e3 2011 – Nintendo

 

Its Deeper and Wider…

Sorry for the delay in getting the Nintendo Presser reviews up.  Life seemingly got in the way this week of allowing me time post my thoughts on Nintendo’s conference but I did watch it Tuesday and take notes so my thoughts here were as I was digesting it in real time, not my thoughts now that I’ve had a chance to digest two days later.

So expectations from Nintendo going in, well its the Wii successor of course and to see if any of our predictions regarding the system might come to life.  I also predict we will see alot of core titles for the 3DS as Nintendo tries to safe the system with strong software.  I assume there has also got to be some core Wii titles announced for this holiday season or the system might be dying a quick death.  On with the show.

– Nintendo gets a late start to the show but to be fair Sony started even later and nobody seemed to be giving them crap.  Guess more people were anxious for Nintendo’s conference.  Gee wonder why.

We kick things off a look back at the last 25 years of Zelda accompanied by full orchestra.  It seems odd to say this because Zelda has so many fanboys but I don’t think the Zelda franchise gets the full respect it deserves in the video game world.  Its nice to see Nintendo going all out for the anniversary.  Dang I think I just got chills during the montage, how many games can you say that about?

– I am going to give that a minus though, it was really cool but is your e3 press conference the best place to pay homage to Zelda?  I dunno maybe it is.

+Miyamoto is here of course.  The man doesn’t age.  Yes I’m giving Miyamoto a plus just for walking on stage.  If it wasn’t for him how many of us would be playing video games today?  Where would the entire industry be?

– Again more Zelda music as Miyamoto (and his overtalking translator who translates before Miyamoto can finish speaking) lead the orchestra.  It does make you appreciate how powerful and classic the Zelda music is but again, its e3.  Good stuff, just not for your big press conference.

-/+ Finally we move into some games by announcing that they will celebrate the 25th Anniversary by releasing a new Zelda game for every system.  Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening will be available for the new e-shop today (make that the 7th) for 3DS.  Next weekend the eagerly anticipated Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3d ships for the 3DS.  I know the game was previously announced but was it known that was the ship date?  The graphics have been revamped and make you appreciate the power under the hood of the 3DS just a little more.  Also have a Master quest included for those of you who have played through that game 1000 times.  This September Legend of Zelda: Four Swords will be released as a free download.  Nice!  Free is always good.  And then to wrap it up Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will be released this holiday for Wii.  That gets a big applause as I think everyone was concerned they would hold it back and release it as a launch title for the new system instead ala Twilight Princess.  Miyamoto sighs on stage and comments “Its finally done!”  Nice.  They will also be releasing (they didn’t say “selling”, hmm…) a gold, Zelda branded Wii-Mote Plus.  Miyamoto assures us that this is the fullest, most satisfying Zelda game of any in the series.  Even coming from him that just feels like lip service though.  They are also preparing to music CD’s which will somehow be given out in conjunction with the release of two of the games.

Miyamoto welcomes several of the legendary Nintendo developers on the stage.  You know its nice to see a company embracing some of the Japanese flavor in gaming.  It feels like these days video games is all shooters and westernized action Rpgs.  Sony and Microsoft felt like they have entirely abandoned Japanese game development in their pressers short of the quick Street Fighter x Tekken blip for PSVita.

Next up Iwata is here…come on vitality sensor!!!

Hype for the new system begins.  Wii and DS have erased the boundaries that define gamers which is actually more then just psycho-babble for once.  They do feel though that the systems have boundaries in what they offer basically admitting they have failed the hardcore gamers (which I have noticed has been shortened to “core” lately).  He believes as an industry they have failed to deliver a platform that is equally satisfying for all players…yet.  That is the goal for the new platform.  In his words, its “deeper and wider”…uh okay.  Guess the new name is the Nintendo DW!  Crowd is totally silent here, cameras and fingertips at the ready to unleash upon the interwebs at the very moment the name is announced…but that will be coming later.  Iwata you big tease!

2011 is all about the 3DS.  Quick video clips of the core games.  Mario Kart 3DS, Star Fox 64 3DS, Mario 3DS, Kid Icarus, Luigi’s Mansion 2. Wow didn’t expect that last one.  Not sure anyone else did either.

+Reggie is here, and yes that gets a plus (although on a whole Reggie seemed a whole lot less Reggie this year).

He tells us that Nintendo has heard us loud and clear.  We want what we have always wanted but we want the buzz of the new.  Is it possible to deliver something for everyone?

+ Mario Kart 3DS – Interesting, in the video shown the camera looked really tight on the karts.  Wonder if thats to help with the 3D effect or it was just cropped for the presentation.  Whoa hang gliders!  At least they aren’t giving us the same Mario Kart game again.  Oh and underwater racing too, why not?  Looks like it functions just like land. Hey Kart customization too.  Thats kind of nice but I suspect its more visual then having any impact on your kart in the race.  Mario Kart will be out this holiday season.

+ Star Fox 64 3d – Wow thanks for that name.  I’m not as big a fan of Star Fox as some may be so I’m not overly enamored by this idea.  But what I do like is the idea of turning and tilting your 3DS or using traditional buttons to play.  This game may be the best possible implementation of motion control given the 3D nature.  Its also using the camera in a nifty way to constantly be capturing/transmitting your face and your friends faces in multiplayer so you can see their reactions when you shoot them down.  Will be out in September.

