“Stay the course” seemed to be an unofficial theme of this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event. Many companies took a more sustained approach this year when addressing a very skeptical and always demanding gaming public. Companies focused on sustained marketing campaigns and feature reveals. Heard the phrase “in the coming months” more than ever.
Joel McLaughlin, me and many other Nintendo fans were hoping for a Wii U console price and solid release date, but I guess we’ll have to wait.
Ubisoft’s third person, open world-style action game Watch Dogs (release in fall 2012) was one of a few surprises as companies stressed game announcements this year. Watch Dogs centers its story on futuristic hackers. More big game announcements from the Nintendo camp included New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS. Zombie U was a standout on the Wii U and looked very entertaining.
Other notable game announcements included Sim City, Dead Space 3, Tomb Raider, Pikmin 3, Halo 4, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Beyond: Two Souls, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin’s Creed III, God of War: Ascension, Gears of War: Judgment, Playstation All Stars: Battle Royale, Far Cry 3, Forza: Horizon, Dance Central 3, Borderlands 2, and Resident Evil 6.
Services, hardware, and media partnerships were big too. Microsoft’s SmartGlass app wants to bridge the Xbox 360 with smartphones or tablets (Android and iOS device support). Microsoft also announced many new Live features, including apps like Internet Explorer, Amazon Video, Nickelodeon, Paramount, NBA, NHL, ESPN, and Xbox Music.
Players who don’t like multitasking with multiple devices could be a challenge, but then again, who does not own more than one main media device? Come on. Raise your hand. Yeah, that’s what I thought. When promoting the upcoming South Park game (2013), Trey Parker joked “What if you could make a game that syncs with your tablet, and talks to your phone, which you play while interfacing through your PC, as it’s hooked up through your oven, all while sitting in your refrigerator?”
New peripherals included Sony’s PlayStation Move Racing Wheel, which can also modify into handlebars for motorcycle racing games. Microsoft’s hoping the Nike + Kinect Training gets more people moving and more monetary “Kinections” through stores and into gamers’ homes.
The Sony Wonderbook made a literary splash on the PlayStation 3 at E3 with an interactive demonstration of the J.K. Rowling collaboration game Book of Spells incorporating real books, augmented reality, and other elements.
This Wonderbook platform experience uses the PlayStation eye camera and PS move controller to transform any book into a new interactive experience. Storytelling is certainly an obvious path, but the J.K. Rowling collaborative “Book of Spells” Wonderbook project covers that with narratives and background on each spell as well as various action games using spells of magic, fire and other properties (20 total). The games have chapters (12 pages each) and players earn points for special challenges.
I liked the innovation and renewing possibilities to the medium. Wonderbook has great educational possibilities and I’m sure Sony loves “moving” more peripherals to make this platform experience work. Sony’s biggest challenge will be making it fun…I see more Wonderbook experiences on customizable stories, detectives, comedy/jokes, and travel (a la Carmen SanDiego)
No “PS4” or “XBox 720” console announcements, plus no solid Last Guardian game announcement, which was primed for a release date this year, especially after the special ICO/Shadow of the Colossus game pack. “There’s no point in launching the Xbox 720 or PS4 when the current gen consoles still have so much potential,” says Will Herbert.
Will Herbert also says “I think the Xbox SmartGlass has a lot of potential, especially as a competitor to the Wii U’s tablet controller. Dance games continue to be the sole justification for the Kinect, but at least Microsoft is still trying.
I was really disappointed with Nintendo’s lineup this year. They seem content with porting old blockbusters like Batman Arkham City and Mass Effect 3 to Wii U. Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition is coming for the Wii U, but I can’t imagine anyone who played the original on Xbox, PC, or PS3 choosing to buy the new version. As they said during the briefing, Arkham City was “2011’s best action game” … unfortunately, it’s 2012 – and this is supposed to be a next-gen system.
The same goes for Mass Effect 3, and many other ports currently in progress. The term ‘asymmetric gameplay’ was thrown around a lot, but other than a few Mii-centric mini games, it didn’t seem to be showcased well. ZombiU seemed to be the most fleshed-out, no pun intended. It’s hard to believe, but it looks as if Nintendo is continuing its wide-appeal, casual gaming market strategy.
The new Luigi’s Mansion game, among others, looked interesting, but I couldn’t help but wish it was a full-fledged Wii or Wii U title instead. I’ll give them credit for the info video describing the Wii U controller, as this begins to shine some light on the capabilities of the system. Unfortunately, the graphics aren’t looking spectacular – neither on the 3DS nor the Wii U. Last year’s E3 showed us some limited gameplay from a new Zelda title for the Wii U, but of course, which was missing this year.”
Already looking forward to next year’s “Super Bowl of Video Games”.