More E3 Gaming Goodness

June 2, 2009

So for day 2, Nintendo and Sony were up to offer their new gaming wares to the masses. Since Microsoft did a pretty good job of being the company to beat with announcements yesterday, I was curious to see what big guns both companies would throw out to stay competitive. Up first was Nintendo.


Wii Motion Plus: Not exactly “new”, Wii motion plus got a lot of face time once Nintendo was done delivering statistics to the audience. Probably the biggest thing for Nintendo is that they have an actual release date and the item is not to be had at a later date as are the motion offerings from Microsoft and Sony. Wii sports resort looks to be a lot of fun.


New Super Mario Bros. Wii: This was a bit of an odd choice, seems like they wanted a Mario party game that got rid of the game board. The game play demo they did on stage made me think of Little Big Planet for some reason. I know they said the inspiration for this came from the re-make of the original for the DS which was a great game, but I’m not sure this title needed to ever be made.


Wii Fit Plus: Well it was kind of expected that this would come out. It would seem there are so many options for getting “fit” using the Wii, is anyone actually using any of them?


Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story: This will be a great RPG, as a fan of the previous ones I’m looking forward to this.


Women’s Murder Club: This is an interesting move for Nintendo, looks like they think this will sell to a particular segment of DS users, I’m not so sure.


Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again: Again this reminds me of Little Big Planet for some reason, pretty cool idea but I’m not sure if I’ll ever touch a copy.


Wii Vitality Sensor: This seems really odd to add to the Wii, but I guess it would be useful for the Wii Fit line of products.


Super Mario Galaxy 2 & Metroid Other M: Obviously the biggest announcements from the show for Nintendo. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a little odd they aren’t going for an Xmas launch but they probably feel they have enough titles for the gaming wallet. The big surprise is Nintendo hooking up with Team Ninja to do a Metroid game, and boy does it look good.


Last but not least, Sony finished up the big three with some rather large announcements. I couldn’t help but feel they are still playing 3rd and catch up to Microsoft and Nintendo.


Uncharted 2: Probably one of the few exclusives PS3 is holding on to which is good for them because the game looks very good.


MAG: Crazy huge squad based game play. This is right up my alley and almost worth getting a PS3. It looks like they took some of the best parts of Planetside and put a modern warfare kind of spin on it. The 25 player battle they demoed on stage looked pretty intense. Wish I was down there to get my hands on it and try a few rounds.


PSP-GO: Yeah the worst kept secret of E3, nothing really unexpected with this announcement, but really is it even necessary? I guess we all have tons of cash to drop on portable game playing devices.


GT on PSP: It’s really cool that the most realistic driving simulator can fit in the palm of your hand and run at 60 fps looking incredible. But I really have to say, how do you play something that “realistic” with using buttons that only work in on/off for steering?


Metal Gear Peace Walker: So I’m a little confused as to how Microsoft was able to steal away a Metal Gear game from the series but apparently there is no love lost between Kojima and Sony. I wonder which game was in the works first? Still I think Microsoft wins out by pulling a previously exclusive series from Sony.


New Eye Toy + Motion Wand: Sony is a bit behind the ball with this one. It would be ok in my mind if they brought something more than a “prototype” and tech demo because to me it makes it sound like this thing won’t be in production until early next year at the earliest and who knows what/when games will come out for it. Going with the “wand” makes it very Wii-like. The good thing is that they are able to utilize lots of power of the PS3 so they can do 1-1 tracking very seamlessly. I’d honestly feel a little sheepish though having to follow shooting virtual arrows after the Wii Sports Resort archery demo.


ModNation Racers: Perhaps the coolest thing Sony showed today besides God of War 3, this looks to borrow heavily from Mario Kart and Little Big Planet, but it does it so well that it’s going to be a really fun title. The track editor looks really intuitive and easy to use. I like the fact that you can literally create what feels like a full track in a few minutes.


