In the world of gaming, there?s no event more spectacular than E3. The biggest names in the industry stand shoulder-to-shoulder with independent developers trying to break into the mainstream market. With so much hardware, software and half-dressed booth babes on show, it?s nearly impossible to summarise everything in one go. However, there were certain obvious themes to E3 2010, as well as the three-way match up between the 3 biggest powers in gaming ? Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Here then, are my highlights.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the more prominent themes at E3 was motion control, in the form of Microsoft?s Kinect, and Sony?s Playstation Move. It?s not difficult to understand why. If you consider yourself a gamer and you own a Nintendo Wii, it?s likely your second, or possibly even third console. In terms of graphics and raw power the Wii is lacking, and the motion controls aren?t even that good, yet it was a smash hit. The reason is pretty simple: if you want to blow stuff up, fire up Halo; if you want to get your mum and gran playing tennis on a Sunday afternoon, fire up the Wii. In modern gaming, the big money is in the casual gamer market and Microsoft and Sony are both cashing in.
Whilst Sony have gone for an upgraded version of the ?wand? controller, Microsoft have gone one step further with full motion control, allowing you to control your Xbox 360 by voice and movement alone. Kinect looks like the kind of futuristic technology you see in movies like Minority Report or Iron Man, though it?s unlikely that Tony Stark would be using his high-tech 3D interface to call his mum or watch the trailer for the new Twilight movie. It?s hard to tell whether Kinect is a big gimmick or the future of console hardware, but it?s undeniably an impressive pitch and is bound to be popular with gamers and families alike. One of the biggest crowd responses came from quick preview of an upcoming Star Wars title based around lightsaber combat with the Kinect; if there?s anything that will make people want to look stupid in their living rooms, it?s a lightsaber.
If it seems like Nintendo lost ground in the motion control market, it?s a good bet that they?ve gained a lot more with the 3DS. The DS appealed to a broad market of both hardcore and casual gamers, sold a phenomenal number of units, and trounced the PSP in the handheld gaming market. So how do you improve on a bestselling handheld console? You jump on the current 3D bandwagon and release the 3DS ? 3D gaming without the stupid glasses or the pounding headache. Like the Kinect, it?s hard to tell if this is just a gimmick or not, but then Nintendo have made a name for themselves with gimmicks. From what I saw, a lot of the titles for the 3DS are just 3D?d-up versions of existing games, which is a little disappointing, but it will be interesting to see what Nintendo can do with 3D technology whilst it?s still a popular phenomenon.
In terms of the games on show, one of the big buzzwords of E3 2010 was ?MMO?. For a long time, World of Warcraft has been the MMO to beat, and recent efforts such as Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online and Star Trek Online have all failed to topple Blizzard from their icy perch. This may soon change with Bioware?s Star Wars: The Old Republic; if anything is going to bring WOW down, this is it. A host of classes with fully-voiced multiple storylines, combined with the quality you?d expect from Bioware, means that The Old Republic is easily one of the biggest and most anticipated games of recent years. If that wasn?t enough in the MMO stakes, Final Fantasy XIV was given a big demo, and there were even trailers for a Warhammer 40K-based MMO with playable Space Marines. As someone who dislikes MMOs, the thought of donning Power Armour and blowing things up with my boltgun is almost enough to make me say goodbye to my life.
Amongst the other big titles, Deus Ex: Human Revolution stands out as one to really keep an eye on, and for gamers who aren?t interested in shooting everything on sight or being insulted by 12-year-olds online, Civilisation 5 and Shogun: Total War 2 look like games to really get stuck into. Bethesda made a big showing for Fallout: New Vegas, but I have to say I?m personally not all that impressed. Apart from a new setting it doesn?t look much different to the original Fallout 3 release, and the addition of Obsidian to the mix (who produced unfinished and buggy releases of Knights of the Old Republic 2, Neverwinter Nights 2 and Alpha Protocol) doesn?t fill me with confidence.
Many people have said that Nintendo ?won? E3 2010 with the 3DS and it?s a strong argument. The 3DS was one of the most sought-after demos on show it will likely be sold out before it?s even released, but for me Microsoft probably had the best all-round pitch. Whether you like motion control or not, it?s hard to deny that Kinetic looks impressive and it will sell. Throw in the redesigned Xbox 360, and exclusivity in games such as Call of Duty, Fable 3, Halo and Gears of War, and Microsoft have a strong hand. Compare that to Sony?s Little Big Planet 2, Gran Turismo 5 and Portal 2, and their finale, Twisted Metal Black ? impressive-looking games yes, but hardly deal breakers. Even more telling is that Microsoft are getting a piece of a former Sony-exclusive franchise in Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Any game that makes Raiden actually look cool is enough to impress me, and I have to admit that the sword-based combat looked very, very impressive.
There?s plenty more to see from the E3 2010 coverage, and if you?re interested at all in gaming I?d recommend you go over to Youtube and check out the E3 channel. It?s a guarantee that there?s something in there for everyone, and even as someone who isn?t a console gamer I was impressed by a lot of what was on show. The Kinetic is a definite one to watch, and if The Old Republic doesn?t win more than one ?Game of the Year Award? this year, I?ll throw myself on my lightsaber.
Oh, and don?t tell anyone, but the tiger cub from the demo for Kinectimals was almost cute enough to make me go out and buy it. Just saying.