Tuesday, June 05, 2012

My one-word review of E3 2012 (thus far): Meh

After spending (some would say wasting) a good chuck of yesterday watching Nintendo's, Microsoft's and Sony's E3 2012 press conferences (I wasn't able to watch Sony's or Microsoft's live on Monday), all I can say is: Woof. As in, "woof, all three of them sucked, didn't they?"

OK, so saying they sucked may be a bit harsh. Saying they were awfully underwhelming, though, is as close to the honest-to-goodness truth you're going to get, in my opinion.

Why? Read the following blurbs to find out. I combined my thoughts on Sony's and Microsoft's pressers, by the way, because I only had a few things to say about the latter conference and I felt bad about leaving it out in the cold, so to speak.

Sony and Microsoft:

* Beyond: Two Souls looks nice, but that's all I can say about it--I have to give it to the crew at Quantic Dreams for coming up with graphics that nearly, but not completely, put to rest the notion that game consoles are unable to produce human characters that aren't at least a bit creepy. Unfortunately, that's about all I was able to glean from the trailer shown for this upcoming PS3 title, which features Academy Award-nominated actress Ellen Page, as it showed no actual gameplay footage. I'm guessing it'll follow in the footsteps of the developer's previous product, Heavy Rain, but it would be nice to know that (or not) for sure.



* The Last of Us was the most intriguing game of Sony's presser, and maybe the most intriguing game of the whole event so far--PS3 and Xbox 360 games look so good these days that it's hard to impress me anymore. That said, The Last of Us (above) impressed me. It looks amazing, the banter between the main characters was about as natural as you could hope for in a video game and the gameplay seems diverse. Can someone remind me why I don't yet own a PS3? Oh, yeah, it's because I can't afford one right now. I may have to buy a copy of this game, though, as soon as that situation changes.

* PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale: Most boring name of the event?--I sure think so. Granted, I've yet to come up with a better name for this Super Smash Bros. clone, but I can't help but think anything would be better than the current one. Thankfully, few gamers are going to care about its name. Will they care enough about its gameplay to add it to their collections? I'm guessing so, although I can't say it appeals to me all that much. (Full disclosure: I find Super Smash Bros. and its sequels similarly unappealing.)

* South Park: The Stick of Truth was the only Xbox 360 game that impressed me during Microsoft's press conference--Which is kind of sad, as this Obsidian Entertainment-developed RPG isn't even an Xbox 360 exclusive. OK, so I also kind of liked what I saw of Fable: The Journey and Resident Evil 6, but the former requires Kinect (which means it gets a big "hell no" from me) and the latter is a game I'd much rather watch someone else play than play myself. Oh, well.



* Vita? What's a Vita?--You know a system is having problems when the company producing and selling it barely mentions it during one of the biggest events of the year. Honestly, I think some people may have blinked and missed the Vita segment of Sony's conference altogether. That's how short and underwhelming it was. A few games were announced for it (including the above-mentioned PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale), as was PSone Classics support, but that's about it. Sigh.

Nintendo:

* Does anyone else think the Wii U may support a few too many controllers?--As of now, players can use Wii U GamePads, Wii Remotes (and Wii Remote Pluses, along with Wii Nunchucks), Wii U Pro Controllers, Wii Classic Controllers and Wii Balance Boards while playing games on their Wii Us. Although I'm glad all of the peripherals I bought for my Wii won't just sit around and gather dust after I pick up a Wii U, I can't help but wonder if all of the control options will overwhelm some consumers and even developers.

* I'm not so sure NintendoLand is the killer app Nintendo thinks it is--That said, the Animal Crossing- and Luigi's Mansion-inspired portions of this mini-game collection (Animal Crossing: Sweet Day and Luigi's Ghost Mansion) look like a lot of fun. Personally, I think Nintendo should include a copy of NintendoLand with every Wii U console, but I'm not at all confident it will do so. If not, here's hoping it's no more than $19.99. Otherwise, I have a feeling a lot of gamers--myself included--may give it the cold shoulder upon release.



