Man, I’ve been as sick as a dog the last week which is why this entry is so late… You better be prepared to do a lot of scrolling cause just like last years entry, this one is going to be about as long as longcat… maybe even longer.
Actually, last year I mainly focused on which of the big three console manufacturers “won” E3. This year I’ve decided to post up two entries, one that will resemble the style of last years and another one focusing on all of the things that were shown off during the event that weren’t mentioned during press conferences for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. I want to give some love to the PC gamer fans out there too.
So, here we go…
Out of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, who took the crown to be king of E3 2011?… Well… this year turned out not to be anywhere near as definitive as last year. Basically the following image sums everything up pretty nicely…
Yeah… not as megaton as we had all hoped for, though I still look at this years E3 a little more optimistically than most…
Microsoft Press Conference
Microsoft generally comes to E3 each year with a pretty standard set of games to show off and really nothing too extraordinary unless it’s the reveal of new hardware. Their conference this year was very similar to their showing last year, a mix of traditional games among a number of Kinect titles and some expanded options for the 360 OS. The difference this year is that they didn’t have anything too strange… remember their Kinect launch event last year? Ugh, yeah… I’m sure anyone who can remember wishes they could forget.
A year on from the unveiling of Kinect, Microsoft is set to try to bring a wider variety of titles under the Kinect flag. It’s going to be interesting just how many people will end up taking advantage of the Kinect features in Mass Effect 3 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier or if anyone really cares enough about Fable: The Journey despite Peter Molyneux assuring afterwards that the game is definitely NOT on-rails.
There are some new ideas being thought out for Kinect, but you can’t help but think that if Microsoft had bundled some type of control interface shaped like the Wii Remote + Nunchuk or the PlayStation Move + Navigation controller, then it’d make things a lot more simple for a lot of developers… just take the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier demonstration on stage.
Overall, there’s really nothing that compelling that was shown off during the conference, though I do look forward to the Halo: Combat Evolved remake and to see where 343 Industries takes Halo 4.
Now here’s a closer look at the key moments of their conference in the order they were shown…
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Microsoft seems to have a thing for starting their conferences off with another helping of Call of Duty. Last year it was Black Ops, this year it’s Modern Warfare 3… I didn’t care back then and I still don’t care right now. Though I am kind of amused at each iteration of the series becoming more and more like a Michael Bay movie than the last. Of course, most CoD fans themselves will skip the single player experience and spend all of their time playing multiplayer, making this entire presentation completely pointless. Of course, who cares what I think, Modern Warfare will sell millions even with Battlefield 3 as their competition. One thing I can say about the game though is that it looks stunning… though so does Battlefield 3.
Unlike Modern Warfare 3, the new Tomb Raider managed to show off a game that was not like the previous in the series. There is definitely something different about Lara and it’s not because this game is a prequel to all the others that came before it. This new Tomb Raider borrows a lot of the cinematic flare I’ve experienced previously with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Dead Space 2. Some fans of the series may not like where this may lead the game and the series in the future, however I feel that this strange cross-pollination is a good thing just as long as this Tomb Raider is able to keep enough of what made past games so enjoyable as well.
It’s a strange balance that they’re going for and although the demonstration did look pretty good, when I think about it, it did seem like too much of a guided experience than perhaps what players would be used to. Hopefully this isn’t true of the full game because unlike most other Tomb Raider games, I’m actually interested in buying this one. And again, this game looks visually awesome too…
EA Sports for Kinect
I’m not going to go into too much detail here since very few people who read this will care. However, I’m sure Kinect functionality on EA Sports titles will be quite a winner with a lot of casual and expanded gamers out there so EA is right on the money. Added to the the added functionality to standard EA games such as The Sims and they’ve got an easy winner happening… but onto more important things…
Mass Effect 3
As mentioned in the introduction to the Microsoft conference, Mass Effect 3 for the Xbox 360 is getting Kinect functionality. I’m sure a lot of Mass Effect fans are groaning right now and wondering why Mass Effect even needs such a thing. From where I’m sitting it seems like Microsoft is trying to convince developers to add Kinect functionality to their more traditional based games to try to convince the “hardcore” audience to embrace Kinect as something that’s not just for the expanded audience.
The voice commands during conversations seemed more than just a little silly, however I was intrigued by the ability Kinect gave players to command their companions during a battle. That said, most gamers aren’t going to want to talk to their TV for any reason during a game… maybe if Kinect added head-tracking to create that windowed 3D effect we’ve seen demonstrated on a lot of tech-demo’s it would’ve been a little more interesting.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Where Mass Effect 3 focused on voice commands, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier went with the “use your body as the controller” motion controls aspect of Kinect. Suddenly you’re all going to become Tom Cruise in Minority Report, except without any sensor attachments on your hands. You’re going to be zooming through menus and enhancing your weapons with ease all with your bare hands.
It’s great that they’re trying to do all of this stuff, but aside from being a nifty tech demo or seeing it in a movie, I can’t really see something putting down their controller to suddenly start making hand motions for all of these menu interactions. Worse still was when they had the demonstrator try out the gun he had just customised on stage… I don’t want to relive it, it was horrible. I often wonder why people are so against motion controls starting with all the motion control hate Wii got back in the day and this demo just opened my eyes.
The guy looks like an idiot as he tried to fire his weapon, however I also felt that if Microsoft had made some kind of a Kinect specific controller, this would’ve all turned out to be a million times less silly than it looked on stage with the guy using his bare hands, opening and closing them to fire his weapon. There definitely is a fine line when it comes to motion controls and that line is determined but that really is a different article for another time.
