E3 2012: Ubisoft Press Conference

So if you didn’t watch the Ubisoft press event, we’re going to give you a recap of what happened! This marks the start of our E3 2012 coverage!

After a somewhat fog-filled and anxious wait in the venue, the crowd was greeted by a cacophony of sights and sounds of music and dancing. A very energetic preview of the new music and moves of “Just Dance 4” was accompanied by a performance from rapper Flo Rida which was…interesting. There seems to be a theme going around of celebrities making appearances at E3 press events.

While the dancing was entertaining, we really didn’t see anything more than what a person can see online via trailers. It just seemed to be another dance game.

The first actual shot of gameplay footage we had was during the “Far Cry 3” portion of the presentation. I hadn’t actually done any sort of research on the title, and apparently I needed it as I had absolutely no idea what was going on in the demo. What I did see was that there were people on an island, the player character had a bow and a gun, and he shot a lot of people while another person seemed to yell at him from off-screen.

Despite my canonical confusion, the footage was beautiful and apparently there’s an entire system of islands you can explore in the game. The gameplay seems very reminiscent of “Bulletstorm,” which means a lot of shooting but some close-quarters combat. There was a moment when a tiger was released from its cage and it ran amok on some of the enemies while the player picked them off from afar, but other than that there seemed to be an overwhelming sense of indifference to the game. It was impressive, but it was just another shooter.

What really picked the audience up was the new “Rayman Legends.” Three players cooperatively working together on the Wii U gave us all quite a show. While two players controlled Rayman and his buddy, another used the touchscreen to cut ropes, lower ramps and move obstacles out of their way so they could continue on their path.

The grand finale was all three players working on some sort of constantly moving chase scene where the player using the touchscreen hit points on the path which created the music to the entire portion of the level. It was a beautiful show of streamlined gameplay and a fun design of old platforming. The audience cheered and clapped not just for the pleasant surprise of Rayman, but also for an excellent demonstration of the Wii U’s capabilities.

There were several more trailers featured during the event, including one for Wii U exclusive survival-horror game “ZombiU” and an Avengers game as well. While those were interesting ideas, a lack of gameplay footage made us just feel like we were watching clips from any press-packet we could get online.

Then the big gun, “Assassin’s Creed 3.” A trailer and then a gorgeous demo from the team working on it wooed the crowd. The environment, the fighting, the character models and even the voice acting was spot on. Building upon the framework of past installments in the Assassin’s Creed series, subtle – and not so sublte – changes to the gameplay could be spotted during the demonstration. A bow and arrow replaces Ezio’s crossbow for the newest protagonist, most likely implemented to keep in theme with his Native American heritage. One of the smaller additions to the game that we all noticed was the ability to pick up weapons on the go and seamlessly transition from a kill to running. It was beautiful to watch, and of course we’re still eagerly awaiting the game to see if it lives up to what we’ve seen.

The newest assassin, Connor, has a more sleek fighting style than his predecessors.

“Shootermania” followed “Assassin’s Creed 3,” which seemed to be a letdown for the crowd. The blatant battle of the sexes that was put on between girl “Counterstrike” stars and male “Counterstrike” stars was a little awkward to watch and we really didn’t see all that much gameplay. I’m not sure if the game is just player versus player or if there’s a story, but really it just seems like Ubisoft is creating a competitor for the online gaming gun circuit for E-Sports.

The best was saved for last. The crowd was built up with “Rayman.” It was on the edge of its seat after “Assassin’s Creed 3.” Now they got what Ubisoft was holding back with. “Watch Dogs” seemed to be an amalgam of “Assassin’s Creed” and “The Bourne Identity.” The combination of stealth, technology and narrative had the crowd cheering and asking for more than the demo could give us. Just watch:

I can’t even begin to describe it. It’s just so amazing looking. I just hope the game itself is as good as the demo we were shown.