As of Tuesday, June 7th at 10:30 AM Pacific, all Press Conferences of 2011's Electronic Entertainment Expo are over. Of course, we'll be seeing tons of game demos and interviews starting there, and continuing all through Wednesday and Thursday, but we already know all the major announcements, reveals and games we can look forward to. So, with that information in mind, join me in my E3 2011 Recap, in which I'll be giving my personal thoughts of the show, entailing my in-depth analysis of all three major Press Conferences (sorry for discriminating, Ubisoft and EA, it's just that... well, yes, you are less important), and ending off with a conclusion saying who won and why. I hope you enjoy!
E3 kicked off with Microsoft's press conference at 9:30 AM Pacific on Monday. Overall, not only was I not impressed, but I was also disappointed and worried with what Microsoft continues to choose to focus on, a trend that started at last year's E3 and seems to continue. In fact, my impression of this year's show is pretty much the same as last year's. There were some cool games I already knew are coming out, and I already know are cool; like Gears of War 3, Mass Effect 3, Halo: Combat Evolved HD, Tomb Raider, and Forza 4. During the last 10 seconds of the show, the spotlight was taken by a Halo 4 Teaser, which, like all teasers, revealed absolutely nothing except the announcement of the game. Which was smoothly ruined earlier in the morning. All that took up 15, maybe 20 minutes of the show. Everything else was Kinect and software which supports it.
You can't floor an audience with this.
At last year's conference, I was excited to learn about Kinect's awesome-sounding technology, only to be later disappointed by the games available for it, such as Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports and Kinectimals. Therefore this year, going in, I expected Microsoft to show off more interesting software, which caters to the core gamer a bit more, especially considering the feedback they got last year. What I ultimately got was, the reveal of awesome features like the ability to scan-in any object and have the peripheral recognize it flawlessly, and the ability to draw in 3D. Awesome! And then... on-rails Fable, on-rails Star Wars, Sesame Street and Disney (also on-rails, by the way). Does that make me want to buy Kinect, which I still haven't? No. Is that enough to satisfy a hardcore audience at E3? Definitely not. Perhaps Microsoft was blinded by the numbers moved by their casual software last year, but even then, Kinect's potential is going to waste.
Also on monday, at 5 PM Pacific, after EA's and Ubisoft's Conferences, came Sony's showing. I already knew before going in that Sony's Next-Generation Portable was going to be talked about in detail, so coming off of Microsoft's Conference, I was willing to bet my house Sony's would be better. As expected, it was. After a brief apology about the PSN fiasco (which was handled well, I thought), Sony showed some PS3 games. Resistance 3, Starhawk, Uncharted 3, among others. What initially struck me as odd is that almost the entirety of their lineup supported 3D gameplay; not only that, but they made a big deal out of it. I was thinking, "How can you make such a big emphasis on 3D when only a small portion of the market owns a 3D-capable TV as of today?". Apparently they thought about that too (which is not surprising, it doesn't take a genius), because they announced a 24" 3D-Capable Monitor from the Playstation brand, which comes bundled with a pair of 3D glasses and Resistance 3 for $499. It's a good deal.
They also showed a few Move games. They announced Bioshock: Infinite (which looks awesome) will be supporting it. NBA 2K12 was there, which looked alright, but the real surprise for me was Medieval Moves. This is a game developed from the ground-up to take advantage of Move, and it actually looked fun. There's a variety of weapons you can use in the game, and they change in the fly depending on the gesture you make. No weapon select screen is needed. There's also puzzle-solving, and of course, combat with enough variety for a demo. It looked all-around good, and aside from that, I liked that a lot of more hardcore-oriented games are supporting Move as an option. Emphasis on option. That's how you do it. Not with Disneyland Adventures: On-Rails Flying Edition.
And also, of course, we were treated to Sony's new portable system, now officially called the Playstation Vita. As we already knew, the system features a touch screen and a rear touch pannel, not to mention Wi-Fi and 3G. They announced a lot of Playstation 3 favorites are coming to Vita, like LittleBigPlanet and Uncharted, and they looked like fun. They also announced the system will retail for $249, and $299 for the 3G-enabled model, which is a great price point and actually raises a threat for Nintendo's 3DS. Unfortunately, it won't be out this year. My only gripe with the system (and it may prove to not be one as the future draws nearer) is most of the games they showed looked like console games on a handheld. I think handheld gaming is different from home gaming, therefore requires different types of software. But they still looked fun.
