Now that we’ve had some time to look back on E3 – the highs, the lows, the downright embarrassments – it’s time for us to pass judgment and decide who won the show. We’re going to look back on each of the five conferences, share our thoughts, and give each one a final grade – A+ to F. Then after all is said and done, we’ll declare a victor.
Microsoft’s conference started with a bang, with an impressive demo of Halo 4, showing refined gameplay along with new enemies and weapons. An official reveal of Splinter Cell: Blacklist followed, then trailers for Fable: The Journey, Gears of War: Judgment, and Forza Horizon, and it seemed like Microsoft was on track to redeem themselves for the E3 debacles of the past two years.
And then Microsoft decided that was enough games for a gaming conference, and spent the next half hour showing off various entertainment apps and services. Sure, SmartGlass looks promising, with its seamless Xbox/mobile device integration, but overall this middle section of the conference dragged and was light on content.
Thankfully, the conference picked up again, with a demo of Tomb Raider and three new game announcements that will likely be on XBLA. The crowning glory of the conference came when South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone came onstage to reveal The Stick of Truth, complete with a blatant slam of Microsoft’s conference thus far.
Then things hit a new low. Usher came out to announce Dance Central 3 and perform his new single, creating perhaps the most-referenced misfire of E3 thus far. Not even the Call of Duty: Black Ops II demo that closed out the conference could salvage it.
Summary: Microsoft’s conference had a few moments, and was better than the past two years, but was still mediocre in the grand scheme of things. Too much focus on non-gaming apps, an ill-informed Usher performance, and a lack of major announcements made for a dull hour and a half. A far cry from the company that used to reliably impress at E3.
Final Grade: D+
EA’s conference started off with reveal of Dead Space 3, showing a more action-oriented approach to gameplay and drop-in, drop-out co-op. It was a great kickstart to the conference, that was immediately followed by a long Madden snoozefest. It’s just a given that EA’s yearly football franchise will be featured at some point during their E3 presentation but it’s always the lowest point.
SimCity impressed, and we can’t wait for that game. The Battlefield Premium service is a blatant copy of Call of Duty Elite, but it may be interesting to fans of the series. Speaking of Call of Duty, a gameplay demo of Medal of Honor: Warfighter followed, since the world needs another generic twitchy military shooter – and wow, does it look generic. And twitchy. And military. And shootery.
EA Sports took to the stage to show off their offerings for the year, with perhaps the only big announcement coming in the form of Dana White, the president of the UFC who came in to announce a multiyear partnership with EA. Criterion’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted demo followed, and we were immediately reminded of Burnout Paradise – that’s not a bad thing. Finally, the conference closed with a demo of Crysis 3 – again with the shooters, even if the game is freaking gorgeous.
Summary: EA’s conference wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t too impressive. There was far too much focus on EA Sports, as usual, and the conference was otherwise really heavy on shooters. Still, Dead Space 3 and Need for Speed impressed, and EA wasted little time on anything but games – even if their offerings lacked variety.
Final Grade: C