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E3 Day 1 Coverage: Sony & Nintendo
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Date: May 11, 2006
Section:Misc
Author: Samit Choudhuri
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Welcome to E3

"You'd do better in a volcano with a nitroglycerine towel." That's a quote from our E3 shuttle bus driver sans non-family friendly commentary.

Welcome To E3

Here I am back for my 10th E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) - unfortunately, I missed out on the very first one in 1995. Hopefully, never again. E3 is many things to many people, but at the end of the day, it's about the games that are coming to market in the upcoming year(s). Some folks think E3 is just one monstrous arcade and to some degree it is. After all, attendees can see and usually play the majority of games launching across PC, console and handheld platforms in the coming year (and often beyond).  But it's far more than that - it's about deals being made, marketing spin, press announcements, and getting a pulse on an incredibly fast-paced industry. According to an ESA study, the video game industry hit $8.2 billion in 2004 and expects it to grow to $15 billion in 2010. The study also notes that by 2009 we can expect 106,000 new jobs in the games industry, so there's ample room for you to get your game on should you have dreams of being a part of the industry. You can read up on the study at www.theesa.com.


Pulling Up to the LACC

Welcome to E3

No Kids Allowed!

QMotion's Biking Controller

QMotion's Bat Controller

Waiting in line for Conan...

To Take a pic with the lady with the big sword

Just Taking a Break

Day 1 of E3 is always laced with anticipation and this year was no different. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo spent the prior couple of days presenting the latest and greatest they have to offer to the global market for the coming year. You can find plenty of event coverage on the Internet.

Microsoft announced a slew of second-gen games for Xbox 360 (hellooo, Halo 3), HD-DVD, Xbox Live updates, Vista gaming, and its upcoming Live Anywhere initiative, which was introduced by Bill Gates on his first visit to E3. Sony showed off the PlayStation 3 and gave the world some price points: $499 for a unit without HDMI-out and $599 for the premium version. Nintendo brought out its Wii (the new name for what was previously codenamed Revolution) and talked about why they named it that way - plus game god Shigeru Miyamoto came out to demonstrate the new controller in action.

Into The Show

The show was closed to everyone but the press from 9 to 11am. I utilized that time to take a look at the Sony and Nintendo booths in the West Hall, with a plan to spend my remaining two days in the South Hall where companies, such as Electronic Arts, Nvidia, Activision, Microsoft and many other have their booths.

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Sony Style

Sony

At Sony's booth the PS3 and PSP had the most floor space. There were numerous games available, including Gran Tourismo 4 playable in demo form at 1080p. GT has always been a fan favorite and the graphics in the demo looked photorealistic (see the top-down canyon photo below). Games like Warhawk looked impressive, but were lacking in innovation where gameplay was concerned. God Of War 2 was being shown for the PS2 and looks like it will be making a showing later this year (big surprise, right?). The Blu-ray room was showing movie trailers, including the upcoming James Bond movie ("Casino Royale"), which is due out on Nov. 17, 2006, which happens to coincide with the PS3 North American launch. That way, if you don't get a console (likely due to shortages a la the 360 launch), you can go to the movies instead.


PS3 Booth Logo

PS3 Behind the Glass

PS3 God of War

Gran Turismo @ 1080P

More Gran Turismo

Yet More Glass

PS3 Premium - You can tell by the silver trim

PS3 Premium - Another angle

Sony's Crowded Booth

Wardevil looking fine

SingStar was a new item being shown off

Sing Song looks like an online delivery system

Metal Gear Solid 4 logo from trailer

I noted earlier that I played a few games on the PS3 and came away impressed with the visuals. The new PS3 controller looks similar to what we got familiar with on the PS2, but is much lighter, which is a good thing. The reason its so much lighter is because of the missing force feedback functionality (if you recall, Sony lost it's lawsuit with Immersion). According to Sony, the missing force feedback functionality came about because the motor interfered with the new tilt mechanism in the controller. I think that's just positive spin on the matter. That said, not having the rumble feedback left me feeling a little bit cold. In my opinion, having rumble effects makes games feel more immersive and I think it's a bad idea to drop that feature. All hardware photos were taken behind glass and no final hardware was to be seen on the floor. Prominently featured, however, were stacks of PS3 dev boxes running the games.  The crowds here were plentiful as you can see from the Sony booth photos.

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Nintendo

Nintendo

In case you missed it, Wii is the name of Nintendo's next-gen console. I'll try to stay away from comments, such as "Are you ready to play with your Wii (pronounced 'we,' as in you and I - we)?" The company spent its time heavily promoting both Wii and its upcoming DS Lite handheld, which launches here on June 11th. The booth design was elegant, but we were surprised to not see any Wii units available on the show floor. There was a line attendees had to join to see and touch the hardware. It was a very long line that became longer yet once the show floor opened to non-press attendees at 11am. Some folks spent 3 hours in line just to get their hands on what they hoped would one day be their Wii.


Booth Shot

Booth Shot 2

Wii Logo

Waiting Hours For Wii

These Frames Can Talk!

The Voice Behind Mario

Almost In

Conduct an Orchestra

The Wii Motion Sensor

What a small console

Wii and Remote

Wii Controllers

The Wii itself is diminutive in size. It will easily fit into some small nook by a TV. The box on display was iPod white and looks simple, but classy. Nintendo wants its products to appeal to non-gamers and the Wii does look (visually) user-friendly. The controllers in the pictures look nice. The nun-chuck add on along with the more conventional looking controller both look elegant and classy. I didn't get to play with the more conventional looking controller but took a few games for a spin with the nun-chuck controller, including Madden 2007, Wii Tennis, Wii Fishing, and Super Mario Galaxy.  Yes, it did work, but I expect a lengthy learning curve will be required for first-person shooters. And I imagine prancing around with a controller to play may be offensive to some. Then again, that's what curtains are for. We'll find out how successful Nintendo's controller innovation will be when it launches later this year (by Q4).


Wii Nunchuck!

More Controllers

How To: Madden on Wii

Madden in Action

Wii Tennis Action Shot

Not That There's anything wrong with that

Trying to get out!

Wii Virtual Console, for playing older titles.

I managed to get a closer look at Unreal Tournament 2007 and John Woo's Stranglehold along the way. UT2007 features the new Unreal 3 engine and looked fantastic, but Stranglehold didn't grab me with same enthusiasm as the presenter. Still, it's early and there's plenty of time left to make this an A-list game. More tomorrow. Time to pay ridiculous dollars for small portions of nasty food with long lines to pay...

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E3 2006 Day 3: EA, Blizzard, Microsoft & More

 

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