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Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have already given their press conferences at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) this year, and, as any self-respecting gamer should do, I’m going to reflect on all three of them.

Microsoft 

Microsoft was the first to take the stage, early Monday morning. Well, early in California; I had time to hit the snooze button seven times, roll out of bed, make some coffee, browse the internet and leisurely mosey over to the IGN streaming site before noon hit, Eastern time.

Microsoft started out with an epic, ten minute demo of Modern Warfare 3 running on the Xbox 360 console (not without “proving” that it was in game due to a controller connection interruption). It showed some pretty cool cinematic, though it did seem that the game was reusing quite a few assets used in Modern Warfare 2. Regardless, the game is sure to be the same, action packed romp that it always is.

Then came the new Tomb Raider reboot, which had the new, less-but-also-somehow-more sexually attractive Laura Croft getting stabbed, beaten, bruised, punched, and battered all to hell as she made her way out of what looked like a sacrificial cave. It looked quite exciting, and this will be the first Tomb Raider game that I’m actually looking forward to, let alone feel excited for.

Cliff Bleszinski, later, came on stage, and, together with the help of Ice-T, beat a enthralling single player mission on Gears of War 3, taking place on a ship that was actively being eaten by a giant squid-octopus hybrid thing. Looks to be pretty fun and over the top, as is expected out of Gears of War games.

Then Microsoft started shoving Kinect shit games down our throats. 85% of the entire press conference was glitchy, buggy, boring and unintuitive Kinect games that didn’t interest me in the slightest. Come on, Microsoft, Kinect doesn’t work; quit trying to sell it like it does.

Of course, they also announced the Halo 1 remake, which is a completely remade and high-definition of the original game, single player and all. It will have online co-op and online multiplayer with the original maps and some new, updated ones. I didn’t get super excited about that, but hey, Halo is fun, and fun is good.

At the very end of the conference, Microsoft showed us a Halo 4 trailer that left of right where Halo 3 did; with Master Chief floating away in a space ship. It looks like it could be cool, but I worry about the series without Bungie behind the helm.

Overall, Microsoft showed off some cool, multiplatform games that were interesting, but the majority of the gamers were flat, cardboard Kinect games, and that just doesn’t interest me.

Grade: C-

Sony

Sony started off with something they really needed to do: an apology. And while that was a nice enough gesture, they didn’t really phrase it in a way that made much sense. Instead of “Hey, look, we’re sorry about everything”, the phrasing made it seem like “We’re sorry you couldn’t enjoy everything that we know you love and is awesome on the PSN”, which is sorta the same, but it comes off like an advertisement more than an apology.

Then we got to the real stuff. Uncharted 3, duh, looks awesome. And by awesome, I mean FUUUUUUUU insane. This is a series that gets worlds better every iteration, and considering the first one was a very good game, that speaks wonders about the quality of the stuff Naughty Dog puts out.

Resistance 3… is another Resistance, which is to say, “yawn”.

Then Sony went into something that I hold very dear to my heart; HD remakes of older games. I’m oh-so pumped for the Shadow of the Colossus and ICO remakes, but ovbiously I’m going to buy the Metal Gear Solid remakes as well.

The press conference was littered with games that supported the Move controller. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the Move shows so much more promise than Kinect, but so far, I still haven’t seen anything that makes it a must own peripheral (which is why I don’t have one), and E3 didn’t do much to rectify that. Try again, Sony.

The new Sly Cooper game looks very nice. Having never played his games before, I’m tempted to go back and explore the older games to get ready for the new one.

But easily the biggest surprise of all of E3 (surprise, and nothing more) was the Playstation Vita. Weird, new age-y name aside, Sony showed quite a bit of games running on the console, all of which looked like console ports. I guess that’s not a bad thing, but at some point, you have to ask yourself “Wouldn’t I rather be playing this on my actual PS3 and my HDTV?” I think that is the main problem that the Vita is going to come across, but I digress, that is not the exciting news I was referring to. No, the biggest surprise out of E3 2011 was that the PS Vita would retail in America for 250$. 250$!!! People had been guestimating at over 300$ and into the 400$ range, and for Sony to pull a “Yeah, we’re the same price as Nintendo” just blew me away. I’m still having problems believing it. Nintendo has got some work cut out for them.

Overall, Sony was interesting, if not terribly exciting. The PS Vita was easily the best part of the show, but still, it just wasn’t all that fun.

Grade: B-

Nintendo

Nintendo started off their press conference with a real orchestra playing Zelda music at Miyamoto’s request. I mean really, how can anything top that? They can’t… they just can’t.

After some quick footage of Skyward sword and some announcements about more Zelda games coming to the Wii, 3DS and DSi, Nintendo moved right onto their newest console, the Wii U. And this is where things started moving downhill.

They announced the name. Then they showed us a controller with a screen. Then, as the audience scratched their heads, they started showing games using this new controller. There was no announcement of a new console, no pictures of any sort of new hardware. It was just this controller. No one could figure out what exactly it was. Was it an extension of the Wii? Was it a portal gaming console that connected with the Wii? It wasn’t until minutes passed that it finally clicked for a lot of people: There was a new console, but Nintendo wanted to focus on the controller as the new expereince. Well, cool, Nintendo, except you confused everyone watching and I’m sure there are still some people confused as to what the crap was going on.

