SUPER LONG POST!
First off, the light stuff. Despite the supposed ban on booth babes, E3 2006 still had much costumed hotness upon the show floor. The Sin Episode girls were in particular scorching hotness. But my award for unprecedented achievement in the field of hotness goes to G4 TV’s Layla Kayleigh. Layla Kayleigh may be the first and only person to get 50cent to blush on live television through the power of her hotness and admit one of his favorite games is Pac-man. Not in the same moment mind you, but an impressive feat nonetheless.
E3 2006 has been over for some time now, and quite honestly I couldn’t be happier. The onslaught of news came at an inconvenient time for me to digest it all, what with moving out, trying to cram a summer’s worth of social life in a couple weeks, being on three different medications, and generally wanting to enjoy some r&r. So admittedly I spent far less time checking the sites than I usually do. My primary news came from the surprisingly competent live nightly reporting from G4 TV, complimented by videos which have found their way online. About G4’s reporting, Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb were their usual goofy and entertaining selves while being rather informative. Kevin Peireria, I’ll never be able to spell that last name right, was redeemed when on the last day he proved he truly rocked hard at Guitar Hero. I don’t usually like his cocky yet self deprecating attitude, but he knows his stuff. Olivia Munn, seemed very lost or at least two steps behind everyone else on the live broadcast. She seems nice enough, but not good enough. It seems odd to say, but I felt the broadcast was desperately in need of the sobering presences of Victor Lucas and angering opinions of Tommy Tallarico. If you don’t know any of those past six names, don’t worry too much. G4 is a very confused channel. If you’re lucky enough to watch the channel during the morning hours when they actually cover videogames, and do it rather well with “The Electric Playground” and “X-Play”. Their show “Icons” deserves an Emmy for what it does about gaming history. If you catch it at the afternoon and primetime, be prepared for reruns of Star Trek and some of the crappiest non gaming TV you’ll ever find.SONY
After the initial press conference, the overall internet opinion on the PS3 wasn’t as impressed as last year’s monstrous demonstration. Here’s why, and I’m in total agreement with Chris Remo from Shacknews, they announced that crazy ass price scheme. Secondly they announced their cheap ass Wii rip off in their controller. Not only did that expensive price sober up the rest of their presentation, the motion sensing comes off as too little too late wannabe crap. AUGH! I’ve ripped on the 360 for having two differently priced systems at launch, I’ll be even worse on the PS3’s plan. Especially as it appears that the lower priced system might have less functionality than just less hard drive space. 600 dollars is painful, very painful.
But let’s move aside from that, I thought the PS3 had exclusively some of my favorite games on show. Metal Gear Solid 4, Final Fantasy XIII, Heavenly Sword, Motorstom, and Assassin’s Creed, (note: current controversies about Assassin’s Creed’s exclusivity are widely reported on) are just four of the games exclusive to the system which have me uber excited. The untitled Naughty Dog project looked like barrels of beautiful jungle fun. Warhawk being playable, being fun, was very important for Sony. Ridge Racer 7 is good news. And the EA sports titles looked incredible, note the use of the word “incredible”. And that PS3 Eye Toy demonstration was incredibly cool. Remember, the one with the cards. (Alright, so a lot of people didn’t think it was that cool. But I still secretly like my Magic the Gathering, and a toy like this is awesome to me.)
Heavenly Sword looks exactly like they promised from E3 a year ago. And it was playable on the show floor. This game looks like it’ll play very much like God of War, and in my mind this is a very good thing. And graphically, I’m willing to call it the most impressive demo I’ve seen from here all the way in Jersey. From all appearances, there were no slowdowns even at the most crowded fighting moments. And that’s much more than many games could boast.
Final Fantasy XIII I will surreptitiously rename to “Bullet Hotness” whenever I think about it. Sure it’s made by the FF X2 team which I loathed. But I only loathed FF X2 for transforming the beautiful and surreal FF X into a super pop Barbie simulator. But from this trailer, the singular heroine appears for all intensive purposes, gracefully badass. It’s like Dante dated Yuna and this is their super beautiful assassin lovechild. Sure it looks nothing like the old Final Fantasies. Sure, it even looks more like it’s a Devil May Cry RPG hybrid than a Final Fantasy we usually think of. And sure, I’m scared that it apparently has a franchise of sequels before it’s even come out. But that trailer triggered in me two very impressing words, Bullet Hotness.
