Tuesday, June 7, 2011

E3 Press Conference Impressions

Although E3 2011 officially kicked off today, all the major press conferences are now over. Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony all went yesterday (Monday), while Nintendo went today (Tuesday). In the following paragraphs I'll briefly sum up my thoughts about the press conferences (or at least what I can remember), and give a grade to each one.

Microsoft- This gets my award for best press conference. Mass Effect 3 looks great and the way it will use Kinect (voice commands) looks like it might actually be worthwhile. I'm not a big Gears of War fan, but if I was I would have been excited to see Gears 3 in action. And Ice-T is pretty badass. Most of the Kinect stuff looks mildly cool, but a lot of it is obviously aimed at a younger demographic than me. Even though I don't know if I'll play it, I think it's very cool that Minecraft is coming to 360 with Kinect.

As someone without cable TV though, I am very excited about Live TV coming to the 360. This will obviously depend of how much it costs and if there are any good channels, but I'm definitely interested. The new dashboard that will come out this fall looks like an improvement over the current one too.

The Halo 1 remake looks okay, but I doubt I'll get it when it first comes out. Halo 4 really caught me by surprise though, and they already announced it's going to be a new trilogy (so 4, 5, and 6). I'm not a big Halo fan, but it was pretty cool to see Master Chief in action again, even if it was only a teaser. Also, the small part of the new Tomb Raider game they showed looked pretty cool too.

On a final note, the whole beginning of the Microsoft press conference started with a live gameplay showing of Modern Warfare 3. Here's my question: does anyone care about Modern Warfare/Call of Duty anymore? Am I the only one completely tired of it? Unless something drastic changes, I have absolutely no plans to purchase MW3 this holiday season. I really think they need to give Call of Duty a break before they wind up running that franchise into the ground just like they did with Guitar Hero.


EA- A solid, if unspectacular press conference. Mass Effect 3 looked good (coming out March 6, 2012), Battlefield 3 looked good (coming out Oct. 25, 2011), but I'm a little upset that we still don't have release date for The Old Republic. We have a date for Mass Effect 3, which is definitely coming out next year, but we don't have a date for TOR, even though they still say it's coming out this year. I smell B.S. If I don't get a release date very soon, there's a very good chance that I will not cancel my pre-order. And like I said before, Battlefield 3 looks really good and like it's ready to take the throne from Call of Duty. And I for one can't wait for that to happen.

When they first brought out Ray Lewis, Clay Matthews, and Peyton Hillis, I thought "Hey, this is cool!", but near the end it started to get awkward. As for Madden, I probably wont be buying this year's copy: A) Because as a general rule I buy sports games every other year (and I bought last year's), and B) Because there might not even be a football season this year, and I refuse to support the NFL at all if they cant get their crap together. Besides that, nothing really interested me. I don't play FIFA, Need for Speed, The Sims, or anything else that I can remember them showing.


Mr. "Huge Douchebag" Caffeine

Ubisoft- Since I've been watching E3 (which actually isn't that long), Ubisoft has always had bad press conferences. The mistake they continually make is instead of having game developers talk about their games and occasionally make the "not-funny" joke that no one laughs at, they hire a semi-professional comedian to host the event and make constant "not-funny" jokes that no one laughs at. "Mr. Caffeine" filled that enviable role this year. In fact, the only funny part of the press conference was how much of the FarCry 3 demo they had to "bleep" out because it contains so much foul language (also, because it was live, one F-bomb definitely slipped though. I wonder if G4 will get fined by the FCC for that). Also, Randy Pitchford did come out to pitch a new game Gearbox is doing with Ubisoft (Brothers in Arms: Furious 4), and that's the only thing that will keep this press conference from getting a "F".

As for Ubisoft's games though, because I don't really play any of their franchises I'm not really a good person to judge them. However, lack of qualification and understanding has never stopped me from judging anything before, so...


Sony- If there's one thing you can say about Sony, it's that their press conferences are always stronger than their firewalls and encryption. Seriously though, Sony had a pretty good press conference, and I liked how the first thing they did was apologize to their customers and developers. I did want Kevin Butler to be there though, and I'm disappointed he was MIA. But Uncharted 3 looks great (no surprises there) and the PlayStation Vita (the new PSP, pictured above) looks absolutely amazing. And it looks like Sony learned their lesson from originally pricing the PS3 at $600, because the Vita (Wi-Fi only model) will only cost $250, which is very reasonable considering the tech.

My favorite part of the press conference though would have to be when Kobe came out and played NBA 2K11 with the Move. Not because of the Move (which I still think is extraordinarily lame), and not because of NBA 2K11 (which I've heard is very good but never played myself). It's because it reminded me that for years I've been telling Lee Brewer that Kobe's my boy and that he's much better than LeBron, while Lee defended LeeBron for years until finally recently admitting that I was right. Sup, Lee?

