Question of the Week: An E3 Retrospective

by: Randy -
More On: What we're playing
If the starry-eyed gleam in everyone's demeanor is to be taken at face value, then E3 was back in a big way this year.  And while a few of us from GamingNexus made the trek to the LA Convention Center, most of us didn't fit our pair of glass slippers, and so were stuck at home while our evil stepsisters danced the night away at the ball.  But for those of us playing at home, there was still, as par usual, a massive amount of information flowing out of that LA epicenter.  There was plenty to be surprised by, excited for, and disappointed about -- which makes for a worthy topic in our Question of the Week.  In three parts -- and we got a tad verbose  -- we asked our staff:

What E3 announcements were you:

1.) Most surprised by

2.) Most excited by

3.) Most disappointed by

Ben Berry

Most surprised by: Ok, while it isn't shocking for gaming news to be "embargoed" until the company wants the public to know, why in the heck did EA embargo NHL10? I mean, there's only one competitor, and while that competitor was the "rookie of the year" last year, EA's NHL franchise is that All-Star Shoo-in HOFer in waiting.
Most excited by: Ok, so everyone is excited about the updated motion controls coming from Nintendo and Microsoft. But seriously, I have been one of the voices crying out for a true advance in gaming controls since my first E3 in 2005. I remember scrounging Kentia Hall looking for anything that resembled an advance in controllers. It looks like we're finally starting to see them, and while I'm pumped about both entries, I have to say that the ability of the camera technology being developed for the 360 has me a bit skeptical. Especially for tall guys, how far away from the screen will I have to stand? How tightly controlled will my motions have to be? It's something different, and I applaud it, and if it works, well, we're finally headed towards that virtual reality gaming we've all dreamed of. THen again there are those karate games in arcades that can't tell If I'm kicking or punching, so we'll see.
Most disappointed by: A couple things. As stated above, my favorite game (NHL 10) got the "Top Secret" treatment. Hopefully, it'll be worth the weight. But the thing I was most disappointed by is that I didn't get to be there. It was for the best of reasons, but I'm already looking forward to next years.

Scott Colleli

Biggest Surprise: I'd have to say Miyamoto's lack of attendance at the Nintendo Press Conference. The fact that he held the whole Roundtable thing behind closed doors really made me wonder where Miyamoto stands in regards to the other head honchos at Nintendo.

Most Excited By: The announcement of a new Zelda exclusive for Wii. I'll admit, I'm still a big Nintendo fan, but I really thought they had forgotten about past Zeldas and were going to give us Spirit Tracks-esque titles from now til the end of time.

Most Disappointed By: Metal Gear Rising. Does Kojima really not understand that there is a universal hatred for Raiden? He wasn't cool in the 2nd one, and he wasn't cool in the 4th one. Just kill Snake and let the franchise die with some amount of dignity.

Currently Playing: Actually, I've been playing Shadow of the Colossus, one of the many games I've always wanted to play but never had the time. Great fun.

Sean Colleli
  [Nope, you're not seeing double, folks.  We've got a Double Dragon team of Colleli's on staff now.]

Biggest surprise: I'd have to say Metroid: Other M. It came out of freaking nowhere and the hardcore dedication of both the Nintendo team and the Team Ninja guys has me stoked. This one's being co-developed by the people who made the first three Metroid games, and if a team of Texans can work miracles with the Metroid Prime spinoff trilogy then I can't wait to see what happens in Other M. This game literally saved the Nintendo press conference for me--the rest of it was boring casual crap or stuff we already knew about, and then there was that huge WTF moment with the Nintendo O2-sat that for Trauma Center or something?

Most excited by: Damn this is hard. Red Steel 2 looks beautiful, like the new Prince of Persia with six-guns and katanas, and the sword mechanics are at long last responsive and accurate. Still, this one goes to The Grinder. The guys at High Voltage are pushing content and tech on the Wii like nobody else, they're embarassing all the other lazy third parties and they are beating Nintendo at their own game. I can't wait for Wii's Left 4 Dead, bring on the vampires, werewolves and hockey-masked serial killers!  Hopefully Conduit's multiplayer will keep me occupied until next year...