+ Super Mario 3d – Reggie tells us that if software sells hardware, then no game has sold more hardware then Mario.  Game looks impressive, alot like Mario Galaxy game play wise but stages appear to be a little more traditional in design, not so outer-spacey.  The music does seem a bit off from the traditional Mario fare, almost like its out of key or something.  Oh and don’t forget the return of the legen…wait for it…dary Tanooki Suit.  Will be out before the end of the year.

Kid Icarus Uprising – Last year when they showed us that Kid Icarus was returning I was excited.  Finally one of the favorite games of my youth was making a return.  I didn’t even care if it was an “on rails” shooter, I was just glad to see Pit back.  Now?  Well…um…Pits voice is going to be really hard to deal with if that trailer was any indication.  And now its a multiplayer fighting game too.  Featuring Land and Air combat, 3 on 3.  Come out later this year, I don’t know I just want a traditional Icarus game I guess…

Luigi’s Mansion 2 – I know its never a good idea to doubt Nintendo.  They rarely screw up the major properties (unless you are having team ninja make a metroid game apparently) but I don’t think the world was exactly clamoring for a new Luigi’s Mansion with “more than one mansion!”.  Lets be honest, the only reason anyone (including me) bought the first one is because there was no Mario launch title for the Gamecube.  I don’t think the world needs the experience again.  I’m sure they will throw some nifty 3D gameplay in there though so maybe I’m off here.

All 5 titles will be on the show floor.  3DS video time.

+/- Resident Evil Mercenaries, Mario and Sonic at the Olympics, Ace Combat, Cave Story 3d, Resident Evil Revelations, Driver Renegage, Pac Man & Galaga Dimensions, Tetris, Tekken, Metal Gear Solid 3 – Hard to give a video reel a thumbs up or down when everything is shown quickly.

+ Time to talk about the e shop.  Will feature 3D videos, demos and a virtual console just for the 3DS featuring Game Boy games.  They are kicking it off with a free 3d version of the original Excitebike to kick it all off.  I love Excitebike, or at least my inner 8 year old does, and who can argue with free (for a limited time of course).

Pokedex – for 3DS.  You get 16 pokemon and you collect additional from friends, spot pass and AR cards.  The Pokemon can then be used in AR pics and uploaded to the web to live out your Ash/Pikachu cosplay fantasies.  Its free too but I have to say the whole conference came to a grinding halt here as everyone was ready for the new system unveil and really didn’t want to hear about a non game even if it is free.

+ Free stuff, Nintendo announced alot of “free” giveways here which is always a plus but on the other hand, some of it is stuff I would never buy and maybe wouldn’t bother to download even if its free.

Its time.

Wii U

  • First off the name is awful, just completely awful.  I know what they were going for and I know why its such a big deal to keep the Wii name now.  It holds a better brand in the market then nintendo at this point so its too much to throw away and start over.  But by calling it the Wii U, you are making all of the non-gamer owners of the Wii think that the new controller is just another addon to the wii, like the Balance Board, Steering Wheel, Zapper and vitality sensor…err scratch that last one.  I don’t see how Wii U conveys that this is a new stand alone system and heaven knows Nintendo didn’t clear that up during their conference.
  • Its called the “U” because its tailor made for you.  And thats because “you” can only afford one of these controllers.
  • Tablet controller as rumored, 6.2 inch touchscreen, two analog sticks, two cameras, gyroscope, accelerometer, mic, etc…
  • The controller is definitely massive.
  • Video shown doesn’t show much in the way of games, I’m guessing there isn’t much in the way of games at this point.
  • The golf part of the video was a really unique idea and a way to bring motion gaming to life in your living room.
  • If I’m reading this right, the controller only streams the picture of the game from the system, it can’t play independently from the system but can be played without a TV.  That could be the thing that helps them keep the price reasonable.  That and the single touch, resistive touchscreen (unfortunately).
  • What is with the voices in that demo video?  “Cycling sounds awesome!!!”
  • We do see both stylus and finger interactivity on the touchpad so at the very least it appears to function a little better then the DS style touchscreen.  I’m hoping that maybe by the time this hits the market next year that Nintendo has gone all the way to multi touch, capacitive tech but they do like their stylus.   Resistive just seems so cheap.
  • Backwards compatible with everything on the Wii.  No mention of the Gamecube but it was confirmed after the show that it won’t play gamecube discs (hmm who predicted that?  oh yeah ME!)
  • It also has rumble tech and rechargable batteries built in.  Basically all the wii-mote tech in the new Wii-Pad package.
  • Its really interesting that they aren’t focusing on the console itself or even talking about it.  This presentation would almost lead you to believe that its just the controller.
  • Smash Brothers will be coming for both Wii U (see how dumb the name is?  Do we abbreviate it as WU?) and 3DS.  Games will work together.
  • They have put together 8 interactive experiences (not games) to show what the controller can do.  Available to demo on the show floor.
  • They show a bird video.  To this point the graphics for everything shown had been really Wii-ish but this looks really good.  Should put aside the non HD fears but I do believe the controller is only 480p.
  • New Super Mario Brothers Wii game is not a game but just a demo to show how you can play with the Wii U in combo with the wii-motes.  Interesting to note that all the multiplayer shows one Wii U controller with other standard Wii controllers.  I’m not wondering if the tech is powerful enough to seamlessly push the picture to more then one controller at a time?  There may be no plans to sell additional controllers.
  • Shield Pose tech demo.  Move the controller to block arrows.  Will put you in the game world by allowing you to view it from any angle (move the controller and the picture changes to show where you are at.  Nice concept.  I can imagine the AR game possibilities in play for this (very similar to iPhone and iPad 2 but still).
  • Chase Me demo.  Again shows one Wii-Pad and several Wii-motes.
  • Space shooter game.
  • Wait was that 8 demos or did I miss some?  Be on the lookout for Wii Play U that will include all these tech demos as one game when the Wii U launches (no that wasn’t an announcement, just a guess on my part.)
  • Lego City Stories – Odd choice for the first official Wii U game announcement.  Its an open world lego game, basically Grand Theft Auto, without the theft and a whole lot more legos.  Could be cool.  Will be exclusive to Wii U and 3Ds
  • They show us a video of a number of big developers talking up how cool the Wii U tech is.
  • Watch your toes, Nintendo is droppin names Darksiders 2, Tekken, Batman Arkahm City, Assasins Creed, Ghost Recon Online, Dirt, Aliens Colonial Marines, Metro Last Light and Ninja Gaiden 3. Its been confirmed that none of these videos were the game running on Wii U because they haven’t been made yet but it appears that Nintendo is really going to push to have “core” games available on their system.
  • CEO of EA comes out.  Personally I had enough of the guy at the EA presser but what can you do.  He tells us that EA has never been to E3 as a partner of Nintendo (but has for Microsoft and Sony).  EA is fully supporting the new platform…well duh…EA likes money and has never had problems porting their games to the Wii like some third parties.
  • Madden, Battlefield 3, FIFA, Need for Speed, Harry Potter, Sims, Army of Two and possibly several others I missed in the montage.  They didn’t actually announce any games though, I think this was just an “EA Properties” highlight reel.

