Something About E3: Getting back to daily life

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[For our final E3 musing, manasteel88 shares his overall thoughts regarding all the major players at E3 — a good way to wrap this up. Thanks to everyone who wrote a blog on this topic this week, and don’t forget you still have time to write a Monthly Musing if you haven’t already! — JRo]

I’m probably typing this to just get all of this information out of my head so I can resume my life without thinking about the console war. A sort of deflation of the brain after all of this information that was the Electronic Entertainment Expo. So, E3 has come and gone. For some it was interesting, for others it was lame. For me…well, it was somewhere in between. Earlier last week I wrote some of my predictions on the big three conferences. I had Microsoft and Nintendo pulling ahead this E3 and I was half right.

Hit the jump for my full thoughts.

Microsoft started the show two days before it began with a very odd Circus act. Hiring a premiere group like Cirque du Soleil to pose for a commercial was lame. There were many better things that the contortionists could have been used for. Making it so that the press had to sit through it before a long week of work is probably the worst idea they could have.

What followed however was one of the most disappointing shows I’ve ever seen, mostly because I had some good expectations this year. The Kinect and 360 slim reveal was out of Microsoft’s hands. It was leaked a day before the show and they should have countered it with something different. I liked the way they revealed the new 360 design by hiding it on stage the entire time, but the design doesn’t fit with the hour of casual stuff they showed before it. I should have seen myself playing Gears of War with that console, instead I was thinking about my kid petting a tiger named Skittles and it just didn’t work.

I’m not going to press judgment (anymore) on the name Kinect. I don’t like it now, but I had the same feelings with the Wii and that kinda stuck with me. Of course I understood why its called the Wii, yet I can’t fathom why it is called Kinect. I will pass judgment on how it was presented. I know exactly who that peripheral is for. Its for a father. That is who they are trying to go for in the week before Father’s Day. They want Dad to purchase this in the hopes that he can get his wife and his kids to play it. The problem with this is Dad most likely owns a Wii and has been playing a lot of games with his wife and kids. He’ll still be playing Mario Kart instead of Joy Ride. He’s already got Wii Sports so he won’t need Kinect Sports. They had to showcase that they can make Kinect a more interesting Wii. They did the opposite and presented a Wii experience. Shooting the videos before hand didn’t help either as I showed my wife the conference that Spike put on and she kept asking me why their body movements didn’t match the gameplay. If you couldn’t sell her on Kinectimals then you’re not gonna sell me.

Any hardcore game would have made the Kinect experience more interesting. In fact I was left longing for something to really look forward to for the upcoming year and a half for my 360. Starting with Call of Duty: Black Ops didn’t really impress me. For years I’ve heard people jumping at the bit over Call of Duty and I just didn’t see it in the presentation. The fact that its also in Vietnam is a bit too controversial for me as that wasn’t a clear cut war. World War 2, Treyarch’s usual stomping grounds, has players actively killing Nazis who murdered millions of citizens as racial purging. That’s a war that most can call just. Shooting Vietcong, a good amount of who were practically normal citizens (not including the normal citizens that were also shot) during a very unpopular war, is not my idea of a must have game. Also, it scared my kid when I was watching it in the living room and she never pays attention to anything on the TV that isn’t Elmo. Not really the best idea to start a show off with, especially when the last half is all the kiddy stuff. I’m done being a preachy ass though. That game just didn’t do anything for me.

On to Kojima’s brainchild. Wait, is it actually Kojima’s? I think he’s funding it, but I don’t think he’s actually working actively on it. Its a shame as I would never have seen him behind a game that is presented as actively slicing people open and ripping their spines out. Either I’m jaded or I just miss the grand trailers of Metal Gear Solid 4 or the funny Metal Gear Solid 3 chair swapping trailer. Maybe he’s holding out for TGS, but I just never thought a guy who would create games that you can complete without killing anyone would showcase splitting a guy in half 3 times. I’m also still not sure why I should like Raiden as the only game that he’s been on for Microsoft’s consoles was MGS2 and that wasn’t a game I have a happy memory of. Meanwhile Crackdown 2 is nowhere to be seen.