Most Disapponted By: Rare.  The announcement for Perfect Dark on XBLA was nice, if long overdue, but seriously, WTF Rare? Where is everything else?  No Perfect Dark 2?  No Blast Corps remake for Live? No Conker? Not even Mr. Pants?  As a longtime Rare fan I guess I have to get used to being disappointed by these guys--they've been with Microsoft since '02 and have yet to do anything really spectacular.  The avatars are ok I guess, a second party developer they should be doing something worth their legendary reputation.  Instead Microsoft left Molyneux and his digital pet boy do all the talking.

Adam Dodd

I could answer all three with one game: Left 4 Dead 2

Biggest Surprise: I definitely didn't see it coming because looking at Valve's history, they usually don't release a sequel to one of their games a year after its release. 

Most Excited By: Because of my undying affection for the original I know L4D2 will be great, and because I'm a colossal survival horror fanatic, I am supremely excited for this game. 

Most Disappointed By: I'm fairly disappointed with the early announcement of the game because it will most likely make the already scarce DLC for the original even more so.  I also would've preferred an announcement of Half-Life 2: Episode 3, Portal 2, or if Valve is feeling really generous: something along the lines of The Orange Box 2. 

I'm still thoroughly enjoying the original Left 4 Dead and I don't think a sequel is necessary at this point, but I can complain all I want and it won't change a thing: I will be buying this game on day one.

Currently Playing:  Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil 5, and inFamous

Nathan Murray

Biggest Surprise: Final Fantasy XIV seems kind of early but if Square Enix wants to announce an awesome epic game way before it's ready then let them. Let's just all remember the Duke.

Most Excited by: MAG, no other game has me wanting to buy a PS3 more. I've been playing Call of Duty 4 for a while now and I'm ready for the next thing. Of course I would not be crying if the next big thing for me was Modern Warfare 2.

Most Disappointed: PSP Go! It's a stupid name and, in this man's humble opinion, a stupid design for a hand held. I love the features and all but for the life of me I can't figure out why Sony sacrificed screen size for pocket size when they didn't do that for the 3 other PSPs!

Currently Playing: Call of Duty 4, UFC 2009, Rock Band 2, and LocoRoco 2

Sean Nack

Biggest Surprise: L4D2, and I can't decide whether or not it's a pleasant one. Like John, and literally everyone else who's owned Valve products, fan service has always been a pretty high priority, but this decision reminds me more of Activision and their new-Guitar-Hero-every-six-months policy. If it ends up being great, then that's awesome; but I'll tell you up front, I don't think it should be priced any higher than $49.99 if that's how they're going to play.

Most Excited By: Splinter Cell: Conviction. I've never been a stealth-gamer, and I never liked SC's particularly slow pace, but with Conviction it seems like they've deal with both of my objections. Not by getting rid of the stealth element to the game, but making it more of a offensive element than a defensive one; hiding in the shadows and ready to pounce like a tiger, rather than hiding in the shadows so no one notices you. Modern Warfare 2, though, as a direct sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, also raises the heart-beat more than a bit.

Most Disgusted By: Ubisoft. If this weren't a family site, this paragraph would be a lot longer, but suffice to say the following: nobody, nobody at E3 cares about Avatar, and how Ubi is developing their visuals or whatever. No one cares. It might be a great film and that's fantastic for you, but tell me about some freaking upcoming titles. And not just a rendered cinematic, or some kid's soccer game either. Where was Ghost Recon 4, which has an upcoming release date? Ubi is, like everyone else, caught up in this "casual gaming" craze, and needs some sore reminders as to who their real fans are.

Randy Kalista

Most surprised by:  Final Fantasy XIV online.  I lost my MMO virginity to Final Fantasy XI, but it was barely more than a one night stand.  She was pretty hardcore.  And by hardcore I mean repetitious.  Not the most desireable page in the Kama Sutra.  But now, having the opportunity to bed her younger, even better-looking sister is an opportunity I won't likely pass up.  Even though she probably learned what she knows from her older sibling.

