June 1, 2009 (Los Angeles Theater, Los Angeles) - Joel McHale of E! Network's "The Soup" got the MC duties off to a goofy start. Not only did we find out he's a gamer at heart, but he also regrets having children because they cut into his game time. All joking aside, Ubisoft showed off a host of quality and demographically-targeted games across nearly all console platforms.
The first presenter was Yves Guillemot - Ubisoft President. The executive mastermind behind the French gaming company communicated the company's mission. According to Guillemot, the company is trying to redefine themselves a "360 degree" entertainment provider rather than just "simple developer / publisher." The recent acquisition of Hybride (a top special FX house for video) helps them execute on their expanded media outlook. Ubisoft is trying to put in place bridges between previously disparate creative disciplines. In his words, "moving from finite works to fully interconnected ones."
Next up was Yannis Mallat of Ubisoft Montreal Studio. Yannis further elucidated the new mission for the company and introduced director James Cameron and his latest film, Avatar. James Cameron's Avatar takes place on the world of Pandora in the 22nd century. Pandora is a fertile moon of a massive gas giant in the Alpha Centauri A system. The planetoid is home to a sentient race of blue-skinned tiger-like giants called the Navee. Cameron has been working hand in hand with the developers at Ubisoft Montreal in order to create more than just his visionary film, but a gaming experience that redefines the term movie tie-in. Quoting Cameron, he didn't want it to be the film's "red-headed step child." Proving that he pointed to the fact the game has already been in development for two and a half years, and that key concepts from the game have actually been incorporated into his film, not just the other way around. Moreover, while the film tells the tale of a human Avatar operator caught between species and allegiances, the game's narrative will take on a life of its own. Cameron never wanted the game to be "a slave to the movie." As such, the developers at Ubisoft have embellished upon the setting, are telling new tales within the world, and have created new characters, weapons, and vehicles for players to enjoy. This first step toward diversification should set the company on the right path.
Next, we arrived at the Red Steel 2 segment. Jason Vandenberghe (Creative Director) and Roman Campos Oriola (Lead Game Designer) took the attendees through not only an expanded trailer but also actual gameplay. This first level demo showed impressive graphics both in and out of engine. The game's cinematics look exceptional and the cel-shaded style works perfectly on Wii. Also, 1-to-1 motion controls via Wii MotionPlus look outstanding. Disappoiningly, the lack of blood and downed foes that flash and vanish are somewhat disheartening. Moreover, the hammer-hefting Jackal mini-boss seemed to be quite stupid and mundane. Nevertheless, the controls and the rest of the presentation are so good this is definitely a Wii title to look out for.