As an owner of a PS3, xbox360 and unfortunately a Wii , This years keynote presentations from the big three all had a chance to wet my appetite for whats to come in the near future of gaming. In the last couple of years we have seen so much innovation and breaking new ground in what is possible (with the exception of the wii),so I was really looking forward to that moment of zomfg! .Unfortunately that never happened. Here are my impressions of each conference based entirely on FACTS and MY own opinion ..
Microsoft - Innovation ?......
Well lets not beat around the bush here ,they stood up on that stage and with a big smile shamelessly announced their own rip offs of singstar, buzz, eyetoy play and Wii Miis. We could argue all day that nothing is original anymore but it was clear we could see where the “inspiration” came from. Personally I think Microsoft are running out of ideas and are now intent on cornering some of the wiis demographic with a by any means necessary type
The dash update looked streamlined and functional but again heavily “influenced” by other sources. The avatars or Mii$ as I like to call them ,looked so tacky ,soulless and really out of place on a platform like 360, I had to laugh when their avatar party concept basically boiled down to having a bunch of these ugly f*%&ers standing on the dashboard during voice chat ( Home lite perhaps?) although the idea of moving from game to movie to game with the same party in that seamless fashion sounded great . I have to say I was really not impressed with the new concept but they could completely change it all before release so ill reserve judgement.
The other notable announcement was the partnership with Netflix ,which no doubt got a bunch of misinformed xbots happy they could watch everything on netflix for free via xbox360 …well sorry let me break it down. First of all the service requires a gold account subscription and an existing Netflix subscription , more importantly the service is not for access to Netflix entire library but only to the Netflix direct movie stream service which I believe consists of straight to dvd, b movies, and pre 1990s type content all in glorious standard def, so it is a bit of let down if you put it in to context. I still think Piracy FTW!
For some reason resident evil5 and fallout 3 were a part of the proceedings which last time I checked were both coming to ps3 (needed to fill up time perhaps Microsoft ?), although the fallout 3 dev announced some exclusive DLC for 360 followed by an obvious “suggested” I heart teh xbox type one liner. Cliffys gears 2 demo was awesome as expected , the levels look far more fleshed out than the first one , a definite first day purchase for me, but yet again I already knew about gears 2 before E3 so nothing new there.
Finally the “Bombshell” as all the xbots call it that SQUENIX had given in to the money and Final Fantasy 13 was now coming to 360. This is big news in the sense that ps3 have lost a title that would of definitely helped to sell consoles next year , but in the grand scheme of things this is good as everyone will now get to appreciate this title and SQUENIX will have more revenue for future projects…However… The simultaneous ps3/360 release means that the game will be delayed even longer now. I really hate the idea of the ps3 version being ready to go but having to wait months after for the 360 port until I can get my hands on it oh and also If they dare gimp the game in length or quality because of the 360 i will be pissed. It wouldn’t be fair not to mention the reaction on all the forums which gave me a lot of LOLs , generally the PS3 fanboys consensus was that SQUENIX sold their soul to the devil and Xbots who previously said final fantasy was a piece of shit all of sudden fell in love with it (gotta love hypocracy).
To summarise then , lots of sony and Nintendo rip offs , dashboard update, a clear intention to tap in to the wii market , failed Netflix buzz , and a bunch of titles that are on ps3 also.
C + - Is banjo and halo all you have?
Nintendo – Still printing money
As I tuned in to Nintendo’s presentation , let’s just say I did not have high hopes for what I was about to be shown and for the most part I was right not to. For what I can only describe as patronising from the outset , I felt like I had some form of retardation no one bothered to mention to me, because every word that came out of the “camminators” mouth was so annunciated ,slow and broken down for my apparent small mind to digest.
We had heard promises of the hardcore audiences needs being addressed in this keynote and well , their idea of that was to unveil animal crossing for the wii and…. That’s about it. But hey its an all new animal crossing right? brought up to next gen standards?... no. Quite frankly the video they showed of it looked IDENTICAL to the Nintendo ds version in terms of graphics (we are talking n64 polygons here).I know the wii does not have the graphical power of ps3/360 but ffs when I see games like Mario galaxy , I know the wii is capable of more than the crap that was on display. The only notable difference was the inclusion of a city of some sort in the game. That said I would hardly count animal crossing as a hardcore targeted game anyway, to me it’s one of those do as you please , set your own objectives , procrastination type of experiences, well unless nintendos new definition for hardcore gaming are games that involve more than one button.
An appearance from shaun white demonstrating his new balance board snowboard game felt awkward ,with horrible scripted comments from him and camminator as they demonstrated how much “fun” they were having.
Reggies announcement of the motion controller add - on bundled with the new wii sports resort title further solidified my suspicions that nintendos profits were entirely from Hardware and peripheral sales . While wii sports resort looked good in terms of the new accuracy in the wii mote , It is basically another collection of minigames that you will be bored with after half an hour. I have no doubt though that they will sell a billion copies.