* New Super Mario Bros. U is more of the same, but I'm (kind of) OK with that--Although I'm not the biggest fan of the art style used in the New Super Mario Bros. series (I find it a bit generic), I am a fan of the tried-and-true gameplay that takes center stages in these titles. New Super Mario Bros. U looks to be the best yet thanks to the inclusion of the new flying squirrel suit (I'll die if the chicken suit is in here, too) and some adorable baby Yoshis. Oh, and some impressively detailed backdrops.

* Pikmin 3 looks and sounds wonderful, as expected--Not only that, but Nintendo wisely decided to allow gamers to use their Wii Remote Pluses and Wii Nunchucks (or their new Wii U GamePads, of course) while playing this, the latest entry in the vaunted Pikmin series. Combine that with the news that Pikmin 3 will include new captains and, well, you've got yourself a game that will be picked up by yours truly the day it's released (or the day I purchase a Wii U, whichever comes first).

* Uh, where's the rest of your games, Nintendo?--Nintendo only showed off a handful of first-party games during its presser: New Super Mario Bros. U, NintendoLand, Pikmin 3 (below) and Wii Fit U. (I'm not counting LEGO City: Undercover or SiNG.) That's pretty paltry, especially when you consider two of those titles were shown and one was announced at last year's E3. Hopefully a few more will be revealed by the end of this year's event (or in the coming weeks, at the very least).



* Wii Fit U will be bought for one reason, and for one reason only--With that reason being that it can be used while watching TV. Honestly, one of the only reasons I haven't used Wii Fit Plus in a few months (I used to use it two or three times every week) is that I prefer watching TV while I work out at home.

Overall:

* I'm completely sick of the "let's have four guys (OK, maybe one girl) stand on the stage and seemingly play the game we're currently talking about" strategy employed by each of these companies--I understand what they're trying to do (make us believe that what we're seeing on screen is actual footage of the game they're promoting), but it's always seemed rather lame to me.

* Next year, let's hear from some new "suits"--I'm sure Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime, Microsoft's Don Mattrick and Sony's Jack Tretton are great at whatever they do when they're not on stage at E3, but when they are on stage at E3 they are about as awkward and unappealing as can be. No personal offense meant to any of these men, of course; I just wish their employers would ask someone else--someone with a bit more personality and presence--to front these particular press conferences.

* What's up with the 10-minute-long gameplay videos?--Both Microsoft's and Sony's conferences could have been a good half-hour shorter, if not more, had they limited gameplay videos to about three minutes. Instead, they went with gameplay videos that seemed to last an eternity. A good portion of the live crowd seemed to enjoy them, but I found them to be snoozefests.

So, those are my rather long-winded thoughts on E3 2012 so far. If you've been paying attention to this event, what do you think of what's transpired?

42 comments:

SuperPhillip said...

This was such an awful E3. One of the worst ever, and I don't mean to intend hyperbole in that statement.

I wrote a Report Card segment detailing my thoughts on the big 3 press conferences if anyone is interested. I won't link to it as I don't want to appear tacky.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I'm not sure I agree it's the worst ever, Phillip, although I can't point to a worse one, either. All of the "big three" are in a bit of a bind at the moment, aren't they? They all seem confused as to what they should do and who they should be focusing on as potential customers.

Here's hoping a few more announcements are made before this E3 is over. And if not, hopefully next year's E3 will be quite a bit better.

BTW, feel free to post the link to your E3 Report Card, if you'd like. I don't think it's tacky at all.

SuperPhillip said...

I'm struggling to think of a worse one. Trying to remember when E3 was downsized a little bit ago.

Anyway, thanks for allowing to be post this. I didn't want to impose:

http://superphillipcentral.blogspot.com/2012/06/report-card-e3-2012-press-conferences.html

Bryan Ochalla said...

