Features & News

Team Talk: E3 Highlights and Lowlights

June 15, 2011, Author: The TIMJ Team

So, before the big gaming storm blew into LA last week, the first in our new series, Team Talk, saw us all cut our teeth by making some pretty outlandish predictions for E3 2011.

In this edition, we all pick our personal highs and lows from the show. What did we like? What didn’t we? It all gets a bit contentious below!

Andy Corrigan (Editor)
Top 3 highlights:

  1. The PS Vita: Security trust issues aside, Sony really made me take notice with the Vita. Despite all the new features that could lead for some truly original titles on the platform, I’m actually most excited for the implementation of dual analogs for some non-gimped gaming on the go.
  2. Wii U: Who can’t be excited for a new machine with new possibilities? The new controller, as sceptical as I am with the size of it, could have us playing games in ways we haven’t before. What functionality will they add? A proper online mode? I’m excited to find out.
  3. Uncharted 3: Just… wowza. Easily one of my favourite series’ this generation. That looks set to continue.

Top 3 Lowlights

  1. Brothers in Arms: Furious 4: As a fan of the Brothers in Arms series and what it stood for, just no… NO! Bad Gearbox.
  2. Console naming conventions: Whatever happened to awesome sounding console names? Wii U?! Sounds like something a fetishist with poor understanding of the English language would demand. Vita?! Isn’t that a butter substitute? If it isn’t, it should be.
  3. Microsoft having nothing but Kinect to show: Okay, so the Halo/Gears of War stuff aside, where were the games for the rest of us who don’t think that motion control is the way forward? Where were the Earth shattering bombshells we’ve come to expect from them over recent years? Not quite as embarrassing as last year, but certainly disappointing for the second year running.

Paul Clark (Staff Writer)
Top 3 Highlights:

  1. Bioware: Everything they showed just wows me, I can’t wait for more Mass Effect, and The Old Republic just always shows me in every clip, every cut-scene, every trailer, exactly what I want in a Star Wars game.
  2. Tomb Raider: Now, this is a game I’m wanting to like, probably more than I’m expecting to like. It’s a classic franchise that has taken on a radical, and impressive new art style. Some are claiming too “Uncharted-esque” but hey, if it works, don’t burn it down and stick pitchforks in it.
  3. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations: Assassin’s Creed has snuck up on me in recent years (you know, cause assassins are sneaky… shut up) as one of my favourite series’. Every iteration gets better, gets more interesting, and they are not afraid to add new and risky features into the games. So a new game is something I am very much looking forward too, and that cinematic trailer is just stunning.

Top 3 Lowlights:

  1. Ubisoft presenter: It’s an easy shot to make, but a worthwhile one. All his jokes missed. He had a brand of energy that made him seem inept rather than up-beat. This was just a pain to watch every time he came on stage. They tried so hard to be witty, they forgot they don’t need to be.
  2. Brothers in Arms: Furious 4: Now, there is something specific that bugs me about this, rather than an overall dislike of the product. The game looks fun, has a cool art style, variations in characters that could even mean local co-op; it seems a light-hearted baby of Team Fortress and Inglourious Basterds. That, I like. What I don’t, is the tacked on brand. Brothers in Arms isn’t this, is it? This strikes me as a new attempt at an IP that either the developer, the publisher, or someone involved to a significant level has little or no faith in the game selling of its own accord. If they have that little faith, I’m beginning to wonder why I should?
  3. Fable: The Journey: I like the Kinect. I like the idea of the Kinect, the functionality of the Kinect and the things people are doing with Kinect. To me, one of the best quotes about the peripheral regarding the implementation of Kinect in games, comes from the purveyor of hyperbole Peter Molyneux, in which (and I’m paraphrasing here) he stated Kinect should not be looked upon as something to make a driving game from, or a strategy game from, it should be something that new genres can thrive in. Looking at how Kinect has been used for Child of Eden, Your Shape and even seeing voice recognition in Mass Effect 3 or some of the interesting things Kinect Fun Labs will bring, this innovation is being looked at seemingly everywhere… Except from the person who said it, who thought “Screw it, let’s just make an RPG with Kinect. Heyo!”

