E3 Day One Impressions

The first day of E3 has came and went, and what a humdinger of a blowout. Click to read out impressions of it so far.

So what we are going to do here is each editor here at Refresh and Reload is going to write a quick summary of their thoughts on today’s conferences, that’s including Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft.

AKD – I’m going to keep this short and sweet, for my mind is still full with the insanity I witnessed during this day. First of all, Microsoft. They seems to present everything they could think of, except for video games. Instead we got alternatives to walking outside and a camera that has total control over your xbox and life. MGS: Raising is cool, but it doesn’t make up for what was seen there. From the crazy animal game to the dancing game from Harmonix, this was one of the worst Microsoft press events I have ever seen. In short, I think this sums it up best:

On to the better events, and I use that term lightly. EA was able to make a half way decent event, even with their sports talk that seemingly went on forever. We all expected this to be the place where Gabe from Valve would pop out and do something crazy, but alas, he stayed in the shadows. Bulletstorm looks great, a game that combines humor with insane combat and old-school feel. Metal of Honor looks good, but it looks very much like another game out on the market, so I’m not really impressed.

But onto the worst show of the night, Ubisoft. From the second Joel McHale showed his pretty face, I knew we were in for a world of hurt. From his stale jokes and awkward silences, I’m sure he cried himself to sleep last night. They started out strong with Tetsuya Mizuguchi playing his upcoming game Child Of Eden, with Kinect, which thankfully has been confirmed to support a normal controller. After that they showed Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and kept things going with their crazy Okami like skateboarding game, Shawn White’s Skateboarding. From there, things took a turn. Suddenly, out of nowhere, comes a bunch of people playing laser tag, shooting each other across the sea of journalists. Then stormed the stage, taking McHale by scripted surprise and then proceeded to talk about nothing for 15 minutes. After that, we got another jem from them, a game you control with your breath. Boy, what innovation. Then, we had to watch another god damn fitness presentation, the same exact presentation we saw 3 hours before, again. Then a real game came out of the blue, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. The only thing that stood out to me was the over use of invisibility and the fact that the captain of your squad sounds like a bad Barry White impersonator. Then Driver was revived again, but this time you are in a coma and you can take over the cars of others whenever you want using ghost powers. I refuse to think about that for more than a few seconds in fear of insanity overload. SUDDENLY, out of no where, a good game is revealed. A new 2D Rayman game with no Rabbids and beautiful artwork and animations. At least something good came out of this. Oh and then they ended it with a bunch of dancers dancing to Beat It in front of a logo that said nothing but Michael Jackson. The end. No game play, no nothing. Just dancing and music. HAVE A GREAT EVENING EVERYBODY!

Globulous– Though I missed the Microsoft conference, I was able to look a few things up on it and one of the major things really caught my interest. The newly designed XBox 360, aptly named the XBox 360 S(lim), though looking like an Alienware PC knockoff has been able to capture my interest and soon, my wallet. Many of you should know of my distaste towards Microsoft and the 360 but this, this is something completely phenominal. Smaller hardware, a slightly refurbished controller, a nicer looking (though still proprietary) internal hard drive, all at the price point of an entry level PS3 (which I have). I feel having a PC and a PS3, I’m set for this generation but my PC is garbage so this will have to do. Mass Effect and Left 4 Dead are top contenders on my list to buy. I won’t be getting one at launch but I’ll wait for a good deal on it. If you don’t have one, I suggest you do as well. Let’s just pray it doesn’t have the problems the 360 has right now. *coughRRoDandE74cough*

Metal Gear Solid: Rising was the next to capture me. Being a huge fan of the MGS4 Raiden, I’ve been anticipating this one for a while. I’m just gonna get this out of the way first of all… YOU CAN CUT FUCKING EVERYTHING! Building supports, vans, watermelons, people, you name it! The footage they revealed showed a guy getting tossed up into the air and in slow-mo, getting cut to seemingly 8 or more pieces. This is odd for me to say but the story could be absolute shit and I would not care because the gameplay would support the fun of this wholeheartedly. Hideo Kojima has not failed to impress.

Raiden does his best Sub-Zero impression

As for the rest of that conference nothing stood out. Project Natal, now named Kinect, just seems like an over glorified PS2 EyeToy with an invisible Wii Balance Board.

The EA conference was pretty good. I missed the first half, but I digress, nothing that was shown was of any interest to me anyways. It wasn’t until the second half when Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games game onstage with an EA representative (some blonde broad) and a person from Epic’s subsidiary; People Can Fly, to show a gameplay trailer for the previously announced BulletStorm. Let me just say… Wow. I’m not a huge fan of CliffyB (or Dude Huge, if you prefer) or his work (Jazz Jackrabbit, Gears Of War, etc.) but this absolutely blew me away. First of all, we have a protagonist with a full bloody head of hair. That alone is a step in a different direction, in a good way. Secondly, you have some sort of Just Cause 2-esque grappling hook laser thing where you can latch onto people, lauch them into the air and open fire in slow-mo, effectively allowing you to pump them full of so much lead, their main composition will soon be of the dense materal. And thirdly, chainguns. ‘Nuff said.