Sony's new handheld: The Playstation Vita.
Overall, Sony delivered. There weren't major "wow" moments, but it was more than enough to satisfy fans, and get new people to jump in on the Playstation brand. Can't wait to hear about more Vita games (Where's LocoRocco Vita where you tilt the screen? Seriously).
Finally, on Tuesday at 9 AM Pacific, Nintendo took the stage. As was the case with Sony, we knew beforehand Nintendo had the showing of a new system under its belt: the successor to the Wii, which was known as "Project Cafe" until today, when it became known by its official name: Wii U. Doesn't sound much dumber than Wii, if you ask me. The controller was confirmed to have a 6.2" screen, which will be able to play Wii U games, via a wireless signal received from the system itself. This wireless signal allows for games to be played without using a TV (assuming you are near the system for the wireless to work, of course. This is not a handheld system), or to play games that utilize both the TV screen and the controller screen together in unique ways. The system is also fully backwards compatible with Wii software and controllers. We saw some concepts of these games, and they looked interesting to say the least. It's also possible to browse the web on the touch screen, and share whatever you desire with the big screen. It's a neat idea, and I'm sure there are tons of things it can do we don't know about, and more even Nintendo doesn't know about. The controller also has a camera, a gyroscope, two sliders, etc. It basically looks like a 3DS sans a top screen, 3D and with one extra slider. No real games were shown, aside from a Lego game (what?), a new Super Smash Bros was announced, which will also come out on 3DS (YES), and a New New Super Mario Bros. Nothing too concrete, though.
Nintendo's Wii U. Above: System. Below: Controller.
Half the show was given to the Wii U. The 3DS stole the spotlight for the remainder of it. Tons of games were shown, some previously unknown, and all complete with new trailers (though some of those absent from the conference itself) - Paper Mario 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Ocarina of Time 3D, Mario Kart 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Super Mario 3D, and, the big surprise - Luigi's Mansion 2. It was good, and most of them will release this year, which is definitely nice.
The beginning of the show addressed Zelda's 25th Anniversary. Basically, to celebrate, neat Zelda items will come out throughout the year. Ocarina of Time 3D in September, Zelda Four Swords for free on 3DS, Zelda: Link's Awakening on the eShop today, two music CD's (Ocarina of Time 3D's Soundtrack, and an orchestral CD with music from the entire series, based on live performances that will be happening in all major regions throughout the year), and finally, Skyward Sword on Wii this holiday season. Much better than the mediocre celebration Mario got for his 25th Anniversary.
Overall, Nintendo delivered and then some. The only problem (though it's a significant one) I had was that Wii U doesn't come out until around November of 2012. And they showed one (I repeat, ONE) Wii game at the conference, and that's The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which thankfully comes out this holiday season. We know about a couple others (Kirby Wii being the most interesting), but they didn't mention them at the show. The 3DS is nice, but a handheld system and Zelda can't sustain Nintendo for two entire years (you have to remember nothing very interesting has released on Wii since November of last year). I sure hope there's more announcements coming for Wii. Even so, it was a nice showing.
This is no real surprise, but it's a big toss-up between Sony and Nintendo for me. Sony showed some awesome stuff, with no huge setbacks, but nothing insanely impressive. Nintendo actually wowed me a bit with the Wii U and what they're thinking about doing with the controller, and the 3DS line-up for this year alone looks very nice. But there's far too little for console gamers until fall of next year. But, after much consideration, I have to give it to...
Even though I'm a huge fan of the company, I was as objective as possible (I do realize I can't be entirely so) when deciding this. The fact of the matter is, Nintendo's killer software wins once again for me. Don't get me wrong, Sony's games look nice, even Microsoft had some potential killer apps in there, but Nintendo really came through showing an impressive line-up for 3DS in 2011, and laying the groundwork for amazing Wii U titles (the huge third party support shown for that definitely helps). So, just like last year, The Big N does it again for me in 2011.
I know it's common place for writers to say this at the end of articles, but I mean it: I'd love to see your comments regarding the winner for you, and whether you agree or disagree with my comments. Thanks!
Bonus: Zelda for Wii U.