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Joystiq live from Ubisoft's E3 2009 keynote


We're live at Ubisoft's E3 2009 press conference, held at the Los Angeles Theater. Our initial approach has filled us with hope -- at the rate people are moving past the registration desk and into their seats, we're incredibly likely to see Beyond Good & Evil 2. Because it'll be done and on shelves.

Stay tuned for more -- and less bitter, we hope -- updates!

6:54PM And... Ezio just shot someone in the face with a wrist-mounted gun. What a great note to end the show on. Thanks for reading, everybody!

6:53PM 1468, Venice, Italy. A CG video shows masked dancers having a jolly old time, before being targeted by some serious-looking fellows. Are they here to stir up trouble? It seems they're looking for someone. Oh, and a throat is suddenly slit! It's as if someone has been ... assassinated! A fight and chase ensues. You can't catch Ezio that easily.

6:51PM Next: A "surprising" look at Assassin's Creed 2. We'll be able to see it at the show, notes Detoc, and it'll be out on Nov. 17! Trailer time.

6:49PM Two announcements from Mr. Detoc: No More Heroes 2 officially confirmed to be published by Ubisoft. Secondly, something related to Tetsuya Mizuguchi! "I know he's here! Please stand up!" Mizuguchi stands up in the audience and accepts the applause. He's working on a "project" -- that's all Detoc's offering! -- with Q? Entertainment. It focuses on "new sensory experiences," codenamed "Project Eden."

6:46PM TMNT: Smash Up trailer is up. Designed by Game Arts, it's essentially Smash Bros. with, you know, turtles. The titular mutants are all accounted for, as is the newly ninja-fied April (it happened in the last movie) and Shredder. It's out on Sept. 22.

6:44PM Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is next! Ubi North America president, Laurent Detoc, is here to talk up the franchise's 25th anniversary.

6:42PM You can enter skate parks and just do tricks in your cart. You can strap things to your cart ... like a jet engine, which allows you to fly. We jump to another stage, where the you mercilessly attack (read: waggle) a jet engine right off the wing of a plane. It's attached to the cart, which then transforms into a flying engine, perfect for wreaking havoc in the airport building.

6:39PM You can customize and abuse the Rabbid as much as you want, but the fun part is taking him into the game. We're driving the shopping cart (one bunny inside, one pushing) around, collecting random objects and filling up the cart. You have to avoid the "verminators" -- you can drive over them or scream at them... which makes them explode. Alright.

6:37PM You start the game... with a look inside the Wiimote, where a poor Rabbid gets flung around as you tilt and shake the controller. Pulling the B-trigger while he's standing on it slams him into the ceiling! "He loves it," we're told. Progressing in the game adds new devices inside the wiimote -- including a vice -- to torture the poor thing.

6:35PM We see silly humans going about their monotonous lives, only to be startled by those insane DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHs. We love the art style in this clip. Let's see a live demo!

6:33PM The Rabbids are returning to their home, and to reach the moon, they're assembling all sorts of earth junk. They're using man's most magnificent invention, the shopping cart. Drive around, collect stuff, and build the pile. Here comes the trailer!

6:32PM Joel returns and introduces Rabbids Go Home -- we welcome Adrian Fenandez Lacey, the game's producer. Also, two rabbids are running amok on stage. This almost makes up for that Tween stuff we sat through.

6:30PM It assesses your shape, tests your fitness and allows you to target specific body areas through the use of a bizarre menu composed of purple globules. It's likely just the promotional video "future-ing" the interface up. "A new era in Fitness" is the trailer's declaration. The custom, USB camera will come with the game.

6:28PM The camera and tracking tech means you can't cheat! "We'll ensure you exercise the right way." The goal is to have a virtual coach in your living room -- no peripherals, boards or straps. Your Shape, the first camera-enabled fitness title, is coming to the Wii this holiday season.

6:26PM Key's talking about fitness games -- including those with "$20 rubber bands" -- and introduces "Your Shape." It'll use a camera, scan you and place you "inside" the television. The fitness fans are INSIDE the television, Zoolander.

