Okay, I’ve now watched all three of the major conferences (Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo). What follows are, of course, my opinions.
First let’s declare the winner:
Everybody presented very solid stuff. Nobody had an announcement that pushed them over the top.
So let’s start with Microsoft.
Tomb Raider looks like Crystal Dynamics looked at Uncharted 2’s sales and said “Hey, that’s OUR money!” The look of the demo reminded me very much of Uncharted, plus they really, really like beating the crap out of Lara. Do not like. What I do like is the fact that this game will potentially tell the story of how Lara goes from a fit and attractive but otherwise unexceptional 21-year-old woman to…well, Lara Croft. I also love the idea of a hub world and that attaining new abilities will allow you to access new areas – in other words, it’s apparently going to be a 3D Metroidvania, and there are not enough 3D Metroidvanias in this world. A new one, well done, and featuring the grande dame of action-adventure gaming sounds like fun to me.
Modern Warfare 3. Did you like 1? Did you like 2? You’ll like this one. I actually like the fact that the gloves are off and it’s a global conflict – yes, several missions in MW2 were set in the continental United States, but at this point Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer have basically stated, “Screw it – everybody hates each other, which means we can set our missions anywhere in the world we want. Even in NOT_DESERT!”
Tim Schafer. Is doing. A Kinect game. About. The Muppets. A lot of other people think that this might be his time in hell after publishing two excellent but commercially unsuccessful games, but frankly I see this as a real opportunity – and I believe he does too. Plus, my son is going to go absolutely spare when he finds out; guess I’ll be buying a Kinect (and possibly a second Xbox for the living room) soon.
By the same token – a Kinect game where you tour a virtual Disneyland. It’s brilliant. Plus, son, spare, etc.
It’s nice to know that the dialog in Gears of War 3 will be just as horrendous as in 1 and 2.
Oddly enough, Microsoft was the only company not to unveil any new hardware at their conference; but then why should they? The 360 is working and selling well, and the Kinect doesn’t need a new version – it’s the software interpretation of what it sees and hears that is improving.
Uncharted 3. Day 1 purchase, will play until my eyes won’t focus, but then we already knew that.
Okay, 27-inch PS3-branded 3D TV. Yaw – wait, you can use the same tech to allow two people to play a shooter on the same screen without needing splitscreen? Finally, a decent use for shutter-based 3D! Who cares about the actual 3D – let’s bump the refresh rate up to 240 so four people can play!
Sony is still committed to the Move, and Dead Man’s Quest actually looks pretty fun to play. It also has the honor of being a new game, rather than a franchise game with Move support smushed into it (like, say, I don’t know, NBA 2K12).
The NGP is now called the Vita. It’s basically a super-PSP. It fixes almost all the PSP’s problems, is backwards-compatible with (downloadable) PSP games and starts at $250. And if you want, it can be your phone. Why didn’t the NGP win the conference? It’s still missing the L2, L3, R2 and R3 buttons, ensuring compatibility problems even with some PSX games – ‘sright folks, its controls aren’t as good as the original DualShock’s. How long do we have to wait until they fix this? Plus, I can’t wait to see how long you get on a single charge – I’d bet it won’t be more than 4 hours.
Ruin. What started out looking like a Diablo ripoff for the Vita got freakin’ awesome when they announced that you can a) build your own dungeons to prevent other players from looting your stuff and b) save your game on the Vita, load it on the PS3 and keep playing. More of that, please.
Whoa, a new Sly game? On the PS3? Did the Sly Collection sell that well? Not that I mind, I’m just surprised.
Nintendo talked about new software for the DSi, 3DS and Wii U. Notice what system wasn’t on that list? That’s right, the Wii. That strongly suggests to me that the Wii is effectively dead – all Nintendo’s efforts from now on will be put into the 3DS and the Wii U.
Speaking of the Wii U…what the HELL is up with that controller? It’s way too big and bulky, and it’s not its own device; Nintendo tried hard to gloss over it but they were forced to admit that the controller isn’t a gaming platform. Why not? It’s got wi-fi, a nice screen and a processor; why can’t it operate separately from the Wii U? Plus, there’s no way that controller will sell for less than $100.
And Nintendo is again trying to grab a piece of the older market, but the games they’re doing so with are not console-exclusive
This brings up something I’ve been thinking about. Nintendo really, really doesn’t like controversial material on their consoles. Blood? Fighting? Bullets? Okay, they’ll let that slide. But when was the last time you heard about the “controversial new game for the Wii”? Can you imagine playing through a mission like Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” on a Nintendo console? Or seducing Liara T’Soni? This is why Nintendo is still the kiddie pool – they refuse to allow the deeper emotional experiences that these games provide on their console because they know somebody somewhere will get pissed off. And Nintendo can’t stand that.
Nintendo could have won, you know. They could have easily won this conference. All they would have had to do was say, “Okay, here’s the controller for the Wii U. It’s a traditional dual-analog controller. Why? Because the Wii U has motion control and voice recognition built in, and it’s as good or better than the Kinect. Its graphics are on par with the current systems, and to prove that we’re serious about catering to mature gamers, here’s a console-exclusive FPS based off of modern specops missions, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. We’re also beefing up our network to handle all the new multiplayer games that will be released for the system.” Sony and Microsoft would have thrown in the towel right then.
Okay! Going to close with my favorite trailer from E3 so far. Content warning. (In other words, it’s not a game for a Nintendo platform.)