Most excited by:  The Last Guardian.  No, I didn't play Ico.  And no, I didn't play Shadow of the Colossus.  (There went my gaming cred.)  But Team Ico's reputation precedes them.  Even though I only own a PC and an Xbox 360 I know that.  I've only seen one video of The Last Guardian -- one tender-hearted, eyes-welling-up-with-tears, striking-at-the-core-of-what-it-means-to-be-a-boy-and-simultaneously-inciting-childhood-nostalgia-for-Falcor-the-Luck-Dragon video.  This is the first reason since LittleBigPlanet that's seriously made me consider a PS3 purchase.

Most disappointed by:  The negative reaction to the Wii's Vitality Sensor.  Not that my own heart is skipping a beat from it, but c'mon.  It's an idea.  What about a game that incorporates lie detectors?  Or what if you were a demigod that could barely contain its own power, and the seismic destruction around you would increase with the increase of your heart rate?  Or if something like Left 4 Dead's "Director" was truly tied into your level of excitement?  Or if a poker game required you to keep your cool in the midst of a bluff?  Or heck, developers could even take that thing into the R&D playtesting rooms to monitor the pacing of their games, so that they could mix up the gameplay a bit more, see where slow points drag on too long, or measure when combat fatigue sets in because the action has been too high-paced for too long.  Just some ideas.

Matt Mirkovich

Most Surprised By: Final Fantasy XIV - I didn't see this one coming at all. I figured Square was enjoying the current money train that Final Fantasy XI is. Granted it's no World of Warcraft. Damn, now I really do need to build a new PC. I played FFXI for about 3 years and then decided to call it quits when no one wanted to play with me when I ran a Red/War combination that was perfect for me to solo with.

Most Excited By: Muramasa: The Demon Blade - This game looks so hot for a Wii title, and I loved Odin Sphere. Vanillaware deserves all my money for days and days, so long as they keep making games as pretty as this one. I hope the gameplay has the chops to match up to it's graphical prowess. It's a shame this game didn't get more hype by the company that is licensing it, which leads me to my next point...

Most Disappointed By: Nintendo - Cammie and her Games of Passion nonsense being a big thing for the DS. Seriously? Nintendo, I just throw up my hands in the air. YOU AND ME, WE'RE DONE, PROFESSIONALLY. I like you as a person but professionally you suck. I just, I don't get it, and their decision to make the "core" vs "casual" distinction a major part of their business structure is disheartening to say the least. If you enjoy having a fickle audience that gets mad when they buy crap games and then wind up skipping out the two to three titles you release a year that you think are "core," then enjoy your money hats. I don't think I'll ever get to play Fatal Frame 4 now, short of modding my console. If you want to push me that far Nintendo, then keep doing what you're doing, because it's working. Hope you enjoyed my money while it lasted.

Currently Playing: Knights in the Nightmare (DS), Cross Edge (PS3), Puzzle Quest Galactrix (PS3)

John Yan

Most Surprised By:  I was most surprised by the quick turn around of Left 4 Dead 2. Valve's always one to take their time on sequels and it just seemed like such a different MO for them to go from trying to put out DLC for Left 4 Dead than to pull of a complete sequel. Playing the game I had a lot of fun so that's not an issue but let's hope they stick to their intent of providing content for both games. What I'd love to see is a merging of the two down the road and get 8 player co-op.

Most Excited By:  I was most excited by the amount of co-op games that are going to be coming out soon. Borderlands seems to have taken that concept to another level with persistent characters. Left 4 Dead 2 of course comes to mind. Crackdown 2, assuming it follows the old route, will let you fight some infected people with a friend. We have the various band games coming out. Brink's gameplay with other seem to be robust as well. So, as a fan of co-op games it's going to be a good 6-20 months coming up.

Most Disappointed By:  I was most disappointed by the lack of Blizzard presence at the show. I really wanted to get up close with StarCraft II and Diablo III so not seeing them at one of the big events of the year is a little disappointing.