OCC E3 2012 AwardsClayMeow - June 17, 2012
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Winner: Agni's Philosophy - Final Fantasy Real-time Tech Demo
With Final Fantasy XIII and the disappointing massively multi-player Final Fantasy XIV finally released, eyes were on Square Enix to release information on the highly anticipated Final Fantasy Versus XIII or the next console Kingdom Hearts game. Instead, we were treated to an impressive tech demo titled Agni's Philosophy. As Square's way of showing off their next-generation engine for upcoming Sony and Microsoft consoles, we were graced with hyper-realistic environments and faces, as well as breathtaking particles effects – probably the best I've seen in a while. While many are arguing about the greater focus on guns and lack of Final Fantasy "feel" to the demo, it surely gives us an idea of what developers can still do with more powerful hardware. After all, this demo was not meant to represent an upcoming game (though I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case). It was certainly a feast on the eyes to view a battle seemingly between the modern weaponry of soldiers and the spell-casting lore of the mages – possibly Square Enix's way of expressing their battle against the Call of Dutys and Battlefields of the world?
Runner-Up: Sleeping Dogs (PC, PS3, 360)
Going into E3, few people had Sleeping Dogs on their radar. Having been in development for years, moving from one developer to the next, and going through several name changes, Sleeping Dogs was finally ready to be shown to the public and it delivered. What was seemingly an unknown game is now something of a sleeper hit as we look back at E3. Taking place in Hong Kong – an unfamiliar locale for most – Sleeping Dogs initially plays like a Grand Theft Auto game; steal cars, shoot enemies, work your way up in a battle for power. It only takes a short while, though, to realize that it's more than another GTA clone. Developer United Front Games is taking a focus on seamlessness. Like Assassin's Creed, your character can free-run and climb through the environment. This makes chase and getaway missions all the more interesting. When it comes to combat, there is a similar system to that of Batman: Arkham Asylum; attacking enemies light up and with a well-timed button press, you can enable deadly counter-attacks. Again, environment takes a huge part; you're able to drag your enemies over to environmental hazards for massive damage. At its core, Sleeping Dogs looks to be a mishmash of popular game mechanics into a single packaging taking place in a unique environment for gamers. While some may find it too similar to GTA, I'd say there's something to be had here that shouldn't be missed (especially getting to drive on the wrong side of the road).
Winner: BEYOND: Two Souls (PS3)
Quantic Dream likes to think far outside the box when designing its games. Well, if you can call them games. Quantic Dream specializes in interactive stories and the latest is called BEYOND: Two Souls. Quantic unveiled the game during Sony's E3 conference and I have to say, it looks absolutely stunning. The main character of Jodie Holmes is played by Ellen Page and is captured perfectly in the game. BEYOND is the story of Jodie and her extraordinary powers provided by an invisible entity she calls Aiden. We do not know what role Aiden will play in the game, but we will be able to see Jodie grow throughout the story. Quantic wants us to experience a deep emotional connection to Jodie and her story, and I am sure the team can deliver. BEYOND: Two Souls shows off the full power of the PlayStation 3 and it already looks like a great CG movie. Unlike some past Quantic Dream titles, there will actually be a good deal of action to keep everyone engrossed. There is no release date yet, but I hope Quantic Dream takes its time perfecting BEYOND before we can play it.
Runner-Up: Watch Dogs (PC)
Watch Dogs very well could have been the big surprise of E3 for me, but BEYOND: Two Souls took the cake. Still, Watch Dogs has a very interesting premise and I love the idea of being able to hack into anything in Chicago. I just wonder how accurately the city will be portrayed. I grew up just a couple hours south of the Windy City and I still have family there, so I am pretty familiar with the area. Chicago is a massive place, but even getting just a part of it correct will make me smile.
Winner: Watch Dogs (PC)
It was tempting to award Watch Dogs Best Action-Adventure Game and Best New IP, but Biggest Surprise truly fits it best. In an industry where leaks are the norm, it's unbelievable that Ubisoft was able to keep this game's development a secret. It has been in development for over two years, but nobody knew anything about it until the end of Ubisoft's 2012 E3 Press Conference. Watch Dogs is an open-world, action adventure game taking place in modern day Chicago. You play as Aidan Pierce, who has the ability to hack into the Central Operating System (ctOS) that controls everything in the city, providing centralized control over subway lines, traffic lights, surveillance cameras, cellphone networks, and electricity grids. In Watch Dogs, "everything is connected and connection is power." In addition, the game will offer a unique online experience. As Producer Dominic Guay explained, they "want to blend in multi-player online and single players in ways that haven't been done before." I'll definitely be keeping my eye on this one as more information comes out. Watching Ubisoft's Press Conference live, I was certainly surprised.
Runner-Up: PlayStation Vita Assassin's Creed III Liberation Bundle
It may not have received as much press and excitement as Watch Dogs, but I was just as pleasantly surprised by Sony's announcement of the PS Vita Assassin's Creed III Liberation Bundle. It wasn't because of the limited edition "crystal white" PS Vita, nor the addition of Vita-exclusive Assassin's Creed III: Liberation. It was because the Vita that was included in the bundle was the Wi-Fi only model. A Madden NFL 13 Bundle has since been announced as well, but the Liberation Bundle was the first announced bundle to include the Wi-Fi only model instead of the 3G/Wi-Fi model, which is certainly welcome news to many people, myself included. I personally think the PS Vita is a great device, but have been holding out on buying one, hoping for a Wi-Fi bundle to come along. It seems I'll finally be picking up the system this Fall.