E3 just finished, and left us with the horrifying memories of the Sony conference (though it DID have some high points, such as Twisted Metal, inFamous 2, and last, but not the least, Kevin Butler). What it also left us with was a spectacular conference from Nintendo- not only did they announce a spate of hardcore titles for the Wii- The Legend of Zelda- Skyward Sword, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Goldeneye Remake and a lot more- they also unveiled the 3DS, which looked oh-so-awesome, and announced its 3rd party support and many of the titles that it will be getting once it is released.
While not the best E3 ever by far, E3 2010 still had a lot of excitement, anticipation, surprises and much more jam-packed in it. Here’s what we thought of the conferences:
The opening video of Call of Duty: Black Ops was awesome. The graphics looked mind blowing, and the scenic beauty of the game was one of the best I have ever seen in a game. The first part of the demo shown was set in a cave- the player was passing through a dark and dingy tunnel, with mice and other cave beasts shrieking and running all around. There were a lot of gunfights, as well as melee fights. The second part of the demo showed the player launching a stealthy attack on a helipad. After an intense gunfight with those who were guarding the pad, the player ran into the helicopter- cool now we can FLY choppers as well!
The chopper flew through a deep gorge- the graphics looked stunning. The water running below was gorgeous, and the mountains looked authentic, with all the shadows and greenery. The overall animations and fluidity of visuals was superior to most of what I have seen in other shooters. The second part of the demo ended with an intense air fight in choppers, with one crashing loudly into the hillside. I was left stunned. I seriously can’t wait for this game to come out- day one purchase for me!
Next was Metal Gear Solid: Rising. The video shown was unremarkable, but impressive. The game is gonna be based purely on hack and slash sword based action, and Matrix style presentation. The game showed a lot of gory sword fights, and left me wanting for more by the end… wow man, Kojima never disappoints.
Next up was Gears 3- no, no trailer, only a gameplay video of four player co-op. The footage was great. The game features the run and gun gunplay action that we’ve all come to love. The gameplay is as action-packed, violent, gory, bloody and relentless as ever before, if not more. Some huge Locust hordes got blown out of the water (literally) in the demo, and Marcus and co kicked a lot of alien ass with their arsenal of weapons. Gears 3 looked really, really promising.
Peter Molyneux came on-stage next, with an announcement of Fable III, which will be hitting the 360 exclusively on October 26th, THIS YEAR. A short trailer, epic yet unremarkable, was shown.
Marcus Lehto of Bungie graced the stage next, with all new gameplay footage of Halo: Reach, which will be shipping this September. The video began- the visuals looked pretty impressive, and the video featured the traditional Halo gunplay. While it was not really exciting, seeing as it was just gameplay footage and not a trailer, the game still promises to be the best Halo game ever released. Video ended, and Halo: Reach has a secure future for sure.
Then, some crap followed- XBL has changed gaming, talk about Kinect, blah, blah, blah. A video about how Kinect uses voice and hand gestures- say “Xbox, pause,” and the movie playing pauses. The stuff was pretty cool, and actually interesting.
After that, six launch titles were announced for the Kinect. The first four launch titles were actually pretty interesting, and all looked really fun and gimmicky, much like what we would expect from a Wii series game. But the last two totally ruined the Kinect showing with one, a fitness game from Ubi, looking like a cheap knock off of Wii Fit- the worse part was that they spent nearly ten minutes on this crap- and the second being Harmonix’s Dance Central, which brought back terrible, terrible memories of Wii Music. This was followed by an announcement for a Kinect exclusive Star Wars game, which was unveiled with canned footage and looked pretty good. Then, Turn 10 came on stage to unveil a Kinect exclusive Forza game- or so it seemed,- they weren’t really clear about that point.
Overall, I don’t really know what I’m supposed to think about the Kinect showing- on the one hand, some seriously impressive and fun looking games were revealed (notably, Joyride and Kinectimals come to mind). On the other hand, they spent way too much time concentrating on stuff like Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and Dance Central, which no one really gives a damn about.
The same, in fact, can be said of the entire Microsoft E3 conference. While the reveal of the Xbox 360 ‘Slim’ and the gameplay footage of Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War and Metal Gear Solid: Rising, coupled with the announcement of a new Xbox exclusive Crytek developed action game, Codename Kingdoms, was all pretty awesome, Microsoft simply ruined it by spending nearly 70% of their time on Kinect, which, good as it may be, is not something any core gamer is interested in. All in all, I guess I’d rate the Microsoft conference a C-.
I’m totally going to defy chronology here and cover the Sony conference next.
Sony’s conference has drawn mixed reactions at large- there are some who have called it awesome and superb, while there are others, who have gone as far as to call it the worst E3 showing in history. The conference was, in fact, nowhere near as good or bad as those extremes- it was just… average. In fact, it was a complete derail until the very end, when Sony salvaged it with some surprising reveals that they should have concentrated on all along.
