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Ubisoft demonstrates variety of offerings at E3

Raving Rabbids TV Party, Far Cry 2 and Prince of Persia played live; New girls sports franchise announced for DS

Ubisoft showcased a wide variety of upcoming titles at its E3 conference today, including live demonstrations of Far Cry 2 and Prince of Persia and the introduction of a new girls sports franchise for the DS.

Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc opened the conference sitting on the Wii Fit balance board to demonstrate Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party. The game - scheduled for a November release - will also appear on the Nintendo DS.

Detoc then showed a trailer for Gearbox's Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, set for a September release on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

According to Ubisoft, 2008 marks the 10th anniversary of Tom Clancy's entry into the gaming space. 55 million Clancy-branded games have been sold worldwide.

Detoc noted that the company recently built a CGI studio in Montreal and acquired rights to Tom Clancy properties with plans to take the IP to other forms of media, although he gave no further specifics.

A trailer of Tom Clancy's End War was shown, with Detoc discussing the ability to use voice commands in the game. End War is coming in the fall for Xbox 360 and PS3.

Next on the agenda was Far Cry 2, which Detoc said the company had big plans for. Following a short film, Clint Hocking, the game's creative director, took the stage to discuss how the team planned to reinvent the shooter. Jon Morin, the game's level designer, then played the game in real-time.

Hocking promised that Far Cry 2 would feature a 50 square kilometer, fully open world - allowing players the freedom to complete objectives in a variety of ways. The duo demonstrated how players can use optical sights to locate enemies and items, adding them to the game's map.

The game will be launched this fall simultaneously on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Senior VP of sales and marketing Tony Key took the conference in a different direction, following Far Cry 2 with a discussion of the company's games for "tween" girls. Six of the top ten third-party DS games in 2008 are targeting teen girls, Key noted, with Ubisoft's Imagine and Petz brands taking the first and third positions.

Joining new iterations of the dogs, cats and horses titles will be a Petz game featuring monkeys. For the first time, players will be able to cross-breed animals. Plush Petz will also be available at retail, with codes allowing consumers to unlock the characters in the associated games.

The Imagine franchise, which has sold 4 million units, will be brought to the Wii. Three new DS games - Rock Star, Movie Star and Fashion Designer: New York City - will also join the line.

Key announced that a new brand would be added to its games for girls line-up: Ener-G, the first videogame brand focusing on girls sports. Three DS titles were announced - Dance Squad, Adventure Riders (horses) and Gym Rockets.

Louis Lamarche then took the stage to demonstrate the upcoming Shaun White snowboarding game, emphasising the ability to play simultaneously with 16 players on an open mountain. Olympic gold medalist Shaun White himself then appeared to talk up the title.

Key next showed a trailer for the upcoming Prince of Persia game before introducing producer Ben Mattes. Mattes said that the plan was to "hit the next-generation consoles with a bang."

The game is no longer linear, he said, but will allow players to decide which path they want to take. With the variety of paths affecting the outcome, no two players will have the same gameplay experience.

A live demonstration of the game showed the audience the way the Prince and his AI-controlled companion, Elike, worked together to traverse the environments and do battle. Mattes also noted the "save me" system, in which Elike grabs the Prince and starts him immediately from the last stable platform whenever he falls - going beyond the traditional "You have died. Continue?" screen that interrupts gameplay.

Prince of Persia will be out this holiday on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Ubisoft closed its E3 2008 conference with a teaser trailer for "I Am Alive" without revealing platform or release date information. Key promised that the new IP would "shake up the industry."

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