News: E3 2012 – Monday

Yay irrelevance!

Microsoft! Or something!

E3 kicked off this year with the surprise news that the show was looking to relocate elsewhere for next year, on account of construction developments potentially rendering one wing of the venue unusable. This would mark the first year that the E3 has not been held in Los Angeles, and may not even be held in California at all.

Of the two console conferences held today, Sony’s was easily the better – not because it was anything special, but because it was a conservative orthodox presentation on gaming, which is more than can be said of Microsoft’s efforts. Sony wowed crowds with footage from Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, which looks to be heavily reminiscent of the Uncharted series in terms of fidelity, if not so in terms of brutality, which looks to be stark and shocking in its gritty realism. Sony’s conference also served as the venue for the official ‘announcements’ of God of War: Ascension and Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls; two games that have been confirmed in all but words for a number of weeks now. It was also confirmed that hipster actress, Ellen Page, has been cast as the dramatic lead for Beyond: Two Souls, lending the game the Hollywood cred that David Cage so earnestly courts.

Felicia Day has new competition in overhyping 'nerd girl' cred.

High definition = look sweaty at all times.

The Sony conference also saw the announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, an Activision shooter looking to cash-in on the dearth of credible competitive FPS experiences available on the PS Vita. Finally, Sony made a couple of announcements with respect to upcoming PSN services; stating that PSOne Classics will be available to download for the PS Vita sometime this Summer, and that Sony is currently working to implement PS Vita functionality into two PS3 games, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale and Little Big Planet 2. The games will have the PSVita serving as an enhanced controller of sorts, making use of the enhanced functionality of its colourful and responsive touch screen in a bid to undercut Nintendo on their Wii U gimmick. While excitement is high about the PS Vita possessing this kind of functionality, it is easy to doubt just how much of a positive boon it will prove to be for the two games announced as being compatible.

Microsoft were also looking to negate the Wii U’s gimmick, announcing Smart Glass – a service which will allow smartphones and tablet PCs to interact with Xbox content; both game content and entertainment media. Microsoft also announced that Internet Explorer will be coming to the Xbox 360, for owners who are keen to use their gaming console as a shitty PC. This service is not without a catch however, as an Xbox Live Gold Account will be required for it to function – adding yet another service to the list of the things that Microsoft feels entitled to charge for when other console holders give them away gratis.

If Microsoft can throw unrelated black musicians in, so can I!

Also yesterday, Will.I.Am and Stevie Wonder idiotically wished Happy Birthday to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee. Americans.

Other than that, the Microsoft conference proved to be a yawn inducing douchefest for the most part, which placed a heavy premium on style over substance, with celebrities like Usher taking to the stage to endorse Dance Central 3, Flo Rida being trotted out to promote Just Dance 4, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone presenting a commercial for their upcoming title: South Park: The Stick of Truth – a game whose relevance to Microsoft extends to the fact that it will launch with an Xbox 360 exclusive costume pack; ah, but it is good to see Microsoft’s marketing dollars at work, no?

That is not to say that Microsoft’s conference was entirely without noteworthy announcements. The Microsoft conference was used to announce (presumed) Xbox exclusives Gears of War: Judgement and Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the latter of which is of particular note given that Michael Ironside, the long-time voice of Sam Fisher, will not be returning to voice the high-tech protagonist. The Microsoft conference was also used to announce Ascend: New Gods, a drab little game which looks to be of no importance whatsoever.

Today was also host to the conferences of EA and Ubisoft. EA kicked off their conference with the news that they had acquired the rights to UFC from THQ, as THQ made the announcement that they were closing down their San Diego studio responsible for producing UFC titles. EA also announced Dead Space 3, the screenshots of which began to leak onto the internet about a week ago. It would appear that the Dead Space series has lost much in the way of identity in the intervening years since Dead Space 2‘s release – long gone is the lonely corridor crawler, replaced with what looks to be a banal Lost Planet knock-off, replete with mandatory co-op, much like every other EA title. EA also used their conference to make two announcements: firstly, that they are indeed launching a premium subscription service for their terrible game, Battlefield 3, in an effort to have players pay twice for the use of servers; and secondly, that Electronic BioArts’ ailing MMORPG, The Old Republic, will be free to play up to level 15 starting in July.

Not sure Watch Dogs alone can redeem ZombiU and ShootMania Storm.

Also appears to have The Matrix cues as well.

Ubisoft used their conference to announce three new titles. The horrendously titled ZombiU is to be a Wii U exclusive, and is almost certainly the game that was being teased in Nintendo’s equally horrid hipster-infused Wii U promotion video, which made the rounds a couple of days ago. The second game announced was a competitive shooter going by the inspired title of ShootMania Storm. Finally, Ubisoft announced Watch Dogs, a Deus Ex cum Hitman fusion by way of Grand Theft Auto. Regardless of how derivative it sounds, this game looks to have some serious potential, and sports a futuristic and extremely attractive dystopian setting.

12 Comments

  1. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.06.05 at 13:00 | Permalink

    Microsoft’s Internet Explorer requiring Live Gold means that it is now the first web-browser in history which users must RENT.

  2. Mel
    Posted 2012.06.05 at 14:12 | Permalink

    You don’t count AOL back when it needed paid subscription?

