Okay, now that Sony's E3 press conference has ended, and watching all three live it's time for my obligatory blog post on what I watched. Even though this year was the first with their new format, it still felt very similar to shows in the past, but that may be because I was just watching the three major conferences. What was interesting about this year is that it seemed to work its way up. Leading off with Microsoft, which I felt was the weakest showing this year, then Nintendo, and Sony. Overally it was a good E3. This time of year is always crazy when we're being bombarded with all of this new game news. I'm also looking forward to things calming down. Anyways, off to the reactions!
I think Microsoft has the poorest showing of all three this year. I'm not really the only one who thinks so since a lot of the reactions I was reading here on the forums tended to agree with mine. Sure, the 360 has a ton of great games on the way, but we didn't really get to see anything new and there were no real surprises, which is normally what E3 is all about. Surprises are what make it exciting and why people go on the internet to watch it live! Just a bunch of game trailers and Microsoft trying to spin the sales numbers in their favor. It wasn't terribly exciting.
Could this really be the biggest surprise of Microsoft's conference?
The only real new things they had to show was the Viva Pinata party game, which is an obvious shot at Mario Party, and the Scene It? game with those silly controllers (seen above) that look like they were designed by Fisher-Price. Other than that it was a collection of a lot of footage and trailers we've all seen before. Granted, there were a few new things that were very cool to see though, including that new Assassin's Creed gameplay, the new Resident Evi 5 trailer, and the new Halo 3 trailer.
It's just that there wasn't really anything to make anyone wow and nothing really surprising. Honestly, I don't find Disney movies on Xbox Live Marketplace to be real earthshattering news. Don't foget Sonic and Golden Axe too! Oh wait, you can already get those on the Wii's Virtual Console! Okay, I'm being a bit harsh, but I just wasn't terribly impressed at all. Make no mistake, there are a lot of great games on the way and I'm excited for much of what the 360 has in store for gamers this year. Though when compared to the other two showings, Microsoft just couldn't really hold their own this time.
Nintendo's conference was much more entertaining than Microsoft's and had a number of new things to show us that easily topped what they had to show. One thing was that it was nice to finally get some release dates for these new games we've all been clamoring for for months. Knowing that Nintendo is going to deliver on their promises by bringing us Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy this year. Two titles that Wii owners will be looking forward to easily.
However, I enjoyed Nintendo's overall styl.e in how they presented their content and information. They way they showed news broadcasts, written stories, YouTube videos, and even that brief clip from the Colbert Report shows how Nintendo is starting to take over once again. This emphasis on their growing mass-market appeal was almost like a: "We told you so!" to the other two companies. Not to mention their sales figures on growth in new demographics, including the over 50 market that before now was basically unheard of in video gaming. What Nintendo has managed to do is really impressive.
Finally, the Wii Zapper is official!
One thing Nintendo decided to make abundantly clear is that they love their peripherals. It was really no secret as they seemed to just roll out one after the other. Can we honestly say this was a surprise? The fact that they are releasing new peripherals isn't, but what they had to show was. It started off cool, and then just got stranger as they went along. The Wii Zapper is a really cool design and now I'm waiting for a Time Crisis Wii to be announced. This will also be fun to have for Umbrella Chronicles too. I wonder what mystery game they'll be bundling with this though. I'm putting my money on an updated version of Duck Hunt. Next came the steering wheel. A far sight better than the plastic one offered by Ubisoft and their terrible Wii racing games. And lastly was Wii Fit. Okay, this idea just seemed a bit off the wall. I don't know if I'll be using my Wii to do yoga, but I guess we'll have to see if it all pans out. I'm just not sure if people will buy into it. While these new peripherals feel like Nintendo is trying to get our money from us again (GBA-GCN cords, e-Reader--I could go on), as long as they are released with games for a reasonable price I can live with it.
This year will be great for the Wii. Many of the games I bought the system for will be hitting making it a good time to own a Wii. Not to metion Mario Kart Wii with full online is going to rule. Then there's Metroid Prime, Mario Galaxy, Smash Bros...I can't wait!