Metro user interface for Xbox 360
It’s not a game and to be perfectly honest I don’t really care about the Kinect or Bing functionalities which are coming with it, all I’m really interested in is the fact that the Metro UI is coming to the Xbox 360. I just hope it’s sooner than later because I’m a big fan of this user interface and its implementation in Windows 8. Added to that the news that Microsoft will be bringing Xbox Live seamlessly to Windows 8 users makes this even more exciting for me… though on a purely video game related front… who cares. Push A to start playing…
Again, the problem here is if you’re a person who is willing to talk to your TV, however I can see the advantage considering that very few people have any kind of keyboard associated with their 360. It’s a lot easier to tell talk to your TV and say “bing porn” than to deal with the controller based on-screen keyboard or to fumble around and try to find whatever keyboard you happen to be using with your 360 or if it’s plugged in or turned on or whatever. Not that you’d look up porn on your 360.
I also like the YouTube integration coming to Xbox Live, however if it wasn’t for the fact that I have my PC hooked up to my HDTV, using it as second monitor, I personally have no use for YouTube on my 360. What I really like out of what they showed coming with the Metro UI was the Live TV services that Microsoft is pushing all around the world through the 360.
I’m also aware that this is a brilliant marketing strategy by Microsoft to indirectly get people aware of what Windows 8 can do for them in the future…
UFC Undisputed 3
I’ll be perfectly honest with you here… I really don’t care to see big sweaty men fight and wrestle with each other and all that… now if this were Foxy Boxing on the other hand, that’s something I could get into!
However, when they played the video for the game I was absolutely astounded by how well animated the characters were. It’s one of the few moments when I saw a video game and couldn’t tell if it was some kind of live-action FMV or actually the game engine itself. This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when you spend a fuck tonne of your time and money creating the animations for the character models in your game.
Gears of War 3
I’ve tried to be a fan of Gears of War but it’s never really grown on me… I don’t hate it, but I don’t really like it either. To be honest, I don’t really know what to think of it or how I can manage to get someone I know on Xbox Live to play some co-op with me since most people I know don’t seem to like the series.
Anyway, there’s really nothing new to report on the Gears of War 3 front since they showed it off last year. Another small demonstration on stage with Ice-T for some reason. Game looks really good visually as is pretty much everything being released these days… what more can I really say?
It looks like last years reveal of Project Kingdoms has made a comeback to E3 with a proper title and a more clear idea of what the game is all about… which is hacking and slashing away at everything that comes near you. It looks to be another one of a long line of on-rails Kinect games that requires the player to kill everything in their path and kill some more. I’m interested to see more of this game just to see if it will actually be successful in sparking an interest in playing or even buying the game. Who knows, but it looks like a lot of developers are trying their hand at different kinds of Kinect games just as other developers tried to see what they could do with Wii.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Everyone knew it was coming and it’s going to be interesting if 343 industries can manage to remake the original Halo without making it seem awkward. I do hope that after they finish with the remake of the first Halo, they’ll go back and create a remake for Halo 2 as well instead of saving it for November 2014. I also feel that they should really save Halo 4 and the new trilogy for the next Xbox system, but I’ll go more into that when we talk about Halo 4 later on.
Forza Motorsport 4
Yet again, another visually beautiful game that now has Kinect functionality added to it thanks to Microsoft’s aggressive campaign to convince the “hardcore” that Kinect is also for them too. Though aside from a nice trailer they didn’t really go into too much detail, however if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that head-tracking is one of the things that you’ll be getting if you have a Kinect hooked up to your 360 while playing Forza. That said, the lag seen on that video is horrendously bad…
Fable: The Journey
When I first saw the demonstration of this game it looked like just another on-rails Kinect game, however we’re assured that the game is definitely NOT on-rails. Again, I personally think this is yet another title that could benefit from some kind of Kinect specific controller to help developers out… just a little. I certainly don’t want to be leaning in all directions just to make my character move when I could easily do that with my thumb on an analog stick.
One of the more interesting announcements to come out of E3 is that Minecraft is coming exclusively (in terms of consoles) to the Xbox 360 and will (like pretty much everything else) use Kinect functionality. Though nothing more was said about that, instead our attention was put onto the more casual Kinect titles…
I’m not going to bother having different sections for the Kinect games… I know, I’m terrible but like casual and expanded audience games on every other platform, while I think they’re great nothing about them interests me personally at all. There were lots being shown off including Disneyland Adventures which will be great fun for kids and families. Then there was a closer look at Kinect Star Wars which seems as uninspiring as it did when it was first shown off at last years E3… yet again, another Kinect game that could’ve used a Kinect specific controller set. Also, there is one aspect about that game that does piss me off though… it has pod racing, but it’s not PROPER pod racing like in Episode 1 Racer we had years ago. It’ll be some crappy “tilt to drive” control scheme and LucasArts will say “hey, look at this, we gave you a pod racer game like you asked!” NO YOU DIDN’T!
Anyway, after that the Cookie Monster introduced Tim Schafer to the stage who has been busily developing Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. That game is overflowing with colourfulness and cuteness and is going to be a kindergarteners favourite game very soon. Also, I’d just like to say for the record that the little kid who was part of that simulated family on-stage was really, REALLY creepy. I don’t know why but that kid was creepy.
