Every year after E3 people ask the simple question of “who won E3?” Of course you can’t win a gaming convention, but the principle of highlighting the companies that really stepped up is one that I definitely value. Well, E3 2012 is over, internet and it is time to look at the winners and losers of the big event. This year’s E3 wasn’t as explosive as some years, nor was it totally devoid of action like other years. We got some solid releases, a couple of subtle surprises, great demos, and not too much misdirection. E3 is important to the gaming industry. It is one of the premier events, which show gamers what each company has coming out for the next year. It is, therefore, imperative that companies get gamers excited about their games. If a company can’t build enough hype to get people talking about their games, they have failed at E3, and there are definitely companies out there like that this year. So let us look at the best and worst E3 2012 had to offer. Do note, I won’t be putting up awards for some genres like sports or racing as they tend to just be “upgrade” genres and it isn’t worth the time to talk about the most recent iteration of FIFA.
|Not writing about Fighters, but just to let you know, Persona 4 Arena wins|
Best Developer – Ubisoft
For anyone following the show this year, it should come as no surprise that Ubisoft swept the show. Their showing was so strong that when gamers on a message board are asked “who won E3?” the answer is often not one of the Big 3, but Ubisoft. The big reason for all of this praise is that Ubisoft was able to show off some major new IPs in Zombiu and Watch Dogs, and some major new sequels in Assassin’s Creed 3 and Splinter Cell: Blacklist. The fact most of these games came as a revelation certainly helped Ubisoft take the crown this year, but a general lack of competition sealed their victory.
|Ubisoft Montreal: Making Canadians proud|
Best New IP – Watch Dogs
Like the past couple of E3s, developers have been very hesitant to launch new IPs. For those who don’t know, IP means intellectual property and the term “new IP” is used in the gaming world to denote a new game that isn’t part of an established series. There weren’t many new IPs to pick from this year, but what we did see was excellent. Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs really stole the show for many games. It came across as a mix of Grand Theft Auto’s open world concept and Deus Ex. The concept seems fresh, the gameplay looks stellar and the water and fire effects are incredible. As long as the interesting story concept shown this year holds up and it doesn’t devolve into a generic open world game, Watch Dogs could be one of the biggest games next year.
|It is unfortunate that Call of Duty Black Ops 2 will far outsell this game.|
Best Shooter – Halo 4
This year’s lineup for shooters is about as standard as they get. Another Far Cry, another Crysis, another Call of Duty, and another Halo. Despite being the biggest genre out there this generation, these games really failed to impress. It is possible that the first person shooter genre is running out of steam, or are they just waiting for the next generation. Sure we have Bioshock: Infinite, but the new stuff this year underwhelmed. I don’t think I would classify Zombiu as a shooter, so the winner goes in default to Halo 4. In truth, Halo 4 didn’t show anything we haven’t seen before. It will be a great game, but it won’t be pushing any boundaries, and that is a problem with first person shooters right now. very few of them are willing to try something new, and many of them like Crysis 3 rely too heavily on poorly thought out gimmicks. Either way Halo 4 takes the win here.
|Has anyone ever noticed how bad Master Chief’s design is?|
Best RPG – South Park: The Stick of Truth
RPGs had a terrible showing this year. With no major western or Japanese RPGs announcements, things look grim for the genre. Of course, you can expect more JRPG announcements at TGS (Tokyo Game Show), but it is extremely weird for western developers to fall down this year. I would have liked to give this award to Soul Sacrifice, but there is still too little on that game to make a call on its quality. As such the winner of the Best RPG award this year goes to South Park: The Stick of Truth. This isn’t a default win like with Halo 4. Stick of Truth actually seems like it deserves this award. Combining traditional turn-based combat with the hilarity of South Park could be a hit. From what I’ve seen so far, the game looks excellent and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a train wreck like most licensed games. I can’t really explain how well they integrated comedy into this game, so here’s the trailer!
Best Action/Adventure – The Last of Us
I’m not separating action and adventure as there is a lot of overlap in games. This year, as most, this genre picks up some good games. Assassin’s Creed 3 looks like it will be bigger and better than any game in the series, but the real winner here is The Last of Us. Naughty Dog had a lot to prove with the game that looks too much like Uncharted, and they succeeded brilliantly. A real survivor horror concept, with great visceral combat makes this game really stand out. The only fear is that the gameplay sections seen in the demo looked a little too scripted, and they may not be indicative of regular combat.
|It’s like if Nathan Drake wasn’t a tool and he was in a game with guts.|
Best Platformer – New Super Mario Bros. 2
Platformers are one of gaming’s oldest genres and it seem right that Mario should take the lead here. Little Big Planet Vita’s save system is very cool, but the core gameplay is the same, and New Super Mario Bros. U doesn’t seem to add too much. NSMB2 is going to be putting a focus on collecting coins and that is exactly the kind of mechanic that works in platformers. Collection is always at a premium and there is nothing more fun than running through endless amounts of coins. If NSMB2 is able to really build on this concept, while keeping the classically strong Mario gameplay experience, Nintendo may have a real winner. Of course if they fail, people will buy it anyway because it’s Mario.