Wii U: Splitting team opinion right down the middle...

Phil Ubee (Staff Writer)
Top 3 Highlights

  1. Wii U: New Hardware means new possibilities for the industry, not just in the games we play but how we play them. What I saw at E3 suggests there are some exciting options for Nintendo’s new kit and judging on their past I expect them to challenge the boundaries.
  2. Mobile gaming: As someone who plays a lot of games on my Smartphone and someone who believes this is an important and growing area of our industry, it was good to see some showtime given to mobile games. Admittedly the coverage is still limited and most of the noise is around Apple, but it’s a step in the right direction.
  3. Far Cry 3: Probably the only game trailer to really get excited this last week was Far Cry 3 and boy did it get me going. As a fan of the series I simply cannot wait for this now.

Top 3 Lowlights

  1. Sony: I just don’t think they did enough. The past 18 months have been difficult for Sony to say the least and personally, I expected them to take this opportunity to produce something that made the gaming world in general, and  PS3 owners in particular, think “I’m glad I chose Sony” and I didn’t see that. Could this be the end?
  2. Konami: When the most talked about part of your E3 presentation is a group of old games getting an HD remake, you know something is up.
  3. Microsoft: I, like a lot of 360 owners, do not have a Kinect. I personally feel that Microsoft has let down conventional gamers this year by dedicating absolutely everything to Kinect. Have they not realised that Motion control is dead?

Andy Knight (Podcast Editor/Occasional Staff Writer)
Top 3 Highlights

  1. Games: Gears 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Uncharted 3, Forza 4, Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3… Yeah we have awesome games coming! Always a good thing.
  2. Sony’s 3D monitor: If priced correctly, this will actually make me wanna play my PS3, maybe?
  3. Erm… Err… Yeah?: I don’t have a number 3 which shows you the overall quality of E3 2011.

Top 3 lowlights

  1. Ubisoft Press Conference: Instead of their usual off the wall craziness, this year they opted for a speaker who was so funny with his lines and delivery, that it was just plain embarrassing!
  2. Disney Kinect Kids: Microsoft and Disney showed us that maybe, just maybe… child abuse can be acceptable in some circumstances (I joke, of course!).
  3. Wii U hype: New console… Yeah? Does HD and we now have some third-party publishers… and?! They have a fancy controller… So?! Nintendo talked game, but had nothing to show for it at the conference. People getting excited annoys me.

Debbie Lloyd (Staff Writer)
Top 3 Highlights

  1. Overstrike: This new game looks ridiculous amounts of fun, and looks like it will be just as comical as a favourite of mine; Borderlands.
  2. Cross platform functionality between the NGP/PS Vita & the PS3: I’ve always been a Sony fan from day one, but have geared more towards Microsoft after the fail of the PS3. This new portable looks good though, and I like the cross-platform functionality.
  3. Need For Speed: The Run: I’m not a huge fan of racing games, nor am I very good at them, but the trailer for this game looked incredible with some GTA & QTE elements included to make for a more exciting driving game experience. Definite purchase for me.

Top 3 Lowlights

  1. Fable: The Journey: This just looked terrible. An on-rails, motion controlled Fable ‘adventure’ (I use the word adventure in its loosest sense). Mr Molyneux, what on earth are you thinking?
  2. All of the Nintendo conference: It may have been because I was tired, and it may have also been due to the fact that I’ve given up on caring about pretty much anything Nintendo release, but the entire conference left me bored and just completely unexcited. I don’t want more remakes, I want something new & exciting & the Wii U did not do that for me at all.
  3. Mass Effect 3 using Kinect: This may be exciting to some, but this has just turned the Kinect into a microphone. It just seems lazy to me to say out loud the speech option and not just press a button. Soon enough we’ll all just be sat on our sofas, lying down without a controller in hand & just issuing lazy orders at our TV screens.

