Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Stuck in the Middle with Sony at Electronic Trio

So. E3.

For all intents and purposes, for those of us following the action from the comfort of our homes or at our desks while pretending to work, it's over. The press conferences are done: Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have all said their pieces.


In as much as there's anything triumphant about two-hour lectures punctuated by trailers, pie-charts and occasional gameplay demos, there's a tradition of one company or another "winning" E3 each year. Having watched live streams of all three presentations, my money's on Nintendo - much, I would add, to my surprise. Since the Wii's mainstream success, Nintendo have established a track record of ignoring the core to cater to the casual, but this year they played against type, presenting one favourite after another: a new Zelda, Metroid: Other M, the return of Donkey Kong Country courtesy of Retro Studios - a game and a developer after my own heart - and Kid Icarus, at last.

Oh, and there was a little thing called the 3DS.

I resisted the iPhone, the iPad, the PSP, and all the iterations of DS to come after the Lite, but you can be sure I'll pick up a 3DS on launch day - whenever that is. The line-up already looks stellar, and the hardware powerful enough to give the Wii a run for its money; quite the achievement on a handheld. I'm excited for nearly everything Nintendo talked about yesterday.

And here I was expecting hours of Wii Relax or another bit of fitness-oriented nonsense...

Microsoft, meanwhile, got started a day earlier - two days earlier, if you count the baffling Cirque de Soleil performance on Sunday night - but squandered any gala day goodwill by over-focusing on Kinect, the retail-friendly name for what was once Project Natal. It's a good name, to be sure, and some of what Microsoft showed looked better than I'd anticipated, but Kinect has neither the built-in family appeal of the Wii nor the definition or precision of Sony's more powerful Move controller.

My guess? There'll be a brief flurry for Kinect at retail initially, but of all the motion controllers, Kinect is the dead duck of the bunch. The core will grudgingly embrace Playstation Move and the casual will stick to what they know. And honestly, so they should: the repurposing of the Wii starter library is shameless. Kinect Sports, Kinectimals... really, Microsoft?

Otherwise, the Xbox head honchos showed a bunch of trailers for games we all knew were coming. Pretty damn disappointing. On the other hand, response from the media as to Microsoft's press conference has been rather deceptive. Can anyone guess why? Well, everyone attending got a free Xbox slim. Tepid at best, then, coming from the perspective of someone who didn't get any freebies for sitting through the three presentations. And last place of the big three, without a doubt; even the third-party press conferences from Ubisoft and EA put Microsoft to shame.

Stuck in the middle with Sony again, eh? They showed a few solid-looking new games, there were a couple of pleasant surprises, and the Move looks like it might actually work - and with games that don't look a decade old. Presuming the price tag for the camera and the controllers is reasonable here in the UK, I'm in, I think.

So. That's been my E3. For those poor souls out there in LA covering the event in person, there are plenty of game demos to keep them occupied over the next few days. For me, it's over, and all in all, the whole thing's been a bit of a wash. None of Nintendo's exciting announcements will bear fruit until 2011 at the earliest, and in the interim, there wasn't much of anything shiny and new to get all hyped for.

Back to Trials HD, then. There's Final Fantasy XIII to finish thereafter. And come to think of it, I still haven't gotten around to playing that copy of Mass Effect 2 I got for my birthday...

What can I say? I've been saving it for a rainy day!


  1. I stopped playing FF XIII several weeks ago to pick up something a bit more exciting and paced. I plan on returning to Lightning and the gang, but I have to work up the resolve to actually put it in and convince myself that it's going to be fun.

    Oh, but look, the new Zelda game does look nice!

  2. Nintendo had the best conference. Everyone else was trying to catch up to their motion hardware. Nintendo just said "Hey here are some games for you to drool over". I even want to play that Kirby game even though it looks a bit odd.

  3. Seeing as I really don't care about motion sensor controls, there doesn't seem much in here for me to get excited about.

  4. I watched for a few hours as well and agree that none of the games really knocked my socks off.