|Wow, this is demeaning even for Luigi.|
Best Handheld Game – Assassin’s Creed: Liberation
This was a very hard category. I did not want to give anything to Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance as that game is in the final stages and will be coming out this month. New Super Mario Bros. 2 doesn’t do enough different, and we still need more information for Soul Sacrifice. Trust me, I want nothing more than to hands down declare Soul Sacrifice the winner here, so remember that. As such, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation wins the title here. The extremely repetitive nature of the Assassin’s Creed games could work wonders here as a handheld is meant for burst play, and it looks like they are going to be successfully condensing the console gameplay into handheld form. More importantly, it is a unique game and not simply a port of Assassin’s Creed 3, meaning this game can stand on its own.
|The real winner|
Best Use of Tech – Zombiu
It is weird that the best use of the Wii U’s gamepad came from a third party, but it is also excellent news. It shows that, unlike the Wii, third parties are going to work on Nintendo’s new console. The game looks fantastic and the various uses of the gamepad were inspiring. I have met with multiple people who are interested in buying the Wii U on the strength of this game alone. Zombiu shows how the gamepad can be used in innovative and useful ways, and shows how the Wii U may be able to offer a totally unique experience. Once again, this is not something I can effectively explain so look at the trailer and see for yourself.
Biggest Surprise – Agni’s Philosophy
Let’s be fair, there wasn’t any big surprises this year. Sony’s use of third party characters for Playstation All-Stars Battle Royal and Little Big Planet Vita’s save system were up there so that tells you something. One surprising thing was that Square-Enix basically sat this E3 out. No Versus, and no Kingdom Hearts 3 was an odd thing to see. However, Square did show off its newest engine for next generation and it is truly stunning. It is real time and not a cutscene, which many people don’t believe, and who would blame them after the Killzone 2 fiasco? However, Square is a company known for its amazing graphical abilities so I’m willing to accept this trailer. While games next gen won’t look this good because this level of detail won’t be put into them, it does an effective job of showing just how beautiful next gen can be, far more so than any game announced for the Wii U.
Most Boring Announcement – Tie – God of War Ascension and Gears of War Judgement
Sometimes companies announce games and it simply doesn’t mean anything. The two GoWs are such games. With gameplay that has never successfully evolved, both games have had their trilogy and both games are breaching out of that now (Like either of those series were going to stop at three games. I don’t understand our obsession with the trilogy). Of course, neither game is taking that opportunity to reinvent themselves and what we get is the same old thing, which is getting pretty boring at this point. Of course this applies to games like Halo 4 and Call of Duty as well, but putting the two GoWs together was too much to resist.
|Milking the series one Cyclops at a time.|
Worst Game of Show – Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
The GoW announcements were boring but the Call of Duty announcement was ridiculously bad. The Call of Duty series hasn’t really ever evolved. Sure it went from World War 2 to modern day with Call of Duty 4, and they improved the Multiplayer, but there really hasn’t been a huge jump, people just started paying attention to it. Now that it is extremely popular, people are starting to get bored of the fact that each game is Modern Warfare 2.1 instead of a real sequel with real new content. Well Black Ops 2 is not going to change that. Providing the same experience in a very similar way, the series is basically the Madden of shooters. It would have been nice if the premier shooter took a chance or did anything different, but what we get is the same old Call of Duty that was boring three games ago.
|Great another identical Call of Duty /sarcasm|
Worst Conference – Microsoft
If you read Thursday’s post, you may have noticed that I was really straining to find positives for Microsoft’s conference. The reason for this is that it was pretty terrible all around. Microsoft seems to have forgotten that it needs to push video games. Even in the darkest moments of the Wii, Nintendo still pushed new games out. A new multimedia device is unimportant when you rely almost entirely on multiplatform games that one and soon both of your competitors get as well. That is three years in a row that Microsoft has slapped the faces of its fans. Sony has been pushing out exclusives, Nintendo is showing off new hardware, and Microsoft doesn’t care. The money used to get Usher would have been much better spent in helping develop a game for your gaming system.
|This is a joke, right?|
Best Conference – Nintendo
Sony and Nintendo were close this year and they both pulled out some great things and had some poor moments. In the end, Sony’s lack of support for the Vita was damning and Nintendo won out. Nintendo didn’t do all it could to push the Wii U, but the new titles they showed like Pikmin 3 and the New Super Mario Bros. games were definitely excellent. They fully supported their handheld and were able to show off multiplatform support. I may not be as excited as I should be for the Wii U, but I am definitely excited and that is a good thing. The truth is that Nintendo didn’t fumble this year at all. They didn’t go far enough, but their conference was strong in every regard. They showed off tech, games, support, and ideas without falling down on any of them. If they can keep up this level of competency with the Wii U, they shouldn’t have any problem convincing people to buy one.
|As it turns out, this will probably be worth buying.|
That’s the end of E3 2012, internet. It suffered a little less of sequel-itis than previous year’s E3s, but it didn’t move into the same league as some of the greats. What we received was a perfectly average E3. Now we are all a little more knowledgeable of the Wii U, we know Sony is going to keep pumping out great exclusives, and we hope that Microsoft cares more than they showed us. Were there some disappointing aspects? Of course. I wanted to see more RPGs, more new IPs and more surprises that would really get me excited, but what we got was perfectly adequate. Now all we need to do is wait for TGS and hope we get some real announcements from companies that sat this E3 out like Square Enix or Atlus. See you there, internet.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer