July 18, 2008 by Marshal Rosenthal
The Electronic Entertainment Expo used to be all flash and glamour. Lots of games that made me feel like a kid in a candy store. But E3 has matured into a scene with meeting rooms and appointments at the LA Convention Center. It just seems so grown up and all - I mean guys are wearing suits!
Fortunately one thing hasn’t changed - big press events from the big-boys. Which in this case means Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. And while games are the big draw, hardware still got its few minutes of center stage time; like Microsoft reducing the price of an Xbox 360 console and promising a new one with greater hard drive capacity. Or Sony promising a $399 PS3 model with an 80GB hard drive and all the bells and whistles. But Nintendo went all peripheral by showing off Internet talk via their Wii Speak microphone, a Snowboard and the Wii MotionPlus that gives “deeper” control - although the first game it rocks with comes along for the purchase (spend a day at the beach courtesy of Wii Sports Resort). And with the exception of Nintendo, all the game consoles now can download movies and TV shows to own or rent and use as your “living room” media center (Sony even adding live car-related TV to their Gran Turismo 5 Prologue). But then the Nintendo DS is looking to become a PDA where you can look up flights or check out recipes.
Of course these guys all had their exclusive titles to show - such as “Rock Band 2” and “Gears of War 2” on Xbox 360, “Little Big Planet” (where you create your own gaming) and “Ultimate Ninja Storm” on PS3, and “Mario Super Sluggers” for Wii and “Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars” on the DS hand-held (remember the days when Nintendo stood for extreme non-violence?). And that goes for their online components too. These combinations of original and exclusive titles continues to drive the “our platform is better than yours” bragging rights fight, but what’s the use of being a fanboy if there’s not something to obsess over, right?
Meanwhile, over at the LA Convention Center is where the bulk of the companies are showing their wares. And everybody’s in meeting rooms where there’s just enough space to cram in a developer or two with a widescreen display and a game. We’re talking less than 100 companies, but that’s still plenty of stuff to see from a Capcom or Activision (Guitar Hero World Tour looks promising) or Sega (hey Sonic!) or Majesco (we never tire of Cooking Mama and her Kitchen title coming up should add more fun and slice and dicing through the Wii) or a THQ’s whose “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader” renews our hope for tomorrow’s youth (to be dumber than we were…). And Midway’s still working on “This is Vegas” and those other titles we saw being prepped earlier this year. And a few other bits of hardware floated by - like Nyko’s Media Hub that restores USB ports while giving out memory card slots on a PS3. Or their new Intercoolers (PS3/Xbox 360) that run on AC and use temperature gauges to kick-start cooling fans. And if I ever need to go whole-hog, I can toss my Fender and get a Starpex, since it’s Playstation compatible for strumming and made of wood while retaining freak controls for video gaming needs.
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