E3 2012: Ubisoft Conference Coverage and Thoughts
After last years outrageous Mr. Caffeine, Ubisoft may have been made fun of, but there’s one thing they’ve always had a good grasp on and that’s good key titles. So what did Ubisoft have in store this E3? Let’s take a look.
Starting the conference, we were greeted by a bunch of athletic girls in shorts dancing to specific songs to re-emphasize that Dance Central 3 is on it’s way to Xbox and Kinect. After the spectacle we were introduced to yet another animated host, along with special guest Tobuscus, to get us through the entire thing. While last year’s Mr. Caffeine was extremely hyper, this year it was a lot more toned down, but still excitable.
The first game that was shown off was Far Cry 3, and Ubisoft started it off with a bang by putting you in the first person of your character, a tribal type girl on top of you, moaning very sexually. The fact that she had no top and was painted to cover anything overly suggestive was rather eye popping for an intro to the game. After this somewhat awkward moment, your character gets up and gives a speech to a tribe of people about finding the main antagonist and killing him. The people themselves weren’t the most impressive, graphically, but after the game went more open world, it looked just as beautiful as ever.
Swimming through an open ocean, you guide yourself to a dock where you come out of the water and grab an enemy, pull him into said water and kill him. Once up on the dock, you’re weapon is a bow and arrow. This very primitive gameplay looked very satisfying and challenging, yet it had a modern feel because your bow was not a simple piece of wood shaped for the job. After killing a few enemies, the player ran to the left, sprinting and then slid through the grass to keep a low profile. They neared a ledge, jumped off and knifed a character in the back, Assassin style.
Running off into a nearby building, you find that it’s a trap and that your enemy knows you’re there to kill him and has laid the entire building to burn. The flame effects were extremely realistic and flowing. Coughing from the smoke, you need to escape before the building goes down in a fiery blaze. Once out, you’re shot at from numerous enemies. Another jump off the roof and knifing another character followed by grabbing another enemy, pulling the pin out of his grenade, kicking him into a car and the entire thing blowing up in front of you and we were shown a new enemy. Tigers. The tigers can be used to your advantage as they’ll go after enemies, but they’ll go after you as well.
The gigantic doors in front of the character opened after disposing of the tigers and a flamethrower enemy appeared. The player made quick work of him, shooting his tank and running up close to execute him. Slowly he moved into the now open doors and was stabbed by the man he was seeking. We were then thrust into a strange and surreal hallucination that reminded me of the nightmare levels of Max Payne, but without the frustration. T.V.’s surround the room and you’re walking on them as you see memories from the past (Including the awkward sex-type scene from earlier) until you see the antagonist and he tells you to shoot him. The screen went black. This demo was full of variety and I loved the primitive look to it, as it made the game seem much more visceral.
We got a little more information about Splinter Cell: Blacklist and a small cutscene. The information was that the Co-op from Conviction will be returning and there’s a new mode called Spies versus Mercs. The short cutscene didn’t show any new gameplay footage, but showed Sam saving someone and fighting against characters with rocket launchers and other firearms. One moment, Sam also pulled the pin out of a grenade and threw a guy into a car and let it explode.
A title that had a very short cutscene was The Avengers: Battle for Earth. It showed classic Marvel characters like Spiderman, Venom, Storm, Wolverine and Magneto fighting, followed by the Avengers arriving on the scene. We’ll have to see what happens from this title later down the line.
Following these shorter announcements, we were greeted by the team behind the platforming masterpiece, Rayman: Origins. Rayman: Legends was shown off on the WiiU, implementing some unique gameplay that only that system will allow you to accomplish. The game has some slight 3D models in some parts that integrate with the 2D art style very well. The new character of Murphy will be controlled by the WiiU tablet controller and uses the swipe feature to move obstacles, cut down obstacles, raise platforms and other uses. Using the gyroscope built into the controller allows you to take certain platforms and turn them by turning the controller. You can also grab enemies and drag them over to Rayman so he can destroy them.
The person with the WiiU tablet will also get special views of levels in certain circumstances. The demo they showed was a quick platforming session where Rayman was running full speed and bouncing along a greatly distanced path, each obstacle making a certain note of music. The person with the WiiU tablet would touch these obstacles to make the sound and destroy the obstacle for Rayman to get through. What resulted was a perfect executed run and a musical masterpiece that was designed by the people playing it. It was quite entertaining and just showed that 2D platforming still rules when done well. It also showed that Rayman is leading the future in said platforming.
A title that was at E3 last year for WiiU had been redesigned and is now called ZombiU. It was the game with little creatures from last year, but it appears that some redesigns were made and it has turned into a full fledged zombie title. The clip was nothing of the game itself. Just a bunch of freeze frames of the zombie apocalypse and it appears to be taking place in Britain. One iconic part was a screen of a guy chopping off a zombie head with a musket looking gun.
