Sunday, June 7, 2009

E3 postmortem

E3 came, it went, so now it is back to business. Right?

Overall it was a good experience, as noted earlier the first day was kinda blase' and the second day was a ton of fun and drama. The third day I sat around at home and did some work (because - there's never a shortage of things to deal with!) In hindsight I sort of wish I made it out for day #3, there's so much I never did get to investigate - but to be honest, it's much easier to digest so much of what's going on across the whole convention if one is just relaxing in front of their PC and sucking up all the newsfeeds from the various websites and podcasts. Hell, I have "I-don't-know-how-many" hours of podcast backlog to work my way through, but rest assured I will (there's a fair amount of useful information to glean from them..) That all being the case, I don't feel like I had less than what I'd consider an optimal experience, I suppose. Some things I'd like to touch on-

-Project Natal/Milo - I watched some Youtubes of this. Definitely interesting, and worth keeping an eye on. I have investigated this kind of motion tracking technology recently, not firsthand but I know enough to the point where it looks legit. But it will not be cheap I am sure. I am also goign to side with all the people who worry about products like this "fracturing the market" and therefore only appealing to a niche audience, rather than having a full support (See, Nintendo obviously got that one right with Wii). Honestly, for me the big impressive thing was having teleconferencing righ tin your own living room through your Xbox - calling up your friends and seeing one another on your screen, that's sort of neat (and believable!) As for playing games without holding some kind of device, though, it just doesn't seem like it'd "feel" right..

As for the Milo AI demo, it's tough to say. I think that's probably a "proof of concept" thing matched with a little kerfloozery. I don't think we'll see stuff like this "for real" awhile yet, but down the road..

-Zune HD - Zune always looked and sounded like some weird Microsoft excuse to me. I never, ever even saw one, or heard anyone say they'd want to look at one. What the hell is a "Zoon" anyway! This sounds like they are finally getting their act together though, "we'll just rip off the iPod Touch" pretty much, but supporting with Xbox Live is a marvelously powerful idea. I daresay there's no way they cannot earn some decent market share if they handle this smartly. Xbox 360 has made a believer out of me that "Microsoft has it in them to know what they are doing with this general market"- even in Japan, for crying out loud! I still think "Zune" sounds almost as dumb as "Prius" but I think they will be good.

-PS3 motion control - looks neat and I love the demos on Youtube. Again I think it's a bunch of neat things that will not really get the hardcore backing they'll require to really make a big splash, it'll be expensive and again - niche market. I think they are just trying to say "we know what's up too, just like everybody else, so don't by a Kiddie Wii or an Aging 360 rather than our unit." Come on, they showed impressive Eye Toy gimmickry for years now and no one cares, no one's doing anything to take advantage of that power. That just required a consumer ot shell out for merely the camera device - this entire motion control setup will cost how much more?

-PSP GO - did I rant about this last time? Even if I did, it still deserves some whining. This is a terrible idea. If they stuck a 2nd analog on there it'd be easier ot swallow but still not worth it. If they crank the price down (like one hundred dollars less, for starters) than it's slightly more understandable. I feel bad for whoever is in charge of convicing people to buy this thing! Mind you I don't dislike Sony, never did - I just want to see them get some good footing again to support their powerful partners, and missteps like this are costly and ignorant. At least they are supporting that Sony Ericcson device (even if it's technically sort of competing with themselves in some way)

-Wii MotionPlus, we played EA Tennis and it felt - well, I didn't get down and dirty with it, but I would not say it was noticably much better feeling than good old Wi Sports tennis (still a very fun game, in spite of it's age, if you ask me). I didn't try out any other MotionPlus games, I would LOVE a "table tennis" or "air hockey"game, would shell out in a heartbeat if it honestly felt right.. Anyway I think this will be the one to watch, see if people shell out for this add-on. They really should have pushed this thing out the door from the start - come on. At least it looks much more affordable than the competition noted above..

-Team Ninja picks up Metroid - people are noticably mixed on their feelings regarding this game, I can't argue. Maybe if NG2 had come out differently. Watching that video of Samus tossing aliens just looked.. stupid. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they have some decent potential, but really this is just gonna feel like Metroid Gaiden (for a few reasons!) I think it will be forgettable. Leave Metroid to Retro/Armature/whoever's actually the Mother Brain of that thing (Gumpei!)

-Modern Warfare, Uncharted 2, Red Steel, Ratchet and Clank - the train keeps rolling. Assassin's Creed, well the trailer was pretty, I haven't paid enough attention to see where the actual gameplay was (more of the same right?)

-Disappointed to see no major iPhone presence. Come on.

Overall I would say E3 did a nice return to form, after the hibernation of the last couple of years. As I predicted, it was an industry of playing it safe, not pulling any crazy plans out from left field, and a sign that things are actually getting more conservative. Nintendo seemed strangely too relaxed, Rockstar seemed a little lazy/butthurt, I didn't pay any attention to Sega or Capcom (conservative, conservative). I bet next year will be interesting once more, but for now just sit back and play with your minigames, everybody.

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