E3 2012 Highlights: Watch Dogs, Halo 4, and The Last of Us Impress, Nintendo WiiU Wins Big

For the past four days, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2012 in Los Angeles, California has been the center of video game news. At E3, the biggest annual video game exposition in the country, major names in the video game industry like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo showcase the newest games and technology that will be available in their consoles during the upcoming years.

There are many new video games coming next year, a lot of them sequels to established franchises and many choices regardless of the console you own. If you could not make it to E3, here are some of the biggest highlights below, though many titles were cut for brevity:

Xbox 360 (Microsoft)


The press conference by Microsoft had surprise appearances by Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and Usher. The former played a small demo of Madden NFL 13, developed by Electronic Arts, for Kinect using voice commands and Usher’s performance on-stage drew attention to Dance Central 3. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the show South Park, appeared on stage to hype the audience for South Park: The Stick of Truth, to be released next year.

Halo 4, Call of Duty III: Black Ops II, Resident Evil 6, and Fable: The Journey are new entries in their respective franchises, with Fable’s demonstration showing use of the Kinect. Tomb Raider is a new reboot game and origin story for Laura Croft that promises to be grittier than previous entries in her franchise. 

Newcomers to the Xbox 360 include Forza Horizon, a new racing game with realistic-looking vehicles reminiscent of the Gran Turismo series for the PlayStation, and Wreckateer, a casual game that will appeal to fans of Crush the Castle and Angry Birds and developed specifically for the Kinect.

Microsoft has signed on with various sports leagues like the NFL and the National Hockey League to deliver sports to the Xbox. Other developments include Internet Explorer for Xbox 360 and Xbox Smartglass to serve as a remote control for television and as a second screen for games.

PlayStation 3 (Sony)


Sony talked about some upcoming games in their press conference. God of War: Ascension will serve as a prequel to the God of War series and provide additional backstory to the franchise. In addition, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sony’s response to the Super Smash Bros. series by Nintendo, revealed two new characters in their roster, Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series and Big Daddy from BioShock.

Beyond: Two Souls, developed by Quantic Dream, will feature similar graphics to their previous hit Heavy Rain and the female lead character will be portrayed by actress Ellen Page. The conference also provided a brief glimpse of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.

The best-received game reveal by Sony was The Last of Us, developed by Naughty Dog. The game takes place 20 years after the apocalypse and is a third-person shooter with a male and a female protagonist trying to survive their rough new world.

Sony also presented the Wonderbook, a book-like device that is meant to add additional interactivity to games like Book of Spells, the new game based off the Harry Potter franchise.

WiiU (Nintendo)


Nintendo introduced a new console at E3 2011 last year, the WiiU, the successor to the Wii. This year, Nintendo gave a lot of promotion to their new console and showed many different functions of the new control, the WiiU Game Pad. The rectangular control serves as a second screen for the WiiU, allowing another person to change the TV channel and still play the game without interruption. Shigeru Miyamoto demonstrated how the features of the Wii U would be integrated into the first big Nintendo franchise game, Pikmin 3.

The first Mario game on the system will be New Super Mario Bros. U, a sequel to New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii. Owners of the WiiU will also be able to play a port of Batman: Arkham City, the new Armored Edition that integrates new features to the game exclusively for the console. Nintendo Land is meant to introduce WiiU players to the console much like Wii Sports did for the Wii and will feature 12 mini-games from different Nintendo franchises.

ZombiU is a first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft exclusively for the WiiU featuring zombies. The WiiU will be compatible with Wii games, so don’t throw out your old games if you want to play them on the new console.

Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo)


Nintendo’s newest portable system, released last year, will have quite a few new games at its disposal.

Fans of Mario can look forward to New Super Mario Bros. 2, which will feature new modes of gameplay and re-introduce flying squirrel suits to the gameplay. Paper Mario Sticker Star is the newest addition to the Paper Mario series and will prominently feature stickers, which are used for combat and puzzle-solving. The sequel to Luigi’s Mansion for the Nintendo GameCube will be Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon and it will feature additional ghosts and mansions for the green plumber.

Developer Square Enix unveiled Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance; like previous games, it will feature a mix of Final Fantasy characters and beloved Disney characters and worlds.

Speaking of Disney, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion will be released for the 3DS and feature Oswald, Mickey’s brother, and a new story for the Epic Mickey franchise.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate will carry on the Castlevania name and feature new battle mechanics with secondary weapons in addition to the whip to punish denizens of the spooky castle.

Ubisoft is developing Rayman Legends, a sequel to the popular Rayman Origins, so far only shown on the WiiU.

Ubisoft


French video game developer Ubisoft had their own press conference and unveiled new video games for a variety of consoles in addition to console exclusives already described. Assassin’s Creed III will take place during the American Revolution and the Wii U version will have female assassins. Far Cry 3 is the new installment in the Far Cry series and will take place in a tropical island. Watch Dogs, a new action-adventure game, impressed the audience with its great graphics and shooting sequence.

Other Games of Interest

Electronic Arts featured several sequels to their long-standing franchises in their press conference including: Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, FIFA 13, NBA Live 13, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and SimCity

Ni no Kuni, a Japanese role-playing game co-developed by Level-5 and the world-renowned Studio Ghibli will be coming to the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS and feature a young boy fighting with monsters to rescue another world.

The solid LEGO video game series has three big titles coming in the next year: LEGO The Lord of the Rings, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, and LEGO City: Undercover. LEGO The Lord of the Rings will feature the storyline of the movie franchise Lord of the Rings in LEGO’s distinctive blocky art-style, while LEGO Batman 2 will have heroes such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Green Lantern and many others fight crime in Gotham City.

Injustice: Gods Among Us will also feature DC heroes and criminals fighting each other. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is another fighting video game that stands out and will feature many of the most recent character additions in addition to old staples of the Tekken franchise.

Which games are you excited for in the coming months?