FINAL GRADE: B- (for Sony)

FINAL GRADE: F- (for Lee Brewer calling LeBron years ago)

Nintendo- I'm very "meh" about the Nintendo press conference. I guess all the upcoming 3DS games look cool, but I don't own a 3DS nor do I have any intention of buying one (if anything I'd wait and get the Vita for the same price later this year). Skyward Sword will probably be great, but unfortunately I've never been a Zelda fan, and Skyward Sword probably won't change that.

Also, Nintendo did such a good job explaining the new "Wii U" that I had only one question at the end of the press conference: "What the hell is this thing?" It's basically the new Nintendo console with HD graphics, better online functionality, and a controller that's a mix between a PS3 controller and an iPad. Seriously (the picture above is an actual picture of the new controller). It's definitely... interesting, but its success will really depend on if developers take advantage of the hardware. That was the same case for the original Wii, and unfortunately most of them didn't. But we'll see. Either way it wont be out until holiday 2012, and if it's anything like the Wii you wont be able to find one in store until summer 2015.


Also, on a side note, I saw the live E3 demo for Skyrim twice, and that game looks more and more amazing every time I see it. Can't wait.

As always, feel free to chime in and let me know what you think, especially if you watched some of this stuff. But feel free to even if you didn't


Mike Pouch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Pouch said...

Well, I only watched Nintendo's press conference - so I can't really compare, but I thought they did a decent job. Although, I'm more into platformers/Mario than I am into FPS's...

I read that Microsoft's conference wasn't that good due to too much forced Kinect (even the voice commands on Mass Effect 3 - some suggest just using a headset. Haha). I also heard Halo 4 news leaked about a day before this announcement which kind of killed the surprise...

I kinda wanna look up Ubisoft's press conference just for a laugh. That guy looks terrible... I can only imagine the jokes...

I haven't heard/seen much about Vita - besides HD graphics (that can be connected to a TV?), what's cool/unique about it?

Oh - and good call giving Lee an F. That's one that I'd have to agree on.

leebrew said...

First off how dare you relate me to lebron in any way. Luckily my alliances are widely known.

As for E3, I saw sony and nintendo's entire press conference, and all the videos and updates on all other games and news. Overall, I thought if anyone won it was the developers.

Microsoft had all of it's surprises leaked earlier in the day. Though was another halo THAT big of a surprise anyways? (The original beaten to death shooter) I have yet to see anything cool with kinect. The mass effect 3 things could be done with a headset, and while it was like, "oh thats a game i'll play," I also don't want to talk to my tv.

Sony wasn't much better though. I probably won't buy a portable, and I have less interest in move than I do in kinect. Where was the last guardian, that rockstar exclusive, or twisted metal (which is there anyways, and looks cool)? I also don't want to see third part non-exclusives demoed in a first part conference anymore. It's a cop out for a weak conference.

I don't know what to think about nintendo. I mainly watched this to see the new console. I thought that this was going to be nintendo's next generation console that while riding it's wii success brought back teenage and adult gamers. While you can't fault the lack of games now, the graphics look current gen. The new controller may excite people who really like wii, but I'm not stoked.

So overall I'm less stoked on any of the companies, and more excited for Uncharted 3, ME3, Battlefield 3, Twisted metal, and batman,

Sean said...

Thanks for the update Benji. I did not know about Halo 4 (did know about the halo 1 thing which is ok since I've never played it...yep I said it).

Will you be making an overall experience entry for this years E3? Curious.

lespaulio said...

Pouch- the Halo 4 thing kind of leaked, but everyone just assumed they were talking about the Halo 1 remake. I know I was surprised, and the general consensus I got from online/G4 was that most people were surprised. There's a lot of cool stuff about Vita, like the dual analog-sticks, touch screen, touchpads, graphics, etc.

Lee- I totally agree that first-party conferences shouldn't contain third-party non-exclusives. It's a waste of time and (unless there's something extra they're doing just for that console) doesn't really promote your product over the competition, which is basically the point of these press conferences.

Sadclown- this is my only entry for this year's E3. It's not like I went, so really all I have to go on is the press conferences I saw on TV. And I hate you.

Joshua said...

I didn't watch the EA and Ubisoft conferences, mainly because I can see all those games in other conferences and the gaming websites ...plus I'm not a high on them as developers anyway.

I guess I'll do what you did and give a grade for each conference...oh, and I own a PS3 now, so I'm not completely biased...

Microsoft: "Kinect doesn't suck, and we're selling ENTERTAINMENT"

I guess after Microsoft's conference, you could walk away thinking, "Well, that was pretty good, I guess. Solid." There was nothing unexpected except Halo 4, and even that wasn't much of a surprise. I mean, if Bungie keeps making 'em, people will keep buying 'em.

More than half the conference was Kinect-focused, and for good reason. They needed to show that it's going to support big-name games such as Mass Effect 3, while pushing it's connectivity with the revamped Home menu as well. Voice recognition is pretty cool, but like Lee said, a headset could do the same thing, and pressing a button is just as quick if not quicker. Oh, and Star Wars would've been much cooler if it wasn't on-rails, and you didn't just flail your arms to move the saber. Thinking of that other "Magic" game, are all these games going to have to be on-rails? There's no obvious way to move around without some kind of controller.

