Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Report Card - E3 2012 Press Conferences

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Do you feel there isn't enough ranting and raving on the Internet? Well, then settle down and enjoy. The final of the big three press conferences ended earlier today with Nintendo showing a little more in-depth their new Wii U console. It is time to send for the Report Card segment! Three conferences, three grades, no bull. Okay, maybe a little bull. We will go in order of presentation: Microsoft, Sony, and then Nintendo.

Microsoft


Great. You're number one worldwide. Now give me something-- ANYTHING-- to play. To be quite honest, the only thing that interested in me at all in Microsoft's E3 2012 showing was gameplay from Resident Evil 6, a title that I'm going to get on another console anyway. Otherwise you had Microsoft's typical gun/shoot/kill-fests in Halo 4, Gears of War: Judgment, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (which had the most boring demonstration). I don't mean to sound snobbish, but I'm not 12 anymore and I'm not the college frat-boy archetype. I don't find the need to play shooters to fulfill my juvenile male fantasies while drinking Mountain Dew and calling my opponents racial and homophobic slurs. This isn't intending to generalize all of you who play those types of games, so please don't take it that way. There were other games featured including the new Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider, and South Park games. None of which can't be found elsewhere. Then you had announcements that The Weather Channel, Nickolodeon, Twitch, Rhapsody, and more were coming to the now-entertainment-centric Xbox 360. Sorry, everyone who isn't living in the United States, but you don't get any of this. Sorry for wasting your time and giving you false hope.


Something that doesn't particularly grab me but it may others is SmartGlass which my head dozed a little on. My main point through all this witless banter is that Xbox 360 seems to be coasting now with its success mostly due to Kinect. Microsoft did nothing to interest me in any of their titles shown that I couldn't get elsewhere. Their recent exclusives just don't appeal to me whatsoever. I guess I'm just not the audience Microsoft is gunning for. I have no doubt they will continue to do well, especially into next gen as they have the mountains of money to push anything and everything they produce.

Grade: D-

Sony


Sony's press conference was my favorite of the three-- which isn't saying much. Jack Tretton hosted and yes, the 200 fans they let in free applauded everything. First that was shown off was Quantic Dream's newest game, Beyond: Two Souls. It showed "gameplay" and some incredibly impressive cinematics. Following that was a three minute gameplay demonstration of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Fat Princess won, and while there was some heavy criticism of calling the game uninspired, I found the action to be enjoyable.

What I was most interested in was Sony's Vita lineup of software, and to say that the company has little faith in their powerful portable is an understatement. You can argue that "Oh, Sony doesn't need to show Vita software off at their press conference; they can show games off on the show floor" all you want, but the fact of the matter is that the handheld is struggling everywhere and Sony needed to show it was serious about supporting and getting support for it. All they announced was a new Assassin's Creed and a Call of Duty game that didn't even have any footage attached to it. I sincerely doubt the crowd that plays Call of Duty will be interested in playing it on a small screen device. You also have multiple ports of PS3 games offering cross play and connectivity, but why shell out $250 for games you can already play on the PS3?

And don't get me started on Wonderbook, which slowed the pace and momentum (as Sony likes to put it) of the show down to a crawl. Regardless, the final touches to the conference were two big 2013 titles: God of War: Ascension (yep, that's God of War, alright) and the jaw-dropping The Last of Us by Naughty Dog. Even with the shameless gift to the crowd of one free year of PS Plus, the show was the most entertaining of the three.


Grade: C-

Nintendo


I am currently constantly rubbing it in the faces of the fans who said that Nintendo had "already won E3" by just showing up. Man, were these poor diluted souls ever wrong! The press conference started out just fine with a cute introduction by Shigeru Miyamoto and the announcement of Pikmin 3. Reggie Fils-Amie said that Nintendo had lots of games to cover, yet opted to talk everyone's ears off about the hardware of their new console, the Wii U. We then saw footage of New Super Mario Bros. U, the newest in the line of milking Mario for all he's worth. Then it went all downhill from there. A demonstration came of a game that is six months old, Batman: Arkham City... but this time it is an Armored Edition! Wowee! What followed was Scribblenauts Unlimited (which isn't Nintendo exclusive by the way) and Wii Fit U.


Ubisoft showed off some titles, and then Scott Moffitt of Nintendo came up, embarrassing himself when he asked for some love/applause and received a polite smattering of claps. Shown off were two more Mario games but for 3DS: New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Paper Mario with new subtitle Sticker Star. Luigi's Mansion 2 was renamed to Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon with some video shown. After Mr. Moffitt left the stage, Just Dance 4 took it.


I don't recall what happened here because at that point I turned the conference off. I see there was a segment devoted to a mini-game collection called Nintendo Land. Funny as both Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, and Reggie Fils-Amie both said that the Wii U was supposed to cater to the so-called "hardcore", yet most games do not appeal to that group of passionate gamer at all. To make matters worse, people thought non-disclosure agreements hid games away from the public eye. It turns out Nintendo just had nothing major to show from first or third parties. When EA isn't even putting sports games for launch, you know there is a problem with your platform. Wii U quickly went from "looks good" to "I'm not getting this at all" within the span of one hour. What was supposed to be a conference to make an argument for buying Nintendo's new system made an argument against buying it any time soon. They made it so even fans are having a hard time finding the desire to buy, and let's not even talk about those heavily invested in the other platforms. Third parties seem to be doing another wait-and-see if it sells self-fulfilling prophecy, and Nintendo obviously has learned nothing about anything. At least there was Mario, Pikmin, and Luigi to soften the brutality and there's a 3DS-focused event tomorrow. If Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing aren't there, this E3 really will be one of the worst in history.

Grade: D

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As I just said, this E3 is one of the worst in memory. Every company just seems to not have any interest in providing compelling experiences for anyone. When Ubisoft of all companies has the best showing, you know something is off-kilter. With lukewarm announcements, gaming really feels stale right now, and the big three did nothing to satiate my and a lot of frustrated people's tedium for this hobby. What are your thoughts on the big three's conferences? How would you rate and/or order them?

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