Did MS bring too much Kinect?

Neil Hughes (Site Manager)
Top 3 Highlights

  1. Call of Duty backlash: EA chief John Riccitiello taking great delight in pointing out that “Battlelog”, which is Battlefield’s very own social networking feature, will be FREE. The game also seemed to impress everyone at E3 and wonder if this will finally be the year that Call of Duty gets a beating, especially after Activision have put all their eggs into one basket.
  2. BioShock Infinite: Okay, yes, it’s yet another sequel but I’m a sucker for this series and this does look quite ambitious. Moving from deep under the ocean to the clouds will hopefully ensure that it’s  even better than its award-winning predecessors.
  3. Overstrike: Insomniac’s first multi-platform game looks fresh and intent on putting the fun back into gaming and that’s alright with me.

Top 3 Lowlights

  1. Big business gaming: E3 has gone all Hollywood on us all by offering a staple diet of sequels, prequels and franchises such as Halo 4, MW3, Fable, Star Wars,Tomb Raider, Disney etc. Big studios seem to be too busy pouring millions into familiar titles for the dumb masses at the expense of innovation that brought us games such as Limbo or Braid.
  2. Kinect overkill: Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a dabble on Kinect as much as the next man. However, to tag it on to every game possible just so they can display a little label saying “Requires Kinect Sensor” to encourage everyone to purchase it, is overkill. If it works then it’s fantastic, but I fear its being hurried on to future releases for all the wrong reasons.
  3. Nintendo Wii U: After much hype we learned that the new console will be made up mostly of remade games and rather shockingly will only allow 1 touchscreen controller per system. Although the console is aimed at U, it would be nice to play multi-player games too, but then again waving a controller around the size of an iPad doesn’t float my boat either. Can they pull off a gimmick console again?

Michael Charge (Staff Writer)
Top 3 Highlights

  1. X-Com’s second coming: The first person reboot of the X-Com franchise was shown last year and it was wholly underwhelming. The new version this year looks like a far superior game. With the improved enemies, better combat and a tighter design, it looks like a deep single player shooter that may live up to the themes of the old turn based games.
  2. Battlefield 3 info: So I admit the tank demo was a little crap and didn’t show off what will make BF3 great. All the other info, however, such as customisation, the mix of close quarters combat and wide open spaces in the map, plus the announcement of the classes, is starting to make me really, really excited about its release.
  3. Far Cry 3: Far Cry is going home to where it should be; the tropical islands full of mercs to hunt and kill. Combined with the tech, which looks like an upgraded version of the Far Cry 2 engine, we may have something that looks damn good, runs great and hopefully has that sense of freedom. Let’s hope we don’t get bloody malaria in the first five minutes.

Top 3 Lowlights

  1. Wii U: Guess what? Nintendo now has a HD Wii! It has a super expensive extra screen/controller! It only has one playable game at the moment! I couldn’t care less.
  2. The Ubisoft press conference: More accurately, the lack of Joel McHale. Although he lacked games knowledge, he was at least interesting to watch. This year was a little odd without a decent MC.
  3. Everything is coming in 2012: Seemed like most of the games on show are coming out in 2012. This is alright but some (including the claustrophobia inducing Tomb Raider reboot) will have another E3 to strut its stuff. Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait a year? Rather than showing the early stuff that looks a little dodgy?

Looking forward to a new handheld?

James Sheppard (Staff Writer)
Top 3 Highlights:

  1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: There were so many amazing game trailers and demos shown with the number ‘3’ in their name, such as Uncharted 3, Far Cry 3, Battlefield 3, and Mass Effect 3, but it’s the number ‘5’ which truly blew me away this year. A complete evolution of graphics, AI, interface and world detail show promise for Skyrim as the most immersive, compelling Elder Scrolls to date.
  2. Sony PS Vita: This piece of kit looks fab, with enough power to essentially bring current home-console-quality gaming directly into your hands. Nintendo 3DS, I’m looking at you; you’d better shape up, otherwise a trade-in could be in order come autumn/winter.
  3. Wii U: The first Wii lost my support for Nintendo, but the Wii U has definitely piqued my interest. The controller is an interesting idea (I never thought they’d be crackers enough to actually implement it when I first heard the rumours), and early release lists indicate a little more core gamer support this time round.

