Sometimes I get a bad feeling, yeah
Once again, there was awesome pre-conference music that got me pumped up. Ubisoft lacked a video game highlight reel like the one EA boasted, but still, got me very pumped up. Speaking of music, the first half of Ubisoft’s conference was basically all about music. Specifically, their major music game franchise. You probably know it. It’s the biggest dancing franchise in the world. I’m talking about Just Dance 4.
Do I particularly care about Just Dance 4? Not really. I’ve never really been invested in the franchise. But I am able to recognize that the series is popular, which makes this announcement big, and Ubisoft is right to kick off their conference like this. I have to admit I am a little bit biased against their choice of a celebrity representative of the game. I find myself missing Usher.
Flo Rida gave a musical performance. It was okay, but I don’t like Flo Rida. I’m incredibly against him. Why? He was part of the reason why WrestleMania XXVIII this year was so horrible. But I can let bygones be bygones. At least he’s not completely ruining E3 this year. Microsoft did a good enough job of that earlier in the day. It was pretty hilarious seeing all the nerdy game journalists throwing “their hands in the air” to the Flo Rida music.
A far cry from a good host
The Just Dance 4 announcement bled right into the introduction of the host of the Ubisoft press conference. Thankfully we didn’t have to deal with Mr. Caffeine, the super-hyper dude that made the Ubisoft press conference from last year a favorite for YouTube goers to mock. Instead we got Aisha Tyler, who you may know from various daytime talk shows and the like. She’s obnoxious there and she was obnoxious here as well. I don’t know what it is, but she just comes across as rude.
Is she actually a gamer? She claims to be multiple times throughout the conference. I don’t know if I believe her, but I guess it doesn’t really matter. Paired up with her is Tobuscus, the YouTube video guy. His energetic attitude doesn’t mesh well with the tired E3 crowd, probably worn down from the horrible Microsoft E3 press conference and tired from the long day. And maybe Tobuscus just isn’t funny. It doesn’t help that he and Aisha go together like tuna fish and sandpaper.
Right at the beginning of the show, Aisha made an awkward gay joke. Tobuscus repeatedly interrupted her. It was really, really awkward. I sort of felt bad for the poor guy, but at the same time, no. This is kind of what he’s supposed to be good at, and yet, he’s just not.
From there, the offensiveness didn’t end for the Ubisoft press conference. I don’t care about video game nudity, but for an event that is being broadcasted all over the world through various cable outlets, and the fact that it’s streaming online, this content felt a bit racy to just show. Video games want to be treated with the same respect as films. A movie trailer wouldn’t get by opening with a shot of a half-naked woman rubbing all over the main character for an irritating amount of time.
I may sound very pessimistic, but I actually didn’t hate Ubisoft’s conference as much as Microsoft’s. I really, really didn’t like the Microsoft press conference. Ubisoft’s press conference up to this point is bad, cheesy, and outright stupid at a couple of intervals, but by the same juncture, it’s entertaining, and not horrendously boring like the Microsoft press conference was as they kept trying to convince me to connect my iPhone to my Xbox 360. Or my oven, depending on who you ask.
Anyway, the game that showcased this was Far Cry 3. Besides the controversial opening, the game looks fantastic. It may seem just like a typical M-rated sex and gore fest, but it’s really not. There was footage that showed the peaceful side of the islands, with a focus on the plant life and the wildlife. It had a really beautiful majestic feel to it that gave the game a whole new personality. It’s like whenever there are humans involved in the game’s worlds, everything goes to hell. It’s poetic.
The spy returns
One of the only highlights of the Microsoft press conference was the official announcement of Splinter Cell: Blacklist. The game looks great. This press conference gave the game a block of time as well. This was used to show off the first official release trailer for the game that gave a bit more story details.
But the big news coming out of this conference was the return of the co-op mode that has made the Splinter Cell franchise so popular. The Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer mode will also be returning for the series. In my write-up for the Microsoft press conference, I noted that there wasn’t a release date nailed down for Blacklist, but it appears that the game is scheduled for a release in spring of 2013.
