July 15, 2008

Nintendo & Sony @ E3

Nintendo started the day off bright and early at 9 AM with their press conference. They began by explaining how Wii has had mass appeal, doing well, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then, they announced Animal Crossing: City Folk which looks to be an upgrade of Wild World, which was an update of the original. In this installment, you can travel to and explore the city. Otherwise, it didn't look that different and it's definitely not the MMO that fans had in mind. I can confirm, though, that it will have more than four-player online play. Nintendo designed a new peripheral for the game which is basically a speaker/mic combo so you can chat with your friends. It's not a head set. They went on to announce various casual games like Shaun White Snowboarding that will utilize the balance board and several other games like The Raving Rabbids and the like. Then, Nintendo unveiled their new MotionPlus device which attaches to the Wiimote and creates 1:1 motion control. The possibilities are pretty much endless, but Nintendo chose to unveil a new Wii Sports as the first compatible game. Hooray. Nintendo closed the show with the announcement of Wii Music. It's kind of like a motion-controlled Rock Band, but more like a jam session with a huge instrument variety than a competitive play-along game. For the hardcore, there was only an announcement of a new GTA title exclusively for the DS. That's something, right?

Sony, on the other hand, appears to cater only to the hardcore. They announced several new games like Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty, Resistance: Retribution for the PSP, and MAG (Massive Action Game), a massive squad-based shooter for up to 256 players. No, your eyes do not deceive you. 256 players. As Naruto would say, "believe it." Sony showed off trailers of other big upcoming games including Resistance 2, GOW3, Infamous (Prototype, anyone?), and LittleBigPlannet. They showed a short video of Home, but failed to give any concrete details on when it would finally hit. Sony also announced some changes to the PlayStation store with the inclusion of movie and video rentals and downloads. Yawn. A little late to the party again, aren't you Sony? Killzone 2 was a no-show at the conference and no release date was announced still (though later it was announced for February 2009). What did show it's face was a project that, I at least, had forgotten about: DC Universe Online. It has promise, but the trailer failed to wow me. It looked like City of Heroes with DC characters. I'd wait it out for Champions Online.

So in review: Sony caters to the hardcore, Nintendo caters to the casual, and Microsoft has displayed the ability to cater to both. Sony unveiled some great new games, but didn't prove how they plan to outdo Xbox Live. Nintendo had plenty of games you can play with your grandmother, but nothing to please the hardcore gamer audience. And neither company had any earth-shattering announcements like the FFXIII one (holy crap, still can't believe it!). At the end of the day, Microsoft's conference may not have been the most engaging or fancy, but it did have great games demoed in real time (unlike Sony who just showed a bunch of trailers) and it did have some great new announcements both software-wise and for the hardware. Though there were no major new game announcements besides a few XBL arcade games (and FF, of course), there weren't any promising new IPs like Sony had. Luckily, Bungie has something planned for tomorrow, and whatever it is, Halo or not, you know it's going to be huge. So Microsoft wins. Bravo. And as much as it pains me to say it, Nintendo comes in last. I used to be a Nintendo fanboy, but now... I'm not so sure any more. Oh Nintendo, what's become of you?

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