Make no mistake, Modern Warfare 3 is destined to win whatever tussle EA and Activision imagines will take place between the Call Of Duty and Battlefield franchises at the end of the year, but until EA’s press conference I assumed it wouldn’t deserve the victory. The languid pace of that visually arresting tank battle will no doubt play very nicely on a Sunday afternoon at home, but it looked a little too stately next to the high-concept bombast of the Modern Warfare 3 demo. I firmly believe that Battlefield 3 will be a superior and more rewarding game, but the demo EA showed, while quite incredibly detailed and realistic, gave the opposite impression.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Before I begin, it’s worth noting that Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was in my top five games of last year. Cynics smelled a cash-in, and they were proved utterly wrong by the sheer variety and quality of the finished game. Unfortunately, Revelations may have pushed my goodwill just a little too far. I will still play it, I may even love it, but I think the world would rather wait two years before another slice of Assassin’s Creed, particularly if the protagonist will once again be Ezio Auditore de Firenze. There is a new city, more weapons, a crafting system for explosives, and a more meaningful narrative, but this time I really wonder whether that will be enough.
The Old Republic
One company that definitely didn’t win E3 is Bioware. I hold few studios in such high esteem, but the Mass Effect 3 demo struck a distinctly and uncharacteristically bum note, and the absence of a meaningful demo of The Old Republic may prove costly in the long-term. EA intends to release the MMO, by some distance the riskiest and most expensive game on its books, before next year’s E3, yet all the millions watching saw was another cinematic sequence. It was cool, it was Star Wars, but it wasn’t the actual game, and it was Bioware’s best chance to show the world exactly what their subscription will buy.
Mass Effect 3
Until the EA press conference, the eventual triumph of Mass Effect 3 seemed almost certain. By refining the template laid out by its predecessor, Mass Effect 2 got the game design to a place that most people would be happy to see repeated. A sequel only needed to deliver on the story and just tweak and re-balance elsewhere, but the E3 demo was a poor showcase for the series’ strengths. The fact that it culminated in a turret sequence was the unpleasant twist in the tale. But more than anything, I’m concerned that the conclusion of such an epic tale will shift the balance too far towards action. I’ll place my faith in Bioware.
Too Obvious: The Xbox 360 has been in rude health recently, but gamers have a right to feel short-changed by the Microsoft press conference. Halo 4 aside, there was little to get the adrenaline pumping.