And just like that they wrap up the conference with no major news for Nintendo first party games for the Wii U.

Reggie exits and they throw up a splash screen showing the logos for a number of games not discussed.  I see The Rolling Western, Paper Mario, Super Fossil Fighters, Rhythm Heaven, Fortune Street, A couple of Kirby games, Animal Crossing and Mario Party 9 but its very possible I missed some others.

Summary:

Wow where to start?  I have serious mixed emotions here.  Overall I think Nintendo didn’t do the greatest job telling us anything concrete about their new system but I think there is a very good reason for that.  I don’t think its ready to be discussed.  I’m guessing we are going to get a second half/2012 release on the Wii U and that the reason they left so much out is because so much is still up in the air.  They wanted to get the buzz going so they threw the controller out there, that’s the money maker for this system but the meat and potatoes will be whats behind door number 2, the console itself.  At this point I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the console changes or the name changes.  e3 is all about buying yourself some hype and by unveiling the Wii U this year, instead of waiting until next years e3, they have basically bought themselves an extra year of hype for the Wii U.  I imagine over the next 12 months we will start seeing/hearing more about the console itself and the games that will be coming and then at e3 next year Nintendo can put on a full demo of the Wii U (if its still called that) and generate even more buzz.

The 3DS has a solid software lineup with the Mario games and has now given us holiday 2011 titles to move systems which I think they will, especially because I’m hearing the PSVita won’t be ready this year.

The Wii strangely seems forgotten here.  Third party games are drying up because they don’t sell and Nintendo seems more concerned with focusing on moving the 3DS now.  They still have a number of months to tell us about the holiday season and what will be available on the Wii outside of Zelda though, just feels like they have no interest in it.

Nintendo was almost guaranteed to come out of this e3 the winner because they had the shiniest toy to show off and they are going to get some slack for that.  The Wii U is definitely impressive no matter how muddy they made the waters with the nature of the announcement and Nintendo made their play to go after the core gamer and the causal gamer with one device.  I think they can but the software will be key.  Its not enough to tell us that the same games that the other systems have will come to the Wii U.  They’ve done that before and in alot of cases we just got crappy ports with waggle controls.  They have to deliver the same experiences or better then the other guys to capture the core gamer and keep the third party guys involved.  I think they will but the message at this e3 may not have been as good as it could have.  Overall there was alot to like but not much of it had to do with the actual games, so I give Nintendo a B.

 

 

 

 

e3 2011 – Wii U

Wii U Nintendo?  Really?  Thats what the marketing geniuses came up with?  Well I’m definitely disappointed with the name.  Why do I need to buy the Wii University?  Perhaps they are preparing me to pay a college tuition level for this next console.

Stay tuned for my complete thoughts on the new system and Nintendo’s press conference.

e3 2011 – PlayStation

One more for today, last but not least its Sony PlayStation.

I’m expecting first off to see a big apology and then some big sequels with Uncharted 3 and maybe a new God of War.  And a big dose of PSVita

They kick of with an apology to third parties, retailers and consumers.  They claim that PlayStation is the most connected entertainment device today, oh except for the last 6 weeks when it wasn’t working.  They also claim that PS3 is the leading device for watching Netflix with 30%.  In my house the iPhones, iPad and Wii get alot more Netflix usage.

+++Uncharted 3 – This game is probably in the running for top game of e3, its that good.  Seeing the demo on the shifting/sinking ship was pretty cool.  If I have one complaint its that Drake was running a little strange when the demo started but perhaps he was favoring an injury.  They didn’t show too much on the multiplayer but state it will be available at Subway in October…um okay then.

Resistance 3 – The red headed step child of console exclusive FPS games.  The original game was okay for a first gen, first party, first person shooter.  We took what we could get and we liked it!  The second game was underwhelming though and we have no reason to believe #3 will be any better.  Oh and it features heavy Move gameplay and of course 3d because Sony loves the 3d.  The problem here is if you didn’t tell me what game I was looking at during the demo, well I would not have been able to tell you.  Not a good sign.