Motorstorm was one of my favorite concept demos from Sony’s 2005 reel. And now it’s coming into playable form, and it’s coming for launch. It’s ambitious, it’s crazy, but it’s also far from done. Eurogamer over here has a very good preview which raises a lot of similar concerns I have with the game. Nintendo’s Excite Truck looks like it’s taken the same idea, but is actually going to finish it. I’m cautiously excited about Motorstorm, it looks great as it does but if it’s not done…
Assassin’s Creed was demoed behind show floors, which I hear is unfortunate since everything I’ve heard has been glamorously positive about its game play. It’s being made by the team which made Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Assassin’s Creed looks truly authentically placed in its 3rd Crusade setting which in itself is no small thing. The scant game play videos I’ve seen show a very powerful graphics engine at work. But excitingly I want to know more about how the game plays. I’ve gotten vague ideas about an extremely open ended next generation version of Looking Glass Studio’s masterpiece, Theif: The Dark Project. While knowing Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed probably won’t be a PS3 exclusive. But I know it’ll be the system I’m buying it for.
Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Of all the games my friends and I have talked about post E3, this has been at the top of all discussion. Check out the full fifteen minute trailer via Eurogamer.
The full trailer is worth your time, trust me. We’ve been for the past week passing around quotes from the trailer like quotes from our favorite geek films; it’s had that kind of impact. “The onus is ours.” “It was you who killed Abel and was cast out by Eve!” “My turn to protect you, Snake.” (nothing quite like quotes like that to liven up a round of Smash Bros which reminds me, Snake in new Smash Bros = win.) The trailer, once again by a Metal Gear, does the gustiest thing I’d ever seen at an E3. See the trailer for yourself. I was left crying like Darth Vader.
The rest of Sony, God of War II is awesome to the max which reminds me of just how viable a system the PS2 still is to develop for. Guitar Hero 2 is still good news for them. Metal Gear Portable Ops for the PSP is just as awesome, multiplayer MGS on the go is totally good news. I want that MGS digital comic, Ashley Wood is one of my favorite comic artists. Loco Roco makes me happy for the PSP as well. It’s all good times. Oh and btw, OKAMI.NINTENDO
Heh, what can I say about the Wii? Their press conference was true fanservice to the max right from the get go with Shigeru Miyamoto conducting for the audience. They know how to play us, and we want to play with them. But what can I say about the Wii that I haven’t already said a thousand times over on the show? It’s new, it’s innovative, and it’ll be affordable. The one major new thing I want to talk about that I haven’t said much about, the graphics.
Yes, I want this system. Holy crap, do I ever. And apparently, thousands of people waiting in line to get their hands on it want it just as much.
But I, being all the way on the other side of the US, couldn’t get my hands on it and have no right talking about what it’s actually like to play with it. Reactions from the floor have been mixed but generally found positive. All I can go on from here is what it looks like. And what it looks like is just as I feared, Gamecube 2.0 graphics. Now graphics are very far from the most important thing, but they can be very important and can be used to heighten the game experience. (Imagine if Gears of War weren’t pretty.) Art direction I find is much more important, but is still inherently linked with the technical abilities of the system. The 360 and the PS3 give the art directors so much power for guiding the emotions and the immersion of the player. It worries me for the Wii, but then again there’s that controller.
Metroid Prime 3. It looks like the past two Metroid Primes, beautiful and awesome as those games are I really hope there’s more to this than just the addition of the Wiimote. Zelda: Twilight Princess, I already wanted this game on the Gamecube. I still want it, only now I can get it on Wii. Mario Galaxies or whatever… sure I’ll get it I guess. I fricken love Mario games and this’ll hopefully be no different. But now on to a couple games I really want to see more of. Nintendo Sports, it’s like the eyetoy minigame sets except… ya know, probably fun.
Excite Truck because it’s exactly like Motorstorm except it’s working near completion and it’s driven via tilting the Wiimote. Whatever that Resident Evil Wii project will become, consider me interested. I want my hands on Red Steel because it’s doing everything we immediately clamored for upon the announcement of the Wiimote. Trauma Center for the Wii is good news for me.
