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Years from now E3 2012 most likely won’t be remembered as anything great or spectacular. If anything, it shows the hazard of being in the current console generation for so long. A new console generation would have normally started by now and brought with it new IPs, but instead games are releasing their fourth to eighth installment within seven years. Ubisoft is definitely “guilty” of this too, but the ways they’ve kept Splinter Cell, Far Cry, and even Assassins Creed fresh has left many of their competitors in the dust.
Looking at what other publishers brought to E3, was there anything that phenomenal? EA brought its traditional shooters, including minimalizing Battlefield 3 even more by not just making us pay for our own servers, but also pay for map packs after DICE said we would never have to. There isn’t a ton of Dead Space 3 footage, but most of the horror elements have seemingly been taken out of it in favor of mainstream action. Activison, at this point, is really just, “Hey, we make CoD every year and we own Blizzard!” 2K was…wait, was 2K even there? Their heavy-hitters GTA and Bioshock definitely weren’t. Microsoft STILL rotating every year between Gears and Halo is laughably lazy and formulaic. Sony might not have stuck gold with all the new IPs they created this generation, but at least they freaking try. Speaking of Sony, they’re really the only ones that had more than one game that seemed interesting and unique. The main reason I think Ubisoft had a better showing is because Beyond Two Souls was simply a no-gameplay trailer that showed promise. If we actually saw gameplay from that and The Last Guardian wasn’t a no-show, then this article would probably have a very different title.
Let’s not forget about God of War: Ascension…sigh. Only going by what we know so far, this latest installment seems like a betrayal of the story in favor of a money grab—which is fine—since all companies want to make money. However, can we make it less obvious next time, please? The reason why Splinter Cell or any other Tom Clancy game can keep going is because they’re non-specific. In all those games, you’re a US agent trying to stop terrorism. That’s it. There’s no interconnected plotline through sequels or a clear goal and since their antagonists are never-ending, it lends itself to sequels. God of War, on the other hand, has a very specific goal and plotline. Kratos wants revenge for…well, I forgot why—I think Zeus stepped on his foot or Ares gave him that red tattoo when he wanted a blue one. But, at the end of the day, Kratos wants to kill the gods and he achieved that goal in the last game. That’s why this newest one seems like a shameless money grab and is one of the reasons why Sony’s lineup didn’t surpass Ubisoft’s.
Saying Ubisoft had the “best” lineup at E3 isn’t implying they were flawless or perfect. In fact, ShootMania was groan-inducing and seemed more like a mod by a small team of students than a major title. Aside from that experiment-gone-wrong, most of the other Ubisoft games seemed very promising. Far Cry 3 seems like it could actually live up to the greatness that the first game started, but every game in-between has failed to achieve. Splinter Cell starring Sam Fisher, who apparently has Benjamin Button disease, is shaping up great. The level they showed flowed very well and was hopefully just an example of an “action level” from the game, since the entire game being at that pace would make it much less stealth-focused. Plus, spies vs mercenaries finally coming back gave me some “girl wood” and I’m a freaking guy. It was a bit of a downer that the other major Tom Clancy franchise, Rainbow Six, wasn’t shown at E3 at all.
Watch Dogs was the highlight of the Microsoft conference and had many people actually wondering if it was on Xbox 360 or it was a next-gen game. A sandbox game producing that much fidelity in the graphics and animation has yet to be realized this generation and the hacking mechanics, as well as the vague multiplayer/shared-world component, could create a very unique and alluring experience. I’ve been a bit anti-Assassins Creed since Brotherhood, but AC3 is looking very fun and more importantly, different from the previous games. The aspects of Desmond and the future storyline are still uninteresting and seem convoluted to me, but who can say “no” to this game after seeing that pirate-like ship combat? Hopefully, the half-Native American protagonist isn’t too cheery or friendly with Americans, since…you know, the whole genocide and forced relocation thing, so seeing how or even if Ubisoft handles that aspect could be both intriguing and controversial.
As I was saying before, sometimes “best” doesn’t mean perfect or anything close to it. Sometimes “best” just means “least worst” and, from looking at this lackluster E3, with some franchises reaching their one-millionth installment when they shouldn’t have gone past a trilogy, Ubisoft definitely had the best (least worst) lineup of E3 2012.