OCC E3 2012 AwardsClayMeow - June 17, 2012
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Winner Loser: Nintendo Press Conference
Heading into E3 this year, all eyes were on Nintendo. With Sony and Microsoft not expected to announce a next-generation console, Nintendo had the most to gain and lose in showing off its new Wii U console and the future of its current platforms. And what did we get? A press conference explaining the potential of the system; the key word here is 'potential'. Sure, it's nice to know that the Wii U GamePad can be used with the TV off or that a new Mario game was coming, but we already knew that. There were announcements for some big third-party games – Ninja Gaiden 3, Batman: Arkham City, and Mass Effect 3 – but many of these have already been released on current consoles; some for months. Sure, it was nice that the next Assassin's Creed game and new IPs such as ZombiU are coming, but it didn't hide the fact that there was no real "killer app" shown for Nintendo's new console. Some argue that New Super Mario Bros. U could do the job, but where is the blockbuster that fully makes use of the tablet controller? For a conference that Nintendo insisted on being about games, it was a tad disappointing. And the games that were present – Pikmin 3, ZombiU, New Super Mario Bros. U – where were the onstage demos? Fans have also been clamoring for a dedicated online service. What did we get? A hub-like service called Miiverse. Structured like a 3D online chat room, it's far from ideal, especially compared to services offered by its competition. No mention of trophy/achievement support or persistent user accounts doesn't help either. I won't even say anything about the lack of pricing or release date information. Personally, I can't help but wonder how successful Nintendo's new console will be when it releases. At this point, Nintendo seems to be following the same strategy as the original Wii; market the innovation of the console and almost solely use that momentum to push units. While it did work the first time, with the Wii selling like hotcakes, the recent decline of sales and drought of high-profile games shows the flaw in this strategy. I don't know if consumers will go for this a second time, but thankfully, Nintendo still has time to make up for its shortcomings. Hopefully at the Tokyo Game Show later in the Fall, Nintendo will show some more games and prepare some momentum going into the launch of the new Wii U – I'll be waiting.
Runner-Up: The Last Guardian (PS3)
Since its first debut at E3 in 2009, The Last Guardian has left its audience breathless with an art style reminiscent of a watercolor painting and pure voiceless emotion. And voiceless it has been; the game has been nowhere to be found since early last year. With its apparent release date slated for Fall 2011 (yes, Fall of last year), many were expecting at least some news or an update about this hyped game title. And what we did get? Nothing; no news, no announcement, nothing. It may come as no surprise, with Team Ico apparently having team management troubles and pressure by Sony. It's still quite disappointing to know that the talk of the gaming industry a bit more than a year ago has seemingly fallen off the map and into depths shared by games such as Gran Turismo 5, Duke Nukem Forever, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Like the Wii U, I'm hoping for some momentum to be returned at the Tokyo Game Show; there's definitely still time.
Winner Loser: Nintendo Wii U and a Lack of Information
This was a tough category for me, because I feel like there are several worthy candidates but I can pick only one. Unfortunately, that distinction falls to Nintendo and the utter lack of information on the Wii U. Sure, we got a look at some games and a few features, but there are more questions that were never answered during the show. We know nothing on when to expect the Wii U, how much it will cost, what kind of hardware it is running, or anything like that. Nintendo did release a specifications list, but the processor and graphics are pretty vague. An IBM PowerPC processor and AMD graphics chip is pretty much all that is shown, but what exactly is being used? IBM mentioned the same processor technology as Watson, which would indicate a POWER7 processor, but how many cores does it have? What is the clock speed? The cache size? As for AMD, all we know is it a Radeon HD GPU, but that could be anything made in the last several years. Is it a brand new Radeon HD chip or an older one? We have no concrete details about much of the Wii U, and with a system supposedly launching this year, Nintendo dropped the ball at E3.
Winner Loser: Nintendo Wii U
Where do I begin? No release date? No pricing? Technical issues? Lackluster multi-platform titles? Well when I put it like that, it's no wonder the Wii U is my biggest disappointment of E3, right? Nintendo is still shooting to release the Wii U by the end of the year, yet no mention of a price? That's a problem! The other major problem? Framerate issues when using two GamePad controllers. At last year's E3, Nintendo naively announced it would only support one GamePad. That has thankfully changed, but if the technical issues aren't fixed, that could be a major problem. But going back to the lack of pricing again, we also don't know what a system purchase will include – one GamePad or two? Wii U exclusives like Pikmin 3, Project P-100, and ZombiU all look like great fun, but are they enough to warrant a console purchase? The multi-platform titles announced for the Wii U have already been available on other platforms for awhile (eg. Batman: Arkham City and Mass Effect 3), or will be coming to those other current-gen consoles and PC alongside the Wii U (eg. Black Ops 2). Nintendo has never been about producing the best graphics, but it's still a disappointment that it's merely on par with the competition's offerings from over five years ago. In the end, there are still way too many questions and concerns for a system that's supposed to ship at the end of the year.
Runner-Up: The Last Guardian (PS3)
At this time, you're probably wondering where The Last Guardian was at E3. Exactly. The Last Guardian was first announced at the 2009 E3 and the game keeps getting pushed back with very little word on its development. Being developed by Team Ico, the studio behind Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, early footage showed a young boy and a giant creature resembling a griffin. Both of the studio's previous games offered unique gameplay experiences and it certainly seemed like The Last Guardian would do the same. The only news we've heard about the game since that initial unveiling has been about technical issues delaying the game further. Sony promises it's still in development, but at this rate, Team Ico may want to start developing for the PS4.