Monday, June 21, 2010

E3 2010 Reactions

I didn't pay much attention to E3 while it was going on this past week -- there's usually some interesting news coming out of the industry's annual confab, but this year seemed notoriously light on big announcements.  Still, there were quite a few major titles announced, and a generally high quality standard.  A few things that caught my attention but did not send me running naked through the streets...

Microsoft has officially branded the Project Natal motion camera for retail - it will now be known as Kinect, a play on kinetic and connect, I presume.  Microsoft is showing off a number of family-friendly titles -- I don't see a Wii Sports killer among them, though obviously there is a Kinect Sports ready to give it a shot.  But I like motion controls and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.

Nintendo showed off its 3DS, the latest iteration of its handheld, with a novel glasses-free three-dimensional screen from Sharp.  I'm reserving judgment until I can see the display technology in person, as it obviously doesn't translate to 2-D news coverage.  But the software lineup looks strong -- long-awaited Kid Icarus and Pilotwings sequels, and a re-release of Starfox 64 in 3-D.  Third-party support is behind the system as well -- Konami has a Metal Gear Solid title, Square/Enix a Kingdom Hearts game, Tecmo a Dead or Alive sequel, and Capcom is promising a Resident Evil title as well.  At the very least, Nintendo seems to be avoiding some of the technical and support issues that plagued the Virtual Boy, and the system has a built-in 3D camera, something we haven't seen since the View-Master was at its peak.

There are some decent franchise extensions for the Wii as well - the Wii Motion Plus-specific Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kirby's Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns.  And Epic Mickey, a major new Disney title, is apparently looking pretty good too -- I'm a vintage animation fan, so the thought of Mickey dealing with legendary Disney characters including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit has me at "Howdy, Folks!"

The Playstation 3 has Sony's Move motion controller, and Infamous 2, SOCOM 4, and Gran Turismo 5 series entries.  And something called Kung Fu Rider that I'm curious about.

Telltale Games, whose episodic adventures I love, announced two major Universal Studios/Steven Spielberg-related licenses -- Back to the Future and Jurassic Park.  On the one hand, I'm very glad that adventure games are becoming mainstream again, enough to support licenses of this magnitude.  On the other, both franchises have a legacy of middling game adaptations.  If anyone can pull it off, I trust Telltale can do the job.

Valve has Portal 2 coming up at some point, I really enjoyed the first one.  And I'm excited about id's Rage, the first major new game from DOOM's creators in quite some while.

It's kind of sad that, for the most part, the games I'm most excited about are sequels.  But none of them strike me as quick cash-ins -- they seem to be worthy projects.  This hardware cycle is lasting longer than usual -- we're five years into the XBox 360 this Christmas -- and perhaps that's giving the industry a chance to breathe and mature.  I certainly can't complain about that.

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