+God of War Origins and Ico/Shadow of the Colossus box sets – HD remakes of some classics and PSP games in 3d.  I’m not a fan of the rehash ideas but if it exposes a wider audience to these games then so be it.  Lets just hope they are cheap.

3d for everyone – Sony believes so much in 3d gaming that they are going to attempt to sell us PlayStation branded 3d TV’s and glasses to make us.  Its a 24 inch 3d HDTV.  One neat feature is that two players playing in 3d will see their own screen on the TV, no split screen.  Thats pretty cool technology.  The TV is going to retail for $499.  So for those of you scoring at home, Sony is making 3d gaming accessible to everyone for $800 ($300 PS3 + $500 TV) and goes up if you want the full experience with move (add $130 or $150 for accessories).  Thats the low, accessible price of $950 to get into 3d gaming…unless you want more then one player, then add another $70 for a second pair of glasses.  And they wonder why I think 3d gaming is a waste of time.

NBA 2k12NBA with Move controls because nobody demanded it.  Its a whole lot of pointing gestures with the move.  Hardly seems intuitive but they say anyone can do it, and with that they call out Kobe Bryant. Oh Kobe gets a big “+” for being funny but he looks like he doesn’t have a clue what he is doing and lets the Heat go on a run before finally mercifully make a shot.  So much for anyone can pick up and play, anyone other then the greatest basketball players on earth.

Medieval Times: Dedmans Quest – Well that name just rolls of the tongue there doesn’t it?  Is this the Harry Potter-ish Move game from last e3?  I noticed they are playing without the navigation controller, does that mean we are on rails here?  If so I might scream!  This game could really benefit from a license or a name change at a least.  A game box with this name isn’t going to jump out at little Jimmy.  The one developer keeps asking the guy playing the demo “now what are you going to do?” as though he needs to figure out a complex puzzle to advance but commonly its just “shoot the giant green glowing thingy to advance.  When the creator of the game can’t get the name out without screwing it up, you need to change it.

Infamous 2 – Gets a minus just because I don’t like the idea of hyping a game at an e3 press conference when it comes out tomorrow.  At least Sony is nailing the concept of showing why the Playstation is unique.  Take the hint next year Microsoft.

+ Little Big Plannet 2 – Will be receiving move support in the fall.

Starhawk – Out of all of the games revealed so far at e3 this might be the blandest.

+ Sly Cooper Thieves in Time – Wow a console exclusive that isn’t a FPS?  Microsoft could learn a thing or two from Sony (and vice versa).  The trailer looks really cool but they don’t show any gameplay so who knows.  Its also coming out in 2012, for the record I don’t think anything is coming out this holiday season.

Dust 514 – Shooter game that somehow links up with Eve Online on the PC.  Ambitious if they can make it work.  Unfortunately they don’t expound on the idea and it looks alot like Halo.

+Bioshock Infinite – Wow this looks…amazing.  Like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  Knowing the Bioshock pedigree, I think this is a winner.  It will support Move in some fashion.  He did say they are just starting to get their heads around the Move support so who knows when this game will make it to market.

+Bioshock for NGP, err PSVita – Quick mention of the game for PSVita.

Saints Row 3 – Nothing was shown but we were told that a unique play method is only available on the PS3.  Need more details if you want me to care here.

+ Star Trek Move Game – Co-op action adventure in the Star Trek world.   They will be making a move controller that is designed to look like a phaser…NERD ALERT!  It looks a lot like you would expect to see from a Star Trek shooting game, using move, and it doesn’t look to be on rails?  I hope?

EA Games – Games already shown in the EA conference but this time bragging about exclusive content for PS3.  I hate exclusive content.

+ PlayStation Suite – PlayStation games on certified Android phones and tablets.  Nice step to take a shot at the smartphone gaming world right?  No further details were shown.

+++PS Vita – Name aside, the reveal of the PS Vita was great. Here are some bulletpoints of a bulletpoint:

  • Dual touchpads
  • Dual Cameras
  • Dual Analog sticks
  • Sixaxis
  • 3g & Wi-fi
  • Wait I’ve covered all of this before…
  • AT&T will be the exclusive carrier. Crowd kind of groaned on that one.
  • Party – voice chat live on headsets or mics.
  • Near – Social networking. Social Networking is so 2010Enough, we want games dangit!
  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss – It looks amazing, like first gen PS3 games or better. That’s a really nice, really big screen (and at 5 inches the rumored Nintendo touch screen of 6 inches would be huge).  Smooth transition of touchscreen controls but you can also use buttons. Perfect. Shoot, Uncharted alone makes me want a PSVita, I could care less about all the other stuff.
  • They call the back touchpad “Rear Touch”. That sounds kinda dirty fella.
  • Ruin – Directly compatible with PS3? Action RPG game. Dude this guy is out of breath before he starts. Its a little hard to tell but it looks diablo-ish. Everything is really small, so it doesn’t work to show them playing on the PSV like it did on the previous game. Can we get video out? Events happen in real time? Fighting with other players online. Save Ruin to the cloud on PSV and play on PS3. Same game, well that’s kinda cool.
  • You can only get cloud based save games on PlayStation. Well I predicted it for Nintendo so lets see…
  • Modnation Racers. Create tracks by drawing on touchscreen. Works pretty smooth. Rear-touch allows you to change geography up. Front-touch (I just coined that) allows you to depress the geography.
  • Playstation Vita just rolls off the tongue. I’m already dropping it to PSV.
  • I just noticed that Scott Rohde looks a little bit like Showtime (if you changed his nose and jaw a bit)
  • Little Big Planet – Pretty much Little Big Planet 2 with touchscreen controls, cameras, motion and on a portable system. Looks very nice although I admit I’ve never had time to get into the Little Big Planet thing myself.
  • Street Fighter x Tekken – Crowd just went WHOA! Yoshinori has an awesome shirt on. Looks good but there is a strange white outline around the characters. Dude Yoshinori is not very good at Street Fighter.
  • EA, Ubisoft, Capcom, THQ, Activision developing for PSV
  • Clip video, no game names given.
  • Really like the hybrid of the touchscreen play with traditional controls and the ease of transition between the two. Will be interesting to see if Nintendo’s rumored controller pulls this off…
  • Release date – Holiday season this year. Wi Fi Model, 3g model. Wi Fi Model is $249.99. 3G is $299.00. I think that’s the magic price point but imagine if Nintendo whips out their system for the same price tomorrow (oh I know we won’t get a price on the new Nintendo system).
  • Rumors had it that the PSVita hardware had to get scaled back from original specs in order to hit that price point. The games looked fine to me.