Live TV, Bing connectivity, and all the rest of that Jazz is nice. The thing is, you're still paying per month for Xbox Live, while PS3 is free (Plus is useless).

Grade: B+

Sony: "Sorrrrrryyyy. My bad. Guess what? VITA!"

Vita stole the show, while PS3 took a back seat in Sony's lengthy conference. Just like Microsoft tried to do with Kinect, Sony tried to show what the PS Move wasn't useless. However, they were significantly less successful.

The only game I can remember that demo-ed the Move was 2K11, and it was only using pointer-functionality, something the Wii sported 5 years ago. Oh, and I guess they praised "Sports Champions" and all that good stuff. Nintendo is flattered, and congratulations on a few future purchases.

Not a fan of the name, but the Vita was pretty impressive. The design is excellent, with the price to boot. However, other than Uncharted, the game lineup is very lacking. They demo-ed lame game after lame game, making me wish I was watching Elmo and Cookie Monster again. I guess Modnation Racers looked neat, and Sound Shapes seems sick. The whole touch-sensitive back of the system, though...cute, but kind of unnecessary.

I'm looking forward to Uncharted 3, and Tomb Raider looks great, too. The ICO collection thing was a nice addition, but I would've liked some surprise unannounced game to round off the conference. Not drummers and a DJ.

Grade: C+

Joshua said...

Nintendo: "3DS will have good games, and we love U"

The reason that I'm going to get a 3DS in a few months is not the 3D, but the great games that are being released the coming year. Kid Icarus could be amazing (or a flop), Luigi's Mansion 2 was a sweet unexpected announcement (loved the 1st one), plus we now know that Pikmin 3, Paper Mario, AND a new Smash Bros are all coming to the handheld. The 3rd party support ain't too shabby either.

Speaking of 3rd party support, the super-creatively named Wii U will get a boatload of it. Now all those special exclusives that the 360 and PS3 enjoyed sharing will be on Nintendo's console as well. Call of Duty, Bioshock, Batman, Assasin's Creed, Mass Effect...all these will undoubtedly give that boost that Nintendo needs to regain its dominance in the console battle. Hearing those developers rave over the U's specs and the new controller's design was music to my ears.

As to the controller itself, you would think that the actual console considering Nintendo's focus on it. It surely opens up many new gaming opportunities, and I look forward to how developers will innovate using it. Nintendo's new console is more like a HD upgrade with a funky controller, but there were also hints of better online functionality, which is much needed.

Grade: B+

Both Nintendo and Sony did what they needed to do, though Sony took more than twice as long to do so. I think Nintendo's innovation will catapult them ahead of the competition, but Microsoft and Sony have their own strong attributes as well. Here's to hoping Mega Man will be in the next Smash Bros game...

Games I'm looking forward to in no particular order: Uncharted 3, Tomb Raider, Mass Effect 3, LOZ: Skyward Sword, Paper Mario 3DS, Mario Kart 3DS, Luigi's Mansion 2, Kid Icarus, Smash Bros 4, Pikmin 3

lespaulio said...

Josh- Bungie is no longer making the Halo games. That doesn't affect your point at all, but I just thought you should know. Also, yes, you pay yearly for Xbox Live, but it blows PSN away in terms of features and quality of experience (not to mention security... at least until someone hacks Microsoft). Everyone I know who actually owns (or at some point owned) both consoles would immediately agree with me. It's cool to hear you got a PS3 though. And if you don't play online games with your friends a lot then overall the PS3 is probably the smarter choice.

The Vita doesn't have a ton of third party support yet, but it will eventually. Don't forget that last year at their press conference Nintendo had a ton of developers talking about how amazing the 3DS was, and we still haven't seen any great games for it from any developers, whether first or third party. I'm sure all the first party games they just announced will be great (Nintendo's first party stuff almost always is), but the 3DS came out in March and we're finally now getting close to the release of Ocarina of Time, with all the games they just showed at E3 coming out even later than that. So the Vita's lineup might look lacking now, but give it some time. At least it should have Uncharted at launch, which I would take over "Nintendogs + Cats".

As far as the Wii U goes, I hate the name. It does look interesting though. Whether it gets the third party support you believe it will, or whether it goes the way of the Wii (almost no quality third party games), we wont know for at least a year or two. Also, I don't know if anyone else thinks this, but that controller looks really big and awkward to be holding for long periods of time. I hope it's a lot lighter than it looks.

Joshua said...

Yeah, I think the 3DS is simply taking the route of the DS...the first year not so hot, but after that, BOOM here come the games.

I've read articles that say the "WiiPad" is surprisingly light, even easy to hold in one hand. Also people have mentioned that having the dual sticks at the top of the controller puts slightly less stress on your thumbs...a minor detail, ha.

I got the PS3 right at the end of my seasonal run at Gamestop last winter, using the nice discount upon discount. The exclusives, free internet play, and blu-ray made the decision easy. Also my dad subscribed to mlb.tv, so now I've got unlimited baseball on the big screen...nice.