12th June 2009 - Last week saw the 2009 version of E3 come and go. This year’s E3, held in Los Angeles, USA showcased the upcoming software and hardware from the video game world. The 3 major players in the industry; Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony each brought a lot to the table, demonstrating not only their new exclusives and upcoming games but also forthcoming Motion Hardware.
Below is our final views on E3 2009.
Their big name announcement was "Project Natal"; a motion sensor technology similar to the Wii but utilising complete body function, meaning their is no need for a controller. The showcase trailer demonstrated many potential avenues for Natal such as console navigation and overall game control. Although it is an obvious attempt by Microsoft to win over some of the Wii's "casual market" it could carry over to the established market. Milo And Kate, an upcoming Lionhead game utlises Natal at its core and has the player interact with the in-game world via Natal.
Although not much of a 'surprise', the official announcement of Final Fantasy XIII also appearing on Xbox 360 brought delight to many faces. The gameplay trailer presented showed it wasn't getting a gimped version of the game, due in 2010. Also the Metal Gear Solid game hinted at in the lead-up to E3, Metal Gear Solid: Rising was officially announced by Hideo Kojima. With Raiden, protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2 being the star, many faces were delighted at the prospect of a MGS game on Xbox, although it isn't an exclusive; it will be on the Playstation 3 as well. At least is wasn’t just a port of Metal Gear Solid 4.
The 360 console exclusives shown by Microsoft at E3 were Alan Wake, Crackdown 2, Forza Motorsport 3, Halo 3 ODST, Left 4 Dead 2 and Mass Effect 2.
Alan Wake, a game that has been unspoken about in recent times gave us a new trailer giving us more gameplay footage and an insight into the game. The game will be episodic and features a full open-world to explore. An interesting title from Finnish developers 'Remedy Entertainment' that is scheduled to arrive early 2010.
Crackdown 2 comes off the surprise hit that was Crackdown. Not much was shown in the lone trailer but gangs make their return as well as a hint towards mysterious creatures. If this is anything like the original then we will have another gem when it's released, date TBD.
Forza Motorsport 3, the next in the acclaimed race series brings much of what FM 2 did plus more; over 100 more cars (500 over 400) and 86 more tracks (100 over 14). Also bringing improved visuals, a new rewind feature plus video editing should mean it is the best game in the series yet! Scheduled for worldwide release on October 27 this year.
Halo 3 ODST, the 'expansion' of sorts by Bungie, the team behind the legendary Halo series, removes the Master Chief and replaces them with the ODST soldier, special forces of the UNSC. The gameplay in this appears much more tactical, almost like Star Wars: Republic Commando if you ever played it on the original Xbox. Obviously not being superhuman like a Spartan, tactics and strategy must be used against the enemy Covenant. The trailer shows you are given silenced weaponry as well as a differential HUD, highlighting allies and foes. Along with full multiplayer and a "Firefight" mode (similar to GoW2's Horde Mode) this looks like another winner from Bungie. This is due to release September 22, 2009. This also comes with a beta for Halo:Reach, another upcoming Bungie game.
Left 4 Dead 2 from well-known developers Valve brings back what Left 4 Dead did along with more weapons, levels and features. With more locales and a campaign travelling across the United States, fans of the first will have more of what they like November 11, 2009.
Mass Effect 2, the sequel to the high-selling RPG Mass Effect by BioWare is due for release Early 2010. The trailer presented showed that Commander Shepard, the main protagonist of the first game will return and continue on Humanity's new presence within the galaxy. With improved graphics and gameplay this looks to be even better than the smash hit original.
On another note, the announcement of Last.FM, Facebook & Twitter coming to Xbox Live will be good news for users of the respective services. Due in Fall (Spring for the Southern Hemisphere), this will provide a good addition to the LIVE experience.
Nintendo also had a big conference, showing many of their top-quality in-house titles such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metriod Other M for the Wii. Also shown for the Nintendo DS was Golden Sun DS and Wario Ware D.I.Y. Along with this, the Wii Vitality Sensor was shown for the first time, as well as Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort; updates on the successful Wii Fit And Wii Sports games.
The Wii Vitality Sensor basically clips onto your thumb. It is able to detect your pulse. Nothing practical was shown with it though, but usage of it will probably come in the future.
