So the biggest week of the year for the video game world is here and it started these last two days with the annual first party conferences where the Big Three unveil there plans for the year to come. With everyone still on a major console release freeze we are instead being introduced to the current hot properties for Big Three, gaming for everyone and motion control.
Now Nintendo has a head start on this mindset as this is what they have spent the last few years building Wii around, motion controls and games for everyone, so Microsoft and Sony used much of their space to debut and show off their entries into the motion gaming world. I will take this company by company and share my thoughts on how excited I am for the next year based on their E3 showings.
Microsoft’s show was all about the Natal, I mean the Kinetic, wait not Kinetic it’s Kinect. Kinect, I will just go ahead and say I really am bothered by this name; hopefully I stop calling it the Kinetic. Any ways, Microsoft showed off some live(?) demos and while it was kind of cool it wasn’t all that impressive at the same time.
The fitness game from Ubisoft is by far the most intriguing thing going for it game wise but I think I was most excited by the new Dashboard and movie controls through voice recognition than anything. Though, the camera taking pictures of you mid game in the Adventure ride thing was kind of neat as well. Oh, an Harmonix’s dance game looked solid and most like a real game, I am sure I will suck at it though. (That Asian girl could dance!) Star Wars Kinect also left me way too underwhelmed.
Overall with Kinect I need to see it used more and more effectively in games that aren’t Wii ripoffs or simple concept uses of the hardware. Show me how it can make Mass Effect or Red Dead Redemption cooler and I will be far more intrigued.
As for the non Kinect games there wasn’t a whole lot to write home about. Gears of War 3 looks pretty but more of the same. Same goes for Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops, Fable 3, they look pretty but are sequels and are very familiar. That said I am sold on Reach just for the multilayer based off the Beta last month. Metal Gear Solid: Rising though, now this looks fun, Raiden is slashing everything with his blade, and I mean everything, and the action looks crazy fun and over the top. You can slice people in half, or fourths, or eighths; go crazy folks.
And that is about it for Microsoft, wait that is it? A bunch of ripoff Kinect games, 5 3rd or later generation sequels? What about Xbox Live titles? Scott Pilgrim, Rock Band 3, Shadow Complex follow up, Dreamcast ports, some ORIGINAL content? Nothing? You have nothing? Sure your ESPN partnership is great, but this is a gaming system and you showed no new franchises, titles, or little to no inovation at all in anything you do. Instead you spooned us sequels and stolen ideas from your competitors. I own a 360 but I am not all that excited for what you just showed me.
On to Sony, where sadly mostly more disappointment follows. The Playstation Move, or Wii rip off, was put on display and they showed us that you can play Tiger Woods just like you already can on Wii! Now I will admit, Sorcery looks like it has the potential to be awesome, but come on, this is your big Move reveal? At least it is going to be cheapish, cheaper than Natal, I mean Kinetic, I mean Kinect. (God I hate that name) Sorcery does show some real potential for the Move (and Wii developers) too bad this is all we got.
Now on to 3D and FPS! Am I the only one who doesn’t need another post apocolyptic FPS every three months of the year? Medal of Honor does look pretty solid though and will be quickly dubbed the MW: 2 killer it very well could be. Sony is also riding high on sequels, Little Big Planet 2 looks deep for the creative folk. Gran Turisimo 5 looks like GT, but now in 3D, plus another Portal (Yay!), Assassins Creed, Infamous, and Final Fantasy are the big titles on display but again little to no innovation or originality. Sony wrapped things up with a new Twisted Metal which failed to look like it was anything more than a prettier TM: Black.
So again, more dissapointment and far less interesting titles and innovation then the company thinks they are throwing at us. Though I am behind this 3D push and think it could be really cool down the line once it is more mainstream and become a big part of gaming. Besides that, show me some more Sorcerer!
Oh yeah, and where the hell was, Last Guardian, Sony?!?!?!?
Now, Nintendo’s big hardware wasn’t for Wii but the new 3DS and while it all sounds cool in concept, is getting raves for the visuals from anyone that touches it, we can’t sitting at home which means we can’t see the effect and Nintendo showed zero footage from any of the games in development except for Kid Icarus; which did look pretty sweet. So lets move on from the 3DS which is promising but completely foreign to someone who isn’t at the show.
Aside from the 3DS, Nintendo focused on the games and while they all stayed pretty tight with the franchise faces they looked like a lot of fun. In fact, most of the new games felt decidedly old school but taking advantage of the modern tech; think New Super Mario Bros. Now, the Zelda demo has some glitches but if it works properly, and reports from the show floor say it does, then it could be a lot of fun and a very interactive step for the franshice. The art and design of the game was also intriguing as it seemed to be like a lighter natured version of Twilight Princess, almost Ocarina-esque.
Moving onto their other intriguing titles, a Goldeneye reimagining by Activision, a sweet looking new Kirby side scroller, Retro Studios take on Donkey Kong Country also looked like a blast, and the biggest surprise was probably in how cool Epic Mickey looked from Disney. Mickey was the most forward thinking and innovative game of the bunch but the Kirby and Donkey Kong games looked to be taking proven models and amping them up to 11. Golden Sun DS sequel also looked solid and fans of Mario Party are getting Wii Party this year.
A lot of these games have familar characters and could be dubbed sequelish, but they seemed rooted in new and innovative ideas and Nintendo did a great job of getting me excited to play their games this year; something the other studios severely dropped the ball on.
After it was all said and done I was most impressed with Nintendo’s showing and I haven’t even seen the 3DS in action. Sony’s Move has shown potential with Sorceror, but without more examples I can’t really know if it is just going to become a potential novelty like the Wii-mote is used as all to often. Kinect is also intriguing but I need to see it applied to a more hardcore title before I get excited about it, especially for $150.
Sadly, I feel a bit cheated as well after these showing as I feel like the focus on great games is as common as ever and originality and innovation are sadly not what the Big Three are terribly focused on. Nintendo is still leading the pack, but Sony and Microsoft are still playing catch up and until they and their third parties get familar with these technologies we are still a few years away from some potential breakthroughs in use and creativity with these products. Oh well I guess, less money out of my pocket this year, and at least it looks like my Wii will be getting a lot more use.