So yeah. Wii 2. HD graphics. About as powerful as the current generation (2006 technology. Woo) with another gimmicky controller that no one will take full advantage of. Sure sounds like Nintendo!

Then they moved onto 3DS stuff, and as a game deprived 3DS owner, was a good change of pace. The showed us some gameplay of the new Mario game, the new Mario Kart, the remake of Star Fox 64 and some Ocarina of Time 3D footage. The coolest surprise was the return of Luigi’s Mansion, and boy did it look nice! That’s easily become my most anticipated 3DS game (aside from Ocarina, which comes out soon!).

And… that’s about it for Nintendo. Their 3DS showing was all nice and dandy, but I just had a problem with the way they presented the Wii U (WEEEEUUUUU). But still, they put on a much better show than Sony and Microsoft.

Grade: B

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Half-Life fanboy. I played the original Half-Life and it fast because my favorite game of all time. When Half-Life 2 came out, it blew me away in the story, the graphics and especially the character models. I still, to this day, have not played a game more or as often as Half-Life 2 and it stands as my favorite game of all time.

Then Valve started to release the Episodes in the coming years, and I enjoyed them just as much as the original Half-Life 2 game. But then it seemed that Valve got a little distracted; they created the fun, but certainly NOT Episode 3, Left4Dead. And the following year, out came Left4Dead 2.

Meanwhile, Valve worked and worked on their Steam platform, making it one of the largest online distributer of games on the planet.

So let’s get this strait: Valve created one of the most immersible games of all time with Half-Life 2. They ended it on a cliff hanger. The next game Valve made was the follow up to the cliff hanger ending, Episode 1. A bit more than a year later, Episode 2 landed, ending in a larger cliff hanger than the original game. And now what is Valve doing?

Everything but creating Episode 3.

Yes, Valve is doing good things with Left4Dead. No-one can argue about the quality of Valves games; they’ve never made one bad game in their entire existence. But while they were making Left4Dead and making Steam such a popular problem, they forgot one thing: Half-Life.

Now, of course, we have no idea what’s going on inside Valve’s front doors. Gabe Newel could very well be working his arse off to get Episode 3 out the door, trying to create the perfect game. But to us on the outside, with no information save for one simple concept art, which may or may not be Episode 3, we are starting to feel betrayed. To me, it seems he’s focusing all his time on their new franchise and putting Episode 3 on the back burner, which is not somewhere Episode 3 needs to be.

Maybe Valve has a master plan. Maybe they wanted this sort of argument argued. Maybe they wanted us to squirm a little in waiting for Episode 3. Maybe they are planning on showing Episode 3 at E3.

But Valve, please, we just need something, anything, about the bloody game with only one concept art.

E3 couldn’t come faster.

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) is coming very soon; June 15th, 16th and 17th to be exact. The 15th is actually my birthday, but I’m probably going to be having a party on the 14th. For those three days (or two, depending on my schedual) me and none other than TheAllGamer will be putting on not one, but TWO live web-casts of us watching all the fun stuff at E3 on the G4 channel… LIVE! I’ll have one on my blog, he’ll have another, and probably the one we’ll publisize more, on his blog and we will spend all two or three days recording our reactions to the biggest gaming news of the year!

It should be an entire 48 hours of huge geeks, spazing out and drinking way too much soda (and possibly beer. You never know with TheAllGamer).

More information coming within a couple of weeks! Pass the word around; surley we could sneak some actual footage of the show in our web-pod-cast-y things too.

Plans may change between now and June, but the above is the tentative plan!

UPDATE: Clark Bunch, over at My Other Blog, being the funny man he is, has decided to have a webcast of him watching us webcast the E3 event. Sounds incredibly boring, right? That’s just the kind of fun he likes! Sitting and watching someone watch something!

He think’s he’s clever. Ha. I’ve got something else up my sleeve.

People hate waiting for the newest stuff. We like to have the newest iPod, laptop, video game and car as soon as physically possible  So, because the American electronic consumers want more information about the newest gadgets all the time, most company’s try to do the opposite; keep as much information secret as possible to build up hype and, hopefully, sales.

2010 hasn’t been a kind year for video games and electronics though. We’ve had at least three rather large announcements announced months, even years ahead of time, along with some smaller leaks, and it’s only April. Let’s get a quick run down.

Gears of War 3:

Cliffy B, the lead designer for Gears of War, was scheduled to be on the Jimmy Fallon show on a Thursday. On Wednesday of the same week, he had to reschedule for Tuesday, the next week. Well, someone forgot to mention that little fact to the good people in the advertisement department for Xbox Live, because this little blurb appeared announcing on the game on Thursday. Cliffy B, on Tuesday, called Gears 3 “The Worst Kept Secret”. No kidding. I’m sure Epic was real happy about the slip up, and you know someone over on Xbox Live got fired.

