Hopefully this will the first of four such blogs summing up all of the news coming out of E3. Today, I will attempt to rundown the Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft Press Conferences. Naturally, I will be unable to mention everything, but I will endeavour to get through everything as smoothly as possible. Right, let's kick off then, shall we? There is quite a lot to get through. It was information overload on the first, pre-show day. It was just mental how much news was released at once.
Overall, I was extremely impressed. There were no business numbers whatsoever. During the first hour, there were more game announcements than you could shake a stick at and a few others you couldn't. There was a new Halo: Reach (solitary Halo cheer out in the crowd), another Halo called ODST, Metal Gear Solid franchise for the Xbox 360 (the new game is Metal Gear Solid: Rising, Raiden is back apparently), Alan Wake (yes, which finally has a firm release date of Spring 2010, and overall looks quite impressive, I'm excited about it), Modern Warfare 2 (which looks exactly like people had hoped), Crackdown 2 (Jeff Gerstmann called it!), Crysis 2 and most surprisingly, Left4Dead 2. I was expecting news of Portal 2 or Episode Three, but not L4D. Normally Valve has a much slower turnover, so I'm wondering if Left4Dead 2 will be more like an expansion and less like a sequel. There was of course, The Beatles: Rock Band. They had even brought out all the surviving band members and relatives; Dhani Harrison, Olivia Harrison, Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. Got to say, I'm pleased with what I saw. I liked the look of the game, and I'm glad that they are keeping the playful sense of psychedelia which The Beatles had from 1966 onwards. The game looks, and of course sounds great. I've agreed with the ten tracks they've announced so far (Bang! My prediction came true; Back in the U.S.S.R. and Get Back were there), and they also announced that whole albums would be available for download, starting with "Abbey Road". You will also be able to sing in harmony, just like the band originally did. So the Beatlemaniac in me is very pleased for the moment.
Steven Spielberg provided the backdrop for the new tech developments in the show by announcing Project Natal, which is "games without a controller". This will apparently offer games where your body is the controller, in full-scale motion capture. There will also be advanced voice recognition, so you can control your Xbox, play games, and do everything basically without using any kind of control. They said, rather scathingly, "this isn't the kind of game where you end up on the sofa using pre-set waggle commands", which prompted groans from the audience. They are just in tech demo at the moment, but it certainly looks extremely interesting. The Wii might have started motion gaming, but this looks like it is taking it to the next step. Peter Molyneux certainly sounded very excited by it. There was also this extremely interesting idea that there will be truly interactive characters, the first one being a boy called Milo, which will react to how you talk to them. The character becomes like an AI, not just merely pre-programmed, but able to interact realistically. This will be a fascinating leap if they can manage to make characters which we truly feel emotional connections to. They also announced some hardware updates for the near future, including Last.fm, Facebook and Twitter on the Xbox (Innovation! Innovation I tell you!), and Sky TV in Europe giving downloadable films like Netflix does in the US.
Electronic Arts Conference
In just three words: a little disappointing. There were some interesting things there, but other things seemed bizarre and unnecessary. Naturally there was The Sims 3, which is still just as much The Sims as The Sims 2 was. There were a raft of idiotic games for young girls, many the names of which I can't remember, butI can recall Littlest Pet Shop Online... Yeah. What did interest me was The Saboteur, which is set in Nazi occupied France (yeah, the Second World War again! Who would have thought of such a great place to set a video game?). They've opted to use this Sin City, black and white sparked with bright colours look for the city of Paris, which looks quite cool. Mass Effect 2 is also already announced, with Commander Shepard (remember, it's the way you say it) returning for another intergalactic jaunt. EA Sports took up most of the show with their selection of sports titles, but there was also the highly bizarre game Brutal Legend (Jack Black included as standard with all purchases), and APB (All Points Bulletin), which is essentially Grand Theft Auto Online with punked hair. The big geekish moment was when the Jedi Council of LucasArts trooped in to announce their MMO, The Old Republic.
How can you describe the Ubisoft press conference? It wasn't like a conference; it was more like watching some kind of elaborate torture device being used, like in Franz Kafka's "In the Penal Colony". What was it lacking? Well, many things, but the number one thing was games. There were approximately four or five games talked about in over two hours. There were highlights (or lowlights) though. Director James Cameron talked about his new film, "Avatar" for what felt like over half an hour, and it felt like he could have gone on much longer. He just would not stop, and I felt that my life was passing me by whilst attempting to listen to him. I didn't learn anything about the game from the talk. The international footballing superstar Pele (how did they swing that?) managed to successfully fill a technical glitch by thanking everyone who had ever been interested in football, because the game in which he was going to be in will be awesome, apparently. In fact, Assassins Creed 2 wasn't until right at the end, and that was the only genuinely interesting thing there. When they eventually got to it,there wasn't even a live demo. Red Steel 2 looked exactly like Red Steel. The rest was a horrific mess of boring fitness, young teenage kitsch and other rubbish such ideas. Two demos, but the rest were just dull pre-rendered trailers. I wish I had just gone to bed after EA.
Any Other News
How about a new Monkey Island? How about The Secret of Monkey Island re-released in updated and original styIe? I'm glad LucasArts haven't entirely forgotten about their old back catalogue of point-and-clicks, when they are so focused on Star Wars most of the time. Final Fantasy 13 is also coming in Q1, 2010, for the Final Fantasy fans out there. Also, a new Splinter Cell: Conviction, where Sam Fisher is going to go all Max Payne revenge-styIe on us for the murder of his daughter. Tonk Hawk is still skateboarding, with a new board controller. Forza 3 will arrive in October, and the sequel to No More Heroes is still shaping up. And that's just about it for Day One. I feel exhausted just talking about it. Today, we can look forward to Nintendo and Sony, as well as the first day of the GameSpot stage show. The action never stops whilst E3 rolls around.