In case you've been living under a rock in the gaming world, this week was E3- short for Electronic Entertainment Expo, held annually in June, usually in LA. (Its history is a little spotty, but nevermind that, it doesn't matter.) E3 is THE conference of the year, where developers and publishers announce their games and provide demos for the press-- all in the name of publicity.
What's really cool about E3 is you get to see the future of video games happen- and most of that happens during the big 3 press conferences. (Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony.) This is when and where they announce new consoles, new features, sometimes big new exclusive games, and just generally brag about how awesome this next year is going to be for this console and why YOU should get it. So I'm going to do a summary and short analysis of the big 3 conferences, each one with its own post and with a tie-in analysis after the last one (Sony) about where the industry seems to be heading, according to the tone of the conferences.
Considering doing a highlights of E3 post, but I probably won't because I didn't take notes for enough of the coverage... shame on me. I guess I'll just have to find a way to go next year, huh? :D
P.S. With a lot of these my knowledge from outside the conferences is going to be mixed with actual stuff from the conferences, especially with Microsoft. I'll try to keep to the most salient points of the games, but if you just want to know what games were announced instead of reading all of it, just look for the bolded and italicized (boldicized) words. Also, if there's something written about it, it probably had a trailer, and if it doesn't it was probably just in a list of stuff thrown out there.
P.P.S. If there's a particular game that you'd like me to take a look at and muse upon, put it in the comments! I really want to make this as informative for you guys as I can, as well as getting all this stuff in my head onto paper. (figuratively)
Microsoft started their conference with Call of Duty: Black Ops. While it's being made by Treyarch, the studio behind World at War, instead of Infinity Ward, who made the hugely popular Modern Warfare series, lots of people don't know that, and Treyarch isn't bad anyway, so this was a pretty good way to start.
Black Ops is going to be a FPS based throughout the Cold War period (Say 60's to 80's) in several different locales, as several different characters. (obviously. This isn't Metal Gear, where the protagonist remains the protagonist even when he's old and crippled--literally.) So there's going to be parts in Vietnam (I believe they showed this in particular), Russia, and a whole bunch of other places in SE Asia, Eastern Europe, Etc. It is logical to assume it will cover the story of all the secret stuff we did during the Cold War that we really weren't supposed to be doing.
Anyways, they showed a trailer, and it looked awesome. Graphically, I mean. The gameplay didn't seem like anything special, despite a cool-looking helicopter sequence, but the graphics... wow.
Following the trailer, Microsoft announced an unprecedented arrangement: All DLC, map packs, etc. for the Call of Duty franchise will come to the Xbox 360 FIRST before any other console, for the next 3 years. (Technically through 2012, I believe.) Obviously a good deal for Microsoft, and I imagine Activision (the CoD publisher) is getting quite a bit out of it too. In other words- get CoD on the 360 or be prepared to wait for after launch content.
Next came a 4-player co-op demonstration of Gears of War 3, with Epic's own Cliff Bleszinski (hey I spelled it right first time!) doing all the necessary on stage stuff. In this trailer, you fought all these mutated Locusts, called Lambents, which can do some really freaky stuff, and at the end you fight this giant... monster... thing. Not sure what it is.
ANYWAYS, Epic also announced a new Beast mode, where you play as some of these creepy beasties and try to kill the COG soldiers. From what I've heard, it sounds pretty deep and fun. Don't worry, everyone's favorite Horde mode will be returning as well.
Then came Peter Molyneux from Lionhead Studios to talk about Fable III and show a trailer. More blah blah blah stuff. So, Fable III is basically divided into 2 parts, the first part you are trying to overthrow the tyrant king, and in the second part you ARE the tyrant king-- or you can be. Well, you're the king. So you can be a tyrant if you want. So Peter Molyneux being typically ambitious, if not as much as some other times. (Remember Milo?)
Next came my personal favorite of the Microsoft conference, largely because I actually have played the earlier games in the series, Halo: Reach. (Notice all of these are later in a series. Interesting, no?)
Halo: Reach is Bungie's last hurrah with the Bungie universe, and it sure looks like its going to live up to the lofty expectations that are inevitably being placed on the last game in such an iconic franchise. The graphics are better, the physics are better, there's new weapons, the equipment of Halo 3 has been replaced with some cool looking "armor abilities", and it just looks all around awesome. What they actually showed at the conference was a trailer (it looked like gameplay, but it may have been scripted gameplay that was recorded for the sake of the trailer, thus making it a tiny bit suspect) for the campaign. It shows Noble Team (The protagonists. Halo: Reach is squad based, folks!) fighting through some Elites (who, btw, are MUCH bigger and stronger than the Spartans-even in multiplayer.), and eventually culminating in a space battle. Yes, playable space battles in Halo. Awesome, yes?