They started off with welcoming the audience and telling them how a time of great change is upon us, and how Sony endorsed 3D gaming would totally changed the way games are played. Coming fresh off Nintendo’s E3 showing- but more on that later-, this all sounded like hilariously hollow small talk.
Sony proceeded to show us a gameplay montage of Killzone 3 in full 3D. I must say, from what we were shown, Killzone 3 must be the most impressive game to have hit a console- ever. Featuring some exciting, fast-paced and relentless action, KZ3 was coming across as one heck of a game. The gameplay footage shown had two parts- one on-ground and the other aerial.
The first part opened up on a vista of snow-covered wasteland, showing some really gory and violent gunplay. The action seemed really past paced, as the player never really had time to stop for a breather- although that might have been for demonstration purposes. I’m pretty sure the final product is going to be like this as well.
The game, surprisingly, featured no health meter. Akin to the Gears of War franchise, whenever a bullet hit the player, blood splashed across the screen, and when the HP was too low, the screen turned almost entirely red.
The first part of the demo also showed off a part where the player was controlling a jet pack, which was also attached to a gun, to jump from one ice block in a freezing water body to the other, and to reach high platformers and such. The relentless action, the gorgeous visuals and the impressive gunplay continued. The level ended with the player blowing up a warehouse sort of thing.
The second part featured the player in open-air helicopter type things, shooting enemies on high platforms, buildings, their own choppers, or sometimes even one of our own. This part of the demo had the player destroying entire sections of the ruined city with his machine gun, and was relatively shorter.
Overall, Killzone 3 looked like one heck of a game. Can’t wait for it to be released… looks like Guerrilla might finally deliver a Halo killer.
After the aggressive showing of Killzone 3, Sony went on to describe how 3D will have a change in our perception of entertainment at large- yeah right- before proceeding to demonstrate the Move- oh no.
Starting with a demonstration of Tiger Woods PGA 11, the Move seemed to be some seriously impressive tech, showing more fidelity than the Wiimote, or even the Wii Motion +. It would have been nice if Sony had stopped there, but no. They proceeded to bombard us with a whole range of Move enabled games, including SOCOM 4 and Sorcery (which looked like the Harry Potter game we should always have got). They also revealed a new Super Smash Bros. type game, titled Heroes on the Move. The game has characters from Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper and Jak and Daxter battling it out between each other. It looked good, and got me excited a whole lot.
After spending in excess of a quarter of an hour, Sony proceeded to follow up with one of the most WTF-ish moments in E3 history, by announcing some totally incomprehensible and unfathomable partnership with Coca-Cola. Yes, Coca-Cola. They also showed us, for some reason, a montage of the FIFA 2010 World Cup, before moving on to showing us ANOTHER video showing off the PlayStation family. I meant, what the hell were they thinking?
Then Kevin Butler came on stage. He was there for about ten minutes, but he absolutely livened up the show with his hilarious jokes and cracks at the competition, as well as his subtle pokes at console fanboyism. He didn’t really show us anything new, though.
Sony proceeded to spend a good half hour on their new advertising campaign for the PSP, showing us every single ad in the new campaign that will be airing on the TV from now on. If this is how Sony hopes to revive the PSP’s flagging sales, then good luck to theml). And then they went on to say that the PSP is the preferred handheld console of its generation. Okay now, really Sony? I wish I could put in a confused and a “lol” smiley here.
After PSP, Sony made some surprising announcements. But first, there was a gameplay demonstration of LittleBigPlanet 2- this was a bit disappointing. All they showed us were some mini games they had created with the new creation tools-, followed by one for Dead Space 2 and Medal of Honor. All of these looked really cool, and got my super hyped for the said games.
To counter Microsoft’s exclusive Activision DLC announcement, Sony announced exclusive content for EA Games appearing on the PS3. This was then followed by one of the most surprising announcements in E3 history. Gabe Newell, known famously for hating the PS3, came on stage to announce that Portal 2 would be coming to the PS3 as well and that it would be the “best console version.” A truly WTF moment. But in a good kind of way.
Sony quickly followed this up with some footage for inFamous 2, Gran Turismo 5, which they promise launches this October (I’ll believe it when I see it), before finally unveiling one last surprise for us. David Jaffe came on stage to unveil Twisted Metal Nuke, an all new instalment in his car combat series, that will appear exclusively on the PS3. Though the build shown was pre-alpha, it appeared seriously impressive and had me pumped up for the first time in a while now for a Twisted Metal Game.
So, like I said, Sony’s conference was a mixed bag. There were some really cool announcements, but the conference being nearly two hours long seemed to drag on and was boring enough to put the most hyper-active fifth grader off to sleep, not to mention that Sony did not reveal titles like Resistance 3 and The Last Guardian. However, considering the sheer megatonnage of some of the announcements- Portal 2 for instance- I’m tempted to say, that it was, at the very least better than the Microsoft showing.
And then there’s Nintendo.
Nintendo had a lot riding on their conference this year. The lineup for the Wii has been largely lacklustre, the DS, at more than five years old, is beginning to show its age and slow down, and Nintendo’s recent E3 conferences have been disappointing.
