June 4, 2012

The Pre-E3 Post 2012 Edition

It's nearly here. E3 time. Gamer Christmas. No matter who wins it this year, us gamers all win. But I bet you want to know who's going to win anyway, don't you? Well then click on, my friend!

This year's post is going to be extra thorough, because this is going to be one big, crazy year. We've got two new handhelds just beginning to take off, two consoles at the end of their life, and our first real look at the next generation. So I'm not only going to talk about what I'd like to happen, but also what each of the Big Three needs to do to win, and how I actually think things'll turn out. So lets start with Sony, because why the hell not?

|SONY| As much as I hate Sony for their unoriginality when it comes to, well a lot of things, I really respect them for never losing focus of what gamer's want. I am of the opinion that if there are going to be three consoles, the thing that will set them apart is the games. Sony always has a great lineup of exclusives and values the fact that it's got them. And unlike Nintendo, Sony is always coming up with a new batch of them. Don't get me wrong, Nintendo games are great, but they've been the same for almost 30 years. Sony exclusives are great too, and there's always a new lineup of them. Remember the exclusives PlayStaion had back in the day? Spyro, Crash, Final Fantasy, Devil May Cry? All multiplatform now. But Sony didn't call it quits like I think Microsoft would. No, they came out with a new batch of games: God of War, Ratchet and Clank, Jak, and Killzone. And then the PS3 hit. What's that? New exclusives? Uncharted, Heavenly Sword, Demon's Souls, Starhawk, and they've still got quite a few left from the last generation. They tried to move into the casual market by following Nintendo's lead (putting it lightly) but that failed miserably. Luckily, they didn't put all all the eggs in that basket like Nintendo did and so Sony's still got a fantastic lineup of exclusives.

|What I'd Like Sony To Do| I'd like Sony to fail, honestly, because I'm tired of their bullshit. But I know that's unrealistic. What I'd like to see if them give a damn about originality. Not "the competition does this, so here is our newer, better version" but "here is something the competition doesn't do, that only we do, and you'll find it amazing". You've got the exclusives, we got that. Now show us why else you stand out. Put an emphasis on all the great stuff you've got available on PSN. Show us how the Vita and the PS3 interact in ways we never thought possible. Convince me to buy these things. I don't plan to buy a PS3 until the PS4 comes out because I only want to play if for the games and by that time the price will have come down. But I'd love for them to convince me otherwise. And the PS Vita is nifty, but why should I buy it when I already own a 3DS? I'd like it if Sony somehow blew my mind. I don't think they will, but it'd be nice. Oh, and kill Kevin Butler. Seriously. Replace him with the Burger King or something. I hear that guy's out of work.

|What Sony Needs To Do| I think they're in a pretty good place right now, nabbing second place these past few years. However, if they want to win they'll have to blow us all away. This will be the first public showing for The Last of Us, and it has to really impress since it'll probably be one of the last major exclusives for the system. That's probably adequate enough for the PS3, but if they really want to bring home the gold, they'll need at least one other high-profile PS3 game. Agent, perhaps? You've probably forgotten about Rockstar's stealth-action exclusive for the PS3, announced back in 2010. That may very well show up again, and it would be just what's needed. Most of all, though, Sony needs to prove to Vita owners everywhere that they didn't waste their money on the system. There was considerable hype leading up to release and then... silence. Most games available are average at best or ports of old things. Sony absolutely needs to put a focus here and unveil some top notch exclusives for the system. 

There's a lot riding on this little guy.

|What Sony Will Actually Do| Actually, I think Sony will deliver on the above. Whether it's enough to take down Nintendo completely depends on if Nintendo delivers. You know they'll bust out with a buttload of statistics and montages showing you all the great experiences on their systems, perhaps reminding you that they do, in fact, still make PS2s and PSPs. The Last of Us will be demoed. God of War Ascension will be demoed. Sony Smash Bros will be demoed. I doubt they'll have much in the way of multiplatform games unless it's something like Assassin's Creed 3. Then things get nebulous. The most exciting and least predictable part of every E3 is the mystery stuff. I think Sony will have some big mystery stuff. Why else would they announce two huge exclusives (PS All-Stars and God of War) right before the show? Maybe they'll pepper in a little Dust 514, which I'm sure PS3 owners would like to know more about. There will absolutely be a big focus on Vita stuff because there needs to be. Interest is waining and gamers are complaining about not having things to play on it. And it needs new things, not just ports and Vita versions of PS3 games, and PSP/PS1 classics. I'm sure they'll have two or three new game announcements there. I think Move exclusive games will be largely ignored, but there's a change Move will be shoehorned into everything instead. Finally, I think we'll see a lot of hardare demonstrations relating to Vita/PS3 connectivity. My projected score is an A.

|MICROSOFT| I own an Xbox 360 and I play on it a lot. I play multiplatform games on it because I don't have a PS3. And that's basically all I use it for. The only Xbox exclusives I own are Halo and Gears of War, which is about half of the total number (the other two being Forza and Fable). Microsoft doesn't have any exclusives because they don't need them any more. Xbox is the platform of choice for most developers and most gamers, especially those who play online. These multiplatform games are the Xbox exclusives. Instead of giving Xbox owners a library of games they can't find anywhere else, Microsoft instead chooses to focus on timed exclusivity. It's all about getting content first so everyone buys the Xbox version. And so that's where we are now. Focusing away from games and on to multimedia and "experiences". Bleh.

