E3 '09: Wrap-up Round-up!

June 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

So, E3 is over, but, more importantly, who won?

Well, it seems rather clichéd and non-committal to say this, but everybody did, in a sense. Between the console manufacturers, I’m sure each can be happy with their respective showings. Nintendo, while not having the most groundbreaking Keynote, probably made the shareholders very happy with their re-emphasis on “casual” games, the Wii Fit brand and the ‘tween market, with some “core” franchises also thrown into the mix (for the fans, of course).

Both Sony and Microsoft had very strong showings in terms what games they were touting. Microsoft reiterated its commitment to the social functions of LIVE with the new Facebook and Twitter integration, while further evolving the platform as a viable digital download service. Getting the next Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy XIII on-board also was a bit of a coup for them. Likewise, the effort Sony’s put into revitalising their portable console, the PSP, via a new introduction to the product line, the PSP Go, was reassuring to fans of the console and to developers – who, additionally, now have an 80% discount on developing for the platform. Sony also pushed their new “play, share, create” line with ModNations Racers, further strengthening the PS3’s position as the home of user-created content (excepting the PC).

And then there’s Project Natal, Milo and Sony’s new motion controller. It’s impossible to say at this point which one will have the edge over the other; both seem to offer different experiences, with Sony’s controller being a safer, more sophisticated evolution of the now archetypical motion controller: the Wii Remote. Project Natal and Milo, on the other hand, dare to reach for an unprecedented level of interactive experience. Whether they’ll actually get there and whether it’ll be any good, we shall see.

Among the deluge of news and announcements to come out of E3, some lesser-known, more interesting bits-and-pieces often slip through the cracks. Here are a few of my recommendations – an assortment of articles, trailers, interviews etc. – which you may have missed.

1. Joystiq’s Hands-on with New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii. Originally, I discounted the game fairly swiftly as I didn’t believe that an offline, four player platformer on one screen would work very well or be that much fun. From what I’ve heard from Joystiq, Eurogamer and the Giant Bomb crew, they have managed to do it right. I really shouldn’t act surprised; if anybody could have made this type of thing work, it would have been Nintendo.

2. “Sony working on ‘good will’ program to give digital copies of your UMD collection” (from engadget.com). This is interesting as I was wondering if and how they were going to do this. It probably won’t make me upgrade to a PSP Go, but it’s certainly another great move by Sony. Considering my general level of antipathy towards them, they’ve announced some really great decisions at this year’s convention.

3. Giant Bomb’s Brad Shoemaker’s interview with the BioWare guys. Both funny and informative.

4. Kotaku’s “The PSP Go Looks Familiar” article. I think I saw this somewhere else, too, but it’s still vaguely interesting. I also like the strange synchronicity that the device they modelled the PSP Go on is called a “Mylo”. Make of that what you will.

5. GameTrailer’s Bayonetta E3 Trailer. This trailer was actually leaked before E3, but it’s so bat-shit-crazy-insane that I think it’s worth everybody taking a look who hasn’t already. Totally, totally nuts. Five words: gun-wielding nun-vixen/dominatrix.

6. The Giant Bombcast: E3 Day Three. A lot less hectic than yesterday’s episode but just as good. Paul Barnett and Carrie Gouskos from Mythic Entertainment entertain us with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from E3. Best of the bunch: Carrie meets her all-time hero, Tim Schafer, and turns it into a social encounter Larry David would be proud of, and Paul Barnett gets a pizza delivered from Sugar Ray Leonard.

7. Giant Bomb’s Persona PSP Interview. A short but sweet interview from Jeff Gerstmann quizzing Nick Maragos, localisation editor for Persona PSP. Interesting for those addicted to the Persona 4 Endurance Run and looking to get into the Persona universe.

8. Shadow Complex E3 Developer Walkthrough from GameTrailers. An interesting look at Shadow Complex, a kind of Castlevania/Metroid hybrid from Epic Games, soon to be available on XBLA. I like the idea of a new “metroidvania” 2D-style game, but Shadow Complex seems to lack a lot of the flair, charm and personality of those games, which is a shame. Why Epic feel the need to reduce the look of every game they produce to muted grey, blue and brown colours, I’ll never know.

So, that’s it for this year’s E3. It’s been an exciting week for video games and I’m just glad I got to see it all from afar. ‘Till next time.

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