With all that out of the way, this brings me to Ubisoft. Oh. My. Sweet. Baby Jesus. What a travesty. It’s almost beyond words how bad it was. Kinect bullshit, Kinect bullshit, Kinect bullshit, DRM heavy laser tag for PC, then something new. A thing they’re calling Project DUST. It looked like a very high-def Black & White from Peter Molyneux of Lionhead Studios. But it also seemed more than that. It looked like the world the people lived on was falling apart. Oceans draining, deserts disappearing, shit going nuts in general. Not much is known but I’ll be keeping an eye on it. Then they announced a new Raving Rabbids game. I couldn’t care less. Then it got weird. They started talking about artists and different art styles hinting at a LittleBigPlanet knock-off or something similar at the least. It was very odd until that iconic character lacking arms, legs, and a neck popped up on screen. It was Rayman. Fucking. Rayman. In the wake of a massive influx of Raving Rabbids games, a traditional 2D Rayman platforming game is like the second coming. A new messiah. Day one buy, I don’t even care if haters will hate.

Oh, and then they showed some sort of Michael Jackson game… Kinda. And not a single fuck was given.

Godot– I went in today extremely hyped for a huge wave of new games and the possibility that Kinect could have some strong 3rd party support. Needless to say I walked away from the first day pretty disappointed. The Microsoft conference was pretty much devoid of what I expected, the only new game was Crytek’s Codename Kingdoms, some sort of gladiator game that was merely teased with a live action trailer. Metal Gear Solid: Rising impressed with tons of footage of Raiden slicing up soldiers (and watermelons) in slow motion, it looked absolutely stunning and was one of the highlights of the day. Hulu failed to make the feature list despite much rumor however ESPN oddly is getting a free app. Kinect disappointed with some rough tech, lack of a price point and complete void of hardcore games.

EA’s press conference impressed me pretty thoroughly there was a large amount of new games and live gameplay demos with only a Sims 3 segment to slow it down. Dead Space 2 and Medal of Honor where pretty much what I expected, I don’t care for either but there are definitely people out there who will enjoy these. The biggest what in the hell moment for me today was the announcement for Bad Company 2: Vietnam an expansion for the ever popular online shooter, as a fan of BF:Vietnam and CCR my head nearly exploded in glee. Clifford Bleszinski made a second appearance to show off Bulletstorm, a game I had little enthusiasm for that won me over with an insane amount of kicking dudes to their death and mostly spot on humor.

Sidfiou– Throughout the three shows today, one goal was apparent: to convince you that controlling games with just your body is what the future holds for the industry. If these visions are indicative of what we should expect to see, then I am truly afraid. A common type of games seen were fitness games, such as EA Active 2 and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. I know I am not the audience for these things, but frankly I feel that they are chasing the Wii Fit fad that has a window closing faster than Guitar Hero‘s popularity. Kinect failed to impress as well for the vast majority of games that aped what Nintendo had done years ago at the beginning of the Wii. The one hopeful indication of what’s to come with the device is Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Child of Eden, which I can accurately describe as a first-person, Kinect controlled version of Rez with pitch-perfect art style and sound design. However, I have to question how much I would want to play a game with my arms constantly locked in an awkward position.

Microsoft’s conference was a largely uneventful affair, focusing on their newly christened Kinect and subsequent games. Kinectimals could be the trojan horse that gets the device into kids’ homes, but certainly will not win over the Xbox’s core audience. For them, their interest fell on old Xbox standbyes such as Halo: Reach, Gears of War 3, Fable III, and newcomer BulletStorm. The first gameplay footage of Metal Gear Solid: Rising impressed with its brutal decapitations and blood splatter that looked like a blast to play. ESPN is coming to Xbox Live, which should please the large amount of Gold subscribers on Xbox Live, though I would’ve liked to have seen Hulu integration as well. While I am glad to see a new Xbox 360 that improves upon nearly every aspect of the original design, I find it to be an ugly device in general.

What made EA’s conference for me was the announcement of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam. Despite the unruly title and EA’s perceived interest to push FPS’ into the modern era, it looks like what I could want out of an expansion pack to Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I am surprised, however, at the utter lack of either Dragon Age and especially Mass Effect at this event.

Ubisoft was a mixed bag. Both the PC Lazer Tag game and Innergy, the game you control by relaxation through breathing patterns, seem to be games that are better suited to E3’s Kentia Hall, where quirky games go to be a funny anecdote for the gaming press after the major news has been unveiled. Not only do I have no enthusiasm for these products, I doubt that they will perform well at all. Despite my sour disposition to skateboarding games, Shawn White’s Skateboarding caught my interest with gameplay that seems to be a mash up of de Blob, old school Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and with a twist of Jet Set Radio Future. The only other highlight for me was the return of Rayman for the downloadable marketplaces which had fluid animation and fun-looking gameplay mechanics.

It can only get better from here; at least, I desperately hope so. My biggest fear with Kinect is that it will go through the awkward period of time post-release that the Wii saw where developers try to figure out what works and what doesn’t commercially. This will lead to a lot of “me-too” games that mimic what other successful games have done. Unfortunately, with the abundance of fitness based games and minigames, I am convinced that this is exactly what will happen.

One thing that I do know: at this point I cannot justify buying a Kinect in the foreseeable future.

About Addison

Addison is a bit of a jerk. His favorite game is The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. This is really all there is to him. Very hollow, very boring.