|What I'd Like Microsoft To Do| Remember the original Xbox? Almost every game I owned for that thing was an Xbox exclusive. What I'd like Microsoft to do is announce a bunch of great exclusive games. Hell, I'd even be satisfied with them reviving old series they have the rights to. And there's Rare. A quality developer forced to develop crap like Xbox Avatars and Kinect Sports. In the ideal world, they'd bring the Rare guys on stage and introduce a brand new Banjo-Kazooie that looks like Nuts & Bolts but plays like the originals. Or, hell, give them a nice new IP that people actually want to play. Surprisingly, I'd like to see Fable 4 announced. I have high hopes for the game now that Peter Monyneux has left Lionhead. But mostly, I'd like for them to abandon the multimedia crap and all that Kinect garbage and focus on exclusive games. They do have that one vampire stealth game, Dark, but it's a PC release also like every other game that isn't Halo. And Microsoft, I would love you forever if you had Rare come up on stage and announce a new Banjo-Kazooie that looks like Nuts & Bolts but plays like the first two. Hell, I'd like it if Microsoft had Rare to anything remotely interesting. Let them do a new IP, they deserve it and you need it! And they never talk about their amazing lineup of Arcade games which, in my opinion, is the thing keeping the 360 on life support.

Dark, announced maybe a month ago, has already been forgotten.

|What Microsoft Needs To Do| They need to do the stuff I stated above. Seriously, that's it. That's all any Xbox owner wants.

|What Microsoft Will Actually Do| Unlike Sony, we know a fair amount about what Microsoft will be showing off. We know for a fact that the conference will not be game focused, for example. Unless the few games they show off are the most incredible things ever conceived and they have the biggest announcements the gaming industry has ever heard, then there is no feasible way in hell Microsoft is going to win this thing. They'll start out with a demo of Halo 4 and there will also be a demo of Tomb Raider in there somewhere. GoW: Judgement will have at least a trailer and I can 99.9% guarantee there will be a demo of Codblops 2. Maybe they'll show off Dawnguard since it's a timed exclusive for the Xbox. As far as games goes, the focus will definitely be "check out the exclusive content you can get with our version". And then anything else game related will be, unfortunately, about Kinect. Everyone will sleep though this part. More family games with child actors. More ludicrous examples of "hardcore" games that make all the hardcore gamers wonder what the dudes at Microsoft are smoking that makes them think we'd be interested in this crap. Half the press conference will be about multimedia blah blah blah and dashboard additions nobody wants. My projected score is a D.

|NINTENDO| This one is going to be a doozy. Nintendo has the exclusives, but there's two things they really need to prove they can get right: online and third party support. So far, all signs point to them succeeding at both. Nintendo is absolutely the best at keeping secrets. There have been a lot of rumors (several of which have already been proven true) but we never get any concrete evidence as to whether they're real or not. In a way, this builds up suspense and makes their conference even more exciting. Back in 2010 there was a rumor that Retro was working on a new DK game. Nobody had any concrete evidence since Nintendo stuff doesn't 100% leak. I went through the whole presentation wondering. And then, near the end when I had about given up, there it was. And it was twice as satisfying. 

|What I'd Like Nintendo To Do| I'd be content if they just didn't screw anything up. Obviously, what I really want would be asking too much: a new entry in every Nintendo franchise. But I'd be content with 1) a new 3D Mario 2) a new F-Zero 3) a brand new IP from Nintendo. That's it. Obviously, as a huge Nintendo fan, I want to route for them no matter what and I'd want them to really nail the third party support by grabbing some sweet exclusives for the Wii U. Other than that, just more details on the Nintendo Network. I'm pretty satisfied on the 3DS front. I know they've got some good stuff already to show off and probably more announcements to come. 

|What Nintendo Needs To Do| Well, they need to not screw up and they need to nail online and 3rd party support. Nintendo's job this year is to build interest in their new system and to to that they need to show how it's different. But it's a fine line because at the same time they need to show how it's the same as the competition. They need to pull a Microsoft. "You could buy this game on competing systems, but look how much better our version is!" And the reason they need to focus on this and Microsoft doesn't is because they've already got the exclusive stuff nailed. So now Nintendo has to prove their crazy controller's use. Downloadable games? E-reader? What else will Nintendo offer besides AAA games? Will their online service be able to compete with the Xbox? What are the actual tech specs? What about multimedia content? These are all questions gamers expect answers to. Hopefully, the answers will be the ones we want to hear. And then there's the 3DS. It got off to a rocky start and is finally building momentum. If Nintendo wants the system's success to continue they need to prove it's got more great software on the horizon.

|What Nintendo Will Actually Do| Up until today, we had a vague idea of some possible games to be shown off. It's been confirmed that Nintendo will have a new 3D Mario game in some capacity (hooray!) in addition to a sidescrolling Mario. Pikmin 3 is also a sure thing. And there's the mysterious Retro project that I (and everyone else) believes to be Star Fox. That's a great start. Everything else is a mystery, though. But here's the interesting part. In his pre-E3 video, Iwata stated that Tuesday's press conference would be almost entirely showcasing games for the Wii U. That sounds extremely promising. But wait, what about the 3DS? I don't think it'll be ignored. Rather, new 3DS games will probably not be the focus. They'll probably be left for press releases and roundtable discussions. Iwata also said Nintendo would show "concrete examples" of the Wii U's unique capabilities. Also sounds promising. I'd be more inclined to be skeptical if not for the recent video explaining some aspects of the Wii U. They sound great, which means Nintendo is on the right track. While others may believe that Nintendo will blow it, I do not. I think they're going to blow us away whether some of the crazy rumors (like FF XV) are true or not. They've got to have some crazy game announcements up their sleeve if tehy're devoting that much time to Wii U games. That, to me, means third party support. My projected score is A+.

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