Top 3 Lowlights:

  1. The Internet ruining all of the surprises: This has increasingly become a problem over the past few years, with the ‘information’ age we now live in perhaps giving us a bit too much ‘information’. Leaks all over the place ensured that E3 was still interesting enough, but lacking in shock-factor.
  2. Microsoft’s focus on Kinect: Okay, I can understand that Microsoft want to trumpet their baby, but it’s not for everyone. I, for instance, wouldn’t even be able to use the thing in my small bedroom. It seems to have been shoehorned into absolutely everything, whether they needed it or not, and as a result there was too much focus on the casual gamer in their conference for my tastes.
  3. Wii U: No I’ve not gone completely barmy; I’m well aware that this is placed both in my ‘highlights’ and ‘lowlights’ sections. I’m just left with so many questions that I don’t believe Nintendo themselves even fully know the answers to yet, such as price, power (the GPU is thus far undisclosed), how multiplayer will work with only one Wii U controller and a mish-mash of Wii Plus controllers and 3DS consoles.

Ray Willmott (Site Manager)
Top 3 Highlights:

  1. Wii U: Perhaps the system will not fully live up to the potential I see in its future. Perhaps games won’t be revolutionised, but the foundations have been set and I am genuinely excited by the possibilities. Just hearing from Ubisoft about how it will work with Ghost Recon is enough to make me tingly with excitement!
  2. TIE: Skyrim/Mass Effect 3 Kinect: The more I see of Elder Scrolls V, the more I want it! I am so ridiculously excited for November, it’s not even humane for a man of 28 years. I was already buzzed before E3, now I’m through the roof! Equally, I think Mass Effect 3’s voice activation could either be the best thing to come to the franchise or the worst. More specifically useful for shouting out team commands while you’re in the middle of battle. This is something I’ve not seen implemented to effect on a console to date, but it’s also something I’ve never seen in an RPG before. This could be a real turning point for the genre!
  3. TIE: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier/Tomb Raider: The presence of both of these games was a surprise and a pleasure to behold. Tomb Raider looks stunning and truly seems to be an enticing reboot of a fledging franchise. Ghost Recon seems equally excellent and its future seems immersive and enthralling when combined with the forces of Kinect and Wii U. The shooting gallery in particular.

Top 3 Lowlights:

  1. Microsoft went overly Kinect: I’m a Kinect owner and I’m excited to see what Microsoft will be bringing out for the peripheral over the next year, but this was simply too much. A lot of the IP was also overly familiar. They also managed to ignore the Kinect games people wanted to see. Gears Exile? Night Springs? Project Draco? No real details on Ryse? The only gaming highlight of the conference was the Minecraft announcement, a game which could redeem the peripheral in people’s eyes. Ultimately, though, it was a bit of a disappointing show for them and it does make one wonder what exactly is Microsoft’s focus for the next five years?
  2. Fable: The Journey: After seeing the trailer and even after hearing the hands on and Molyneux describing the game for the core, this looks like complete and utter horse manure! Molyneux and Lionhead would have been better served developing Milo for Kinect rather than try to shoehorn their feature franchise onto Kinect. This will bomb. Badly.
  3. Sony: I’m just going to come out and say it. I officially stopped caring about the Playstation brand after this years E3. I can never foresee me buying another Playstation product again. Sure, the Vita offers some wonderful features and seems like real bang for your buck, but I honestly didn’t care enough about what Sony were doing to ever warrant a purchase. With Microsoft focusing on Kinect and Nintendo’s main focus rolling into next year, they needed to shine. In my eyes, they didn’t.