Following that the show ends.  Hmm, no big 3rd Party games, no Twisted Metal (which we have already see today at e3), no new God of War and no Kevin Butler?!!??  Interesting.

Summary:

I think Sony had the most to lose with their presser (I’ve seen too many Press Conferences today, I’m calling them PRESSERS!!!!) with all the recent negative press on the PSN outage.  Can you imagine how this would have gone if the PSN was still down?  Anyway I think Sony did a great job of answering that question head on with a direct apology.  They also did a great job of showing us what the PlayStation experience is and why you can only get it on PlayStation.  The PSVita continues to impress as well.  There were a few duds overall and a few games I would have thought to be shoe in’s no showed the event but the good stuff (Uncharted and PSVita) was really good.  Sony did about as well as they could have and I give them a B

Join me back here tomorrow for a look at Nintendo’s big reveal.  Will they be able to live up to the hype?

e3 2011 – Ubisoft

Lets keep moving with Ubisoft.

The theme of Ubisoft’s press conference was “come to our booth” or at least thats what I gathered from hearing it 8,000 times during the presser.  Its either that or the F-word (see Far Cry 3).

+ Rayman Origins – Classic side scrolling platformer with a stunning art style.  Really looks like a playable cartoon.  I don’t like Rayman games and I’m not a big fan of the french attempts at humor during this demo (Ubi or not Ubi) but I thought this looked great.  Kinda strange though when the lead developer of the game is calling one of the characters “the blue thing”.  There was an ode to tetris on one stage, nice mix of swimming and platforming on the next.  Flying stage gives a bit of an old school shooter vibe.  Despite the awkward developer jokes the game looks great.

+ Driver – Licensed cars, car chases through San Francisco.  Looks like a pretty cool reboot of the series.

Far Cry 3 – Okay moral soapbox time.  I realize that e3 is not for kids but is it really necessary to toss around the F word 20 times during the course of your game demo in a public press conference?  I’m giving it a negative for that, the game itself looks alright, nothing really over the top on one side or the other.

Brothers in Arms: Furious Four – Sigh, violence for the sake of violence?  I think this one really missed the mark.  You can tell the difference from the natural charm that comes from a game like Overstrike and the forced feeling that came from this one.

TinTin – This one was kind of just there.  I mean it had Peter Jackson and Spielberg singing its praises but the game itself just looked average and the property is something most Americans aren’t familiar with and won’t have an emotional attachment to.  All I know is the boy, TinTin?, was beating the snot out of and suplexing grown men.

+ Ghost Recon – Back on track here.  Ever get the feeling that every game is a FPS?  Anyway this one looks great and has a unique playstyle from the standard shooting fare.  Heavy squad based gameplay with a thinking mans approach and it looks pretty cool.

+ Ghost Recon Online – Hard to argue about a free online version of Ghost Recon unless it really sucks, no reason to believe that it will for now.

Too much caffeine man keeps talking about a shared experience.  Am I the only one that doesn’t want to share my gaming experience?  Give the the AI man!

+ Raving Rabbids for Kinect – Holy beard Batman!  Looks like an “AR” Rabbids game.  Glorified whack a mole at first.  The impressive part is four players on kinect but again I hope you have a big living room.  Fill the shapes looks like a fun party game…for 10 minutes or so.

+ Random casual games section, Just Dance 3 – looks like more of the same but they want you to know Katy Perry plays it.  Looks a little lame after seeing Dance Central earlier.  Rocksmith – looks like it could be a really cool way to learn how to play the guitar.  Your Shape 2012 – Didn’t really show or tell us anything about it.  You might consider these garbage but they are sellers.

+ Assassins Creed Revelations – I remember when the original Assassins Creed was a fun, but not spectacular new property and now here it is the crown jewel of Ubisoft’s crown.  People like diving into hay bails and popping daggers from their wrists I guess.  Lots of cool prerendered stuff shown before the demo.  Looks a lot like the other AC games.  I don’t know about you but if I see a dude in a black hood with a sword and crossbow walking down the street, well thats not a good dude.  They show some weird smoky heat visiony thingy that basically just hides the pretty graphics.  Oh snap he’s playing on a PlayStation controller!!!  That means Ubisoft prefers Playstation (that was sarcasm).

