Shack Staff's E3 2012 favorites

It's been a week since E3 2012 closed its doors. The Shacknews team looks back, and reflects on some of their highlights.

It's been a week since E3 2012 closed its doors. For some, it was an underwhelming show due to the lack of next-gen announcements. For others, the deluge of high-quality games at the show made it sufficiently exciting. The Shacknews team looked back at the show, and reflected on some of their highlights. One of the big trends at E3 this year was multi-screen gaming. Wii U's tablet controller is definitely setting a new standard, but Sony and Microsoft have interesting takes on the trend. Andrew likes being able to start one game on the PS3, and continue it on-the-go with Vita--but he will never pay for both versions of the game. (Here's hoping that PlayStation Plus survey turns true!) Steve was especially excited by Xbox SmartGlass. It "has the potential to be truly revolutionary. By making the tools available on existing mobile devices, and announcing that they'll be incorporated in all first-party games, this feels like one more step to a connected future. I just hope developers can spare the resources to find clever ways to use it." While Andrew wasn't particularly enamored with the Wii U, Ozzie is downright excited for it. "MiiVerse is a total game-changer, especially since Nintendo confirmed it would be used for all Wii U games," he said. "Nintendo needed a special something that would set apart their third-party titles from Sony and Microsoft's. That's exactly what MiiVerse is! The social interaction created by MiiVerse gives me reason to consider purchasing a Wii U third-party title. It's the shot in the arm that their third-party library has been looking for."

Nintendo goes online via Miiverse

Handhelds were largely ignored by the big three at each of their press conferences. However, they had a strong library which may have gone unnoticed. The 3DS especially won over both Andrew and Steve. "I want almost everything they showed for the system, and almost all of it is due this year," Steve said. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is one of Andrew's favorite games from the show, and Paper Mario: Sticker Star already looks like a winner. Finally, to an outsider, E3 must seem like a celebration of mass murder. For example, Sony's E3 press conference ended with a dramatic shotgun-to-the-head in The Last of Us--and the audience cheered. However, while there is a lot of death in games, Steve appreciated the added gravitas the industry is focusing on. Killing became "a serious moral choice with consequence" at this year's show. "You can probably rack up a body count in The Last of Us, Tomb Raider, Beyond: Two Souls, and Dishonored but each of them at least hinted at death being given a little more gravity. From a narrative perspective, that's super-exciting to me."

This year's games were even more violent than before

Here are some of our favorite games from E3 (presented in alphabetical order): Assassin's Creed 3 - "As a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed series--the first, unfortunate installment aside--I couldn't be more excited about Assassin Creed 3's new setting, main character, and gameplay mechanics. The American Revolution is a rich setting to explore that's rarely touched on in video games, and the new wilderness navigation and combat options look incredible. It's shaping up to be a refreshing new installment, and though it's building upon a very solid gameplay foundation, Assassin's Creed 3 promises to bring a lot new to the table. Time to sharpen my tomahawk." - Jeff Mattas The Cave - "As fan of classic adventure games, I freely admit that some of their older design tropes--such excessive inventory management, pixel hunting, and point-and-clicking--don't really hold up very well by today's standards for mechanics. That's why I was so excited by The Cave, a 2013-due adventure game by renowned adventure game developer Ron Gilbert and Double Fine Productions. The premise of a group of incredibly eclectic characters teaming up to plumb a sentient cave's depths in search of their greatest desires is a winning one, and looks like it'll provide ample opportunity for Gilbert's wit and creativity to shine through. It doesn't hurt one bit that the game is structured like a Metroidvania-style platformer." - Jeff Mattas Crysis 3 - "It won't shock anyone to hear that Crysis 3 was one of the prettiest first-person-shooters on display at this year's show. DirectX 11 features will be baked in to the primary build, which should provide some extra tools to make the game's different environments--called the 7 Wonders--visually distinct. Developer Crytek is promising that each of these areas will highlight its own set of weapons, enemies, and tactics, which has the potential to allow for a lot more visual variety than was present in the previous chapters. Top things all off with a very fun new bow that can be used while cloaked, and you end up with a game that could very well be the best shooter to use a nanosuit." - Jeff Mattas Dishonored - "I love what Arkane is doing in with the game. The various ways a player can choose to get through a level really is intriguing. Inhabiting a fish to sneak through the water to get inside a building? That's incredible. I can't wait to get my hands on it to see just how open it really is." - John Keefer Dust 514 - "I'm not an FPS player, but I really am impressed with how CCP is melding the EVE Online space-based universe with the ground-based forces of Dust. Add to that the emergent gameplay of such player-led initiatives such as Burn Jita, and the possibilities seem endless with the addition of this new dimension of universe development." - John Keefer Halo 4 - "I'm very story-oriented when I play, so I really like the Spartan Ops mode that continues the story after the campaign ends. It will be interesting to see how long 343 can keep up the weekly episodic fiction, with five co-op missions a week. That's a lot of content." - John Keefer Rayman Legends - "I really wanted to like the Wii U--and that's exactly what happened when Ubisoft let me try out Rayman Legends. The excellent platforming gameplay introduced in Origins is enhanced even further with genuinely fun asynchronous multiplayer across GamePad and Wii Remote. This is the game perfect for co-op between my little brother and me." - Andrew Yoon SimCity - "My last SimCity experience was a brief flirtation with SimCity 2000. I was absolutely floored by what I saw from EA Maxis. They didn't just update SimCity, but they literally brought cities to life! I could see myself sitting at my PC in utter fascination over the way every single Sim can live out a daily routine. More than that, Maxis added enough of the little things to make the game look gorgeous: day/night cycles, lighting effects, depth of field. It's undoubtedly the most engaging SimCity experience I've ever seen." - Ozzie Mejia Watch Dogs - "Ubisoft had a fantastic E3, showing off great additions to their existing IP's and made the Wii U's library more exciting with their contributions. The alleged comedy of their press conference was offset with some amazing games, the best of which Ubisoft saved for last. Watch Dogs is such a novel idea and creates so many possibilities. It's the whole monstrous idea of "the grid" come to life! For as much as I loved the demo at Ubi's press conference, I also know that it's just scratching the surface of what we'll be able to do in this game. I can't wait to hear more about Watch Dogs in the coming year." - Ozzie Mejia XCOM: Enemy Unknown - "XCOM goes against everything an 'E3 game' should be. It's not the prettiest game. It's not trying to be an over=produced, action-packed, in-your-face experience. No, it's a turn-based strategy game, and an utterly compelling one, at that." - Andrew Yoon
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