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E3 '11: Ubisoft Press Conference

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Well, Ubisoft was celebrating "25 years of entertainment" and as they introduced their lineup of new games, they occasionally threw in some footage imagining what the title might have looked like 25 years ago. Except that most of them kind of didn't, especially the Assassin's Creed one, which just looked like a really cool animated cartoon.

They started out with the more hardcore stuff, then went into the lighter fare before finishing with their big gun. Or should I say blade...

Michel Ancel came out first to show off Rayman Origins, which was a beautifully animated 2D side-scrolling platform adventure with co-op play. Seriously, it was smooth as butter. And after a bunch of harried jumping around, Rayman and his blue buddy hopped on what looked like pink mosquitos for a flying/shooting sequence. Well, they looked like mosquitos... but they shot stuff out of their mouths... so maybe not. Oh, and there was one hilarious bit where these Tetris pieces fell from the sky (with appropriately familiar music) to create steps that Rayman had to use to reach the higher platform. It was very cute, and a good introduction.

But then host Aaron Priceman emerged and revealed why they call him "Mr. Caffeine." He was a rather unbearable host, and acted like he was jacked up on something, making jokes only he thought were funny and generally being irritating.

First up was Driver: San Francisco, which had a nicely action-packed trailer with lots of cool '70s cars driving around San Fran creating chaos with a cool '70s film grain filter over the whole thing. After that came a demo of a game (well, I say "demo" because they had a guy off to the side with a controller, but I never know whether or not to believe that they're actually playing it live...) But at any rate, it was actual gameplay footage, and it looked gorgeous. A guy was stuck on an island of crazy people, who were either terrorists or revolutionaries. All I know is that they were deadly, and psycho... not a good combination. The island jungle was gorgeously rendered, which should have been a tip-off of what first-person perspective action series it was. It began with the guy being captured by the terrorists, at which point the lead one talks (with an insane glint in his eye) about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And after our hero managed to narrowly escape and took out a bunch of the enemies with guns, knives and machetes, he attempted to escape in a helicopter that was shot down. As he crawled from the wreckage, the lead enemy smiled at him and asked if he knew what the definition of insanity is. At that point, they revealed the title: Far Cry 3. It was a seriously thrilling and compelling demo/trailer, and it looks kind of amazing. Then they showed a trailer for Brothers In Arms: Furious 4. It was just a quick hit, four soldiers attacking a bar full of Nazi soldiers, but it looks like it has a wicked sense of humor (one of the guys uses hatchets as weapons), and could be a fun spin on the WWII genre.

Next up was a trailer with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson talking up The Adventures of Tintin: The Game, with some concept art showing in between. The adventure game will expand upon the story in the upcoming CGI film, and features co-op gameplay, because it's all about working together. You can even play as Snowy! Then there was some actual gameplay footage, and it looks like what I expect the CGI movie to look like. There was platforming, punching and chasing and whatnot. I'm really hoping this movie doesn't suck, so it would be nice if the tie-in game didn't suck, either. (Mostly because my boyfriend loves Tintin, so this might be a game he'd play with me.)

Then they spent like, a million years showing off Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier. Seriously. They had some guy playing a mission, and then the screen split into four sections, with three smaller ones above his bigger one, and they revealed three more guys who were backstage playing the four-player co-op. And they seriously made us sit through the entire mission. What can I say? It's Ghost Recon. It looks mostly like every other military FPS. Except that this one has this really annoying Augmented Reality thing that they're using that puts floating holographic info and stuff around people, guns and locations. It just makes the screen look really busy. Eventually that came to an end, and they announced Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online for the PC. Luckily, that was just a quick trailer. It will tie-in to the Future Soldier game, and you can carry over achievements and ranks or whatever. It's also free to play, which is nice.

Two French women who desperately needed subtitles (sorry) came out to announce Trackmania 2 on the PC. Like the first, it's online racing where you design your own car and track and share it with friends to race together. The trailer was pretty cool, but they didn't really mention what was new and improved over the first one. They did end with the revelation that Mania Planet was going to be expanding with Shootmania (make your own shooter) and Questmania (make your own RPG), so that's pretty cool.

