So I finally caught up with Ubisoft and Sony, but was forced to leave so I could play folk songs in a pub for a few hours and couldn’t write it up. Let’s have a look then:
Ubisoft were…interesting. Within 5 words, I hated Aaron Priceman, and he was their main MC. The constant “What would it have looked like 25 years ago” joke wasn’t funny the first time, and the sixth wasn’t either. His whole stage presence revolved around him making dick jokes and annoying sound effects. Of course, we know dick jokes are funny, but there’s a time and a place and a conference stage really isn’t the best. It’s rather obvious that the crowd weren’t responding to him either, and I really hated his arrogance. However, he got remixed quickly because this is the internet.
To the games: Ubisoft are now in their 25th year, which is the whole point of the “25 years ago” joke (for the record, none of them looked retro to me). They’ve done rather well over the years, shipping half a billion games in 25 years. The franchise that most people would know from them would be Rayman, and after a terrible Shakespeare joke, we get to see it in action. Part of me is very happy it’s back in 2D. The rest of the me remembers the original Rayman and the fact that it was difficult and made me sad.
Far Cry 3 also got a nice showing, with a great video showing what Far Cry did best: Brutal planning and improvising when things go pear shaped. It’s looking as pretty as the previous one, but I wonder if it has the little niggles that Far Cry 2 had, like the constant “HEY! AMERICAN! I KILL YOU!” at checkpoints.
We also get a look at Ghost Recon properly, with a live demo of 4 player co-op. I got a gist of the Crysis suit, which I’m guessing was a point. You can cloak and shoot things or something like that. It looks…strange. Co-Op should be brilliant though if you have the right people. I can see it having Deus Ex levels of “Hey guys we go-FUCK NO NO NO NO HELP”.
Next of interest to me was Rocksmith for Kinect. Since I’m a bad guitarist I’m always dubious about these games, but it looks like they’re actually trying to teach guitar. Plus, you can plug your guitar into it and it’ll tell you if you’re right or not. I’m more interested to see on whether it gives people who don’t play a simple version and builds them up properly – starting on “Through The Fire And Flames” may be slightly difficult.
Finally from Ubisoft, we get a live demo of the new Assassin’s Creed. I’ve refused to play the last few because I won’t support the DRM that came bundled with the PC version, so I have no idea what Ezio is like, or how they’ve been playing. The game looks like a wonderful set piece and the combat is fluid, but it seems the same thing from the first one has continued – you only ever fight 1 person at a time, even if there’s a group of them.
Ubisoft’s show was good enough, but everytime Aaron Priceman spoke I just had to quell the urge to punch him. A bouncy and energetic man, but hopefully he’ll have learnt his lesson. It reminded me of the Vernon Kay “I love videogames” at some award ceremony, the name of which escapes me.
Sony’s showing was quite impressive. If you’ve been keeping up on Sony, you’ll know that they had a bit of an issue with PSN being hacked. I was actually surprised with Sony saying right at the beginning that they were sorry and grateful for the support. I think that took balls, and although I wasn’t hit by the hack, I can’t see much of a reason to hate them too much. Granted, the loss of data was disgraceful, but they’ve started the healing process so we can start to put it behind us.
Just like Microsoft couldn’t go 10 seconds without saying the word Kinect, Sony couldn’t go 10 seconds without saying the words Move or 3D. Their two big announcements began with a talk about the new 3D TV they’re preparing which will bundle with some of their new glasses, Resistance 3 and a HDMI cable for $499. Is that cheap? I don’t really know, since 3D’s always annoyed me.
The only thing I found anywhere near interesting was the plan to use the double filters to get rid of split screen, so it shows player 1 a different screen to player 2. The tech geek in me wonders about the hardware being able to support it and we didn’t see it in action. Colour me cynical.
The other big announcement was the NGP, or the PSVita. Which looks very exciting. The demonstrations were absolutely fascinating, with the ModNation level editor looking stunning and intuitive. Considering my occasional rants about level editors, I’m impressed that they’re making it so simple and powerful.
Prices seemed to be typical Sony, with a normal WiFi model available for $249, and a 3G version (with AT&T being the sole carriers, until that contract runs out…) for $299. It’s more than the DS, but if the PSVita has a selection of games that can use it properly, then I could be sold.
The new Drake’s Fortune is a prime example of how to use a touch screen – make it optional. You’ll be able to play the whole game with a touch screen or buttons, but if you really want to you can swap and change as and when you need to.
The other game that they talked about in detail was Ruin, which looked like a top down RPG. I can’t really tell for certain – the screen of the PSVita took up precious little of the video and I couldn’t see what was going on and I was watching a direct video feed. Those at the conference probably had no idea. The big thing about it was the cloud saving so you could switch to the PS3 if you wanted (and the demo worked well). It also includes a persistent rivalry system, which I’ve always wanted. If your “lair” is under attack, you can just log on and sort it out, which is the main reason we have the 3G model I believe.
Aside from the usual demos, the last thing I want to talk about is Ken Levine’s little section where he talked about the time he slammed the Move and Kinect in an interview and got a call from Sony the next day. Levine said to them “We don’t do all the motion stuff, we do the controller stuff”, and Sony replied “But some people want the motion stuff. Are you willing to bet that they’ll want Bioshock: Infinite?”, to which he replied “I’m willing to give it a shot, but I’m not willing to bet the controller people”.
I took that to mean that Bioshock will have the Move support, but will have been designed with controllers in mind, which is what I want from my games. It’s nice to be the controller, but sometimes you want a controller. Look at the Wii: So many of their games are infuriating with motion controls (I’m looking at you, Super Smash Bros).
Sony also decided to big up the whole exclusive thing. Bioshock Infinite will come bundled with a copy of the original Bioshock (which, if you haven’t played it yet, you really do need to play it. One of the greatest worlds I’ve ever set foot in), Battlefield 3 comes bundled with one of the earlier iterations, and a lot of games have got exclusive levels/game modes for you to play with.
Sony impressed me. I’m talking as a PC man who is wary of the consoles, and I’m considering getting a Vite when they arrive in the holiday season (though chances are I won’t get one until July because of releases. Sometimes I really hate you, America…).