There was a short WiiU lineup video that showed what games will be coming to WiiU. Rabbids Land, Your Shape, Sports Connection, Mario Kart, Just Dance 4 and Assassins Creed III. Speaking of Assassins Creed III…
The next development that was talked about showed off some new footage of the American Revolution based title. It started with a cutscene of the new Assassin, Conner, running out to a fight between the American Revolutionaries and the British Red Coats. He heads out on a horse and begins killing them one by one, single-handedly. The American’s see him destroying them and they all begin to fight harder. We see George Washington in this cutscene.
After that, we were told that key people like Washington would be included, along with Ben Franklin and Marquis de Lafayette. We were then thrown into some gameplay action where we find Conner tracking deer in the winter. While the graphics themselves haven’t seemed to change a whole lot, the animations seem much smoother and graceful than previous titles. Conner runs along trees rather than buildings since he’s in the wilderness and it appears to work very smoothly, if not more smoothly than it did in the previous entries. He hits the ground in the cover of some bushes and stares down a deer, takes out his bow and arrow and takes one down. Before he gets to celebrate his victory, he’s attacked by a pack of wolves and has to fight them off.
After taking down the pack, he grabs some meat from the deer and heads off, the crunching of the snow beneath his feat added an amazing element of atmosphere. Going into a small town area, people seemed to move and react a little stiff in comparison to the smooth movements of the Assassin and animals of the wilderness. However, the facial animations seemed to have gotten much better and mouths move with less choppiness.
Conner leaves to take down his Templar target, who is on the side of the red coats. He finds deep snow and has to dig his legs in deeper, so he switches back to going through the trees. He finds a group of enemies and breaks out a grappling hook which he uses to take one enemy and hang him by the same tree that Conner jumps down from. Conner then swiftly defeated all the enemies around him, showing off the much improved fighting mechanics. Smoother and more fluent, it seems like a more intricate fighting scheme from the recent Batman games.
Conner spots a scout that see’s him kill the others and he starts to run to tell someone. Conner chases after him, runs up a downed tree, jumps into the air with his tomahawk in hand and comes down hard on the scout, digging the blade deep into his back. He gets up and finds the camp with the Templar. He traverses a cliff, showing that when feet scrape against the rocky surface, Snow falls off of it in great detail. Back up onto a branch which is smaller than most, his weight makes it bend more because it’s thinner. The roofs of this small outpost are more reminiscent of past titles and you’re allowed to run across them, but the player has conner cause an explosion as a distraction from his location. The Templar starts to run and Conner chases after him, avoiding other enemies as he runs. He gets up on a ledge, sprints and grabs a musket. He jumps yet again and stabs the Templar with the musket blade through the chest. This ended the demo for Assassins Creed III. This may be the most interesting AC game I’ve seen. After the yearly installments that all seemed to be similar in their design, seeing these new environments really got me excited to see what this game will be like.
We then watched two teams of three people play the game Shootmania. As an E-Sport, the teams consisted of Counterstrike champions going head to head in this interesting style FPS. For each round, one team has all three characters, loaded with rocket launchers and the other team has one of their three on the battlefield with a railgun. The rail gun is a one hit kill, the rockets take some hits to do the same damage, so it’s a battle of skill. After a round, it switches so the team with 1 person now has 3 and vice versa.
The final demo we were shown was a game called Watch Dogs. This game was a brand new IP that has been in development for 2 years time. The basic premise is that you’re a person obsessed with surveillance and seeing how much private companies monitor the information of the world. We open up with a very open world feel where you can walk anywhere and your character is able to hack anything, from cell phones to screens to cars. The people walking around in this world seem very full of life. Each person is having their own conversation and leading their own lives in this demo. The character walks into a bar and meets up with a contact about his next move when he realizes that someone recognizes him. He hacks their phone and listens in on their conversation that says that security is coming after him, as well as the authorities.
The player leaves the area, after violently bludgeoning a security guard and during the time he was in the bar, it has begun raining. The detail in the rain was very impressive, even the coat that the character wore began to get wet and reflective from the rain. The character hacks the car of his target, causing it to crash with others and a gun fight ensues where he is equipped with nothing more than a pistol. Since he’s not intending to hurt anyone else, he rescues a guy in the middle of the firefight before he gets any more into it. During a pause in gun fire, he flips over a car, sprints through some open area and aims at an enemy. This person begins to aim his gun but one slide over a car hood and it’s all over. You’ll be able to shoot while sliding over car hoods.
The player catches his target and kills him. We see a helicopter put the spotlight on the main character and he gets into a car and makes a break for it, the camera switching from one character to another who’s on a rooftop a little distance away, watching the entire thing from a safer distance. He’s told to protect the main character and proceeds to pursue him to keep him safe. This switching of characters seems very intriguing into telling the story of this world where hacking is key to survival. I’m very excited to see what happens with this new IP.
Ubisoft definitely showed off some of the best content of E3 so far. Having never played Far Cry, this one seems very intriguing, Splinter Cell looks as amazing as always, though I’m sad that there’s no Michael Ironside, Rayman: Legends may have just sold me on the WiiU, Assassins Creed III looks like a refreshing new title in the series and Watch Dogs looks like a strong new IP that should develop some amazing results. Ubisoft definitely knocked this E3 out of the park.