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Published on June 17th, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey

GAMINGtruth’s Best (and Worst) of E3 2011

Let’s start off with our E3 2011 Away Team – Ken, Cam and Greg.


Best of Show:

E3 2011. A huge spectacle to be sure, but which games left a lasting impression, both good and bad? While I firmly believe that most of the games I saw on the show floor (and behind closed doors) were impressive, there were definitely a few standouts on both sides of the fence.

My pick of the show has to go to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I know that’s a bit cliche, and definitely expected, but the game really does look that good. Bethesda is promising over 300 hours of content, which is simply insane. It’s beautiful, the new engine can definitely be seen, and the added features, and streamlined older features are simply magnificent.

That definitely wasn’t the only pleasant surprise I had. While my pick of the show goes to Skyrim, the most surprising title on the show floor is unabashedly, Dead Island. An open-world zombie game. What more is there to say? Four player co-op? A deep weapon crafting system? 60 skills to level up? Awesome. Having sat down for a closed-door session, I can tell you the guys and gals over at Deep Silver truly have a passion for this title.

Most Disappointing:

I could go on all day about what was good, but let’s get to the bad. Star Wars Kinect was a mess. On rails? Really? For me, this has to be the biggest disappointment of the show (yes, even more so than the WiiU announcement). You’ve got a great killer IP in Star Wars Kinect, and you ruin it by making it on rails. Nice job. All of MS’ other Kinect titles were innovative, and impressive. I’m not sure why this one fell so short.

Also, special mention goes out to Ninja Gaiden 3. The only game to be nearly identical to both of it’s predecessors. Was it fun? Sure. But it’s the same game. Nothing new is being done. Itagaki’s absence is definitely felt.


Best of Show:

Now, I’m sure you guys aren’t quite tired of hearing us harp on about Skyrim, right? Oh, you are? Well too bad because my favorite game I saw at the show happened to be Bethesda’s next little open-world time vampire. From the moment the dark screen brightened into a land filled with grassy plains, rivers and forests which stretched out to the horizon, I knew then that after November 11 rolls around I shall completely disappear off the radar, emerging several months later sporting a rocking beard and glassy eyes.

If I were in the business of giving out runner-up awards they would easily go to Saints Row: The Third and Sonic Generations. The first because it will bring gaming freedom like no other title before and the second because it is standing proof that after a decade, SEGA finally knows how to make a modern Sonic game.

Most Disappointing:

The most disappointing thing I saw at the show was basically the lack of some truly imaginative titles on the forefront. When this year is done, most major games that will be released is focused around making the player look through iron sights. Now, I’m not yet convinced to announce that the games industry is completely bankrupt on imagination. I have been impressed by the many indie developers I saw at the show and are making unique titles on the PC and Xbox LIVE Arcade. However, there will soon come a time when game developers are going to have to figure out new ways to attract gamers to fresh and unique IPs rather than simply find the easy way out.

Also, the press conferences. They just didn’t “do it” this year.


Best of Show:

Most impressive of the show was seen behind close doors. Although, for some that saw the trailer, i.e Ken, it might take a little more to impress. Even if the game was delivered to him straight from the Tsar of Igruska while riding in on a flaming Unicorn sporting a Halo tattoo, he would be only somewhat intrigued due to the tattoo.

The game has a lot going for it. The graphics are by far some of the best seen from the engine. One of the biggest positives came from the voice acting. Watching trailers or even in game sequences always leaves me to pick out the missed gestures and any other weird bodily moves. The first sequence opens up with some gripping dialogue and voice acting that would drive Matt Groening to take lessons. The gameplay follows the FarCry series, but also lends us some variations in moves. While the game does look great, I have noticed that the close range combat has needed tweaking.

Biggest Disappointment::

E3, the place where dreams come true, right? Not necessarily come true, but you get a whole heaping pile of updates and previews. Well, maybe if you had cell signal, internet, or maybe even toilet paper. Yes, tp. The show itself is always a great time. It allows for us to build new relationships and bring that all important content to the rest of the gaming world. The show did seem under prepared despite having a media cap for entries.

