July 13th, 2008
Tomorrow, the annual E3 expo kicks off with Microsoft’s conference followed on Tuesday by Nintendo and Sony (much in the same structure as last year). I get so excited by E3 each year that I’m thinking of holding back content for a few days as we’ll all be absorbing the flood of information coming from the show.
All of the bigger sites, as by tradition, have already put forth their predictions of the show. I’d like to do the same but try to keep it focused on a few ideas of my own that haven’t really been discussed yet.
I agree with the idea that most of Microsoft’s show has already been done, we’ve already seen plenty of content on Gears of War, Fable 2 and Banjo Kazooie and I think that the hands on feedback with be quite similar to the video impressions. Banjo Kazooie though stands out with uncertainty and should clarify how the new Rare is holding up.
Microsoft’s showing looks surprisingly slim and with many of their big games already being shown in video form, I think that they’ll need to step it up on all fronts to hold their own (as their 3 key titles won’t be enough). This means, confirming their status on motion sensing controls, announcing a new Xbox Live interface and banking on their timed exclusives (Rock Band) as well as the GTA IV downloadable content.
While many are saying that this year’s E3 will be positive for Sony thanks to a strong selection of first party content, I think the biggest plus for Sony is creativity. Titles like flower, Pixel Junk Eden, the new Team ICO project among others are very unique games, the kind of which we haven’t seen a lot of, this generation. Furthermore, it would be wise of Sony to showcase more games which utilize the Playstation Eye. This, I think, is their biggest grab for a more casual audience, along with Buzz!, Singstar and the usual slew of titles. The potential here is enormous so I hope that they maximize this new technology. Third party titles may also surprise such as Rock Star’s upcoming exclusive.
Other announcements regarding Home, break apart, motion sensing controllers and fixing up the state of backwards compatibility round out what I think will be a postive showing. With the end of year PSP software line up looking slim it’ll be interesting how they combat that.
For Nintendo, I think that this year’s E3 is likely to be in the same vein as the previous year. With Nintendo’s top tier titles all worn out, this year they’ll focus on their second their franchises along with some new announcements. Overall I expect their first party Wii line up to consist of something like;
Wario Land: Shake It
Day of Disaster
Kid Icarus, F-Zero, Pikmin and/or StarFox
Some of these games may be announced for WiiWare though which would spark some interest and their may be the possibility of a title reverting back to 8bit graphics (ala Megaman 9). We should also see more of Final Fantasy Crystal Bearers, Conduit and hopefully some Red Steel 2. This line up should be substantial for the hardcore audience but I think that with a possible announcement of a new casual title they will dismiss the line up as disappointing (much like they ungratefully have with the rest of the Wii’s library). Nintendo will also elaborate on their plans for a premium online service for the Wii (you know the one their quietly announced a few months ago, red Wifi sticker ;)) and Animal Crossing will be their debut title for the service.
The DS will continue to plod along with Fire Emblem, Castlevania, a sequel to Elite Beat Agents and other newly confirmed titles for the system.
I’m looking to read more on Mirror’s Edge and Pixel Junk Eden to find out how exactly these games play. Some gameplay video of the new Prince of Persia would be delightful, Final Fantasy XIII gameplay would be even more so. With Resident Evil 5 playable I think that we will find out whether or not the new mechanics provide an experience that does not feel too derivative of its former title.
I think that KillZone 2 will not play as well as expected, much due to technical issues and poor implementation of popular FPS mechanics. Alternatively Resistance 2 is likely to prove refreshing. Sonic Unleashed will play like Sonic Rush combined with ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ and as such will suffer from the same issues from both games. Banjo Kazooie shall be an interesting title differing itself from Gears of War and Fable 2 both of which will live up to high expectations. Hopefully Konami will confirm a Western release of the second Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel.