LOS ANGELES--When Ubisoft takes the stage at the Los Angeles Theater stage as part of the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo on Monday, there are a few topics everyone knows the publisher will touch upon.
The newly announced Assassin's Creed: Revelations will undoubtedly be on display, as will the recently delayed--and possibly Kinect-enabled--Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. It also seems like a veritable certainty that Ubisoft will have plenty to share about its burgeoning rhythm genre catalog, particularly as it pertains to the Just Dance franchise.
Of course, Ubisoft could also offer a few surprises. The publisher has yet to return to I Am Alive since unveiling it with great fanfare at E3 2008. 2008 was also the year that Ubisoft announced and then went dark on Beyond Good and Evil 2. Ubisoft also has a number of dormant franchises, including Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and Far Cry. Plus, isn't Jade Raymond at work on something in Toronto?
The real joy--be it tongue in cheek, or otherwise--will be seeing whether Ubisoft once again catches the industry off guard with something zany in 2011. More laser tag hijinks, perhaps?
[2:27] EA's press conference thus concluded, media and industry insiders scurry down LA's run-down South Broadway to the Los Angeles Theater.
[2:28] Ubisoft is no stranger to the LA Theater and its intricate detail work of gargoyles and fallen angels, as it holds it has held its E3 Media Briefing in the same hall for the past couple of years.
[2:28] What's new this year? Well, for one, Ubisoft won't be picking up the tab for The Soup's Joel McHale, who emceed the event in 2009 and 2010.
[2:29] As for new games (and toys?), we'll have to wait about two more minutes, as Ubisoft intends to start this show on time.
[2:30] As anyone watching GameSpot's livestream can attest, the music is quite loud.
[2:30] The lights go down and here we go!
[2:31] Ubisoft is starting things off with a bit of a sizzle reel, showing off Tom Clancy games, Rabbids, Rayman, Just Dance, Assassin's Creed, and other top properties from the publisher.
[2:31] The publisher is, of course, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
[2:31] Ubisoft CEO and cofounder Yves Guillemot takes the stage.
[2:32] Guillemot welcomes the crowd, saying that when he created this company in 1986 with his brothers, he said his primary motivation was to work with great people on great IPs.
[2:32] "Thank all of you for all of the support over the years," he says.
[2:33] Guillemot says that he looks forward to creating the next 25 years of entertainment "with all of you," and then welcomes to the stage the creator of the original Rayman, Michel Ancel.
[2:33] He is here to talk about Rayman Origins.
[2:33] Ancel begans to act out Shakespeare's Macbeth, in honor of the gothic stage.
[2:34] David Punset, senior programmer on Rayman Origins, joins Ancel on the stage.
[2:34] Ancel says that this game is a way to revive his love for the medium.
[2:35] The vibrantly colored 2D side-scrolling platformer takes the stage.
[2:35] And Rayman is off, hopping through levels in classic Rayman fashion.
[2:36] He's dodging a spinning wheel with dangerous spikes, while joined by an amorphous blue creature.
[2:36] Tetris music begins to play, and Rayman and his friend grapple with the blogs to gain purchase on a high platform.
[2:37] The game definitely has a goofy aesthetic, with Rayman and his friend flapping their arms wildly to navigate the stage and the dangerous yet adorable enemies on screen.
[2:38] The next stage sees Rayman and co. swimming under the sea, dodging jellyfish and blowfish alike
[2:38] As they work their way through underwater passages, they pursue a cycloptic chest full of…what? It remains to be seen.
[2:38] This game definitely has a heavy slapstick bent, as Rayman and his friend are onscreen going through a Three Stooges routine.
[2:39] Onto the next level, and a flying pirate ship rises up against a snow-covered peak. Rayman and his blue friend then hop into a flying machine of some sort, and the game takes on a Gradius style of gameplay.
[2:40] Rayman's machine allows him to suck up bombs discharged by the pirate ship, as they continue their chase for the cycloptic chest, which is onboard the vessel.
[2:41] After puncturing a giant red sphere, the entire ship blows up, and Rayman, his blue friend, and the chest are shown on a stage that bears an uncanny resemblance to the LA Theater's stage.
