>In years past, it was pretty easy for me to get excited about an upcoming E3. Being a one-console owner, my focus could be honed to a razor-sharp edge, and my primary source of information at the time had the best E3 coverage in the business.

Ah, how times have changed. In the past 6 months, I’ve acquired a PS3, a Wii and a PSP, so my focus now has to encompass a lot more information; and at the same time, the Gamespot controversy got me off my ass and got me motivated to switch to an RSS-feed state of constant information from multiple sources. Which is to say, I have too much info coming in and I have no idea what is going on.

That said, this year’s E3 looks to be a little more subdued than, for example, last year. 2007 was one of the best years in terms of quality software ever, and it’s practically impossible to expect that 2008 could compare. Not to mention the fact that a number of companies aren’t even attending E3 this year, but instead are staging their own events nearby.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I’m not really sure what to expect next week, either in terms of what will be announced or what information I’ll be able to retain. But here’s a short list of titles I hope to see, and news I hope to be announced.

Multi-Platform Releases

  • Fallout 3
  • Mercenaries 2
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld
  • Saints Row 2
  • Force Unleashed
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Mirror’s Edge

Xbox360

  • Fable 2
  • Gears of War 2
  • Viva Pinata 2
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Fez (XBLA title that was at the Indie Developers Conference last summer)

PS3

  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Resistance 2
  • Killzone 2
  • God of War 3
  • Home

Wii

  • Animal Crossing
  • whatever the StrongBad game is called

Handheld / Other

  • Chrono Trigger (DS)

So, OK. Certainly not the killer lineup of 2007, but not too shabby either. At this point, the biggest disappointment is easily Nintendo, who is taking the hardcore demographic completely for granted. If a Wii version of Animal Crossing is seriously the best they have to offer in terms of hot announcements, I’m going to be pretty pissed off. And no, Super Mario Sluggers isn’t going to cut it.

As for the PS3, I’m mostly curious about Home. My understanding is that the upcoming release is essentially still only a beta, but on a larger scale. There are basically 2 ways that Home can go, from what I gather:

  1. A Second Life type of world, where you’re inundated with marketing as you roam around virtual neighborhoods. As unappealing as that is, it still could be kinda cool, if they do interesting things with Trophies and in-game stats and leaderboards. It could also serve as a general lobby for online play, although the logistics of that are probably impossible. I was going to suggest that Sony could also do some interesting things in Home in terms of digital distribution of movies, similar to what Microsoft does with XBL Marketplace, but then it occurred to me that a push towards digital distribution is a pull against Blu-Ray sales, which would be bad.
  2. A buggy, visually uninteresting series of marketing displays, draped over an unpopulated virtual town, that serves no purpose whatsoever. This is, sadly, a pretty close description of what I’ve seen of Home thus far.

The biggest thing about Home, the way I see it, is how it’s incorporated into the PS3 experience. If it’s there when you turn on your PS3 – if it basically serves as your XMB – then that’s one thing – a little cumbersome, perhaps, and more than likely a resource hog, but it would at least give the PS3 some identity. But if it’s something you have to turn on from the launch screen, then one has to wonder what purpose it serves. Let’s also keep in mind that Home will probably be a large download, and not everyone will have the hard drive space to use it. Let’s also consider that Home will be free of charge, which means that Sony will be pulling revenue from other sources in order to maintain it. Microsoft has been the leader in online console technology for quite some time now, and XBL is a paid service, and even THEY get fucked up sometimes; one has to wonder how Home can sustain itself – if, indeed, it’s something worth sustaining.

Microsoft’s list of exclusives is pretty good – Gears and Fable are obviously going to be huge, and there are also rumors of some Halo-related announcements. That said, Microsoft is in somewhat of a strange position this year. Nintendo is selling Wiis and DSs faster than they can make them, and nobody seems to care that there aren’t any games to go along with them. Sony has won the format war, so more and more people are going to be buying PS3s if only for the BluRay availability. The 360 needs killer apps in order to stay relevant, and while Gears and a Halo title are sure bets, Rare remains an unknown quantity. They need a really big show this year, and right now I’m not quite sure I see it.

I’m holding off on news predictions; other sites are doing much better jobs of that, and in any event I’m not really sure I’d know what to hope for. (Besides LucasArts releasing their classic adventure games as a downloadable package for the Wii, which, in light of recent LucasArts news, seems less and less likely with every passing day, even if it’s a stupidly obvious thing to do.)

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In totally unrelated news, I announced the other day that a podcast was going to be coming shortly. Unfortunately, the technical troubles continue. I’m having a really tough time getting Skype calls to record properly (or at all) on my PC, which means that I’m basically shit out of luck. If anybody has any suggestions, I’d love to hear ’em.

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