or is that actually how the game plays?), but what else would you expect from Quantic Dream, developers of Heavy Rain? The biggest flaw, without a doubt, was the lack of Vita. Three games were announced and one was demoed, but it was a damn PS3 port! They did just what I said not to do. They announced Sony Smash Bros, Codblops, and Assassin's Creed. That's nice, but guess what? I can get better versions of all these games for the PS3. Absolute failure. And then they spent at least 20 minutes explaining how they invented an augmented reality book. That's right, Sony's big announcement was a book. Wonderbook. It's pretty sad that this isn't a joke. It's a damn book you use with PS Move to cast Harry Potter spells. It'll probably sell millions, but seriously?

Sony Projected Score: A
Sony Final Sore: C+

|Microsoft| This is an easy one. They did just about as poorly as I was expecting. Starting off with Halo 4 was nice, but the demo was too short compared to some of the other games. Tomb Raider looked excellent and Codblops 2 was the same as ever. There was indeed a trailer for GoW: Judgement, though it was disappointed they didn't show any actual gameplay in it even though there was a version with gameplay released shortly after. Several Arcade games were announced, but one was a vague teaser trailer, one was a bad action game, and one looked awesome until I read "Kinect". There was a trailer for Fable: The Journey and a demo of some stupid 3D Angry Birds Kinect game. The rest of the time was spent on multimedia stuff and Smart Glass, which is indeed a ripoff of Nintendo but might actually prove beneficial for Nintendo in the future. Overall, the few real games they showed were pretty good, but the key word here is few. 

Microsoft Projected Score: D
Microsoft Final Score: D

Iwata ponders bananas.
|Nintendo| And this is a tough one. On the surface, it seems like Nintendo failed massively. And then there's the fact that they had four press conferences. The Sunday before, Iwata came out an explained some of the Wii U's online capabilities which sound like a breath of fresh air to me. He showed off the redesigned gamepad and the new Pro controller. Then on Tuesday they had the big Wii U games event. If there's one thing I can confidently say, it's that they did indeed nail the third party support. However, almost all of what they showed (and the reason people think they failed) was announced already. Pikmin 3 was great, but we knew it was going to be there. NSMB U was nice, but we knew about that too. And it goes on. But that wasn't the issue. No, the issue was not stating beforehand that everything at E3 would be released in the launch window. Seriously? That changes things considerably, though the fact that it wasn't stated until later justifies docking some points. And then there's the fact that they spent about 10 minutes on Batman, a game released last year, instead of Project P-100 which was announced minutes after the conference. That would have taken things up a notch. And it's too bad Rayman Legends was already at the Ubisoft conference, though they had ZombiU at Nintendo's also. 

But really, Nintendo's biggest surprise was as disappointing as Sony's: Nintendo Land. Not that it looks bad (some of the games look pretty fun, in fact) but we were expecting more. And it seemed awfully stretched out with the Luigi's Mansion demo lasting way too long and then having a fake fireworks display to top things off. The rumor flying around is that Nintendo was going to show Retro's game but they were asked to pull it at the last minute. I guess it makes sense if Nintendo wanted to focus only on games people could get their hands on in the first few months, but it's still pretty disappointing.

The following day, Nintendo did a 3DS event and showed off only previously announced games. Paper Mario, Luigi's Mansion, Mickey, Mario, Castlevania, and Kingdom Hearts were shown off. Animal Crossing was nowhere to be seen. If anything, the real disappointment was this show. There was no excuse here not to announce new stuff. The 3DS is not a new console launch. In fact, they should have kept the big exclusive surprises coming to show owners and prospective buyers they have even more great stuff to look forward to. Big, big loss.

Nintendo Projected Score: A+
Nintendo Final Score: C+

|The Winner| So, it's a crappy tie. Or is it? No, the winner of this year's E3 is, in fact Ubisoft with a solid "A". Congrats, Ubisoft! This may never happen again.

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