[2:41] Ancel is wrapping up his presentation, opens up the chest, and inside pops out a 25th anniversary tribute to Ubisoft, with the faces of many of its memorable characters.
[2:42] Aaron Priceman now takes the stage, aka "Mr. Caffeine." He definitely seems caffeinated.
[2:42] He's apparently a spokesman of sorts…the Joel McHale replacement.
[2:42] He's offering a retrospective of the past 25 years, showing Top Gun and Bon Jovi and Bill Gates from the 80s.
[2:43] Atari, NES, and Sega's Master System also receive their requisite plugs.
[2:43] He's now talking about "Gaming is adventure."
[2:44] He's talking about "high-definition" brands, rolling a trailer for Driver.
[2:44] Only this trailer is a stylized, 25th anniversary tribute, so the graphics are on the low-rez side.
[2:45] Priceman then intros the real trailer for Driver: San Francisco, which is in development at Reflections.
[2:45] The game is set in San Francisco, and sees players cruising around in a Shelby GT.
[2:46] The stunt-heavy racing game shows various destinations around San Francisco, such as crime-ridden Hunter's Point or Chinatown.
[2:47] Other hot rides are shown, including Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
[2:47] Priceman is now back, saying that single-player, multiplayer, and a 1970 Dodge Challenger can be seen at Ubisoft's booth.
[2:48] He now introduces Dan Hay and Jamie Keen, from Ubisoft Montreal.
[2:49] He's here to talk about…
[2:49] As yet unclear.
[2:49] A gameplay trailer rolls, showing a lush tropical forest, filled with paramilitaries and captured prisoners.
[2:49] AK-47 are in abundance.
[2:49] One of the military troops executes a captured prisoner.
[2:50] The man has a camera, and shoots pictures.
[2:50] He's captured, though, and comes to with a madman with a mohawk spouting philosophy laced with profanity.
[2:51] He apparently has a temper, and in the background his henchmen toss a captured person off a cliff, in a very cold manner, with no regard for life.
[2:52] The leader then kicks a cement block that's tied to the man into a ravine filled with water.
[2:52] There are numerous others, dead, underwater with him.
[2:52] He struggles, and manages to escape, nearly blacking out.
[2:52] Freed, he swims through an underwater cave after breaching the water's surface.
[2:52] He comes out behind a waterfall, snapping the neck of one of the rebels and stealing his weapon.
[2:53] It appears to be set in Central or South America, judging by the stone carvings and statues.
[2:53] The man sees a helicopter, but between him and it are numerous enemy combatants.
[2:53] He begins sneaking through the camp, stabbing one with his own knife and then dropping another with a silenced pistol.
[2:54] The combatants are realistically walking around camping, disposing bodies as they see fit.
[2:54] The man opens fire on them with a machine gun, blowing up explosive barrels and laying waste to the village.
[2:54] He then hops into the helicopter, and forces the pilot to fly.
[2:55] But, nope, he isn't going to make it, as more militants begin opening fire on the chopper.
[2:55] It crashes, and the man passes out. He comes to, though, and before him is the madman leader from before.
[2:55] Far Cry 3!
[2:55] It's coming in 2012.
[2:56] More to be seen at the booth. GameSpot will be all over that.
[2:56] Now Ubisoft is welcoming Randy Pitchford to the stage, president of Gearbox Software.
[2:56] Here's here to talk about Brothers in Arms, it sounds like.
[2:57] Pitchford says that the franchise is about authentic recreations of WWII battles.
[2:57] He says that Ubisoft challenged them to take an entirely new approach to the war game genre.
[2:57] And they accepted the challenge. He says that it will follow a group of soldiers, whose favorite thing in the world is "kicking Nazi ass."
[2:58] He introduces "The Furious Four."
[2:58] A trailer begins to play, showing a Nazi drinking hall being invaded by Inglourious Basterds-esque characters.
[2:59] They begin killing the Nazis with hatchets, rail guns, and other absurd weaponry.
[2:59] Brother in Arms Furious 4 is the name of the game, and it's coming in 2012.
[2:59] The brief trailer ends, and Priceman is back.
[3:00] He introduces "the next film-inspired game," Tintin.
[3:00] Steven Spielberg is shown on screen, saying why he likes Tintin.
