E3 '09: Ubisoft Media Briefing

Many of you might remember the monumental outcry that was unleashed after Nintendo's press conference at last year's E3. Multiple factors lead to 2008's outing being overwhelmingly considered the worst press conference of the show: the fact that hardcore fans were all but entirely ignored, a flawed and downright laughable showing of Wii Music (poor Miyamoto), and an overall lack of excitement just to name a few.

Well, it seems that Ubisoft was taking notes over Nintendo's bomb of a press conference, as their 2009 E3 conference was just as bad, nay worse, than anything Nintendo could have ever come up with.

Joel McHale led the night's festivities, all two-plus hours of them. Actually, "festivities" isn't really an appropriate word, as anything that could be called festive could, in theory, also be called fun, and there was a noticeable lack of that here.

After Joel's brief introduction to the conference, in which he confessed he was an avid gamer (something that I have no problem believing), we were left to the mercy of Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft's CEO, who, bless his heart, is incredibly difficult to understand, what with the extremely thick French accent and all.

Through the incoherency, I caught something about U Play, a new web-based service that will be integrated into future Ubisoft titles, that allows players to interact with each other by sharing hints, creating content, and more. Splinter Cell: Conviction is already on board to utilize the service, as is Avatar and Assassin's Creed 2.

Guillemot then went on to waste another five or so minutes speaking about Ubisoft's recent collaborations with the world of Hollywood. No longer content with producing new IP, Ubisoft has now partnered with the likes of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson to produce upcoming movie games for films like Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Because we all know how well movie games often turn out.

Once Guillemot left the stage, the conference turned to the topic of Avatar, James Cameron's supposedly epic science-fiction universe, which will apparently be introduced to fans as a video game a short while before the film hits theaters. Who better to discuss the game than James Cameron himself, who walked onto the stage and proceeded to kill at least thirty minutes of stage time, along with millions of my brain cells.

Don't get me wrong, Cameron does great work with film, but game developer he is not, and by the time he had finally talked himself dry, I was literally shaking my head in an effort to stop myself from falling into a boredom fueled slumber.

To turn his very lengthy ramblings into something a bit shorter, depending on the media form you choose, the way you experience the Avatar universe will change. That is, the game will contain multiple elements that the film will not, and vice versa. Cameron wanted to ensure his audience that the game will not disappoint, or be entirely useless once you've seen the film, as it will apparently contain more canon elements that fans of the film will want to experience.

By the time Cameron mercifully left the stage, we had gone almost an hour into the press conference without so much as a stage demo or even a real trailer to grab our attention. All hope seemed lost. But wait, could it be?! A real game demo?! Yes, it is! For the Wii's Red Steel 2 to be exact.

While the original Red Steel may have been a disappointment to almost everyone that played it, Red Steel 2 is set to correct its predecessor's mistakes by utilizing the new Wii MotionPlus, which will allow for more precise control and a heightened responsiveness when it comes to where your gun and / or sword is positioned in game. The game will ship later this year, bundled with the MotionPlus add-on.

Just when I thought things might be picking up, the conference turns to sports games, with a trailer for Shaun White Snowboarding World Stage, and an appearance from Pele, the world famous soccer player, who had a very awkward moment with Joel over which language to speak (isn't that what the translator is for) while talking about his new, understandably soccer themed Wii game Academy of Champions. The game is aimed at children, with Pele hoping they can learn about teamwork and understanding through the title. Both will ship sometime this year.

Splinter Cell: Conviction was up next, but instead of offering new content to the audience who had already seen a preview of the game in Microsoft's press conference, we were instead forced to watch basically the same run through of the game’s demo as earlier in the day. Sure, the game looks fantastic, with Sam Fisher taking on a much more lethal, aggressive and unforgiving stance within the game, but something new would've been nice. No longer associated with any agency, Fisher is free to track his daughter's killer using whatever force he deems necessary, and he deems force very necessary.

Back are the stealth elements of hiding in the shadows, hanging onto rafters and so on, but a new element called Mark and Execute will allow Sam to quickly and silently eliminate nearby enemies that would otherwise attract too much attention to Sam's location.

That repeat demo out of the way, viewers were given a cryptic glimpse of Ruse, a board-game esque title containing naval and air battle elements, and were then forced to sit through the Tween title segment of the show. New titles are on the way in both the Petz and Imagine franchises (seriously, there are enough Imagine titles already on the market to choke even the biggest Hannah Montana, Jonas Brother loving fangirl - we already have Imagine Makeup Artist - how much farther are they going to stretch this?).

Rounding out this section of the show was Your Shape. Your Shape is almost exactly like Wii Fit Plus, only you utilize a TV mounted camera rather than a balance board to perform exercises. Much like Wii Fit Plus, Your Shape will allow each user to customize the game to work on specific parts of their body, and create workouts specifically for their goals and needs.

We've been forced to sit through almost two hours of show by this point, when Ubisoft finally decides to talk about something, Splinter Cell: Conviction notwithstanding, that I actually care about: Rabbids Go Home. Rabbids Go Home has you helping these zany little bunnies create a massive pile of junk high enough to reach the moon, which the Rabbids wish to visit and eventually populate. The game looks to contain the same high jinks as previous titles, along with the humor that has made the franchise shine.

Some quickie announcements consumed another five or so minutes (bring on Assassin's Creed 2 already!):

  • TMNT Smash Up - Apparently similar to Super Smash Bros.
  • No More Heroes 2 is under development
  • A mystery title from Q Entertainment is in the works

We're past the two-hour mark by this point, my head resting on my fist as I force my eyes to stay open, when like the Greek God Poseidon rising from the oceanic depths, Assassin's Creed 2 finally takes center stage. A trailer is playing - "Game looks so good! Wow! Did you see that!?" The trailer ends. Oh boy, here comes the demo! I can hardly contain myself!

Wait, what's Joel McHale doing back on stage? "Good night?!" What does he mean "Good Night?!" They didn't even demo AC2! Seriously, that measly little trailer is why I sat here for over two hours?! Son of a ---- $#%@^!

Ah well, at least this disappointing mess of a conference is finally over.

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