Speaking of caps, my cell phone could have worn a lead one in the Mojave Desert and still got better signal than on the show floor. There was an extreme amount of interference in the service on the floor this year, and were probably some of the slowest connections I have ever had. Along with the short changed service, some entity, I will title them the “booty bandit,” was climbing in your stalls, snatching the paper up. This unwelcome thief nabbed up more toilet paper than an ogre with irritable bowel syndrome that snarfed down a village full of vegans. It was great having a few more gasps of breathing room, but the show itself was less maintained.

There was an unexpected competitor for biggest disappointment. The show itself tied up the dreary days with Microsoft’s booth presentation. It was simply a shrine to Gears of War 3 covered in green. While I can hardly wait to get bashed for this, let me first say that Gears of War is a badass franchise and game. I’m only wondering why there wasn’t more to Microsoft’s set up. Kinect was last year, TV this year? It just felt like they were lacking some pizzazz, or were going to save their development plans for the following year.


Best of Show:

Yes I know missing the show was a disappointment and I missed my colleagues as they ventured the E3 show floor, but I did catch all the E3 announcements and demo playthroughs. I have to admit there were a couple of games that were standouts to me, and seeing how my fellow writers stated earlier Skyrim was impressive.  I am truly looking forward to Bethesda’s next installment, however I was blown away with Mass Effect 3 and the new Kinect features that BioWare have added. I was a huge fan of Mass Effect 2 and felt completly emersed in the story line, and now with Kinect voice chat I can feel even more connected to the characters.

Even though Mass Effect 3 was a huge stand out for me, Gears of War 3 looked impressive, as did Battlefield 3 and Dead Island. With Mass Effect 3 due out next year, I do have those previous titles to really look forward to as they are all due out this fall.

Most Disappointing:

The showcasing of the Wii U was a huge bummer for me. Although the tech does have some interesting capabilities, I feel that Nintendo revealed the Wii U in a bad way and left me wondering why could they not show any of the games that were promised to be releasing on the platform playing on that platform. Batman, Assassins, Battlefield 3, etc were all video captures of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. I felt the Wii U was a rushed announcement, and with all the leaked reports, it was Nintendo’s way of saying “HERE IT IS….DAMN!”

I also agree with Cam saying that yes, the press conferences were all a bit disappointing.


Best of Show:

I feel like something of an oddball here, since I wasn’t at the show proper. Thus, I wasn’t able to get my dirty mitts on these games like the others. Instead, I paid close attention to the coverage and looked for surprises.

There are a good number of games that I expected to be good. I avoided coverage on the majority of those games simply because I didn’t want to be spoiled. Mass Effect 3 was chief among those, but also Skyrim and Batman: Arkham Asylum. I would anticipate these games even if their developers rolled up on stage with their pants down while making airplane noises while holding their arms out.

The Tomb Raider remake was what really got to me. I’ve had little to no interest in the series before, but the gameplay demo that was shown at the Microsoft press conference took the game from a “Maybe” to a “Definitely” in my mind. Crystal Dynamics has succeeded in finding the right combination of sounds and images to create a real sense of suspense and desperation, and I like games that play on emotion.

Worst of Show:

I felt like something of an oddball on Twitter while Nintendo was holding their press conference. I was truly wowed by the Wii U and the potential it seemed to hold. Everyone else was more reserved… Sometimes outright hostile. After Nintendo’s stage magic wore off, I was left to discover the harsh realities of the device. Limitation after limitation was placed on what I felt was a boundless set of opportunities. Nintendo went from having nothing to prove to being the target of skepticism.

In addition to this, the general focus on motion controls and related gimickry left me cold. I feel like these big events speak to me less and less each year. The focus is on modern military shooters and games for kids and families, none of which apply to my passions. I echo my colleague’s opinion that the real magic was in the booths, not on the stages.


Best of Show:

Easily Battlefield 3. I watched an interview for MW3 and got to see gameplay shortly after watching the tank demo of BF3, and I’m sorry, but EA clearly has the superior game this year. Pre-alpha footage? Delicious. I can only imagine what we’ll be receiving when the game drops. The sounds and dialog were, even through my TV, deeply immersive. The grit, the dust, the impact of a tank shell against the dirt, all visually stunning. Only thing left to test out is handling and controls…but for that, I’ll have to wait. Honestly, Battlefield 3 is going to destroy MW3. With FREE stat-tracking and glamourous detailling that makes MW3 look like its made out of cardboard and color-pencils, EA certainly made me spend my money on a pre-order for their game.

