Thursday, June 4, 2009

Electra-Wow!

This past week saw the annual convention for all things bit-based and digitized: the 2009 E3 shebang. Senior Pop Culture America tech correspondent Michael filed the following report:

The Big 3 at E3

Well its time for the video game industry to bring out the big toys to show everyone that they aren’t just sitting around picking their collective noses. This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is up and the Big 3 (Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony) have all had their press conferences. They’ve been showing off new games, new innovations, and just teasing all of us gamers with some great stuff. Now since my invitation to E3 was clearly lost in the mail again, I’ve been enjoying the expo through our friends at G4. They've been running live coverage, commercial-free press conferences, and Steve Weibe’s attempt to break the Donkey Kong world record.
So, lets get into some highlights of the Big 3 press conferences. We will go in the order they occurred.

Microsoft

Microsoft raised the curtain with the opening cinematic of The Beatles Rockband. They went on to showcase several games that would be coming to, but not exclusively on, Xbox 360; Final Fantasy XIII, Beatles Rockband, and Modern Warfare 2. Followed by what Microsoft has for exclusively on Xbox 360. Games like; Halo: ODST where you no longer play as Master Chief, but offering multiplayer co-op. On top of that they announced another title in the franchise Halo: Reach, as well as Left 4 Dead 2, Alan Wake and now you can Twitter on the Xbox and post on Facebook from it. Really??

The real high point to the press conference, in my opinion, was Project Natal. This is a real time motion sensor control. Now motion controls have been around for a while and are best known for the Wiimotes. This motion control also has facial and voice recognition and has the ability to scan in images that are shown to it. They also showed a paint setup that seemed neat, no fine controls, more splashing really, until they made an elephant. Look it up, it’s pretty silly how they did this.
Apparently, this year is the year of the Motion Controls. But wait there’s more!



Nintendo

Next up was the giant, Nintendo. We all know them, they make Mario games. Yup that’s them all right. Well last year Nintendo was very disappointing, showing a little MotionPlus and Wii Music as their high points, (this is a low bar we’re using right now). This year they came on strong, starting with Super Mario Bros Wii, a four player Mario game much like the classic Mario games. They followed up with some backpatting, not that they don’t disserve to pat themselves on the back. Next we had a greater showing of the Wii MotionPlus, (see Motion controls are big this year). Demonstrating it with Wii Sports Resort games like archery, basketball, and sky diving. This demonstration made the game look good, and showed what the MotionPlus can do. The real high points came when they brought out the previews of some great looking games. Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks great, but it will be out after Super Mario Bros Wii. Nintendo ended on a bang with one of its best IPs, Metroid: Other M. Bad subtitle. Please change it to something else, guys. This game looks great and I for one can’t wait to get my hands on it.

There was one thing that they displayed at the press conference that I’m not really sure why Nintendo is making it. The Wii Vitality Sensor, its claim is that this pulse sensor will help you relax. Oooooookay.



Third party developers have some great looking games slated for the Wii. These games really push the graphics quality of the Wii in a good direction. We have the Conduit a first-person shooter whose story has loose connections to the mysterious Illuminati. Followed by the rail-shooter Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, which will take players through the previous Resident Evil games, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Then there is Dead Space Extraction a prequel to my favorite game of 2008, Dead Space. This rail-shooter will take players through the events on the colony and aboard the USG Ishimura prior to the original Dead Space.

Sony

Next up to bat was Sony, makers of the Playstation console. Just to be clear on things, I may sound like a Sony Fanboy in this part but that is because I have a PS2, PSP and PS3.

Everyone clear on that? Good.

Now Sony took the stage with an impressive video showing a lot of games coming out for the systems. They started off showing gameplay footage of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and M.A.G. Both games with some great looking gameplay that I am looking forward to getting my hands on. Following this they brought out Sony’s new portable, the PSP Go or as they joked the “worst kept secret of E3.” This PSP features a touch screen, smaller overall design w/a slightly larger screen, no UMD slot instead it has a 16 GB flash drive where the games are downloaded to, slide out controls and WiFi connection. Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, Little Big Planet and Motorstorm will all be making their way to the PSP. After revealing a great new trailer for Final Fantasy XIII, they revealed a Final Fantasy XIV Online. Following this came Sony’s prototype motion controls. Sony already has the first motion control system with their Eye Toy, but this tech demo showed something a little more with that. We have two sticks with bulbs on the end of them that the Eye Toy detects. Impressively this demonstration showed 1:1 motion sensing, (meaning that when the stick moved so did what it represented in the same way). The demonstration included writing, which as we know from using credit cards at the store, isn’t easy.



Then we got on to the exclusive PS3 games starting with ModNation Racers, a wacky cart racer game where you can customize your racer, your cart or your track. You can upload tracks that you design and play on other players tracks through PSN, looking forward to trying this out. I don’t know what this next game is going to be about, I don’t even have a clue as to what is going on really but I think this one is worthy of a gamer’s love, The Last Guardian. This comes from the makers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. I’m not sure how to describe it, only that I want to play it. Sony ended on a very bloody note with God of War III. This exclusive title is the final installment of the series and the gameplay looks stunning and brutal.

On a side note it seemed to me that Sony’s press conference was the only one where anyone in the audience could cheer or would cheer. Or comment on how brutal the God of War III demo was.

So there you have it. The Big 3 of gaming, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all showing strong. As a final note, you guys at E3 send some invitations over this way.

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