One of the more interesting things shown that is Kinect related was Kinect: Fun Labs, an application available on the Xbox 360 that will allow you to try out different Kinect fuelled experiences video game developers and regular people out there on the internet have created using Kinect’s abilities. One of the Kinect enabled creations shown off on stage was an avatar creator that was essentially a much more advanced version of the little application you got on your 3DS to make your own Mii using the inward facing camera. The camera on Kinect on the other hand is able to capture not only your face but your proportions and clothing as well.
Other neat Fun Labs applications were shown off and however I’m sure there are a lot more interesting things to be seen in Fun Labs that they didn’t show on stage. If I had a Kinect I’d go and see for myself, however I’ll have to wait for the day when that one game that convinces me to buy a Kinect is finally released.
Okay, getting tired of talking about Kinect games now… but you can’t deny that there’s a lot of people who are going to enjoy all of those sports titles and Dance Central 2… just not me. Now onto something a lot more interesting…
He’s back… though perhaps not in the order than I wanted him to return. As I said before in the anniversary section above, I really don’t think Halo 4 should be released or even revealed so soon. To be perfectly honest, I want 343 Industries to focus all of their attention on remaking Halo 1 AND 2. The first remake can come out this year and then the remake of Halo 2 the next year… then they should have revealed to the world that Halo 4 would start a new chapter for the Halo franchise on a new system… Microsoft’s next generation system.
I feel that this would’ve been a perfect and killer launch title for the system and would also put a final closing marker on the Human-Covenant war depicted in Halo Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo Wars, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach. Halo 4 doesn’t belong on the Xbox 360 simply because it should be marking a new beginning for Halo. Of course that’s just my opinion but whatever…
Sony Press Conference
Sony’s came to the conference with as much fire and vigour as they could muster considering what they’ve been through the last couple of months with the hacking of PSN. They clearly had quite a lot to go through in their conference and they didn’t waste time. Again, Sony pushed support for 3DTV just as they did last year, showed us more PlayStation Move enabled content and also introduced us officially to PlayStation Vita.
The marketing spin they laid on thickly last year was shed in favour of showing us more games and how they were unique on PlayStation 3 compared to other platforms. In fact, Sony has convinced me that perhaps with PlayStation Move, I’ll buy some of my multi-platform games for my PS3 instead of my 360 like I usually do.
To add to the mix, Sony had a few small surprises in the form of their PlayStation 3D Display and PlayStation Suite as well as the big surprise of the low, low price of the PlayStation Vita. This is a very different Sony from the one that came to E3 last year since they kept Kevin Butler in his imaginary hole this year and stuck to the real content.
It was a very good showing which is why I’ve tied Sony in 1st place with Nintendo. Read on to find out in more detail what they showed off and then to the Nintendo section to find out why they tied with Sony…
Now here’s a closer look at the key moments of their conference in the order they were shown…
After a lengthy video clip showing off everything Sony has to show off at this years E3, Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America took stage to offer a few words about the whole PSN fiasco that had occurred earlier this year. I’m really glad this was the first thing Sony came out and dealt with before they tried to show off their line-up for the rest of the show and they did it wonderfully.
Despite what criticisms people may have for Sony, they did handle that whole PSN hacking situation as best as any company could do under the circumstances and we’ve all come away from this whole thing with a new appreciation for Internet security.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Like the first two Uncharted games before it, Uncharted 3 looks brilliant, though to be perfectly honest it is starting to show its age compared to some other games out there that are being released. I’m sure there’s going to be a number of really large scenes in the game that’ll blow us all away but I’m talking about the smaller finer details such as some of the small animation inconsistencies and such. Nothing to make a big deal about but after three games you tend to scrutinise these things a little more.
The whole 3D aspect of the game would be nice if I had a 3D HDTV, but I’m not planning to buy one of those any time soon since they’re a waste of money and I have a perfectly good HDTV in front of me right now. Also, I hope multiplayer is a lot more compelling than what was in Uncharted 2… I didn’t really care for it in that game. Of course, just as the trailer depicts, the single-player experience is obviously going to be totally kick ass so you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll enjoy the multiplayer or if you can be bothered with 3D or not.
Oh boy, here’s another series on PlayStation 3 that just keeps on getting better and better. The next instalment of Resistance, like a lot of other games coming out, looks awesome… and thankfully Resistance is moving away from that whole dull “next-gen” grey/brown filter and actually adding some damned colour and life to this next game. This game really does show off what the PlayStation 3 is capable of when a developer who knows the system inside and out makes a game for it… and after all these years, Insomniac Games REALLY does know what they’re doing with that system.
Also I’ll say it again, while this game supports 3D, I’m sure most of us aren’t going to be able to experience it unless we’re really aching to go out and buy a 3D HDTV or have one already. On the other hand, games like this really want me to go out and buy a PlayStation Move + Navigation controller since I know how well traditional games can work with the Wii Remote + Nunchuk… that and I’m not a fan of the DualShock controller, never have been.
So yeah, I’m definitely going to be buying that Resistance 3: Doomsday Edition that includes the PlayStation Move and Navigation Controller bundles with the game as well as that neat gun shell accessory… which I probably won’t be using, but who knows, maybe it’ll be awesome and I will use it.
God of War: Origins Collection
The announcement of this collection is kind of amusing for me simply because of the trend I’m noticing of former PSP games being turned into PS3 games. But that’s a good thing, I’d much rather play God of War: Ghost of Sparta and Chains of Olympus as well as other former PSP titles on the PS3 than on their original platform. Hopefully games such as Valkyria Chronicles II and III will jump ship too… one can only hope.
