Wow, I just had this killer case of deja vu on Friday night as E3 2006 came to a close. It feels like I used to read about Nintendo being the dominant force at E3 sometime in the past. It's a good feeling.
E3 is an insane experience. My first and only visit to the Expo was the year the PS2 declared itself the ruler of the gaming world. The show is really every man's dream: video games as far as the eye can see, movie stars, musicians, and scantily clad professional models, who are ALL interested in talking to you.
I am just going to give a few thoughts on the Big 3's showing at the expo this year. There is just so much information coming out of the convention center though that it literally takes days to catch up with everything that has come out, so I am going to hit on the things that really impacted me as a gamer.
NINTENDO: I think everything has already been said about the Wii's amazing showing at the show. I think everyone came into LA this week expecting Sony to be on everyone's mind (and to a certain extent they were, but not in a positive fashion), and for Nintendo to display some nice gimmicks but be overly secretive like they always are. Thankfully, Nintendo put together an amazing showing for the Wii. The standouts for me were the Wii sports suite (the sensitivity in the controls for Wii tennis was actually quite impressive), Red Steel (although when viewing actual gameplay from the floor it was a bit less impressive), and of course Super Smash Brothers Brawl (even though that game is going to use the gamecube controller). I think the lines at the Nintendo booth were self explanatory. People wanted to play this system. And you know what, so will consumers come this fall. Nintendo has taken an alternative approach to video gaming, yet I think they are going to end up being very strong members of the mainstream market AGAIN when everything is all said and done.
Microsoft: I think the one thought I am left with after E3 is that I NEED TO PLAY GEARS OF WAR. The game just jumped up from "hey, looks like a cool tech demo" to "I will buy a 360 just to play this game". I can't say enough about how fantastic the gameplay looked and needless to say how goregous its graphics were. The multiplayer also sounded like something that would really appeal to the gamer who isn't looking for an ultra-sim shooter like ghost recon but something a bit more intelligent than some Halo 2 matches end up being on XBL. Also, Splinter Cell 4 (while not an xbox only title) looked fantastic. I appreciate that they are finally amping up the violence and adding blood into the game. All in all, the 360 didn't blow me away with anything earth shattering, but it really sold me on its 2nd generation stable of titles. I will purchase a 360 come this fall...and a Wii when Smash brothers comes out.
Sony: I am basically with Justin here. They were the talk of the town, but for the wrong reason. I am sure there will be a hefty amount of people out there who will spend 600 dollars on this behemoth, but I feel like Sony is fighting an uphill battle here. I think their arrogance is finally getting to them. Why even sell that nerfed 500 dollar version? It lacks the scalability that the 360 put into its core system. If you spent money later, you could turn your core system into everything the premium system was. This is not so on the PS3 lite. Sony announced nothing about its online plans. They barely announced anything for launch. They showed a lot of tech demos behind closed doors, and a lot of third party multiplatform titles. Umm, dont you guys want to sell this thing THIS NOVEMBER? While I don't forsee an Atari like implosion of the Playstation this holiday season, I do see it taking a big hit from the 360 and the Wii. I mean its plausible that the 360 will have a larger installed base by the time this generation is over, which is something NO ONE would have thought possible one year ago.
Anyway, there hasn't been an E3 this exciting in quite a while. It's a good time to be a gamer folks. Start saving your money, you are going to need it come this November.
EDIT: I forgot to mention one giant game that may change gaming forever...SPORE. I was never really into the Sims, but I was a big Sim City guy way back in the day. The lack of ceiling to this game is what has me most excited. I mean the possibilities are literally endless. This is one game that is definitely one to watch.