Every year at E3, after the last press conference goes dark, gamers start to argue over who "won" E3 this year. While the show floor is now open, all the big surprises have been revealed and it's time to decide our winner for 2011.
The truth is, there weren't too many surprises this year, and in fact with all the leaks that crop up on the internet the age of surprises may be behind us. That said, Microsoft really had almost nothing new to show us. Halo 4 was their big reveal but a) everyone knew they were working on a new Halo game and b) it leaked an hour or so before the conference started. Microsoft seems determined to shove Kinect down our throats and I think that plan is going to backfire on them. I'm confident Microsoft didn't win E3 2011.
Sony's press conference started with an apology, and that set the rather sedate tone of the whole show. Again, not a lot of surprises from the house of Playstation, They'd revealed a lot of the PS Vita in a preview event ahead of the show, and Monday night was all about telling us what we already knew: that Infamous 2, Resistance 3 and Drake's Fortune 3 were the big titles for PS3 this year. The PS Vita looks like a really nice handheld and the price point of $249 was a pleasant surprise, but not enough for Sony to have won E3 2011.
Going into the show, Nintendo seemed a shoe-in for the win. They had a new home console to show off! But the press conference got off to a slow start with a long, rather dull Zelda section, and what we heard about the 3DS wasn't all that exciting, either. Nintendo's first party 3DS round-up all felt re-hashed. Their third party stuff is potentially more interesting but we didn't see enough of it. Nintendo ended strong with a long session showing off the Wii U controller, but the lack of hands-on demos and the promise of some 'tech demos' on the show floor make the new system seem very far away. I'll be excited about the Wii U when Nintendo shows it again at E3 2012, I think. Surprise, I don't think Nintendo won E3 2010, either.
So who did? Well, I'm cheating, because there were two more press conferences that I haven't written about here. EA's presser focused on ten solid titles: Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, SSX, FIFA, Madden, Need for Speed: The Run, The Sims: Social, Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning, Battlefield 3 and the first cross-platform game from Insomniac, OverStrike. Ok, so maybe 9 solid titles and a Facebook game (The Sims: Social). OverStrike was a complete surprise, which was nice, and EA didn't spend a lot of time talking about motion controls or other gimmicks. They just showed us great games, and I think EA 'beat' Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
But the winner of E3 2011? That was, surprisingly, Ubisoft. In spite of having an emcee who was like fingernails dragging across a chalkboard, Ubisoft showed a lot of great games for all audiences. They introduced Rayman Origins which was a lovely 2D platformer, and debuted Farcry 3 which was lovely in an entirely different way. And also horrific in a good, video game way. They showed off a new game in the Driver franchise, Driver: San Francisco and a new, edgy and less serious Brothers In Arms title called Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 being developed by Gearbox. There was a TinTin game introduced by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson (via video) and a new Trackmania title, and then we moved to casual stuff like Just Dance 3 and a new Yourshape: Fitness Evolved. They ended the show with a nice long look at Assassins Creed: Revelation, the highly anticipated final chapter in Ezio's story.
Ubisoft just followed one surprise after another and a lot of their titles are looking very good. This, to me, was what an E3 Press Conference should be all about (again, setting aside the awful emcee): first looks at hot new games headed our way. Because of this, in my opinion it was Ubisoft who 'won' E3 2011.
Here's the Farcry 3 reveal. Audio is NSFW:
Perhaps you disagree? If so, please do leave a comment and tell us who you think won, and why!