Thursday, July 17, 2008

Echo ponders E3

I'm beginning to think the interwebs are the worst thing to ever happen to videogames.

Most players are pretty passionate about this pastime and, as such, are eager to 1) Believe whatever line is thrown their way and 2) Quickly add fuel to a fire without adding so much as an iota of personal thought or research. These two qualities combine to make a rather frightening cocktail.

Were it not for the internet (message boards, blogs, etc.) I would have watched the press conferences from this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo and most likely felt like the industry was in half decent shape. Five minutes online, though, and the consensus points to this being the Armageddon of the videogaming world. The show might not have been the most exciting thing in the world, but man are people overreacting.

Of course, by next month it'll all even back out and fanboys will be back to mindlessly defending their current crusade, but for now the outlook is pretty grim.

Forced to reconsider the "big three's" individual press conferences, here's what I got out of each.

XBox 360 has no idea what their target demographic is anymore. While showcasing a few new videos from Gears 2, Fable 2 and a couple other titles, the bigwigs followed by rolling out a new dashboard, avatars and the Vision Camera. I'm not saying the casual market should just be given up to Nintendo this generation, but when you have a stranglehold on the hardcore market, why dilute your product with half-baked, unnecessary and unwanted goods? Also, a new exclusive would have been nice. I get that FFXIII going multiplatform is a big deal, but I just don't understand all the doomsayers out there who tout this as the biggest thing to happen in the history of gaming. I'm happy more gamers will get to experience what will hopefully be a fantastic RPG, but get the hell over it already. If it's not first party, it's likely not exclusive...Also, Netflix on the 360 is badass.

Nintendo almost insulted me with their awkward, halfassed approach to E308. First of all, everybody already knows you're literally bathing in cash right now. Why waste so much time with ridiculous charts and so little time showing off the software? You know what good came out of Nintendo's conference? Animal Crossing being officially announced. That's...It. And we already knew that was coming. I don't doubt Wii Music will sell like gangbusters once it's released, but I highly doubt that game will be any fun for the core crowd past the first fifteen minutes. Nintendo's conference went on to prove one very important point to me: there is next to nothing good coming out for a very long time. They jettisoned their first party homeruns early and have nothing left to offer save the gargantuan amount of crap being forced onto the market on a regular basis. I was hoping the Wii would be a rebirth of sorts for Nintendo. The game quality, though, is simply lacking to a tragic degree.

Sony, it seemed, had the most to prove this year. Without an ounce of bias, I say I truly believe their show was the most successful. The video service going live the night of the conference was a nice touch. Big titles coming to PSN including Ratchet and Clank, Fat Princess and Siren look highly developed and interesting. Greatest Hits finally making their way to the market is a welcome bit of news and with games like Resistance 2, God of War 3, Resistance: Retribution, Little Big Planet, Valcaria Chronicles and the new I.P. MAG, there was simply more meat on Sony's bones than Nintendo or Xbox. In a business all about the games people play, showing lots and lots of games people might actually want to play was a good move.

In the end, Nintendo has left me utterly disappointed. If not for having more systems to fall back on, I would be spending my money on nothing but retro downloads thanks to so little effort from that camp. Microsoft had the best "wow' moments and a couple videos from games we already know are going to be great. Sony produced the most well-rounded effort full of legitimate news and plenty of content for all of their systems.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be getting back to something a bit more important, like playing these damn games rather than pretending to be a market analyst.

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