All past E3s kind of blur together for me, Phillip. I couldn't tell much of anything about any of them, to tell you the truth.

Regardless, this one clearly has been a mess so far. Hopefully this doesn't mean the coming months/year will be shitty as a result.

Kaze said...

Yeah, I'm inclined to agree with you on every point.... lol I was most excited about Pikmin 3 and also the stealth news that Tokyo Jungle is coming westward for PS3! lol I also really really wish Nintendo had some more wow Wii U titles announced. Now was the time to really come out guns blazing. =[

Watch Dogs and the Last of Us seem cool and interesting but I'm not convinced just yet....

Here's hoping for some awesome news at the 3DS conference tomorrow!

SUIKA said...

Three new Mario games!

Alois Wittwer said...

Yep, I'm the loner again.

I loved Nintendo's presentation. Loved it. The Wii U looks and sounds fantastic and I can't wait to play it :) .

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I have heard way more about Nintendo than anyone else at this E3, which seems strange...but...I guess with the Wii U coming out, that's normal. What Nintendo has shown so far makes me a little excited (Scribblenauts Unlimited?! HELL YES!), but I'm really waiting for the 3DS conference tonight. Hopefully they'll reveal details on Animal Crossing and maybe a release date for that and Luigi's Mansion...and personally, I'd like some more info on the new Castlevania.


We shall se, eh?

Viewtiful_Justin said...

OH, and I just stumbled across a Vita trailer for New Little King's Story...so...check that out!

diaglyph said...

I just watched the Nintendo presentation and thought it was ok and don't understand why people are bagging out Nintendoland so much. I can see its meant to be like Wii Sports, to help people get to grips with the system etc
I hope the 3DS presentation gives concrete release dates, instead of just "at the holidays".
But in general, I'm kinda excited about Wii U, I like the ideas.

Chalgyr Vokel said...

I have to say, I'm right there with you, Bryan. As I will post in my breakdown later having just finished watching Nintendo's conference, I'm just disappointed in general. The last few years I've sort of had this pecking order between the big three, and this time they're all neck to neck in mediocrity in my opinion. There's a few titles I'm looking forward to, but nothing that has me coming away from the conferences super-excited.

Adam said...

oh hey Pikmin 3, well that took them long enough

Bryan Ochalla said...

Kaze: Wait, Tokyo Jungle is coming to NA? How did I miss that news? Is it going to be released physically, or just digitally? I'm guessing the latter. Anyway, off to Google to find out more...

Before I do that, though, I have to say I agree with you 100% about this being the time for Nintendo to come our guns blazing. Maybe they decided to hold back because they felt they didn't need to show everything -- since, for instance, neither MS nor Sony are talking about their next-gen systems just yet? Maybe Nintendo is holding some stuff back for next year's conference, as strange as that may sound.

Bryan Ochalla said...

SUIKA: True. I do wish one of them was a 3D Mario for Wii U, but I guess we'll have to wait until next year to see that one.

In the meantime, which Mario game are you looking forward to most? I'm probably looking forward to Paper Mario: Sticker Star most, although I think NSMBU looks pretty great, too. (In fact, the more I look at it, the better it looks -- if that makes any sense.)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Alois: You aren't alone! I actually liked Nintendo's presser the most out of the "big three," although I was still a bit disappointed by it. I guess I just wanted them to reveal a few more Wii U games.

Anyway, I'm with you on looking forward to the Wii U. I'm looking forward to hearing more about its online/social component, especially.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin: Yeah, only showing Wii U games during the main press conference killed a bit of the excitement, didn't it? Here's hoping tonight's 3DS software showcase brings everything together. I also hope to hear more about Animal Crossing tonight, BTW. I also hope to hear about a few games we've never heard about before. Oh, and Fire Emblem! That last one may be wishful thinking, though :(

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and as for the trailer for New Little King's Story: I have seen the latest one, but the ones I have seen (for the Japanese release) didn't impress me all that much. I just don't like the art style :( How about you?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: I'm not completely down on NintendoLand. Like I said in this post, I think some of the mini-games they've shown so far look really good -- or at least pretty darn fun.

