E3 2010: Top showstoppers and disappointments

If you don’t know, E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It’s an annual computer and video game trade show held at the LA Convention Center where companies show off their newest game titles and creations. It’s kinda like a Comic Con, except it’s only for folks involved in the industry (video game designers, producers, media, etc.).

I was pretty much glued to G4 last week watching E3 coverage. A lot of really good stuff came out of it, so much so that I just wasn’t able to grab my jaw off the ground and write about it.

But let’s hear from the people who were actually there.

I’m definitely looking forward to Rock Band 3 and the chance to have new instruments and even more people play together. I’ll give it to the creators, they’re really trying to keep people interested in the series.

But I don’t agree with “Too Many Sequels”. While I like seeing new and innovative games come out, I also like seeing where people can take already-established titles. It’s easy to get lazy and make a sequel stale. But I think with some upcoming games, the sequels can bring more innovation freshness than some new games. As long as there’s evolution.

Oh, and I might even consider getting a DS next year. 3-D? Are you forreal?!


E3 2010: Top showstoppers and disappointments

by Ben Silverman and Mike Smith

It might be ‘game over’ for E3 2010, but gamers have plenty to look forward to. We saw a new Xbox 360 design from Microsoft, an impressive motion-control system from Sony, an absolute barnstormer of a show from Nintendo, and enough new games to keep us busy for years.

But while we were wowed by a few surprising announcements, several high-profile products were strangely MIA. Here are the top 5 surprises — and top 5 bummers — of the biggest video game spectacle of the year.

Top 5 Showstoppers

Nintendo does 3D

Think Sony is the king of 3D? So did we — until we got some face time with Nintendo’s newly unveiled 3DS handheld, the talk of E3.

Like everyone else, we were a bit skeptical of the company’s ability to cram a legit 3D experience into a handheld device without requiring special glasses or a pricey new TV.

Then we got our hands on the unit, and lo and behold, it’s a minor miracle. A simple slider lets users determine the intensity of the 3D effect; flick it to “full,” and the image suddenly gains depth, essentially rivaling the fancier 3D tech found in other devices but at a fraction of the cost. And it works incredibly well: from gunning down enemies in popular Nintendo space shooter Starfox to watching ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ the handheld’s hi-res screen handles 3D effortlessly. It is, in a word, awesome.

Nintendo has yet to announce pricing (it’s due out in March 2011), but regardless of the specifics, the 3DS looks poised to bring 3D gaming to your life without obliterating your bank account.

Rock Band gets real

The once-mighty music game genre has been limping along in the past year or so, but make no mistake: Rock Band 3 is on the case, and this time, it’s playing for real.

With two new guitar peripherals — one of which is a legit, six-string Squier Stratocaster that can be plugged into both your game console and your Marshall half-stack — developer Harmonix is hoping to give game geeks a real-world education. Not only can gamers learn how to play real guitar by plucking through the game’s ‘Pro mode’, but actual musicians can plug in and play through any of the game’s tracks alongside their plastic-peripheral-playing gamer friends. Bringing gamers and musicians together at last? Music to our ears.

Talk to your Xbox

Microsoft made lots of noise with their Kinect motion-sensing system, but perhaps its coolest feature has nothing to do with gaming. Built-in voice-recognition software turns the device into a truly hands-free controller. Want to raid the fridge while watching a DVD? Say “Xbox, pause,” pig out, then just ask it to “play” and you’re back in business. It might not be a game-changer, but it’s exactly the kind of ‘Jetsons’ feature we were hoping to see at E3.

Nintendo’s burly brands

After a few disappointing years spent courting casual Wii owners, Nintendo returned to its roots in a very, very big way at E3 2010 by unveiling new games for some of the best-known brands in the business, including Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and even GoldenEye. But they didn’t stop there. Fans were whipped into a frenzy by a new Kid Icarus (who hasn’t had his own game in about 20 years) for the 3DS, while the stunningly cool Kirby’s Epic Yarn floored critics with its amazing aesthetic. Welcome back, Nintendo.

Gaming on two feet

Wii Fit started the fire, but according to E3, the ‘active’ game flame is about to turn into a virtual inferno. From Kinect titles like Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, MTV’s Dance Central and Microsoft’s virtual pet simulator Kinectimals to Move games like EyePet and Motion Sports, full-body gaming could be found all over E3, and while some experiences are bound to be better than others, they’re all geared at the same thing: getting you off the couch, and keeping you there.

Top 5 Disappointments

No Wii Vitality Sensor

Exercise games were all the rage at this year’s show, but the bizarre fingertip heartrate and blood oxygen sensor announced by Nintendo last year was nowhere to be found. Has it been shelved, or did the company prefer to focus on its offerings for more traditional gamers? We’re not sure, but the fact that Nintendo didn’t even reference the device at their press conference spells trouble.

No price for Kinect

Microsoft spared no expense in hyping up its Kinect motion control system, which hits shelves November 4. But they left one thing vague: how much it’s going to cost. Despite the cool tech, that can be a serious dealbreaker. A series of leaks from retailers like Gamestop and Amazon means we’re nigh certain it’ll be $149.99…so why not just tell us?

No new PSP

Despite Sony’s tough talk in their press conference, the PSP’s sales are floundering. With Apple changing the handheld game landscape and Nintendo looking to expand its lead with the innovative 3DS, Sony needs to kick its mobile game up a notch if it wants to stay relevant. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, leaving us all a bit confused about the company’s portable plans.

No Last Guardian

This much-anticipated game from the creators of masterpieces Ico and Shadow of the Colossus was widely tipped to make a big appearance at the Sony booth, but proved to be a total no-show. Considering it was one of last year’s most talked-about titles, that’s both a bummer and a cause for concern. Will we still be seeing it hit stores this year? It’s looking unlikely.

Too many sequels

Gears of War 3. Killzone 3. LittleBigPlanet 2. Call of Duty, like, 8. Endless rehashes from Nintendo. With a few notable exceptions — like Sony’s groovy Sorcery, THQ’s interesting Homefront and EA’s over-the-top Bulletsorm — E3 was a veritable established franchise parade. And while we freely admit that we’re going to play the heck out of Portal 2, Infamous 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, E3 is supposed to be about new stuff, not new versions of old stuff. If you were hoping E3 would hold tantalizing announcements of new and exciting game franchises, this year’s show was something of a bust.


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