E3 2012: PS3T's Game of the Show Awards
Written Wednesday, June 13, 2012 By PS3T 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? Regardless, this is our debut PS3T E3 Game of the Show awards so sit back and soak up our lovely words... and stuff.
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 on our sister site, which opened up the doors to everyone else in both the award ceremonies this year. 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 was the weakest part of the game, 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
After a relatively low-key press conference, Sony managed to buoy the audience's enthusiasm completely through the roof with two big games. The first was Quantic Dream's Beyond, which looked incredible. The second was The Last of Us and it completely knocked our socks off. Not only does it look amazing, building upon Naughty Dog's fine work with the Uncharted games, but The Last of Us displayed an uncompromising savagery that had the power to shock and delight in equal measure. A survival horror in the purest sense, The Last of Us sees bearded hero Joel teaming up with orphaned 14-year old Ellie as they journey through a quarantine zone. In the gameplay demo shown at Sony's E3 presser, the duo encountered violent survivors out to kill them, showcasing the extreme lengths Joel and Ellie must go to in order to survive. Brutal yet brilliant, The Last of Us generates an atmosphere that totally captures the desperation of Joel and Ellie's plight. The unflinching violence is an integral part of all that. As Ellie says to Joel, “...good job with all the killing and stuff.” A very good job, indeed.
Winner – The Last of Us
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 or Need For Speed: Most Wanted. 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
In an E3 packed with great shooters, one really stood out for us above all. We were surprised just how much we became smitten with Far Cry 3, especially given the torture we endured with the entirely unforgiving malaria infested world of Far Cry 2. Charting protagonist Jason Brody's journey from innocent stranded tourist to cold-blooded killer, Far Cry 3 is a wild revenge story set amid a verdant tropical paradise, where danger lurks around every corner. During our hands-on with the game, we were subjected to bullets, fire, explosives and tigers, as well as the all-pervading threat of Far Cry 3's star antagonist, the unhinged and psychotic Vaas. As a shooter, Far Cry 3 not only excels with its twisted story, but with a bow and arrow, alongside an arsenal of assault rifles, shotguns and pistols, you've plenty of death-dealing tools at your disposal. And they all spit bullets with a roar. Far Cry 3 is shaping up to be a damn fine shooter and an incredible overall package, boasting a single-player story that rubs shoulders with a co-op campaign, competitive multiplayer modes and an optimised map creator. What more could you possibly ask for?
Winner – Far Cry 3
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.