E3 has been and gone…and did we really see anything world changing? Sadly not, especially not from the ‘Big Three’ of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. After the jump, I put on my big grey cynic hat again, and take a little look at their conferences..
If we are brutally honest, the conferences from the Big Three were…a let down. Microsoft had seqeulitis and too much fluff while Sony failed to do much past Beyond and The Last of Us, and of course Nintendo already blew their hand with their pre-E3 WiiU reveal.
We all knew that Microsoft and Sony weren’t going to reveal their new consoles, which meant they were both stuck in a holding pattern of trying to convince people that they should still care about games being released for the current generation.
As such, we were left with Halo opening Microsoft’s event, and while it looked quite nice, we all know that it is simply another Halo title. While Splinter Cell seemed fairly good, it has moved away from what made it such a special series in the first place. The rest of the games shown off were hit and miss, but importantly there was a resounding absence of a standout title.
Instead, we got Smartglass, a tool where you can use your smartphone or tablet to control special features on games or use it as a remote control. There was also a big announcement about Internet Explorer coming onto the 360, but I see little benefit to this when you can easily use your tablet, phone or, shock horror, a PC to do this. Some people might like to use Kinect’s voice control, but people already have enough ‘net connected devices that I am far from convinced that putting Internet Explorer on the Xbox will drive anyone else to the machine.
Of course, we then got a special guest appearance from Usher for Dance Central 3. How many people care about Usher being on stage at E3? No disrespect to the guy, but it wasn’t the right place for that. Microsoft could have done a much better job by spending some more time on titles like Matter and Ascend: New Gods. While Microsoft are obviously trying to muscle in on the market dominated by Google and Apple, they are turning their attention away from what made the 360 such a success, and with that is a danger that gamers will be turned off in turn. Though when there is Black Ops 2 on the way, the majority of gamers will have their needs fulfilled.
Sony did a better job in my eyes than Microsoft, but then again that wasn’t too difficult. They bookended their event with Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us, two all new IPs which both seem quite promising, and it is definitely pleasing to see new IP being shown off by the console manufacturers at E3. I would be easy to say they are just extensions of Heavy Rain and Uncharted, but the stark contrast in the games that Microsoft and Sony used to open and close their events is telling. It shouts out to me that Sony still care about the core and about giving gamers what they really want, and they will focus on that. Not by going down the pop-culture route and trying to beat Google and Apple at their own game.
Of course, E3 being E3, the Sony conference wouldn’t have gone down without some beyond-the-core bits, specifically the renaming of PlayStation Mobile to PlayStation Suite whereby PlayStation games will start to appear on non-Sony mobiles with HTC being confirmed to be involved. All very interesting, but surely this would have worked better at a different type of show? Another very interesting reveal was Wonderbook, the project that will combine Augmented Reality, PlayStation Move and books. The first story to use this new tech is from J.K Rowling and is called Wonderbook: Book of Spells and is sure to be a hit with Harry Potter fans.
Two last points from Sony, they revealed the details on the boosting of their PlayStation Plus service so selected games are available for free. It is a great idea and I have just subscribed and am looking forward to getting hands on with Little Big Planet 2 and Infamous 2, all for the price of my sub. It makes the service feel extremely worthwhile as previously it seemed a little sparse from an outsiders perspective. However, I still find the entire PlayStation interface, and Store interface horrible to use, especially on the Vita.
Touching on the Vita, I was very disappointed not to see much more support for it, Sony seem to be leaving it at the side of the road right now. There seems to be very little love for the handheld and it really needed a big shot in the arm. The Vita specific Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed are all well and good, but I needed to see more support for the platform, it has so much potential in my eyes.
Finally we get to Nintendo who revealed their WiiU details before E3 kicked off and as such were left with a rather so-so conference. While they kicked things off really well with Pikmin and had some other highlights with P-1000 and Lego City Undercover, there was just too many third-party titles talked about that are already confirmed for the 360 and PS3, or in some cases have already been released. While it is good to see core titles like Mass Effect 3 and Aliens: Colonial Marines coming to the WiiU, I’m not positive they will convince people that they need to own this new machine when they probably already have one of the other consoles. I was hoping for a new Super Mario: Galaxy or Zelda to be announced, they would have been big titles to reveal.
After revealing what we needed to know about the WiiU before their conference, I think Nintendo left themselves short. Their event could have been so much better, but it does give me hope for their next console, even if I think it will get blown out of the water when the true next-gen gets revealed, and I still wonder whether it will really broaden the market created by the Wii. If the WiiU had