Nothing will keep a video game journalist busier than E3! This week, the CCC crew was frantically running around recording conferences, sitting in with developers, getting lots of hands-on time with upcoming games, and typing away on our laptops to relay all the goods back to you. Tons of amazing announcements were made this year that have gotten us downright giddy!
This fall will be loaded with amazing software releases, and 2010 already looks astoundingly rosy. What’s more, gaming’s future seems to have been forever shaken up by the introduction of motion controls across the board. Below you’ll find a wrap-up of all the gaming goodies that have come from E3 2009.
Of course, the industry’s biggest trade show and conference, E3 2009, lead to a lot of amazing announcements for gamers everywhere. Naturally, the biggest bits of info came out of the big three’s media events; a veritable %$#@ measuring contest of the industry’s biggest players trying to convince the media and world at large of who’s the master of video gaming-dom.
On that note, Microsoft got the week started with its presentation on June 1 st . While at the event, we were witness to some of the most exciting aspects of the entire event. For starters, Epic Games is currently prepping an XBLA title called Shadow Complex. This arcade title is extremely sharp-looking, and it seems to be trying to go for a quality of gameplay that parallels that of Bionic Commando: Rearmed, but it seems to play a bit more like the Contra titles of old.
Also, a free to play XBLA title called Joy Ride will be available soon for download. This simple arcade racer will use players’ avatars by injecting them into a Mario Kart-like clone. Though the game is free to play, the acquisition of additional content will require you to shell out MS points. That being said, if any of your friends picks up a new track, you can play that track with them without having to also have purchased it.
We also found out that Crackdown 2 is being developed; oh, hell yes! It looks like it’s going to be awesome. However, other than the sharp-looking trailer, not a lot is known about what it will entail.
On the other hand, Left 4 Dead 2 is already well through its development cycle. Valve’s amazing co-op zombie shooter appears to have been moved to the South. For new survivors will take on an all-new environment, new bosses, and be able to employ an arsenal of brutal melee weapons that are bound to elevate the franchise. For loads more details, check out our hands-on preview HERE .
Loads more Xbox 360 exclusive reveals included Splinter Cell: Conviction and Forza Motorsport 3. Splinter Cell: Conviction is not just another blasé Clancy title; the team at Ubisoft is really trying to completely overhaul the stealth genre. From the gameplay demos we’ve seen thus far, the game is going to be a fast-paced, cinematic stealth experience that Xbots are going to go crazy over.
Likewise, Forza Motorsport 3 is being marketed as “the definitive racing game of this generation;” a clear jab at Sony’s Gran Turismo franchise. This racing game will feature difficulty balancing for all skill levels, a glut of community sharing and racing features, an extensive tuning toolset, a very sophisticated gameplay video editor, and over 100 tracks with 400 cars from 50 manufacturers.
A trailer for Halo: Reach, a brand new game in the franchise, was shown at the presser. Players who pick up Halo: ODST will be able to download and join in the multiplayer beta for the new title months before it hits store shelves.
Alan Wake also finally came out of dormancy this week. The X-Files meets Twin Peaks storyline is being nicely realized in the “deceptively idyllic town” of Bright Falls, Washington. The use of artificial light sources will be key to survival in this atmospheric title due to release at the beginning of 2010.
We also learned that the New Xbox Experience will be even newer, as streaming music provided by Last.fm will be featured free of charge, Netflix Instant-on will give users the chance to manipulate their queues directly and watch 1080p hi-def without any buffering, UK Xbox owners will be getting access to SKY, including the ability to stream EPL football (lucky bastards), and everyone is going to have the chance to download full titles digitally directly to their HDD. Lastly, Facebook and Twitter users will be able to post and tweet directly from the 360.
Shockingly, the new Metal Gear Solid title we were expecting to be announced was done so via the Microsoft press event. Metal Gear Solid Rising will not only feature Raiden, it will also be headed to the Xbox 360.
Finally, the folks at Microsoft showed off their answer to motion controls with Project Natal. This camera and microphone combo is more than just its constituent parts. The demonstration at the Microsoft event hinted at more than just gameplay possibility. Using the device for interface manipulation, virtual coaching, video conferencing, and even scary-real interactions with artificial intelligence (called Milo and currently being developed by new MGS creative director Peter Molyneux) are all slated for release over the next several years, effectively extending the lifespan of the Xbox 360 to a ten year horizon.
The next day, Nintendo jumped into the fray. While they didn’t have a whole lot of surprises, they did give core fans a lot of great news.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii was their first major announcement. Featuring the classic platforming action of Mario, it mixes things up considerably when played with four players. Click HERE to check out our hands-on preview.
We also learned that new Wii Fit title, called Wii Fit Plus, is on the horizon. The updated game will have new exercises, new mini-games, and more. The new bundle will include an updated and redesigned Wii Balance Board, and it’ll be sold starting Fall 2009.
Fan favorite titles such as Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers, Golden Sun, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, and Mario & Luigi (RPG) are set for Wii and DS releases in the coming months.
Adding even more fuel to the software fire, Nintendo announced the existence of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M. While Super Mario Galaxy 2 is everything you would expect from a sequel, Metroid: Other M is decidedly different from both 2D Metroid titles of old and the Metroid Prime trilogy. Best of all, Team Ninja and Nintendo have teamed up on the game’s development. Click HERE to read our preview.
