E3 Day 1 Wrap Up: Games and Press Conferences

It’s heeere! The most exciting week in gaming, where some of the biggest announcement are made and the newest games shown off. Kick starting the week were 4 pressers from Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony. Here’s our thoughts on the big moments (and upsets) of E3 2012:

Microsoft

Starting us off this morning was Microsoft, pushing a plethora of new games and features for the Xbox 360 — a system quickly becoming the universal media hub in many households. The conference started out strong with some awesome footage of Halo 4 from 343 Industries. I was actually pretty impressed by the footage shown, despite not being much of a Halo fan to begin with. The main reason is because the art direction and some gameplay elements gave me a strong Metroid: Prime feel, such as a newly revealed infrared scanner, enemy design, and stronger “behind the visor” aesthetic.

Up next, we had Splinter Cell: Blacklist, which looks to be a reboot of the Splinter Cell franchise, taking place the middle east and featuring stealth action that looked much more reminiscent of Metal Gear 4 to my eyes than previous Splinter Cell games. It was impressive, but didn’t really get me pumped.

We also saw an extremely impressive demo for the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, which put the game near the top of my watch list. (I’m a sucker for jungles and bows, blame Turok). In all seriousness, the game looks like it will take the franchise to someplace entirely new, and the combat and gameplay look much more defensive and survivalist than most games shown at the conference.

Microsoft of course took some time to cover their big new streaming and content partnerships, as well as display new features coming to Xbox 360. Most notably is Microsoft Glass , which essentially turns your tablet or smart phone into a Wii U controller for your 360. Not exactly that impressive, nor all that threatening to Nintendo in my opinion simply because Nintendo’s product is made with games in mind, as well as the fact that the cost for Microsoft’s tech is higher.

Surprisingly, no footage for Gears of War: Judgement was shown, but we did get a brief teaser for it, and other titles like Matter, Fable: The Journey, South Park RPG, LocoCycle, Ascend: New Gods, Forza Horizon, Fifa 13 and Madden 13.

They finished up the show with a Resident Evil 6 demo, and Call of Duty: Black Ops footage. Both were impressive, and certainly gave the impression they were the right mix of “same but new,” but since I’m not too into those series I wasn’t too invested. Still, impressive showing.

Overall, Microsoft had some strong games, despite a rather boring delivery and foucs on non-gaming features.

EA

EA’s conference was the most disappointing in my mind. They certainly spent a bunch of time explaining how the newest entries in their annual sports franchises have evolved and improved.

When it comes to games I actually care about, however, it’s debatable just how much a certain title has “improved.” Dead Space 3 certainly looks like Dead Space aesthetically, and atmospherically, but today we were shown our first glimpse at Dead Space 3’s co-op gameplay. It was essentially a Gear of War clone, and completely disappointing. Isaac and his companion traded “What’s the Fuck”‘s and dumb jokes like it was some sort of bro-shooter. I was utterly let down by Dead Space 3, but I still look forward to seeing more from the game, and hopefully being proven wrong.

One of the most interesting annoucnements of the entire show was that UFC games will now be exclusively published by EA, stripping THQ of one of its most lucrative franchises. It makes one wonder just how long THQ will be holding on.

Closing out EA’s conference was Crysis 3. In the game’s highly-scripted demo footage, we were granted our first look at gameplay and the title’s gorgeous graphics and lush jungle-meets-city scenery. We saw the bow in action, and witnessed some truly amazing gameplay moments like shooting down a chopper with a well placed arrow, and ziplining across the city on a powerline. Visually, Crysis 3 was one of the best looking games at the show, even amongst Next-Gen titles shown off later in the day. A definite highlight of the show for me.

Ubisoft

Ubisoft’s conference was by far the strongest of the show, in terms of actual software. Despite some jokes falling flat from the presser’s MC Aisha Tyler and some bozo who was co-hosting, and a really lame  faux e-Sports demonstation at the end, we saw more gameplay for Splinter Cell, as well as a jaw-dropping demo for Assassin’s Creed 3, which made me even more excited for the game than I already was. We also got our first look at the Wii U thanks to Ubisoft’s Wii U lineup, including Rayman: Legends, sequel to last year’s Rayman: Origins. Surrounded by shooters and gritty actions games (almost all featuring bows too, by the way) Rayman was a nice breath of fresh air, and beautiful graphics.

Far Cry 3 made quite the splash, featuring nudity, swearing, and intense drug-induced hallucinations that only served to bolster the game’s already high levels of hype. Tigers, brutal knife kills, and even another bow made their way into the demo, further solidifying the game as one of the summer’s biggest games.

The biggest moment, however, was the unveiling of a new, next-gen game called Watch Dogs. While some details are still unclear, the game looks to be a third-person stealth-action game, similar to Assassin’s creed and Hitman, only it takes place in Chicago in the near future, feature cyberpunk hacking, and what seems to be truly revolutionary co-op. Nothing more is known yet, but the gameplay looked great and the graphics were absolutely stunning. The animations alone had me floored.

Sony

Finally, there was Sony’s press conference. Surprisingly, very little was announced in terms of games we’ve never seen before, and only a handful of games were shown. A new Vita bundle was announced, which will include an all new Assasin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, which features a female, African-American protagonist, and takes place parallel to much of the story in Assassin’s Creed 3. Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified was also confirmed for Vita, again without too much detail. There was also an exclusive look at Assassin’s Creed 3, which showed off the game’s dynamic weather system and tense sea combat — something we had yet seen or heard about. There was also a sneak peek at Far Cry 3’s co-op mode. 

Of course there were new characters announced for Paystation All Stars including Nathan Drake and Big Daddy. There was a demo reel for God of War: Ascension,  but other than some new time-bending powers, Kratos didn’t really do all that much for me. The new game from the makers of Heavy Rain, Beyond, also debuted, and revealed more action-oriented gameplay, and will be featuring actress Ellen page playing the game’s main character. Cool stuff, but nothing too special.

What came next, however, was by far some of the best moments of E3 Day One.

Sony closed out their presser with all-new gameplay footage of The Last of Us, the new game from Naughty Dog. The game played similarly to Uncharted, but was tense and gritty, set in a desolate near-future where a fungus has killed the majority of the population, and spawned zombie-like creatures that shamble the ruins of cities and towns. The few minutes of gameplay shown were the most engrossing moments of the whole day, giving the sense that The Last of Us may be the next big Sony franchise. At this point, it’s my game of the show, followed closely by Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs.

Overall though, Sony’s conference wasn’t that impressive to me aside from The Last of Us.

Today’s highlight, Sony’s The Last of US stole the show.

And that’s that, freinds. Day one of E3 2012 is over, and all-in-all I thought it was a decent show. Some great new gameplay of upcoming titles, a glimpse at the future, as well as a few surprises. It certainly isn’t the best E3 in recent years, but so far it’s been one of the better. Tomorrow is much lighter on the press events, but it’s also Nintendo’s big reveal of the Wii U, it’s power, and the games we’ll be playing on it. I’m both excited and totally dreading it. So much is on the line. But hey, even if they crash and burn, we can look ahead knowing that we’ve got all of the games shown today — and much more — to look forward to.

See you tomorrow!

What are your thoughts on E3 2012 Day One? Any games you were totally floored by? Any disappointments? Comment below, and follow Brendan on Twitter @homelessviking to catch all his thoughts on this year’s E3.

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