Now all the ‘Big Three’ have stepped off of their conference stages, has the promise of a return to the ‘Old E3’ – abuzz with sudden, surprise announcements (all of which seemed to involve motion control) and celebrity appearances been kept? Sony appeared in the most difficult position from the start due to the large number of press leaks over the previous month or so, whilst Nintendo and Microsoft remained incredibly tight-lipped with their announcements. However, this in no way seems to reflect the final standing of how they were received.
Microsoft lived up to their past reputation of putting on a show rather than a keynote presentation, with co-ordinated set pieces, celebrity guests and an incredibly solid lineup of games set for release this year and beyond. Most interesting to see was the reveal of ‘Project Natal’, Microsoft’s response to Nintendo and motion control. With a good enough tech presentation involving a game few would ever play, and a dull but suitable painting demonstration they made a really good grounding for a peripheral with a great amount of potential. I say potential because a lot of the promises seemed almost a little too hard to believe. Full body motion scanning, voice recognition, multiple figure tracking and the absence of any kind of controller aside from your body are definitely revolutionary if successfully implemented, though can also raise fair skepticisms.
This aside, game lineups including two new Halo games, a look at Final Fantasy XIII running on the 360 and also the announcements of XboxLive teaming up with Facebook/Twitter/Sky TV kept the whole conference on a high for its 90 minute duration, and set a considerably high bar to be reached by Nintendo and Sony.
Nintendo’s conference, although better than last year’s apparent attempt of getting people excited about releases for their console, no doubt delivered the weakest press event. This fact would be obvious from a clap-o-meter, which would read an audience applause tally at a mere three (Ed - three seconds?). Banter was obviously scripted and aside from the announcements of a Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Bad Subtitle there was little to be interested in.
It’s almost as if Nintendo were unsure of what tone to pitch their content in. No doubt this comes down to the fact the majority of what was shown were products aimed strictly away from the enthusiast press sat in the auditorium. Time spent demonstrating Wii Motion Plus (also extensively discussed/demoed last year) seemed at a complete loss when games like Zelda: Spirit Tracks were merely brushed past with an on-screen logo.
Then again, the financial situation Nintendo currently find themselves in, the presentation in no way hurt them. They were happy to present what they wanted and then wave everyone out. Although the majority of presented games were not to my personal tastes or of the majority present in the hall, they will evidently sell well to the market Nintendo has paved out for themselves. Overall it was just disappointing to not even see them try and reach the high bar set by Microsoft the previous morning.
Sony also lived up to past reputation of starting late due to queues outside the conference hall as people arrived from Nintendo’s presser. Seemingly with the most to prove, (with a smaller install base compared to competitors, on top of last month’s announcement that the Sony company had lost around 1 billion dollars last year, and the leaked announcement of the PSPGo) Jack Tretton stood up to the plate, joking with the audience about their inability to keep secrets, speaking with a very commanding presence when describing how the Playstation brand was performing in the context of their infamous ’10 year plan’.
Their game lineup was possibly as strong as Microsoft’s, with crowd pleasers such as a much longer trailer for FFXIII, looks at Assassin’s Creed II and Uncharted II, and the existence of Gran Turismo 5. What impressed me most about Sony’s conference was the fact they still had surprises. They even had a response to Microsoft ‘s announcement of motion control by demoing their own. Although design was still very much in development, the tech demo they gave showed a lot of promise and although a little rough around the edges, seemed incredibly responsive to use and debatably near completion despite the slightly thrown together demo material.
Disappointments came in the form of a rather expensive price point for the PSPGo and no sign of a PS3 price drop. The PSPGo price especially, coming in at $250 the price point seems a bit extortionate considering consumers can happily buy a 360/DSi/Wii for considerably lower costs these days.
Obvious from all the conferences was that all three companies have settled into this generation, and are incredibly aware of their audience market. This makes it difficult to place them in a ranking order of which was the best as all the consoles tailor to a slightly different audience. For the E3 audience it’s possible that Sony may have snuck in at the last second in an underdog fashion to nab first place. However it’s almost too close to call between Microsoft, and they rightfully both deserve an equal first. Ultimately it boils down to the consumer, and with the announcements made you can be more than happy currently owning either 360 of PS3 at this current moment.
Also check out the article at:
http://www.n4g.com/events_e32009/News-338852.aspx (managed to get on the front page for a while soon after it went up. Rather chuffed for a first article on the site ^_^ )