Wii U Would Like to Play
Ubisoft partnered with Nintendo last year to throw a ton of support behind the Wii U. This continued, with Rayman Legends being demoed specifically for the Nintendo Wii U. Rayman Legends is the sequel to the popular Rayman Origins, but the best version of the game is going to be available for the Wii U.
Why is that? Well, the game will have not four-player co-op on the Wii U, but five player co-op. Four players can play the game using traditional Wii remotes, and one other player can play using the Wii U GamePad. Of course, there is a wide variety of different control options, so you’ll definitely be able to find the control option that suits you best if you just do a little experimenting.
The Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen was used to interact with the action that was occurring on screen from the other players. Rayman Legends looks to retain the aspects of Origins that made it popular, but they’re really taking it to the next level with the Wii U. The motion controls of the Wii U will also be incorporated into the gameplay of Rayman Legends.
Also shown off for the Wii U was The Avengers: Battle for Earth. This game was quietly announced about a month back, and I covered it in my editorial about the history of the Avengers characters in video games. No actual gameplay was shown. All we know is that the game is going to be available on Wii U as well as other platforms, and it will feature characters from X-Men, Spider-Man, and The Avengers franchises.
But the most exciting announcement, perhaps, from the Ubisoft press conference was a Wii U exclusive from Ubisoft called ZombiU. This survival-horror game looked really cool. No gameplay was shown, actually, but the trailer was awesome! Honestly, the tone of the trailer sort of reminded me of the trailer that turned Dead Island into such a phenomenon. I love exclusives on systems, as that’s what sells the systems. Hopefully ZombiU can do that for the Wii U.
Tobuscus actually became useful for this section of the show. He mentioned an interesting tidbit about ZombiU. Last year, Nintendo showed off an alien game for the Wii U called Killer Freaks from Outer Space. Evidently that game has been completely retooled into ZombiU. I wonder if the gameplay mechanics seen in Killer Freaks from Outer Space will be retained in the final gameplay of ZombiU. If it is, then that means there will likely be multiplayer for the game.
A highlight reel of a bunch of Wii U games coming from Ubisoft was shown. All the big games from Ubisoft are making an appearance. The Rabbids games, Assassin’s Creed III, and more are all going to be making their way to the Nintendo Wii U.
Assassin’s Creed III was shown off again. Unfortunately, Ubisoft really didn’t add any new information about the game, but seeing it in action was spectacular. The platforming looked great. My biggest concern about the setting was that it would ruin the parkour elements of the game that made it popular to begin with, but from the looks of the demo shown during the Ubisoft conference, that really couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
Ubisoft is a video game publisher. Because of that, they like shooter games. All video game publishers do. Especially nowadays with FPS games making an incredible amount of money, like the Call of Duty and Battlefield games, for example. Instead of going the traditional route, Ubisoft has made a very…strange game called ShootMania.
I’m not entirely sure what ShootMania even is. At least year’s E3 event, it was presented as a sort of “create” video game. I couldn’t tell if those elements still held true in this version, or what was going on. The main reason for that was because there was no time explaining what the game was or what features it had or anything. Instead Ubisoft scripted a corny little battle between the co-hosts in an effort to promote eSports.
Ubisoft is evidently determined to be at the front of the eSports “phenomenon”. It hasn’t really kicked off, and I doubt it will ever grow out of being niche, but damn it, Ubisoft is going to have games represented by MLG if it’s the last thing that they do! The set up of this little ShootMania battle came about when Aisha became fed up with Tobuscus being obnoxious and ignoring her all the time. She then challenged him. But this conversation was done poorly and I was confused as to what the hell was going on for a large portion of the proceedings. Before I continue, I need to point out that apparently Tobuscus being weird and interrupting Aisha all the time was scripted into the conference. If that doesn’t make you think, then I don’t know what to say.