The last bit of official news from Nintendo came in the form of a pulse-monitoring device which hooks up to your Wii Remote. As odd as it may sound, industry insiders have already begun to offer examples of its use in classic gameplay – using it for situations like giving your characters more mana energy when you become excited, making you firing accuracy more steady when you’re calm, etc. As clever as such gameplay ideas may seem, we’ve got a feeling Nintendo’s got something completely alternative up their sleeve.
Last, but certainly not least, Sony stepped up to the plate and delivered a press conference that far outshined what was given last year. Perhaps the most interesting bit of news to come out of the Sony conference revolved around the tremendous support going forward for the PSP.
In fact, the new PSPgo handheld should help them capitalize on their goals of digital delivery and furthering the Sony name in the handheld marketplace. The slide-up face, addition of Bluetooth, 16 GBs of internal memory, and compact, highly-portable design should help move units despite its $250 price tag.
Moreover, must-have gaming franchises including Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo and Konami’s Metal Gear Solid will be making their way exclusively to the handheld. Gran Turismo packs a heck of a wallop despite its small size, running at 60 fps! Perhaps more exciting is the fact that Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker will be coming to the PSP. Hideo Kojima himself came on stage and assured fans everywhere that he will be watching over the development of the game personally to make sure that this portable title will true cannon and not some spin-off.
Further still, a host of other great games are also soon to be part of the PSP’s library including franchises such as Resident Evil, LittleBigPlanet, Final Fantasy, Monster Hunter, MotorStorm, SoulCalibur, Shin Megami Tensei, Pixeljunk Monsters, Fat Princess, Unbound Saga, and Star Wars: Battlefront.
Sony also let it be known that, in addition to Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIV will be making its way exclusively to the PS3 in 2010. What? Yep, it’s coming out the same time as XIII, the difference is, is that XIV is an MMORPG.
The announcement of Mod Nation Racers has also got us in a tizzy. The Mario Kart clone looks phenomenal and is part of the Play. Create. Share. genre of which LittleBigPlanet founded. The ability to create racers and tracks in a matter of minutes and share them with friends and the community at large should lead to big fun. What’s more, the racing element is nearly perfect, making this a kart racer you can bank on.
Finally, Sony also jumped into the motion control game. Their little wand was put on display and man did it impress. The 1-to-1 control seemed perfect, and the ability to project instruments on the game screen via the EyeToy such as swords, whips, guns, whiskey bottles, golf clubs, etc. seem to make for near limitless possibilities.
Outside of the conferences, legendary Nintendo game developer, Shigeru Miyamoto, stated that he was very close to announcing the next entry in The Legend of Zelda series. Alas, the game simply isn’t far enough along to make an official announcement. That being said, many of the game’s concepts are already fully fleshed out, as they will incorporate Wii MotionPlus (which may be a requirement), and will play a lot like games found in Wii Sports Resort. Also, concept art on display did depict a mature Link and a ghostly female companion, who is now predicted to be the personification of Link’s legendary Master sword.
Hideo Kojima was quite the busy bee at E3 2009. He announced at the Konami press conference that he is currently helping develop Castlevania: Lords of Shadows with Mercurysteam. You can find the trailer by going to our E3 2009 coverage site by clicking HERE . The trailer gives off a fantasy/action vibe strikingly similar to what is found in the God of War franchise. Details are naturally still light, but it is known that players will take on the role of the cross-bearing, whip-wielding Gabriel.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a new start for the franchise, and it will have only a cursory connection to prior titles.
Also, Kojima is currently putting together Metal Gear Arcade. It’s getting its own cabinet complete with 3D goggles and online networking capabilities to allow for competitive play. We’ll have to see if this ever comes stateside.
Peter Molyneux, the creative mind behind the Fable franchise as well as Microsoft’s Milo initiative, was officially promoted to that of Creative Director for Microsoft Game Studios. Molyneux will remain the honcho of Lionhead, but he will now additionally be overseeing the creative direction for Microsoft and its subsidiary game development studios.
Despite the fact that Nintendo announced nothing officially at E3 2009 concerning the Zelda franchise, creator Shigeru Miyamoto mentioned in a closed-door meeting that he was very close to announcing the next installment in the franchise. Apparently, the game will employ Wii MotionPlus – so you can imagine how the bow, sword fighting, fishing, and boomerang usage will be. Concept art was on display, and speculation now places the mysterious, ethereal female at his back as the personification of the legendary Master Sword. Other details are not known at this time.
Closing out the conference on a sour note was the announcement that Activision Entertainment Holdings filed suit against Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions in Santa Monica, Calif., on Wednesday, June 3 rd , according to a report in the Associated Press. The lawsuit claims that the developer of Brutal Legend “transferred rights owned by Activision to Electronic Arts.” As such, unless all parties can come to an agreement, there may be a legal dispute that delays the game’s release. Obviously, Activision’s lawyers feel the company has a case to recuperate at least a portion of the $15 million they invested in the title before dropping it during the merger of Activision and Vivendi.
E3 2009 was one of the best conferences in recent memory. Loads of phenomenal announcements were made, and the industry as a whole looks vibrant even in the face of such daunting economic times.