NOTE: You still have a chance to win $2,000+ prizes in the GameFans.com contest!
E3 2012 just wrapped up and a lot of exciting new games were announced. From Microsoft’s SmartGlass and more Kinect-enabled experiences, to Ubisoft’s impressive stable of games and beyond, there was a lot to take in. But we’re thoroughly impressed by 8 specific games and showings that we think stole the show.
Microsoft SmartGlass and Internet Explorer
While the Wii U will allow you to do many of the things SmartGlass will do (namely the common feature of being a companion service for games like Madden where you could use a tablet as your playbook), Microsoft didn’t need to introduce any new hardware. SmartGlass will allow you to use your phone or tablet to enhance the your gaming and entertainment experiences.
A free app, it’ll allow you to do things like control Internet Explorer using your smartphone as a touchpad, view Halo Waypoint information while playing Halo 4 (concept) and more. It’s an exciting new feature that will be available for Android smartphone and tablet users at no extra cost.
ZombiU didn’t really impress graphically — many Wii U games don’t, in fact. But its unique use of the Wii U controller tablet gets a nice big win. Doing things like scanning zombie body parts with the controller to find their weak points are innovative. And there are zombies, so it automatically gets an extra bag of cool points. An honorable mention goes to Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition for doing much of the same. Check out a hands-on video over at GameFans.
Ubisoft almost stole the entire show with Watch Dogs. It’s a game where, as Ubisoft put it, lives and breaths on its online capabilities. As far as I could tell from the trailer, Watch Dogs takes place in futuristic Chicago, a city that has been transformed into an electronic super-cluster of information as every single piece of technology is tied to a central data network.
The city is overrun by independent hackers as well as groups of them. Many hack the network as a form of cyber-terrorism, and you, playing as the protagonist Aidan Pierce, are using it to fight a formidable foe. The main gameplay mechanics involve shooting and hacking, with the latter being a far more important component.
Want to stop someone from getting away in a car? Hack it, and they’ll lose control and eventually crash. Don’t even get me started on the graphics, either: I and many others were fooled into thinking this would be a next generation title. It’ll look that good on PC at least, though, and you’ll likely get a slightly worse version on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
The Last of Us
Knowing Naughty Dog would be at E3, we longed for a look at gameplay of The Last of Us. If it wasn’t for this game, the aforementioned Watch Dogs would have stolen the show, but we knew we weren’t poised for disappointment. What was mistaken to be a CGI trailer by many ended up being actual gameplay, and not only was the experience the same when looking at it behind closed doors, it was also very much different.
The Last of Us takes a lot of its cues from the Uncharted series, natch, but there’s one area Nathan Drake can’t compete: the linearity department, or the lack thereof in the case of this new title. You can attack missions different ways, be it an explosive guns-a-blazing Michael Bay style scene or a more subtle, cunning approach. And this is perhaps some of the best artificial intelligence we’ve seen in a video game as evidenced by protagonist Joel’s sidekick Ellie. Keep your eye on this one.
While Bungie’s set sail away from the Halo universe, you had to expect Microsoft wouldn’t let it die. We’ve long known of Halo 4′s existence but it was hard to predict whether or not the latest installment would live up to the standards the original developers set. 343 Industries surprised us all at E3 when they came to show what may be one of the most solid Halo offerings yet.
While I can’t say for certain this game will play 100% like we expect every decent Halo game does, their gameplay demo didn’t do anything to make us believe they’d screw it up. Perhaps they did a bit of a copy and paste job with the engine, making enhancements here and there to tweak things up, but we’d rather they maintain the look and feel Bungie created than break the game beyond repair.
BEYOND: Two Souls
Quantic Dreams is back with what looks to be another thrilling mystery title. That title is Beyond: Two Souls and it looks to continue that interactive story-telling type of gameplay that Quantic have become known for with Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain. While the graphics don’t look much improved over Heavy Rain, they still look amazing as they have pushed the PS3 to the near limit with both titles.
