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Jun 8, 2009

E3 2009: E3 Coverage Wrap Up

[I've linked a few topics in this article to some of my smaller E3 articles, so if you'd like to know more about the subject, just click the link.]

Last week every gaming company in the world converged on Los Angeles, California for the yearly Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3, to showcase all their upcoming gaming projects. E3, a trade-only event, is considered one of the most major gaming events of the year and has seen some of the most major announcements in gaming history like Microsoft’s jump into the gaming console market with the Xbox system.

The highlight of every E3 is the press conferences held by the 3 major gaming companies, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, where each company shows off their exclusive projects for the next year or so. Microsoft started off the conferences with a bang as they opened the event with a demonstration off the new Beatles Rock Band that will be hitting Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii on Sept 9, 2009. This demo was beautifully finished off with an appearance by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who fully endorsed and helped create the game.

Tony Hawk showed up to show off his new game, Tony Hawk Ride, which included a new wireless, motion sensing skateboard peripheral. Infinity Ward showed up to demo some of the single player game play on their upcoming title, Modern Warfare 2 which included some cool ice climbing action and snow mobile chases in the frozen tundra.

A new avatar game called Joy Ride was announced for the Xbox Live Arcade. This free to download, racing game created by Microsoft Game Studio is one of many new arcade games coming soon to the marketplace. Epic Games will be bringing their new side shooter, Shadow Complex to the arcade and even Lucasarts is bringing an old favourite to the marketplace with the re-imagined, Secret of Monkey: Special Edition.

The exclusive list for Microsoft was an impressive one with games like Forza Motorsport 3, Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2, Alan Wake, Crackdown 2, and Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell: Conviction which had quite an impressive demo. The Halo franchise was also presentation at the conference with a demonstration of Halo 3: ODST single player game play and the surprising announcement of a new first person shooter Halo game, Halo Reach which will take place during the Fall of Reach events.

They also announced a new Metal Gear Solid game for the Xbox 360 called Metal Gear Solid Rising, but Solid Snake fans will not be happy as this game follows Raiden, much like MGS 2: Sons of Liberty did.

Finally show was finished off with the announcements and multiple demonstrations of Microsoft’s newest Nintendo Wii killer, Project Natal. This full body motion controller is a two camera sensor device that attaches to any Xbox 360, new or old. The device will allow users to control their games via the body movements and even have it recognise voice commands.

Multiple demonstrations were shown during the conference including a block breaker game where you could hit the ball and a Lionhead Studios’ game called Milo that interacted with you as if Milo were a real boy. Though the demos were impressive, I’ve holding my opinions until I try out this product for myself. I learned my lesson with the Wii.

Nintendo followed up the next day with their press conference which started off with a fan favourite, the announcement of the New Super Mario Bros. Wii game which followed in the footsteps on the Nintendo DS version except with the inclusion of its multi-player and co-op modes.

Wii Sports Resort and the Wii Motion Plus were brought back to the table after being announced official at last year’s E3 event. This time they were providing us with an actual release date of June 8, 2009 for the Motion Plus device and July 26 for Sports Resort. With all the new motion devices announced this year, Nintendo’s motion plus device better be the amazingly 360 degree of control they are claiming it to be.

The Nintendo DS received some love with announcements for games like Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story coming out in Fall 2009 and a new Golden Sun game scheduled for 2010. Even the DSi Ware catalogue had a cool announcement with Mario vs. Donkey: Mini March Again which available for download right now.

To close out the show, Nintendo blew the crowd away with two amazing game announcements that no one could see coming. A new Super Mario Galaxy Wii sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2 which included everyone’s favourite ride, Yoshi and a new Metroid game for the Wii, Metroid: Other M which is created by the amazing developers at Team Ninja. This game will be history in the making not only because of the development team behind it but also because we get to hear Samus Aran speak for the first time.

Sony was the last of the big 3 but the not the most boring show of them all. They opened the show with a great single player demonstration of the upcoming Naughty Dog game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a personal favourite of the show. They also announced the start of the multi-player demo at the midnight that evening which was open to Qore subscribers and people who purchased copies of inFamous.

MAG, the much anticipated 256 person multi-player FPS game was also demonstration at the conference and though my readers know I’m not a huge first person shooter fan, you have to stand up and take notice of this huge achievement in gaming technology. Rockstar showed up to announce their new exclusive title for the PS3 called the Agency which takes place during the height of the cold war. This game will center on 1970s espionage.

The tiny PSPgo or the worst secret of this year’s E3 was also announced. This tiny “media on the go” device is meant to be a gaming and media device for those constantly on the go. It will no longer use UMD technology to play game but instead download all content to 16MB of internal flash memory or the external memory stick drive. This new addition to the Sony gaming family is not meant to replace the existing PSP though as Sony will continue to sell the original PSP for hardcore gamers who prefer the bigger design.

Hideo Kojima made an appearance to announce a new PSP Metal Gear Solid game, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Maker which will be a huge Kojima project. This game is intended to be a main MGS story that will follow Solid Snake. Ubisoft brought Assassin’s Creed 2 to the conference and showed off some of the single player game play. This sequel will take place in the Italian renaissance and will pick off exactly where the last game left off.

Square Enix brought a new trailer for Final Fantasy XIII which slowly coming to the store shelves much to my annoyance. Summoning skills were shown off at the Microsoft conference with the Odin summon but the real news here was the surprising announcement of Final Fantasy XIV online which honestly I thought Jack Tretton was joking about at first. This game will be console exclusive to the PS3.

Microsoft and Nintendo were the only companies to talk about new motion technology at their conference this year as Sony brought out a new toy that we’ll call the Sony Motion Sensor Wand as it has no real name yet. This motion sensing device is a small wand device with a round light on top that can change colour and buttons on the handle. The device appeared to have 1:1 tracking that worked with the Sony Eye Camera technology.

While still a work-in-progress, this new controller could be used for various applications such as writing, blocking building, targeting for first person shooters, and with two wands, a sword and shield. The tech demos shown during the event was quite impressive but again I have to reserve all judgements until I get a hands-on demo. This had to be my favourite motion controller device of them all though. It seemed the most impressive and the most believable of them all.

Sony finally closed out the show with two spectacular games, Team ICO’s Last of the Guardians and God of War 3. Though Last of the Guardian has been leaked on the internet a couple of week ago under the name Trico, the show’s trailer included new footage of creatures that looked like hybrids of cats and dragons. God of War 3 brought to the table some incredible single player game play footage that included what looked like a Titan and the God, Helios.

Beyond the conference news, I personally am looking forward to the new Telltales games, Tales of Monkey Island episodic games which were created by previous Lucasarts developers from that adventure game era. They will be available on Wii Ware and PC in July 2009. The Overlord II and Overlord Dark Legend from Codemasters were on the demo floor but happily are coming out this month. There is a demo for Overlord II on Xbox live right now, so get on there and start clubbing baby seals like the Canadians you are. (Just kidding, don’t send me angry rants.)

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box for the Nintendo DS is coming to North American shores finally, though no actual date has been announced. Just nice to know that we are getting an English version after the first game was so cool. EA was present with Brutal Legend featuring funny man, Jack Black and the apparently protested game, Dante’s Inferno. And finally my favourite company Square Enix had games o’plenty on the show floor like the fighting game, Dissidia Final Fantasy for the PSP, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days for the Nintendo DS and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers for the Nintendo Wii.

While I wish I could talk about every little game that appeared at the show, I unfortunately don’t have enough room to cover everything. Right now the internet is still a buzz with everything that happen and I recommend that everyone go and check out all the cool trailers, game play footage and even the conference feeds because seeing is believing.

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