Ubisoft was the last press conference of the 14th and was a little bit bizarre. In part this was due to the presence of the announcer, Joel McHale who spent most it the time alternating between gushing praise for gaming and making sarcastic comments about the games being shown. And also some of the stuff they showed was mental.
Take, for example, the opening game Child of Eden from the maker of Rez. Its a trippy music inspired game where blocks are exploded in time to the music. The game was being controlled via Kinect and so the player was simply swiping their hands around in midair to hit the blocks. It seems like more of a challenge than the first party games at the Microsoft Press Conference and also more fun, backing up my idea that it will be the 3rd party games that will use it the best. The designer also came on stage and his description that the game was all about using most of your senses to play actually didn’t sound as pretentious as it normally does.
After this it was business as usual with the reveal of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. After a pre-rendered trailer, an actual game play demo of what seems to be the start of the game was shown off. Starting off with Ezio relaxing in bed with Caterina Sforzia (the lady of Forli in AC2), they are rudely interrupted by a stone ball crashing through the wall. The Assassin’s villa is under attack by the Borgia and you must fight to defend the town. After a brief horse ride to the walls through crumbling streets (while the narrating developer promised much improved horse combat), Ezio climbs up the wall and mans the cannons to bring down two siege towers. However, others have broken through and their are enemies on the walls which allowed the developer to show off the much faster combat system which is a fix to my major problem with last game. The demo ended with your new nemesis revealed and both Enzio and Mario shot repeatedly before the view shifts to a load of assassins climbing up the coliseum in Rome. It has the potential to be REALLY good.
Next up was Shaun White Skateboarding. After a little bit of banter between the MC and Shaun White, they went on to reveal the new game mode. Rather than the realistic approach of skate, it instead focuses on bring back life to an authoritarian world. By skateboarding. As you perform tricks, it brings colour back to the surroundings as well as changing the terrain. One example is the fact that fulfilling an objective changes a fountain into a half pipe. The trick system also looks pretty solid but the main change is the new mechanism. You can also make grind rails extend out to gain access to new areas which seems to be a time limited ability as well as requiring you to retain momentum so no vertical rides. I’ll take a look but it does depend on what else the game does.
And then they started playing Quasar. Seriously. Go and watch the live stream. Its for a product called Battle Tag. It features guns you can reload, the usual jackets with the sensors on and a set of blocks. These sensor blocks can then be used to form little games, such as a race which was shown. It also has a PC connector which can be used to upload your stats from your games to share online. Now, I can be a cynical man but I can honestly not think of any other way to make me any less interested unless it actually stabbed me. It is a bit strange for Ubisoft to invest in this.
The oddity was brought up a notch by the Innergy, a game that uses a heartbeat sensor to help you become both fitter and less stressed out. The thing they showed was a breathing exercised that ask you to keep you timing of your breathes in line with a path on the screen. This was then followed up with a repeat of the Your Shape demo from the Microsoft Press Event (it still looks dumb). The Rabbids then made their appearance in a Wii exclusive focused on time travelling which looks alright although I wish they would bring a game featuring them to the Xbox 360 as they are brilliant characters.
The next game was Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. I love GRAW and this looks pretty good. As well as a short trailer, they also had a gameplay demo that looked quite interesting as well. They have made a few changes, the biggest being the new optical camouflage that makes it more like a stealth game than the previous. It also included a new cross com that highlighted all the bad guys allowing the player to avoid the bad guys. It look really slick and when the guns came out it was a pretty solid first/third person shooter. I like the idea of some of the new stuff like the drones and I’m looking forward to the beta this summer.
They also announced a few other things. Driver is coming back in a new game set in San Francisco which harks back to the original. Also you can switch cars because the main character is in a coma. After that was the mysterious Project Dust which is about controlling a tribe by manipulating the weather. It actually looks quite interesting so I’ll be keeping my eye on it. Rayman Origins, a co-op platformer featuring everyone favourite ‘armless guy and his brother was unveiled as part of the description of a new toolkit coming from Ubisoft. In the same vein, they mentioned what the Trackmania guys have been up to which is a social creation platform featuring Trackmania, Shootmania and Questmania which focus on driving, first person shooting and RPGs respectively. The final thing was a Michael Jackson dancing game but nothing was shown and at that point, everyone in the audience was just wishing that the horror would end.
You may notice I sound rather down at the end. In part this was due to the fact I was still watching this at about 2 in the morning but the other thing was just how much of the announcements were just games for the motion devices. After the big hitter of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood at the start and Ghost Recon near the end the rest were just disappointing. Now admittedly someone somewhere is very excited about Battle Tag, but for journalists and the vast majority of gamers we just don’t give a shit. However, the stuff shown at the very end such as Rayman and the new Nadeo stuff look interesting but should have received more time. Overall, it was better last year where James Cameron bored us with Avatar talk.
I’m not doing conference write ups for Sony or Nintendo but will mention both in a wrap up at the end of the week
(Gametrailers will be having all the trailers and gameplay from the live events up all week and eventually the complete streams later if you want to watch. Thanks to Joystiq, Destructoid and IGN for most of the pictures and Giant Bomb for the reference live blog)