This year's E3 press conferences were full of surprises and disappointments, so I thought I'd round up a few of my own positives and negatives of each. I'll go ahead and run these down chronologically. I wanted to start with the cons so I could try to write positives without squeezing in a bunch on negatives in between.
This year Microsoft began to really bear a striking resemblance to a certain Batman villain, Two-Face. Even the press conference itself seemed to be divided in half. The first half contained more blood and profanity than a company should be allowed to air at a live event. Testosterone soaked, muscle bound space marines blasting everything in sight. Then they quickly transitioned to Kincect, showing off some extremely cute (if not fairly generic) titles that give anything Nintendo has thrown out there in the party genre a run for it's money.
Microsoft seems to be suffering an identity crisis. Even their best bridge title from Lionhead got nothing more than a trailer on stage and nothing more. These guys have every one of their eggs in two baskets, and simply seem to be ignoring everything else that exists. Even Disney eventually decided to bust into the PG-13 crowd of movies lately, but Microsoft either wants it Blood soaked and M-Rated or squeaky clean and rated E with nothing in between.
Lastly, the reveal of the new 360 really offered nothing new. It looks different yes, and finally packs wireless inside, but no blu-ray? Not even a slot loading DVD drive? Are you still just spray painting some generic DVD drive and slamming it in there? I threw out a prediction that they would remove the red light and say the system was now more reliable and I was totally right!(http://www.joystiq.com/2010/06/16/xbox-360-slim-17-smaller-than-original-incapable-of-rrod-ing/)
Ok, one more lastly. Exclusives. I'm not talking exclusive titles, I'm talking timed exclusive content. This is just petty and childish. All it shows is how deep your companies pockets are, not the value of your platform to consumers.
Ok, it wasn't all negative. There were several things in the conference that I thought were great. Although it only got a brief mention, Fable 3 looks fantastic! This franchise somehow manges to crank out a sequel in less than 2 years and it looks very fresh to me.
Next, Kinectimals. Yes, that little girl could melt a snowman with cuteness, but the title didn't seem to be any slouch. I really think Kinect will shine with this type of experience.
Speaking of experiences only Kinect can do, Dance Central from Harmonix was also great! This really shows that a single point of motion control on your body isn't enough. This could not have been pulled off by either Sony or Nintendo with their respective motion sensing technologies. Imagine really learning to dance from a game. Really cool stuff.
Forza was also a very cool concept. I can't speak for not actually holding a wheel while driving, but the concept of touring the car by moving around looked cool. I love the idea of tilting your head while you race to look around a turn.
Kinect really stole the show, and it's clear why Microsoft decided to focus on it. Even the video chat made me say "wow" when the girl moved and the camera tracked and followed.
Can you say epic fail? That about sums up the Zelda on-stage demo. I was really looking forward to seeing this title, and I almost cried to think that it was actually worse at drifting the sword than Wii Sports Resort. But the longer I watched, you could tell it was infrared interference. Happily, the press confirmed in their various hands on reviews that, it works just fine.
Is it just me, or did Wii Party even look bad for a Wii title. They could have at least ran the thing through an AA filter for the trailer. Jaggies galore, and very washed out colors! It looked decently fun, but man was it ever ugly.
Epic Mickey is next on the block. The gameplay looked great, but the art direction was..."interesting." Mickey looks like some weird pre-rendered rendition. I think he even looked creepier in the cutscenes than he does on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I'm probably being too harsh seeing it out of context, and I hope I'm totally wrong.
This next one is more of a first impression problem than a con. When Kirby was revealed, I almost cried for joy, until I saw the first little bit of gameplay. That almost made me cry for a different reason. The stitch look wasn't doing it for me at first, but I think it's grown on me as I've watched the trailer a few times and found some really cool ideas there.
So, you can probably tell from my cons, that I didn't have anything outright negative to say about the Nintendo showing. There seemed to be positives laced throughout even the cons. I'm going to try not to gush too much here, but I think Nintendo nailed their conference.
First, they started with the big guns. Zelda, right off the top. The art style was fantastic, and worries that we were going to get some stripped down Zelda title to emphasize motion, immediately disappeared as the first gameplay trailer rolled. This is definitely going to be one to watch for.
Next, more throwbacks than I ever could have hoped for. Just about every Nintendo franchise was at least mentioned in the keynote, and most had full on games to support them (Although Mario Sports Mix seemed cool, I don't count it as a full Mario game.) This was one of the strongest 1st party lineups I've ever seen from Nintendo.
No mention of the Vitality sensor, and no other Peripherals in sight. This was a huge plus for me. Raise your hand if your kids get buried in peripherals every time you try to pull out that stubborn nunchuk from the back of the game cabinet. I hope this thing is getting nixed, I wasn't excited for it at all.
3DS! That's really all I should have to say, but hey also brought their A-game with both 1st and 3rd party game lineups. Kid Icarus, Nintendogs, Pilot Wings, Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart, and Starfox to name a few from Nintendo. Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil, MGS, Splinter Cell, Ridge Racer, and Assassins Creed to name a few from everybody else. And the 3D actually works. Great stuff here all around. (and did I mention the fantastic graphics. Man, I wish Nintendo realized earlier that all they really needed was to add shaders to make things really shine.)
Wow! Talk about expensive! 3D! (only $1500 to replace your only 2-year old HD TV and $150 for each additional pair of glasses if you even want watch your friends play) Move! (only $99 if you didn't already pony up that much for the camera alone and $80 for each additional controller (yes, you really need the navigator too), which you'll want for all the multiplayer titles they'll have at launch.) Um, Sony, this is a recession. Tone it down a bit.
PSP (nothing new) Wait, is that a 14 year old advertising mature games? And saying that Fire-Team Bravo (an M-Rated title) is one of his favorite games? The kids funny, but shame on you Sony. Release some compelling handheld hardware with software to match, not some morally questionable advertising campaign.
Coke? Really? What does Coke have to do with Video Games? Maybe you should have spent longer than 15 seconds explaining PSN plus instead. That was another negative by the way. Not PSN plus necessarily, but the fact that they said almost nothing about what it is.
Portal 2! With Steam support! This was one of the coolest moments of E3 for me. Gabe Newell was hilarious!
Kevin Butler! This has nothing to do with any actual games, but this guy did a fantastic job. Well played Sony, well played.
Infamous 2 looks fantastic. I quite enjoyed my time with the first game, and I really like the new art direction and story elements. This is one to keep on your radar.
Everything else about PSN Plus seemed like a pretty solid idea. $50 a year for tons of free games (at least 2-3 a month) other content seems pretty cool. If it had a few other compelling features *cough*cross-game chat*cough*, I would have been sold entirely.
Sorcery was by far the best example of motion control in a "real" game. By real, I mean fully fleshed out with top notch production values. This alone could sell me on move if it wasn't for the already solid lineup of other titles coming.
Twisted Metal. I have to day, my heart almost broke when David Jaffe said Twisted Metal wasn't coming earlier this year, the liar. As the cigar rolled up to those boots, and the ominous figure picked it up, I knew it was sweet tooth, and I knew what he was going to do with it. This was one of my favorite franchises of all time. I just hope they keep it more light hearted like the originals, and less like Black.
Well, that about wraps it up. Sorry for getting more wordy on the Microsoft side of things, sometimes my writing takes a few minutes to really warm up.
UPDATE: I would like to apologize. Metal Gear is a T rated title as reviewed by the ESRB. The post has been edited to reflect this.