E3 2012: X360A's Game of the Show Awards
Written Wednesday, June 13, 2012 By X360A Staff
There’s been a lot said about this year’s E3, but the sentiment seems to be the same: “This year’s E3 wasn’t very good.” Our response: “Are you mad?” Sure, the new game announcements might not have come as thick and as fast as we’d have liked, but there was a ton of talent on show from the first appointment to the last. Don’t believe us? Well, let us run you through this year’s Game of the Show awards for E3 2012 and if you still think it wasn’t a good show, we’re willing to write you a prescription for whatever mad people are prescribed these days – we don’t know because we ain’t mad. You getting us?
So while you wait for our take on the year’s biggest titles, soak up this year’s winners (and loser) and then tell us we’re wrong in the comments – that’s how it works, right?
Best Press Conference of the Show
There’s no question who won battle of the press conferences this year, it was of course, Ubisoft. While others were faffing around with hardware and tech that no-one really cared about *cough* Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony *cough* Ubisoft focused on what makes E3 what it is: the games! EA may have done something similar but too many cats – a la Dead Space 3 and NFS: Most Wanted – were let out the bag ahead of the show, which was disappointing. Ubisoft on the other hand showed off the impressive Assassin’s Creed III, the newly unveiled Splinter Cell: Blacklist and wowed the crowd with their debut showing of Watch Dogs, a game that we had NO idea was coming. It wasn’t all plain sailing for Ubisoft though with their car crash presenting from Aisha Tyler and Tobuscus. Bring back Joel McHale, seriously! It was a great press conference in all and one that Ubisoft should be proud of.
Winner – Ubisoft
Best Stand of the Show
With no THQ at this year’s E3, the struggling publisher was unable to take home the Best Stand of the Show award for the third year in a row, which opened up the doors to everyone else. It was a tricky call this year and despite best efforts from Microsoft and Sony, as well as Namco Bandai – whose stand was neck and neck with the winner up until the final stretch – none of them had enough to take the award from Square Enix. Square’s stand had it all: swagger, a huge screen, plenty of space, loads of pods, a pain-free press area, demo rooms on the show floor with impressive demos and it had style. All the makings of the Stand of the Show, I think you’ll agree.
Winner – Square Enix
Best Looker of the Show
Though the Assassin's Creed games have never been a slouch in the visuals department, Assassin's Creed III takes the series' graphical fidelity to a whole new plateau. Full performance capture and realistic clothing with billowing fabrics create some truly stunning cutscenes, making Assassin's Creed III a game that is visually unparalleled. Ubisoft's world-beating animators have also ensured Connor's movement through natural, organic environments is every bit as fluid as his free-running through Boston's streets, alleyways and across its docks and market stalls. Taking in gorgeous snowy forests, densely packed with sheer cliff faces, rocks and trees to climb, complete with a fully working ecosystem, Assassin's Creed III looks utterly wondrous. The number of jaw-dropping vistas on display in Assassin's Creed III is remarkable, making it a contender for the most beautiful open-world title yet, and a game that's fully deserving of our Best Looker of the Show award.
Winner – Assassin’s Creed III
Disappointment of the Show
The Disappointment of the Show is always a tough award for us to give as the truth is, we hope never to be disappointed. But that’s seldom the case. This year’s frontrunners were two franchises that seemed to be heading in directions that were in opposite tangents to their roots. On the one hand there was Dead Space 3, which looked more Army of Two than Dead Space, but thankfully, the behind-closed-doors showing restored our faith in Isaac Clarke's latest outing a little. Splinter Cell: Blacklist on the other hand did little to prove it was a Splinter Cell title. It looked like a decent enough game, but it didn’t look like a Splinter Cell game. Not only has Sam got a new voice actor in the role and a new Fourth Echelon to be a badass for, but he’s suddenly left stealth and cunning at the door – the hallmarks of a traditional Splinter Cell game. The closing moments of Conviction, which we noted were the weakest in our review, seem to have become the basis for Sam’s new outing and as a result the action-action-action demo at E3 seemed more Call of Duty than Splinter Cell. Not cool, Ubisoft. Not cool. Here’s to hoping that Splinter Cell’s stealth and cunning is actually a real part of Blacklist and centre-stage in our next demos.