Smash Bros. Brawl with more characters, including the possibility for characters from other developers = awesome. But apparently there’s nothing very Wii exclusive about it, meaning it seems so far to not take advantage of the motion sensing stuff and will opt for the classic controller. So beyond the inclusion of Solid Snake, lemme suggest a few other guys for your consideration. Get Pac Man in there, get him in there fast. Simon Belmont, Viewtiful Joe, Cloud, Ken and Ryu would all be great. Some less likely choices could be Master Chief and Gordon Freeman, and many others. The lists could go on to everyone now, and I really hope they’ll take em all up and then some. If this is a launch title, I’m reserving my Wii tomorrow.
So yeah, Nintendo’s got a ton of games and a bunch of new ways to play them. But in the end, is this the revolution we were hoping for? My theory is that upon launch the system will see a smattering of classic game types with tacked on functionality. I’d written on that Madden game for the Wii, but from floor reports it sounds like what I’d feared it be instead of what I hoped. But within the next year or so, we’ll see those games that no other controller could hope to do. The Wii will get its Brain Training and its Kirby, but we will have to wait. So where’s my Animal Crossing!?!MICROSOFT
The 360 has made a lot of headway at LA easily eating into Sony’s North American presence. Buzz has been positive, the games look great, and the system is already in millions of homes. Getting GTA4 on their system is being seen as a major blow to Sony. And their Live service, unlike the proposed services of the other two companies, actually exists and is working. It’s a solid system, and a very good system, but it’s one that I personally have no real interest in getting.
Ya wanna know why? I don’t like the character of the games that they have. Now I’m not just talking characters and icons, I’m talking about the very character of these games. The general feel of it all seem so… hardcore. Or at least it’s as if they’re trying to show how hard they can be, which is far from being the best. I think I may have said this on the show before but it warrants repeating, I feel like as their trying to show how badass they are, they’re pulling farther and farther away from me. To me, it looks like posing. But beyond that, let’s talk about three titles I’m interested in.
Gears of War. Gosh that looks really really pretty and is probably a barrel of fun too. It looks like a more intuitive Resident Evil 4 improving on the tactical aspects of the game play. But jeeze, I really don’t care for the art style. I never liked Epic’s art direction, as it’s all so… friggen big. I have in the past given praise to big crazy gory art direction, like Quake 3 and God of War. But something about Epic’s art work continues to not click with me. And Gears of War shows no hint of a story, character, or world that I might even remotely care about. It’s the same big shouldered marines fighting big ass monsters that fire missiles on what might be a post apocalyptic earth or something. (Note: it is the very same thing that’s happening in Hellgate: London, but Hellgate I very much praise. More on that later) But beyond the artwork and design, I’d love to get my hands on this game. You get a fricken chainsaw to melee off your opponents’ heads! It’s like reversing the role of your head in RE4.
Halo 3. I think I’ll let our resident Halo master talk about this game when he gets to it. For my two cents, I’m down with “Finishing the fight.”
Mass Effect I’m only interested in for my love of Bioware. Bioware, I love you. Let me marry you. Let me be with you. I love your mind. I love your soul. I don’t care how you look. I don’t care what you’re wearing. I love you for who you are. (translation: I’m not a big fan of their art direction either, but I love their writing and their truly expansive rpgs.)
I might have bought the 360 for a little looked at title called Bioshock. But as it turns out, just like many 360 games I’ve wanted, this is coming to PC.PCs
(and macs now if you got bootcamp)
One of the things that has always kinda kept me from buying an XBOX and a 360 is the fact that most of the games I’ve wanted have sooner or later come out on PC. Don’t get me wrong, the 360 is a lovely system but it lacks exclusives that make me immediately need to get it. Sure Oblivion looks great on it, but I can get it for the PC too. Gears of War is an exclusive, and a very good one. But it ain’t my cup of tea.
Hellgate London, we’ve mentioned this game before and I’ll need to reiterate how awesome this game is looking. It’s a good ol hack and slash with a design sense that appeals to me. The Templar designs look badass and the backdrop of broken hellish London streets seems a great enough place to battle monsters emerging from fiery pits. There’s something about the design sense, there’s the whole big shoulders thing but it also holds a sense of beauty and the ornate truly evoking the crusade era knights in armor. But the most fun aspect of it to me is the easy to pick up and never have the exact same levels twice. The levels are randomly generated, ala Diablo. And the items are equally as random but entirely customizable. Watching the demonstration on G4, I totally got psyched when they started adding parts to this gun and it changed the model on the avatar. If that translates to customizable appearances with armors and accessories, count me in. It’s Diablo, in London, with Guns. (speaking of Diablo, reminds me of Blizzard, which reminds me of Starcraft Ghost, What the hell dudes!?!)
SPORE, I love this idea. I know I’m buying this idea. And I think the whole rest of the internets have done a good job eating this up. It’s reawakening the scientist in me. But not the benevolent cure the world scientist. It’s the mad scientist who wished to profane nature’s creation and turns it upon itself to create worlds never dreamt possible or reasonable, a place where the piteous worlds of distant stars are my playthings to tinker with or to destroy. Thank you Will Wright.
And Bioshock. This is coming from the team that made System Shock and System Shock 2. That alone is enough to peak my interest. Those two games were a couple of the most revolutionary and truly frightening games in history, which no one played. I find that most descriptions of how it plays sound a lot like a bunch of other games out there. But with everyone’s write ups, there’s the absolute assurance that it does things so well and so innovatively that every minute of the closed doors demonstration showed true next generation promise. The world is not just a backdrop; it’s an ecosystem of enemies and allies which you must use intelligently to your advantage. The environment is a gorgeous idealized Art Deco world shadowed with splatters of blood and destruction. System Shock gave me nightmares, Bioshock I’m betting will do the same.
Now my favorite announcement that no one else noticed, SAM AND MAX is coming to Gametap! I’ve been accused of being an advertiser for Gametap’s excellent service, and I won’t argue. I love this service and have vouched for it the minute I downloaded it. And Traveler’s Tales is doing an awesome thing here providing episodic content to the lineup of Gametap’s downloadable games. It’s the perfect place for episodic storytelling. It’s great, it’s totally freakin great.FINAL WORDS
And now to the part most of you have probably skipped to. I’m not betting on a good year for Sony in terms of the PS3. As for the rest of Sony, I’m ready to believe the PSP. Developers are starting to come out with some more system moving games. And with Sony possibly looking to ditch UMD, there’s always the possibility of them encouraging a solid download service like they’re starting in Japan. And for Sony’s part, you still can’t discount a 100 million unit install base for the PS2. But when you look at how well the 360 did this year at E3, and the maturing of their games, the smart money’s on them having a very merry Christmas in the US. I’m getting a Wii; it’s possibly the only system I can afford. Despite what I said about it above, I think this system will prove its price in gold. But that’s also because I’m one of them Nintendo fanboys at heart, eagerly awaiting their next Smash Bros and their next Zelda. And Pikmin! Where the hell’s Wii’s Pikmin, it’s practically made for that controller!
The Sony, too pricey for me to get on launch. The XBOX, no exclusives I care about. The Wii, has all the Nintendo games I want but might fail to entice the usual hardcore.
So the hardcore have said their voice, and in general the 360 is the winner for North America this year. As Pal had revealed, it’s a very different story in Japan. But what about Nintendo’s push to bring other demographics into gaming? We’ll have to see how they market it. Are we gonna be seeing ads for the Wii in Reader’s Digest? The really casual gamers don’t care about E3. Heck, even I’m hoping next year people will spread out their news better. (I’m betting there’s a ton of cool small games I’ll never hear about since they got squished by Halo and MGS and the others.) And of course the casual gamers don’t give a rat’s ass on who’s winning the console war. I still pray for the day that these console wars will be over and I won’t have to buy three systems to play all the games I actually want. In the end, obviously, it’ll be about which console has which games you want most. The PS3 has those for me, the Wii does too, and the 360 does not.
One last note, I’m off to the other side of the world. Elmer’s going island hopping, snorkeling, and artsy stuff in his homeland of the Philippines. Chances are unlikely I’ll be connected to the internets for any long period of time, so don’t expect updates from me for awhile. Maybe I’ll come back with gaming life from Cebu. Maybe I won’t touch a single videogame for a month. But one thing I know, it’s gonna be great. So for now… AWAY!