E3 2012: Ubisoft's Press Conference Review

E3 2012: Ubisoft's Press Conference Review

Starting with an incredibly painful Flo-Rida induced opening but ending with the biggest surprise of the show Ubisoft had one of the most interesting press conferences of the show. Sitting down and watching the Ubisoft press conference all the way through was quite an awkward experience. We were treated to hose Aisha Taylor from Archer fame (who surprisingly doesn’t have that big of hands actually) and a slew of other guests and the stage segments just felt uncomfortable. Ubisoft I hope you are listening but celebrity hosts are unnecessary just give us someone who actually knows the industry. The first game that was introduced was Just Dance 3 which started the press conference off in blackness and dancing women on stage until all hail flo-Rida who came out to perform one of his songs and get the press conference kicked off to a horribly bad start and talk about his involvement with the game. Right from the beginning this was looking to be the worst show of the entire convention but alas ubisoft redeemed themselves with their next game unveil. Opening with a first person perspective of a man groping a naked tribal woman’s chest we jumped into the Far Cry 3 demo.

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This demo was drastically different from the one we saw last year which showed a scene from the beginning of the game.  This time we are introduced to a part that must come way later because last year the main character was being introduced to the island and it looked like a walkthrough of the tutorial scene but at this point in the game he is covered in tribal tattoos and leading a group of islanders and seems to be some sort of leader. He declares war on the villain from last year’s demo and then we are treated to an action scene that involves a lot of knife kills and shooting dudes and closes with just a whole lot of literal mental insanity. Ubisoft definitely pushed some boundaries and showed one hell of a game leading me to believe we need more mentally insane protagonists. While Ubisoft may have overestimated anyone’s desire to see digital breasts it still got our attention and it helps that Far Cry 3 is still looking fantastic.

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What proceeded after the Far Cry demo was just confusing. Ubisoft continued to talk about and demonstrate games for the WiiU. I eventually began to think I was watching the Nintendo press conference. We saw a trailer for zombie that seemed just like a rip-off of the Dead Island trailer but they didn’t show any gameplay.  There was a Rayman Legends demo that actually looked pretty neat but they only played with the WiiU tablet touch controls and never mentioned if there would be actual button controls and while it looked neat the touch controls just seemed exhausting and almost made it look like a rhythm game. Avengers Battle for Earth had a CG trailer that revealed a lot of X-Men characters as well as Spider-Man and Venom but again there was no gameplay shown so it didn’t leave much of an impression.

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After all the WiiU talk is when Ubisoft really started to shine. After we got to hear Aisha say she had girl wood about fifty times we got our first big game demo for Assassins Creed III. Now I love the Assassins Creed games but by the time Revelations had rolled around I was almost tired of the franchise. I must say this demo reenergized my interest in the Assassins Creed games. Everything looks greatly improved in this installment. We got to see a lot of parkour among the trees, which looks really smooth and nice, and then watch Connor fight it out with some wolves. He then returned to a village and talked to a man and gives him the wolf pelt in what seemed like the end of a side quest. After that Connor made his way to a group of Red Coats and showed off one of his new tricks after he threw a rope around a soldiers neck and jumped down from a tree pulling the soldier up to hang him. We got to see a lot of the movement as Connor then maneuvered through the woods to a Red Coat base and I must say the animations on the climbing and running look a lot more fluid and quicker so climbing should be a lot of fun. The demo ended with Connor eliminating everyone in the base and stabbing the last guy with a gun, needless to say Assassins Creed III looks to bring the franchise back around in style.

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Unfortunately the worst part of the show came right after Assassins Creed where Aisha and the most embarrassing guest host desperately tried to get us to care about E-Sports and introduced Shootmania Storm with the most embarrassing “live” demo. A group of professional Counter-Strike and WOW players were brought onto the stage and played a match of three on one. From what I understand this was actually pre-recorded days before but the demo was one of the most lame attempts I have seen to try and boost the awareness of E-Sports and didn’t do much to help Shootmania’s cause. While these games have their following I think Ubisoft should have thought out this demo a little more. This whole segment just felt like we had two of the most polar opposite hosts trying to riff off each other and just making the whole room just feel uneasy.

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Now just when you were about to call it quits on Ubisoft they unveiled one of the most interesting games I have ever seen in my entire life. Watch Dogs is a new open word IP where you can “hack everything.” The game kind of felt like a hacking based bounty hunter game but the plot released says that the world is controlled by single super computer and our antihero Aiden is in a fictional version of Chicago called Windy City and has the ability to hack everything. This is a world where data is gold and can be used against anyone. The demo featured Aiden walking through a club hacking phones and security guards headsets before an accomplice gives him a gun. He takes down a guard and escapes outside where his target is approaching in a car so he hacks the stoplights and causes a massive pileup. A gun fight ensues and shows some possible mechanics including a slow motion gun shooting (accompanied by the most amazing pistol sound effects I have ever heard) and a cover mechanic. There were also some great combat moments where Aiden was leaping hoods of cars kicking guys down and stealing their weapons. The demo concluded with Aiden ripping his target out of his car before coldly shooting him on the ground. The game was nothing short of fantastic looking and stole the entire show. It had some of the most impressive graphics I have seen and the AI interaction looked unrivaled as pedestrians where running to the wrecked cars to help each other and it just seemed like the most realistic living video game world.  If you have to check out any E3 coverage you should be watching the Watch Dogs demo over and over so just go ahead and check it out here. This game had me sold right away and it sounds like most people around the internet felt the same way. And the best part about Watch Dogs is that there seems to be some kind of multiplayer element so if this already seeming great game allows you to play with friends then that’s just another point in its favor.

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While the Ubisoft press conference had its speed bumps and uncomfortable stage performance it did manage to have the most impressive demo reel and really got me excited for the next year in video games. While Sony may have been the closest second with their showing of the Last of Us Ubisoft most definitely came out as the underdog on top with a surprising close.