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E3: Ubisoft Shows Off New Wii U Games

At a private demonstration Wednesday night at E3, Ubisoft demonstrated and debuted several titles in development for Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U, showing how the company plans to utilize the new controller.
At a private demonstration Wednesday night at E3, French game publisher Ubisoft demonstrated and debuted several titles in development for Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U, showing how the company plans to utilize the new controller. Following introduction by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata and Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, internal Ubisoft teams took the stage one by one to demonstrate prototypes of their games, and then took audience questions at the end. “This controller is so revolutionary that we think it will bring lots of new gamers to the industry,” Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said during the introductions. “I think social gaming is the next step in our industry, and I think the screen is going to make it easy for everybody.” None of Ubisoft’s demos use more than one tablet controller per console, and when asked if they have experimented with games using two tablet screens, the company refused comment, saying “that is not for us to say,” adding further fuel to rumors that the console can only stream to one of the new controllers at a time. Ubisoft currently has five titles in development for the Wii U, three of which -- Ghost Recon Online, Killer Freaks From Outer Space and an unannounced title in the Assassin’s Creed franchise -- were discussed. The company also has a sports title in development, and a final title for which nothing has been announced yet. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online The first game Ubisoft showed was Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online, which was the only third party game on the show floor this E3. The game series is ideal for the series, says the company, because of the stealth aspect that the franchise is famous for: the additional view that the new controller’s screen will allow for unique stealth opportunities. By way of a trailer and a few Powerpoint slides, the Ubisoft Shanghai developers on stage showed four prototype uses for the tablet on Ghost Recon: an interactive tactical map that would allow the player to put visible “beacons” in the game world, letting them know for example where the enemy is hiding, gyroscopic control of a missile from overhead, a “drone view” that let players see what their personal flying drones were seeing from overhead (spying on the enemy), and weapon customization via the touch pad. The team always showed its “Always On” idea, which continues to show network and friend activity in the game on the tablet’s screen even when the game itself isn’t playing. The idea behind this is to keep tabs on what is happening in the game’s world while you are, say, watching television, so you can decide when to jump back in. Killer Freaks From Outer Space The second prototype shown was Killer Freaks From Outer Space, from Ubisoft’s Montpellier studio, the developer that launched both Red Steel and Rayman Raving Rabbids for the Wii. As with those games, the studio was called upon to create a game that showcased Nintendo’s new controller. The game is a lighthearted first-person shooter starring a sheltered survivalist type who it turns out was right, as he is one of the few survivors left following an alien invasion. Armed to the teeth (he’s been preparing for an emergency like this for years), the fat, bald gentleman (Darren Boyd is his name, a Londonite who likes to talk to himself) goes out and hunts down little aliens that look like scaly rabbids from Ubisoft’s popular series. The controls have the player aiming with the gyroscope, looking always at the screen, turning around in place to aim. Aiming up and down doesn’t seem to require dramatic movement (it’s not literal one-to-one with what’s on screen, it’s more subtle) but moving on the horizontal axis did seem to require full body turns in the demo we saw. A second mode shown called “Real-Time Enemy Director” allowed one player using a normal controller (in this case a Wii Classic Controller) to play in a traditional first-person shooter view on the TV, while a second player using the tablet controller to monitor the game from above and drop aliens onto the map, almost like an RTS. Assassin’s Creed Finally, though there was no specific title to announce nor assets to show, Marc Parenteau from Ubisoft’s Quebec studio was brought on stage to discuss the Assassin’s Creed franchise coming to the Wii U. According to Parentheau, the system has a “powerful” multi-core architecture and a large internal memory capacity that “brings performance enhancements.” The console fully supports the graphical shaders from the team’s previous games in the series, and is compatible with the existing engine and assets. Experiments the team has been working on for the Wii U version are similar to the way the series works on the Nintendo DS console’s second screen: a persistent on-screen map, an interactive database, fast weapon selection, and alternatives points of view (called “eagle sense” in the series). Ubisoft is not yet ready to say what the specific title will be, unable to comment even on whether this would be an adaptation of an existing title.

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