6:24PM If it sounds like we're being facetious, it's probably because this sales pitch isn't quite tailored for the audience sitting here. Lest we forget, just imagine nerdz.

6:23PM Did you know that Imagine Town is Ubisoft's most visited website? Well, now you do. We're now being subjected to "Style Lab," Ubisoft's latest tween brand. Capture your face with the DSi camera and put it in the game!

6:22PM There are plenty of giggles coming out of the audience. "My daughter buys all this shit, and I'm the one paying for it!" we hear from behind.

6:21PM Integration! Interconnectivity! Invention! Imagine! Tween girls! Unnecessary exclamations! Feigned excitement! Oh, hey, you can upload your stuff to Imagine Town online! Petz Nursery is soooooo cuuuuute!

6:20PM Key exudes the kind of confidence that foes with being the "no.2 publisher on DS." The winning strategy? "Make. The best. Games." "Welcome to Tween Games 2.0" was just displayed on the screen. Oh man.

6:18PM US Senior VP of Ubi marketing, Tony Key, is here to tell us about upcoming casual titles and unlock their mysteries. Geddit? Unlock? We're here ... for some of the night, folks. Key challenges us with a riddle: what brand sold the most in 2008 for Ubi? Imagine. (Imagine that...)

6:16PM This is the same trailer you've seen before -- a pair of guys battle it out on a touch screen, each sending their troops out in the hopes of catching the other unawares. "Is that not the coolest table you have ever seen?" exclaims Joel. Next up? Casual games! (Don't go yet, readers!)

6:15PM Ha! No it isn't. It's just a trailer for RUSE, Ubi's next strategy title. That was mean of us, sorry.

6:14PM A trailer for Prince of Persia 2 is up next.

6:14PM Interesting! Yves Guillemot is referred to "Eve" on the teleprompter. Don't get it wrong, Joel!

6:12PM Conviction is out this Fall, exclusively on 360 and PC. You knew that already, right?

6:12PM Gadgets are still here. Sam uses an EMP grenade to take out all the lights in the area. He peeks under another door, but the guys on the other side are ready for him. Solution? Shotgun. Then a grenade. Sam avoids the explosion by leaping out the window and shimmying alongside the exterior of the building. The sound of an approaching helicopter signals the end of the demo.

6:10PM He's currently hanging from a ceiling pipe -- when the screen's colors gray out, it means you're hidden in shadow. He shoots down a chandelier, crushing the enemies below. A shootout! Sam runs, shoots and quickly vaults over a barrier, hanging from the edge before pulling down an approaching enemy. Stylish!

6:08PM Your mission objectives are projected onto the environment too. Next, Sam peeks under a door and "marks" a light and an enemy. Once initiated he quickly takes out both targets, and manually disposes of a remaining enemy. He clambers in through a window and ... well, Sam never moved like this before!

6:07PM Sam starts roughing some folks up in a seedy bathroom. "Who killed my daughter?" The interrogation gameplay allows Sam to use any part of the environment to beat the info out of his ... victim. As the man spills the beans, scenes that he's describing are projected onto the environment, almost literally. Sam's character model is very impressive! We see him break a car's side mirror -- he can use it to peek under doors later.

6:04PM "Mark and Execute" is one of the innovations we have to look out for in the demo. "Can I have it now? The game?" No, Joel, sorry. An on-stage demo kicks off.

6:03PM "You're gonna feel like a powerful predator." A trailer starts up -- gun battles, slow-mo grenades and diving dramatically through windows. We dare say it's Hollywood trailer-esque.

6:01PM Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction is up next, with prducer Alex Parizeau and and Creative Director Max Bealand taking the stage. "In Conviction, we're innovating in multiple ways." Franchise redefinition incoming!

5:59PM Pele's role "was mostly focused on children," encouraging the game to educate them through his role as the game's mentor character. Pele departs, leaving a downtrodden-looking McHale. "The poor man's Ryan Seacrest."

