New England Gamer
E3 2010 Analysis
E3 2010 has come and gone and despite my wishing upon a star, clicking my ruby
slippers together and embossing myself with magical pixie dust, I was yet again
unable to make it. Having just recently found a full time job, my most pressing
priority was finally getting my wife and I out of the basement bedroom we had
been sharing in my mother-in-law's house. Suffice it to say, any extra funds went
to paying the new bevy of bills we've taken on. Minor disappointment set aside
though, it is nice to have a living room to put my big screen in.
But we're not here to talk about moving, apartments and bills. We're here to talk
about E3. From what I can glean from the press conferences I downloaded and all
the various announcements I combed over, it was fine. Even just sitting at home I
could tell it wasn't the most exciting E3 ever, but there was still a lot of news.
Looking at the press conferences and showings of the "big three" (Nintendo,
Microsoft, Sony), Microsoft was easily the loser of the bunch. The biggest problem
was easily their demonstration of the Xbox 360's forthcoming motion controller.
Announced last year as Natal, the now-named Kinect bears the gimmick of having
no actual controller. Using a sensor and some admittedly nifty recognition
technology, Kinect allows you to play games using just your body. (Since last
year's E3, hardcore gamers have been asking how this technology could apply to
anything as complex as your basic shooter since it lacks any buttons.
Judging by Microsoft's presentation, it can't. While Kinect can be used in games
where you jump, wiggle and waggle, Microsoft utterly failed to demonstrate it
being useful in traditional gameplay styles. Moreover, there were questions as to
how well it actually works. Many suspected the actual presentation was rehearsed,
meaning the demonstrators weren't actually using Kinect but rather just trying to
mimic pre-recorded play sessions. They did put some money behind the
presentation at least. Cirque do Soleil showed up, and that was apparently kind of
cool. What that had to do with games, I don't know. Perhaps a colleague of mine
put it best. It was like they were "dressing a turd in a tuxedo."
Sony struck me as being average. They talked too much, which is often a criticism
of their E3 presentations. Unlike previous years where the talking culminated in
some exciting announcements, this year was more dry. Most of what they showed
we already knew about or were multiplatform titles. Now granted, Sony at least
showed off games that will be getting content exclusive to the PS3, but compared
to new and more importantly, exclusive games, it still rang a bit hollow.
Sony's biggest problem was its focus on 3D gaming. They used a sizeable chunk
of their presentation to talk about how the PS3 will be integrating 3D in the future,
and it just seemed a bit pointless. Granted, I am not a fan of 3D. However, consider
that the technology for 3D television is still relatively in its infancy. Why would
anyone who, just recently having invested upwards of $1000 on an HD TV, want
to replace it with a 3D television? They're more expensive, there is little
worthwhile media available that requires the medium, and you still have to wear
the stupid glasses. This struck me as Sony trying to push new, pricey and pointless
hardware. It was a waste of time.
Which isn't to say there weren't some genuine bright spots for Sony. Their own
motion controller PlayStation Move demonstrated well. Unlike Microsoft, Sony
showed off Move very simply and effectively. Sony is kidding themselves if they
think they're going to shake off that it is practically a carbon copy of the Wii
remote. It does what the Wii remote does, only better. Moreover, it performs better
with titles hardcore gamers may actually want to play.
And of course, Sony had Kevin Butler. If you haven't seen his "Dear PlayStation"
ads, look them up on YouTube. They're hilarious and his on stage speech was true
to form funny.
Nintendo, for the first time in a long time came out the best at this year's E3. This
is a real surprise as in recent years their pandering to casual gamers had resulted in
some really pathetic and embarrassing showings. In 2010, however, they catered
almost entirely to their hardcore audience. There was a new a Zelda, a new Mario
(sort of), a new Kirby and even a remake of the classic N64 shooter Goldeneye
Most exciting was the official reveal of the 3DS, the DS's replacement. Featuring
Gamcube level graphics and optional, glasses-free 3D, the 3DS stole the show, not
just with its technology, but with its supposed lineup of games. Aside from a new
Kid Icarus game, the 3DS will purportedly have Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil,
Paper Mario, Piltowings, Street Fighter IV, DJ Hero and Kingdom Hearts amongst
others. The biggest announcements for me personally were that the 3DS will be
getting remakes of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and StarFox 64. Both
are some of my favorite games and these two games alone mean that I'll most
likely be purchasing a 3DS at some point in the future (after the rent is paid, of
That said, without the 3DS I think E3 would have been a much closer race. While
Nintendo's first party lineup was certainly leagues better this year, it was still very
much more of what Nintendo always does. They never really move beyond their
core franchises, relying largely on their established fan base and nostalgia to sell
games. Even my choice games, the aforementioned Starfox and Zelda remakes, can
be spelled off as just trying to draw back disgruntled hardcore gamers. They're
nice, but they do nothing to move Nintendo forward in terms of its content.
That's part of the reason I found Sony's presentation stronger when it came to
console games. Even with their established franchises, I still felt like I was seeing
something new. With Nintendo, the 3DS is exciting and the Wii games they
announced will please a lot of people. That said, there was still that feeling that
they're just slapping new shades of paint on old ideas that can't carry them on
forever. I think the day is coming where those people who grew up on Mario will
enjoy him more as a symbol than as a game.
Read more by Stewart Shearer