Thursday, July 12, 2007

E3 Press Conference Reviews

I'm only grading their press events on their merits alone and not the consoles themselves, the health of the platforms, or their overall showings at E3 so far. I'll try to come back to each at the end of the week to take a look at the rest of the show. So let's start it off in the order they debuted.


The goal for them was to keep the buzz going of all the great stuff coming out this fall, and I think they did that pretty well. There was the constant reminder that Halo was coming, with a live processional, live action film teaser, and the single player footage at the end. Yes, we get it.. Master Chief owns all.

There were a few faux pas moments, like Peter Moore pausing the Rock Band game while playing or the hilarious unveiling of the new Halo 3 Special Edition Xbox360 to the sound of crickets. You almost expect something to go wrong at a Microsoft event.

Throughout the entire presentation, their message was clear: we've got tons of big games coming. That was shown literally by the massive amount of live demos being played in front of the crowd. From Rock Band, to PGR 4, to Madden 08, to Call of Duty 4, to Gears of War PC, to Assassin's Creed, they let the games speak for themselves.

Unfortunately, there weren't any real surprises either. The Resident Evil 5 trailer was nice and the Call of Duty demo was interesting, but I never once thought, "OMG WTF?!? That's crazy!!"

Apparently, Microsoft is trying to do a better job breaking into the main stream market, with more Xbox Live video marketplace partnerships with companies like Disney. The upcoming Scene-It and Viva Pinata party games are also examples of this. But whatever, this crap doesn't really affect me, and I could care less.

Overall, they had an okay showing, but they could've shown us some more 2008 stuff like Alan Wake, Fable 2, Halo Wars, and maybe even tease us with a little Banjo Kazooie 3. Instead, they mostly banged the Halo-2007-drum and played it safe with stuff we already knew was coming. Grade: B-


Nintendo certainly spoke to their phenomenal numbers and with good reason. It was nice to see Reggie "taking names" Fils-Aime smiling so much, as he elaborated on page after page of Powerpoint slides with positive sales figures. Fair enough. With all the profits you're making, you deserve to celebrate a little. The user-generated fanvids were a bit annoying after a while, but still spoke to their core fanbase.

Next they showed off the new "Zapper" and "Steering Wheel" Wii controller attachments, with both Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Mario Kart Wii. It sorta reminded me of all those horrid Cooking Mama and Wii Sports plastic shells and I wondered how Mario Kart Wii would handle with Wii controls. Then I was reminded of how I at first dismissed The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, with it's wii-motion sword slashing, but then warmed up to the idea. I guess when you love a series so much, you often see any drastic changes as negative.

Well, online is still kinda up in the air for Nintendo. So far only a few games will be out this fall that allow online play, but with cock-blocking friend codes, I don't think it'll be a big selling point.

They seemed to gloss over some DS stuff (again with the massive success), but besides the demo of Zelda Phantom Hourglass, Brain Age 2, and the trailer of Ninja Gaiden DS, there wasn't much to see. I just don't understand the lack of games on a system that sells a fuck-ton of units every month. Where's New Super Mario Bros 2? Where's the Elite Beat Agents sequel? The currentDS lineup is not looking too hot.

They did make some much needed announcements, like proper release dates for Super Mario Galaxy (Nov 12th) and Super Smash Bros Brawl (Dec 3rd). And the footage of Mario Galaxy was pretty amazing (too bad Metroid looks the same). So I was hoping Shiggy would drop a bomb at the end of the show. A new franchise maybe? Something, anything to get me up and rooting for Mario and co.

So what did he unveil..? Wii Fit (ie: Fitness) was their big reveal. After some dance aerobics videos, yoga exercises, and soccer ball dodging, I was done with this event. Again, I'm not surprised something like this happened.. I'm only disappointed. Disappointed for all the hardcore Nintendo fans who are getting covered in an avalanche of non-games and mass market crap. I'm sure the "Alpha-Moms" will love it, and if so, congratulations on reaching your target audience. Good job leaving your loyal fans behind! Grade: C+


After Nintendo's event, I didn't know what to expect from Sony. They started it off with a quirky showing of Home and it was nice to see some of that system-wide integration coming together. Being able to meet up in Home, like an in-game lobby, and play anything you wanted was a pretty cool feature. The price drop mention was brief (as it was already leaked), but necessary.

They also finally revealed a revised design of the PSP (ppl are calling it "PSP Slim") and showed off several games coming out for the system. I think they're starting to understand that portables should not just play dumbed down versions of existing console games, but unique titles that are tailor made for on-the-go play. Echochrome looks interesting, and will even be available for download on PSN as well, which is nice. Chewbacca was probably the weirdest addition to the show, complete w/ his signature growl and special edition Star Wars Battlefront PSP.

Despite their current lack of exclusives, they managed to bring it up a notch with their acquisition of NCSoft (makers of Guild Wars and City of Heroes), as well as the PS3 timed exclusives of Haze and Unreal Tournament 3 for 2007. Unlike Microsoft, Sony didn't many live demos during their press conference (was Killzone 2 being played live?). What they did have were plenty of impressive videos of upcoming titles.

Oddly enough, Lair and Warhawk for absent from the show. Sony did show many others though, including: Heavenly Sword, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Infamous, and many great looking PSN games. The MGS4 trailer kicked ass, as everyone thought it would. Final Fantasy XIII was sadly absent, as was rumble, but we know it's coming (they'll probably show more at TGS).

As the conference winded down, we knew there was one more final announcement. That would be the Killzone 2 trailer. Since I had already seen this the night before, posted on some website, the footage was not quite as powerful, but the game did look great. Maybe not as good as the CGI-trailer from 2 years ago, but finally, the PS3 had something they could stack up next to Gears of War graphically.

Overall, I'd have to say Sony had the best conference, with nothing really to complain about. They had some decent surprises and a good showing of 2008 content as well as 2007 stuff coming soon. Nothing jaw dropping like in previous E3s, but even with the different format this year, Sony was able to do what they needed, and that was "sell this console". Grade: B+

But E3 is far from over, and there is still a lot to see. I hope more is shown of Fable 2, Mass Effect, Mario Galaxy, and GTA IV. For now, I can only wait, and prepare my wallet.. September is right around the corner and the games are coming.

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