Summary

A bit of a hit and miss performance from Ubisoft.  I really liked Rayman but I don’t think its going to have broad appeal.  A lot of the “humor” fell very, very flat.  Ghost Recon is cool but when you look at games like Modern Warfare and Battlefield where does it fit in?  For every big hit like Assassins Creed which we knew would be shown more we had misses like the Furious Four trailer.  And what was with the language in the Far Cry 3 trailer?  Pardon my French indeed.  I think Ubisoft was really in the middle and give them a C+

 

e3 2011 – EA

Lets keep it rolling with EA Games.

I pretty much knew what to expect here because EA told us what to expect.  EA Sports, The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3, etc…

Let me just start off by randomly inserting “Origin.com” here because heaven knows everyone else in EA’s press conference did when they spoke.

EA is all about the games, no fancy set and no celebrities…remember that second part.

+ Mass Effect 3 – It was very refreshing after the XBOX conference to see them play Mass Effect 3 without worrying about the Kinect controls.  They just played the game and it looked great.  I love how Mass Effect has transitioned from action RPG to full on third person, squad shooter now.

Need for Speed: The Run – Its “an illicit high stakes race across the country” for some reason the word “illicit” makes it sound dirty.  For the first time ever in a NFS game, action sequences will be held out of the car.  Hmm the guy playing the demo is doing it with a wired controller.  What is this the PS2?  It basically looks like racing with real time action sequences tossed in.  I’m glad the illicit street racer was wearing his seat belt when he stole the police car and crashed it on the train tracks.  How illicit!  Its definitely a NFS game but I wonder if the out of the car experience is any good.  Was anyone asking for action out of the car in a NFS game?

+ The Old Republic – This gets a plus just because BioWare knocks it out of the park with another amazing trailer.  But no game play was shown.  We have no reason to believe that BioWare can’t make this epic experience happen but we have nothing to back it up yet either.

SSX – Looks good but everything looks good in prerendered trailers.  Tagline of Defy Reality is appropriate here as it looks very unrealistic, yet its a massive open world based on every major mountain range on the planet.  Obviously they took some creative liberties here, I’m pretty sure I saw the Great Wall of China being used for a half pipe in the trailer.  Nothing amazing here, just looks like HD SSX.

+ FIFA 12 – They like to continually say this is the biggest sports game on the planet.  I’m not into soccer games, they just frustrate me but everything here looks good enough.  A new feature is how the players take dramatic falls.  Well if you believe some people soccer is all about flopping so I guess if its in the game its in the game now.  They started the press conference by saying no random celebs and yet here is Lil Wayne and Drake to tell us about how great FIFA is…

+ Madden 12 – I’m giving this a plus based on the presentation of the fake Vince Lombardi and Ray Lewis, Peyton Hillis and Clay Mathews coming out on stage.  So much for no celebrities (again).  Hey wait, are the players allowed to dress in team uni’s during the lockout?  Apparently the lockout doesn’t prevent them from being slathered in baby oil.  There is a new collision system, dynamic player performances, comes out on August 30th…a special date for me.  He said connected experiences, pretty sure that wasn’t “kinect-ed” but I could be wrong.  Lots of buzzwords tossed around without showing us anything.  Why?  Because they don’t have to.  A little disapointed in the game itself.

+ Sims Social – Nice to see EA taking time to talk about a facebook game here.  And why not.  If millions of people are going to play farmville they might as well be playing the Sims right?  Got a pretty good reaction from the audience.

+ Reckoning – Looks alot like a Morrowind game…oh wait its led by one of the designers of Oblivion…and RA Salvatore…and Todd Mcfarlane.  Well thats a pedigree of…names.  It looks really good and they actually bothered to show gameplay in the trailer, what a novel concept.  Its a 2012 game.

+ Overstrike – Insomniac’s new multiplatform game.  The group is referred to as Overstrike 9, but there are four of them…  I always like to see an original property that has the combination of marketing/visuals/gameplay/charm/character and hype to succeed.  We can’t run on sequels forever.

+ Battlefield 3 – Can it give MW3 a run for its money?  It certainly looks the part.  The Frostbite 2 engine is pretty impressive.   Wow if I had a nickle for every game developer that stumbled over their words in e3 press conferences…  I like the shot they took at MW3 by announcing their online service, battlelog, would be 100% free after the recent anouncment of the Elite service for Call of Duty.  Open beta in September, great looking game.

Summary – 10 games, 8 pluses and I’m sure representing millions of upcoming sales.  A great showing for EA.  They had desired sequels to existing franchises and some new properties that look to be set up to become the desired franchises of tomorrow.  They did just about everything they could as a third party at E3, I give them an A-

 

e3 2011 – XBOX

Its e3 once again and I’ve had the opportunity to digest today’s press conferences and want to give you Seven’s official take on how it all went.  If you read my e3 reviews last year you will know that I use a basic “+” and “-” system to touch on the highs and lows of the event.  My pluses and minuses are not a grade on the games themselves, rather its how impressive the reveal was as part of the event and if I think it helped or hindered the overall presentation.  At the end I’ll summarize each press conference with a letter grade.

First up was Microsoft.  My expectations for Microsoft surround the main first party sequels we are all expecting, Gears of War 3, Forza 4 and thanks to the early reveal on their website before the press conference Halo 4.  I’m sure we will also see Kinect shoved down our throats and probably a bunch of buzz about TV streaming, social networking and basic positioning of the XBOX as an entertainment machine rather then just a video game console.  So lets kick it off:

+ Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 3 – Hmm open e3 with a game that was very much revealed a couple of weeks ago and its a multi-platform game.  I think the move on microsoft earns them a “-” but the game gets a “+” because it looks amazing and the demo was really good.  I do feel like I’m already echoing my thoughts on what I said about Microsoft last year.  Oh but hey they are passionate about developing this game and stuff.