My biggest surprise has to be with Microsoft. XBox is pushing Kinect harder than ever! My take on the Kinect was always that it was a nice accessory, but after E3, i now feel as though Microsoft is gently easing us into an era where the Kinect will be a huge gaming asset. Games like Dance Central 2 are showing how the Kinect can be expanded in its reception range, and FunLabs shows off how badly they want you to feel like you’re actually “in the game.” I still feel like Kinect has a long way to go, but I am shocked that Microsoft is forcing it to grow past being just an accessory and into a highly prized tool, and potentionally soon, a usuable controller.

Most Disappointing:

WiiU. Is it a controller, or is it a console? I admit, it is going to open doors for Nintendo in the sense of implementing console 3D, but I see this thing simply being used as a tactical pad for games. Yet another add-on for Nintendo? Possibly. Depending on how the controller/console is released, it may become too expensive a commodity to realistically be in every casual gamer’s home. With 1080 resolution and a 6.2 inch touchpad, I’m pegging a price AT LEAST $300. Nintendo had some fun mini-games to showcase the WiiU’s potential, but then they showed games like Darksiders 2, Ninja Gaiden 3, and Tekken, and I wonder just how exactly the WiiU will be an asset for these games. Remember Nintendo: it’s not just about having the coolest gadget; it has to be totally and completely practical too.


Best of Show:

Screw these guys and their Nintendo Wii U hate. I loved damn near everything Nintendo showed — regardless of the fact that I’m wearing Super Mario boxers and a Super Mario shirt as I type this, thus possibly making me a fanboy. The Wii U looks like a lot of fun. Were we not skeptical with the DS? Were we not afraid of what the Wii’s motion controls could be used for? We were, but they turned out OK. While it’s true we don’t know a whole lot about the Wii U and what perks it has for gaming, it’s also a given that some games will take control of the unique controller and give us some great experiences. Nintendo is known for great controllers, and this one looks like it will continue the trend. If we all end up using classic controllers (usable with the Wii U) then we can rest assured that it seems (key word) that we’ll at least be able to enjoy some third party support for a Nintendo system. With the likes of Darksiders 2 coming to the console, I’m not too worried. In all reality, I’ll be buying every damn console that comes out, so I won’t care if the iPad, Wiipad, U Wii, I Wii, We All Wii, is only used sparingly for a handful of key Nintendo games.

Most Disappointing:

My excitement level can’t be measured when I heard about Sly 4 finally coming out after six years of no shenanigans from my favorite raccoon. Then I saw that Sucker Punch (the original developer of the series) wasn’t developing it. All that wait for one of my favorite series and Sucker Punch isn’t even making it. The new team over at Sanzaru Games sure seems enthused to be working on the title, but enthusiasm only gets you so far — just ask my high school soccer team.


Best of Show

This one was a tie for me. It’s between two games that both have Game of the Year potential, and they’ll be sharing equal levels of love and hate from their respective genres, but it was dead even for me through most of the show. Battlefield 3 has grabbed a pretty important part of me and won’t let go. It’s got me by the thumbs. Battlefield has been one of my favorite series since I was a dedicated PC gamer, so the trailer for BF3 was both nostalgic and pant-soiling because it’s visually one of the best games of the generation, in my opinion.

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was tied with BF3 until one small detail emerged in the gameplay videos: Dragons. Combine that with the fact that this is the same company who made both Oblivion and the newest Fallout games, and not only do you have a fantastic value for your dollar (20¢ per hour), you get to kill dragons in the process.

Need I say more?

Most Disappointing

I could write walls of text on what I find to be the most disappointing thing at E3 2011, but for me it’s the Wii U. Stronger graphical capability or not, if I want to play with an iPad, I’ll do so (when I can afford one). Taking the Wii’s controls then adding a touchscreen does not a revolution make.

I’m extremely worried about how much a broken Wii U controller would cost.

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About the Author

Video game journalist since 2006, and gaming since he was old enough to use an Atari joystick. Follow me: @Cam_is_16bit

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