Walking up to the LA Theatre felt unreal. I’ve always watched E3 events streaming over the internet or, when time didn’t permit, I read recaps online. But here we were, on an otherwise unremarkable street in front of a gussied up theatre that could have been plucked from the script of LA Noire.
We were early, which would be good for obtaining a seat, but we had a lot of luggage, making maneuvering a bit difficult. Luckily, there wasn’t much of a line at 1:15, so after some initial confusion outside, we found the correct “lane” designated for non-VIP (read: G4) media and we headed inside.
Two things struck me immediately. First, the theatre was absolutely gorgeous. Every inch of the walls, ceiling, and other facades were covered in ornate carvings straight out of the early 20th century. You could easily imagine the place filling up with men in all kinds of odd hats, though Ferret was prepared for the occasion with his fedora of choice.
The other surprise (surprise!) was that the Ubisoft press event was staffed entirely by young women. And while more matured French ladies were actually running the show, it seemed that they just picked up a few dozen models or modeling hopefuls from the street, gave them a few sentences to try to memorize, and asked them to smile a lot. For the most part, they sat around looking pretty
vacant. While they wasn’t outright objectionable, I suppose their existence set the stage for what E3 would become: endless pandering to the gaming media.
Once inside the actual theatre, we sat down and pretty much waited. The seats were comfortable and the performance area was as astonishing as the front door and vestibule. Directly behind us, three giant teleprompters would provide the cues necessary for the on stage presenters, which I’m sure was welcome for the francophones still struggling with a few particularly unpronounceable English words.
Between the two of us, we had approximately one device charged to full capacity. We were also notified that the WiFi set up by Ubisoft wasn’t working, so we would have to type on our cell phones instead of our laptops. Kill me now (#firstworldproblems).
As the show began, we watched a montage of the last 25 years of Ubisoft’s games. After appropriate applause, They jumped directly into Rayman Origins. I’ve always had a soft spot for Rayman, directly under my left clavicle, and was interested to see what they had put together. As the demo began, the gameplay was a tad obtuse. There seemed to be jumping, running, and punching, but as for obvious cues as to what was going on, I suppose we will have to see at the booth, where a four player co-op demo was promised.
Gameplay aside (as if that phrase should ever be used), Rayman Origins captured the magical, happy feeling of the original Rayman and Rayman 2. Animations were abundant and lively, with a lot of life and character breathed into every part of the game world. The demo ended to raucous applause, though they pretty much all did, so I guess that’s not saying much.
Next up we were teased with Driver: San Fran Bananaland. There was a facetious traffic report given as vehicles of various makes and models smashed into one another, but ultimately the spectacle was a bit lost on me, not only because I never played a Driver game, but also because I’m not particularly motivated by cinematic trailers that give no insight into gameplay or story.*
The Farcry 3 trailer/demo was a little more impressive, if not from a gameplay and graphics angle, at least from a storytelling one. The care taken to construct a framed narrative within the short few minutes of chaotic action are certainly welcome, though I can’t say the events themselves were inherently impressive.
I’m going to skip everything that isn’t Assassin’s Creed: Revelations because there isn’t much to say about an Inglorious Basterds game and another Ghost Recon.
Assassin’s Creed Revelations was precedented by a cinematic trailer, but followed with some gameplay. I’ll say that unfortunately I wasn’t ridiculously impressed. We saw some scripted events, some combat, and an escape sequence, but none of it raised the bar on the series. Combat which was supposed to be “more fluid” looked more stilted, if anything, and the hookblade didn’t offer much other than a Batman-esque flip move allowing Ezio to maneuver over enemies for better positioning during a melee encounter. The new bombs featured a new Eagle Vision x-ray view, but this seemed liked a gimmick considering Smoke Bombs were fairly translucent in Brotherhood. In essence, they made one gameplay mechanic worse as an excuse to introduce a new one!
The escape sequence off a series of burning boats was cinematic, to be sure, but seemed far too linear to be interesting to play. The whole concept of introducing Greek Fire to the game seems odd, since it probably raises far more questions than it should for something that’s casually tossed aside as quickly as it’s shown.
All in all, the Ubisoft event was fun, if not terribly informative. As we left the conference, we were treated to cupcakes, which sealed the deal in ensuring our future Ubisoft reviews would all be 10’s and A+ grades.
We also received two exclusive Ezio Revelations posters, which we’ll be giving away to lucky readers.
What did you think about the Ubisoft reveals, if they could be called that?
*I reserve the right to contradict this statement at any time.