Tomb Raider – I shared my thoughts on Tomb Raider’s reboot earlier in the week here.  I won’t rehash that here.  We do get to see a “playable” demo here and wow, this is pretty much a young British girl screaming…a lot…I mean A LOT.  Is this Lara Croft or Monica Seles a few octaves higher?  Its a freaking screaming simulator!  The game play seems to feature a lot of real time button pressing events which I know rubs a lot of people the wrong way.  Its basically like playing dragons lair.  The developer calls her “LARE-A” not “LAWR-A”.  Am I wrong in how its pronounced or does the developer really not know how to pronounce her name?  It does look pretty, I’ll give it that but nothing here changed my mind from the Uncharted Female rip off.  (OH AND ITS NOT EXCLUSIVE!)

EA GAMES – Peter Moore jumps on stage and makes a joke about his XBOX past.  He then tells us that 3 key EA Sports games will feature Kinect support in 2012 (is that this years versions labeled 2012 or the 2013 versions in 2012?)  He then tells and shows us nothing about it…Oh the Sims is coming and will use Kinect voice commands but again shows us nothing, well that was weak.

+ Mass Effect 3 – Hey its got Kinect support in the form of voice recognition.  During conversations that basically equates to us reading the option we want to select on the screen.  The problem here is that it seems to take out of the immersion of the whole experience for me to read a line and then have “Shephard” state his interpretation of my selection on the screen.  I’d really just rather press a button for this.  The game itself looks great and the briefly shown voice commands in combat to direct your squad will be a nice touch.

+ Ghost Recon – Okay stop the presses.  The guy just used minority report/Tony Stark-ish gesturing to expand a gun out to its bit parts and then select individual parts to swap in and out.  ITS ABOUT FREAKING TIME.  That alone might be enough to get me to buy Kinect.  And then he combines it all with full on voice commands.  If developers can start to figure out how to do this seamlessly and not distract from the core game experience, well that is the dream for Kinect.  I will say the Kinect controls for playing look ridiculous though and faced with an option between controller and that, nobody is going to do that full time.  Oh and all future Tom Clancy games will feature Kinect support because gosh dangit its not just a gimmick!

XBOX Live/New Kinect Dashboard – I don’t have Kinect so I could be wrong about this but the displayed functionality looked just like what they showed last year.  Have you not been able to do this stuff to this point?  Let me summarize…content, content, content…oh and Youtube is coming to XBOX.  Wow terrific, oh and voice command searches for entertainment through Bing.  The idea is kinda neat if all my entertainment options were really synched up through XBOX but no matter how you put it saying “XBOX BING HARRY POTTER” is going to make me feel like an idiot.

Streaming TV – I’ve been hearing lots of rumors about how XBOX is going to announce a new TV service at e3 but they just briefly mention watching live TV and don’t go any further.  Sounds like someone couldn’t dot the “i”s on content contracts…

UFC Live interaction – Bah, enough give me games…

I just heard the phrase “thought leaders like UFC and ESPN”.  Never heard that phrase before.

And now they finally want to tell us about the games you can’t find anywhere else.  Forget everything else to this point.

Gears of War 3 – Okay this may be the greatest game ever but having Ice T come out and saying your game is “Bad A” while pretending to play does nothing for me.  That and the whole demo consisted of them walking around a ship and fighting a few spider creatures.  And then Ice T promises to reunite Body Count to create a new song for the game.  Anyone ever guess while watching Breaking and Electric Boogaloo back in the 80’s that the MC guy would turn up at e3 2011 pimping Gears of War 3 and talking about reuniting his metal band in his early 50’s?  Lets just say I was a little underwhelmed.

RYSE – Let me summarize.  Ryse is a Rome Fighting game using Kinect controls.  I believe this is the game that made an appearance last year as “Codename: Kindgoms” but it looks a lot different this year.  And it appears to be all on rails. Is there a gamer on the planet that likes “on rails” games?  Why are all the Kinect games on rails…oh yeah no controls.  Lets get rid of the controller so there is nothing between you and the game.  The only compromise is that you can’t do what you want in the game because there is no control.  Thats okay right?

+ Halo Anniversary – Everyone is really keen on the HD remake ideas these days but if I have played through the game before do I want to play it again with pretty graphics?  Who am I kidding the answer is yes (and where is the Final Fantasy VII remake square?)

+ Forza 4 – Simply put it looks amazing, photo realistic from the in game engine.  If…and I state IF…the head tracking works as promised…they are on to something big.  Top Gear will be making the standard appearance.  Why doesn’t someone just make a Top Gear game already?

Fable: The Journey – I love Fable but why would I want to play a first person, on rails, magic game?  The crowd was totally apathetic to this and so was I.  Where is Milo dangit!

Minecraft – I know there is alot of buzz regarding Minecraft and its probably a big deal that its going to be an XBOX exclusive for now with Kinect functionality.  But to me it seems like an experience that is better on the PC and by not showing or saying anything else about it it did nothing to help.

Um they just said that Kinect transformed how we play games (which apparently is alot like the Wii) and they have created new blockbuster franchises.  I believe those are dance and fitness games but I could be wrong.

Disneyland Adventures – The magic of visiting Disneyland.  Wonder if this is all on rails too.  For the demo we get a bunch of lame, overacting kids whose on screen avatars are not following their motions.  That leads me to believe that either the controls absolutely suck, don’t work at all, or the kids aren’t actually playing, just flailing around like idiots.  One kid mutters in a robotic voice “this is so cool”.  That was almost like he was reading his lines…  They give each other a forced fist bump again and the girl makes sure to say “fist bump!” really loud in case we missed it.  I like the idea of this game for family play but that demo was awful and forced.  You think we can’t tell what a kid having fun looks like?

