Out of the four conferences from the first day of E3 2012, Ubisoft’s was clearly the best. A bit of French weirdness was present–some annoying nerdy guy was backstage and there was a weird multiplayer FPS match in the middle of everything–but most games at the briefing looked incredible.
Rapper Flo Rida started things off with a performance to promote Just Dance 4. Similar to how Microsoft threw Usher in front of a Dance Central 3 logo in their briefing, Ubisoft simply threw Flo Rida onstage in front of a barely visible Just Dance 4 logo. There wasn’t even 15 seconds of gameplay shown, as there had been of Dance Central 3! This is lazy marketing, folks. After Flo Rida left the stage, celebrity gamer host Aisha Tyler was introduced. She was a much better host than last year’s Mr. Caffeine. Don’t worry, though; fans of loud, obnoxious people got their fix with some guy named Todd, who thankfully mostly hung out backstage but came onstage to interrupt Ms. Tyler on a few occasions.
Next came the first of many great games to come, Far Cry 3. My personal choice for best game of the show so far, Far Cry 3‘s demo was incredible. Far Cry 3‘s graphics are beautiful, but it also features a ton of other appealing things. These include: nudity (uncensored on G4), abundant profanity (hilariously censored on G4), violence, insanity, an interesting antagonist named Vaas, an open world with multiple islands, drugs, and tigers. Yes, tigers. I want this game so badly after the amazing demo.
Ubisoft then focused on Wii U software. A demo of Rayman Legends showed us the first real gameplay of a Wii U game. It looked great, with graphics even more beautiful than Rayman Origins‘ and support for five player multiplayer on Wii U. More intriguingly, Ubisoft announced Zombii U, an M rated zombie FPS exclusively for the Wii U. Zombii U is the evolution of last year’s “Killer Freaks from Outer Space” concept, with the cute aliens replaced by murderous zombies. A cool reveal trailer didn’t really reveal much about the game, but Nintendo will show it at their press conference on Tuesday.
Ubisoft showed a quick trailer for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist, which had already been unveiled during the Microsoft briefing earlier in the day. Next up was a lengthy multiplayer match of competitive FPS Shootmania: Storm. The game is being built around customizability and being aimed at the professional e-sports crowd, but the demo was underwhelming and dragged on too long. Also, Todd was onstage. :X
After the slight boredom of Shootmania came a real treat, though, in the first ever public demo of Assassin’s Creed III. Assassin’s Creed III is stunning, with beautiful graphics courtesy of a new engine, a new protagonist in the form of half-Native American Connor, new setting in the form of Revolutionary War colonial America, and tons of new gameplay features. Connor leapt among trees, hunted a deer, and assassinated a Templar posing as a red coat, among other highlights. This is potential game of the year material.
Lastly, Ubisoft shocked everyone by announcing its second new IP of the night, Watch Dogs. A creepy trailer spoke of modern connectivity leaving humans no privacy, and then a lengthy demo of the new game was played. Watch Dogs is a third-person action/adventure with action, shooting, and stealth gameplay. Players will be able to control electronic devices such as cell phones and traffic lights. The demo showed a man assassinating a target during an intense shootout after doing some investigative work in a nightclub, but the demo ended with a pullback shot that showed that many player-controlled characters were watching the man and influencing events as the demo was taking place. This intriguing new take on multiplayer is bold and risky, making Watch Dogs looks like the most interesting new Ubisoft game since Assassin’s Creed. I’m still not entirely sure what kind of game it is or what the story will be, but I sure as heck want to find out more.
The games shown at Ubisoft’s conference really blew me away. Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed III, and Watch Dogs all fill me with a deep longing to own them and any one of them could be my favorite game shown so far at E3. Conspicuously absent was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Patriots, which doesn’t bode well for the game. Beyond Good & Evil 2 and the Prince of Persia franchise were nowhere to be seen, but I expected that and the lineup was so incredibly strong that they weren’t needed. Bravo, Ubisoft.