>E309: Keynote Wars

>It used to be easy for me to follow E3. For starters, my use of the internet was far more streamlined – I’d just point my browser at Gamespot all day and take in as much as I could without getting fired from my job. More to the point, I’d put a laser-like focus on what Microsoft was announcing while dismissing – nay, mocking – Sony and Nintendo’s efforts without a second thought.

But it’s a bit more complicated now. I’m sounding like a broken record by this point, I know, but I have a personal, vested interest in pretty much everything that’s happening at E3 this year, and pretty much every game journalist has a twitter account which appears to be jacked into their cerebral cortexes so that every single thought and vision gets tweeted, and my RSS feed pretty much exploded yesterday with almost 800 stories coming through. I feel more shellshocked than anything else. I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to process all the information that’s coming in; I get a chance to look at videos here and there and that’s really about it.

That said, I did follow along with Kotaku’s liveblogs for each of the major press conferences, because I had to.

Microsoft probably had the most solid performance this year. Certainly they had the most star-studded, even if most of the celebrity appearances felt a bit unnecessary – but then again, this is E3, and if you’re going to go for it, you gotta go for it. Not a lot of jaw-dropping announcements or surprises, save for two that kinda got glossed over (at the time) – Crackdown 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. The footage I saw of Halo: ODST looked frighteningly so-so, although I’m not really that big a Halo fan so what do I know. The Beatles: Rock Band looks fantastic, and even though there’s no way I’m getting them the new instruments look amazing, especially Paul’s bass. Alan Wake looks promising, although I guess I was expecting something a bit more stunning, considering the lengthy development time. And I must admit I’m a little excited for Forza 3, even though I’ve never really gotten that far into the previous 2 iterations. It’s hard for me to get excited about Project Natal in its current state – I need to see it in context. The Lionhead demo looked too scripted, although I must admit I was stunned by the business with the water.

Nintendo’s press conference wasn’t nearly the disaster it was last year, but that’s not really saying a hell of a lot. Kotaku’s liveblog reported that they started off the keynote by saying that one of Nintendo’s missions is to “create surprise”, which (ironically) is precisely why I feel like the Wii is like a novelty item. The first time you play with it, it’s exciting and interesting and, yes, surprising, but once that wears off you realize you’re playing shitty games with shitty presentation and it ends up collecting dust. I couldn’t care less about Wii Fit Plus or Wii Remote Plus – I’m wouldn’t play Wii Sports Resort for more than 10 minutes, and the whole premise behind the Remote Plus pretty much makes me feel like the original Wii Remote was under-designed. And don’t even get me started on the Vitality Sensor. When all is said and done, though, there were some decent game announcements – Super Mario Galaxy 2 is something I’ll be looking forward to, and I’m definitely excited for Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for the DS. I’m not that excited for the new 2D Super Mario Bros., nor am I particularly excited for the new Metroid.

To be honest, I was probably most excited for Sony’s press conference. The 360 might be my console of choice and the place where I play anything multi-platform, but Sony’s exclusive titles are nothing to sneeze at. From what I’ve seen thus far, Uncharted 2 is probably my game of the show; the brief video of single-player they showed looked absolutely amazing. And I’m definitely going to be looking forward to God of War 3 and The Last Guardian, and I’m certainly intrigued by Rockstar’s PS3 exclusive Agent, even though they didn’t actually show anything. The PSP Go seems awfully unnecessary to me – the real problem with the platform isn’t the design, but the lack of compelling content – and so it was nice to see some PSP game announcements (like LBP, MotorStorm, Gran Turismo). I was especially excited to see that Final Fantasy VII would be appearing in the PSN store (I was led to believe that it would be online last night; alas, I couldn’t find it). The only real problem with Sony’s press conference was that most of what they showed wouldn’t be available until 2010.

So that’s that. As for the rest of the show, please stay tuned – there’s going to be some new and (hopefully) interesting content here at SFTC over the next few days, with some special guest commentators.

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