They presented Halo: Reach and Gears of War 3 as well. Established franchises with some new shades of paint thrown in. Problem was that those games are what gets 360 owners excited. The last Microsoft Bungie game was shown in a manner that should have been showcased at the end of the show, as I had forgotten that they were even there after all of the Kinect stuff. Even Cliffy with Gears didn’t really do much for me. C’mon guys. Create a short minute and a half long trailer to introduce Gears 3 and Cliffy and then have him show off the demo. I guess they couldn’t fit that in without running over. Meanwhile the Skype (or whatever they call video conferencing) took too long and was just so cheesy for something that should be a simple presentation.

Did anybody else feel like they didn’t know any presenter on stage outside of Kudo’s goofy ass? As they kept announcing VP’s, I kept wondering who the these guys were. Wait a sec…Molyneux was there, wasn’t he? Man I had this whole article typed out before I remembered Fable 3. I guess this tells you my impression of it.

As I said before, I watched the show on Spike which had Geoff Keighly come on immediately after and tell me to preorder these games and more through Gamestop. Upon finding that Kinect is $150 and their games are $60, I just simply felt I’d wasted that hour that they showcased this stuff. I came into this thinking that Microsoft had really nothing to lose and I left feeling like a loser. At least I get the hope that along with ESPN will be some more future TV deals. Also, giving away 360’s to the press is not a cool move. Not that I’m jealous, I just don’t think announcing gifts for people who are getting payed to be in the audience is really the best end note to the show. How about giving current Microsoft followers anything free during the show to get us excited for our console’s. A free theme or some media content would have been something like they used to do for E3.

Dance Central – Looks exactly like what Kinect should be. Not a game for me, but I understand what it can do for families.
Forza Kinect – Car lovers would really like this little extra. It’s something to attract those car simulation guys who don’t actually have much money.
Kinect Adventures – I could see myself getting this for friends or family to try out.
Ubisoft’s Workout Game – I don’t remember the name, but it also looked like a legitimate use of Natal that didn’t include a stupid balance board.

On to the greatest show on Earth. I’m actually not talking about the circus act Microsoft had but, surprisingly, Nintendo. While I did go into this E3 expecting something good from Nintendo, I was blown away by what they offered. Not all of the games were big hits for me, but I had one big smile and a lot of happy nods.

I guess I’ll start off with my big game of the show. I was never a big Super Mario World fan. I do like the game, but its about third or fourth on my list of top Mario games. I am, however, a huge Donkey Kong Country fan and that’s what my SNES had inside of it a good majority of the time. Even when Rare started to turn up the collect-a-thon meter, I still enjoyed the series. When I saw Donkey Kong Country get revealed I almost jumped out of my seat at work. I have problems with the camera, speed, and villain layouts of the trailer, but when I saw that blackout stage I felt my inner Nintendo fanboy finally jump up and say “Look at that, Doofus.”

I don’t see how you can not get excited for the year. Zelda had a new cel shaded link which gets some credit for being the middle ground for Twilight Princess and Wind Waker fans. I don’t personally like these 3D Zelda games, but I see the appeal. I think most people can forgive the glitches of the motion controller as we all watching know what bright lights do to the sensors. Also, my wife doesn’t like cel shading though she loved Twilight Princess. I don’t know where this game will stand in my house. I don’t know where I stand either as I love me some cel shading (Jet Set Radio FTW!)

I will say that some have called Wii Party the low point in the conference and I’d disagree. You know that game will sell just as well as I do. Just because its not your cup of tea doesn’t mean its not gonna be a good game for a portion of Nintendo’s fans.

So yeah, new Kirby has a weird name and an even weirder art style. It looks really good and impressions have been really positive for it so I think it should be a hit. Goldeneye is weird since it was the name of a movie instead of a series, but I really hope its successful as good Bond games are a little hard to find. Epic Mickey also looks really interesting, though I’m not entirely sold yet on it. Solid list of games that isn’t overbearing, but is guaranteed to make at least one game a must have for all of us.

