E3 2008 Conference Review

Same format as last year, but with added bitter fanboy tears. In chronological order:

  • Microsoft – I wasn’t blown away, to be honest. Seeing live gameplay of Resident Evil 5 was initially my highlight, in the same way that the Call of Duty 4 was a gem in a pile of (mostly) shit last year. Gears 2 and Fable II both look good and are certain purchases that it’s nice to have dates for, but things like avatars do nothing for me and the occasional cool feature and probable gem do not a great conference make. No Alan Wake (the new Duke Nukem Forever?), no big new IP announcements, a new interface that I’m not convinced about. Just the warm feeling from the fact that there was no motion controller announcement… yet.
     
    But then Square dropped the bomb. As last words go, FFXIII on 360 put most of Steve Jobs’ infamous “and one more thing” reveals to shame. Not even a rumbling of this news before the show, which is remarkable in itself, and it dealt a big blow to Sony early on. With the possible exception of Gran Turismo, this has been Sony’s trump card since FFVII in 1997, and it was the one third-party PS3 exclusive that I thought untouchable. Make no mistake; that announcement was huge.
     
    It doesn’t change the fact that the rest of it was relatively lacklustre, but it feels like it was all a ruse to lead up to that. For the biggest E3 megaton – something that I thought was becoming a lost art – since “five hundred and ninety-nine US dollars”, this one gets a…
     
    B
     
  • Nintendo – If you ever need reason why so many hardcore gamers seem to have abandoned Nintendo to focus on the fight for second place, this is why. Last year’s Wii Fit reveal was a disappointment and in that respect this at least had something that vaguely interests me in Animal Crossing, but it’s still basically the same thing as Nintendo brought out on N64, GameCube, and DS. It might have more online functions, but all I’m going to be thinking about is how much better it could be done on Live and PSN.
     
    Add another mini-game compilation, another peripheral, and, in Wii Music, one of the most pathetic ideas I’ve ever seen (I can’t help but think of the musical chairs game in The Simpsons when Bart was put into the remedial class). Someone summed it up for me on a forum post when they said: “At least now that Nintendo has show that it hates hardcore gamers we won’t have to pretend to like the Wii any more.”
     
    Thanks for the good times back in the day, Nintendo, but I’ll take an insular industry that makes games that I enjoy over this popular tripe.
     
    D-
     
  • Sony – Sony really didn’t deviate too much from what was largely a successful formula last year. The embarrassing Home jokes were gone, and no baffling cameo from Chewbacca, and we just got games. It deserves credit for making the most entertaining Powerpoint presentation in history. LittleBigPlanet can make anything interesting.
     
    On the games front, Resistance 2 looked good but early, and while stuff like God of War III and MAG sound promising, didn’t Sony learn anything about showing CG trailers a couple of years ago? When your big reveals are CG and your lead game is one that pretty much everyone who cares enough to watch a conference has finished at least once since it came out a month ago, it doesn’t make it look like there’s a lot of content.
     
    C 

This E3 will go down in history for the Final Fantasy XIII announcement, which put the Microsoft conference ahead on entertainment value alone. Other than that, very disappointing in my opinion. No big new game announcements (so far), no proper price drops or anything, and the bitter taste in my mouth that the mainstream press is going to be fawning over Nintendo finding a way to charge you to play air guitar.

One thought on “E3 2008 Conference Review

  1. This year, I elected to play Space Invaders Extreme instead of watching the conferences, and just read the highlights posted on the internet after they finished. Easily paid off.

    I guess, trying to be positive, Sony had some games that might be nice and Microsoft had some too so I guess I’ll still be able to buy stuff but when a studio works for two years on a project and Stuff Training Coach outsells it 100:1 it’s time to rethink your whole business model.

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