The Good, The Bad, and The Weird
E3 only comes around once a year, but during this week long extravaganza, the press and public alike get a small taste of what's on the horizon in the gaming world. From new hardware to new software, from advancements in technology to idiots making fools of themselves on stage. E3 has it all, and some years have certainly been better than others. I'll sound off on the various highs and lows of this year's event, highlight a few of my most anticipated games coming later this year, and give you my thoughts on which of the Big 3 console developers had the best showing at 2011's E3.
For about 95% of those that attend E3 or watch it via live streams, the games are the most important part of the show. Whether it's a game you knew was coming out and wanted to learn more about, or one that catches you in complete shock, you care about the games. I know you do, because I'm the same. And at this year's E3, there sure were plenty of games announced and discussed that make waiting until the end of 2011 such a painful ordeal. We learned a significant more information about Skyrim, saw some gorgeous looking gameplay demos and trailers for Uncharted 3, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and Battlefield 3, and were delighted with the possibility of Mirror's Edge 2 (well, at least I was) using EA DICE's Frostbite 2 engine, currently used in Battlefield 3. The point is, if you like games, this year's E3 had them in spades. Without fail they are almost always the most exciting part of the annual event.
Okay, that was a bit harsh of me to dig into Microsoft that bluntly. But honestly, if you watched their press conference, you'd agree with me. And if you don't agree with me, then it's because you were the target audience of that show – Kinect gamers. Microsoft devoted nearly all of their almost 2 hour press conference to demonstrate the voice and body recognition features of Kinect being adapted by upcoming games, and to reveal new games for Kinect that no one cares about. A Sesame Street game by Tim Schaffer? Seriously, Tim? What was even more painful was watching all of the stage demos of the various Kinect games by the children. Kids are cute, I get it. And I also get that these games are aimed at kids. But it's several kinds of painful to watch them try to look like they're having fun up there playing something that obviously isn't working as intended.
The few actual games they did show off (and of those, only a handful were not Kinect-ready) fell flat. Modern Warfare 3's demo looked visually impressive, but lacked anything that really made me want to see what happened next. War-torn cities just aren't interesting anymore. There was a co-op demo of Gears of War 3 with Cliffy B and special guest Ice-T, but I can't recall what happened in the game. All I can remember is a brown screen with lots of loud noises and people yelling. The Halo Anniversary Edition is nice for nostalgic Halo fans interested in going back to play the only decent game of the series, or those who never got sucked into the hype, and while the Halo 4 announcement at the end might've caught a few by surprise, in all honesty it shouldn't have. If it did, need I remind you how many Final Fantasy games there are?
My Top 3 Most Anticipated Games of E3 2011
3. Resistance 3
There wasn't much new content revealed about Resistance 3 at this year's show, but I remain excited for it nonetheless. Hoping to bring the series back to its more traditional roots, Resistance 3 will feature a radial weapons menu allowing your character to hold more than just 2 firearms at a time, and will hopefully feature an improvement over Resistance 2's class-based cooperative mode.
2. The Darkness II
The direct sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, The Darkness II looks to be a more visceral and action-oriented title. I remain skeptical about Starbreeze's lack of involvement (the developers who manned the first game), but the promise of quad-wielding gameplay and a fresh art style keep me coming back wanting to know more.
1. Dark Souls
The spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed action RPG will feature more of the same dungeon-crawling, hair-pulling, controller-breaking, patience-testing gameplay in an effort to weed out the men from the boys. With vast improvements made to the multiplayer, a slight overhaul to the graphics engine, and the promise of an even harder game, any fan of Demon's Souls should salivate at the mere thought of Dark Souls.
The Big Three
I don't want to be too harsh on these guys, but sometimes they make it so easy. There's really nothing more I can or want to say about them, so if you're interested in reading my thoughts, check out my column specifically about their E3 press conference.
E3 2011 Grade – See me after school
I wasn't able to watch their conference live when it aired because of work, therefore I refrained from putting out a piece particularly about their show. But now that I have some time to talk about them, I'll highlight a few things: first, it was good of them to come up front and acknowledge their recent plague of PSN problems, and the way in which it was handled was better than what most people were predicting. Had Kevin Butler come on stage and done his usual annoying shtick, I think that would've angered the thousands of people who had their information compromised. As far as the games go, Sony had the strongest line-up, even if most of it were titles we already knew about. With their announcements about 3D and the Playstation Vita, Sony hopes to have a stronger end of the year than they did a beginning.
E3 2011 Grade – B
I was most excited to watch Nintendo's conference because of the promise of the new console. After seeing it, I'm a little less enthused. The potential and possibilities of the much-talked about Wii U and specifically its controller are certainly going to be hot topics for debate in the next coming months, at least until we learn more at TGS. But the news following E3 that the Wii U console can only support a connection from one Wii U controller has many people scratching their heads. What kind of platform only allows one controller? Granted, players will still be able to use the Wii remotes for various features, but exactly how all of this will come together in the end remains one of the biggest questions coming out of their E3 press conference. That, and the price tag. Otherwise, the rest of the show focused on various 3DS exclusives and a decent chunk of time talking about the 25th anniversary of Zelda.
E3 2011 Grade – C+
Where the hell was The Last Guardian?