So the 3 big have all shown us their wares – after the 1st official
day, Monday not officially counting as part of the show proper, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have dazzled us with the future of gaming for another a year – hard to believe it’s been a whole year since last time. And now as we sit back reeling from the technological marvels of the last 48 hours, stroking our beards, and mulling over who “won”, S1nner pierces the swirling fogs of misguided thoughts by pointing out to me, “it’s not the winning, we’re all gamers”. And how right he is, we are the winners for we get to keep the spoils from all three. Surely now we can put aside these childish notions of who had the best show, who had the least cock ups, who Won? You’d think so anyway, fact is Nintendo won, here’s why.
Nintendo have done a complete volte-face since 2009. Last year’s showing was marked by a firm focus on the dull – family games, shovel ware, wii fit. Tee-dee-ous. And after it, many ninty fans stood, Skywalker style, over pyres of burning Nintendo paraphernalia, weeping openly into the night. Well, they’ll wish they’d just put it in a box in the attic this year because Nintendo, clearly stung by the reception last year have come out all guns blazing. This year the focus was firmly back on the hardcore, with nary a shot of a happy family in sight. The show kicked off with a new Zelda game for wii, looking fairly gorgeous and marred only by some apparent technical glitches, Miyamoto-san showed us some sweet new weapons and full 1:1 motion control with Wii motion plus (looks like I’ll finally have to actually stump up for it after all – and seriously, why hasn’t Link always had a whip?!)
Old school fans rejoiced as killer announcement followed killer announcement ; Kirby (looks genius) a Goldeneye remake, Donkey Kong Country, and finally Kid Icarus. The last announcement was slightly diluted for me, being as it was being introduced on a brand new piece of hardware, the Nintendo 3DS. It’s been on the horizon for a while, but we got our first glimpse of the sexy minx, and despite not being able to appreciate the thing in 3d, this is clearly a do-want situation, at defcom 9, and represents what will be my fourth purchase from the DS family. Goddammit. Full 3D without the need for glasses, a sexy widescreen, analogue stick, built in 3d camera, and all the goodness we’ve come to expect from our DSi’s which can expect to be Ebay’d pretty damn quickly once this puppy drops. With a ton of 3rd party support too and some top games being announced, even as we speak, this looks to be a real winner.
Yes, Ninty was on top form, all the heavy weights coolly threw in their pitches, masterminded by Reggie and flanked by Satoru and Miyamoto, the guys were up there having fun.
A concept sorely lacking at yesterdays Microsoft presentation which was characterised by painful sequence after painful sequence of guys and girls HAVING FUN ARRGH! As in the kind of fun you have when you look off stage and someone is aiming a rifle at you; “have fun I says” the mystery sniper hisses. Anyway I digress - the pained fun being had couldn't totally hide the great tech on display- as Natal became “Kinect” in a terribly clever fusion of “Connect” and “Kineticalisation” which means “to flail”. Yes, Natal is no more, and I’m sure the new name will grow on me, like a fungal infection. No, none of the presenters seemed at ease, perhaps the burden of going first, but little humour was on display following what most agree was a fairly disastrous showing the night previous by the Cirque Du Soleil. Honestly, who thinks this stuff up?
“Kinnect” still has much to do to convince as the focus was, in a weird taking up of the Nintendo mantle, fairly focused on the family. True outside of the Kinnect piece, there was exciting showing of core games; Gears of War 3, Halo Reach and some wholly remarkable footage of Metal Gear Rising – slice and dice baby – and yet the abiding memory is of several people leaping around onstage to some rather second rate looking family titles. Ohno. That said, it wasn’t by any means doom for Nata- Kinect – the demo of the new UI was freaking sweet – “Xbox, make me a cuppa” – will be heard in my house as soon as I have one – the voice control being both awesome, and clearly the way forward for mankind. So too was general minority report style navigation of the menus sweet to behold, and cause for real excitement. Other demonstrations – less so. The 8 year old with her virtual tiger was inconceivably cute, and I did want to play with it (the tiger yes?) , and was impressed by its fidelity and responsiveness and tripping it up with the skipping rope in bullet time, but see what am I saying? Am I really excited for a virtual cat you can pet? Damn, guess I am a bit. But only for the technology you understand.
The fitness game demo’d, while deeply dull in itself, still revealed quality potential in the system which continues to impress with its full body mo-cap. So too did the dance game, which should have had me staring through my hands in horror, but actually looked like a ton of fun, and may even actually help me improve my already highly advanced dance skills in the pursuit of da ladeez. The Starwars lightsabre demo, suspiciously unplayable, looks kinda fun, but suffers for being on rails - I still can’t help but feel that something is lacking, and I hope that Msoft don’t rule out the inclusion of a left handed nunchuck style joystick for character control – we don’t need a wand for the right hand, we can just scan in a ruler or a banana for that, but how are we supposed to move around these game worlds accurately? I guess time will tell what their plans are but I really hope there is a sit mode for at least some games.
The final bombshell though was the announcement of a new 360 sku, which had been rumoured previously, but said rumours failed to convey how deeply sexy the new box would be. I was instantly smitten, sign me up for this sleek, whisper quiet finger print magnet, available in the UK in just 4 short weeks time for £199 – hand it over!
Sony meanwhile went last but didn’t come last – I’m sure Sinner will have much to say on their showing. They too were having lots of fun on stage, lots of 3d gaming, bit moot for me at present, and Kevin Butler giving an impassioned speech about what gaming means to him that hit a lot of right notes – if this is all true and it’s what Move has in mind sign me up (man do I really have to buy 3 new consoles this year?!). The Move demonstrations didn’t show as much as I’d hoped – I’ve seen some stunning tech demos online, but I guess E3 is no place for such tinkering, here we need big games, and Sorcerer fit the bill nicely, all spell casting and fireball making – the interface looked slick and responsive.
Sadly lacking was any sniff of The Last Guardian, but bizarrely compensating for its absence was Gabe Newell showing off Portal 2 and declaring that the PS3 would be the definitive version! Have the Gods taken leave of their senses?! Truly bizarre. Anyway, a nice trailer ensued so I’m fairly stoked for that - Dead space 2 looked decent too with a brief gameplay snippet. Their inevitable subscription model was announced and they showed a bunch of PSP stuff.
Yes all told lots of quality gaming, and the outpouring has only just begun in earnest – now it’s up to the journos of the world to all run round a massive building for 2 days, playing all the latest games and getting paid for it. Damn their eyes. Lots of updates, links, trailers images and dat to follow no doubt.. Truly we are all the winners though, for now we can all look forward to the fruits of their labours, and leave behind this embarrassing grapple over who’s respective flag bearer “won”.
Besides, like I said, it was Nintendo.