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection
Of course, the collection everyone really wants isn’t the God of War one… it’s the HD remaster of Ico and Shadow of Colossus. I’m so glad Team ICO is putting in the effort to bring us this collection because my PS2 version disc of Ico has stopped working and I never actually owned Shadow of Colossus. Now everything will be set right… also, for the many people who missed out on both games, this is a second chance to own the magic.
I do want to ask though… where’s The Last Guardian?
PlayStation 3D Display
Now here’s something different and interesting that Sony is trying to do with it’s whole 3D campaign. A cheaper option for people to get into the whole 3D gaming and movie craze that’s been going around. The price of 499USD sounds pretty good since it includes a nice 24″ display as well as a pair of those 3D glasses, a copy of Resistance 3 and a HDMI cable. Not only that, but it also has the ability to eliminate two player spilt-screening by allowing each player to view a different image through their 3D glasses.
It’s great, I like it… however it’s definitely not for me. I already have a 40″ HDTV that may not be capable of 3D video playback, but it’s still a very nice TV. Also, I really have no use for eliminating two player split-screen games with the technology combo of this TV and the glasses because I only really play single-player games on my PS3. Finally, the biggest thing about this TV is that it is purely a display and cannot be classed as a television since it doesn’t have a digital receiver to allow it to watch broadcast television.
That said, this is perfect for people who want to kick their kids off of the main TV onto a secondary TV so they can play their PS3. I’m sure other people could see other reasons to buy this however I foresee this being sold in very limited quantities since it’s too much of a specialised device.
While Microsoft teamed up with EA Sports to show off what could be done with Kinect, Sony has teamed up with 2K Sports to do the same with PlayStation Move. Kobe Bryant came on stage to do his thing for NBA 2K12 and reminds us just how awkward these whole celebrity appearances can be. I’m still trying to figure out why I should care about Ice-T making an exclusive song for Horde mode on Gears of War 3. In any case, it’s nice to see the Wii Remote being used in HD gaming.
Medieval Moves: Dead Man’s Quest
During the demonstration for this game I made it a particular point to look really closely at the demonstrator’s left hand while he was playing. It was empty which means no Navigation Controller to control where you want to go… which means this is yet ANOTHER on-rails game being shown off at E3. So yeah, nothing really impressive here… unless there really is something impressive about this and I’m just not getting it. Please let me know if that’s the case.
It is interesting to note that the motion controls for this game are a lot more… theatrical than most. It was more like he was playing a Kinect game than a Wii clone…
It’s kind of strange to have inFAMOUS 2 return to E3 2011 considering the fact that the game was being launched that very week. I consider E3 to be more about what’s coming in the future and not what’s just about to hit right now… by E3′s standards inFAMOUS 2 should be old news by now and should never have been part of the conference, but I guess it is a series Sony is trying to push out there.
I won’t bother trying to add another little section for it, but Sony is really pushing Move content on to as many titles as they can, much like Microsoft is doing with Kinect… though I thought LBP2 already had Move integration from the beginning… oh well.
I like the idea of transforming mecha since I’m a huge fan of Macross, though I’m still not much of a competitive gamer any more so I’m on the fence about Starhawk. Perhaps if there was enough to persuade me to buy it I just might. Actually I’m kind of interested to know just how much success Sony has had with games like Warhawk and MAG that are totally based around the online element. Must be good business if Warhawk is getting a sequel…
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
I’ll admit it straight up… never in my life have I played a Sly Cooper game and I know absolutely NOTHING about the series or what it’s about or what makes it so great. If anyone wants to educate me about it, you’re welcome to.
Here’s something interesting, an FPS MMO set in the EVE universe which will come exclusively to the PlayStation 3 but will also feature support for NGP (which you all know by now is called PlayStation Vita). I’m interested to see what kind of connectivity the game will actually have with Vita, though from the looks of the handheld system itself it may actually be a full portable version of the PS3 game so you can get into the MMO action on the go. Very nice…
BioShock Infinite looks as gorgeous as ever with its vibrant colours and really nice art style. I’ve bought the two original BioShock games for the Xbox 360… as as fate would have it I also own both of those games for PC through a Steam sale bundle. The only thing that’ll really make me buy this game for the PS3 is if it has Move support… oh look, it does. Well, here we go, I guess I’ll be getting BioShock Infinite for the PS3 now, though maybe I don’t need yet ANOTHER copy of the first BioShock.
If Sony can do this with more multi-platform games then they can successfully get me to stop buying multi-platform games for the Xbox 360… But wait, BioShock for Vita? You have my attention…
More Move games…
They’re just rattling through a bunch of games that’ll have PlayStation Move support so there’s no reason to really go through them all in their own sub-headings. However, as I said above, Move support is a very persuasive tool to get me to look at buying multi-platform games on the PS3 instead of the 360, so the more the merrier, I guess. Lots of exclusives and lots of Move supported games. Very nice, Sony.
With titles like Saints Row: The Third, two Star Trek games, SSX, Need For Speed: The Run and Battlefield 3 which includes Battlefield 1943, Sony’s got a lot happening for them at the moment… Also, if that Star Trek game plays and feels anything like Mass Effect 2 then I’m very interested.
I’m not 100% sure but I’m pretty sure I first heard a little about PlayStation Suite when Sony announced their new Android based tablets, the S1 and S2 which would be running a customised version of Android Honeycomb and would give people the ability to play PlayStation games on the devices. I wonder if Sony is maybe thinking about expanding this to other non-Sony brand Android devices such as the slew of Honeycomb tablets being released on the market this year.
I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see where they take this thing.