Then came a Kinect mini-game collection. I know, like we don't already have enough of these. But this one is Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking, and it looked kind of fun, so I'm willing to give it a pass. We were shown a kind of whack-a-mole game where two guys stomp and pound on Rabbids as they pop up through the floor. A cool feature is that the environment is your actual living room, so it's like an Augmented Reality thing where the Rabbids are invading your home. Then there was a four-player game. I couldn't believe anyone would have enough space for four-player Kinect, but it turned out to be a very specific game where four people have to form a particular shape that's outlined on a shower curtain. So you can see the silhouette that you're creating on the curtain and have to twist and bend your overlapping bodies into position so your shadow matches the shape, like a UFO or Dracula in a cape. Oh, and naturally, the Kinect will take a sneaky photo of you and your friends looking like a human centipede so you can share the embarrassment on Facebook! This will be out November 8.

Next was a trailer for Just Dance 3. Now they've expanded the smash-hit franchise into platforms other than the Wii. But will the PlayStation Move's accuracy make it too hard? And how will the Kinect version differ from the more awesome Dance Central? We'll have to wait and see. At least they knew to have the awesomely hot Harry Shum Jr. in the trailer to capture my attention... at least until Katy Perry showed up being annoying. Just Dance 3 is releasing on October 11.

Ubisoft also revealed that they're releasing a game called Rocksmith, which will actually teach you how to play a real guitar by turning the lessons into a videogame. The gameplay seems to be similar to the other music games, with notes falling down towards you and you play them at the right moment, but the twist is that you can play whatever guitar you want. It's not a controller, it's a real guitar. I mean, obviously I think it has to be an electric guitar, because they mentioned some specific amp that you plug it into. I guess that's how the game knows if you're playing the right note — it can hear it. Or you plug some kind of controller adapter into the guitar. I don't know. That part was a little vague. All I know is that it's basically a game that will teach you to really play guitar. But will it be too educational to be fun?

Next was Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012. They talked a bit about the success of Your Shape on the Kinect, and then showed a trailer for the sequel which was long on attractive men and women working out without sweating and short on actual information. But it looks like there's new exercises like running as well as what looked like African dance. So that could be fun. Variety is very important in exercise. Keeps things from getting boring!

Naturally, they closed with a gorgeous trailer for Assassin's Creed: Revelations. It's Ezio's final chapter, and he's looking a little worse for wear. I was afraid they were only going to leave us with the trailer, but I should have known better. No, we got another demo where someone presumably played through it on stage. We watched Ezio kill a bunch of guys, blew up a lighthouse and then ziplined out to a boat where he killed some more. There was another assassin in white who joined Ezio at that point to help him kill a few guards, but they didn't show anyone else on-stage, so I don't know if that's a co-op multiplayer thing or an AI NPC. Could be both, depending on how you play the game, I suppose. I did notice that the enemy AI was weaksauce. They always keep waiting their turn to attack even when they're in a group. I guess when you're playing you don't really notice, but watching, it looks really lame to see a guard just standing there watching Ezio kill his compatriot and waiting his turn. Oh, and then on the boat, there was some kind of giant flamethrower cannon that Ezio used to torch all the other boats in the harbor. Sure, it made for a wicked action sequence to follow with Ezio doing his parkour tricks to run through the flaming ships to safety, but did they really have flamethrower cannons in 1511 Constantinople? I'm no historical expert, but that seemed a little over-the-top to me. Still, it's Assassin's Creed, and it looks stunningly gorgeous, and will likely play as good as it looks. They know what they're doing by now. Ezio's final adventure kicks off this November.

And that's that for what Ubisoft has in the pipeline to promote at this year's E3. Obviously, I'll swing by the Ubisoft booth to see if I can find out more about some of these games, and try to get my hands on as many as I can. Stay tuned!

2 Comments

Soiram said:

It might sound far-fetched but it actually isn't...The flamethrower-like weapon, known as Greek fire, did exist and was one of the Byzantine empire's highest regarded and most well-kept secrets!

And here is a link for educational purposes:)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_fire

Rayman Origins is the best E3 game so far to me - so fun and inspiring!

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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