Saturday, June 6, 2009

E3 Observations

This week marked the passing of E3 2009, and while it was great to see the show back at the Los Angeles Convention Center, I felt it was a bit restrained and diminished in scope compared to shows of years past.

To me, the glory days of E3 were the shows held in the years just before and during the dot-com boom, 1998 - 2000. Game companies produced TONS of free giveaway items, T-Shirts, posters and knick-knacks. People on the show floor would literally need large bags to take home all of the swag that was given out. CAPCOM sticks out in my mind as having once had a great booth, with girls up on stage and a DJ that threw free T-shirts out into a frenzied crowd.

This year, freebies were almost non-existant, and I don't know if they'll really ever be back. The show, which once took up three whole halls, was cut down to two. Kentia Hall used to be the place for small, independent game vendors and innovators to set up tiny booths - and this year, a bunch of them were present in the main hall!

The main halls had booths that were spread out, as since many companies didn't attend, there was lots of extra room. Blizzard Entertainment was a no-show, surprisingly. SONY's booth was the most impressive, with its lines of people waiting to get a taste of God of War III. The XBox 360 and the Nintendo Wii also had nice booths, but they seemed a bit scaled down in comparison to SONY's.

Regarding the games, there was a lot of games on display for the Wii, but unless they were actually made by Nintendo, they weren't impressive. Sadly, it's becoming apparent that 3rd party developers just don't know how to make a good Wii game, and are increasingly putting out shovelware simply to get some quick cash. Nintendo on the other hand knows its hardware the best, and fun games such as, "New Super Mario Bros. Wii."

SONY's PlayStation 3 had a strong showing with incredibly beautiful games such as "God of War III" and "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves," which I felt was one of the best games of the show. SONY's "PSP GO" seemed like a neat device, but wether people will buy it remains to be seen. While some people might like the fact that it only plays games downloaded from the internet, some people clearly prefer having UMD backups. Also, the PSP GO's screen was notably smaller than that of the original PSP, so why would people be rushing to upgrade?

Microsoft had some excellent games at the show, since it has played all of its cards in terms of hardware by this point in the game. The excellent games on show will continue to make it the console of choice, although SONY's strong first-party offerings might steal some of its limelight in the months to come. "Mass Effect 2," "Assassin's Creed 2" looked fantastic.

Other excellent games at the show, many of which were cross platform, were "Arkham Asylum," and "Modern Warfare 2," the sequel to "Call of Duty 4." Both games really seemed to be taking advantage of the power of the PS3 and XBOX. I was surprised to not see much news about Final Fantasy XIII, despite huge banners promoting it all over Los Angeles. Square-Enix's booth was neat, and they had some interesting titles in the pipeline such as a WWII PC real-time strategy title called "Order of War."

Definitely check out these titles mentioned above over the upcoming year, they're sure to be good.

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