[3:01] Peter Jackson is being interviewed also, talking up Tintin as well.
[3:01] Lots of concept art is shown, though it's not clear if it's for the movie or the game.
[3:01] Colorful, Moroccoan-style art primarily. Spielberg indicates that the game will be in 3D.
[3:02] The game is now being shown, as Tintin is shown fighting aboard a steamliner.
[3:02] Tintin and his dog navigate levels by sneaking through passages in 3D platformer action, occassionally defeating enemies along the way.
[3:03] Coming soon: The Adventures of Tintin: The Game.
[3:03] Priceman is back, saying its the 10th anniversary of the Tom Clancy Ghost Recon brand.
[3:04] Priceman then offers another teaser reel of what Ghost Recon would have looked like 25 years ago, and it looks a lot like Bullfrog's classic Syndicate, actually.
[3:04] Now, he introduces Tommy Jacob and Roman Campos Oriola to talk about Ghost Recon Future Soldier.
[3:05] Oriola is on hand to give a live gameplay presentation.
[3:05] Onscreen is a group of Ghosts, who emerge from a swampy bog in Nigeria.
[3:06] As with Far Cry 3, militants are the enemy.
[3:06] The Future Soldier element is readily evident in the game's HUD, as the team of Ghosts perfectly coordinate the death of the militants.
[3:06] They rescue a Nigerian woman who is hiding over a shack in the village.
[3:07] Then, they use special goggles to see the heat signature of a group of militants hiding behind a wall.
[3:07] The screen then breaks into four panels, one for each view of the Ghost team.
[3:07] As they work through the village, they identify more militants, while attempting to avoid the innocent villagers.
[3:08] The team yells repeatedly to the villagers: "Move, get out of here."
[3:08] They head to an Oil Harbor, and then initiate an overhead map that shows the militants' compound.
[3:09] A drone view is shown, making the enemies on the ground visible.
[3:09] Using active camouflage, the team moves into the militant compound.
[3:09] The screen breaks into four again, showing various team members taking out militants silently.
[3:09] They all lock onto a target, and execute the four militants in one breath.
[3:10] That instigates an open firefight, as the Ghosts hide behind barricades, lobbing grenades and exchanging gunfire.
[3:11] They eventually neutralize all of the targets, before reaching their objective in a shipping container.
[3:11] It appears to be a man who has being held hostage. A chopper arrives, dropping more enemies into the compound.
[3:12] The Ghosts open fire, shooting weapons with one hand and escorting the VIP with the other.
[3:12] They take cover, and a "thermobaric charge" is dropped in, eradicating the helicopters and enemy combatants alike.
[3:13] The Ghosts appear to be secure, and the demo ends.
[3:13] Ubisoft Singapore is now talking about Ghost Recon Online, which will be free to play.
[3:14] A trailer rolls, showing multiplayer maps.
[3:14] What appears to be a version of Ghost Recon's multiplayer mode is shown.
[3:15] It definitely doesn't have the visual fidelity of Future Soldier.
[3:15] It is coming to the PC only, but players will be able to carry over their achievements from Ghost Recon Online to Future Soldier, and vice versa.
[3:16] Priceman is now moving on to the second pillar of Ubisoft's presentation: "sharing."
[3:17] Adrienne Pechere and Anne Blondel-Jouin take the stage.
[3:17] The two work for Nadeo.
[3:17] They are introducing TrackMania 2
[3:18] Available for PC, the two say that this racing game is highly customizable that can be played for minutes or hours.
[3:18] A trailer rolls with in-game footage, featuring content created by players.
[3:19] A track is constructed in a canyon, pieces at a time, and then three high-octane racing cars take off on it.
[3:20] Another track is shown, where perhpas 20 or 30 cars are racing through an underground cavern.
[3:20] Trackmania 2 will be available this September.
[3:21] Shootmania and Questmania are also on the horizon.
[3:21] Priceman is back, again talking about sharing.
[3:21] Stage hands bring out a couch, lamp, and rug, and it's apparently time to talk about Rabbids.
[3:22] Raving Rabbids Alive and Kicking is coming to Kinect, and Priceman introduces Antonine Henry.
[3:23] Henry talks about the game's "augmented reality" emphasis, and demonstrates it by stomping on a mess of Rabbids that virtually appear on-stage.