Nintendo 3DS:

Though we had heard rumors of a new Nintendo DS that was being planned by Nintendo, the world was expecting news at E3; no earlier. One late night, on a random day in March (March 23rd, to be exact), Nintendo announced some small facts about a brand new Nintendo DS: the 3DS. It was to be a type of 3D that wouldn’t use glasses and was going to be nearly “the strength of a Gamecube”, but that was all the information Nintendo released. No pictures, no concept art, nothing. But it was actually Nintendo who announced what little information we got about the 3DS, so why the weird time?

Turns out that some journalists had aquired some facts about the new Nintendo handheld, some true, some false and Nintendo wanted to beat them to the punch by officially announcing it.

Apple iPhone 4th Generation:

Probably the biggest leak this year was from the big Apple themselves. Apple has a track record to be very very secretive about their newest devices or software. We’ve never had a leak of the newest version of the iPod or iPhone unless Apple specifically wanted it to be leaked.

Until a brand new version of the iPhone, cleverly disguised inside a casing that made it look like a 3GS, but running the new OS, version 4, showed up in a random bar.

An Apple employee was out for his birthday, probably had a little too much to drink and walked off… leaving a prototype of the newest Apple iPhone that hadn’t even been seen by people inside Apple yet, on a stool.

Oops.

As soon as Apple realized that it was lost, they bricked the console so it wouldn’t even turn on. Gizmodo.com bought the device for $5000, and had the first world release of the newest iPhone. Hours later, Apple wrote Gizmodo and asked for the iPhone back (which confirmed that it wasn’t a fake). Gizmodo gave it back without a fight.

Xbox 360 Slim?:

On March 17th, this picture of what was thought to be a Xbox 360’s motherboard appeared all over the internet. It has a Xbox branding and some of the same parts as the 360 does. But to anyone who has seen the current Xbox motherboard, you’ll notice a slight difference in this new find: it’s way smaller. It looks like the CPU and GPU have been combined and some of the ports have been shuffled around to make the motherboard shorter than the current version. We heard exactly nothing from Microsoft about this rumor, but it’s obvious they are trying everything to get 100% rid of the Red Rings of Death problem that has been plaguing their consoles for years. Seems like a redesign of the terrible X-Clamps would be a good start to rid the world of the problem forever.

All these slip ups so far, you have to wonder what else is going to hit the press months or even years early this year.  

UPDATE: WE GOT 3DS!!! Check Kotaku today for more information!!

We’ve been seeing a lot more of Nintendo’s little handheld, the Nintendo DS, within the past year. The Nintendo DSi came out almost a year ago, in April. Then, it’s larger, younger brother, the DSi XL, came out just a few short weeks ago. One would think that Nintendo was finished releasing new DS’s for a while.

“Whon” was wrong.

In previous months, we’ve heard from Nintendo a few small details about what a new DS would look like, but nothing about them actually working on one. They said that they are going to include new Nvidia graphics card made specifically for portable devices, codenamed “Tegra”. Nintendo has also mentioned making it with an accelerometer.

A mock up of the DS 2 by Gizmondo. I imagine it to have bigger, closer screens and analog nubs.

In recent GDC (Gamers Developing Conference) events, Kotaku, among other news medias, have strained a few new facts, though most should be considered purely rumors at this point.

From Kotaku:

* The system has two screens, just like the DS, but they are bigger and higher resolution. I’m sure most of you could have guessed that, but the interesting part is that the gap between the two screens is negligible. Developers will be able to use them as one giant screen.

* The next Nintendo handheld has an accelerometer.

* The dev kit is similar in power to the GameCube. Developers that worked on GameCube or Wii games will find it easy to create with. The DS successor is rumored to use an Nvidia Tegra chip, while the GameCube and Wii have PowerPC CPUs and ATI GPUs. The people familiar with the dev kit made it sound like there wasn’t much of a learning curve on the new system.

* The developers I spoke with will be finished with their games before the end of the year. The Nintendo DS is still going strong and the company could delay the next handheld’s release if it wanted to, but it looks like an E3 2010 announcement and a late 2010 release.

Is it just me, or does that just blow your mind? A Gamecube (and Wii, because we all know that the Wii is just a Gamecube with a Wiimote) powered handheld? It’s exciting! I know that the PSP has had the power of the PS2 for years now, but Nintendo, who’s, more recently, been very behind in terms of graphical capabilities in their game consoles, creating a handheld this powerful? Color me excited!

Here is a list of what I’m expecting out of the new DS:

* A sleek look. The DS, all of them, look nice, I guess. But I want something sleek, shiny (though that sounds a little immature). Think iTouch; thin, small, with a beautiful looking screen.

* No touch screen. The DS’s touch screen was a great idea, don’t get me wrong. There were lots of games that took perfect advantage of the touch screen, but in this new generation of DS’s, I want developers to focus on making good games, not worrying about the controls for the touch screen.

*Analog nubs. And not one lonely one, I want two. The lack of another analog nub was the PSP’s biggest problem, and by having two in their newest system, Nintendo could get a huge jump ahead of the PSP.

I am rather excited about the prospect of the new DS2, or whatever it’s going to be called. The features listed above, all realistic, sound like something that is easily doable by Nintendo. Let’s all hope for some information come this E3.

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