The WiiMotionPlus is an expansion device for the Wii Mote that allows for more complex motion capture. It is more or less just an improvement.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii marks the first time 4-player multiplayer is present in a 'New Super Mario Bros.' game. With a modern take on the classic graphical style, Nintendo have got a game faithful to the old series but have added enough features to be a worthwhile update. For example, the Propellor suit allows the player to fly whereas the Penguin Suit allows the player to freeze enemies. It is due in Q4 2009*
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the sequel to the smash hit title from last year. Gameplay remains essentially the same, although Mario can now ride Yoshi who can assist in many gameplay situations. Bringing the winning formula from last year, SMG2 looks to be a hit title, dated for release in 2010*
Metroid: Other M is arguably the most surprising title of this E3 on the Wii, with Nintendo collaborating with Team Ninja (developers of the acclaimed Ninja Gaiden and Dead Or Alive Series). Metroid brought gameplay very similar to Ninja Gaiden in the trailer and this definately looks to be a very action-filled title for the Wii. The release date is 2010*.
Wii Fit Plus adds 15 new balance games & 6 new strength & yoga training activities as well as custom fitness regimes. Due for release Q4 2009, this looks to be popular with fans of the original.
Wii Sports Resort is the sequel to Wii Sports.
Golden Sun, one of the top series on the Gameboy Advance is finally debuting on the DS with Golden Sun DS. Not a lot was announced but it continues on the story of the previous iteration. No solid date is confirmed beyond an estimated 2010 release*.
Wario Ware D.I.Y. brings a new creative twist allowing the user to create their own minigames. Already released in Japan, E3 marks its debut with no release date set.
Sony came and delivered a big conference. Many new titles; for PSP & PS3 were announced as well as their own version of a Wii Mote. This is obviously another competitor for Wii's market share. When utilised with the Playstation Eye it functions wirelessly as a motion controller.
The biggest announcement was the PSP-Go, a new iteration of the PSP that features a slide-design, with a redesigned control pad. Featuring all of the features of the current PSP (except a UMD drive), the Go also brings Bluetooth connectivity to the table, allowing communication with Bluetooth devices and mobile phones. Also 16GB of flash memory is in-built as well as a Memory Stick drive for additional memory. All games are now accessed online via the Playstation Store('s). It is due October 1 in North America & Europe, November 1 in Japan. No Oceania date is known at this point.
Many blockbuster games were also presented. Gran Turismo PSP was shown for the first time in 5 years & features over 800 cars and has 4 player ad-hoc multiplayer. Due out October 9, 2009 this looks to be a big seller and a pioneer title for the 'Go' online game service.
The latest Metal Gear Solid game, Metal Gear Solid: Peacemaker is set roughly 10 years after MGS3 and continues on the story. Co-op play is hinted at in the trailer. It is set for release in 2010.
Also announced was Resident Evil Portable, due in 2010 as well.
Many titles were presented by Sony for the PS3, showing there is a positive future for the console. Gameplay was shown for Final Fantasy XIII, although the official announcement it is cross-platform with the Xbox 360 did somewhat divert from the PS3. The next game in the series, Final Fantasy XIV was revealed as an MMORPG, exclusive to PS3. Both are due in 2010
A playable demo for God Of War III was shown. The graphics in particularly are absolutely breathtaking. It is easy to understand why the series is given so much applause. Large amounts of enemies were shown on-screen, more than previous iterations as well as an unmatchable spectacle. An expected release of March 2010 is set for North America, however there is no date as of yet for other regions.
Also a sequel to Uncharted was also shown via a demo. The new game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has noticeably better visuals and also a more stealth-oriented approach. It is expected to improve on the original. Dated for a November 2009 release in North America, it won the "Overall Best of Show" award at E3.
Each of the 3 parties brought a strong conference to this year’s E3. It can be said Nintendo's show was the weakest, with the least amount of games presented as well as no head-turning announcements. In the end, Microsoft looks to be on top with Project Natal looking vastly superior to Sony's counterpart as well as snatching both the Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy series off Sony giving them the edge over Sony. It was quite close though with Sony improving a lot over last year, in particular with their exclusive titles which have been a major criticism of the system. With E3 09 bringing many new things to be excited about this year, it looks a good year ahead for gamers, amid the global recession.
Article by Luke Aldridge