God of War III: Obviously their big hitter saved for the end. The final game in the series, this one doesn’t look like it will disappoint anyone at all. The game play they showed today which was part of a middle area of the game was pretty intense.


Other notables from today:


Assassin's Creed 2: The sequel looks amazing, even better than the first. The expansive environments of the first game have been out done here. Today’s demo showed off some new nifty moves and the double hidden blade take down (which was quite awesome!). I’m eagerly awaiting this one.


Mass Effect 2: Another amazing sequel, looks like they’ve taken care of all the little “issues” with the game play I didn’t really enjoy in the first one. Much smoother action and less having to stop and keep the AI partners from getting killed or walking into oncoming fire for no reason. If they can manage to keep the load times low, this will be another winner.


Dragon Age Origins:  I’m glad I pre-ordered this one already for the PC. The game looks amazing and one thing not even touched on today is the fact it will have tools for building custom modules which is where this game will really take off once the community has a hold of it for a year or so.


Final Thoughts on Day 2: To rate the big three companies today, I’d say they fell in the same order they presented. Microsoft clearly has their sights set on being the definitive entertainment device in the home living room for games, movies, TV, music. Nintendo is a close 2nd, sticking to their core philosophy which has worked well based on the number of units they have been able to move. It’s clear they want to slowly enhance that base step by step. Sony is making progress but essentially it comes down to them losing 2 big franchises and only adding a motion unit that seems very Wii-like. Sony is huge and not going anywhere anytime soon, but I have a feeling they may just need to start focusing on what to do better for the next console war. I’ll be back again to recap some news from tomorrow’s day as well.

My take on some E3 Monday Highlights

June 1, 2009


So E3 kicked off today with a bang. Microsoft drew the long straw it seems and got the lead off position which was good for them since they had quite a few little digs against Nintendo and Sony. The show started a little slowly, Rock Band Beatles is slightly meh and really old news. Nothing too amazing there, but things quickly picked up after that.


Modern Warfare 2: I was really happy to see a fully fleshed out trailer instead of the little teaser from GDC earlier this year. Also the level they demoed on stage looked pretty darn good and I can see some intense multiplayer matches in the snow coming our way in October. This one is on my must buy list.


Full Retail Games Delivered via Live: This is pretty big, but it also has me worried I’m going to be forking over some bucks for a larger hard drive. I’ve got the 120gb on my Elite, but between copying games to the hard drive, Xbox Live Arcade downloads, and then lots of demos to boot, I’ll be filling that thing up really fast. This was the next step, however, and I’m glad we are seeing it sooner rather than later. Putting something like this in now, makes it a requirement for the next generations of systems.


Project Natal: Ok the name is retarded, but I like the system. It reminds me a lot of what Sony tried to do with the Eye Toy, but only enhanced with what the Wii has brought us in terms of animating video game playing couch potatoes. This single add on has quite a lot of potential in the gaming world. Besides that, with all of the Wii fit games that have been recently coming out, I have a feeling there will be quite a few Natal fitness games as well. Looking at what Lionhead has already done with this system pretty much says the sky’s the limit.


Halo 3 ODST:  As a fan of the series, I’m always looking for more games to continue the story of the Halo universe, ODST looks like it really is going to go in a route specifically designed to tell stories of other soldiers in the struggle against the Covenant. Not sure if this is a must have on launch day, but I think once I see some of the Co-Op mode game play that will clinch it for me.


Halo Reach: Wow, I had a feeling ODST wouldn’t be the last we saw of Master Chief. Too bad it will probably be quite a while before we get too many details on this one.


Facebook/Twitter on Xbox Live: Big freaking deal, nuff said. on Xbox Live: Kinda cool I guess, I have so many devices that can stream Internet radio that this isn’t really earth shattering for me. It makes sense as a multimedia platform for the Xbox, but they shouldn’t limit the streams to only but any Internet radio stream.


FFXIII: Microsoft makes a big play by snagging this franchise, while it wasn’t exactly new news, it was still nice to see some game play on screen. Really makes me want to be sure I’ve got a nice brand new 60’’ plasma ready for playing this to relish in all the highly detailed glory.


