Video Games

E3 Trifecta 2: South Park, Halo 4, ZombiU

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? I never thought I’d be typing these words, but THQ is making a South Park RPG, and it looks… well, awesome. Really. Most of the above video is a “cinematic” — I mean, as much as any South Park animation can be called “cinematic” — but there’s some actual gameplay in there too, and it looks exactly like the cartoon. And it looks pretty fun, too. I’m genuinely impressed.

? Here’s the live-action Halo 4 trailer, in which humanity blithely jumps into outer space again, and has their asses handed to them almost immediately. There’s some gameplay at the end, along with a seriously pissed Cortana. I’m pretty sure she’s tired of humanity flying directly into the nearest intergalactic bear trap the minute they leave Earth.
? So let’s talk about ZombiU! ZombieU is a zombie game for the WiiU from Ubisoft, apparently set in Britain as so subtly hinted at in the above trailer. If you’ll recall yesterday, I issued a huge whiny bitch rant about the douchebag-laden WiiU commercial yesterday, in which Hipster McAnnoying played some sort of zombie game, failed, and talked to himself non-stop. Many of you have smugly emailed me to tell me, “A-ha! Your claims that the WiiU game in the commercial was fake are wrong! Because Nintendo showed off ZombiU today!” 
I don’t think so. If you go back and look at the commercial (I mean, if you hate yourself enough to do so), the only gameplay shown is a close-up of a poorly rendered zombie face moving back and forth. There are two options here: It isn’t ZombiU, but some sort of horrible fake zombie game, or it is ZombiU, and ZombiU is going to be terrible. I may wrong, but I strongly believe it’s the former, because 1) Ubisoft generally makes pretty good games — definitely much better than the nonsense shown in the commercial — and 2) if Nintendo really were using ZombiIU, I would think they’d be inclined to show off their great new upcoming WiiU game, instead of showing awful 1/4 second clips of unbelievably generic gameplay. They’d also want to show the game in a good light for their partner Ubisoft’s benefit, if nothing else. Feel free to disagree with me, but I still say it’s a fake game.
And here’s why I still think it’s a problem. Say Nintendo put a fake, awful game in their WiiU commercial solely so they could concentrate on promoting the WiiU’s communication capabilities. I find that understandable, but incredibly short-sighted, 1) because Nintendo is only now catching up to the other console’s online communication capabilities, and thus promoting them like they’re the first console where gamers can talk to other gamers isn’t a very strong message, and 2) because the fake game makes the WiiU look bad. If this your first real look at the WiiU, you get two messages from this commercial: The Wii lets players talk to players in all sorts of ways, and the WiiU’s games suck. Not wanting to have a good-looking game being played in order to concentrate on the communication shit? That’s advertising insanity, and anyone who thinks that Nintendo made the commercial bad on purpose supposes that Nintendo is dumber than I’ve ever thought or said they were.
And that’s the best case scenario. I find it far too likely that the marketing gurus of Nintendo said, “Okay, what game should the gamer be playing in the commercial?” and they decided the WiiU would look more attractive with some generic zombie game than an actual Nintendo game. That is an incredible lack of confidence in Nintendo’s own games, which, again, has generally always been their strength. Then again, maybe Nintendo just didn’t give a shit — which I would say is also a problem, and disturbingly indicative of how Nintendo seems to feel about gamers.
Decide what you want. If you’re excited about the WiiU, I say more power to you. All I know is that I feel like Nintendo has very little interest in older, more traditional gamers like myself, and as a result I’ve lost interest in them. I keep hoping it’ll change each E3, but it doesn’t appear that this is going to be the year.

About Author

Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.