    Anywho, all three major conferences (I missed Sony’s but have read a lot about it) were pretty safe. Nothing huge happened in any one of them, except some cool software announcements (some of which we saw coming). But big games have gotten unveiled on the show floor in the past. The week isn’t over yet.

  3. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.06.05 at 14:47 | Permalink

    @Mel: False analogy. AOL was an ISP. XBox Live is not.

    Sony and Nintendo put together boring but safe conferences. Microsoft’s was terrible, unless you are a fan of sports games and Dance Central. BEHOLD THE POWER OF KINECT. MS had nothing last year, and they’ve got nothing this year–and don’t try to tell me that Halo 4 and Gears of War alone mean a damn thing. They trot out and then release the same FPS game every year. You’d think they would come up with something–indeed, anything–new.

    Nintendo didn’t show any of the things they should have shown, because (as I said earlier) they don’t know how to make a conference. It looked amateurish and it was amateurish. Then, they moved their 3DS stuff to a separate conference… why? Who knows. So they can announce a new model, I expect.

    Sony at least showed some games. I wish they were coming out sooner. I also wish they had not launched the Vita until PS1 play was in it. But this is how all the companies work now: release broken hardware which the tragics buy, and then cut the price on it and release a new full price piece of hardware which all the tragics upgrade to and which normal people buy because only at that point are there sufficient games to warrant purchase.

  4. Mel
    Posted 2012.06.05 at 15:43 | Permalink

    Well, AOL was also a browser just like Live Gold will also now have IE. They’re not both just browsers, I know. However, paying money for a browser is insane these days. (Also, MSN Explorer is a premium browser you have to pay for…I know because my parents stopped using it once they got a notice that it would no longer be free)

    And poor 3DS, it got shunted off of the conference. I feel like they mentioned it because they felt obligated to. They showed, like, 3 games for it. In a montage. If they show a remodel separately, why not just do it in the main conference? To keep focus on WiiU, maybe. Ugh, Pikmin 3 was the only thing worth watching that whole presentation for.

  5. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.06.05 at 20:26 | Permalink

    @Mel: No. (Have you been drinking rather more than usual lately?)

    AOL was (is?) an ISP. It predated most publicly available web-browsing software. As a result, it provided its users with tools to use the internet, given that most of them had no such tools. This did not preclude AOL users from using other browsers as they saw fit. Additionally, the browser included with AOL (Netscape Navigator) worked with other internet connexions outside of AOL. So no: AOL was not ‘renting’ its browser usage in the same way that Microsoft is with the XBox.

    XBox Live is not an ISP. It exists in a world replete with web-browsing software which predates its own service. Until recently, it did not provide its users with a tool to browse the internet. The only tool being offered is IE; access to all other browsers is not available. The browser will not work without XBox Live Gold, even though the user has a perfectly functional internet connexion.

    The two entities are entirely dissimilar, including in the way in which you are trying to compare them: that XBox is charging people for access to its WEB BROWSER, whereas AOL was only charging people for access to the internet: they could use the Web Browser whether they bought internet from AOL or not–and I’d know. I was an AOL subscriber from 1992 until 1998.

  6. Mel
    Posted 2012.06.05 at 21:57 | Permalink

    Well, you win the AOL debate. But MSN Explorer is STILL a valid example*, so XBL is NOT the first web browser in history to require subscription!

    Now gimme all your internet money! I won!

    *teh examples: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSN_Explorer

  7. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.06.06 at 03:39 | Permalink

    @Mel: Still a false analogy. MSN Explorer is just a shell in which IE operates, and normal (non-MSN Explorer) IE comes free with all of the operating systems in which MSN Explorer runs. Hence, any internet-connected user of MSN Explorer can choose to use the browser component (Internet Explorer) for free. MSN Explorer users are not paying for IE proper, but rather for the flash-heavy MSN GUI Shell that loads on top of (and around, and beneath, and behind) it.

    XBox Live users do not have a free option; or indeed any options. The only browser available to them (Also IE) requires a Gold paid service to use. Analogously, they cannot opt out of the XBL interface in favour of a free, browser-only experience.

    So no, you still lose–as usual at this point!

    You may provide me with your internet money by clicking the Donate graphic at right.

  8. Ethos
    Posted 2012.06.06 at 09:34 | Permalink

    When’s the Mel Vs. Lusipurr podcast? I’d donate to hear that.

  9. Mel
    Posted 2012.06.06 at 14:33 | Permalink

    @ Lusi: MSN Explorer actually does do something that IE doesn’t. It connects the user to an email client that allows you to store emails and things on the MSN servers, and not just locally. So without it you don’t have access to that storage.

    Next you’ll tell me that this has nothing to do with the browser while inserting something about how mind numbing my post was. It’s ok, I’ve done your job for you!

  10. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.06.06 at 14:40 | Permalink

    An email client is not a search engine – am I missing something?

  11. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.06.06 at 14:46 | Permalink

    @Mel: MSNE is a GUI shell for IE. IE is available for free on MSNE PCs. The end.

    Get your bumps checked.

  12. Mel
    Posted 2012.06.07 at 09:32 | Permalink

    Jokes on you, I don’t have any internet money.