Basically, two teams of three came onto the stage. The team of girls represented Aisha and the team of guys represented Tobuscus. They then played ShootMania. I don’t know what was happening. There were commentators for the game, but they were from a different country and their accents made it hard to understand what they were saying. I guess it was just a weirdly designed shooter.
At any rate, if the guys won, then Tobuscus would be allowed to host the rest of the show. On the other hand, if the girls won, then Aisha would retain hosting rights. By the end of the gaming match, the boy team won, yet Tobuscus retreated to the backstage area and Aisha retained her position as the host. So, that entire thing was pointless.
If you want to try out this weird shooter for yourself, ShootMania is going to have a beta. You can sign up for the beta at the official website for the game.
Ubisoft capped off its eSport pushing with a highlight reel of various games that it feels are going to become very big in the eSport realm. Among the games shown included a browser MMO from Ubisoft that evidently won awards from someone somewhere, and a highlight video of the upcoming Ghost Recon Online was shown off as well. All the games shown are to be free-to-play. Ghost Recon Online will be available for the PC and the Wii U in the near future.
Oh, but one more thing…
At the end of the conference, we got a peak at a brand new, never before revealed IP from Ubisoft. A select team of developers at the company have been hard at work on this brand new game for the better part of two years. Unfortunately, I think the demo made for it for E3 probably wasn’t the greatest, but my opinion evidently isn’t the popular one, as the crowd in attendance popped for the game.
Let me give you a brief overview. The game starts by cryptically recalling blackouts and other issues that caused disasters and panic. Then we see the main character. Not much is known about him except he’s a guy in a trench coat. That and the city the demo showed looks almost exactly like Liberty City from Grand Theft Auto IV. Everything from the pedestrians to the cars looked like they were ripped directly from Rockstar’s blockbuster game.
Then the main character approaches a nightclub. He apparently wants to enter the club without being detected. So he equips an equipment jammer and screws up everyone’s cell phone signal. Can you hear me now? No. This was actually a pretty clever gameplay mechanic, and if the game continues to challenge the player to solve these types of thinking challenges throughout, it may just stand a good chance.
In the club, we see a cut-scene, equipment that allows the main character to hack into someone’s cell phone conversation, and then he flees into the streets. Up to this point, the game moved at a calm, quiet pace, kind of like Heavy Rain. But then suddenly, using more equipment, the main character causes a car to stop in the middle of the road. The result is a pile-up.
A shoot-out ensues. The action looked well done. I’d say that overall, I was impressed with the animation and the graphics of this mysterious game. The main character slaughters a bunch of people and then interrogates someone. Some form of multiplayer is then shown, but Ubisoft wasn’t very clear on how it would work. It looked like seamless open world multiplayer integration. If pulled off correctly, that could turn out to be very awesome indeed.
At the end of the demo, Ubisoft unveiled the name of the game. Watch_Dogs. Think a hybrid lovechild between Heavy Rain, Grand Theft Auto, and Assassin’s Creed. I like new IP, though, so this game gets points from me at this juncture.
Ubisoft’s press conference had serious ups and serious downs. But the show was consistently entertaining throughout the conference, which is something I can’t say for either EA or Microsoft, as both of them had serious lulls, Microsoft especially.
Ubisoft’s press conference succeeded mainly in the sections about the Wii U. The Wii U is exciting. It’s new. It’s like looking through a window into the future of gaming. The eighth generation is right around the corner, and Ubisoft made it clear that they are supporting the system fully. ZombiU had a very interesting trailer, and Rayman Legends is going to be great on the Wii U. Hopefully more developers get even more creative with Nintendo’s ambitious eighth generation console.
Overall, Ubisoft wasn’t outright bad to the point that I was almost insulted like Microsoft, but it wasn’t the most spectacular conference ever either. I like how there was a surprise new IP saved for the end of the conference, and even though I thought it was sort of boring, everyone else seemed to like it. Ubisoft did adequate, but it didn’t do anything spectacular.
Sony’s E3 press conference is highly anticipated by many! What will happen when Sony takes the stage?