72comments E3 2012: Save the best till... first?
Posted Mon 11th Jun 2012 8:26am by Ashley Martin
This year's E3 was severely lacking in surprises. Granted, new software was announced, but on the whole the show came off as more of an industry recap than a big event packed with reveals. It's therefore bemusing that each of the three main contenders (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) decided to unveil their most exciting games at the start of their press conferences, rather than end on anything truly mesmerising.
It's the videogame equivalent of turning up to a magic show, watching someone be sawn in half in the opening minutes, and then leaving deflated as the magician closes with a simple card trick. Sony is the least of guilty of this, as it closed with some gameplay footage from The Last of Us. Even so, opening with a totally brand new David Cage title and then working toward a 15-minute long segment on the Wonderbook peripheral seemed baffling. When you've only got an hour to play with, why waste a quarter of that on something that isn't really going to build any momentum?
Microsoft appeared to want to talk about anything but games in its conference, again opening with a big hitter - Halo 4 - and then dedicating masses of time to its entertainment services like the new "Smart Glass" feature (which enables Xbox integration with smartphones and tablets). Where were the Forza Horizon and Gears of War Judgement demos? If Forza is returning for the holidays surely it's far enough through the development cycle to be able to show it off in real time? To top it off, the company closed with a third-party multiplatform title, Call of Duty Black Ops 2. Sure, MS has the monopoly on timed-exclusive DLC, but that isn't going to make me want to rush out and buy their product now is it?
And then we come to Nintendo. Poor, crippled old Nintendo. Think I'm being unfair? Look at the company's performance in the last couple of years - the 3DS tanked so hard Nintendo president Satoru Iwata took a 50% paycut, the unveiling of the WiiU sent shares plummeting and now shares have dropped again following another lacklustre performance at E3. Despite being a long time Nintendo advocate, I'm finding it increasingly hard to remain enthusiastic about the company's products and games, with this year's presser leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.
Perhaps more crushing is that the conference kicked things off with promise of greatness. Pikmin 3 looked especially impressive and charismatic Nintendo stalwart, Shigeru Miyamoto, exuded buckets of enthusiasm as he showed it off. But that just made things all the more depressing as the show went on, the elephant in the room of course being Nintendo Land. Fucking Nintendo Land. I mean seriously, I can't think of a game I'd less like to see on the WiiU. Like some abomination born of Wii Sports and Wii Play, this bit-of-everything title was about as show stopping as a cold baked-bean. Did we not learn anything from Playstation Home?
I can only surmise that Nintendo wants to save it's big (Retro-developed) guns for next year's E3, when it has to fend off other next-gen consoles. MS can in part be excused for winding down the 360 in preparation for this too, as it begins to shift focus toward its next piece of hardware. Sony... well, it had showed off some good games, but little we hadn't already seen. However, I still think the main problem with all three conferences was that they were top heavy. If I go to a gig I don't want to watch the headliners first and then hang around for the support band. We can only hope that the big three learn from this year's expo and cook up something more consistent for next year.
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