Finally we get to the really good stuff… At first I was sceptical of the NGP, now called PlayStation Vita because I thought that with all of the power and input devices crammed into what can only be described as a thick brick of a system, it’d end up costing people an arm and a leg. However, Sony has learned many hard lessons over the years with both the PS3 and PSP and they’ve surprised me in a very good way at the price of the system.
While the system does come in two models, a WiFi only variant at 249USD and then a 3G/WiFi version priced at 299USD, I’m going focus on that WiFi only version since I’m sure very few people are going to be willing to sign up on a 3G contract for it.
The price of the WiFi only model is exceptional for many reasons. To begin with, it’s pretty damn good value for everything you get both hardware wise as well as all of the online and wireless services Sony has packed into the system, but more importantly it is the exact same launch price as the Nintendo 3DS which means that Sony is right on Nintendo’s heels for this next generation of portables. Now all Sony needs to do is come up with a variety of games that will rival the line-up coming to the 3DS in the near future.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
I have to say, they chose one hell of a game to show off for their introduction into what Vita is all about and what it can do. Uncharted: Golden Abyss looks stunning and you can’t even tell the difference between it and Drake’s Fortune on the PS3.
While the game looked great, I was a little taken aback by the touch controls and what can only be described as an oversimplification of the gameplay mechanics for Uncharted. Of course, you don’t HAVE to use these touch controls as was demonstrated so I guess when it comes time for me to play the game, I can easily just keep my hands away from that touchscreen.
That said, while most of the action orientated touch elements of the game don’t interest me, I can see the benefit of reloading and picking up weapons with the touchscreen since Vita doesn’t have as many buttons as the DualShock. I’d really like to see what other features they have for the game especially the rear touch-panel and how they’ll use that in the game. In fact, I’d like to see how a lot of developers end up using that rear touch-panel for all of their different games that will be developed for the system.
Now here’s another cross-platform game coming to both Vita and the PS3 which seems very interesting. I’m really liking the level of interaction Sony is forging between these two systems and how you can seamlessly switch from one platform to another and continue the game. While DUST 514 talked about it, Ruin is showing us exactly how it’ll work and it’s looking great.
I’m not really a fan of the ModNation Racers series but all of Vita’s control inputs is a great thing for this game… and I really don’t have much more to say about it other than it looks to work exceptionally well for the system. Oh, again, nice PS3 to Vita interaction again by allowing people to access all of the ModNation Racers PS3 content on the Vita version. Not only that but Wipeout 2048 is also jumping into the mix and allowing 8 player races together using both the PS3 or Vita as their system of choice.
While I’m standing by what I said about the touch controls for Uncharted, I’m actually really enthusiastic about what I’m seeing with LittleBigPlanet on Vita. I never really got into the PS3 versions of the games because I didn’t really like the controls, however with what the trailer showed off at Sony’s conference, this looks to be something I could possibly like a whole lot more than previous versions.
Street Fighter X Tekken
At this point in time you’re kind of thinking it’s Capcom and Street Fighter VS the entire world… well, these crossover games are really popular with a lot of people and it’s very understandable why. Of course, I really have no interest in Tekken and have never been a fan of the series so that means I have no interest in this game either… oh, well… at least the translator for this year wasn’t bored.
Looks great though, and adding Cole from inFAMOUS into the mix is a good thing for PlayStation fans.
Nintendo Press Conference
Compared to the other big console companies, Nintendo’s E3 showing was pretty small and lacking in big third party offerings. Instead they focused on their home grown stuff and started off the show by celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. For me this was a pretty big thing and the announcements they made were pretty significant.
The middle of the conference was all about the Nintendo 3DS with Iwata and Reggie tag-teaming to show off the first party titles Nintendo will be bringing to the mix later this year. A lot of great games were shown off including a short trailer of third party games. The best thing to come out of this part of the conference was the return of Luigi’s Mansion on the 3DS. It was a very misunderstood game on the GameCube so I’m glad it’s making a return.
Finally, Nintendo saved it’s third and final part of the show for it’s new upcoming home console called “Wii U”… I know most people weren’t convinced and in many ways I’m not either, but there’s a lot to talk about with Wii U and overall I think this is a really good direction Nintendo is going in provided they can pull it off perfectly. There really is no room for Nintendo to stumble now because they have a lot of competition in Sony and Microsoft that they can’t ignore.
Overall, Nintendo scored equal 1st with Sony due to Wii U, the amount of good looking games coming to the 3DS later this year and the celebration of Zelda’s 25th Anniversary which we’ll get to enjoy more of as the year progresses.
The Legend of Zelda: 25th Anniversary
Okay, I’m a pretty huge fan of The Legend of Zelda series, so when Nintendo’s conference starts off with a live orchestra playing through a medley of the well known themes for the series and then finishing off with the theme for the upcoming game, Skyward Sword, it naturally brings a tear to my eye. As much as Super Mario is Nintendo’s most popular and well known character, I feel it’s The Legend of Zelda series that is Shigeru Miyamoto’s greatest triumph, so the celebration of its 25th anniversary is a really special thing for me.
Shiggy elaborates on how each platform is receiving its share of Zelda love. The 3DS has Ocarina of Time 3D but also, just announced, the 3DS virtual console will also be getting Link’s Awakening DX and is available on the 3DS eShop the very day of the conference. For those of you who don’t know, Link’s Awakening is considered to be one hell of a good Zelda title despite it being created for a handheld. I look forward to it being available on the 3DS since I never got to own a copy of the game legitimately.