Metal Gear: What is Sony going to do for platform exclusives? They seem to be dwindling into nothingness.


Shadow Complex: Epic has a great little Xbox Live Arcade title coming out this summer. Reminds me of an old school Nintendo title but expansive in all the right areas. Part action game, part RPG, part exploration game, something I really want to get my hands on.


Splinter Cell Conviction: This looks to be the quintessential “Jason Bourne” game done the way previous attempts were done and yet it stars Sam Fischer. I’ve gone away from the Splinter Cell series for a while but this one may bring me back, much more visceral then it has been in the past, has a very badass feel to it and more continual player narrative driven story then mission after mission.


Alan Wake: Finally we will see this game, not until next year though. At least it is looking good. Going to be one to play late at night in the dark with the stereo cranked.


Final Thoughts: So far it looks like Microsoft is the clear leader to beat at E3 so far. Of course they have the benefit of going first and so they got to set the bar. Overall I’d say they set the bar pretty high. Quite a few big announcements, Sony really has some catch-up to play and we’ll have to see what Nintendo has up their sleeve as well. Day 1 is done and we’ve still got 2 more days of gaming goodness to go. I’ll toss up another recap and my thoughts after Tuesday’s announcements.

The Future of Gaming is Now!

March 25, 2009

I’m sure many of you are following the news coming out of the Game Developers Conference going on this week. Probably the most exciting news released thus far is details about the OnLive gaming service that looks to be pretty revolutionary for the gaming industry.

For those not following the story, OnLive is basically “cloud computing” for gaming. It’s platform agnostic, meaning that you don’t need any particular console or PC to play the games offered by the service. You can use a PC or Mac or a little console-like device provided by OnLive to plug into your TV and play all of the games available on the service as if you had them exclusively on your home device. The service takes care of all the thinking your machine is currently responsible for and off-loads it to their own servers where it renders the game play and video and sends the data back to your machine via the Internet. What the means is that you don’t need any particular set of hardware requirements for your games. PCs/Macs don’t need beefy system specifications and consoles will all be essentially equal in terms of horsepower because they aren’t using anything but input/output and data transfer services in order to play the games.


Besides offering gaming that doesn’t require any specific platform to play games, the service also is said to offer a greater community aspect then you find with most games. Essentially the streams that are sent to your machine in order for you to play the game can also simultaneously be sent to other spectators who want to watch you play. The service also offers a “brag” feature that will capture the last 15 seconds or so of your play and let you create a shareable moment of awesomeness that others will be able to view through the service. You will have the option of adding voice over to these streams so you can record specifics. I can see this being helpful for people providing helpful walkthroughs or tips to get through parts of certain games much like you find currently on YouTube.


This service has great potential to change gaming as we know it. Going into beta this summer and a launch some time next winter, we will soon get a peak at whether or not the Internet is capable of delivering this kind of content to individuals at it’s current state. The Internet has always been a pretty sloppy delivery medium and you have no direct control over the speed your end users get which can ruin their experience with a service like this. It’s possible that this service may end up being ready before the Internet itself is ready to handle delivering this content to users on a large scale.


The other issue that crops up is latency. Online gaming is already plagued with problems when it comes to latency and can directly influence the end result of the game for the user. When that happens, it’s only sending small bits of data to the server and then to all clients. Imagine having to send that data in addition to the large stream that is containing HD video content for your TV. It will also be interesting to note how much data the service ends up sending over the home connections and whether or not bandwidth limits imposed by ISPs start coming into play. I could imagine that some individuals who spend many hours a day playing video games may reach those limits quickly.


It’s a great idea that I hope is successful, it may take a few years after launch for the service itself and the Internet to actually be up to the task of making this concept a smooth reality, but I will keep my eyes on this as I’m sure many of you will as well. Here are some videos detailing the OnLive service.




Another great movie about the service can be found here: