You can't dodge the fact that E3 has arrived. Like a vast videogame ebola virus E3 has swept over every gaming site known to man. Both Microsoft and Sony had their conferences yesterday and they showed their wares to all. Now i'm not going to go in depth here, sites bigger than mine have minute by minute run downs of every nuance of the shows, so i'm not going to go into every single thing that's happened...it'll bore you, and I can't be arsed to write it. I'm just going to go into what impressed me, and the more interesting....what bored the tits off me. So dear viewer.....read on.
Microsoft bored the arse off of me. Starting off with a playthrough of a level from Modern Warfare 3 it started well. Starting with an underwater infiltration to take out a submarine, we saw the troops then storm the surfaced vessel, taking out a bunch of soldiers and then descending into said submarine to kill anyone breathing and take it out. Another level from MW3 was shown, where the mission was to take out a rader dish and then jump in a helicopter to take out some Hinds in a shootout in the sky. It looked hectic, in a Michael Bay -explosion-every-two-seconds kind of way, and a speedboat chase through an all out scrap with battleships and fighter jets impressed, but it's a case of Modern Warfare 2.5 than anything overly new. The new Tomb Raider reboot was shown which looked more than influenced by Uncharted, which is fair as I guess Uncharted is influenced by Tomb Raider, but the playable demo looked more like an interactive cut scene than a game. Still...early days....it's not out until next year. Mass Effect 3 was brought out, looking absolutely amazing, but the much touted Kinect compatibility, instead of doing something new like a Minority Report-style galaxy map you control with mere gestures, boiled down to shouting "Liara.....move up". You don't have to use Kinect with it, and thank fuck, as the game looked 1,000,000 better without it. Another game with Kinect slapped into it was Ghost Recon Future Soldier. With the POWER of Kinect you can assemble/disassemble guns with a wave of your hand, use voice commands to snap different parts into your gun, which went down well with the brain dead among the crowd, and generally look awkward when you try to actually play the game hands free. Ubisoft said all of their future Tom Clancy games will feature some kind of Kinect use.....and the gaming world let out a little tear.
343 Industries confirmed the rumour of a Halo: CE remake, which is a complete redoing of the first Halo game, with the option of original/remastered graphics, online campaign co-op and seven multiplayer maps all using the Reach engine. More details to follow, and even though i've played Halo several times, i'm looking forward to the remake. Kinect was featured heavily, with new Kinect sports games, a new Disney title where you can tour Disneyland and partake in mini games featuring all the characters you know and hate. I can't see it, but hey, if it means you get to tour Disneyworld without having to go to France it gets a thumbs up in my book! Kinect was heavily focused on, and they trotted out of of the usual embarrassing, tepid, lifeless, soul-sapping people on stage to demo the games, as forced fun as you can get. They showed the much talked about Star Wars Kinect, which I would have basically not shown. It looked nice, in a strange pre-rendered kind of way, and i'm sure budding young Jedi will love it, but the lag was awful. I fact, i;d go so far as to say it wasn't laggy, it looked like the guy who was demoing the game rehearsed it all before hand and his body forgot the lines. Fucking awful. Some other Kinect software was on show, some free software which will be available right now, the more interesting of which is where you can scan an item and it brings it to life, such as in the demo a women held up a comedy-faced backpack, which after scanning in the front and rear magically came to life. I expect there to be laughing, hopping dildos on Xboxes all over the world as we speak. They had loads of XBL related announcements, such as Youtube coming to XBL, Bing as well, Xbox TV, they are really going all out for a universal system under your TV. UFC's Dana White popped on stage to mumble something about UFC and Xbox Live, but Dana would turn up to the opening of a bag of crisps, so that's nothing new.
Microsoft ended with the confirmation that Halo 4 is on it's way, it's out next year, and it's the first in a whole new trilogy. Which of course is welcome, we all love a bit of Halo.
So that was Microsoft really. No surprises, no new IP, nothing apart from chucking Kinect down everyones throats and eye holes. What they needed to do with Kinect was get the core on board, and apart from a few voice commands, or molesting weapons in shooters they had nothing....No Panzer Dragoon, no Steel Battalion, nothing that shouted out "I NEED A KINECT!"
Microsoft conference rating: 5/10
"Put on your 3D glasses.......put on your 3D glasses" barked the order at the start, and straight away I knew most of the Sony presser would go right over my head. A huge trailer for all things Sony played, and well...I guess you had to be there to appreciate it. Sony game an apology for the PSN downtime, basically telling all of their loyal customers they appreciate the support, and I thought they did well not to have a fucking powerpoint presentation about the whole thing....it happened, we dealt with it, this is what we have coming. Handled well I thought. Sony jumped straight in game-wise with Uncharted 3, and it didn't fail to impress. It looked like setting a new benchmark for in game visuals, with the scene playing out on a ship in a storm. The water and rain effects were literally jaw dropping, and the game itself looks like another welcome episode in the franchise. A new multiplayer game set in the E.V.E universe was presented, and was instantly lost on me. It just looked like a space Call of Duty, and looked a bit bland. SOny were touting 3D, and announced a new entry level 3D TV, capable of displaying 2 3D images at once for co-op gaming. I'd still argue that £500 for a 24" TV isn't exactly entry level, and i've still not been convinced that 3D gaming is anything but a fad. Loads of bollocks featuring Move was shown, the usual sports games, mini games.....yawn. inFamous 2 was trotted out, looking good, if generic. Bioshock infinate looked great, although i've never been a massive fan of the series, but if you are I can see why you would be creaming over the showing. They also showed Resistance 3, which is to the colour yellow what Gears of War is to the colour blue. They had some good news regarding exclusive content for their games, and the PS3 version of Battlefield 3 will come with a free copy of Battlefield 1943, which is welcome. Then they brought out the Playstation NGP, or as it is now officially know, the PSvita. Sounds like a low fat slimming biscuit to me, but hey ho. AT&T was announced as a broadband provider in the States, which drew some unexpected groans! The games, such as Uncharted looked good, but my thoughts on the PSvita haven't changed. Some people crave such a powerful handheld, I don't. I'm not that bothered about having a device as powerful as Skynet in my hands, but millions are, so i'm in the monority. However, at $249 for the wifi vita it'll sell shitloads, and puts it into the same price band as the 3DS. Your move Nintendo.
Sony conference rating: 7/10
So in my eyes Sony took it from Microsoft. New hardware in the form of PSvita, some great games, especially in the sublime Uncharted 3, some good exclusive content. Both were concentrating on their respective fields, such as Kinect, Move and 3D, and all of that guff bored me to tears. Microsoft failed utterly in getting me to think Kinect is a must have device, as did Sony with 3D/Move, and I think the lacklustre applause from the crowd backed up my fears.
So. It's all Nintendo's to win. They are going to have to be fucking abysmal not to take this E3.
I'll have a full report on Nintendo's conference later today.
Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.