The press conferences are over and now it's time for the most fun part of video game journalism: Passing arbitrary judgment on the conferences and choosing a victor.
Of course, the real victor in all of this if the gamers, or even just the users. After all, entertainment options outside of gaming were on display at Microsoft, Sony, and even Nintendo's conferences. Still, we like calling someone best and someone worst, so let's do a quick recap.
Microsoft wowed at their event, opening the floodgates of the week, but the most "wow" event was Usher coming out on stage. It takes a minute to even remember that he came out for Dance Central 3 and not just to sing his hit single. Halo 4 looks pretty amazing, calming some fears of Bungie faithful that the game would fall significantly without the developer that created the franchise. SmartGlass is a great technology. It should make interacting with your TV even easier, and the fact that yes, it works with everything is welcome news. If Microsoft tried to tie it only to Windows phones and tablets, they would've been in some trouble. Microsoft was more about tech than games though, and that hurt them a little in the eyes of gamers hungry for their next fix.
EA and Ubisoft both held their own presentations Monday afternoon to show off their latest. It was a lot of the same franchises that made these two companies large enough to host their own press conferences every year, unsurprisingly. EA showed off their Sports games, a new Medal of Honor, Dead Space 3, and a Battlefield 3 subscription service for DLC. Ubisoft re-showed the wow-tastic Splinter Cell footage (a highlight of the Microsoft conference), broadcast boobies over live TV for FarCry 3, devoted some time to Assassin's Creed III, showed a teaser trailer for Avengers: Battle For Earth, and finally introduced a brand new franchise: Watch Dogs. This new third-person adventure really shocked and wowed crowds in the theater and online, and should be a welcome new IP.
Sony focused almost entirely on games, and almost entirely on the PlayStation 3. With new footage and demos of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (the game title so long it'll give journalists carpal tunnel), God of War Ascension, a brand new Vita-exclusive Assassin's Creed title launching alongside AC3 that features a black female Assassin in the Revolutionary War, a new QuanticDream game starring Ellen Page called Beyond… let's just say the theater was packed with almost as many games as people. And then it happened: The Last of Us gameplay demo. With reactive AI, brutal kills, and physics that apply to everything you can see, that game blew people away like a shotgun blast to the face from point blank range. The controller "mic" drop was pretty darn funny, too.
Nintendo took the stage Tuesday morning to wrap up the press conferences… by announcing they're hosting two more press conferences this week. Other than that and a brief announcement about HuluPlus, Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube coming to the WiiU, they were all about the games, mostly for their fall-shipping console. Pikmin, Mario, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition and Scribblenauts were standouts with new titles, and the announcement of NintendoLand, a new game to showcase the WiiU's unique controls, has people intrigued.
In terms of the press conferences themselves, Sony was the clear winner. While they did not throw a lot of support behind the Vita (only All-Stars and Assassin's Creed Liberation stand out) to the dismay of its faithful supporters, the weight of the PlayStation 3's exclusive and third-party presence was enormous. The Last of Us had the most jaw-dropping moments of the convention so far without question, and the crowd's reactions were priceless.
We'll have much more from E3 this week with hands-ons, behind-closed-doors demos, and interviews about all the games you can't wait to play. Now if you'll please excuse me, I need to go check out Star Wars 1313. Yeah, go ahead, be jealous.