E3 for me has always been about the games. Sure in recent times marketing spiel and sales figures have crept into the conferences but I really didn’t care as long as bitching games were unveiled and megatons were dropped with much aplomb. Last year both Microsoft and Sony announced their versions of Motion Controlled technology, Project Natal (now called Kinect) and the PlayStation Move respectively. Both claimed it would revolutionize the way we played games and both claimed this technology would not be restricted to casual games. While Sony lived up to their bargain to a certain extent, Microsoft completely veered of track, as was evident in their E3 conference.
The entire world stood up and took notice when Microsoft announced not one but two press conferences this year. One was to highlight all their upcoming games while the other would showcase Kinect. Fair enough!
But as the first conference kicked off it was clear that Microsoft was suffering from a serious identity crisis not knowing which demographic to appeal to. They made everyone in the audience don white robes with glowing lights on their shoulder pads making them unknowing models for an elaborate MTV ad. They then proceeded to confuse people with mechanical elephants, a baby Indiana Jones and pre-captured video footage highlighting Kinect. People were pissed off but they kept it together thinking that Microsoft could redeem themselves with their second conference. And boy, were they wrong!
Microsoft kicked off the conference with some pretty cool videos showcasing upcoming games like Call of Duty: Black ops, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, Gears of War 3 and Halo Reach. But soon, the hardcore gamer was forgotten and Microsoft clearly established the fact that Kinect was for the casual gamer. From then on the audience was subjected to over an hour of embarrassment as cheesy and not to mention clichéd models cum developers came on stage talking about how revolutionary Kinect was. We saw nerds dance in ways we hope we can forget about soon enough, two sisters who seemed like teen show rejects going on about how Kinect connected them via its video chat and unfit ladies (one of which did look like a man) showing us how Kinect could make us fit. Hey Microsoft, if I need to get my ass into shape I’ll join a gym, not sit around playing video games that claim to make me fit. And then there was the fact that Kinect could be used to watch movies or surf Xbox Live. Pardon me if I don’t jump out my seat in excitement.
After nearly an hour the torture ended and just as people were getting ready to strangle themselves Microsoft unveiled the new slim Xbox360, which I have to admit, looked pretty cool. Furthermore they gave everyone in the audience a slim Xbox360 FREE of charge, which I’m guessing was their way of probably apologizing for the inflicted mental trauma. Sorry Microsoft but the damage is done. We now know where your priorities lie.
Next up was Nintedo’s conference that I personally had no high hopes from since their conferences have been pretty embarrassing over the past few years. But this year Nintendo brought their ‘A’ game to E3 and one thing was clear right from the start – their focus was strictly on games. The conference kicked off with the Legend of Zelda on the Wii that honestly speaking did look pretty unresponsive but soon Nintendo sent old school gamers into a tizzy by resurrecting much loved franchises like Donkey Kong, Kirby, GoldenEye and Metroid. And finally they unveiled the 3DS, a device capable of allowing players to enjoy 3D content on the go without glasses and the need to sell their kidneys. Sign us up please.
Last but not the least was Sony’s conference that was appealing in places but left me feeling empty overall. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they announced a lot of the cool stuff days before E3 even started. Or maybe it was because they concentrated a lot on the PlayStation Move, which seems a lot like the Wii – in HD. I do however appreciate the fact that Sony implemented Move support into something other than casual games like KillZone 3 and SOCOM 4. Sony even unveiled a brand new game called Sorcery built ground up for the PlayStation Move. It’s nothing Wii owners who’ve played Harry Potter haven’t seen before but it looked cool nevertheless.
From there on the conference slumped once again as useless sales figures and marketing initiatives were rudely thrust in our faces. I really don’t know why Sony is under the impression that gamers care about how many units were sold in a particular year. Luckily Kevin Butler, Sony’s man of the hour stepped in to poke fun at Microsoft and deliver a moving speech about how gamers should unite as one not discriminating between the hardcore and the casual. Kevin Butler for president!
Throughout their conference Sony also made it very clear that 3D gaming was high on their agenda and by combining the PlayStation Move with 3D they plan on giving gamers an immersive experience like nothing they’ve ever experienced. Sounds good as long as you have the dough to buy a sweet 3D TV that we hear costs an arm and a leg today.
Oh Valve’s Gabe Newell came on-screen as well to talk about how he was probably wrong about the PS3 and so Portal 2 would now come to the PS3 in all its mind-bending glory. Also the PS3 version of the game would be the best console version of them all. Color us mildly surprised.
And finally the conference wrapped with a quick video of inFamous 2 that we all know existed and Twisted Metal for the PS3 that some of us knew existed. No Agent. No ICO or Shadow of the Colossus in HD. Nothing.
From a hardware point of view I would say E3 2010 delivered. We saw two consoles, and two motion controllers being launched that appeal to a much larger audience. You can now game with your mom and dad, something you never saw possible with a Call of Duty or a Halo. We also saw that 3D gaming is very much a reality that would soon enter the comfort of your living room. In that respect I would have to say that we are on the cusp of a technological revolution.
From a gamer’s perspective however, E3 2010 f****g sucked. Here’s hoping E3 2011 doesn’t disappoint.