5:57PM He's really excited about the partnership and the opportunity to be part of "a winning team." That's some Ubi praise, folks. A trailer shows the fantasy environment that the game will take place in. Majesty is about as prevalent as those creepy kids. They're on a field for a big match against some stereotypical bullies. Crazy flips and slides abound! We'd watch more soccer if it was like this, you know.

5:54PM Here's the English: Football was the most important thing in Pele's life (gasp!). He hopes that young people should see the connection between sports and positive messages, just like soccer broadened his horizons and allowed him to travel the world. He also values children's education -- he's "always, always worried about them."

5:52PM Pele stares at his in-game version and seems somewhat stunned. Oh god this is awkward. Some off-beat banter takes place, with McHale admitting that he's no good at speaking Portuguese. Pele delivers a big chunk of talking, and McHale nods thoughtfully. Save us, translator!

5:49PM Academy of Champions is up next. That's the soccer game with the creepy art design, right? Here to discuss it is... PELE.

5:48PM Another live-action trailer, with people scrambling frantically through the streets with seemingly random possessions in tow. They're constructing a fake snowboarding ramp on a building's roof. "More competition, more slopes." We think there was some gameplay footage in there somewhere. Maybe.

5:46PM Joel is back, reminding us that -- sometimes -- Ubisoft makes sports games. Shaun White is back in 2009, it seems!

5:45PM Everything is running at 60 frames per second and, in case we didn't notice, employs a "slightly different look" than before. A final, backstabbing move ends the heavy's life. Bye!

5:44PM "Hitting things is fun." As you progress in Red Steel 2, you'll gain new powers, including an especially Devil May Cry-esque juggle 'n' shoot. Finally, we take a look at the Heavy. We're going out on a limb here, but we think that label comes from his imposing stature and his gigantic hammer.

5:42PM We jump to a saloon for "real combat" next. A few gunshots stuns an enemy and a quick slash finishes him off. Movement, shooting and slashing seems pretty fluid in Resident Evil 2. Wait... did he just say "Resident Evil 2?" Whoops!

5:41PM We skip ahead to a training yard. The cel-shaded look is quite the deaprture from the original game. The sword is mapped 1-to-1 with the Wiimote motions. The game can measure how hard you're swinging, so harder swings do more damage. Poor training dummy!

5:39PM Birds circle overhead while a lens flare highlights that, yes, we are in a video game desert. We're getting dragged from the back of a motorcycle! Under a truck! through a cactus! Past some explosions! Why doesn't every game start like this?

5:38PM Creative director of Red Steel 2, Jason Vandenberghe takes the stage. Now they're going to PLAY the game. In front of us. Let's have a look at the game's first level.

5:36PM Red Steel 2 trailer. Wait a minute... they're showing us an actual game? How innovative! We see brief snippets of the samurai epic SLASH Western SLASH first-person shooter, interspersed with a model flailing the Wiimote about. He seems to be getting really into it.

5:34PM Joel returns to the stage. "There are so many French people backstage ... I'm a little scared." He makes a joke about Ubi making a Lindsay Lohan game, which strikes a little too close to the truth, we think. It could happen! Imagine Lohanz.

5:33PM "Ubisoft has done it." Cameron warns us to not play the demo during E3, however, because it might make us afraid. "It's pretty darn exciting."

5:32PM The world of the game is, in some ways, a richer version that you won't find in the film. "The perfect confluence between these two different media." Cameron adds, "Neither one is the red-headed stepchild of the other."

5:31PM Ubisoft came up with a player's choice addition to the Avatar universe, allowing gamers to choose whether they would adopt a Navi perspective during certain events. Ubi is committed to make Avatar the first major stereoscopic 3-D title, adds Cameron. The initial demo blew him away, it seems.

5:29PM Cameron notes that the timing for typical game-movie transitions is too brief -- Avatar's game development started over two years ago, which he hopes will avoid that demonstrable problem usually suffered by film tie-ins.

5:27PM Cameron met with Ubisoft in 2006. Ubisoft was pitching a title that was already in line with the spirit of the film, which filled him with confidence that he was choosing the right partner. Cameron's theory: "I didn't want anything associated with Avatar to suck."