[3:24] Henry brings out four players to play the new Rabbids game.
[3:24] They pose together on screen to fill out a shape with the shadows of their bodies.
[3:24] Having made the shape of a UFO, they then organize themselves to fill out the shape of Dracula.
[3:24] Of course, Kinect takes a picture of their ridiculous pose, which they can then see in the game or share on Facebook.
[3:25] The game is coming out November 8.
[3:25] Priceman is back, talking about "the gameification of life."
[3:25] Dancing is now the topic.
[3:26] Just Dance 3 is coming this year, and Priceman rolls a trailer.
[3:26] It's coming to Kinect, PlayStation Move, and the Wii.
[3:27] The trailer consists of "real people" playing the game, with very little gameplay footage.
[3:28] It will be available in October.
[3:28] Priceman is now introducing Tony Key, Ubisoft's senior VP of marketing and sales.
[3:28] He narrows down the release date to October 11 for Just Dance 3, on all platforms.
[3:29] Now he's talking about Rocksmith, Ubisoft's "authentic" guitar game.
[3:29] It's all about "turning the hard work of learning the guitar into a game."
[3:30] A trailer rolls, with professional guitarists and guitar makers talking about how good Rocksmith is at teaching people how to play the guitar.
[3:31] The game is coming out this fall.
[3:31] Key is back on stage, saying the Rocksmith tour bus is here at E3.
[3:31] The game is coming out this October, to be more specific.
[3:32] Key is transitioning to fitness, specifically the Your Shape franchise.
[3:32] A trailer for Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 is next.
[3:33] It shows men and women of a variety of ethnicities dancing, boxing, and running.
[3:33] Key is off and Priceman is on.
[3:34] It looks to be Assassin's Creed time.
[3:35] Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the topic, and Priceman introduces Alexandre Amancio and Martin Schelling.
[3:36] They are talking about Ezio's final chapter, saying that the iconic assassin is in search of secrets left behind by original protagonist Altair.
[3:36] A trailer rolls, showing a man being carried away in chains by medieval guards.
[3:37] After traveling by boat and through rocky mountain ranges, an aged assassin is shown dismantling a brigade of troops protecting a ruined castle.
[3:38] He is eventually captured after seeing what appears to be a specter of Altair.
[3:38] As he is walked out onto a plank at the top of the castle, a noose is placed around his neck.
[3:38] But he attacks before he is pushed off, and the trailer ends there.
[3:39] What begins as a pilgrimage becomes a race against time.
[3:39] An E3 demo is then introduced, and it looks like we're seeing live gameplay set in Constantinople.
[3:40] Ezio, who appears to be 50 years old, is shown wandering the city's streets, before being hailed by a friendly local.
[3:40] His first task appears to be to break a blockade chain keeping ships in the harbor.
[3:40] Ezio is then given a massive explosive, presumably to destory the chain blockade.
[3:41] He wanders through the city, which is "alive" in that way familiar to fans of the Assasin's Creed series.
[3:42] Ezio engages a group of guards, by first tossing a smoke grenade that disorients the enemies.
[3:42] As they stagger about, Ezio easily slaughters them. He then places the charge by the chain, and it promptly explodes, leveling an entire lighthouse tower.
[3:42] Ezio then ziplines onto a ship, where he meets more enemies.
[3:43] He is joined by a friend, who helps him kill the guards, before taking control of a flame-throwing device.
[3:43] Destruction ensues, as Ezio sets aflame the entire harbor.
[3:43] His wanton destruction is disrupted though, when a cannon ball is fired directly at him.
[3:44] He survives, of course, but now must navigate all of the ships he's set on fire to escape.
[3:44] As he frantically hops from one flaming wreckage to the next, he eventually finds his way to a building that isn't on fire.
[3:45] Another zipline sequence ensues, before he jumps from the mast of one ship to the undamaged ship.
[3:45] It appears to be smooth sailing from here.
[3:46] That's not quite the end though, as an Animus flashes, and what appears to be a glowing gate briefly pops up on screen.
[3:46] Assassin's Creed Revelations is coming this November.
[3:46] Priceman returns to the stage, ostensibly to close things out.
[3:46] Yep, that's it!