Gaming: What was hot (and not) at E3

Gaming

E3 Media and Business Summit (formerly known as Electronic Entertainment Expo)By Scott Kirchhofer and Jayson Peters

E3 was a mixed bag this year. What did we learn? That Microsoft is coming off as a little elitist these days, and Sony a little desperate. And Nintendo … they’re just pissing people off. Observe: Penny Arcade’s three-panel summary (language warning).

But hardcore gamers heard exciting news about the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. For example, Square Enix surprised and delighted RPG fans when they announced that Final Fantasy XIII — the latest installment in a venerable series that has long been PlayStation-exclusive — will be available simultaneously for PS3 and 360 in 2009.

But beyond the familiar and much-anticipated RPGs and shooters that have always been the bread and butter of the video game industry, a movement is brewing to make gaming accessible and even attractive to the masses — and once that happens, there’s no stopping it.

Microsoft took a huge step toward making their console an indispensable home appliance by announcing an alliance with Netflix. Nintendo wants their handheld to become a navigation tool in places like airports — and your kitchen. And more and more publishers are opening their once-arcane inner sanctum just a crack to let us in and play with their tools. No more do people have to just wish they could create their own characters and elements; they’re doing it, now, and it’s only going to get bigger!

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DEVELOPERS’ E3 PRESS CONFERENCES:

GAMERS MAKING GAMES

Little Big Planet, PlayStation 3 exclusive video game, puzzle platformer and world creation video game
LITTLE BIG PLANET IS A PLAYSTATION 3 EXCLUSIVE. IMAGE FROM MEDIA MOLECULE.

User-generated content is relatively new trend in gaming that hasn’t taken off … yet. Little Big Planet looks to change that by giving gamers an easy way to create fantastic content they can share with other PS3 owners. The puzzle platformer and world-creation game will be available in October.

Will Wright’s new opus Spore lets gamers create their own creatures and watch them evolve and interact with thousands of other online players. The life-simulation/real-time strategy game is set for PC and Mac release on Sept. 7, with the Nintendo DS spinoff called Spore Creatures set to drop the same day.

On another level, online gaming networks, like Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and the embryonic Wii Ware, are making it possible for small developers to get their content out there and maybe, one day, be big developers who can hold their own press conferences at E3.

HARDCORE GAMES

Gears Of War 2, GOW2, Epic Games, Microsoft Studios
GEARS OF WAR 2 WILL BE A BLOODY GOOD TIME. IMAGE FROM MICROSOFT.

Gears of War 2 was one of the most stunning and visually impressive games at E3. The original game is still one of the Xbox 360’s best and now Epic Games has fixed any problems it might have had and added a bunch of exciting extras like new weapons, “meat shield” and “dueling chainsaw” features, five-vs.-five online multiplayer and a more elaborate single-player campaign with lots of gameplay variety. Gears of War 2 will hit stores on Nov. 7.

Resident Evil 5 screenshot, 	Capcom
SHOOT VIRUS-INFECTED CRAZIES IN RESIDENT EVIL 5. IMAGE FROM CAPCOM.

Finally making its way to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Resident Evil 5 is set to release on March 13, 2009 — Friday the 13th! The survival horror video game looks to continue it’s trend of scaring the crap out of gamers with the addition of enhanced lighting effects, destructible environments and co-operative online play.

Fallout 3 video game screenshot, Bethesda Game Studios
IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT IN FALLOUT 3. IMAGE FROM BETHESDA GAME STUDIOS.

Surviving in a post-apocalyptic United States is not an easy thing to do, but man does it look like fun. Fallout 3 is an action RPG that has a lot of weapon and character customization options as well as beautiful graphics and a compelling story that changes as you play. The game is said to have nearly the same scope as Oblivion, which means you’ll probably never run out of things to do and see. Expect Fallout 3 to join the “Game of the Year” list when it’s released on Oct. 28 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

NINTENDO: WTF, SERIOUSLY?

Nintendo Wii Remote Motion Plus accessory E3 summit 2008 Nerdvana Tribune

Nintendo apparently blew their wad before E3 this year with Wii Fit and Mario Kart Wii — leaving nothing but a new controller, Animal Crossing and Wii Music.

NINTENDO IMAGE

All loyal Wii owners got was a new controller that basically fixes the old one, another Wii Sports sequel, Animal Crossing, Wii Music and a vague promise of new Mario and Zelda games sometime in the future. There were no major announcements related to the embryonic but promising Wii Ware or the storage space problem for said online service.

DS users also got hosed. I mean, they’ll get to play Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars, Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades and Spore Creatures. But the rumor of a lower-priced DS that drops the obsolete Game Boy Advance cartridge slot turned out to be just that — a rumor (for now). And Nintendo talked a lot about how they would like to see the DS as an indispensable tool for travelers and cookers. Yeah, right.

MAKING BEAUTIFUL MUSIC TOGETHER

Music games are nothing new, with favorites like the Guitar Hero series still going strong after bringing the genre to America three years ago and Rock Band quickly catching up.

But Wii Music, announced at E3, will no doubt bring the genre to even more gamers than ever — especially the casual ones Nintendo covets so. Lips will bring karaoke to the Xbox 360; Konami has something called Rock Revolution; Disney Interactive has something called Ultimate Band that uses the Wii Remote; and Nintendo DS will get Rhythm Heaven.

Get the picture? Rhythm is where the party’s at these days. What does it mean? That even if you can’t play a real musical instrument, there is now a venue for you to live out your wildest dreams: your living room.

And isn’t that what gaming has always been about?

For more news and LOTS of videos, check out the official E3 Website.


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