E3 2008 Revelations Are Hit and Miss
For gamers, E3the Electronics Entertainment Expois Christmas in July, only you dont have to endure the Family Dinner from Hell while your new toys gather dust under the tree.
Translation: Its geek nirvana.
The annual industry gathering, held last week in Los Angeles, isnt the chaotic, nerd version of Sturgis it used to be. Its now limited to stuffy press types like us. And there are no booth babes to chuckle at stuffy press types stammering. But its still where companies reveal their biggestand, occasionally, most terribleproducts for the coming year. So now that youre bored with Wii Fit, Halo 3 andwell, whatevers fun on the PlayStation 3whats next?
The Nintendo Wii announced "Wii Speak," a tiny microphone that finally brings online voice chatting to the console. Wii Speak will be initially utilized in the long-awaited Animal Crossing: City Folk. You remember Animal Crossingits The Sims with guitar playing dogs and backbreaking labor.
Nintendo followed this news with another hardware announcement: the "Motion Plus" attachment for your Wii Mote. This device makes your Wii Mote more motion-y? Were honestly not sure. What we do know is that the built-in accelerometer is supposed to give players a true "1:1 controller experience." This means your slightest movements are reflected on screen, in true real time.
And how will Nintendo unleash this mind-boggling and groundbreaking console technology? With a Lightsaber game? A white-knuckle flight simulator? Nope; that would be too obviously awesome. Instead, get ready for Wii Sports Resort, an all-inclusive snooze fest that will include Frisbee, water-skiiing, and wood chopping. "Its literally a day at the beach," Nintendo proudly announced, at which point we put the Wii Zapper in our mouths and pulled the trigger.
Meanwhile, Microsoft announced a major upheaval of its Xbox Live interface, scrapping the hard-to-navigate tab-system with one that looks, ironically, exactly like its rival, iTunes. It also adds cute avatarsa la the Wiis Mii systemso a cartoon version of yourself can hang out with other animated goofballs during game sessions. Sure, Xbox stole all these ideas, but at least theyre teaming up with Netflix to bring you downloadable rentals this year. Babys Day Out and Killing Mrs. Tingle on your Xbox hard drive? Finally!
Also, the next major Final Fantasy sequel (number 13, if youre counting) is coming to the Xbox 360a blockbuster franchise exclusive to only Sony and Nintendo consoles in the past. In geek-speak: "Level Up, bitches!"
And speaking of Sonys diminishing standing, the PlayStation 3 brought up the rear with some major disappointments: Their "Home" virtual landscape has major delays. Gamings artistic triumph, Little Big World, is still delayed until October. The PS3 price had dropped to a totally affordable $400, including 80 GB of storage (rather than the 40 GB suckers paid for initially. And you still cant play your PS2 games on it.) The good news? A video rental/purchase service has already launched, as long as you dont mind waiting an hour for a download.
Still, the just-announced God of War 3 should keep PS3 owners happy as Wii owners suddenly realize, "I paid $200 to throw a goddamned Frisbee and chop wood? What the hell is an accelerometer?"
In short, E3 gave us hope that its going to be a great year for gamesexcept for, you know, the systems the games are actually played on.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in New York.