LOS ANGELES - The 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone…but not without rocking the gaming world yet again. All of the industry's biggest names were on hand revealing new titles, new systems, and new partnerships that will bring the best games to the public. Let's take a look back at the biggest announcements, biggest surprises, and the moments that had gamers everywhere scratching their heads.
Microsoft came in to this year's show with two main goals: Prove that Project Natal, which is now named Microsoft Kinect, actually works, and show enough games and features to make America want to buy it.
First things first: Project Natal is no more. Say goodbye to Natal, and hello to Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360. That's the new name of this controller-free camera and microphone accessory. Microsoft made the change and instantly branded many of their upcoming games with the title, including Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports.
Microsoft showed Kinect at Monday’s opening presser with several games, including Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports and a previously unannounced Forza Motorsport title.
Aside from games, Microsoft also showed off how Kinect can be used to select items on screen with just a wave of the hand. The system also allows users to issue voice commands to the device, which worked pretty well, even in a crowded press conference.
Kinect will launch on November 4th. Unforutnately, no price was announced, which caused some trepidation amongst the gaming press and players alike. Online retailers have begun accepting pre-orders for Kinect at $149, but Microsoft has not confirmed that price.
Where Microsoft really shined was game announcements. They opened the show with a thrilling demo level of Call of Duty: Black Ops and followed that up with a trailer for Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Then came an incredible live gameplay demonstration of Gears of War 3. That was backed up by trailers for Fable 3 and Halo: Reach, along with a bevy of Kinect enabled games. These included Dance Central, from Harmonix, the creators of Rock Band; an untitled Star Wars game that has the player assuming the role of a Jedi and fighting off Storm Troopers and ultimately battling Darth Vader; and JoyRide, an arcade style racing game complete with flips and rolls and powerups.
What Microsoft lacked in quantity of games they definitely made up for with quality.
Biggest Announcement: Trey Wingo and Josh Elliott came out to introduce a partnership with ESPN that will allow gamers to watch live and previously aired games and chat with friends while doing so. If it works as advertised, this could be an excellent addition for Microsoft. Imagine a fan in L.A. trash talking with their buddy in Chicago or a family watching FSU and the Gators go head to head. All this while answering trivia and participating in live polls.
Biggest Surprise: At the very end of the show, Microsoft unveiled a brand new, slimmer, redesigned model of the Xbox 360. Sporting a shiny black finish, 802.11n built-in Wi-Fi, and a 250 gigabyte hard drive, this long-rumored console revision will sell for $299. But there were two more shockers left. Don Mattrick of Microsoft Interactive Entertainment announced that the new system would ship to retailers immediately. It is on sale now, provided you can find a store with one available. The second surprise was an Oprah moment. Everyone in the crowd was going to have one shipped to them, free of charge. As you can imagine, the crowd roared with approval. For the rest of us, looks like it's time to hit eBay.
Biggest Blunder: It's tough to pick out a huge problem with Microsoft's show, but one dud was the live stage demo of Kinectimals. This title lets you raise virtual jungle animals from the safety of your couch. A cute little girl virtually "played" with her pet tiger, Skittles, for what felt like eternity. The tiger cub licked the screen, got some belly rubs, and played hide and seek with the girl during the demo. How adorable. But it begs the question: wouldn't you rather play with a real kitten?
Nintendo is the industry leader in both console and handheld gaming systems sold this generation, with the Wii and Nintendo DS respectively. As such, the pressure is on to maintain that lead.
Fortunately for Nintendo, they gave gamers plenty of reasons to be excited about owning a Wii or DS, and showed off some new titles to reel in those who don't own one of their systems.
Nintendo led off Tuesday's festivities with a live demonstration of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Legendary Nintendo designer and producer Shigeru Miyamoto personally demonstrated the title on stage, and talked about its many new features and how the game takes full advantage of Wii Motion Plus. The title will ship in 2011.
Next up was Mario Sports Mix, which takes the classic Nintendo characters of Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser, Donkey Kong, etc. and drops them into games of basketball, hockey, dodgeball and much more.
few more trailers followed, then we were treated to a live stage demo of Disney's Epic Mickey. For all his notoriety, Mickey Mouse hasn't been featured in very many memorable video games, but Epic Mickey looks, well, epic. The titular rodent's adventures will take him on quests based on classic Disney lore, including Steamboat Willie and Clock Cleaners, though expect more levels to be revealed before the game ships this holiday season.