But wait, there’s more! The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords will be coming to the DSi store in September and will be FREE. We’re talking about the GBA version of the game which includes local multiplayer… I don’t think they’ll modify the DSi version of the game to play online multiplayer which is probably why it’s free.
It gets better though, because Shiggy also goes on to announce that there will be 25th Anniversary Zelda Symphony Concerts being held around the world. I really, REALLY hope that one of the cities this concert will be held is Melbourne so that I can experience it for myself. Not only that but Nintendo will be releasing two music CDs. The first being the official soundtrack for Ocarina of Time 3D and the second being a symphonic soundtrack based on the concerts occurring later this year.
They didn’t go into any more detail, however we are also told that there will be other Zelda related things occurring over the year to celebrate the 25th Anniversary… wow.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
I wrote a hell of a lot about Skyward Sword in last years E3 mega entry so I won’t go into too much detail here, however I have noticed that the game has come quite a long way since it was first revealed last year. It’s hard to say for sure, but things do look a lot better and the game seems to play a lot better from what I’ve seen of people playing the demo at E3 through videos on the net. I really can’t wait to get my hands on it when it comes out because it’s going to be so damn awesome. I really do feel like Skyward Sword has the potential to be THE best Zelda game released so far for a number of reasons.
Before I go into that though, I really like the gold Wii Remote bundle that they’re going to be putting out with the game. Not only is it a really neat thing to have but it’ll also allow players who either don’t have the WiiMotion Plus accessory available or have the older version to upgrade to the built in version in this Wii Remote. It’s just too bad that they didn’t include a gold Nunchuk as well.
Anyway, I lied… I said I wouldn’t get down to too much detail but I really HAVE to talk about some of the things I’ve learned about the game during this year’s E3…
Story and setting
We’ve known since last years E3 that Skyward Sword is the origin story of the Master Sword, however with the new information we’ve gotten from this years E3, it looks like it may be the origin story for a lot of other elements. It’s been revealed in the latest trailer and the demo Skyward Sword demo stations around E3 that Link will be able to ride on a large duck-billed bird with red feathers in the skies surrounding his home town of Skyloft. For Zelda fans this is very significant because of the red bird emblem that has been on every Hylian Shield since Ocarina of Time. Not only that, but this may very well be the origin story of Hyrule itself and the establishment of the royal line which Zelda is a part of.
In Skyward Sword, we discover that Zelda is the daughter of one of the more important people in Skyloft, possibly the town leader (who I think resembles both the King of Hyrule from previous games and also Rauru, one of the sages from Ocarina of Time). As it is with The Legend of Zelda games, Zelda finds herself kidnapped and Link begins his adventure to get her back safe and sound. It’s all pretty basic stuff, but the more I see of Skyward Sword, the more connections I’m making with previous Zelda games.
Remember back to Twilight Princess at the later stage of the game when you discover from Ooccoo that there was once an ancient civilisation that lived in the sky and their descendants were the Hylians of that time. It looks like Eiji Aonuma and the rest of the Zelda team are using existing lore very well to craft the story of Skyward Sword and create a much more compelling game. I’m also interested to know just how this “Demon Lord” Ghirahim fits into the mix.
The gameplay of Skyward Sword also interests me very much. Each enemy encounter has been described as being a puzzle within itself because you can to think about how the enemy is defending itself and find the weak-point in their defences to defeat them. As I watched the many videos people have taken of themselves playing the demo, I suddenly realised that the sword combat in Skyward Sword reminds me a lot about the gameplay mechanics for Punch-Out!! It’s such a great comparison, a boxing game where instead of mashing the buttons you use your wits, figure out an opponents weakness and the opening to those weaknesses and then exploit it to win.
I’ve also gone into great detail in last years E3 entry about how much Skyward Sword borrows from Wii Sports Resort, but from what I hear coming from Shigeru Miyamoto during E3, it seems like this game may be borrowing from another game as well. Recently this game was described as being one giant dungeon where every area would have its own puzzles and challenges no matter where you went and that the game would encourage you to go back to areas you had already been to once you obtained new items. Does this not sound familiar to some of you out there? It certainly does to me because this is EXACTLY the kind of thing you do in METROID.
Not only that but we also found out that Link is able to find parts to upgrade his weapons and gear throughout the game. The more I think about it, the more I love it because it’s combining the things I love from one video game series and combining them with the things I love from another video game series.
But before I get too carried away talking about the Metroid connection, I’m really digging the fact that Link has a stamina bar for certain power actions Link can perform such as his ability to dash and his spin attack. I also like how they’ve given your shield a stamina bar as well so if you use it too much it ends up breaking. I really like that concept because it encourages players to think about their battle tactics and to actually dodge attacks. It’s certainly going to make long boss fights a lot more interesting, especially the ones near the end.
The use of WiiMotion Plus is excellent in this game and the best I’ve seen yet, not only does it give you some very interesting controls, but the enemy AI also uses the data being sent to anticipate your attacks and try to block them. I really can’t wait to play this game later this year.
Iwata came out on stage and teased us a little about Nintendo’s upcoming home console before leading us into the line-up for the Nintendo 3DS. Last year the 3DS wowed audiences by giving them an experience they hadn’t had before, however the hype has faded and now all people really want are the game and for developers including Nintendo themselves to hurry up and start releasing them for the system.
Seriously, the 3DS has been too damned quiet on the gaming front until just recently with the opening of the 3DS eShop. The system needs to show us what it’s got otherwise it’s going to be crushed by the very powerful competition that is the PlayStation Vita.
