Sunday, May 14, 2006

E3 Retrospective

The 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, has come to an end. Now I will admit I haven’t been into E3 until this year, but I can say that it was one of the best ever. And I wasn’t even there. Thank God E3 isn’t any longer than 3 days because I have finals to focus on and it was exceptionally hard to do while all this was going on. Any dork worth their salt knows that Nintendo stole the show this year, blowing everyone away with the sheer coolness of the Wii. But how did everyone else do?

Nintendo-Best in Show

There was already a steady buzz goin around about the Wii before E3. I mean even Time Magazine had an article about it. E3 took that buzz and turned it into absolute frenzy. Actually seeing the Wii in action made many non-believers (including myself) take notice that Nintendo seems to be really onto something. The motion controls seem intuitive (from the many things I have read) and the graphics look pretty nice, at least better than the GameCube. But above all this thing looks fun to play. Seeing that lucky sap playing Wii Tennis with Miyamoto, Iwata, and Reggie was something to behold.

With proven franchise launch titles, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Wario Ware Smooth Moves, Nintendo will almost assuredly have the best launch line-up of the three major companies. With games like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Brothers Brawl coming soon after Nintendo’s new console seems very promising in terms of hit games. The Zapper peripheral and the old school controller only added to the innovation that the Wii brings with its controller.

Everyone wanted to know how much the Wii was going to cost and exactly what Nintendo was going to do with its internet service. It’s interesting that these two seemingly large question marks were left unanswered and Nintendo still stole the show. We do know it will be available sometime in November and for less than the Xbox 360 was. If the Wii sells for $199-$249 range look for it to seriously compete with Sony and Microsoft. I know I am pre-ordering one and probably camping outside of Best Buy to get mine.

PC-Runner Up

I don’t know anything about PC gaming. The last game I played on a PC was Age of Empires II, which kicked ass. One thing I do know is that the best game at E3, Spore is going to be on the PC. From the creator of Sim-City and a bevy of other God-games, Will Wright, Spore looks like an absolutely amazing game. I could go in depth about this game but I would suggest just reading about it on IGN or Gamespot. In short it looks truly amazing and revolutionary, not to mention really cool. This may be the first PC game I have bought in 5 years. PC also got a very slick looking game, Crysis, from the people who brought us Far Cry. This game is an orgy for the eyes. You can shoot down the trees in it! It was by far the best looking game graphically at E3, but we’ll see if there’s a brain to go with that pretty face.


Microsoft was the red-headed step child of this year E3. No new shiny hardware to show off. They had to live in the shadows of Nintendo and Sony this year. Microsoft took this role and ran with it. The 360 unveiled some very good looking new games, Gears of War, 99 Nights, and Bioshock. But Microsoft didn’t neglect their flagship franchises showing off, Splinter Cell Double Agent, DOA Xtreme 2, and GTA 4. But what really summed of this year for Microsoft was a two-and-a-half minute trailer for a game called Halo 3. Microsoft could have just shown this and said “that’s all we got!” and I don’t think anyone would mind. The trailer showed no game play but is said to be running in real time on the 360. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it. It is just really exciting to see Master Chief in action again. No word on the rumored price drop but the 360 looks very strong for this holiday season.

DS-Hustle Award

Nintendo has had a stranglehold on the less popular handheld market since the original Gameboy. The DS, designed to be a niche device, has exploded and dominated across the globe. At E3 2006 Nintendo announced a plethora of exciting titles coming to its little portable machine. Yoshi’s Island 2 (long overdue sequel to one of the best games ever), Legend of Zelda the Phantom Hourglass, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Starfox DS, and Kirby DS are all coming to the DS. Nintendo has really shown that they want to get their proven titles onto the DS in some form, which is great for owners of the worlds best handheld.

The unveiling (at least in the US) of the DS Lite, a sleeker, prettier version of the original, was also good for Nintendo. With the DS Lite and a large amount of great looking games coming to the system we may see sales climb like they have in Japan. I don’t think anyone expected the DS to have such a good show as they did. How could it be as exciting as the Wii? The DS was the pleasant surprise of the show and packed a lot of punch into a small dual screened package.

Sony-The Public Enemy Award (Don’t believe the hype)

Sony had to be the odds on favorite to have the best showing this E3. Microsoft, their biggest competition, had no hardware to show and little excitement behind surrounding their camp. Nintendo would do well, if only because of fanboy support, but is still far behind you in terms of sales. Even though Sony dropped the bomb of their console being $600 they could’ve still overcame that with some killer games. The list of most exciting games for Sony is a short one: Final Fantasy XIII (and its 3 iterations), Metal Gear Solid 4, Resistance: Fall of Man, Warhawk, and Heavenly Sword. Among those two were just trailers (FFXIII and MGS4). Apparently stealing a page from the Nintendo playbook, Sony revealed a surprise, a motion sensitive controller. The good is that this controller is an updated version of the classic dual-shock controller. The bad is that Sony whipped this together at the last minute and therefore couldn’t have the rumble feature cooperate with it. Sony just had an overall poor showing at E3, though it might not have been as bad if everyone else wasn’t so great. I understand Sony is marketing the PS3 as “a multimedia entertainment device” but $600 is a lot of scratch, especially to us poor gamers.

At this point in time at least 70% of gamers are going to own a Wii or a 360 in the coming months. I would be utterly amazed if someone is so loyal that they would rather spend $600 on a PS3 instead of $250 or $300 (if the price drop is true) for a Wii/360 respectively. You can almost get both consoles for the price of one PS3, or one console and a ton of games. This years E3 was very exciting and the best I have ever seen. I look forward to the months following the summer, when the new age of gaming is finally upon us.

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