In between announcements was the usual boasting of sales figures which is basically showing us that Nintendo can afford to buy the world on ds sales alone etc. which was no surprise to anyone.
At this point I didn’t think it could get any worse but Wii music managed to trump all I had just seen. The sight of Miyamoto and the Nintendo staff girating around whilst schizophrenically shaking those wii motes around was cringe worthy , I felt an awkwardness on par with being caught masturbating by your grandparents. The concept behind wii music was to eliminate the challenge and complexity of music games such as rock band and guitar hero and instead focus on the performance aspect . If you thought you looked like a twat with a plastic guitar ,wii music will surpass that quite easily.
Overall its clear to see Nintendo have taken the road to casual one button gaming now and don’t intend to turn around. As far as hardcore gamers are concerned it seems Nintendo blew their load early on in the year with smash bros brawl and Mario kart , so the rest of the year looks bleak unless they are saving a new Zelda or Mario perhaps for the Tokyo gameshow. We can dream……
F – F is for FAIL . I wish the wii fad would just die .
SONY – looks good, why cant I have it now ?
After the news that final fantasy had gone cross platform the day before , many people were eager to see what sony would have in response to microsofts acquisition. Although sonys keynote did not have the bang to it that Microsoft had I felt overall it was solid in terms of content.
From the outset it was quite clear that rather than enticing third parties , sonys focus was investing money in to first party development with pretty much the entire show dedicated to sony owned playsation exclusives. The show was led by Jack Tretton who started the show off with high energy but eventually I felt it kind of lost its tempo with jack pretty much solo on stage for the entirety.
As well as the ps3 jack wanted to emphasize the importance of the ps2 also. Many felt like the ps2 talk went on a bit too long but with over a 100 million ps2 install base I think sony would be crazy not to aknowledge it . It seemed that support for the ps2 was still ongoing with titles such as yakuza 2 due for release. He mentioned a lot of worth while ps2 titles which I would probably be tempted to pick up (thank god I have backwards compatibility).
The new content for PS store looked very interesting also with titles like pixeljunk eden, flower and fat princess catching my eye. He also showed off the new ratchet and clank game which would be a PS store download with the premise of a shorter game at a lower price. Regardless of the size of the game it still retained those pixar like graphics from tools of destruction. Right now the difference in quality from the PS store and live arcade is like night and day infact jack even had a dig at Microsoft by saying something along the lines of we don’t fill our store just so we can say we have the most games (you sly guy). Overall PS store is really looking strong with most of the new titles coming before holiday 08.
They announced a movie download service finally , which from what I saw looked well intergrated in to the stores design, what was more suprising was the launch of it on the day it was announced (now that’s very unlike sony), however they kinda forgot to mention the teeny weeny fact that it was only for America .For someone who lives in Europe I don’t have hopes of seeing this in the store until at least 2010 and when I do probably wont even use anyway.(again piracy FTW).
The blu –ray release ps3 games again looked to be pretty solid , Resistance 2 looked to be shaping up nicely ,showcasing a giant leviathan type boss encounter ,another thing to note is as with gears I think the new trend in fps will be twilight and god rays rather than the old dark and gritty brown and grey colour palette we are used to. The little big planet powerpoint presentation was genious , and probably the highlight of the whole show, it just seems this game surprises me with its depth over and over and I cant help but smile like a child each time I see it all in action.
Jim Lee stepped out to announce a new ps3 MMO based on the world of DC comics, graphically it left a lot to be desired but world of warcraft is not exactly crysis either in the graphics department ,so this could be a big thing. I think I myself would probably not be that interested in it but it shows the diversity of the playstation library.
Finally 3 titles were announced for 2009.one being god of war 3 ,which really was a no brainer. I was a bit let down they showed only a pre - rendered sequence as it suggests they are probably really early in the development cycle of it (I could be wrong) .Another game called MAG otherwise known as massive action game (possibly the worst name for a game ever) promised 256 player online battles . Again the trailer was pre-rendered so I couldn’t really comment on the gameplay but if they manage to pull it off it could be a system seller. Finally they showed infamous which I personally thought looked amazing probably my second favourite game behind LBP. It seems to be a mix of prototype and crackdown but with stunning visual polish to it, that will definitely be a day one purchase.
B- – nice ideas but must work harder.
Overall E3 was lack luster at best .Microsofts keynote was all sensationalism but really felt shallow, probably the most entertaining to watch but that’s not saying much. Sonys was coma inducing and drawn out however as far as content sony wins it hands down . If it is true that 3rd party devs will lean to the the multiplatform route from now on then I think sony have the upper hand in the near future. It seems obvious Microsoft will launch a new console sooner than we may think while SONY really want to push the 10 year plan on ps3… also…..
Oh and the wii..was ..umm ….yeah..k thnx bye.
E3 Expo 2008 - TheBlackSmoke