Monday, June 6, 2011

Impressions from E3 2011

Sony’s press conference has concluded, ending Day 1 of the E3 conference. Lots of cool stuff was shown today, and a lot of uninteresting stuff was featured today.


First up: Microsoft’s conference. Two new Halo games, including a new trilogy of Halo games, starting with Halo 4, which will continue the story of Master Chief, which did end on a bit of a cliffhanger with Halo 3. Also coming out this year, is Halo: Combat Evolved 10th Anniversary Edition, a HD-remake of the first classic with complete online multiplayer. With this news, it would seem that Halo is now trying to compete with Call of Duty by releasing nearly annual installments. (2007: Halo 3, 2009: ODST, 2010: Reach, 2011: Halo: CE 10th Annivarsary, 2012: Halo 4)

As much as I loved the first Halo, I am not sure if it is up to the market of the highly competitive 2011 fall shooter market (MW3 and BF3 anyone?) Its linear and repetitive corridors reveal fantastic combat punctuated by insignificant environment design. The modern gamer demands scripted, sequenced levels devoid of the openness that characterized the first Halo game.

Kinect was out in full force today, and use in traditional Tom Clancy games was showcased for weapon selection, customization and shooting. From the conference, I cannot say that motion control would necessarily enhance the gameplay (it overuses it), but its a cool diversion.

Mass Effect 3 will use Kinect’s voice-recognition technologies for its conversation engine. The sad part is that the technology is used only for picking menu commands from the conversation wheel. So, sadly, we will not be able to have actual conversations with Mass Effect’s characters a-la Facade.

Also exciting, Minecraft for Kinect and a new Xbox OS, featuring all-new multimedia access and Microsoft’s search engine Bing for rich media through pipes like YouTube. Gears of War 3 is certain to dominate holiday wishlists.


It’s Ridge Racer, Riiiidge Racer!

Thankfully, Sony’s press conference was excellent. New footage of hardcore PS3 titles was showcased in full 3D. Among the titles were Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception, bringing with it flawless interactive action sequences that would normally be cutscenes in other games, and Resistance 3, showcasing a radically changed design featuring non-regenerating health. Overall, impressive games.

A full multiplayer beta for Uncharted 3 is coming out June 28th, and people who choose to participate in a Subway Promotion can get access to the full multiplayer game without any catches. A Playstation Move bundle for Resistance 3 is also avaliable with sick boxart. Two “compilation” packages will be released this fall, a “God of War Origins” collection, featuring HD-editions of both PSP games, will be available, as well as a “Team Ico” collection, featuring the masterpieces Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

Frankly, Playstation 3’s 3D capabilities are wasted because the restrictive price of 3D capable TVs makes the feature inaccessible to all but the wealthiest of consumers. Sony will be alleviating that by releasing a relatively inexpensive 3D-Capable TV and companion set of glasses under the Playstation Brand. This is exciting news as it makes an advancing technology available to the mass market.

Playstation Move, like Kinect, was out in full force. An interesting demo by the team that made “Sports Champions” was showcased, called “Medieval Moves”, featuring cute characters in an action-adventure game. Not the most interesting use of motion control (it was a bit overused), but still fun. Also sweet: a phaser shaped Playstation Move controller to be packaged with a licensed Star Trek game out next year.

A few “packages” were announced that utilized Blu-Ray’s increased storage capacity to a great extent. Battlefield 3 will come packaged with Battlefield 1943 as a PS3 exclusive and Bioshock Infinite will come with the first Bioshock on the disc as a bonus to PS3 users. All good.

Personally, what I found most exciting was the promise of a new Sly Cooper game slated for 2012.

The biggest announcement of the night was the Playstation Vita, previously known as the NGP, the Vita will be Sony’s next-generation portable game platform. It will come in two models, a $250 WiFi only version and a $300 3G enabled version. A wide vareity of gorgeous games were showcased, including favorite series like Uncharted, ModNation Racers, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout and LittleBigPlanet. Innovative controls, like a back-facing touchpad and cameras, make this a good competitor to the 3DS. 

I won’t be talking about the Ubisoft or EA conferences in this post. I’ll be on a ride down to San Diego tomorrow, so I won’t be able to watch the Nintendo Conference live. But I’ll try to have a Day 2 post available by then. Until then, peace.

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