So, thankfully, not all of my predictions came true. That's a good thing, although probably not in the case of Microsoft which, besides the surprise Splinter Cell: Black List reveal, didn't show off anything I wasn't really expecting.
There's a few interesting bits to come out of day one so far that we will no doubt see more of over the coming days. Sony and Microsoft came out swinging early in their press conferences with two big titles, Halo 4 and Beyond: Two Souls. Both look impressive in their own special way, specifically Halo's audio/visual overhaul which seems to be brimming with new content, and Beyond's reconstruction of the lovely Ellen Page as its lead protagonist who has a special connection with the dead. Beyond comes from the same development studio behind Heavy Rain. By the looks of the trailer, they've learnt invaluable lessons from that title with the same high quality visuals and compelling storytelling combined with hopefully a lot more action and traditional gameplay.
Ubisoft held their own conference, as did EA, but Ubi's was more impressive thanks to a concentrated effort on the next gen. Not only were there Wii U details (Rayman Legends' 5 player mode looks fantastic), but perhaps our first glimpse at a possible PS4/Xbox 720 title in Watch Dog. I say that since the visuals looked far beyond anything a current gen console can output, and no platforms were announced after the presentation. I'd say that's a healthy dose of teasing by Ubi right there and I can't wait to see more.
Of the two major players, Microsoft dropped the ball. Instead of a focus on games, it was largely all about Kinect integration, new sports apps and Internet Explorer on Xbox 360. What games we did get were small teasers, a new Gears of War (as predicted) along with a handful of titles with little to no information on what they really are. Of the other games on show, Splinter Cell and Tomb Raider show great promise, though both are 3rd party titles, while finishing the show with COD Black Ops 2 may have sounded like a good idea at the time, but a new IP or more Halo probably would have been a better option.
Sony's presentation seemed a little stronger, thanks largely to appearances by big name players God of War and The Last of Us, which is looking more and more impressive with each new trailer. Though I'm a little concerned that the level of violence and swearing, coupled with a young girl in the middle of the fray, may lead our local Australian Ratings Board to go all 'oh no you didn't' on us and ban the game locally. If they do, consider this my resignation letter from Australian gaming. But, man, I think Beyond may just edge out Watch Dog for my game of show right now. I'll wait and see what Nintendo present first, though, just in case.
Lastly, a few things people may have missed:
* EA confirmed NBA Live will return this year, putting the nail in the coffin of the NBA Elite brand name after the debacle two years ago.
* The opening video of Sony's presentation showed off a few other titles that didn't make another appearance during the show itself, namely the already announced Sly Racoon, LittleBigPlanet Karting and ... Portal 2? Or at least, something Portal related. Will Valve will announce exclusive DLC for the PS3 Portal 2 edition? Could it just be related to the upcoming map maker? Or maybe something new entirely? Curious.
* The Vita did get a few mentions, but it seems anything beyond the typical (namely Assassin's Creed III, Call of Duty and Playstation All-Stars) will be announced outside of Sony. They did mention PSOne classics such as Final Fantasy VII though, and greater use of cross-platform play.
* Two new tech's were on show, but no new consoles. Sony announced Wonderbook, a book reading/game playing device that will bring with it new Harry Potter stories based on smaller, unknown characters and spells. Microsoft also confirmed SmartGlass that allows you to use any mobile phone, tablet or PC to interact with the Xbox 360 at home or on the road. In other words, your move Nintendo.
* Oh, and the next Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit can be unofficially be called Burnout Paradise 2. Yup, open world destructive racing that never ends unless you say so. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!