Also, I agree with you that the point of the game is to help people come to grips with the Wii U's controls. No question at all there, IMO.

That said, I'm just not sure the Nintendo name and many of these Nintendo properties will have the same kind of pull with folks who aren't already tried-and-true Nintendo fans. As such, I think it would be much better for Nintendo to use the game as a pack-in rather than sell it separately -- if Nintendo wants to show off its new system and controls a la Wii Sports.

As for the 3DS: I, too, hope we get some concrete info tonight. And some new game announcements, of course :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Chalgyr: "Neck to neck in mediocrity." I love it! Also, sadly, I have to agree with you overall.

I think a lot of this has to do with the transition to new hardware, though. I also think the lack of 3DS and Vita game announcements during Sony's and Nintendo's main pressers added to the general feeling of disappointment from gamers like you and me. They're the current/new handhelds, after all, yet they were all but ignored during their respective events.

Hopefully Nintendo will "fix" things a bit during its 3DS-focused event tonight. And if not, hopefully they'll have another event, or another Nintendo Direct, soon that shows off more of what's coming down the pike for 3DS and Wii U.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Adam: I know you're being a bit facetious, but there are a few reasons, I'm sure, why Nintendo has waited this long to show off Pikmin 3. It began life as a regular ol' Wii game, for starters, and I'm sure they had to make a number of enhancements and/or tweaks to get it to what we saw during yesterday's conference. Anyway, I'm really looking forward it -- probably more than any other game at the moment -- no matter when it's released :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I'd be satisfied if they just told me how much the damn thing costs already!

Bryan Ochalla said...

I'm guessing they'll be releasing that info soon-ish, Justin, along with the final release date. I'm assuming the price will be about $299 and the release date will be around Black Friday (late Nov), but I really hope I'm wrong on both parts. I can't see myself buying Wii U for more than $249 at this point, despite that fact that I'm very interested in it. What are you expecting/hoping to pay for it?

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Eh...I'm hoping it's $249, like the 3DS was when it released. But knowing Nintendo, it'll be $299 and drop to $249 in January.

Max Kruemcke said...

What is going on?! These E3 highlights are so sad. It seems like developers are having a really difficult time keeping up with these major companies plans. I can honestly say that nothing presented looks particularily excited or inspired.

I mean The Last Of Us looks cool, but watching the trailer, it just seemed like uncharted textures with a different story/setting. NintendoLand and Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is rehashing fun n64 era games as though they are new (snore). Quantic Dream wont be done with their game for a very very long time (remember seeing the heavy rain teaser at e3?), The rest of the games are sequels in franchises. I mean will resident evil 6, generic halo sequel #500 or pikmin 3 be so startlingly changed/improved that we get amped up to pay 60 for it? And what the hell happened to Nintendo maintaining the quality of the brand with Mario? How many new super mario bros are there now 5000?

And fuck the Vita. Sony has never known how to manage a handheld. /rant

Bryan Ochalla said...

I think it would be a mistake to release it for $299, Justin, but you're right that it's probably what the final price will be. Hopefully you're also right that it'll drop to $249 soon after, though, since I'm not biting before that.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Max: I hear ya, I really do. I'm not as upset about the situation as you are, but I agree that a large part of the gaming world (developers, especially) seem to be having a hard time at the moment, both in terms of keeping up with the power of today's -- and tomorrow's -- systems, but also in terms of coming up with creative ideas. That said, I don't think a sequel automatically merits derision. Some sequels are bad, some are good, some are in the middle somewhere -- at least in my opinion. Still, I wish more non-sequels were on display at this E3.

As for the rest of what you had to say: I'm intrigued by The Last of Us mainly because of its setting. I love apocalypse games/films/novels, and wandering through the life-like setting of this game really ticks my boxes, if you know what I mean -- even if it is just a re-use of Uncharted textures, etc.