Is anybody skeptical for the 3DS? Anyone? No? Huh. I guess it’s a hit. No pricing, much like the Kinect, but its not a peripheral so we don’t have to worry about lack of support. If anybody even was worried that laundry list of companies Nintendo posted should stop all that. I have no idea if the 3d works, or if the 3d causes headaches or anything really about the 3DS other than people believe in it. That and it looks like it houses a PS2 or a Gamecube engine inside it which is really exciting for a handheld. Project Sora/Kid Icarus looked exactly like Sin and Punishment so that’s not that bad either. While I’m not a big fan of the Super Smash Bros. Brawl look of the character I do like the fact that the gameplay is something they are familiar with.

Great show for Nintendo. This was also a really good grab as their coming off of Mario Galaxy 2‘s phenomenal review scores. Another great year for Nintendo? Probably. I also didn’t get into Metroid: Other M as I can’t play Metroid games. I don’t know why, but I just get lost and bored within 5 minutes of every game. I think Team Ninja is a really interesting choice for the game, and I think they’ll make it a bit more linear, but I don’t think I could in good conscience explain anything about Metroid. I just don’t get it.

The conference itself – It had very few low points and was pretty much how you would want a conference to go. About time Nintendo.

So that just leaves the last leg of the show: Sony. I’m not a huge Sony fan and I never really have been. I love the games that come for their consoles, but as a games company I’m not sure I really like them. That said, Kevin Butler needs to kick Kaz Harai out of his chair and get comfortable. His speech wasn’t really delivered with the same power as the commercials, but that marketing was what started me slowly wanting a PS3 instead of just praying for ports to my 360.

Speaking of marketing, the kid from Role Models wasn’t the answer Sony was looking for to combat the 3DS, but it showed that Sony was still supporting it while everyone was shouting for a PSP2. Since I really don’t own anything Sony this generation, I can’t vouch for consumer attitude towards the PSP, but I think the 3DS hanging over head is going to hurt it. To push the PSP they need to upscale PSN to a level that could attempt to combat Apple. Until they do that, I don’t think Sony can push forward with the way developers are creating for this system.

Enough PSP predictions. Twisted Metal is the big surprise. It actually was. I know Jaffe was going on and on about how he wasn’t making it, but it was the fact that this game closed the show that got me really surprised. I liked Twisted Metal back on the original PlayStation. I’m not sure that I like this Twisted Metal. The difference really seems to be that its gotten harder and harder to legitimately hit people in the games. It looks like they’ve made it even harder during this iteration. Though area destruction is a very welcome touch. Nuke mode is confusing. I don’t really like Sweet Tooth as I was more of a Mr. Grimm and Specter fan, so showcasing all this faction footage of Sweet Tooth isn’t really getting me excited. I’m excited that there is a new Twisted Metal, though I doubt it’ll be on my do want list.

The 3d stuff is a non-issue with me as I won’t own a 3d TV anytime soon. Its nice, but it didn’t do much for me. Plus I don’t like wearing 3d glasses over my glasses. The Move, however, looks like a Wii HD. Its a bit more hardcore than the Wii and I think that’s the general attitude Move hopefuls are looking for right now. If it will sell is another issue. That little tweet about how Halo 3 outsold like 3 or 4 of Sony’s exclusives showcases that the demographic is still a bit split between Bluray-only PS3 users and regular gamers.

I do think putting Medal of Honor out on stage was a nice way to counter the Call of Duty: Black Ops stuff from Microsoft. As you can guess from my earlier statements, this looks like a better game for me. Throwing Assassin’s Creed up there as well really made it feel like Sony wanted to make gamers feel at home instead of alienated with new tech that we can’t play.

Infamous 2, Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo 5 also popped up. I was legitimately surprised at the date for GT5. I didn’t think they’d have one set yet. Infamous 2 didn’t do anything for me, but surprisingly Killzone 3 did. I don’t really know why, but the jetpacks and snow really looked kinda cool. Dead Space 2 really looked awesome as well. I should probably get around to playing the first game.