As Iwata left the stage, an on-stage video presentation popped up showing us upcoming 3DS games such as Mario Kart, Star Fox 64, Super Mario, Kid Icarus and Luigi’s Mansion 2. By the end of the on-stage video presentation Reggie came up and teased us a little more about Nintendo’s upcoming home console before going into more detail about the 3DS games we just saw.
Another system, another version of Mario Kart… though I’m glad they’ve brought back the coins from older versions of the game but also added in some nice quirky features into the mix. Hopefully the online system available for the 3DS will make online Mario Kart races a lot easier than they were on Wii and the Nintendo DS.
Star Fox 64
It’s a shame that we’re getting excited for ports of old Nintendo 64 games, but I think Nintendo is realising for themselves that the best Star Fox is the one that came out for that system and there’s really nothing they can do about it but re-release it for the 3DS. I don’t really see online multiplayer being all that great considering that multiplayer on the original game wasn’t very good either. I wonder if flying using the motion controls of the 3DS will turn out to be any good… but Nintendo… DO A BARREL ROLL!!
There’s no denying that everyone loves a good Mario game and that there is rarely a bad one made. The version of Super Mario coming for the 3DS is bringing back the Tanooki suit so it’s definitely got a lot going for it. As I watched the trailer it seemed very reminiscent of the New Super Mario Bros. variations that have come out in the past (and future), but because it added in more motion toward and away from the camera thanks to the 3D effect allowing players to feel the depth of the environment, I did get a slight sense of Super Mario Galaxy in there too.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
While a lot of the other games shown off so far have had many sequels, Kid Icarus is one game that’s going to be harder to figure out because of its rarity and late return to the front-lines. The latest trailer released for the game showed off and a few cinematic moments and the meat of the gameplay which seems to be based off of Sin and Punishment (if you don’t know what that is, use Google).
I’m also interested to see just how well the 3-on-3 competitive multiplayer aspect of the game works and if that’ll end up being popular at all. It certainly does look pretty fun. As for the AR Card stuff, I can give that a miss… never really cared for that part of the 3DS experience.
Luigi’s Mansion 2
The final game on the 3DS line-up is the sequel to the old GameCube launch title, Luigi’s Mansion. I felt that the original game was so misunderstood and Luigi got a lot of unfair criticism over the game just because it wasn’t another Mario game. I’m glad that Luigi has returned to clean out more mansions of creepy ghosts and it looks to be a good fit for the 3DS… though I think it could work pretty damn well on Nintendo’s upcoming console as well.
More 3DS games
Before the Nintendo conference set off in its third and final leg to introduce its new home console, a trailer showing off future third party titles was shown. The games shown in the trailer were Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Ace Combat 3D, Tetris, Cave Story 3D, Resident Evil: Revelations, Driver: Renegade, Pac-man & Galaga Dimensions, Tekken 3D and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D.
Reggie also went on to speak about the new 3DS eShop which opened the day of the conference, but really there’s nothing that special about it. It’s basically the same thing you get on Wii and DS and will feature 3DSWare games as well as Virtual Console games for the 3DS. Oh and for a limited time you get a 3D version of ExciteBike for free so grab that while you can. Oh, and there’s a free 3D Pokédex as well, though that’s no big deal.
Finally, Nintendo goes on to unveil the next generation of its home console line, the successor to Wii called “Wii U”… and already you can tell the audience doesn’t know if they should clap or not but they do anyway. I’ll come out and say it, it is a very awkward name. While I found the original “Wii” name to be very novel unlike most people when Nintendo announced it many years ago, I can’t really say the same thing about Wii U… it just doesn’t feel right. Wii as a name was clear and simple and one syllable. Wii U sounds like some kind of grammatically incorrect name that I have trouble saying aloud because it just doesn’t sound right. I’m not talking about any of the stupid urine jokes people make either, it just doesn’t sound right. I wish they had just gone with a simple “Wii Plus” or something like that, would’ve been much easier on all of us.
But enough about the name of the system, what really defines Wii U is the controller. Some people call it the Tablet Controller or the Wii U Pad, I think I’ll use the name “U Controller” to describe it from now on. So as you can see above there’s a set of images that show off the U Controller and how it will work with and without the TV as well as how the Wii Remotes and all of your other Wii accessories are still coming along for the ride in the next generation.
When I first heard about the rumours and saw mock-up images of what people were coming up for the controller, the images I liked the most were of the controller looking like a tablet. So when Nintendo finally revealed what the controller actually looked like I liked what I saw, though upon closer inspection there is a hell of a lot of improvements you could make to this controller to make it a lot better than its current form. Of course, I’m saving that for another separate entry entirely so you have that to look forward to in the coming days. In the meantime we’ll look at the controller as it is.
In late 2005, an interview was held with Shigeru Miyamoto where he envisioned a console that didn’t need to use a TV. When the U Controller was finally unveiled it seems as if this dream has finally been realised. The introduction trailer showed us pretty clearly how you could easily switch the TV to another channel or off and play your games entirely on the controller’s 6.2″ screen which is streaming its content directly for the console itself.
Not only that, the screen itself is a resistive touchscreen that allows the use of a stylus as well as your hands, though unfortunately it’s not a multi-touch screen like many of the tablets and smart phones out there in the market at the moment. The reason for this seems to be because Nintendo wanted to be able to allow people to use a stylus with the controller which, as far as I know, isn’t possible with a capacitive touch screen unless you buy one of those really thick stylus pens which are horrible to use as a proper stylus.
