Tuesday, June 2, 2009

(E3) Console Conference Rundown

Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all made their pitches to the gaming public within the last couple of days.  How did each one fare?

Microsoft's show was an intriguing one.  They demonstrated what's possible with Project Natal: controller-less gaming in HD.  I mention the HD part of it because whatever Nintendo does going forward, that's still the trump card for both major competitors.  I suspect that once Project Natal starts getting demoed, it'll gain traction among the casual crowd.  It's just too cool not to, frankly.

While Halo isn't really my thing, Halo: ODST looks good, Alan Wake was demoed, Metal Gear Solid was showed off, and Final Fantasy XIII has a firmer release date.  All-around, some good things shown off.  While the games weren't revolutionary, I would give Microsoft's show an B, if only for Natal.  It has the potential to revolutionize gaming or to be a giant flop, but at least they're trying for something new instead of mimicking the wand technology.

Nintendo's show was all about the games, and they delivered.  After a lackluster 2008, Nintendo came roaring back with several big reveals for the Wii.  New Super Mario Bros. this year, Metroid: Another M, Sin & Punishment 2, and, above all, Super Mario Galaxy 2.  That alone made me wet my pants.  I don't know about you, but when I saw that the "big Mario reveal" was New Super Mario Bros., I was a little disappointed.  I liked NSMB all right, but it wasn't what I was hoping for.  Galaxy 2 made my day.

That was just the Wii side.  The DS has more great stuff coming out this year yet, like Spirit Tracks and Mario & Luigi.  If games are what make a system, the Wii and DS are ready to go.  I will admit to disappointment at not seeing a new Kid Icarus or Kirby game, but what they gave us was more than enough.  Definitely an A.

That brings us to Sony.  I was expecting to be thoroughly bored during the Sony conference and not to see a lot of exciting new stuff.  I was wrong.  ModNation Racers has a cool, LittleBigPlanet vibe to it.  Assassin's Creed II looks awesome.  God of War III looks nice.  Sony had a lot of leaks before the show, so things like the PSP Go! and the new Metal Gear Solid game were already out there.  Of course they demoed Final Fantasy XIII, but the shocker was the announcement of the online-only, PS3 exclusive Final Fantasy XIV.  Didn't see that coming.

Of course, Sony has its own attempt at motion controls as well.  I thought that they would try and ape the success that Nintendo has had with the Wii, and the tech looks good.  The problem comes down to price, once again.  How can Sony compete when they're telling customers to shell out upwards of $500 for the system, these wands and games as well?  It's crazy talk.

Still, Sony's conference deserves kudos for acknowledging the leaks and providing things that we didn't expect.  As much as it pains me to say it, Sony's conference was as good as Nintendo's.  The only thing missing was a price drop. Grade A stuff.

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