I'm not sure I agree that NintendoLand is a rehash. Some of the ideas certainly were taken from earlier releases -- such as Pac-Man VS -- but others seem pretty new and interesting to me. That said, this game clearly isn't going to appeal to everyone. I'll agree with you, though, that PS All-Stars is a rehash. Of course, I think that's the point as far as Sony and its fans are concerned.

In terms of NSMB: I think the problem here is that Nintendo has decided to announce and released two NSMB games in a fairly short time frame. These will "only" be the 3rd and 4th NSMB games, so I can't personally complain that Nintendo is going overboard with them, but I do think maybe they should have kept quiet about the Wii U sequel a bit longer. I guess the next 3D Mario just isn't far enough along? Or maybe they know 2D Mario will sell a ton more and they want to release it first and help with the Wii U Launch?

I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts on Sony and the Vita, BTW -- especially when it comes to NA. They botched the PSP and now they're botching the Vita. Sad, really, especially since I love my PSP...

SUIKA said...

New Super Mario Bros. U, yes. Squirrel Mario! Though Raccoon Mario in New Super Mario Bros. 2 is pretty rad. I mean I'm aware that it's a bit of an awful idea - three new Mario games? Over saturating the market a little? But who cares - I get to play them! Shows how naive I am about these things.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I don't think you're naive, SUIKA. You're interested in all of these games and you want to play all of them, too. What's wrong with that? If it makes you feel any better, I want to play all of them, too :) That said, I'm still a little unsure about NSMB2's premise. Hopefully NOA will clear that up shortly...

SUIKA said...

Well, maybe naive 'aint the word for it. But, remember that E3 year they went all out on connectivity? It was all about e+ reader cards with Super Mario Advance 4, and, some stuff about Four Swords Adventures. And Metroid Zero Mission. Everybody hated that year. I for one loved that year. Also, with that part in your comment "let's have four guys (OK, maybe one girl)", I thought you were talking about E3 attendees. There is *a* girl in the crowd, in one of the photos on Kotaku, if you can find her.

Bryan Ochalla said...

SUIKA: Ah, OK, I understand now. I don't remember the E3 you brought up, BTW. I guess I didn't love or hate it :)

As for my comment that included "OK, maybe one girl": I was talking about on-stage demos. Although I'm guessing male attendees outnumber female ones at E3, I can't imagine they outnumber them more than they do during the on-stage demos! :P

Marcus said...

Nintendo often thinks that their gamers are gonna be killer apps and they fall completely short (WiiMusic, etc). I bet that NintendoLand itself probably doesn't inspire much awe either just by watching it.

However, I played the 5 "lands" of NintendoLand they had on display at E3 and 4 of the 5 were incredibly fun. Maybe it's like Wii Sports where you don't think something will be that entertaining until you get it in your hands.

Except it's better than Wii Sports since you're actually doing a bit more, lol. It's not currently known whether it'll be a pack in game or not but I think it should be since it showcases various gameplay uses of the Wii U tablet. I'd say more but then I'd spill into my "hands on" stuff I'm writing for my site. I can link that when it's up, if you'd like!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello, Marcus! You're at E3? Consider me jealous. Hopefully you didn't have to sit through each of the big three's presentations, though, and just got to have hands-on experiences with a lot of games.

As for Nintendo sometimes being a bit off the mark: I agree, although I think they're usually more on the mark than off, Wii Music notwithstanding.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear that NintendloLand is more intriguing and interesting in person than it appears on video.

One thing I'll be curious to hear from you: Are the single-player experiences in NintendoLand fun? That's important to me, because although I'll definitely play these games with other humans whenever possible, I'm sure to spend most of my time with them alone.

Also, I hope you're right about it being a pack-in game. If it really does show off the many uses of the Wii U GamePad, as Reggie says, they'd be dumb to not include it with every Wii U so that everyone can experience it.