Lastly comes Sony. I'm happy to say they had quite a turnaround from the silliness that sparked many a forum-fad from last year. From making fools of themselves, I think they had the strongest showing this year. First off was the PSP. While not a full redesign like everyone thought, it's nice to see they are making improvements with a lighter system, more RAM, and more efficient battery, new colors, and still having a reasonable price point. Also that the new functionality, like TV output, will still be available to existing owners so as no to alienate them. More of a replacement than a redesign, I may finally have to buy into a PSP because there are a mess of titles I would still like to get my hands on.
The updated functionality of the PlayStation Network and Home looks very promising. Home in itself is looking great and it should prove to be a fun and entertaining way to interact with your friends as well as a fun time-waster. It was also great to see better integration between Home and games. If Sony can nail it right, they will be able to give Xbox Live a run for it's money. Competition is one of the best parts of the industry because it forces companies to better themselves by trying to one-up the competition. From the conference it seems like Sony is learning. The PSN games also looked awesome like WarHawn and LittleBigPlanet, though we've seen those before. EchoChrome though, was the craziest out of the bunch. It seemed like a game that M.C. Escher would make.
Big PS3 titles make their most recent showing.
What really spoke volumes though, were the games. Not to metion some surprising announcements like Sony's partnership with NCsoft and Unreal Tournament 3 exclusivity. However, the various trailers they showed really got my attention. This is what Sony was promising when the PS3 was first unveiled. I knew it would take some time, but the true PS3 games seem to be finally here. Some of the trailers were old news already, like Assassin's Creed, Burnout Paradise, and Resident Evil 5. However, some of their ther showings really stole the show amongst all three companies.
It was nice to get a few new details on Heavenly Sword. The fact that it will be very story-driven is very interesting to me and is getting me more curious about the game than I was before. Infamous, from one of my favorite studios: Sucker Punch!, looks awesome and was definitely not expected. It was also great to learn more about Ratchet & Clank Future, one of my all-time favorite franchises, but I would have liked to see more of that game shown. Then there was a bit more on Uncharted, which is shaping up nicely. I'm very impressed with the amount of work and emphasis put on character animation. Gran Turismo 5 looked phenominal. The detail was amazing, and soon I think I'll be saying 'Forza who?' Gran Turismo had been the king of racing sims for a long time and it's good to see them finally taking the crown back.
Meet your match, Halo.
Then there were the heavy hitters: Metal Gear Solid 4 and Killzone 2. MGS4 now finally have confirmed exclusivity, which isn't too much of a surprise. The new trailer looked amazing and it was great to finally hear it in English. Also the series is finally wrapping up. Though sad, it will be great to finally get the scoop on this crazy MGS universe. Even though it's been delayed, the simultaneous release is a pleasant surprise. Then there's Killzone. Forget pre-rendered. It's amazing how close they've actually come to recreating that video that no one thought could be reproduced with in-game graphics. The only real noticeable graphical flaw I saw were that the characters' mouths looked odd. But overall the game looks simply amazing and better than any Halo 3 stuff I've seen. Not to mention it was all in-game footage. Destructable environments, great animations, the blood splatter. Killzone 2 looks to be the force to finally reckon with Halo like it was originally intended to.
I'd also like to throw Sony some kudos for being a little more humble this time around. They mentioned how their past success is not guarantee of their future. They may have had to learn this the hard way, but it's good for them to acknowledge this and get themselves on the right track.
This year's E3 had it's ups and downs from all three companies. Mircosoft has a great lineup, but just didn't show enough new content. Nintendo fed us some great new info on their upcoming games, but went a little too crazy with new hardware. Finally, Sony showed a lot of great new content and updates to their products, but just had too much to show that they moved a bit too quickly for it all. In the end though, it's safe to say that all three of these companies will be finishing out 2007 strong while we all burn holes in our pockets over these awesome games you're giving us.
Thank you Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony!