ZKG’s Big 3 E3 Round-Up: Nobody Is Willing To Concede This Time and Our Problem With MS’s Project Natal
If you don’t believe the title, all you have to do is watch the replays of the three big press conferences. They came. We saw. They….demonstrated? That’s right folks, while E3 still technically has 2 more days left the big guns have already been out. Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony all came out and showed us the best that they have to offer. This was by far the best E3 in a long time and it really demonstrates the resiliency of the gaming industry but also a noticeable increase in competition and attempts to out innovate the others. So let’s break it down, company by company.
Microsoft was up first and they really went for the knockout blow early. They stunned the gaming world when Kojima came out on stage and announced that Metal Gear: Rising was coming to the Xbox 360. At the time it appeared that MGS:Rising staring Raiden would be only for the Xbox 360 but now it appears that PS3 owners have nothing to worry as it seems that it will be coming to the PS3 also. They then came out with some gameplay footage of the upcoming, Mass Effect 2, a sequel to one of the biggest selling Xbox 360 titles to date. Microsoft showed us Alan Wake, another very interesting new exclusive coming to the Xbox 360. We saw Halo 3: ODST and some shots of a title called Halo: Reach. There was of course a very nice Left 4 Dead 2 trailer to wet Xbox 360 owners appetite even more for that upcoming sequel. Microsoft also showed off footage of upcoming sequels to Crack Down and Gears of War but we all expected to see those. The biggest thing that MS pulled out was undoubtedly “Project Natal”. “Project Natal” (pronounced na-tall) is the code name for the new controller-free gaming and entertainment experience from Xbox 360. Project Natal could definitely shake up gaming as we know it and was definitely a shot directly over Sony’s bow. They have released a fact sheet about it that you can easily Google for, so I won’t post it here. Finally, the thing that really burned me up was the fact that apparently Sam Fisher is coming exclusively to the Xbox 360 in Splinter Cell: Conviction, that one really surprised me and I gotta say that it’s really one that I wanted for PS3.
Closing Thoughts on Microsoft
The boys up in Seattle are making it known that they will not go quietly into that good night, they appear to be in no way conceding this console generation to Sony or Nintendo. If they can ever bring it to fruition, Project Natal could be a devastating blow to their competitors but as a technologist I have major questions as to how technically possible it is in the next few years, it will require a very complex and robust solution that even if it can be achieved would not prove cost effective to produce and I don’t think MS wants to put out something else that is going to lose them money. Bottom line is that MS has pretty much done what they wanted and that was to get several targeted franchises over to their console and they have done that but I just don’t think the technology required to bring Natal to fruition will be cost effective to produce for at least 3-5 years, I mean let’s be honest the technology to produce to the Xbox 360 and PS3 haven’t proved to be cost effective yet. All in all, good show.
(Random Thought: Am I the only one that notices that Natal looks like it would rhyme with Fatal and I am sure that’s what MS thinks it could be to the competition.)
So I know that lots of folks are going to be mad at us about this but come on Nintendo. I mean the Wii is still the biggest selling next gen console, I give them that. They also are planning to bring Mario back in a big way in a number of ways, gotta love the classics. But in our opinion, you can’t talk about them in the same category as Sony and MS. I mean Red Steel 2 looked pretty good but I have always thought that they were and will be lacking as far as their ability to deliver titles that are compelling to hardcore gamers although I will concede that is not their target market. They delivered the kind of things I expected them to and look to be doing that well.
Closing Thoughts on Nintendo
Nintendo stayed on course as far as their strategy to target the casual gamer and folks that normally wouldn’t pick up a console in the first place. They are doing some nice things with Wii Motion Plus, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit Plus, and the Wii Vitality Sensor just to name a few. All those are great advances but to me none game changing.