Monday, June 4, 2012

E3 2012: Microsoft Continues to Underwhelm

Being the responsible college student I am, I actually went to class today, and used my fancy new DVR to record Microsoft's keynote.  Now that I'm finished watching it, here are my thoughts.

It was almost as lackluster as last year's Kinect dress-up and Sesame Street flubs.  You know, people argue that Nintendo is out of touch with what "gamers want," but here's the thing:  Nintendo spends most of their time talking about games.  Microsoft devoted way too much time in their conference talking about a new slew of generic sports and dancing games for Kinect, and uninteresting features that seemed more like an attempt to plug Bing and Prometheus than an attempt to garner my attention.  I don't want to swap a movie between the tablet that I don't have and my 360; I want to play games.  I don't want to play yet another exercise game on the Kinect; I want to see Microsoft actually do something interesting with their motion controls.

Like last year, Halo 4 was quite arguably the highlight of their conference, and they gave up that trailer at the very beginning of the conference, meaning the rest was pretty much downhill.  The game looks beautiful, but I never really got into the franchise too much.  Fable: The Journey and Forza made their own, uninspired appearances, and with the exception of those boring Kinect games, that was the extent of Microsoft's exclusive offerings.  I can't help but find it ridiculous that they have relied on these three IPs and Gears of War for their "core exclusives" for the past few years.

Tomb Raider is a multiplatform Uncharted rehash, except the main character has breasts.  Black Ops II took "bland military shooter" to extraordinary new heights, even for Call of Duty, with more scripted sequences, big explosions!, and turret sections than I could count on my fingers and toes in a ten-minute time span.  Splinter Cell...?  Not my cup of tea.  And with it becoming so painfully obvious that Microsoft has lost all interest in offering any kind of compelling exclusive games, I'm seriously doubting the chances that I'll buy another one of their systems.

The conference in a nutshell.

Being the resounding model of optimism I am, I always try to find a silver lining or two.  Here they are:
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth is something I can respect as something "outside the box" and that seems to do a great job of capturing the look and feel of the show.
  • Gears of War: Judgement totally could be something I'm interested in.  I really don't know, though, because they showed a 25-second trailer and nothing else.
In other news (or not?), Sony continued to show absolutely no love for their new handheld, apart from tidbits we've known for months (Vita functionality as a PS3 controller, and Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed games).

Hopefully I have more nice things to say about Nintendo tomorrow evening.  I've been keeping an open mind about the WiiU for the past year, but I never truly felt hyped until their Nintendo Direct broadcast yesterday.  They showed off a secondary, more "traditional" controller to appease the "super-hardXXXcore gamers," as well as the final, redesigned version of the WiiU GamePad.  New features for the tablet controller, such as MiiVerse and Mii Wara Wara, also piqued my interest.  I'm finally starting to truly warm up to the system.  The only thing that remains to be seen is:  what kind of software support will I have?  Since Mario, Assassin's Creed III, and Darksiders II aren't quite up my alley, tomorrow will be the difference between the WiiU as a "must buy" and a "wait for a price drop."

What kind of software do I have in mind, then?
  • Beyond Good & Evil 2--wishful thinking, right?  Especially since Ubisoft's keynote came and went without a whisper about this long awaited sequel.  The photography and the tablet controller would just be a match made in heaven, though.  Ubi did confirm some time ago that this would be a next-generation title, however, and given their apparent glowing support for the system, it seems far from unlikely.
  • Pokemon Snap 2--again, photography gameplay was made for that controller.  It's also my personal favorite Pokemon spin-off to date (though Conquest threatens its status as its release date draws near), and is a series from my childhood that I would love to see revived.
  • Super Smash Bros.--this is a no-brainer for Nintendo fans, and cross-platform play with the 3DS makes it all the more interesting.
  • Star Fox WiiU--please, Nintendo.  Please.  We've gone long enough without a great Star Fox game!
I'll be back here tomorrow to put my opinions of Nintendo's keynote on the table.  See you then!

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