james debate
james debate

Monday, 1 June 2009

As always, the dawning of the summer months heralds a new Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

The show has traditionally been THE place for videogames developers to show off new games, consoles and peripherals to a watching world, and pumped millions of dollars into providing glitz, glamour and girls for the event.

However, in recent years the people running the show decided to commit commercial hari kari and size down the event into a much smaller more business like conference, open only to invited journalists, with no girls or glamour. Needless to say the idea failed, and the past two E3s were pretty terrible, with big companies opting not to make big reveals there and instead saving them for their own private shows. E3 needed something to come and save it from complete irrelevance.

This year they appear to have sorted it out, returning the show back to a more 'pre-2007' style, and once again people are getting excited. So in this article I will run a preview for each of the major consoles and what we might be able to expect, as well as a few other key developments we will be looking for. We begin with...


We may as well begin with the undisputed king of videogames right now. The Wii has turned into a worldwide phenomenon, and has sold more consoles than all their competitors put together. The DS has performed a similar feat, selling more than twice as many as PSP has sold. Together, Wii and DS have sold more than twice as many as every other console put together. Such dominance has never existed in videogames before.

However, in recent times there are signs that this magic is beginning to wane. Casual users are starting to get bored of basically a million games milking the same wavy control mechanic, and hardcore gamers are getting frustrated by the lack of deeper hardcore games... Other than Zelda and Mario there has been little of that sort in the last few years.

In this year's show, it is essential for Nintendo to try and answer these criticisms. Expect to see more titles using the new Motion Plus add-on that gives more specific movement and control to the wii-mote, allowing for a more complex and realistic type of gameplay control, like sword fighting and whatnot.

Also there has been much buzzing for several months now that Nintendo were hard at work for big name sequels, a new Mario or Zelda being the most commonly talked about possibilities, as one would expect for two of the biggest games franchises of all time. But recently very loud buzzings are suggesting a new Pikmin title is on the way. Personally I really think it's about time for a new Star Fox game, but i'm not getting my hopes up.

The Wii online store has become a very capable cash piñata and given the massive success of iPhone app store and indeed the iPhone as a burgeoning gaming device, it is pretty obvious that we are going to see some signs of the hotly tipped DSi Ware store, allowing you you download games and whatnot for your DSi.

Lastly, in lieu of waning sales, expect Nintendo to pull a few tricks to boost sales, like a price drop, or more colours and the like.


Last year Microsoft wowed audiences by ripping the Wii off as much as possible, introducing it's very familiar looking, though still pretty nifty, avatars to boost its online community, which is admittedly the best of all the three consoles.

This year expect more of the same, as rumors have suggested that Microsoft are set to unveil a motion sensing rip off of the wii-mote, perhaps using cameras instead of infrared.

In other news there are a few big games that are almost certain to come up. Halo ODST is probably one of the biggest ones, but we should also be expecting to see Mass Effect 2, the long awaited Alan Wake and a brand new project from Black & White/Fable creator Peter Molyneux is reported to be a central announcement this year.

Is there a chance of Microsoft announcing an entrance to the handheld market this year? Given the abject failure of the Zune, I doubt it.


This year is pretty much do-or-die for Sony and the Playstation 3. Up until now this console has survived basically on 'potential' alone, and just barely at that. Major, awesome games are an absolute must this year, expect to see more of Final Fantasy XIII, a new project from Team ICO, God of War 3 and a new Gran Turismo game. Other than that... well there's not really much else coming for Playstation except maybe a price drop.

Other rumours suggest Sony may be copying Microsoft in copying the Wii, introducing their own motion sensing interface in an attempt to steal away some of Nintendo's dominance.

Meanwhile there is a little more action in the handheld market with the PSP GO, a smaller PSP, perhaps with a touch screen and downloadable games. iPhone's mentally retarded cousin then.

PC Games:

While there will undoubtedly be the usual spate of incredibly ambitious MMOs that never turn out as good as they sound, and your generic fare of predictable console ports, the highlights on the PC this year have to be the big FPSs.

This year we should be seeing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 the sequel the absolutely sublime original. One can also expect a first real look at Bioshock 2 a sequel to an absolutely stunning and atmospheric game, which frankly I reckon won't be half as good, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

Hopefully, Crysis 2 will also make an appearance, after the innovative and fairly awesome original left us with a groin grabbingly frustrating cliff hanger. And probably most significantly, Half Life 2: Episode 3 (Liverpool 1) will finally be shown off, fingers crossed, and attempt to justify the absurdly long production time for what was supposed to be frequent episodic content. Knowing Valve, I have no doubts that it will.

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