Nintendo closed with trailers and announcements for new games starring classic fan favorites Kirby, Donkey Kong, and Kid Icarus.
Biggest Announcement: Nintendo wrapped things up by showing an intro video for the Nintendo 3DS, then dozens of beautiful models roamed the aisles, carrying 3DS systems, to let media members try it out immediately after the show. This handheld offers 3D visuals without the need for goofy-looking glasses. Initial impressions from those in attendance indicate that this pocket-sized machine can produce graphics on par with that of the Wii. It features a 3D camera, analog stick, and internal storage for downloading and saving full games. As with any Nintendo handheld, you can expect great first party support from the big N. One thing we didn't get was a release date or price point, but the system's official release is still likely several months away.
Biggest Surprise: The 1997 release of Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64 instantly lended credibility to first person shooters on home consoles, a genre long dominated by PC gamers. This classic shooter introduced millions to split-screen action as they took on the characters James Bond, Oddjob, Jaws, and so many more. This title paved the way for blockbusters like Halo, Unreal Tournament, and Call of Duty on consoles. A sequel has been begged for by gamers for over a decade. Finally, we will get what we want. Goldeneye 007 will be coming to the Wii as an all new remake, this time starring the current Bond actor, Daniel Craig. The game will feature online multiplayer and the return of classic game modes, such as paintball and You Only Live Twice. Goldeneye 007 is set to release exclusively on Wii this November.
Biggest Blunder: Screwing up in the first ten minutes of your biggest event of the year is usually a bad sign of things to come. When Miyamoto was on stage showing off the new Zelda game, several of his gestures were not picked up by the Wii remote sensor. He repeatedly waved his arms, trying to get Link to slash with his sword, to no avail. The English language translator on stage got a bit red-faced, quipping "Uh oh, we didn't have this problem during rehearsals." After a couple of minutes where the game wasn't responding, they cut the demo short and rolled a pre-cut gameplay trailer. Give Nintendo credt though. They got the train back on track and the rest of the show was error-free. Also, last year's big innovation, the Vitality Sensor, was a complete no-show this year. When asked, Nintendo execs said the device is still in their plans, but they weren't ready to show anything this time around. Uh, guys? You announced the thing last summer. One year of work, and you have nothing to show? I'm not saying it's doomed, but... well, let's move on.
Sony's PlayStation 3 continues to make up ground on the Xbox 360 in hardware sales. In fact, since the launch of the PS3 in 2006, it has actually outsold the 360 head to head. The PlayStation Portable is doing fairly well in sales, but continues to be lapped by Nintendo's various versions of the DS. This year, Sony crammed so much in to their Tuesday afternoon show, it's going to be hard to put it all in this article. Let's cut to the chase.
Sony's big pushes this year were 3D and their motion controller, the PlayStation Move. Dozens of upcoming and current PS3 games will support 3D graphics. Many existing titles will simply be patched to include the graphic technology. Unlike the 3DS, it appears 3D on the PS3 will require the gamer to wear 3D glasses. Sony opened their show with a live 3D demo of Killzone 3, then got right to the Move. A new title, Sorcery, showed the player using the Move as a magic wand, casting spells and defeating evil goblins in a dungeon. Next was a demo of Tiger Woods 11, which uses the Move controller as an imaginary golf club, and Sony touts true 1:1 movement tracking, meaning every little detail of your golf swing will be replicated in game.
Later, Sony marketing character Kevin Butler took the stage, to the roar of the crowd. The "Dear Playstation" commercials featuring Kevin Butler have been quite the success for Sony, and the actor, Jerry Lambert, was in full Kevin Butler mode during his all-too-brief appearance. Butler didn't announce any games or play anything on stage. He did, however, roll out one liners to keep the momentum going. A new Sony marketing campaign was unveiled for the PSP, and similar to the Kevin Butler ads, these will also follow the "Dear Playstation" format. The actor Bobb'e J. Thompson, better known
as the raunchy teen from Role Models, will assume the role of fictional Sony exec Marcus Rivers.
A very impressive Little Big Planet 2 demo was shown, along with EA Games titles Medal of Honor and Dead Space 2. Perhaps sensing that their time was almost up, Sony rapidly showed off upcoming games Infamous 2, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and Final Fantasy XIV Online.
