E3 2011 has run its course. For those that don't know, E3 is the video game industry's major conferance/convention where the game makers shof off their games and the console makers show off their new devices.
I'd rank the big three as follows:
I'll start with Microsoft:
My immediate thought after their press conferance was over was 'it's about ***** time'. That was the press conferance they needed last year, when they introduced Kinect to the market. They had to wait one full year, but now the product support is finally starting to show up in the form of new games and also in new menu options and functions on the 360 for Kinect owners.
This is where things start taking an interesting twist, however. Although basic controler games were shown (COD being the big one), one of the announcers that stood on stage actually said 'our goal is to be controler free'.
And companies seem to moving in that direction. The company behind Ghost Recon said publicly that all GR games, starting with the new one, will be Kinect only on the Xbox. This leads to some very interesting problems as the core gaming community doesn't care for motion controls or no controls.
Either way, though, although it won't happen this year or the next, I see Microsoft moving away from the controller and going Kinect only.
They came out swinging and without a doubt they hit Nintendo with a shot to the gut that will shake things up in the handheld markets.
You got a preview of what was Sony was going to do if you watch the pre-E3 Konami press conferance, as Kojima showed off one of the key functions to Vita using his new Metal Gear Solid game.
As for the PS3, well, to all the 3DS haters out there, I say to you:
If 3D is such a gimmick, why does Sony want it so bad?
That's right, Sony is moving into the direction of having all games made for PS3 in 3D. Also, they are moving to have more games made for PS Move, making an interesting combo.
The biggest move for Sony, though, is their new handheld system, the Vita. This will give the 3DS a run for its money. No, Vita isn't 3D, but this is a good thing because it's a true alturnative to the 3DS as opposed to simply being another handheld system on the market.
Where it lats in 3D, though, it makes up for in other areas. The biggest of them being the touch controls on the back. This allows you to use the standerd controls and also your middle fingers now move around on the back. Allows for extra control and it will be interesting to see what game companies can up with for this function.
Vita can also transfer data from the PS3 to itself and back again. This means, if you have a PS3, you can start playing a game on it, transfer the data the VITA, and continue playing it on the VITA no matter where you go, and when you get back home, you simply upload the data back to the PS3.
VITA is a good, solid system, and for once in a long time, I can honistly say I wouldn't mind owning both handhealds.
3DS is getting some new games, although this was a given. The Estore finally opened and if you were paying attention during their press conferance, you found out that Excitebike 3D was available to download for free on July 7th. Plays just like the old NES version but it's in 3D. Pokemon fans also got some goodies through the estore.
The big news, though, was the Wii U. Where the other two companies have decided on what they want to stick with, Nintendo has once again come out with something new and is letting it take its course.
The system itself isn't the big story. It's big thing was that it is HD compatable (full 1080). And although Nintendo didn't say it, the actual system itself must be able to handle full on-line game functions (comparable to XBLA) or EA would not have stood on stage and said they were going to start making games for it.
The controler, however, was the big story. It is on the large side, but where I've got big hands, I say it's about time. It's a combination of controller and tablet. Two analog sticks, 4 normal buttons, d-pad, two triggers, a 6.2 inch touchscreen, fully active gyroscope, camera, speaker, microphone.
The gyroscope is the key. It has full motion sensor capability, allowing it to almost replace the remote and nunchuck (you'll still need them for sports games, but for non-sports games, the controller should suffice).
What does it do?
1. You no longer need the television to play. The system has to be on, but if someone wants to watch something else whilst your playing, they can change the channel and you'll see the game on the touchscreen of the controller.
2. Just like the 3Ds, it can be moved around and alter the point of view in the video game in relation to its position in the real world.
3. Touch screen is also able to read the motion of your hand if its close. Example shown was a person holding the controler flat in their left hand and quickly moving their right hand over it in a throwing motion to throw stars at the screen.
4. Fully backwards compatable, meaning you can use the older controllers along with it. For golf, you place the tablet on the ground and it shows you the ball. You then swing the remote normally to hit the ball.
It will also be able to transfer data in the future. This is due to a new Smash Brothers game being developed where it was hinted that you would be able to transfer the data between 3DS (the system that the new SB game is being designed for) and the Wii U.
There are two downsides to this, though, one is real, the other is a matter of preferance.
1. Seemingly large controller. It is big. It's a 6.2 inch screen and you know there's going to be an extra 2 or 3 inches all around it. For those of us with large hands, a larger controller is a good thing, but it will take some getting used to by most people.
2. Too fragile. You really have to throw the remote or nunchik hard to break them. Alas, the new controller for the Wii U has a screen, just like the DS, and if you've ever owned a handheld system, you know how carful you were with it as the screen is easy to break. It will be the same with this controller, and I can already see the thousends of cases of it being slamed onto the table only to have the screen shatter.
In more realistic terms, though, look at it this way:
Nintendo, it's agreed by most gamers, is still a kid system. The games are made more for the kids than the grown-ups. Most parents prefer a Wii for their younger children as a result of this. Now Nintendo is introducing a controller that will not stand up to punishment from your kids. What's a parent to do?
As far as the games go:
COD: graphics are good, but I expect nothing less in that department. Alas, I watched the demo and all I could say was that I already did that (ship filling with water as you're trying to escape) in the first MW game. In other words it's more of the same, although they did not release any details on on-line play nor on the story.
Bioshock: Very interesting. Take the mindset of turn of the century (1800) America and give them the technology of today. That gets you the theme for this game. Looking forward to it as it won't be out until sometime in 2012.
Rome: This got a very short amount of coverage but I have been waiting to see a game company take the chance on a game like this. The problem with the Wii is that it was aimed more at the elderly. Kinect isn't. It's aimed at hardcore gamers, and Rome is a full contact combat game without the contact. You throw the punches, kicks, spins, and moves hitting virtual opponents. It will be interesting to see the reviews on this as I fully believe a lot of people will find out that fighting for real is a lot tougher than it looks in the game.
The future of video games is starting to get interesting. It is no longer based on a traditional controller, and the new games being designed are testing the limits.