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The top five E3 2012 disappointments: From Valve with little to show, to Dead Space 3's atmosphere and a void of PS Vita

Sony fails to unveil a great many PS Vita games, in-game dialogue goes ever further down the route of the cliché - and where was Mirror's Edge 2?

In this latest of our mini-summaries from E3 2012 we reveal our top five disappointments, as Sony fail to unveil a great many PS Vita games (even at their own conference) and in-game dialogue goes ever further down the route of the cliché.

Dead Space 3’s atmosphere

Drop in/drop out co-op gameplay, an open landscape, epic clashes with gargantuan beasts and wholesale shoot-outs against lots of guys with lots of guns. All indicative of a fine action-adventure perhaps, but certainly not what we’ve come to associate from the claustrophobic horror that is Dead Space.

During our behind closed doors viewing of the game, with specific service paid to the co-op side of things two conflicting messages were apparent, first that what Visceral were showing wasn’t scary (though it was gory, more so than even its predecessor), and second that the developers providing commentary throughout the demo seemed hell-bent on persuading us that what we were witnessing was scary. Weird.

We’ve no problem with established franchises suddenly switching direction, see Resident Evil 4 as a perfect and comparable example, but we’re confused both by Visceral’s reluctance to admit to such a change-up, and subsequent decision to change what is the game’s unique selling-point – after all, when RE4 emerged the series was long in the tooth already, by comparison Dead Space is but a baby (albeit one zombified and mutated).

Here’s hoping the as yet unseen ‘space travelling’ sections of the game at least maintain the ‘it’s behind you’ creepiness of its forebears.

In-game dialogue gets more turgid than ever

Wow, are we ever getting bored of in-game dialogue with about as much credence and authenticity of a Jack Bauer ‘emotional’ scene. Can nobody write an action-adventure hero or villain who is anything other than a one-syllable grunter or liable to spout inane cliché at the drop of hat?

Take a couple of quotes I scribbled down during a scene from Splinter Cell: Blacklist, a game no doubt of huge budget and one important enough to Microsoft that they unveiled it at their own press briefing, despite it being non-exclusive and Ubisoft’s baby:

Bad guy: ‘God damn Americans, always playing cowboy.’ Wasn’t that in Die Hard?

Same bad guy: ‘If you’re here mate (yep, he’s English), I’m already dead.’

Seriously? And don’t get us started on the nonsense spouted by the cast of Resident Evil 6.

OK, so this wholesale generalisation doesn’t pay enough tribute to the likes of Naughty Dog and Quantic Dream who are (and in entirely separate ways) pushing the boundaries of in-game banter. Until their attitude becomes the norm rather than the exception however, I can’t quite imagine those looking from the outside in ever seeing gaming as anything other than kid’s stuff.

EA’s lack of an 11th game

EA’s press briefing was certainly impressive, with the likes of Dead Space 3, SimCity, FIFA 13, Madden NFL 13, Crysis 3, Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Need for Speed: Most Wanted all impressing in their own way.

Alas however, the only game not to have leaked was the still in pre-production UFC tie-in game, what we wouldn’t have given for EA’s CEO John Riccitello to say he ‘lied’ when saying he had 10 games to show, unveiling an 11th – the much-rumoured Mirror’s Edge 2 say, or something equally as welcome.

Lack of PS Vita ‘must haves’

While Sony’s E3 press briefing dazzled for its PS3 games as well as its free eats beforehand, there was one thing missing: PS Vita. Only that brand new handheld which Sony has literally just spent billions on marketing.

Where were the first party exclusives? All we found out from the briefing was that we’d be able to look forward to Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and, well, other than a bunch of PSOne Classics, that was pretty much it.

No Killzone, no God of War, nothing new from Naughty Dog, seemingly not even a third-party game of note beyond Ubisoft’s already mentioned Assassin’s Creed – needless to say we can’t help but feel disappointed.

When you think of the titles that would work magnificently on the dual-analogue sporting handheld – from Dead Space to Tomb Raider, and Gran Turismo to Portal 2 – and with only a scant trimming of textures too, you tend to get the impression that Sony and third-parties alike are beginning to think twice before developing for Vita.

That said Edge were able to find no less than 25 Vita games on the E3 show floor, though we’d question just how essential some of them are.

Valve taking their sweet, sweet time

While Valve was at this year’s E3 (we know because we passed its private upstairs chambers) they appeared to be more interested in pushing their Steam distribution service then any of their own titles. Left 4 Dead 3, Dota, the vapourware that is Half-Life 3 and that rumoured Valve hardware: none were present.

Is this a sign that the publisher has literally nothing to talk about? Hardly. What we’d say is it’s more likely that either (as has long been suspected), Valve see themselves pretty much beyond the scrap for attention that is E3 or that, perhaps, most of what they’re currently developing is next generation and so hardly worth showing anyway so, unless you fancy answering ‘no comment’ all day long to the thousands of journalists who ask you what system your game is due to release on (see Star Wars 1313 and Watch Dogs), it’s not worth the effort.

Nevertheless, if only because we’ve been waiting and wondering what shape Mr. Freeman’s next adventure might shape, we can’t help but feel a tad disappointed. At least they did bother to keep on showing the already thoroughly previewed Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and while a decent shooter, you’ll forgive us for letting them off the hook that easily.