Winner – Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Surprise of the Show
We’ll be honest... when Ubisoft started to introduce Watch Dogs at its press conference this year, our initial thoughts were that the publisher was creating some sort of lame-ass social networking game that seemed more like Foursquare than anything else. After Ubi's light gun shenanigans and what not from press conferences gone by, that wouldn’t have really surprised us. What did surprise us was the actual gameplay demo of Ubisoft's latest new IP, which stunned the onlookers at E3 from start to finish. With its stealthy and stylish gameplay, Watch Dogs oozed plenty of class and panache. Coupled with explosions, fierce gun battles and some innovative hacking technology, there really wasn’t going to be another contender for this year's Surprise category. Ubisoft sure knows how to keep a secret too! First Far Cry 3 last year and now this. E3 is all about surprises and Watch Dogs was the year’s biggest!
Winner – Watch Dogs
Best Action Title of the Show
The Best Action Title of the Show award was the most fiercely fought category at this year’s E3. In fact, there were a number of titles that could have taken it, from Assassin’s Creed III and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, to Resident Evil 6, but our eventual winner pipped the other action-heavy titles to the post. Yes, Crystal Dynamics’ newly rebooted Tomb Raider wowed us with new content at the Microsoft press conference and continued to wow us with all new content behind-closed-doors. The new brutal take on the Tomb Raider franchise looks to add more dynamic movement, surely inspired by games like Uncharted, and couples it together with the heritage of the Tomb Raider franchise. It’s moody, it’s dark and it’s engaging. What more could you ask from the gaming industry’s most renowned female protagonist? The fact that Crystal Dynamics didn’t rip off all her clothing whilst also giving her a boob job is a sign that the games industry is maturing as well. Wins all round!
Winner – Tomb Raider
Best Racer of the Show
It was a tricky year to call in terms of the Best Racer of the Show at this year’s E3 and honestly, it could have gone to F1 2012, Need For Speed: Most Wanted or Forza Horizon. However, it was late on the Wednesday afternoon when a clear winner came through and slapped the biggest grin we’d had on our chops since we walked through the sweaty crowds at this year’s show. Not only did it look stunning, but having spent 30 minutes jumping over freeways, smashing through billboards, writing off many BMW M3s and racing our little hearts out, we came to the startling realisation: this game could genuinely be brilliant. It’s a little bit Need For Speed. It’s a little bit Burnout. It’s a lot of awesome. EA is even pushing the fact that Criterion is the developer so much so that we’re starting to think that Most Wanted’s tagline is actually, “A Criterion game.” Rightly so, we guess, seeing as the studio rarely - if ever - put a foot wrong. EA, it’s okay, we get it... it’s a Criterion game, and a sexy and fun beast at that.
Winner – Need For Speed: Most Wanted
Best RPG of the Show
E3 2012 wasn’t really the year of the RPG, like it perhaps was in 2011 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mass Effect 3, Skyrim, et al. – but it did have one gem that stuck out like a sore thumb. It would be easy for us to just say, “Yeah, Skyrim is awesome, as is Dawnguard,” but we don’t like easy. We like fun. We like funny. We like old-skool, turn-based RPGs. We love South Park: The Stick of Truth. We could sit for hours and gush on about Obsidian and THQ’s South Park: The Stick of Truth, but we’ll save that for the preview that’s coming your way. What we’ll say here now though, is that Obsidian’s South Park RPG is like Final Fantasy VII – but funny – with so much customisation that you could spend hours just fiddling with that. And it’s as close to being part of an actual episode of South Park that you’re ever likely to get without holding Trey Parker and Matt Stone at gunpoint and forcing them to write you into a show. It was genuinely the funniest demo we think that we’ve ever seen at a trade show. If this is indicative of the final quality of the game, then South Park and even non-South Park fans are going to be delighted with what they’ll be getting in March 2013.
