July 2008 Archives
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was once the biggest event in the world of interactive entertainment. Certainly, to find a show that rivaled E3 in size and importance, you had to go to Japan or Germany. So, for computer and video gaming in North America, E3 was it. Hundreds of journalists, industry analysts and retail buyers vied with thousands of junior retail staff and every fanboy who managed to cajole his way in, to identify the upcoming hits, sleepers, flops and stories of the day. Companies hated it, because to produce a spectacle on that scale, you have to spend staggering sums of money. Developers hated the annual crunch as they tried to get demos done in time for the event. Journalists and businessmen hated navigating the hordes of screaming, sweaty fans trying to make press meetings behind closed doors, even if those closed doors were simply flimsy screens in the middle of the show floor.
So the E3 of old was cancelled, and the E3 Media and Business Summit was born.
Sony made its E3 presentation this year in the Shriner Auditorium in Los Angeles, a venue that has played host in the past to Microsoft and its Xbox 360-related announcements. On a stage literally dripping in flat-screen LCD televisions, Sony vaunted everything the PlayStation 3 does well – lots of style and spectacle. Led by Jack Tretton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America, Sony presented (in Tretton's words) "A PlayStation brand that's really hitting its stride."
Tretton led the audience through a slew of new features on the PlayStation 3 that promise to make it an incredibly compelling platform, including movies, more downloadable games, and community features such as weather and news. It sounded, and it will be, great... but it would have been better if it had arrived when the PlayStation 3 launched, and not nearly two years later.
Nintendo took the stage this year for its E3 press conference with a quiet and calm confidence. But this was not the vibe of a company that feels it has led the gaming industry into a new segment of gaming that brought millions of new gamers into the fold. This was the quiet confidence of a company with mysterious plans for the future. Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's Global President, said that "a true paradigm shift has taken place in the global gaming market." Everyone agrees that Nintendo has opened up a new market and helped popularize casual gaming on consoles. Yet, Nintendo's focus during its press conference was how it plans to change gaming in the future.
Iwata declared that Nintendo strives to continually surprise gamers by "pioneering new paradigms." Iwata and Nintendo's leadership did their best to create the impression that they have plenty of new surprises in store for Wii and DS gamers, but at today's event they unveiled just a few touches, including new games, a microphone for the Wii, Wii Music, the Wii MotionPlus, and new applications for the DS.
He is, of course, entirely correct.
They say that the Xbox 360 is trailing in the console wars. "They" say. Is that the same "they" that say your shoes are out of style and that Fred or Connie will go home with anyone after a drink or two? Well... yes. It's the enthusiast gaming press saying such things. Microsoft denies it, with the kind of hubris that has characterized past Sony press conferences, where the Japanese giant reveled in its confidence that no one could overtake its recent supremacy in the console space. Microsoft proclaimed its lead, relying on sales figures, upcoming games, and a bevy of features ranging from an interface and avatars designed to emulate the best of the Wii, to family-friendly franchises ripped from previous PlayStations, and Netflix support.
Microsoft may feel that it's in the lead, but it's not afraid to steal the best and brightest ideas from its competition. Read on to see what Microsoft thinks will cinch a lead for its console. Don Mattrick, Senior Vice President of the Interactive Entertainment Business for Microsoft, was confident enough to proclaim, the "Xbox 360 will sell more consoles worldwide than the PlayStation 3."
If you spend much time at all playing first-person shooters, real-time strategy games or other games on the PC where response time and mousing precision are critical, then you know how much better off you are with a high-quality mouse than with that thing that came with your PC, or that your brother found in an old drawer. That makes high-end computer mice important for gamers, and WolfKing has thrown its hat into the ring with the MVP Trooper Mouse.
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium 4 1.6 GHz, 512 MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9600 or nVidia FX 5700 Ultra video card or equivalent, 1 GB HD space, internet connection, 16-bit sound card, Windows XP or more recent operating system
Someone has to hack. Or slash. Or retrieve 25 warg pelts for some idiot in town who is too lazy to get them himself, despite owning hundreds of powerful magical weapons. That's why the world needs dungeon runners – those foolhardy folk willing to risk their lives to kill tens of thousands of vicious dungeon dwellers, all for the privilege of finding the fancier weapons and armor that will allow them to kill ever more powerful creatures. And the world still needs Dungeon Runners. NCsoft has dispatched the Dungeon Runners retail pack to prove it.
The living room was once the domain of console gamers. Designed for the couch and family television, playing on a game console meant lounging back on the couch and playing a game displayed on the television. PC gaming, by contrast, has always been the overpowered, braniac cousin, confined to an office or back-room, and not introduced to polite company. That's changing. With HD televisions increasingly common, and gaming PCs capable of driving games at the resolutions those HD televisions can support, PC gamers are asserting their own claim to the living room. Lap Works has created the Futura Gamers Desk for those pioneers who want to play first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, and other PC games on the TV in the living room, lounging on the couch.
Developer: Next Level Games
Platforms: PC and Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360
Compete against other railroad barons to connect cities with profitable routes, building the most impressive rail network on the continent in this Xbox Live Arcade version of the classic train-themed board game.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii
Reviewed on Xbox 360
Few expected the original Guitar Hero to explode into an industry, but with Guitar Hero 3 selling over eight million copies, we should expect a few Guitar Hero titles every year now. The latest entry, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, is a tribute to one of rock's most iconic and enduring bands. With a career spanning four decades, many of Aerosmith's titles are instantly recognizable, even to non-fans. In addition to the 29 Aerosmith songs, there are a dozen non-Aerosmith songs included, ranging from The Clash to Stone Temple Pilots. Beyond that, though, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith's essentially gets you half the content of Guitar Hero 3 for the full price, and doesn't include downloadable songs, making this game fan-centric at best.