E3 2012: 5 Things We Hated

Earlier we wrote about some of the things at this year’s E3 that we liked—loved, even! The 5 Things We Loved represented all of the new, exciting, shiny things coming up on the horizon that had us stoked for video games in 2012 and beyond.

But maybe we weren’t totally engaged by everything publishers and devs had on display this year. In fact, we saw some things that bummed us out. Some trends that persist, born of the dark alchemy of marketing and industry malaise, or maybe just the result of unmet expectations.

Here’s what we weren’t feeling at this year’s E3.

Why no love for the Vita

Yesterday, I mentioned how great Sony has been in the past about bringing great new content to PSN for the PS3 (and the PSP, too with some of the minis). Nothing like that was really on display for the Vita. Sure, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation has the looks of a polished spin-off title from the main game, but where are the standalone, handheld console-friendly exclusives in the vein of Army Corps of Hell or Gravity Rush?

This is the handheld’s first product cycle at E3, and it would have been a great bolster for gamers who picked up this powerful, slick piece of technology to know that they’d be using it as more than a paperweight. What I would have loved: if Sony had grabbed a bit of Nintendo’s style and committed a full hour talking about Vita content for the near and long term. As is stands, there’s more of a big question mark about what’s on the way for Vita gamers for the rest of the year.

A lot of red meat, not a lot of sugar

I’m not whipping out the old fainting couch to complain about violence in video games, but man, this is a pretty violent year for games (swoons). Between the grim survivalism of The Last of Us and Tomb Raider, to good old-fashioned gun play in Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Black Ops II, Halo 4, and so on, to garroting targets in Hitman (as one will) or stabbings in Assassin’s Creed III, the back half of 2012 and the beginning of next year looks pretty sloppy with the fountains of blood. Even the upcoming Star Wars game seems to be letting you shoot people right between the eyes.

Now on the face of it, I have no problem with this and in fact, most of these games I’m actually anticipating. But beyond the sports titles coming up this year, a lot of the primary interactions in the games we saw this week involved killing other characters. This isn’t so much a “won’t you think of the children thing” and more of a “won’t you think of the gamers who would like to do something else than graphically kill somebody” thing.

Still, there were some bright spots, of course: pretty much all of Nintendo’s lineup, Sly Cooper HD, Fable: Journey, SimCity 3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and PlayStation All-Stars.

No Beyond Good and Evil 2 news

Seriously, does this game even exist at this point?

Stop trying to distract us with multiple screens

I ranted about this a bit during the Microsoft presentation, but it’s just a particular peeve of mine that didn’t originate with the consoles, but does seem to be taking root there. Maybe it was in the last year, I think, that studios like Universal got it into their head that what we wanted was connected content to divide our attention while we watch movies, leading to the advent of Second Screen applications which would display additional information about the movies you were watching. And I can think of nothing more disruptive to the viewing experience than constantly looking down at your smartphone or tablet to find out that Al Pacino had 47 variations of the line “Hoo-ah” for the movie Scent of a Woman.

Extrapolate that to games, where the idea is that you can take some of your real estate on screen and move it to another device, like choosing your plays in Madden 13 or managing your Pikmin in the third title in that series. I’ll admit, there are some clever uses of the second screen concept, like real-time inventory management in Zombi U, but beyond that, all of this sort of cross-device functionality seems like technology in search of a purpose.

Not a lot of new IP

Complaining that there aren’t a lot of new IP being shown off at E3 is like walking into a McDonald’s and complaining about that French fry smell. This is the big event for the publishers to show off the tried and true, the tested, or the reinvented. As a result, if it wasn’t a sequel, it was a reboot. If it wasn’t a reboot or sequel, then it was an HD remake or social game version of the main title.

You see this in comics and movies too, so it’s not like this is some terrible state of the industry thing, but besides Watch Dogs, The Last of Us, and Beyond: Two Souls, there weren’t a lot of deviations from what we’ve seen in the past.

Related posts:

E3 2012: Nintendo’s 3DS Presentation – Paper, Mirrors, Gold, and Ghosts
E3 2012: Square Enix Shows off Their New Engine With “Agni’s Philosphy” Demo

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