Every year the manic, surreal, innovative and much-talked-about E3 video game expo sets up camp in Los Angeles to let the world’s media know what to expect from the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo over the coming months.
Whether it is new technologies, unveiled consoles or simply upcoming games, the three day event always causes a stir and this year was no different.
Strangely though, the stir that has been caused this year stems from the fact that very little stirred during the expo. A stream of unenthused visitors poured out of the gates upon the event’s conclusion all asking the same question: ‘Is E3 still the force it once was?’
The answer is probably no. Admittedly, technology continues to change and baffle in some cases. But to come up with a completely new set of innovative devices and systems every year cannot go on forever. The financial climate is tight and the standards are impossibly high. All this has led to E3 looking remarkably similar year-on-year. Complaints over seeing the same old thing this year was a common occurrence, while many of the top games featured had a number at the end of their names. Sequels and re-releases were a major trend to come out of the event, begging the question as to whether the vast amounts of money in staging this event is still worthwhile considering the repetitive nature of it.
Rumours circulating in the aftermath of E3 are suggesting that a change in location may be in the offing as of next year. New York is the city in question, so don’t expect the chaos to die down too much! A change of scenery may be what the event needs though, with perhaps a venue that isn’t big enough to grace such a marauding circus of visitors. The amount of people seemingly walking around aimlessly seems to increase yearly, also contributing to the enjoyment factor being dwindled.
However, the show must and did go on, and regardless of its debatable worth, the conference still offered plenty as a standalone event. As promised, the general public now has an insight into what games, software and consoles to expect in 2012, while some hotly anticipated unveilings were made.
The highlight of the event saw the Wii U finally being shown the light of day, parading some of its feature games set to be released in conjunction with the console. While it was particularly impressive in taking the Wii brand on to the next level, there seemed to be a lack of imagination in Nintendo’s attempts to kick-start the new system.
Of course, it won’t make one little bit of difference, and it is likely to walk off the shelves upon its release, but in relation to E3 at least, visitors were left wanting a tad. The likes of Batman: Arkham Asylum looks great, albeit a sequel, but like so many of these role play games, the Wii can never be the best platform to play them. Action and adventure calls for incredible visual effects and a sense of drama when playing.
The Wii caters for more dumbed-down visual effects and a sense of fun and chaos. The likes of Wii Party and Wii Sports took the world by storm upon their inception as they suited perfectly to the style of the console. It was all encompassing, kept you active and allowed users to regress to their care-free childhood. This is what the U should have attempted to replicate. However, aside from Pikmin 3 (note the three), NintendoLand and Super Mario Bros, there was a notable gap in this area.
While Sony came up trumps in terms of new games, there was once again a very noticeable gap in their proceedings. Everyone finally expected a comprehensive, all consuming, exciting introduction to the PlayStation Vita. This never came. It seems that even after only six months of being available on the market, Sony have assigned it to history, when in reality, people are gagging to be given the chance to love it. The system’s new games were discussed but not at length. It should have been Sony’s main character but somehow only got cast as an extra.
Microsoft and the Xbox have received mixed reviews in the fall-out from E3. It’s mildly anticipated SmartGlass impressed as much as it could do, while the Kinect was also given a better platform to be showcased. However, the games on offer epitomised the general feelings of discontent surrounding E3 this year – just so many sequels! Halo, Fable and Gears of War (to name a few) were, and still are, fantastic games which will stand the test of time. But they’re not given a chance to do so when a sequel is released almost every year or two.
Having said that, two of the most hotly anticipated games of 2012 are sequels and still whet the appetite of the hardiest critic. Assassin’s Creed III looks to have ditched the sequel syndrome in reverting back to its initial prowess. It will do well to still be going as strong as Resident Evil when it reaches its sixth though, mind you. Two Souls and Watch Dogs were pleasant surprises and are ones to look out for this year, but unfortunately may get lost in a crowd of Need for Speeds, Forzas, Sims and Halos.