Just Dance 4 was up first, and saw host and stand-up comedienne Aisher Tyler (Archer, Girl On Guy Podcast) cede the stage to Flo Rida, but fortunately gaming took over soon after.
There isn’t much to be said regarding Just Dance 4, it simply looked to be more of the same, but the formula is a winning one so fans should be happy.
Core games were well represented from thereon. Far Cry 3 gameplay looked ambitious; an expansive open-world full of danger, a potentially unreliable narrator, and extreme violence in the jungle setting successfully evoked Apocalypse Now, which is never a bad thing. Allegedly there will be a number of islands to explore this time out, and it looked like it was possible to hang-glide amongst locales too. A fast melee charge with a machete was used to dispatch many opponents here, but stealth kills were given equal time.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist has taken the action emphasis of Conviction and pushed it even further – almost absurdly so – with Sam spending as much time simply running and gunning out of cover as he did stealthily dispatching foes in gameplay terms. The “tag and kill” mechanic has been beefed up further this time, allowing for at least five enemies to be taken out gracefully with one button press. Here’s hoping the franchise stays at least within sniping distance of its roots though, another straight-up shooter is hardly what’s required right now, and it would be a bad, fan-alienating move for Ubisoft to push the game too far in that direction.
More Assassin’s Creed III footage was aired, including some new gameplay that saw debuting protagonist Connor take on an entire army of Reds. Stretching suspension of disbelief well past what is acceptable for a franchise that often touts the historical accuracy of its backdrops and characters, this section stood out for the wrong reasons as soldiers armed with rifles neglected to shoot their attacker, preferring to be systematically butchered in brutal melee fashion.
Despite this, the game is looking promising. A change of scene should revitalise players, and the addition of firearms presents some interesting challenges. Ubisoft claim that up to 2000 characters can appear on screen at once here, something many should be very keen to see.
It’s worth mentioning here that a ship-bound segment of Assassin’s Creed III was shown at Sony’s press event, and it showcased Connor’s captaining abilities as he wrangled with the helm of a large galleon-style battle ship and sank several enemy vessels using a formidable arsenal of cannons. Only a hands-on with similar sections will give an accurate gameplay verdict here, but it seems less a minigame and more a fleshed-out and welcome addition to the title.
Shootmania gameplay featured next, and the game looked to simply yet very finely hone the core mechanics of the FPS genre. Whether it’ll catch on the way Trackmania did remained to be seen, but the controls look tight, the play was fast, and the emphasis on high-flying heroics should bring some verticality to a genre that too often neglects the Y axis.
The Wii U exclusive ZombiU looked especially promising. A survival horror title that used the Wii U gamepad for things such as inventory management, radar, and keypad entry, the gameplay we saw neglected gunplay in favour of tense cat-and-mouse scenarios and mad rushes to temporary safe zones. The most promising of any Wii U exclusive title thus far, ZombiU will hopefully inspire more developers to get more creative with the tools the system provides.
Ubisoft has smartly looked to capitalise on the critical and commercial popularity of Rayman Origins by pushing direct sequel Rayman Legends out on the Wii U. A new character – a small flying fellow by the name of Murphy – featured, and was controlled by the Wii U’s gamepad touchscreen. His ability to fly combined with what seemed a lot like invincibility and a support role points towards Murphy being the choice of casual players. Including Murphy, up to five players could play co-op Rayman Legends at once.
Ubisoft saved the best for last. A new IP, Watch Dogs, strongly resembled Assassin’s Creed set in near future Chicago, with a stronger emphasis on investigation. Aiden Pearce was introduced as the protagonist – a hacker, able to manipulate his physical environment simply by taking command of technology around him. A traffic light hack created a pile-up that trapped a target of his, for example. According to Ubisoft, everything connected to the city’s network was a potential weapon for Aiden to discover and use. The game looked at once mysterious and alluring, and capped a decent press conference for Ubisoft.
More information about these games will be on our site once we have completed hands-on sessions. Stay tuned!