Another year has come and gone, and with it, another E3. How exciting the show is varies from year to year, but it’s hard to say that 2011 was anything but a success, as we saw two new systems introduced, as well as a whole bevy of thrilling games. Let’s take one last look.
The Big Three
Let’s face it: when it came to the Big Three, Nintendo trounced the competition this year. Microsoft just seemed to be more worried about drawing more attention to the Kinect now that it’s finally a full-fledged peripheral; they didn’t have much to show for it at last year’s E3, so it came off like Microsoft had basically waited for this year’s show as an opportunity to finally say, “Hey, look at what we can use this thing for!”
Yes, they announced Halo 4. But one franchise cannot support Microsoft in its entirety (though, admittedly, it comes pretty close) and it’s not like we didn’t see this coming. And yes, streaming television and Kinect-based dashboards sound like fun little additions to the Xbox 360 experience, but at the end of the day, it’s just nothing new. Kinect has lost its “Oooh” factor, as it has been out and available for purchase for several months now, and to basically use E3 as a platform to finally get around to flaunting its potential just makes Microsoft seem behind the game.
Meanwhile, Sony’s biggest piece of news was actually branding the device formerly known as the NGP, dubbing it the PlayStation Vita. While it is an impressive piece of hardware—and it was a good move to make sure that they had functioning units available to play in order to compete with the Wii U—they kind of jumped the gun. The element of surprise was lost since the NGP was revealed months ago, and has since become old news. We know the specs, we know it’s powerful, and we know that it has some pretty sweet hardware like the touch-sensitive panel on the backside. Finally giving the thing a name (and listing off a few titles for it) is not that big of an announcement.
But Nintendo had something big up its sleeve. Hate it or love it, it’s difficult to deny that the Wii U was bigger news than a handful of new Kinect features or the naming of a handheld device that we’ve known about for months. Admittedly, however, it’s beginning to feel like Nintendo is trying a little too hard to push the envelope. First it was touchscreens, then it was motion gaming, then it was 3D, and now there is seemingly nothing new left to incorporate into gaming, so Nintendo is just starting to mash certain elements together (touchscreens and motion gaming!) to try to stay top dog.
Nevertheless, Nintendo had the element of surprise on their side, and that made their announcement seem all the more huge. Though there was other important information to be found in Nintendo’s press conference (mostly announcements and release windows for new 3DS titles), the big news was the Big N’s next generation HD console. With a unique controller that sports a 6.2-inch touchscreen—and which received far more attention than the console itself—the Wii U was the biggest thing to come out of the press conferences from the Big Three.
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