E3 is upon us, and the deluge of announcements is rising into a tidal wave of PR pontificating and fanboy forum furor. But amongst the chaos of Xbots waving Natal banners, Sonyboys worshiping a Ken Kutaragi idol and the Nintendo Army amassing on the horizon, we at Dealspwn, observing the battlefield from our desks, decided to drop a tactical nuke. We know what's worth getting excited for at this year's E3. Merely cast your eyes down, dear reader.
Formerly known as Project Natal, Microsoft only yesterday unveiled Kinect, their controller-free motion-controller. It's largely the same beast that wowed the industry this time last year, but with a slick paint job, a new name and a roster of motion-themed titles at its disposal. Kinect Sports? Check. Kinect Adventures? Check. Kinectimals? Oh god.
So it's as we expected. Instead of ushering in a new era of motion-control games, Microsoft stole Nintendo's ideas and slapped a disgusting purple Natal logo on top. Albeit, hands-on reports from the post-show appear positive. Kinect Sports might actually be a healthy alternative to a gym membership. You'll be forced to run, jump and reach for on-screen objects, instead of merely waving a remote around and hoping it'll burn calories. So far, so Wii, however. It's not as huge a jump as Microsoft continue to promise.
Further titles were shown, however, including a dance game from Harmonix which could prove incredibly popular. In Dance Central, you're shown a video of a performer dancing, Lady GaGa, for instance, then you must mimic their actions and be judged. A yoga title from EA was demonstrated, and again, unlike the Wii, you'll actually be required to perform the full motion. Joyride, the Xbox Live Arcade title shown last year with promises of a free purchase, has been retrofitted for Kinect, requiring you to hold an invisible steering-wheel and lean left and right to turn.
But where are the titles for the hardcore crowd? Where's the first-person shooter where you hold and point a gun and hurl a virtual grenade? Or the medieval RPG with flailing arms for swordplay? Admittedly, this was only the unveiling. A new name, a new look. And Microsoft would be financially shortsighted not to at least tiptoe into Nintendo territory. But like the current epidemic of 3-D in film, motion-control looks to be the new fad for the videogame industry. But you shouldn't jump on the band-wagon if the only place the road leads to is the edge of a cliff.
A new Legend of Zelda game will be unveiled at Nintendo's conference. It's a fact, an inevitability, an unequivocal truth. As you can see, it's difficult to deal with an impending Zelda announcement. Promises of radical overhauls and rumours of the open-world design being eschewed in favour of linear progression twisted the intestines of many a Nintendo fan, including myself. Personally, I hope for a traditional Zelda game with well-implemented motion-controls, improved visuals, a great story, and while I'm at it, a subscription to Fitness First and the original cut of Blade Runner. Why not? A man can dream, can't he?
3. Playstation 3-D
Whilst it might not be quite called the PS4, rumours are rumbling that Sony will announce a new iteration of the PS3, championing 3-D gaming and with Move functionality, in an effort to combat the dual-threat of the ever-popular Wii and the now Kinect-equipped 360. Sony has been revising the PS3 design since it released, resulting in the recent Slim edition. But a radical overhaul may be around the corner, what with Move on the horizon and 3-D becoming a primary focus.
4. Halo Reach
An obvious choice, but Halo Reach will be a force at E3 this year. Expect campaign footage, new feature announcements, such as Forge 2.0 and an improved Theater Mode, and probably a few surprises, too. Reach is Bungie's swansong to the Halo franchise, so as well as being included in Microsoft's conference, it'll be receiving it's own special showcase on Wednesday, along with Gears 3 and Fable 3.
5. Nintendo 3DS
The Nintendo 3DS, successor to the current DS, has been kept so quiet and detail-free it's a wonder nothing has slipped out yet. Sure, design details, motherboard leaks and a mock-up has been revealed, but concrete details on how Nintendo will produce a 3-D image without the requisite glasses, and quite what the image will in fact look like, remain a mystery. Rumours of the 3DS' power rivaling that of the 360 and PS3 are surely blown out of proportion, but we won't find out until tomorrow.
EA is hosting their annual conference at E3 this year, and they've brought a veritable army of games along with them. The new Medal of Honor will be on show, along with wacky skill-shooter Bulletstorm. The Criterion-developed Need for Speed is expected to be unveiled, and Dead Space 2 and Crysis 2 might show their faces. EA's a different beast nowadays, once a much-ridiculed publisher of repeats and recycled concepts, now partnering with the best developers and delivering excellent experiences on a regular basis.
7. Xbox Live
Kinect might be Microsoft's favourite feature for the 360 at the moment, but expect Xbox Live to reveal some new fancy tricks of its own. Youtube integration, perhaps? Or even web-browsing? Facebook and Twitter was announced last year, but they failed to catch on, so maybe Microsoft might be looking to cut the price of subscription, whilst at the same time including new benefits for Gold subscribers to entice Silver members to greener, cheaper fields.
In an effort to preempt Kinect, Sony unveiled Move, their own brand of motion-controller, much earlier than E3, to stoke the flames of interest in advance. As such, Move isn't an enigmatic property anymore, and thus interest in it has dwindled. It is essentially a beefed-up Wiimote, but with pitch-perfect responsiveness and Sony's talented roster of teams, you can expect more core motion-control games to come from Move, than Kinect.
9. Peter Molyneux!
It wouldn't be E3 if Microsoft Games overseer Peter Molyneux wasn't on hand to provide a steady stream of hyperbolic headlines for us blogs to feats upon. Fable 3 is on show this year, and presumably on route for a late 2010 release, so it'll be up to Molyneux to ensure the third installment in the series doesn't go unnoticed like the others. He seemed shy on details when Fable was announced, and was practically tongue-tied for Fable 2. Maybe he'll have something to say about Fable 3, then.
It's low on the list because the shroud of secrecy around Valve's once-Portal themed announcement, now something else is dense enough to hide Tom Cruise' mediocre acting talents. It might be Half-Life 3 or Episode 3, it could be a new Team Fortress game or Portal 2 multiplayer announcement. Only a few weeks ago, the rumor-mill churned with reports of a Half-Life movie, with Joss Whedon directing and Nathan Fillion picking up the crowbar. Only time will tell what Valve have in store.