E3 may not be as big as it used to be - or as flashy - but it's still an important date in the game industries calendar. Although the extravagant booths and the scantly clad booth babes may not be a part of E3 anymore the press conferences held by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are still very much a highlight. After watching all three conferences I've come to the conclusion that each console has something unique and amazing to offer us all. At last I'm genuinely excited about this new generation of gaming.
If I had the money I'd own all three consoles but, for now, I think it'll have to be the 360 (mostly because I can hook it up to my monitor to get HD visuals without having to splash out on a new TV).
Every year I'm baffled by Microsoft's press conference. Not by what's on offer but by their insistence to hire people who'll sit in the audience whooping and hollering after every soundbite, video and new piece of information. If a company is offering genuinely exciting products then the journalists and general public don't need a few over-the-top antics to become interested.
The press conference opened with a band playing the theme from Halo, because we all know that Microsoft can't do anything without mentioning Halo (to be fair though the press conferences are all about promoting the things that are making them money). As with every E3 press conference, however, there's always something that makes you cringe. This time it was Peter Moore playing Rock Band with Harmonix and trying to sing. Still, the game looks amazingly cool even if I ashamedly admit I've not played Guitar Hero yet.
I've been planning to get an Xbox 360 for a while now but lack of money has proved otherwise. One of the main reasons I want to get a 360 is because I'm deeply interested in Mass Effect. As expected it looks absolutely gorgeous. I like RPG's that don't follow the 'normal' RPG formula in that you can shoot someone in the face without all the bother of statistics. It's also coming out in November so I best get a 360 soon.
A tonne of trailers were also shown, some of which you may have already seen (such as GTA IV). Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is looking nice, but I always have been a bit of a Call of Duty fan. It seems the popular Call of Duty formula has translated well into the modern era (see charlieoscardelta.com for more details). It was annoying that no new footage of GTA IV was shown (they just showed the previous two trailers) but I expect we'll see some new footage soon enough. Microsoft seem to fapping over the additional content Rockstar will exclusively provide to the 360.
Assassin's Creed is also a game I'm looking forward to and a new real-time demo was shown during the press conference. I'm really loving the interaction with pedestrians (if you can call them that) and the free running.
I think I'm missed something....oh yes, that mostly unknown game called Halo 3. It's not all that important because the game itself isn't very popular (wink wink) but a new trailer was shown. Curiously it was a live action trailer that left many disappointed (probably connected to the Halo movie) . A new Halo 3 360 was also confirmed and shown, which also includes a 20GB drive. Just to be annoying another Halo 3 trailer was shown before the conference ended.
Obviously you can tell I'm not a massive Halo fan, but I always did think it was a bit overrated. Anyway, overall the conference was nothing special. Plenty of gameplay but nothing we didn't already know or anticipate.
Some have said that the Nintendo press conference was disappointing but I both enjoyed it and thought it showed a lot of new innovation off. Granted, some of it we've known about for a while but it never hurts to get new details - does it?
Nintendo showed small films throughout the press conference showing how their innovation had been received in the media, especially the Wii-mote. You can't blame Nintendo for emphasising how popular the Wii has become and, if it were any other company, I'd be saying it can get tiresome. However, Nintendo has always prized itself on originality and innovation and they hardly ever (Virtual Boy excepted) fail to deliver. So, in my eyes, they're allowed to bask in their glory.
I was surprised when Reggie revealed 69% of industry growth this year came from the sale of Nintendo products. I realise that the DS and Wii are selling by the bucket loads but 69% seems like a bit of an overblown statistic to me.
The new Wii Zapper design was shown next, looking a bit more futuristic than it's earlier prototype and also a bit like a sub-machine gun. To be fair it's nothing new and it's getting more and more like the Wii is something you'd play in an arcade. Ignoring it's b-movie style name the price point, at $19.99 for North America, is very pleasing.
More games were talked about and shown off (such as Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Metroid Prime 3 and that Mario and Sonic Olympics game that millions of people are looking forward to...) but I'm not going to concentrate on those because the Wii Fit is really something worth talking about. A new 'controller' (like a square board) is placed on the ground and you stand on the board doing the various exercises while the 'controller' picks up your movements. Various moves include push-ups, step aerobics, one-legged stretches, sideways twists and even heading footballs. More than 40 different exercises will keep you from getting fat. There's been various 'gimmicks' in the past that say we can use video games to exercise but I really see people (including myself) using this to exercise, mostly those who don't go to the gym though.
Nintendo always aim to please and I don't think they've let us down this time. Some said that the appeal of the Wii would quickly wear off but Nintendo are making sure that new innovative and fun additions keep people interested.
I've always been a bit of a Sony guy (after my good old Sega consoles, of course) but the Playstation 3 didn't really interest me at first. These days, however, the PS3 has far more on offer than what was previously touted.
A big highlight for me is LittleBigPlanet. I prefer PC games usually because user generated content (such as mod's and new levels) plays a large part in a games community. User generated content for consoles has been a long time coming and now the three consoles of the infrastructure to support it then I think it's time it's rolled out in a number of games. LittleBigPlanet is exciting because it keeps us gamers hooked by allowing us to create our own content. A games lifespan can greatly increase if the power of creating new content is put in the players hands. I'm glad and excited that Sony has begun to recognise this.
Speaking of user generated content Playstation Home (Sony's 'social network/Second Life lookalike') was constantly emphasised, with Harrison and others speaking from it. You can always guarantee a bit of cheesiness at E3 press conferences and Sony didn't fail to deliver
(such as Chewbacca presenting the new white PSP design with Darth Vader's face on it) but Home is looking pretty nifty, even if I haven't really figured out it's purpose. I do like the ability to upload pictures taken on a mobile phone straight into Home, however.
The new PSP doesn't really look much different. Sure, it's lighter and a bit thinner but the re-design is nothing as drastic as the DS Lite was to the original DS. There's a new video output feature which allows you to watch videos and play PSP games on a TV screen. I don't think this is a good enough reason to buy the new PSP if you already have one though.
Some games that caught my eye include the incredibly tough looking puzzle-game Echo Chrome, Warhawk, a dark looking game called Infamous, and a new apparently real-time trailer of MGS4.
Killzone 2 was left to the end and, well, it was obvious why. Killzone 2 looks to be Sony's killer ap at the moment and, let's face it, it was going to be hard to regain people's confidence after the travesty that was the original trailer. I'm pleased to say that it's looking almost as good as the original trailer (see the two compared here). A Halo killer? It annoys me when people say that. The two games are vastly different so comparing the two is pretty pointless. Halo is a far more colourful game while Killzone 2 does look overly dark.
There's still a lot of things that Sony need to do in order to make me want to buy a PS3, and the PS3 also needs to get a lot more exclusive games. Still, my confidence in Sony has risen a bit, but I think I'll give it another year in order to make a good judgment.