5:26PM December 18 is the film's release date. One would assume that Ubisoft's game adaptation will arrive at around the same time. "A fully immersive cinematic experience" is promised by Cameron, who says it's the biggest and toughest project he's ever done.

5:25PM Jake Sully is the main character, who explores Pandora in an Avatar body. It allows him movement from a distance, even though he's really paralyzed. As he goes deeper into the Navi culture, "he ultimately has to choose sides" in a battle. Oh, which is the "mother of all battles," adds Cameron. Special effects extravaganza confirmed!

5:23PM The navi -- humanoid inhabitants of Pandora -- live among a myriad of alien creatures, some beautiful and some extremely dangerous. This is sounding a lot like Los Angeles, but with better draw distances.

5:21PM Cameron delves into some Avatar backstory: He wrote the first treatment over a decade ago, but was balked at by his special effects guys, Digital Domain. Now, with photorealistic CG being attainable, Cameron resurrected the project. The story takes place in 22nd century, with most of the action taking place on an earth-like planet, Pandora.

5:20PM Guillemot introduces ... James Cameron! The crowd goes insane, of course. (There are nerds here, remember?)

5:19PM Mallat says Ubisoft is going from a simple developer and publisher to a full entertainment content provider. "We are excited about our future." So are we, provided there's some tantalizing footage in it...

5:18PM Short movies with "unprecedented production value" are en route from Ubi, based on the Assassin's Creed 2 universe.

5:16PM Ubisoft Montreal president Yannis Mallat takes the stage. He's feeling excited about Ubi's vision and the impact on the company's operations. The first step -- mashing gaming and Hollywood together. The joint collaboration between Ubi and James Cameron's Avatar film is posed as evidence. In fact, Ubi is developing over 100 shots for the film itself.

5:13PM Guillemot adds that it's important to make a game's interface "disappear." This "revolution" will remove the barrier of entry to gaming. In fact, Ubisoft has been working on related prototypes already, the first of which will be revealed today.

5:12PM Guillemot notes that Ubi was the first to jump on the Wii with Red Steel. Jumping on the Wii was a physical reaction many gamers exhibited in the hopes of ending that particular title, as we recall.

5:11PM Guillemot reveals that Ubi will be working with Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg on Paramount Pictures' Tintin.

5:10PM Uplay will support future products such as Splinter Cell: Conviction. It appears to be a web-pased community service, allowing users to purchase Ubi products, discuss game strategies and interact through a standardized, Ubi-branded menu system.

5:09PM Buzzword: "Confluence" Ubi hopes to build bridges between all sorts of creative types, including those in the film industry. Ubi's "Uplay" online destination is part of this sharing movement.

5:07PM "Ubisoft is where the stars come out to play." Yves Guillemot takes the stage. "I hope you will be convinced by a game we will show you this time." He discusses the continued convergence of video games and film, which has prompted the company to "convert" content to "fully interconnected" products.

5:04PM Ubisoft is a company that promotes equality and the free flow of ideas, and apparently there are no bad ideas, says McHale. "Receding Glacier," Joel's supposed game, is proof of that, right?

5:03PM Joel claims to regret having kids, due to the distraction they impose on his gaming habits. His gamertag is "seacrestslayer311." See, we told you that joke was bad.

5:02PM Joel McHale -- "the whitest host you'll ever see" -- takes the stage, dressed as sharp as ... well, his wit, we hope. He greets the "fellow nerds" in the room.

5:01PM People don't seem to be switching off their cellphones as requested, so Ubisoft seems to have turned up the volume on their music. A quick montage of their games begins playing. No More Heroes, Assassin's Creed 2 and OMG PETZ!!!

4:58PM A raging discussion about Microsoft and Sony's keynotes is taking place right behind us. We're meant to watch out for the "Sony Megaton Bomb," apparently. We'll worry about that as soon as Ubisoft's done dropping their own.

4:54PM We've taken our seats, which allow us a peek at Joel McHale's (he's the host, remember!) text prompts. His first joke isn't great.

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