The E3 2011 Roundup
So it's all over, our first foray into the whirlwind of sights and sounds that is E3, and it's left us with nothing but headaches and wonderful memories. Game Debate's Felix and Squee shoot the breeze about the highs and lows of this year's show:
F: So now it's all over, let's take a look back. What would you say we were most looking forward to before we arrived?
S: Well, I think we'd both agree that Skyrim was the one big thing that got everyone excited. It's certainly looking beautiful; E3's not done anything to water down my enthusiasm at least.
F: Yes, Skyrim is looking awesome. But let's not forget about Battlefield 3 as well, the other big contender for the hearts of PC gamers. You pointed out, Squee, that they'd kept it to just a tank show when we saw the Battlefield demo instead of showing us all the things that make Battlefield so much fun.
S: Yeah, I think that's so they can drip-feed us videos of the other elements like the sniping perhaps, and the air battles with planes and helicopters later on, to keep the interest up, rather than blowing it all in one go.
F: I think that's probably true, but it would have been nice to see the parachutes.
S: It's not Battlefield if you can't parachute out of a second-storey window. Frankly, I was half-expecting the Battlefield demo to end with the tank parachuting out of a window onto an unsuspecting noob.
F: Very true. So another thing we saw a lot of was the upcoming Saint's Row the Third.
S: They were out in force, weren't they? Banners in the concourse, demos in the halls and even a Saint's Row-themed car wash outside the Convention Centre. Another one you were excited about beforehand?
F: No, not exactly. It falls into the same category as Prey 2 really, in that I hadn't really anticipated just how much interest there was among the fans until we actually saw it with our own eyes at the show.
S: Both of those looked like they were going to be really good fun. In fact, I know you were really taken by Prey 2; your choice for game of the show, would you say?
F: Well, Prey 2 was obviously on the same Bethesda stand as Rage, and I was lucky enough to have a look at both games. While I was playing Rage, though, I was thinking about Prey 2 the whole time.
S: Bethesda certainly had a high-profile show this year. Pretty much everything on their roster is being eagerly awaited, and they had those foam zombies strapped to the outside of the convention centre...
F: Foam zombies! What more do we need out of life? Speaking of tips for ‘Game of the Show', what was yours?
S: Well, I have to say, and I guess this is going to be an outspoken opinion given the other huge names out there, but I was most excited by Crusader Kings 2. I never even played the first one, but the level of detail and tight focus on medieval intrigue and plots as opposed to mass warfare really piqued my curiosity. However, I only got a really quick look at it, so I'm hoping it'll live up to my expectations. Oh, hey, how about Ghost Recon: Future Soldier not getting a PC release? That was a surprise...
F: Yeah, we're going to have to wait and see whether the Ubisoft spokeperson was correct in saying that the new Ghost Recon is actually console only, and that the PC is getting a separate online free-to-play game instead.
S: I had a quick blast at Ghost Recon Online, the PC release that coincides with the release of Future Soldier and signed up for the beta, but I've got to say it's the red-headed stepchild. Future Soldier was looking awesome, really gorgeous and obviously built with a huge budget, and Ghost Recon Online seemed like little more than a cheaply-made squad deathmatch shooter.
F: Yeah, we've seen that stuff before, and when you already have Battlefield play4free which came out earlier this year, it feels like they're treading the same ground.
S: I'm not really sure who their audience is. Hardcore onliners will already have BF Bad Company 2, or something else, and I'm not sure casual gamers really want what Ghost Recon offers. Still, I would have probably thought the same about World of Tanks, and as we saw at the show this year they've been hugely successful. I was actually intrigued; I've never played it, and it looked fun. The booth at the show was always busy. And they had real tanks!
F: Apparently there are more than 2 million World of Tanks players in Russia, and getting close to a million outside Russia as well.
S: I guess those Russians like their tanks... So what were the surprises for you? Anything you expected to see but didn't?
F: Yeah, well it would have been nice to see a little more of Batman Arkham City.
S: I think they had some banners up, and a closed-doors first look, but for such a high-profile release, you'd have at least expected a few blokes dressed up like the Caped Crusader or something. Or better yet, maybe some in-game footage. But nothing like that! He's a stealthy one. Apparently, Cat Woman as a playable character was the big reveal of the demo.
F: It was nice to get some hands-on with the new PES 2012. As you pointed out, just as we were watching the game being played, it distracted us from the Konami spokesman who was talking us through it.
S: Too true. As soon as the controllers came out, it was like being in someone's living room, and we were all cheering and having fun even though we'd all never met each other. That's the power of football.
F: Didn't you get yellow carded within about thirty seconds of getting the controller?
S: Never you mind about that.
F: It sounds like the PES game engine has been tweaked a bit, but not significantly enough for it to be a system requirement worry.
S: I think you're right. We're looking at probably very similar specs to 2011. Of course, the game is in a pretty early build right now, and anything could happen. Of course, they are limited by time...
F: We're expecting more from them by early August.
S: Of course, Far Cry 3 was a big announcement, if not a particular surprise.
F: I don't think it was a surprise, as it's been obvious that it'd be along sooner or later.
S: I'm just pleased that Far Cry wasn't another title that was jumping the PC ship. It was certainly looking pretty graphically. I don't think it looked like the Far Cry 2 engine, though. Something fresh, I expect.
F: Yes, graphically it looked quite tasty, and there were all manner of new combat techniques...
S: I know what you're talking about. When he grabbed that guy's knife and used it to kill him, then chucked it across the deck at another guy all in one smooth movement, an ecstatic sigh went up from the room.
F: Games journalists are a sick and twisted bunch.
S: For real. Square didn't have a lot to say, other than the "surprise" announcement of Hitman: Absolution that we've all known was coming for weeks now. Trying to get any solid system requirement data for that or Tomb Raider was like trying to get blood from a stone, though.
F: I didn't get to see much in-game stuff from Tomb Raider, so it's difficult to tell at this stage what kind of machine we're going to need. I'd imagine that, due to its console heritage, they're going to optimise it significantly. Either that or perhaps the PC will be treated to some funky DX 11 enhancements and special stuff...
S: Wishful thinking, perhaps? Who knows? Maybe I'm just a pessimist.
F: Maybe that's why you failed to make friends with the Space Marines?
S: Ha ha! Perhaps. All I wanted was to shake hands with the great big brute, but he stared me down. You know, when you're face to face with the glowing red eyes of a seven-foot tall super soldier, and he shakes his head at your request to shake his hands, it's impossible to not feel a little intimidated. But now we know: Space Marines NEVER shake hands.
F: Of course not! They're warriors, not marketing executives!
S: You're right. I suppose I should have known.
F: How did you get on with the actual Space Marine game?
S: It's fun. It's been a long time in the coming; a shooter where you get to actually step into the shoes of a Space Marine. It was good, clean, brutal fun.
F: I certainly enjoyed it. I particularly liked the stomp move for clearing the whole area of orks.
S: Heh heh. Stupid orks.
F: We also had a great time with the guys from Kalypso.
F: Thank goodness for energy drinks! The amount of legwork we put in gathering system requirement data this week; we must have each walked a good ten miles each day.
S: Easily. Now all we have to do is update all of the system requirements on the site!
F: Yes, put a thousand journalists in one room and the wireless internet access gets nigh-on impossible to use.
S: So the big question, and I think I can guess the answer to this, but... was it fun? Despite the miles of walking, disappointment of dropped releases and eleven-hour plane trip to get there?
F: Fun with a capital F! It really was every bit as glamorous, energetic and mystifying as I dreamt it could be. Roll on E3 2012!