Another year has come and gone, we all survived the hectic year of job layoffs and holiday rushes, as well as the Mayan Apocalypse. You must be saying to yourself, “Jay?” I would turn my head lightly to you. You say, “Jay, did you believe the world was gonna end Dec. 21, 2012?” and my short and easy reply would be, “No!” then I would turn my head slightly to the side with a grin. “It was already Dec. 22 in Australia!”
With that corny scene aside, I would like to say that 2012 was a pretty decent year for video games. By pretty decent I mean, pretty freakin’ sweet. With big budget releases like Borderlands 2, Hitman: Absolution, and Assassin’s Creed III, paired alongside of console releases of the Playstation Vita (Which to be fair released in Japan a few months before in 2011) and the WiiU. It was a banner year, many gamers clamored over their controllers, holding out their well-earned money screaming “Take it!”
Not to say that this year wasn’t fraught with its disappointments. Some of the bigger one’s focusing around E3 2012 panels that left some gamers wondering if that was it, and disappointing game titles such as Resident Evil 6.
Overall I would have to say the gaming industry is in the same status as the world is currently: Surviving. Sure, we may have seen only a few glimmers of great games (Beyond: Two Souls) from our meager helping from the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and we had to suffer through another promise of the Resident Evil franchise going back to its roots but we made it out on the other side!
Gamer’s, as a collective, are built to survive on the small portions while holding out for the big helping come the next year. Almost like Thanksgiving, you probably eat really light the days before, knowing you would stuff your gullet so full of turkey and stuffing that you just want to pace yourself and make that big feast all the more delicious.
As I saw it, it was a slow year that is for certain. Game releases were few and far between, but when they did hit, they did so in mass so we had a ton of amazing games just sitting in a pile waiting for us to play to pass the time until the next wave of hits came out. The plethora of games made the wait so sweet that it was bearable, at least to me. Though there were…. the Dark Times.
As you may have noticed, I may have referenced E3 quite a lot so far, with good reason. This year’s showing was without a doubt one of the weakest I have seen since I kept up with the coverage. Let’s take a look:
Microsoft had limited announcements, only adding onto existing content. Expanding on Kinect use and games, showing footage for already announced sequels, such as Halo 4 and Black Ops 2, the talk was limited to what we already knew. The biggest announcement was of their SmartGlass technology, allowing games and media to be swapped at whim from mobile devices, tablets, and the Xbox.
It was as if saying, “Hey guys! We just wanted to show you today all our cool new toys. However, we don’t have any new toys! We have these old toys with accessories!” Yeah, great. We saw the stuff last year, sure we’re excited about sequels already announced, but where is the juicy gaming news, Microsoft?!
Sony, which I love in all respects, made a very disappointing show for me, where I hoped gems lye hidden among the rubble of the crumbling Microsoft panels. Boy was I ever wrong.
Starting off we were shown new segments from existing titles set for release, such as God of War: Ascension, Play-Station All Star Battle Royale, and The Last of Us. Sony seemingly made the same mistake Microsoft did, rehashing and refreshing the already known and expected. When it came time to unveil new items and IPs, Sony did it in some kind of style. If by style you mean flailing your arms up and down in front of the screen. The WonderBook demo done at E3 was just absolutely buggy and horrid, I couldn’t help but watch on in terror as the player waved and whacked the Move controller around, with me feeling like they were going to hit themselves in the face.
I felt twinges of pain and horror as I watched on and on as the demo took us through Harry Potter’s world of witchcraft. From the jerky motions, from the unresponsive controls, to the somewhat buggy looking game, Wonderbook sounded rather a scare tactic of what hands free gaming could be if we didn’t stay in line with Sony’s wishes. I understand, yes it was a demo, but seriously how could you not polish and at least check to see if it is even demo worthy? In the end, Sony came back around with a great announcement for Beyond: Two Souls, staring Ellen Page (Juno Fame) as Jodie Holmes, a troubled youth that has some more than average connection to the spiritual world of. The game came from the makers of Heavy Rain, a beautiful game, which I never finished sadly enough, brought us a deep and complex tale of a young woman and an astral spirit who is both her protector and link to the other side. Two Souls showed of some amazing visions from their world while controlling both Jodie and her spectral bodyguard, giving us something to sink our teeth into in the coming years.
Now onto Nintendo, who showed off so much of their upcoming titles, which most we had heard of, for the WiiU and the 3DS. Most of the junket was dedicated to Nintendo Land, the new WiiU’s HUB world, trying to get gamers energized over it. The only problem? We had seen this same example in Wii Mii’s games from the previous console. I was disappointed by their choice in sharing points, but with games like ZombiU, and a new Luigi’s Mansion for the 3DS. The greatest thing of all was seeing that Nintendo finally started doing 3Rd party game titles for their console.
I know it sounds sad to have such a bad vision of E3, especially when I myself couldn’t go and maybe if I had I would have seen more to be thankful for. With only a few game announcements and trailers to choose from, I’d have to say that was one of my least favorite times of 2012.
Now I bet you’re all thinking “Jay, why talk about 2012 as a bad thing?” and I’ll tell you why. Simply put, this is the prime example of how the gamer culture, at its core, are survivors. Not having any amazing E3 or other conventions is like a plague being exposed to a town of villagers. Given enough will power and distraction to the pain, we survived the lackluster events that carried on around us, able to see a new year with hope for something better waiting us on the horizon.
In short, we did survive this year and I’m sure that we will continue to survive for years to come when times like these do occur. The gaming community is a big one and has many surprises for us still today, we’re bound to see our lull years with limited to nothing new once in a while.
2012, you were a good year, many of my new accomplishments were made within the space of you. You just showed us something I think we all needed to be reminded of, that we can always bounce back from the bad times. You also taught me that some developers still like to release bad games while promising greatness. Sometimes they just want to watch the zombie laden world burn.