Apparently though, Nintendo have taken all these complaints to heart, and they came in determined to defeat presupposition and prejudice. Their conference started big, with them revealing the newest Zelda, titled Skyward Sword, which looked pretty good, although to be honest, as far as I could see, there was nothing about it that suggested it being a ‘reboot,’ a rumour that Miyamoto himself has long encouraged. The gameplay was vintage Zelda, and though that isn’t a bad thing, to one expecting something new, it was kind of a downer. The fact that the tech showing of the game was ruined by wireless interference that messed up the Wiimote’s receptivity didn’t help, and I began to suspect Nintendo’s conference would, for the third year in a row, be underwhelming.
The next two games they presented didn’t help- the sequel to Just Dance followed by Mario Sports, the latter of which is Wii Sports with Mario characters shoehorned for good measure and better sales. When Reggie began to talk of how Nintendo creates gaming experiences for everybody, I couldn’t help but groan- this was gonna be another casual fest.
Or maybe not. Nintendo went on to show Golden Sun DS, now titled Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, going on to confirm it’d be hitting the DS this fall, and I began to take notice. The game just looks great, with gorgeous environments, beautiful character models, and the typical RPG fare that the series is now known for. Surely Camelot have another winner on their hands.
Golden Sun kind of made up for the underwhelming conference so far- until Reggie unveiled the trailer for Goldeneye 007, which totally shot up my hype meter into the stratosphere. To say that I was excited would be understating it grossly. Goldeneye 007 automatically made the entire Nintendo conference so far better than Microsoft’s for me, and as far as I was concerned, nothing they showed next could possibly have the same kind of effect on me.
But as we’ve learned so many times, Nintendo has a penchant for surprising everybody when they least expect it.
Apologising for a certain icon’s absence from home consoles for almost a decade now, Reggie took the wraps of Kirby’s newest game- Kirby’s Epic Yarn, an adorable game with a distinct art style. The game has a palette modelled on textile and cloth, and the entire thing looks adorable. Apparently, the game features several puzzles and sections that make use of this latest gimmick, as we were shown several sections where Kirby literally folded the backdrop- which was all cloth- in order to progress. I can’t explain it properly, and you have to see the video to believe it.
To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Kirby, and the puffball has never excited me in the slightest, but man, is Kirby’s Epic Yarn enough to appeal to even the most hardened and jaded gamer. The adorable visuals, and the even more whimsical style of gameplay represent what Nintendo actually stands for- pure, unadulterated, distilled fun.
What could possibly top Kirby? Well, Warren Specter took the stage right then, and went on to demonstrate Epic Mickey. The game looks awesome, and seems to be a kind of cross between the 3D and 2D Mario games as far as the gameplay is concerned. We weren’t shown much, but it was enough for me to be cautiously optimistic. And hey, it’s Warren, so we can be sure the game is in safe hands and will turn out great.
Nintendo’s conference was already the best- they needed to do absolutely nothing, they’d already won E3 by far. And then, they revealed Donkey Kong Country Returns.
I swear, I was almost in tears by the end of it all. The old SNES theme music, the same graphics we’d all come to love, and Retro Studios’ deft dexterity in dealing with beloved but now inert game franchises had me absolutely sure that this game was going to be totally the best game on the Wii so far. Along with Kirby and Epic Mickey, it was also hitting stores later this year- my, what a year the Wii was going to have!
Donkey Kong Country Returns wasn’t where they decided to end it, however. They went on to mention Dragon Quest IX shortly (any other time, I’d have sat up and take notice. Now however, my inner fanboy was celebrating too loudly for me to really pay attention), before proceeding to unveil the star of the show.
Yes, everything that had happened so far was only a taste of the things to come.
Nintendo unveiled the 3DS, the successor to the Nintendo DS. The system features processing capabilities which definitely eclipse the Wii, display stereoscopic 3D without the need for 3D glasses, has a comfortable analog slider, a touch screen, a 22:9 aspect ratio 3D widescreen, a 3D camera, a gyroscope, a motion sensor, the ability to play 3D movies, stay online continuously, full backwards compatibility with the DS… and it would be launching with Kid Icarus: Uprising.
This here was the biggest announcement of them all. Kid Icarus! After twenty five years, we’d be getting a Kid Icarus game! The trailer looked simply awesome, and this more than ever convinced me that Nintendo was out to win back their fans who’d sworn off the company because of its casual appeal. But the surprises didn’t stop there. Nintendo revealed the full lineup for the 3DS, which includes an original Assassin’s Creed game, Resident Evil: Revelations, Saint’s Row Drive By, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Mario Kart 3DS, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition…
I have to stop now. I could go on for pages just gushing over just how good the Nintendo conference really was, but that would serve no purpose. You have to have seen it to believe it. It was brutal, it was a slap in the face of all their detractors, and a love letter to their fans. Simply put, Nintendo stole the show with one of the best E3 conferences ever, and there is no way I can ever forget their reveals this time.