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So… Who Wins?

With all of this E3 news buzzing around it’s hard to talk about anything else. Obviously a lot of companies put a lot of work into getting demos and trailers ready for this huge convention. Motion controls were the big topic, and they’re definitely improving. But with the gaming community being so competitive, I’m sure the one thing gamers everywhere are wondering is who won?

Microsoft went first this year and, no surprise, gave more info on Project Natal. With a crappy new name and full-fledged stage demos, Xbox seemed off to a great start. But to be honest, the new Kinect looks more gimmicky than the Wii did to most people in its early days. Okay, so the camera is pretty advanced and follows my skeleton (btw that sounds like it could have adverse radiation effects, but I’m sure we’ll be fine, I mean Xbox products have always been so reliable, right?). The voice function seems pretty cool, but it seemed pretty cool on my phone too, and those programs have never, ever called the right person. Plus I thought these motion control options are supposed to be advocating a more active experience, but now when I’m watching a movie and need to pause my thumb doesn’t even have to move.

Granted, you aren’t very active when watching a movie anyway, so I’ll let that slide. Getting past Kinect, Xbox did have some impressive titles lined up, Gears 3 easily being the one that stood out the most. And let’s not forget that sexy new Xbox Slim. Finally joining the age of the wireless, and with a huge hard drive, it’s a step in the right direction for Microsoft. However I can’t help but feel that their press conference spent way too much time on Kinect, and I wasn’t that impressed by it. In my opinion, I think Microsoft underestimated what their opponents were bringing to the table, and they lost points because of it.

Nintendo was next, starting off with the one thing everyone wanted to see from them, the new Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. With lighter graphics than Twilight Princess, but the same adult Link design, and boasting swordplay via Wii Motion Plus, Skyward Sword looks to be a great addition to the franchise. What followed this demo was a non-stop barrage of new titles that would make any Nintendo fan salivate. Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Kid Icarus: Uprising, new Metroid: Other M footage, new Golden Sun: Dark Dawn footage, Epic Mickey exclusivity, it seemed like Nintendo had just gone around to every forum on the internet, jotted down what everyone wanted, held a board meeting and said, “Okay, let’s do it.”

In addition to the huge lineup of games, the 3DS was finally given some details. I denied wanting a 3DS for a long time. I figured it was some gimmick to get us to keep upgrading from one DS to the next. But when I saw that little handheld and what it was capable of I was sold, wholesale onto the bandwagon. Unfortunately I was not at E3 so I do not know exactly how the 3D works, but I’ve heard literally nothing but praise for it. The new widescreen for the top screen has almost three times the amount of pixels that the DS Lite had. And Nintendo promises that the 3DS will have much more power under the hood. If that Kid Icarus trailer was rendered with the 3DS, then I’m inclined to believe them. All in all, Nintendo delivered big this year.

Sony went last, but they certainly weren’t the least impressive. Playstation Move was another piece of hardware that I simply was not impressed with. I just didn’t see it going very far, until I saw the demo of Sorcery. Sorcery is a game that would offer me zero appeal normally. However, after seeing just what the Move could do in that game, I have to say my outlook has changed. Playing as a sorcerer’s apprentice just seems cool when you get to move the controller just like a wand and blast baddies with various spells that can even be combined. At first though, I thought Sony was going to take the same path Microsoft did and focus almost entirely on the move. I was wrong.

So many titles were announced for Playstation that it almost rivals the Nintendo presser. Killzone 3 with 3D and Move compatibility, a new Twisted Metal that should prove to be an insanely (literally) entertaining experience, Little Big Planet 2, which is looking to revolutionize the platform yet again, and those are just the big ones. Sony had a few surprises for the audience as well in the form of a Portal 2 announcement, as well as a small appearance by Kevin Butler, though now I realize he is much, much funnier in commercials. I found it saddening that there was little to no news on the PSP, other than a few games that I already knew about. *looks in the corner at his PSP gathering dust* Someday old friend, some day.

I noticed some similarities between the Sony and Microsoft conferences, namely the fact that they always refer to themselves as “The only console that does *blank*” or “The only place to find *blank*”. I understand that you have to stand out from the competition, but when the Playstation Move does the exact same thing as the Wii Motion Plus, it’s a hard pill to swallow. I especially liked when the Sony rep was asked how the Move compares to Wii Motion Plus in a G4 interview after the press conference, and he appeared to trip over himself in trying to distinguish the two.

So we had Microsoft pulling an Oprah, Sony still denying that they take ideas from other companies and (sometimes) expand upon them, and Nintendo making a sequel to every franchise they’ve established so far. For me, it was a tossup between Sony and Nintendo (and not just because I don’t own an Xbox, that slim is so very tempting). In the end, Nintendo announced too many power house titles, and the 3DS was too impressive looking for me not to give it to them. We’re all entitled to our opinions, and I can’t wait to see what comes out of all of these companies, but for the coming year, my eye is fixed on Nintendo.

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