29th May 2009 - With this years E3 only days away, AAG's new team member Ryan previews the highly anticipated event.
For those who don’t know, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) is the longest running console focused digital entertainment conference in the world, and has been showcasing upcoming game releases since its inception in 1995. For the last two years, E3 had been downsized and reconstructed, and has been a much lower key event than what we’d seen previously, with many major developers seemingly ignoring the event. This year however, E3 appears to be getting back to its former glory, and is looking to be bigger and better than ever.
Coming into E3, as usual, we have the 3 heavyweights of console gaming, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all vying for media attention. We are going to take a look at what we know about some of the exclusive releases for each console, and we here at AAG are expecting to see. As always there are a ton of rumors floating around about whats going to be revealed, so we’ll be looking into what some of the bigger ones are, and we’ll be making a few predictions of our own.
For a couple of years now, the Wii’s dominance of the current console generation and its immense popularity has been without question. Nintendo, at one stage looking stale and as though it was about to go the way of the Dodo, has re-invented itself and is now stronger than its ever been. With a high focus on casual gaming and family entertainment, I think we can expect to see this trend continue with their lineup at E3, however I think there will be one or two surprises for the more hardcore crowd as well. Nintendo have already announced they are working on a brand new Zelda title, so I think we can expect this to be a considerable part of their showcase. My expectations are that this game will bear few similarities to Twilight Princess’ style, and be more in the vein of Windwaker or Phantom Hourglass.
I think there is a good chance of seeing an announcement for a third Pikmin title, given that the original was revamped and saw release just recently for the Wii. We’ve seen things like this done before, in order to re-kindle interest in by-gone franchises, so its certainly not out of the question. Without a doubt there will be a huge focus on the Wii Motion Plus, with a lot of emphasis on in-house titles like Wii Sports Resort, but I think Nintendo will be very keen to show off its compatibility with a number of upcoming third party titles aswell, such as Red Steel 2.
Its also been recently announced that developer Bethesda Softworks (well known for its stellar titles in the Morrowind series and the recent Fallout 3) is working on a Wii title. Well known for making RPG epics, which really appeal to the hardcore crowd, I think Nintendo will want to really push this in an attempt to draw some attention from its very limited hardcore audience. I don’t think this game will be a direct port of any of their existing titles, with it being far more likely to either be a new IP, or a new game set in either the Fallout or Morrowind universes. Personally, i'd love to see a new Starfox title announced, but it appears the developer responsible for these games (Factor 5) may have folded, so the chances are slim.
Coming off the back of the immense success that was the Playstation 2, one would expect that Sony would be in a much more commanding position than the one it’s currently in. Sony’s late entry into the current generation and the high price point of the Playstation 3 (largely due to the inclusion of a blu-ray player as standard), plus the fact that its exclusive titles have done less to drum up an install base than either Microsoft or Nintendo, have seen them playing catch up for the last couple of years. It’s something that Sony has been frightfully aware of, and I’m sure that they will be looking to really bring out the big guns in an attempt to become a lot more competitive this year.
They’ve been slowly gathering momentum though, with releases such as Little Big Planet, Killzone 2 and the very recent Infamous seeing success. In fact, their first party lineup is looking a lot stronger than it ever has this generation. I think this is something Sony will really be looking to make a point of at this year’s E3.
It’s not irrational to think that Sony may introduce the long overdue price drop, and if the apparently “leaked” pictures you may have seen across the internet are anything to go by, we could also see the announcement of the Playstation 3 slim console. We can expect to see strongly showcased demonstrations, with real time gameplay demos, and release dates for already announced titles such as God of War 3, Massive Action Game, Uncharted 2 and Heavy Rain. I’m hoping there might be a couple of unannounced releases to back these up, such as a possible fourth installment of the much loved Timesplitters series.
One would expect the long rumored PS3 motion controller would also be making its presence known in a big way, along with some games which will make use of the peripheral. Also, in keeping with the renewed focus on the casual crowd from Sony, I expect to see some form of expansion or updated features showcase for Playstation Home. I think we can also expect more focus on Sony’s handheld console, the PSP, particularly in relation to a Playstation Store style update for the platform, as well as a possible in depth reveal of the inevitable PSP2.
Given the “Red Ring of Death” debacle which has plagued Xbox 360 console since its inception back in 2005, it’s a real testament to the strength of Microsoft’s public relations and marketing machine that it has found itself in such a formidable position thus far into the current generation. In the past, some console companies have even crumbled under less serious circumstances. Nevertheless, Microsoft will be looking to capitalize on some of the successes it had over the holiday/new year period, and I think it might have a couple of surprises up its collective sleeves coming into this years E3.
Looking to compete on a larger scale with Nintendo, and to a lesser extent Sony, I think we are going to see a renewed push from Microsoft to acquire a larger market share of the casual gaming scene. At the forefront of this push, will be the unveiling of the new motion control scheme, which will need to be unique (and indeed it’s looking to be) from Sony and Nintendo’s offerings if it’s going to get any serious attention. Rest assured if there are plans to reveal such technology at this years E3, Microsoft’s focus on it is going to be considerable. This reveal would also include any supported titles to showcase its potential.
I think we can expect to see a fully showcased unveiling of the highly anticipated thriller Alan Wake, which is looking to be a direct rival to Sony’s Heavy Rain. I think we could even be seeing a release date announced. Another game we can expect to hear a lot about will be Halo 3: ODST, Bungie’s Masterchief-less new installment of the Halo franchise. I think we can expect this one to be playable on the showroom floor.
We know something might be in the works regarding a title by Kojima Productions (hugely acclaimed producers of the Metal Gear Solid series), appearing on the 360. Speculation again is rife across the internet about this being a release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which both Microsoft and Kojima Productions have consistently shot down. Given the recent announcements that games such as Tekken 6 and Final Fantasy XIII are going to be multiplatform for the first time, its not totally irrational to think that MSG4 will follow suit. Rest assured, whatever it is, its going to be big, and E3 would be the perfect place to announce it. My money is on it being some form of Metal Gear Solid game, or even a new franchise.
So there you have it. It’s always difficult to predict what’s going to happen at something like E3, and this year everyone appears to be fairly evenly matched. I think Sony really have something to prove, and there’s no better time to do that than at an event such as E3. I think if they do announce a PS3 price drop, and given the solidarity of their upcoming first party/exclusive titles, I think they might just have the edge they need over their competitors this year. If there is one thing we do know for certain, it’s that E3 2009 is going to be a very interesting trade show indeed. Stay tuned to AAG for all the latest E3 updates!
Article By Ryan Conrad