So, with E3, or should that be Pre-3, well under way and four major press conferences down, it’s time to take stock of what we have seen and break down an expansive if familiar day of gaming announcements.
The first thing worth talking about? Shooting. There’s a hell of a lot of shooting. It seems that gaming has now become entirely synonymous with putting bullets in enemies, and almost every major game announcement or update involves careful manipulation of twin sticks and a firm tug of the right shoulder button. Look at the usual suspects – Modern Warfare 3, Gears 3, Uncharted 3, Mass Effect 3, Ghost Recon, Battlefield, Overstrike, Resistance, FarCry… that’s a lot of empty shell casings.
Kicking things off with the snazzy but confused Microsoft conference, there’s a common theme bubbling around the internet today – failure. While it’s hard to get genuinely excited about two Halos, one Gears, one COD and a whole heap of Kinect, there’s still positivity to be gleaned from MS’ work. It seems like a company that’s now acutely aware of its split audience, and while the lack of true new IP or anything innovative in the traditional gaming space is a little galling, it’s hard to overlook the quality.
The most divisive segments of Microsoft’s conference came in the extensive Kinect round up, which saw a mixture of kids’ games, on-rails bollocks and some clever if ultimately useless functionality in stuff like Gears and Ghost Recon. Undoubtedly, it took up far too much time, with every game shown making already sleepy journos sleepier. Kinect is turning into big business for Microsoft, and it has to support the tech – is it what we want? Well who are we these days? If you’re talking about the niche hardcore who have been entrenched in the medium since the 80′s, then don’t think that COD or Gears are really for us either…
Perhaps more appealing, then, if still far too ‘safe’, were EA and Ubi’s conferences. EA’s was workmanlike, reeling off quality-looking titles but veering away from the commitment to new IP that freshened up the publisher’s public image over the past few years. The big game, of course, was Battlefield 3, which looks stunning. The choice to demo a slightly tepid tank mission was unusual, but the fan reaction doesn’t seem to have waned. DICE might not topple Call Of Duty yet, but if Battlefield 3 isn’t a better game than Modern Warfare, we’ll eat our Galils.
Ubisoft made the callous decision to replace the dry wit and charm of Joel McHale with an insufferable arse known as Mr. Caffeine, a man who persisted with his awful shtick despite bombing harder than the Luftwaffe. The concept was 25 years of Ubi, shown off by Assassin’s Creed Revelations (pretty but pretty similar), Ghost Recon (shooting men together) and the stunning FarCry 3 (shooting with a brain). While FarCry is undoubtedly a hot prospect, it says something that the most original thing on show was the glorious looking Rayman Origins – a hark back to the halcyon days of 2D.
Finally, Sony took its chance to address the PSN Outage, which it did with guile and humility, before showing off the handsome and renamed Vita handheld, complete with its own selection of shooting games, and then its stuff for PS3? yep, some shooting games. And Kobe Bryant playing with the Move. Underwhelming again, despite the obvious technical grunt of Vita, but certainly no disaster.
So far, so middle of the road, then. Perhaps we’re just in an imagination rut, perhaps the economy is forcing the big guns to play safe, or perhaps we’re all just playing out time on this console generation. It hasn’t been the most spectacular day in E3 history, but we’ll all be glued to this stuff come the end of the year. On to day 2, then…
Company of Heroes 2, Batman: Arkham Origins, Grand Theft Auto V, Watch_Dogs, Beyond: Two Souls and Night of the Rabbit previews.Download Now!