Winner – South Park: The Stick of Truth
Best Shooter of the Show
E3 2012, like any E3 in the existence of man, was packed to the rafters with shooters. There were big shooters like Black Ops II; there were shooters with a new lease of life like Far Cry 3; shooters with plenty of RPG elements like Borderlands 2; and crazy new shooters like Dishonored. It was a good year to be a shooter fan at E3. This year’s winner was a familiar favourite though and not only did 343 Industries come armed to the teeth with single-player, multiplayer and co-op experiences for this year’s show, but all of the aspects shone on their own merits. Of course, we’re talking about Halo 4 and with a strong showing at Microsoft’s press conference revealing a slew of new weapons, some brilliant visuals and new enemies, we thought it couldn’t get any better. We were wrong. After going hands-on with the episodic Spartan Ops mode as well as headshotting foe after foe in the multiplayer arena, we knew that this year’s best shooter was none other than 343’s first real venture into Bungie’s world. It sure is looking like Halo's new custodians have instilled a new lease of life into Microsoft’s premier franchise, which stood out for us more than many of the other shooters at this year’s show.
Winner – Halo 4
Best Rest of the Show
We weren't entirely sure what to expect from NetherRealm's first game since Mortal Kombat and another fighting game starring a rogue's gallery of DC heroes and villains following Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, but we're happy to report that Injustice: Gods Among Us is shaping up to be a genuine crowd pleaser. Showing a presentation featuring Superman against The Flash and Batman versus Solomon Grundy, NetherRealm demonstrated the level of environmental destruction as the fight unfolded. Superman and The Flash fought while the Batcave fell apart around them, while Bats and Grundy knocked the living daylights out of one another on the streets of Metropolis. The real spectacle came when each character performed their outlandish finishers, with Flash running around the equator before returning with a massive high-velocity punch, while Superman uppercuts his opponent into space and then slams them back down through the ozone layer and into the ground. Injustice: Gods Among Us is looking like a fighting game with oodles of character and a bold identity that confounded our expectations. Punching rivals through walls, through the floor, into space and around the world makes Injustice: Gods Among Us the most OTT comic book scrapper since Marvel vs. Capcom. Injustice stood out at E3 this year and warrants a place in our Best of the Show list, in a category that was a hotly-contested, close run thing.
Winner – Injustice: Gods Amongst Us
Best of Show
Not quite shooty enough – despite its gajillions of guns – to be the Best Shooter and not quite RPG-esque enough to win Best RPG, Borderlands 2 was nonetheless the major highlight at E3 this year. Expanding upon every facet of what made Borderlands so brilliantly compulsive the first time out, Borderlands 2 streamlines the experience considerably with intuitive menus, easier loot collection and gun manufacturers that have their own distinctive attributes. Instating an entirely new cast of characters is a bold move on Gearbox's part, but the four new faces are every bit as colourful and likeable as Mordecai, Lilith, Brick and Roland, if not more so. Pandora has never looked so good, and with Gearbox injecting more variety into the locations you'll visit on the treasure-filled planet, Borderlands 2 promises to be the sequel you're hoping for and more. A dream to play, a blast in co-op with great characters and even greater guns, Gearbox's claims that you'll joy puke your face off while playing Borderlands 2 is no empty hyperbole. Shooting and looting has never been quite so much fun. Get the puke bags ready.
Winner – Borderlands 2
And that’s it in terms of the awards this year. Don’t forget to check out our previews of all the games and more as we roll them out in the next few weeks, and don’t forget to keep up to date with all the E3 goings-on in the E3 2012 hub here.