E3 2009: Ubisoft Impressions

I’m a little late in making any E3 posts as I have to tape the live shows and watch them later in evening when I get home from my regular day, so while today is Wednesday, the Ubisoft press conference took place on Monday this week.

Instead of tackling games per platform, I’ll just offer up some highlights and general notes on games and developments (in no particular order) showed during Ubisoft’s presentation:

  • Commented that ‘tween’ demographic is one of the largest growing segments in gaming right now, mostly appealing to young girls and that many companies follow their lead.  They place a heavy emphasis on their ‘imagine’ line of games for DSi, Wii, and PC.  Of course you can expect to see more ‘Petz’ titles this year as well as some new fashion orientated games that allow players to mock up pictures they may take with their DSi camera’s.  Players can also trade pets and/or data using the DSi’s built in WiFi.  Ubisoft calls this ‘inter-connectivity’, and finally metioned the ability to create items such as jewelry, and then pruchase your creation online, and then have an actual physcial item shipped to your.  The example they used was a necklace in which a young girl designed it via her stylus and DSi, and then finished product was shipped to her home.
  • U-Play: Ubisoft seems to want to make a more interactive web/forum experience for those that purcahse their products.  U-Play looks somewhat similar to the new X-Box experience, by having 4 ‘blades’, each having a specific purpose such as  walkthrough/hints, store, etc.
  • Assassins Creed 2: I never played the first one, but I understand it was one of the best new and fasted selling IP’s of 2007.  Expect them to expand on all the previous features including swimming, new stealth based kills, larger areas, and new characters.  They seem to be taking this one pretty seriously, and the trailer they showed was stunning.  Now that the original has dropped in price as a platimun hit at $19.99, I may go back and pick it up in preparation for the sequel.  Ubisoft claimed thay have over 400 people working on this title!
  • Raving Rabbid’s Go Home (Wii): Looks like this franchise is departing from it ‘party-game’ format into something a bit more structured and customizable.  There is now a plot in which the rabbid’s want to get off the earth and make their new home on the moon….but how do they get there?  Well, they feel the need to take ‘stuff’ and build a tower of random junk that will lead to the moon.  There are some open sand-box play fields and some mini-games as well.  You can also customize the individual looks of your rabbids and unlock additional items as you progress.  Of course a lot of silly humor goes into this over the top cartoon stylized game and it appear there may even be some co-op gameplay.  This is worth a closer look as more details will come and looks like a cute, smash, fun time-sink game.  Probably good for kids and non hard-core gamers.  Because of the open play field, story-mode, and campaign, this may breathe new life into this IP.
  • RUSE: They showed a pretty intense trailer that led one to believe it would be a real time and epic military strategy game that looks akin to something in the Tom Clancy universe, but instead of controlling individual people, it looked more like broad units, platoons, brigades, etc.  Kind of like a very detailed game of Risk they uses ground, air, & sea elements.  Not much was said, just the trailer.
  • No More Heroes 2Desperate Struggle (Wii): Long awaited sequel in the works from the surprise adult-orientated wacky Wii title.  Will help fill the serious gaping gap that hardcore Wii users are so frustrated about.
  • RedSteel2_BoxartRed Steel 2 (Wii): Utilizes Nintendo’s new Motion Plus controller and another adult themed title that again addresses Wii’s lack of hardcore software for the more serious player.  The showed what looked liek a very nice opening cinematic trailer and then about 10 minutes or so of actual gameplay.  Looks very nice, both in graphic style and art direction.  I was amazed how well the sword handled with the Motion Plus and nun-chuck controller tethered on.  While the first Red Steel never lived up to its once-hyped potential, I have a feeling this one will deliver.  RS2 and NMH 2 may give me a compelling reason to but a Motion Plus accessory.  Will be out in December of this year and no multiplayer mode.
  • Splinter Cell – Conviction:  Oh my!  Looks just as awesome as some of the others AAA titles coming out and a welcome return for Sam Fisher.  Ubisoft looks to be on a roll this year at E3 and Conviction should be out Q4.  The gameplay demo’d look fantastic.  The art direction and lighting has come so far in this franchise.  The devs emphasized that while stealth is still very important to Sam Fisher, this will be slightly faster paced, and Sam will be relying much more on both the actual environment and low-tech objects he finds.  The devs also are introducing some great story-telling methods in the game with the use of real-time flashbacks….hard to explain, but you have to see it in action and it will maek sense.  Objectives also are displayed during game within the game in a new twist, ala, Fringe (FOX TV series).  Lastly, Sam uses a new combat mechanic that allows him to ‘mark’ shots in a queuing sequence before he takes action.  Again, you have to see it to undertsand, but it’s really slick, looks easy to use, and really pumps up the adrenaline factor in this stealth based game.  Most likely a ‘must-buy’ for me.