McGinnis: E3’s biggest gamesWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We live in a time when video gamers’ thoughts are beginning to focus on the next generation of hardware, whether confirmed (Wii U) or rumored (Xbox 720, PlayStation 4, whatever Valve’s console will be called if it even exists). So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the 2012 edition of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in California was focused almost exclusively on games for the present generation of hardware.
Sure, Nintendo had its mind on the future and spent its news conference continuing to hype games for its new system. But it presented precious few details on Wii U’s release, neither a price or when it would be in stores. The much-rumored Xbox 720 reveal didn’t happen, nor was there word about a next-gen console from Sony, either.
But that’s OK, as it put the focus of the Expo squarely where it should be, anyway — on the games. And man, were there some amazing ones demonstrated at E3 this year. Here are a few that have definitely caught my eye:
“Assassin’s Creed III” (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360): There’s no doubt setting the new installment of Ubisoft’s popular action series during the American Revolution has an appeal all its own. But further details that have emerged about the game have only served to intensify fan anticipation. The demos shown at E3 highlighted numerous aspects of the title, from revamped combat styles and assassination scenarios to epic sea battles, a first for the franchise. Ubisoft also announced a new, exclusive spinoff adventure for PlayStation Vita. Release date: Oct. 30, 2012.
“Beyond: Two Souls” (PS3): Sony opened its news conference confirming reports of a new game by developer Quantic Dream, which last produced the stellar 2010 thriller “Heavy Rain.” The game’s premise, outlined as an exploration of the barriers between life and death, follows its lead character Jodie Holmes from childhood into her 20s. Bolstering the game’s pedigree was the announcement that Academy Award nominee Ellen Page will be playing the lead character. No release date set.
“God of War: Ascension” (PS3): Sony let this cat out of the bag well in advance of E3, revealing in April the existence of a fourth console game in its wildly popular series based on Greek mythology. What’s new this time: A multiplayer mode (a first for the series) and a single-player game which functions as a prequel to the other games. Gameplay footage was shown at Sony’s news conference, which showcased the game’s stellar graphics and gameplay that looks right in line with the rest of the franchise. Release date: March 12, 2013.
“Halo 4” (Xbox 360): Fans have anxiously awaited more news of the latest game in Microsoft’s epic space shooter series, the first in a new trilogy. The game was the centerpiece of Microsoft’s E3 news conference, showcasing its single-player story as well as an extensive new multiplayer experience that appears to be an impressive expansion of its previous modes. The quality of the footage shown has stilled any lingering doubts over the game’s new developer, 343 Industries, which inherited the franchise from previous developer Bungie. Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012.
“The Last of Us” (PS3): Ever since developer Naughty Dog revealed the existence of this new post-apocalyptic epic at the 2011 Video Game Awards, much has been made of the game’s zombie-like villains. Seemingly determined to emphasize the other threats its world contains, Naughty Dog presented a gameplay sample featuring its protagonists fighting very human scavengers in a brutal fight to survive. In basic gameplay structure, it looks a lot like the company’s classic “Uncharted” series but much bleaker and much more violent. My own personal “game of the show.” No release date set.
“Tomb Raider” (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): No more lighthearted adventures for gaming’s most popular heroine. Showcased at the Microsoft conference, the new gameplay trailer for the forthcoming reboot of Lara Croft drove home the point that this was a more primal and brutal game than all its predecessors, with an emphasis on survival over exploration. The story, essentially a reboot of the franchise, stars a young Lara marooned and fighting for her life — and growing into the adventurer we know today. Release date: March 5, 2013.
“Watch Dogs” (PC, PS3, 360): Ubisoft dropped a major bombshell (and the jaws of attendees) with the unveiling of a brand new franchise — one that ended up earning many journalists’ “game of the show” honors. Centered on the premise of the worldwide interconnected data network, the game’s trailer offered fast-paced action as gamers play as a hacker who can manipulate electronic devices almost at will. It’s been compared to “Assassin’s Creed,” but the trailer’s modern setting and hi-tech feel promise a completely different experience. No release date set.
Email Toledo Free Press Star Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.