In case you have been on vacation or just hiding under a rock, this week was the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 convention in LA. The convention is where a majority of the major gaming announcements for the year are unveiled. While there were some interesting announcements this year, the event ended up being another big disappointment.
For those that missed the press conferences, here is a quick rundown. Microsoft showed off Fallout 2, Gears of War 2, a new Xbox Dashboard, and had two major announcements. Microsoft has partnered with Netflix to bring streaming movies to the 360 by way of your Netflix subscription, and they announced that Final Fantasy XIII will be coming to the 360. Next, Nintendo did their announcements which included a Shawn White snowboarding game using the Wii balance board, the Wii Motion Plus attachment, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Music. Last was Sony. Sony didnt have much in the way of interesting game announcements other than one of my personal favorites, a new God of War game. They showed off two new Resistance games but nothing that spectacular that hasnt been shown before. They also showed off Little Big Planet and Playstation Home. Sony’s bombshell announcements (outside of God of War 3) were the unveiling of a new video store on the Playstation 3 and a new PS3 with a $100 price cut.
Lets start with Microsoft. I will admit that Fallout 3 looks awesome, especially with the Fat Man gun and the ability to target individual body parts and shoot people with teddy bears. Gears of War 2 and Final Fantasy 13 looked impressive but not in an ‘I need to change my pants’ kind of way. The real announcement here was the changes to the Xbox and Xbox Live itself. The new Dashboard interface looks very simple and clean compared to the current version. This is nice but im not sure its something that really matters. With this, they also introduced Avatars. Avatars are the Mii’s better looking cousin. I can’t give Microsoft credit for originallity here, but at least they are better looking and more human like than Nintendo’s Mii characters. I will admit the whole Party concept is great, especially with the ability to watch your friends Netflix movies. Speaking of Netflix, that announcement didn’t suprise me in the least. Such a deal has been known to be in the works for many months and while I am glad there is finally an announcement, it didn’t have any unknown suprises with it.
Nintendo on the other hand, was a complete snooze. Much like Microsoft, there was a bunch of boring sales data that, while interesting interesting in the past, has lost much of its meaning with monthly NPD data being released to the public. Being a Shawn White fan, I will admit it was cool to see him. Being a fan of snowboarding games since 1080 for the N64, I think this looks interesting although I’m not sure it will make me want to buy the Wii Balance Board. Wii Sports Resort looked interesting when coupled with the Wii Motion Plus, but seemed to lack the really fun games that were apart of the original Wii Sports. Wii Music on the other hand just looked terrible. Not only is it ugly and look strange, there seems to be no skill involved in the game and seems to be about as involved as playing the air guitar. I dont see this game selling very well at all. The most disappointing part of the whole Nintendo event was that they said that the Mario and Zelda teams were working on something, but said nothing more.
Finally, we come to Sony. This was probably the best event out of all of them. While they didnt have any shocker announcements like Microsoft announing Final Fantasy XIII, it was a solid confernece. Unlike the boring data that Nintendo and Microsoft had, Sony talked about their stats and Greatest Hits games using Little Big Planet, an idea that was absolutely brilliant! The movie store was a great announcement as they went directly to the movie studios rather than through Netflix in a move that I see as a huge Screw You! to Microsoft and Netflix. The pricing feels about right for the movies and even feels like a bargain when you find out you are now able to put a copy of the movie on your PSP to take with you anywhere while still having a copy on your PS3. A God of War 3 Trailer was shown off, which made me scream with joy. No ship date though. Finally, their major hardware announcement was a new, 80GB PS3 with the same features as the 40GB PS3 for the same price as the 40GB PS3. Essentailly the 80GB PS3 will now be available again outside of the Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle and for $100 less. What is still unclear to me is that if it has the same features as the 40GB, I assume that means that there is no PS2 backward compatibility that has previously existed in the 80GB PS3 units. While I would like some clarification on this, this is still a big announcement and the only major hardware announcement of the event (Microsoft made their announcemnt a day early, so im not counting that).
While there were some decent announcements and solid game demos, compared to years past, there seemed to be a major lack of excitement with the conference. There were very few major game announcements, and the major Halo announcement that everybody was expecting was pulled at the last minute. Hopefully there will be some better game announcements at other shows or this could turn out to be a very disappointing holiday season for gamers.