Dozens of developers and publishers demoed hundreds of video games at E3, which ended on June 17 in Los Angeles, but naturally, closest attention was paid when industry heavyweights Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo—the console makers—took the stage. After all, what they do directly, dramatically impacts the gaming landscape. So let’s take a closer look at what the Big Three brought to the table at E3 2010.
Microsoft’s Xbox division is really, really proud of its new motion-control tech, Kinect, but are not entirely convinced the future of gaming will consist of people standing in front of toy cameras and dancing for points. In case that doesn’t go exactly as expected (cough) they have a plan B: milk those hit franchise sequels! So ready yourself for a new Metal Gear Solid game (release date TBA), another Call of Duty game (November 9), Halo: Reach (September 14), and Gears of War 3 (April 5, 2011).
You get that? In addition to jumping up and down like a freak, you’re going to be looking through a holographic sight a lot this year. And palling around with juiced-up douchebags, voiced by Ice-T. And you’re going to like it.
Sony seems especially eager to promote Twisted Metal, as evidenced by the appearance of a real, live machete-wielding clown, who drove an ice cream van across the stage. No idea. Maybe the Juggalo gamer market isn’t properly tapped yet. But it, and Infamous 2 were for me, the Sony highlights.
3-D gaming figured large in Sony’s press conference—they demoed Killzone 3 (February 2011) along with a handful of other games that work with 3-D televisions. Yet, these games are not even “made for 3-D”; they just have some degree of 3-D support, for early adopters who own $5,000 TVs and buckets full of $150 3-D glasses and want to fiddle with experimental functionality.
Sigh. Memories of 2007 blog rants about “tacked-on Wiimote functionality” flooding back...
The PlayStation Move, mechanically similar to a MotionPlus-enhanced Wii remote, made many stand up and exclaim, “Why now? And come to think of it, why ever?”
Move-enabled games include Tiger Woods 11 (available now), and get this: a sports mix (available at Move launch). Combined with advanced motion sensors, and the Pl...
I better stop you right there. Um, you do realize you’re four years late to the motion control party? You’ve heard of the Wii, yes?
I’m talking to you too, Microsoft; you aren’t off the hook yet.
Both of you guys spent millions developing new tech, with which you could be creating all sorts of new possibilities. Yet both of you have hamstrung yourselves, instead opting to copy something that was all the rage four years ago. Do you understand yet? We aren’t living inside Minority Report, and people are sick of Wii Sports. Show us what’s in between! If your aim is to build on the fact we’re already comfortable with motion tech, and take it someplace new, that would be cool. But that wasn’t evidenced by your E3 presentations.
They’re still number one and they know it. When it was Nintendo’s turn, President Reggie Fils-Aime took to the stage and was almost arrogant, saying everything but “Nyah, nyah, we have blockbuster franchises for days, and you don’t” as he showed off the first Wii-native Zelda game, cool-looking Donkey Kong Country and Kirby games, a Golden Eye revival, a new Metroid: Other M trailer, and Epic Mickey, a Disney game which looks like it might not annoy adults.
And when it was time to demo some tech, they were not to be outdone; after all, they’re Nintendo. Fils-Aime was clearly pleased with himself as he unfurled the 3DS, almost as if he were unsticking a giant wang from his leg, and flopping it onto the table. Nintendo has handheld 3-D, mofos. Glasses-free handheld 3-D. Which apparently, actually works. The Net is now full of gushy witness accounts, raving about how good the 3DS screen looks. It was the hit of the show by a wide margin, and served to make expensive, glasses-based 3-D gaming seem even more unnecessary than it already seemed.
With seven bankable first-party launch titles (including Mario Kart and Paper Mario in 3-D) an analog stick, a touchscreen and a 3-D screen, three cameras, and a chipset which will play all existing DS games, the 3DS will also feature better day-one third-party support than any Nintendo system in history (new Professor Layton! Ridge Racer! Sims 3!), virtually guaranteeing a rich experience for anyone who buys one, whether or not the platform ultimately thrives.
That said, handhelds, however sexy they may be, probably aren't going to shake the video game industry to its core. Nintendo hasn't introduced any new characters or new franchises in a few years now—so they're probably resting on their laurels a bit, at this point. But then again, they're the only one of the Big Three who didn’t effectively stand up at E3, and proclaim that they don’t get it.