Star Wars Kinect – On rails again…the idea for this game is great but I hear the execution is awful.  The trailer shows flying and fighting in ships, wonder how that works on rails.  The demo kicks in and sure enough, the sword is not swinging at all with the kid at times.  Jumps and movements are really delayed and I don’t care how cool your idea is or how great your graphics work, if I jump and it takes my avatar 5 seconds to jump after I do, that’s just frustration not fun.

– Tim Schafer is making a Seasame Street game and this was not the crowd to unveil it to.  The gameplay looked beyond basic, the kid had some problems maneuvering though the menus and he kept saying “Nice one!” to his dad over and over like its the only line he could remember.  Next…

+ Kinect Fun Labs – Free part of the XBOX Kinect Dash starting today.  Looks like they are going to take advantage of all the Kinect Hackers and bring fun mini games to the system.  Avatar creation via Kinect camera.  Kinect Finger Tracking allows you to draw in 3d which is pretty cool.  The Object Capture allows you to create digital versions of object by scanning them in.  Well they did tell us all it could do this stuff two years ago and now they are finally doing it.  How about putting it in a game I care about?  Still this is free and opens a good outlet for future possibilities and works well to show why Kinect functionality can be better then Move or Wii.

(Side note, why no “Kinect Four” or “Kinect the Dots” games yet?  Seems like a natural with the name…)

Kinect Sports Season 2 – Basically Wii Sports HD Kinect again.  How many times does the consumer want to go to that well?  I see skiing, tennis, football, darts, golf…think I missed one but I can’t be bothered to go back and look.  The golf part looks good visually but the woman demoing it had an awful swing and the result was 225 yards right down the fairway.  In game voice commands for menus is a nice touch.  Am I the only one who notices that its only tracking certain parts of her body?  Sometimes I think this show is fake.  The football game has a big time delay in the throwing motion and delivery.  Not to mention the overacting.  I wonder if they are actually playing, or just going through the motions to pre-recorded video…

+ Dance Central 2 – Looks a whole lot like Dance Central 1 but oh it has voice commands.  Do you think Microsoft is insisting everyone has voice controls this year?  Dance Central 2 does fix the biggest flaw of part one by giving us multiplayer dancing.  I hope you have a big living room or we really are going to have some dance battles…

+ Halo 4 – Real quick trailer which should have been a big deal but was spoiled a few hours before the show when they leaked it on their own website.  Reminiscent of the e3 where Halo 3 was unveiled.  This is the big card they have and they have to play it.  With no Bungie it should be interesting though.

Summary-

Very very heavy on Kinect and shoving that down our throats.  There were no real core games in the traditional controller space and not much was really announced that we didn’t know about before.  So much of the big titles were for 2012 too.  If I don’t like Kinect, what is Microsoft giving me in 2011?  An HD remake of Halo and Gears of War 3.  The hardcore gamer is Microsoft’s bread and butter, is the Kinect relevant for them?  I think Microsoft dropped the ball here and give them a C-

 

 

e3-ish news…Tomb Raider reboot

Can anyone tell me why companies are so instant on giving us pre-e3 news on their titles and stealing the thunder of the regular e3 show? What happened to the good old surprise reveals? And every company holds their press conferences before the show. By the time we get to the show the surprises are over.

But I digress…

Here is a video of the upcoming “Tomb Raider” reboot that will be coming out fall 2012 (good grief that seems like a long ways off, companies should be banned from talking about stuff at e3 that won’t be out for a year).

(Forgive me, I’m about to get up on my soapbox and use the terms “chest”, “breasts” and “boobs” more then they ever have on this site. Hmm sounds like a ploy to get cheap hits from a search engine but I assure you its not. You’ve been warned.)

I posted this video not because I’m particularly excited about the game, or because the video is amazing although it looks cool enough. But I posted it because I think its interesting that this reboot of Lara Croft is essentially looking to take Lara, shrink her…um is chest a polite term?…and put her in an Uncharted rip off. Or at least that’s the vibe I get. Heaven knows we will start seeing ten thousand rip offs of uncharted after the success of Uncharted 2 and that’s not really a bad thing because its a great game (aside from some of the iffy gunplay and insane waves of hired goons to gun down) but it bears the question…does the video game public of 2012 want a grim, gritty, desexed, deboobed Lara Croft? (Okay she still has a chest in the video but its definitely not in the floatation device realm she was in the 90’s)

Lara Croft is the poster girl for video games and comic books in the early 90’s. You could take a mediocre game or story, throw a large breasted heroine with short shorts on the cover and sell a million copies. I’ve never much gotten into the whole Lara Croft/Tomb Raider thing but I know what a cash cow she used to be and how desperate the industry seems to be to constantly reboot her to get her back but now it seems they have abandoned what was unique about the character in the first place because its exactly what is holding her back in 2011.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for realistic heroines in video games and strong female characters that help the fairer sex embrace the male dominated industry of video games. And I know how difficult it is to get a new property to catch on in video games when its so much easier to save the effort and crank out sequels and spin offs. Maybe this game is a great next step in that process. But if we don’t want this game to remind us of big chested Lara Croft of the 90’s, then why are we so instant on making another Tomb Raider game in the first place? Maybe its time to leave Lara Croft (and any female superhero drawn by Rob Liefeld in the 90’s) behind…