Finally, feel free to share your link when it's ready. I'd love to read what you have to say!

Marcus said...

I watched Sony and MS but not Nintendo, so it wasn't bad! Thank goodness Twitter is around so I can get all the news from that stuff immediately anyway.

There were only two single player games displayed of the five. I didn't like one (a ninja thing) but the Donkey Kong one was pretty damn neat. It was more like a sort of puzzle/reflex game, which I like anyway so it was neat.

For a lot of the other games you seem to only be able to play in multiplayer (as the "enemies" are player controlled). The focus definitely is on a party of players, which is unfortunate, because as for all the fun I had with 4 other random E3 attendees, I'll rarely have that many people playing my Wii U with me lol.

Bryan Ochalla said...

See, that's my problem with games like these, Marcus: I almost always play solo, so a lot of the potential fun isn't realized. I guess I'll just have to hope that each game allows for solo play in some form or fashion, even if that means having the other "players" be computer AI. Or maybe Nintendo will actually take this game on line? Doubtful, I know, but one can hope.

BTW, I've heard good things about the Donkey Kong game from other folks, so that one definitely sounds like a winner. Did you like the Animal Crossing game, by chance? I actually thought that one looked fun based on the video footage I saw of it.

Marcus said...

I'm definitely a big single player gamer myself. At least games with Super Smash Bros you can have fun solo or with friends as the AI is pretty good. There may be an AI option for the NintendoLand games, at least, but if not then that will be a problem. Heh, it would be great if you could play online but that doesn't seem like something Nintendo would do!

The Animal Crossing game is really simple but fun as well. At the start, the group of E3 folks playing with me were all silent but after we had a match together we were all shouting and working together. Teamwork is where the game really shines and why I think even with AI it wouldn't be as entertaining. There's something about having others with you to get in on the experience.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Marcus: The reason I brought up online play for NintendoLand is that it seems clear Miiverse will be integrated into this game. That doesn't mean online play will be included, though, just that it could be.

If not, though, I fully expect each of the mini-games included in NintendoLand to feature some sort of solo play. Wii Play allowed this, so why wouldn't NintendoLand? Also, I can't imagine Nintendo would disappoint buyers that way, even if the solo experiences aren't as enjoyable as the multiplayer ones.

I'm glad to hear you had fun with the Animal Crossing game, by the way, and I can totally see how playing with other people would enhance the experience. I guess I'll just have to force my husband and some friends into playing with me, eh?

Jyr said...

I've been a bit more lenient on E3 than I probably I would've been had I not been informed that Namco are porting Tank!Tank!Tank! to Wii-U.

I was a big Tokyo Wars fan, and T!T!T! machine in my nearest(good) arcade still extorts heavy coinage from yours truly. A boon for my pocket, if nothing else.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I'd never even heard of T!T!T! before E3, Jyr. So, it's good? Fun? I guess I'll have to keep an eye on it then...

Jyr said...

It is, very much. So much in fact, that I've been known to gawk at the attract screen for far too long before even slotting in a coin.

Quite surreal to see it finally get a home port. I remember whining about how easy it would've been to adapt it home last time I was playing it. A rare moment of prescience on my part

Bryan Ochalla said...

Is this a game that's only enjoyable in multiplayer play, Jyr? That's the impression I got while watching the vids I found of it on YouTube. If so, I wonder if this will allow online play or only local multiplayer? Honestly, I'd probably only pick it up or even give it a chance if it allowed for online multiplayer, as I rarely play local multiplayer games.

Jyr said...

I actually play it alone, most of the time. I'd compare it the likes of the Rampage series with a deathmatch twinge, with emphasis on multiplayer but still fun for dossing around and breaking stuff.

I'm very curious as to how much is lost in the conversion from quasi-fairground attraction of the arcade rendition to that of a Wii-U screen & TV.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Jyr: Well, you've certainly helped pique my interest in this one. I, too, am curious as to what is lost, if anything, in the transition from arcade to home, BTW.