Friday, June 5, 2009

E3 2009 retrospect

It's time for a look back at the past week of gaming goodness known only as E3. What makes this post different from what you'll find on other web sites? The fact you will not see the word "megaton" anywhere in here and the fact I will not declare a "winner" of E3. No matter what the fanboys may think, they don't actually give out trophies at E3.

There were about a billion pieces of information to digest from this year's show. Here's a condensed (sort of) version of what I took away from it.

Microsoft- Microsoft had a good show this year. With games like Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Alan Wake, Splinter Cell: Conviction and two new Halo titles (cause, you know, we need more of those) on the way, those gaming on the Box have some great titles to look forward to.
Alan Wake has taken forever in development, but the hands-on looks make it seem like the wait will be worth it. My only problem here is the fact L4D2 is coming out so quickly. Rather than bring out another game one year after the first one, why not take another year or two and make another revolutionary shooter?

Microsoft "stole the show" again with the announcement of Metal Gear Solid: Rising for the 360 (and PS3/PC), but I feel like too many people have put too much stock in that single announcement. Analysts have been heralding the death of third party exclusivity for a couple years now, this blogger included, so I'm not sure why this shocked anyone. More on Kojima's titles and Project Natal later in the post.

Overall, Microsoft's conference was the most exciting, but I was underwhelmed on the gaming front.

Nintendo- For the second year in a row, I find myself saddened by Nintendo's "we have your money already, enjoy these crappy games and a half-assed conference" approach. Thankfully, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M (being developed with Team Ninja!) and Golden Sun DS at least give me some hope for Nintendo gaming in the coming year.

Otherwise, Wii Motion Plus, Wii Sports Resort, etc. has me groaning rather than wanting to pick up a Wii-mote anytime soon. (Edit: I completely forgot to mention Sin and Punishment 2 for the Wii and Scribblenauts for the DS. Two more gems on a pile of poop known as the Nintendo presence at E3.)

Sony- While Sony still felt a little too professional with their presentation, their game library at least perked up my ears. On the PS3 front, I was delighted by what I saw from God of War 3, ModNation, Final Fantasy XIV, Uncharted 2 and Team Ico's (!!!) The Last Guardian.

As for the PSP, a $250 price tag on the PSP Go seems about $100 too expensive, but titles like Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Final Fantasy Dissidia, and PSP iterations of Soul Calibur, Motor Storm , Little Big Planet and Resident Evil should keep this blogger's PSP powered on for quite a while. It's about damn time we're seeing some new big titles for the handheld.

Sort of the opposite of Microsoft, I thought Sony's show lacked a bit of heart, but the game library was insane.

Motion control: Am I the only one who thinks this is a dead end street? I'm not talking about on the Wii, obviously. They did it right the first time and it's paid off well for them. As for Microsoft's Project Natal, I wasn't too impressed. I'm not talking about the hardware, understand. But as it applies to gaming, outside of casual titles, I fail to see a proper application.

Ignoring the fact that camera control means nobody other than the player can be in front of the lens, taking the controller out of the game is not the answer to deeper gaming experiences. You just can't substitute a well-evolved controller for motion sensing, and moving your body around takes more thought than pushing buttons, thus taking you out of the experience.

The Burnout demo, for instance, was said to be pretty accurate when a person stood in front of the camera and acted like they were holding a steering wheel. I don't know many gamers who are willing to deal with "pretty accurate" for very long and, I'm sorry, but shy of waving your arms about, how do you boost? How do you brake? How do you hit the gas for that matter? How do you drift, power slide, or anything else without drastically dumbing down the game? I'm not trying to nay say here, just calling em as I see em. The technology is brilliant and will have its uses in gaming to an extent, but when it comes to playing hardcore titles, Natal just ain't gonna slice it.

And Milo was the most scripted piece of BS I've ever seen. I would have been dandy with that presentation (impressed even) if it was shown as a "this is what we can do with Natal." But it was shown as a demo of something that's been designed and works and, maybe I'm being a conspiracy theorist here, but it looked like a load of rubbish to me. Faked through and through. Be honest about something rather than insult my intelligence and I'll give credit where credit is due.

And then Sony introduced their glowing-sphere-magic-wands. While I think one-to-one control could be sweet, and buttons on the controller is moving in the right direction to melding gameplay and motion control, again, I just don't see it taking off. Gamers are tired of peripherals and anyone who wants motion control already has a Wii.

If either of these products ever see the light of day, I expect there will be a crop of titles, some might even be brilliant titles, hitting the market shortly after. After that, both will shortly fade from memory. I'd like to be proven wrong. I really would.

Hideo Kojima: If there was a "man of show," it would be Kojima-san. He appeared at the Microsoft, Sony and and Konami events and revealed three games- Metal Gear Solid- Rising, Metal Gear Solid- Peace Walker and Castlevania- Lords of Shadow. Sadly, his studio is only producing Castlevania, but a boy can dream about how wicked a Kojima Belmont game would be.

This only scrapes the surface of E3 2009, but I've gone over the word limit here. While I didn't feel like there were a lot of big, new titles announced, I leave this week feeling good (mostly) about the gaming year ahead. No matter what console you play on, portable or plugged into your TV, you should have enough to keep your thumbs sore.


Anonymous said...

You forgot the pulse-reading madness from Nintendo.

Oh god, they've gotten so douchy under their new presidencies.

Jeff The Jeff said...

I disagree.

-Ryan Winslett said...

Ha! Yeah, I forgot about that. One edit I do need to make, though, is to at least mention Sin and Punishment 2 and, of course, Scribblenauts. I was so blinded by the bad, I forgot some of the good.

RoboJeff said...

Coolest thing ever.
I can't wait to type 'RoboCop' in there just to see what happens...