Gran Turismo 5 was shown to the crowd for the fifth straight year, and finally given a release date of November 2.
Biggest Announcement: All of Sony's announcements were pretty solid this year, and there isn't one that truly stands out above the rest. Sony did announce a PlayStation Plus online subscription service. This program, which will cost $49.99 yearly, includes bonus downloadable content at no additional charge for select games, exclusive game demos and beta trials, and select small-scale games for free. One thing missing is cross game chat. Currently, on Xbox 360, someone playing Halo 3 and someone playing Madden NFL can chat while playing their separate games. Sony fans have begged for cross game chat, but it looks like they'll have to wait a while longer.
Biggest Surprise: Two huge, and I mean huge, announcements take this honor home. The first was that Valve's upcoming puzzle-shooter title Portal 2 will be coming to the PS3. Portal was a cult classic when it released in 2007, garnering praise for its quirty sense of humor, interesting take on puzzles, and the memorable character of GLaDOS, your enemy in the game. The shock is that Portal 2 was thought to only be in development for the 360 and for PC. Valve had bashed the PS3 in the past, but with this announcement, it looks like that past is now just water under the bridge.
The other surprise was the announcement of an all new Twisted Metal title for the PS3. Twisted Metal's fast paced vehicular combat and edgy style made it a hit on the PS1 and PS2, and the game's creator, David Jaffe, repeatedly flat out denied working on a new version for PS3. It appears he was lying, point blank, but I think gamers will let that slide.
Biggest Blunder: Sony just can't escape the mess of multiple SKUs. Multiple SKUs is a business term for several versions of the same product on store shelves. When the PS3 launched, there was a SKU for 20 gigabyte and 40 gigabyte versions of the system. Over the past four years, several more SKUs have come and gone, some with bigger hard drives, pack-in games and Blu-Ray movies, and accessories. Backwards compatibility, the feature that lets you play PS1 and PS2 games on your PS3 has been phased out since launch. This year, when announcing the Move, Sony was at it again. Try to keep track of all this info: The Move launches September 19th in the U.S. The Move controller itself will sell for $50. A separate navigation controller will sell for $30. But you need a PS3 EyeToy camera to use the Move, and if you don't own one already, you'll have to buy one for $40. A bundle with the camera, Move controller, and the game Sports Champions will sell for $100. That bundle will also be sold with a PS3 console for $400. Whew. It may look easy to read now, but all of that was talked about in about 30 seconds at the show. To make up for it, Sony did say that their first-party Move games will sell for just $40.
The Other Games
Several dozen standout titles were shown on the convention floor aside from those in the big three press conferences. One such game is Star Wars: The Old Republic. This PC adventure is similar to industy giant World of Warcraft, but with fully voiced characters and the Star Wars license and art style, it hopes to knock WOW off the pedestal when it releases next year. EA announced a reboot of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, and they brought Joe Montana on stage at their press conference to discuss new features in Madden 11. EA also announced that console versions of the blockbuster PC game Sims 3 will hit stores in October.
One feature that was announced by EA is something that could revolutionize the presentation of sports games for years to come. EA Sports Live Broadcast will be incorporated in the upcoming EA Sports MMA video game. This is a feature that lets gamers create hype videos of themselves, upload them on the web, and hopefully gain notoriety and get noticed by the game's developers. Each week, a few fighters will be chosen and their online matches will be broadcast to gamers around the world, with live announcers calling their fights. How cool is that! If this takes off, you can almost certainly expect to see it in future versions of Madden NFL and NBA Elite.
Other titles that were well received at E3 2010 include Child of Eden, a music game; Ghost Recon: FutureSoldier; Crackdown 2; and RAGE, from the creators of Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein. In all, more than 40,000 journalists caught sneak peeks of over a hundred games, making this year's show another memorable event on the gaming calendar.
Often, after E3, writers try to name a "winner" for
the show, picking the company who came out on top in the press conferences. In the past, this has often been an easy choice, but sometimes the winner isn't always as clear. This is one of those years where there may not be one "winner." All three major companies showed off reasons why you should be thrilled to own their system. And if you don't own one? They gave you plenty of enticing games and features to hopefully lure you their way. Each company should feel proud of the show they put on in Los Angeles. As gamers, we all win this year.
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