So that was basically the first part of the conference, and the part that you all are probably more interested in-- despite being unimportant, overall, to the game industry. So the second part of the conference is about that one big thing that's coming to the 360... Oh yeah. Motion Controls. Newly named Kinect, after ditching the code name, Project Natal. (They should have called it Kinetic. More accurate, and pretty much the same.)
First off, they talked about how it's going to revolutionize your dashboard experience. Yes, all I ever wanted my Xbox to let me do is to swipe with my hand to select what I'm going to do, even though it probably takes MORE effort than using a controller! Ok, seriously, it does sound like it could be pretty handy. Apart from the obvious camera, Kinect comes with a microphone, so you can control videos and the like with your voice. Example: "Xbox: Stop" stops the movie. Simple! You can also do video chats, and all sorts of other neat stuff that really has nothing to do with games. You can go watch the conference if you want, just pick a gaming site, it'll probably be there.
Oh, I almost forgot. This one's actually kind of cool: Microsoft has made a deal with ESPN to stream games straight to your Xbox, at no additional charge. Of course not even all major sports are represented, most notably (at least to me) the NFL. So no, you can't watch the Super Bowl on your 360 next February. Sorry.
Then they got down to the actual games, of which there were... six? launch titles specifically shown at the conference. A lot of them just seem to be Wii knockoffs, most namely Kinect Sports, which I'm not going to even talk about because it's Wii Sports with different sports (didn't write them down, sorry) and a different controller. Then there was Kinectimals, which had an admittedly adorable demo of this little girl playing with her pet tiger, names Skittles. Yes, a pet tiger named Skittles. Obviously not going for realism in that one. Kinect JoyRide is fairly self explanatory, though the controls seem to have been dumbed down to accommodate Kinect. Brakes seem kind of important to me, but it's their call. I guess. Kinect Adventures is a game where you raft around, striking poses to collect the coins. Interesting, I guess. Not really. I believe all these were developed in house at Microsoft, unlike these next two.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is a superior (yes, I said it) version of Wii Fit being developed by Ubisoft. It's a lot easier to tell what you're doing with a CAMERA than with a glorified scale.
Dance Central is the one game that actually seems fairly innovative, and above all- well implemented. The premise is simple- do whatever's on the screen, almost Rock Band/Guitar Hero style. There's 2 different modes, one which takes you through the moves of the dance one by one and teaches them to you, and one which, guess what, goes through the actual dance. The interesting thing about this game is that apparently, it's not beyond imagining for it to actually teach you how to dance. Pretty impressive, actually.
Microsoft also showed a really impressive, tech demo I guess it'd be, for a 2011 Kinect Star Wars game. Kind of like TFU, but not. For one thing, you are actually swinging the lightsaber. SOLD. Except, as I recall, it looked more like the cartoon than TFU. Not good.
Also shown was a demo for Forza Motorsport... whatever. Didn't actually get named. Forza Motorsport: Kinect (working title)... Back on track! Also coming out in 2011, they showed a guy... using Kinect to "walk" around the car and point out features of the car like the brakes and the engine, and then he "entered" the car and looked around. Amazingly detailed, but that's not the point. Of course I do believe you'll actually be driving with Kinect--- Hopefully with brakes. Buttons are important, guys!
And then the big shocker! Microsoft announced a NEW XBOX! Wait, sorry, not the next gen. This is the Xbox version of PS3 Slim. It IS significantly smaller, if not to the extent of the PS3 slim, and it's also quieter, comes with a wi-fi adapter, 250GB HD, and should be more reliable than the other 360s. Oh, and it can't RROD. Literally, it CAN'T. As in they took out the red lights. Instead, the green lights are going to flash. Umm, I sense confusion.
And then the REALLY big shocker-- Microsoft gave, gave, one of the new edition Xbox 360's to every person at the conference. I'm not kidding, they did.
So, the Microsoft conference essentially had two sides- the serious, normal, hardcore games (3 of 4 were shooters. Something's wrong with that. At least only one of them was the modern, realistic kind), and the new, family-friendly, Wii ripoff games, along with a few that actually show some promise, and even fewer that actually show promise for hardcore gamers. Overall, not bad. Definitely not a complete failure, fairly good organization, but not a stand-out performance either. Obviously trending towards motion controls, but that really started last year so it doesn't count this year.