Finally, the real surprise. Gabe Newell jumping up on stage and presenting Portal 2 for PS3. This doesn’t affect me as a 360 owner very much, but throwing Steam behind Portal 2 opens up new possibilities the console. I loved the original Portal and so did my wife, so Gabe standing up on stage at a Sony conference to announce Portal 2 for PS3 got me listening.

Sweet Tooth – That clown car coming out was really cool.
The Move – I came in thinking it would flop on stage, but it definitely looked better than Kinect.
Gran Turismo 5 – Finally a date! I don’t care about the game but my god its about time people can buy the thing.
Portal 2 – Game looks amazing.


There was a lot of stuff running around the show that didn’t get a chance at the big three conferences. While I have to say that this year wasn’t as exciting a year for big reveals, I was intrigued by a few choice games. Atlus brought Knights in the Nightmare and Etrian Odyssey 3 news, but what I was really looking forward to was Rock of Ages by ACE Team. Not because they make epic games, but they combine two existing genres into something unique. Zeno Clash was a Beat-em-up and a first person shooter and Rock of Ages is a tower defense/Marble Madness style game. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but I’m intrigued.

I haven’t played a Rayman since the original PlayStation. I was never good at the game, but I had fun with it. I’m excited for Rayman Origins as it looks like a return to roots with a great look. I can’t actually believe that I’m excited for a Rayman game.

Marvel vs Capcom 3 doesn’t seem to have the same grasp on me as the first games. Maybe its because I haven’t touched it yet, but I hope to god there is a demo as I haven’t really seen anything that will justify a full purchase of the product. I’ve got two copies of MvC 2 to keep me warm and seeing this in action during G4’s interview just really didn’t do it for me. Seth Killian did do a good job on camera presenting it. The air throw button seems to be causing me the most issues as I’ve been playing some MvC2 and throwing guys up in the air only to land a few little combos. I’m not the best at the game, but I don’t think the air combos are what I was hoping would get tweaked. Speaking of fighting games, Mortal Kombat looks like the MK of old. That is a very good thing.

Who’d have thought Sonic would look decent? Sonic 4 actually didn’t offend me in the same way I thought it would. Neither did Sonic Colors. I still have little faith in the games, but I didn’t come out screaming “Crap” at my computer screen. My only complaint about Sonic 4 is that I still don’t like the model they use for Sonic. He looks stiff and Sonic should never look stiff.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Definitely gonna go see the movie and this is really cool looking. I’ve been out of comics for awhile so I’ve only gotten a small taste of the series but it looks fun. Shame its a PS3 timed exclusive, but its good that I eventually get to play a Paul Robertson game. I don’t really like the extremes that the guy goes to in his stuff (the baby zombie things), but I do love his art style. This doesn’t look as fluid, but it really does look like a good thing.

I personally am a fan of the Dead or Alive series. I’m not a “they can do no wrong fan,” but I do like the games. Devil’s Third is from the creator of Dead or Alive and the recent iterations of Ninja Gaiden. The trailer looks like a multiplayer frag fest, but I’m excited to see what can come out of this. Itagaki is a guy who seems to put a lot of effort into making sure his games meet a certain standard before release. This makes me hopeful that Devil’s Third will be more than just a Wet clone. I’m totally going on faith and the little bit of gameplay we saw though. Speaking of Dead or Alive, a 3DS version intrigues me.

Like I said above, for some reason my wife doesn’t like cel-shading. She didn’t like Zelda’s new look, so I tried to show her the new Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 trailer. She kept saying how it looked jagged. I personally think she’s insane and defended my love of cel-shading. This game looks really really good. I’m also apparently wrong about that. Oh well, she can enjoy her browns and grays while I enjoy colors.

To end it all, I didn’t really see much of the Dead Rising 2 stuff. Maybe I just passed it all up, but I don’t really remember getting anything new out of it. As a big fan of the zombie killing original this seems weird to me. This should have totally been up at the Xbox conference. At least a trailer of the special episode would have been nice to see up there.

That’s everything I guess. Glad I can finally get this week out of my head.

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