E3 2012 Recap: Ubisoft Press Conference

I typically don’t do a recap on third-party conferences at E3 but I honestly couldn’t say no to Ubisoft this year.  They’ve had issues in the past with hosts (Mr. Caffeine), rough pacing (James Cameron’s long and droning speech), and odd products (Heartbeat sensor game).  After watching this year’s conference, Ubisoft has knocked this one out of the park choosing to focus on their strong, core IPs only.  So lets take a look back shall we?

Just Dance 4: Ok, I won’t lie.  When “Good Feeling” came on I got seriously worried that this press conference was once again headed to dark places.  Dancers game out on stage dancing to the song and then joined by Flo Rida himself to perform the song live.  I’ve never been a Just Dance guy so this didn’t do much for me.  Thankfully, the press conference quickly gained steam from this point and never really looked back.

Far Cry 3 Insanity: We were given another look inside the crazy world of Far Cry 3 and some major NSFW elements were shown.  The game looks fantastic so far and at this point in the gameplay, it looks like Jason Brody is now a leader of some sort.  You head out into the lush jungle, diving into water and silently taking out enemies.  As he nears a fort, Jason takes out his bow and impressively takes out a few guards silently.  By the time he reached the village, his cover was blown and the guns came a blazin.  Some highlights of this included a tiger getting loose and mauling a guy.  After this, you enter a building looking for ‘Mr. Insanity’, Vaas, only to have the place get set on fire around you and the final part ending with a wild hallucination scene complete with neon lettering and the insane ramblings from Vaas.  The demo ended with more questions about Jason Brody’s sanity and if there is some sort of “Fight Club” twist in there somewhere.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist Trailer: I expected some more gameplay, maybe an alternative way through the level shown at Microsoft’s conference, but no such luck.  Still, we were given a fantastic trailer giving us more back story on what Sam has been up to after the events of Conviction.  Seems he’s teamed back up with Anna Grimsdottir and formed a new company called Fourth Echelon.  He’s been contracted by the US government to retrieve a blacklist which contains secret information on American Agents and locations.

Avengers: Battle for Earth: A neat little trailer was introduced showing off the Avengers (now including Spider Man) battling against villains like Magneto and Venom among others. 

Rayman: Legends: Even though it’s been confirmed for all the major platforms, the visually impressive Rayman: Legends was shown off using the WiiU.  One player was using the recently announced (and Xbox-like) Pro Controller, while another player was using the Wii tablet.  Players who use the tablet will be controlling “Murphy” and can assist other players as swiping motions can cut vines, help overcome obstacles, collect Lums, and rotate platforms.  The best part of this demo came at the end when the now 3 players ran flawlessly and quickly through a level as the music built and boomed behind them.  Surprisingly enough, it’ll also support 5 players at the same time on the WiiU.

ZombiU: The WiiU train continued on with the former Killer Freaks from Outer Space.  The game is now set in London during a major zombie outbreak and is a first person shooter.  No gameplay was shown, but we did get a CGI trailer with “God Save the Queen” playing in the background. 

Assassin’s Creed III: Finally, the game everyone wanted to see was shown off.  Better yet, we got a trailer and actual gameplay.  The trailer was fantastic, showing the main character Connor involved in a large-scale battle.  He managed to navigate through the battle seeking his target, the British general, who was in fact a Templar.  The gameplay picked up with Connor stalking a deer in the frontier area.  Once killing the deer, he began to grab the meat from it only to have wolves attack.  After some impressive combat animations, Connor killed the wolves and traveled to an outpost where he sold the deer meat to a butcher.  He passed on a side quest and proceeded to join the American Soldiers move towards a British Fort in an effort to take it over.  The parkour moves which fit well into urban areas, have translated so nicely to the wilderness as Connor was able to effortlessly climb trees, move silently and link his combat animations into a really impressive flow.  He used some new tools like a rope dart and also grabbed a human shield to protect against musket fire.  Inside the fort, Connor blew a gunpowder storage causing panic and chaos to hide his pursuit to the British general.  In a brutal, yet fantastic looking kill animation, Connor picked up a musket and without breaking stride, took out the general.  I can’t wait for this one.

Shootmania Storm: This one was a little curious.  It seems to be a major push into the eSports realm and we were introduced to two teams by a guy and a girl who had some trouble speaking a few English words.  The game is a very fast paced PC shooter which pits a defending team with Rocket Launchers against an attacking team with laser guns.  The match is won by eliminating the other team or if the attacking team captures the control point.  It got kind of awkward towards the end but thankfully the best surprise was saved for last.

Watch_Dogs: The surprise of the show was introduced by CEO, Yves Guillemot, and I think it took everyone off guard.  The game looked unbelievable, to the point where I began questioning if this was even possible on current gen hardware.  I would find out later that it is scheduled for a 2013 release, but I’m still not convinced.  The presentation began with a trailer and an announcer explaining that everything is run by computers which can be hacked.  At first, I had no clue at what was going on and then the gameplay started.  A man with a baseball hat and trench coat began walking around a huge and vividly detailed city with a GTA style minimap on the bottom left corner.  He was hunting a man located inside a nightclub.  Things could be hacked and a neat little violence meter appeared when the player was approached by some sort of bouncer.  The animations are so fluid, the lighting so impressive, and the graphics are just about unseen in this day and age.  After hacking the phones around him, the player finds a…you know what?  You should check it out here for yourself.  It’s that good. 

Host Issues: Aisha Tyler was in charge this year and she did a pretty good job I must admit.  Sure, some of her jokes fell flat and to silence, but for the most part, she held it together nicely.  I mean, you could put pretty much anyone up there and they’d be more entertaining than “Mr. Caffeine”.  The downside came from her “co-host”, Toby Turner.  He’s come up from some “back room” at random times typically trying to be funny but seemed to fall flat as no laughter occurred from the audience.  Frankly, he was more annoying than anything else and in my opinion, wasn’t necessary at all. 

No Rainbow: To my surprise, Ubisoft chose not to show off the intriguing Rainbow 6: Patriots.  I wasn’t sure if they would but I was sure hoping to see something.  Hopefully the project is still on track.

Overall: A
Ubisoft’s decision to cut the fat, focus on core IPs, and introduce a surprise or two really made this one the stand out conference at E3.  Everything they showed off was pretty much fantastic.  We finally got some Assassin’s Creed III time, saw some more crazy Far Cry 3 gameplay, and even received a surprise when Ubisoft ended the show with the spectacular Watch_Dogs.  Sure, it wasn’t flawless, but ultimately, they delivered on what you cared about.  Way to go Ubisoft, that’s how you put on a fantastic show!

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