Hey folks, thanks for joining me in my first post here at the Infinite Fetch Quest game blog. I know that I haven’t had a proper introduction post but that can come later. I just wanted to get this post out there before every reaction to the announcements, reveals and show stoppers at E3 were made completely irrelevant, by say, waiting so long that the announced titles and systems come out. Well I’ll just dive into this. To preface this, I wasn’t actually at E32011. I watched the live streams made available by Gametrailers.com, refreshed my twitter feed and Joystiq pages over and over again to get my information (at one point I switched over to G4’s stream to hear Adam Sessler’s soothing voice when Sony’s press conference was delayed).

Microsoft’s press conference: Pretty Lackluster. I went in to this confernce expecting to see alot of motion play games and tie ins from both Sony and Microsoft. The Move and Kinect sold millions when they came out last year and then kinda just sat there. They need to make customers not regret buying those extra bits of plastic for about $150. And boy did Microsoft try to do that. They might has well have had the entire show operated on a Kinect, but I guess that would have meant relying on the Kinect’s iffy sensor entirely and not focusing on showing happy children pretending to fly through a Disney theme park.

After showing off about 9 minutes of ‘core games’ that had Kinect functionality shoe-horned into them, including Mass Effect 3, Microsoft tried to show that other companies would be bringing their A game to the accessory and had Lionshead Studios show off something they’d kept under wraps, a first person, Kinect-only game, Fable – The Journey. The game looked pretty bad. The Kinect Tech Master sat on his Kinect Couch pretending to whip horses to make them pull his carriage faster and then moved his hands in a series of weird fashions to shoo fire balls and lightning rings. The game seemed to be on rails, a huge problem with many of the motion controlled games/segments in regular games, but  Peter Molyneux, head of the studio, has sinced promised us that it wouldn’t be.

That was followed by a Star Wars Kinect game that basically had players reliving their elemtary school days, where they ran around the school yard pretending to be Jedis and Power Rangers and other uniformed heroes, by having them pretend to swing a lightsaber and force push objects from the screen. This foolish looking game was also on rails, and moved from point to point as the exhibitor waved his hands and fell robot after robot.

The show wrapped up with a series of family friendly Kinect games and new Kinect 1st party software that allowed the user to scan random objects into the Xbox, including themselves! The demoed software was Kinect Fun Labs and allowed gamers to get upclose to their Xbox to get more accurate Avatars by scanning themselves into the program. We then saw a huge pillow-thing get scanned, back and front, and Fun Labs turned it into a  digital beast that hopped around. No information was given as to whether these random objects could be interacted with in any way outside of Fun Labs.  Oh, and the star of the show were the actors they got to pretend that 1) they were having fun and 2)that the Kinect had no issues reading their movements. In particular the two Bros playing Kinect Sports were hilarious as they yelled out instructions to their pretend team.

Microsoft was very obviously targeting the family unit with their show and it left many, single, 17-26 year old male gamers feel ignored.

Next was Sony: Surprising, in a good way

At first Sony also played the motion control card pretty heavy handedly. They had Ken Levine, who heads Irrational Games, come out and basically just apologize for badmouthing motion controls a year or two ago, and then announce Bioshock Infinity would have Move support, without showing in any form. Next Kobe Bryant and some random PR and tech guys came out and showed off NBA 2kX (I don’t know what number they’re on and don’t care to look it up) with the Move wand. It was a pretty uncomfortable situation all around as the interface was just weird and Kobe wasn’t afraid to say “Hey, I didn’t want it to do that! WTF?”

Thankfully that was only about half of the show and the main event took stage before too long: the NGP, whose name had leaked earlier in the week, as being crowned the Play Station Vita (life!). We got another look at the machine and saw that the Uncharted game that was demoed on it before was an original game for the PSV and made use of  the touch screen to allow tap-screen fighting and platforming. But honestly…why would I want to touch the screen to punch a guy when the square button is right there? Kinda like most of the DS’s library the touch screen was just a redundancy and added nothing interesting or even really fun.

