How Do You Show Off a Game at E3?

This all might just be a kneejerk reaction to the opening acts of E3 2012, but I think it might be needed just to highlight the media briefings apart from the rest of the show. Watching all five of them has really made me think about what their purposes actually are, and whether any of them succeeded.

Overall, I’m afraid that the press briefings might end up being the least interesting parts of this E3. There were bits of excellence within them and games shown that I might want to play, but those things seem buried under a lot of uninteresting content, or good content simply presented in uninteresting ways.

My main disappointment with the briefings is that I saw very little that looked seriously fresh. It was mostly brown shooters on one side and lots of casual stuff on the other side. It got me wondering just what exactly they could have done right.

Microsoft had the vaguest objective going in: they more or less already have the core gamers because they buy the most games on 360, and they had Halo 4 there. If they were trying to get more people to invest in Kinect or invest in the Xbox platform’s other applications, other than Smart Glass I don’t feel like Microsoft did much to that end either. As for actually pleasing the core, what could you really show of Halo 4 other than what it looks like in motion? What could you show off for any of those action games?

Tomb Raider is a prime example. We know that it’s going to be a game about exploration and survival, but all we saw at Microsoft’s briefing was Laura killing stuff and getting her ass kicked. If I didn’t know any better I’d think it was another scripted shooter. I could say the same thing for Crysis 3 and Far Cry 3. I’m still very interested in both games, but what I saw at the briefings added nothing to that interest. How could they really have shown Crysis 3’s sandbox gameplay or Far Cry 3’s open-world exploration? Assassin’s Creed III seems to have done a decent job of that. Medal of Honor: Warfighter showed me absolutely nothing to set it apart from the other shooters.

I think many would agree that the best showcases on stage so far have been for Last of Us and Watch_Dogs. The former took the time to show off what set apart the combat and survival elements. Watch_Dogs in particular I applauded for preceding a gunfight with 10 straight minutes spy intrigue that looked like actual gameplay and not a bunch of scripted QTEs. They were demos that showed you what each game was about instead of “this is a shooter”.

I guess Nintendo understood this too. What they showed they took the time to demo, and you do have to admit that theirs was the only briefing not saturated with the action games we’ve become tired of. They’re at least trying to do something new, just not specifically for the people who would be reading this.

Honestly, some of my favorite content at E3 so far has been from demos on the side at places like GTTV and G4. If you haven’t seen G4’s walkthrough for Dishonored you definitely need to. To be brief, it feels like an actual stealth game. One of the head designers was involved with the first two Deus Ex games as well as the original System Shock, and Dishonored definitely feels reminiscent of those games with the same kind of open-ended, yet tightly-designed gameplay.

GTTV’s demo of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance also looks really good if you’re a hack n’ slash fan. If you ask me its quality looks typical of Platinum Games, which I consider to be a developer of a dying breed of talents. Possibly the best graphics of the entirety of E3 so far might belong to Star Waras 1313, which got relegated to some clips on GTTV.

I have a feeling that I might see more games from the E3 show floor that may give me a similar feeling – the more intimate gameplay examinations. Shortly before E3 Penny Arcade said that they would try to focus not on the trailers and press briefings, but on what they actually got to play in real time and really peer into. I’m starting to think those are going to be the most interesting things at E3 simply because they’ll really allow us to see what each game is, which the televised showings didn’t really do.

Let me put it like this: each console manufacturer’s press conference seemed to be trying to get me to invest in their console, and after watching all of them I think I’m going to spend most of my gaming time this fall and next spring on the PC.

BULLETS:

  • So apparently Hideki Kamiya’s next game – “Project P-100” is for the Wii U and Nintendo kinda slid it under the rug. What gives?
  • In case you’re worried, apparently digital items purchased on the Wii will indeed transfer over to the Wii U: http://t.co/xQ8JpCTV
  • Y’know, I loved the Lego City sets as a kid. Being able to play in that environment in a game is actually a bit mind-boggling.
  • The Steam page for Dark Souls is already up: http://t.co/KA3USt5O
  • I’m calling it now: the main character of Far Cry 3 has a Tyler Durden relationship with the antagonist.
  • Best E3 Gif I’ve seen so far: http://t.co/su1bFjNA
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