Jodie, a character in the game played by Ellen Page, is wrestling with what appears to be a psychiatric problem, and she also appears to be on the run from some sort of militant or law enforcement agency. At first glance I thought she may have done something wrong as a result of a mental illness, but I just can’t seem to figure out her deal.
Even with the trailer we can see it should prove to tell a very compelling story with believable graphics and like Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy, a nice branch-filled tree of possibilities with its story and ending.
This game will no doubt challenge users to make tough decisions which will impact the outcome of the game, and that makes it all the more exciting. We’re sure there are many of you who aren’t aroused by what some have called “a movie with interaction,” but if you crave for a good story in a video game this is the cream of the crop.
God of War: Ascension
The God of War franchise is getting a new installment, but this time we’re getting a look at some events that took place before the original trilogy. God of War: Ascension follows Kratos sometime after receiving his gift from Ares, but before the events in the first game. He still wants to kill Ares for what he tricked him into doing, which was (stop reading if you haven’t played any of the first three games) kill his family.
While we weren’t given much in the way of a premise, the game still features a nice mix of fun hack-and-slash combat and puzzles ranging from easy to not-quite-challenging-but-still-takes-some-thinking difficulty. The developers profess we’ll be returning to the more “human” Kratos we briefly experienced in God of War 1 instead of the God he became in latter parts of the series. Needless to say, this game should be on everyone’s radar.
Splinter Cell Blacklist
The story of rogue ex-cell Sam Fisher continues in Splinter Cell Blacklist, a game that features a middle-eastern setting along the borders of Iran and Iraq. A rogue faction there appears to be mobilizing an attack on the United States, and Sam Fisher wants to get in there and retrieve a blacklist that is crucial to saving his home country from devastating ruin.
Like Splinter Cell Conviction, Blacklist somewhat distances itself away from the sneaky espionage gameplay of last year for a better mix of fast-paced, hectic action and stealthy tactical takedowns. With Kinect controls, you can do things like whisper “hey, over here” to lure an enemy into his immediate demise.
But that isn’t even the most exciting thing: mercs vs spies is back! The popular multiplayer mode responsible for wasting the lives of many-a gamer has made its return after missing in action for Conviction. There were also be the co-op campaign you’ve come to know and love from Conviction. Needless to say, Ubisoft like have a very successful title on their hand.
These are the games which impressed us but didn’t quite make the cut:
- Assassin’s Creed 3: it takes an interesting turn into the era of the revolutionary war.
- Gears of War: Judgment: without gameplay video it’s hard to say this game will be somewhat of a hit or miss, but it’s one to keep a tab on.
- Forza Horizon: Need for Speed-like street racing with the Forza engine? Yes, please.
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted: a most exciting reboot of one of the best games in the series.
- Madden NFL 13: with the Infinity engine and the new Connected Careers mode, Madden 13 should turn the heads of football gamers everywhere.
- Pikmin: Nintendo builds on the addictive gameplay of Pikmin on the Wii U. Total win.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: the repetitive gameplay and graphics engine of Call of Duty will get a decent coat of paint with new futuristic weapons and vehicles.
GameFans.com $2000 Contest Reminder
Don’t forget that GameFans.com, Phandroid’s sister site dedicated to all things gaming, is still accepting entries for its E3 Launch Contest! $2000 in prizes is up for grabs, including a brand new Nintendo Wii U (when they’re made available), a limited edition Star Wars Xbox 360 with Kinect, an NVIDIA Prize Pack which includes a Tegra 3 Android Tablet, a Logitech Game Pad, a Jawbone Jambox, and a $25 AMEX Gift Card.
Finally 10 different winners could win a new game of their choosing. In all, 13 contestants will be walking away with some pretty cool stuff, but you do have to properly enter to qualify. To figure out how you can enter to win all of these things, read the contest post over at GameFans.com!