But then we got to the price. Speculators had been pricing this device at somewhere between $300 and $500 on average. I myself agreed because I thought SONY would be pushing the PSV as a gaming tablet, with its touchy bells and 3G whistles. But to gasps of surprise and cheers from the crowd the PSV was priced at $250 for the basic version and $300 for the smokey bacon ranch version (wifi-only and 3G enabled). This came as a blow. Sony was now obviously targeting the slow-to-sell 3DS. But the cheers turned to groans and outright boos when they announced that AT&T would be the exclusive provider of 3G for the more expensive model. Maybe the execs in Japan didn’t know, but the US has a nasty history with AT&T, their service and binding contracts.  They didn’t really show any hardware that enticed me, but the prospects of PS3 quality games and ports to the PSV, and a unexpectedly low price have me curious.

The following day was all about The Big N. My reaction: Confused and then annoyed and a bit bored.

The show opened up with Miyamoto (brain-father of Mario and Link), an orchestra and and  a translator get on stage and treat us to a  nostalgia-filled journey via some classic Legend of Zelda tunes.  Honestly, this part seemed to go on a bit too long, and the translator’s mic was at the same level as Miyamoto’s so you couldn’t understand either of them, regardless of what language you understood. Next Regie fils aime and some other Nintendo celebs showed off some 3DS games that had already been announced and everyone knew was coming, Kid Icarus, Mario 3DS and some others that left no impression on me.

Finally the star of E3 came down in a slightly cheesy pre-shot commercial. Nintendo showed off the controller for their new device, confirming the long rumored 6″ touch screen embedded in it, and the rest of the more traditional button scheme, 4 face button and 4 shoulder buttons. They announced and showed off the controller’s ability to stream games from the console (the console that they barely allowed to be on screen)  into the screen on the controller. We saw a tech demo of “current gen-looking” Zelda game and connectability to Wii software and hardware, including some WiiFit balance board fun. At the end of the commercial, a montage of 3rd party games that basically said “Hey look, we can do all this stuff too!” Among the clips was Batman Arkham City, Dark Siders 2, Assassin’s Creed and Metro Last Light, making sure to get in clips of bloody combat.   Finally the name of this device was given voice and we learned the successor to the Wii was dubbed the Wii-U. Terrible name aside, what exactly the device was, wasn’t exactly clear. In the end I wasn’t sure what I felt about the system. The dual screens seemed like a big deal, and Nintendo sure had the 3rd party developers saying so, but I wasn’t sold just yet. I have a lot of time to be convinced as the system won’t be released until some time next 2012.

Summary of my feelings:

Microsoft was pretty boring. I understand the need to show how the Kinect fits into the family, but it doesn’t appeal to me. *Oh I forgot that they did demo gameplay of Gears of War 3, played by Cliffy B and Ice-T. These two, plus the Kinect Sports Bros were the highlights of the show.

Nintendo just confused me. The console wasn’t really a feature of the show, it was just in the background. The 3rd party support was kind of a given, seeing the 3DS launch line-up and games to come. The controller looked interesting, but the ability to put the HUD on the controller seems pretty unimportant. Perhaps they’ll show some use of it that will matter to me soon, but  the morning after the Nintendo event I had a sudden realization that the WiiU was kind of a giant DS, with the controller acting as the bottom screen. This turned me off even further.

Sony’s show won me over eventually. A few misteps put me off before the PSV was revealed, the Move nonsense and the when 2KGames tried to sell the PS3 as the best system for Bioshock Infinite because it would come with Bioshock 1 on the same Bluray. That is not a selling point because OF COURSE only the PS3 can do that because only the Bluray has gigs and gigs on unused space on the disc. Developers literally can’t afford to make huge sprawling galaxies and real world physics for billions of blades of grass. But the PSV came on stage just in time and had the right moves to make me want it. Of course, the PSP and orginal DS were released with similar expectations, one with amazing graphics and one with a fun gimmick, and we know how that turned out.