Aside from the obvious tablet-like shape and huge screen in the middle (not the mention the two slide pads), the controller was obviously made with a more traditional form of gaming in mind and Nintendo has come out to say that it wants to bring back the “hardcore” audience back into the fold while still catering to their newer expanded audience. In an effort to do this Nintendo has made sure that the hardware inside Wii U is somewhat more powerful than what is found in both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Speaking of Nintendo and the competition, Iwata announced in the conference that the new Smash Bros. will have some kind of cross-platform functionality for the Wii U and the 3DS. This seems very familiar considering what Sony is doing with the PS3 and PSVita. I guess we’ll see how things work out on that front and whether it will be as popular as it seems to be on Sony’s side of the fence.
All of this is great and I love where Nintendo is going with their new home console, however…
Nintendo has a lot of problems to deal with
First I’m going to focus on the hardware inside the console itself. Nintendo has finally jumped into the High Definition realm with Wii U and will feature 1080p games… though it’s not known if these games will be 720p games upscaled to 1080p which is what 99.9% of the games this generation were on the 360 and PS3 or whether they’ll be true native 1080p resolution games. Either way, Nintendo is catching up on the hardware performance side of things and Wii U’s hardware, while not finalised, is said to be somewhat more powerful than the competitors consoles.
The problem with this is two fold. Firstly, having a console that’s somewhat more powerful than the competition is great because now developers can port over a tonne of content from the 360 and PS3 over to Wii U without too much effort and add in some extra functionality based on the U Controller. But that’s really not going to benefit anyone who has already invested all of their money in either of 360 or PS3… why would they want to buy games they already have on Wii U? Nintendo is trying to re-capture a lost audience with Wii U but all this will really do is give their existing audience something they didn’t have before.
The second problem to come out of this is that when Sony and Microsoft do end up revealing their next generation of home consoles, there’s an extremely good chance that whatever they come up with will end up eclipsing Wii U in terms of hardware specifications. Wii U will eventually end up in the same position that Wii was in this current generation and third party developers will shift their focus on Sony and Microsoft, only making games for Wii U when they want to exploit a certain niche.
Moving on to the issue of Nintendo and online services… from what we’ve been hearing it doesn’t sound all that great, mostly because Nintendo haven’t bothered to say much of anything about their online service for Wii U other than the fact that they’ll let third party developers decide how they want to do things. I don’t want to have to deal with Friend Codes on Wii U but at the same time I don’t want to have to have a number of different user accounts spread amongst various games just because Nintendo doesn’t want to have to deal with a unified system. I really don’t see Nintendo’s online paranoia fading away, especially after the whole PlayStation Network incident.
Then there’s the whole issue of keeping their promises about what the console is going to achieve. Remember when Wii was first unveiled and Iwata promised us that the console would be connected 24/7, the system would update its firmware all by itself without prompting as it was turned off and every day you’d wake up and there’d be some new content in one of your games? Never happened… there were quite a lot of promises made with Wii that never ended up happening.
Talking about the controller itself, I’m sure Nintendo will come up with a lot of great ideas, though if what happened to Wii is anything to go by, you can bet that most developers are going to end up coming up with some really uninspiring uses for the U Controller… though maybe not. The strange part of this whole dynamic with Wii U and the U Controller is that the functionality of both devices working together is possible with the PS3 and PSVita. Of course since both of those devices are sold separately it’s a lot harder to tailor-make games to use both of them at once… but that’s not really stopping them from adding a thick layer of cross-platform functionality between the two systems. It’ll be interesting to see how Sony’s plans will effect Nintendo and their plans for Wii U.
Finally, it doesn’t help that the third party game reel that was shown off had footage of PS3 and 360 games rather than the Wii U version so certain games. In fact, the only official Wii U game being shown off was LEGO City Stories (basically it’s LEGO Grand Theft Auto) and New Super Mario Bros. Mii which is pretty much just New Super Mario Bros. Wii with new levels and playable Mii characters… in HD.
There’s a lot of great things you can end up doing with this system and I can’t wait to see is revealed in the months to come, but at their showing at E3, Nintendo didn’t really have anything that compelling to set them off on a higher level than Sony. However, I do like the road Nintendo is taking with Wii U. I also like how they made it a point to get EA on stage with them… Dead Space 3 on Wii U? I’d like to see that…
So here’s a very basic summary of what I spent too much time writing about above.
- 2nd: Microsoft
Microsoft did nothing to convince me that Kinect is something I should invest in in the near future. They basically repeated the show they did last year with a newer line-up of games… and sure, Halo CE Anniversary and Halo 4 is great and everything, but it’s nothing THAT exciting.
- 1st: Sony and Nintendo
In contrast to Microsoft, both Sony and Nintendo did a lot more to convince me to invest in their future projects. Sony made me want PlayStation Move enabled games and Vita looks like one hell of a portable console. Nintendo also gave me a lot to look forward to on the Zelda front as well as their future home console, Wii U.
So there we go…
And there we have it, the end of this entry… but wait, there’s more! I’ll be posting up a more detailed entry about the U Controller and also a second part to this E3 entry focusing on games not shown at the Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo conferences.
Hopefully I can get all of that up sooner than later and still have time to play some vidya, but in the meantime, I hope you guys enjoy this entry.
- E3 2011 Predictions: There can be only one!! | 2 June 2011
- Falling out of love… what happened to EA and Nintendo? | 2 February 2013
- The inevitable death of physical media for video games | 5 January 2013
- Vidya of 2008 | 30 December 2008
- E3 2010 | 19 June 2010