AU Diary: My Day One At E3

The real first day of the show isn’t quite over, but here are my impressions of the Nintendo and Sony press conferences. It’ll be brief too, ‘cos I’m due to visit Valve for some Left 4 Dead 2 any moment now.

“Everyone’s Game.” Or so Nintendo reckons. And I guess it’s kinda hard to argue with that. This was an event with something for everyone, of every age, gender and gaming experience.

The problem Nintendo faces is that they’re now reaching so broadly, it’s impossible for them to please everyone in the space of a two-hour press conference. Particularly the hardcore. For every Super Mario Galaxy 2 or Metroid: Other M, there was a Women’s Murder Club or Wii Vitality Sensor to take the shine off proceedings.

Cut away those casual ventures, however, and New Super Mario Bros Wii, the cool user-generated content potential of the new Warioware and Mario Vs Donkey Kong titles for DSiWare, and the shooter triumvirate of The Conduit, Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles and Dead Space: Extraction all possess much to recommend to the hardcore gamer. Not to mention the sight of Sin & Punishment 2 on the show floor.

If everyone’s game, then the implication is that not everything is going to appeal to you, personally. It was the same with the PS2; for every Ico there was a Buzz, for example. Nintendo may not have surprised anyone today – with the exception of the Team Ninja adoption of Samus – but I don’t think they really disappointed anyone either.

Sony had one surprise… although it was more than a little cheeky. The Final Fantasy XIV announcement sent shockwaves around the Shrine Auditorium, until it slowly dawned that it was the MMO cousin, still confusingly continuing the sequential numbering of the title.

Other than that, Sony were rock solid. Uncharted 2, God of War 3, the new Ratchet & Clank and Gran Turismo 5 look great. MAG still has a lot to prove and the announced late 2009 release date means they’re going to have to get those credentials quickly in place. The Last Guardian trailer would have sent shivers down my spine… if it hadn’t been leaked a couple of weeks back. Sony’s first-party lineup is better than Microsoft, reflecting their greater internal development resources, although they don’t have the same strength in third-party exclusives.

PSPGo is an odd one. I like the idea of a download-only system; it feels like a natural evolution for the format. But I still felt there were too many games that looked like cut-down versions of console games. The key news on PSP was the drastic cut in the cost of the handheld’s development kit, a clear sign that Sony wants to encourage far greater diversity amongst the available software. If the PSPGo Store becomes full of the same kind of quirky and cool “indie” titles currently populating the PSN, then sign me up. Otherwise… I dunno, I’m unconvinced.

I’ll be writing up some more considered thoughts on the Big 3’s performance on Monday, after spending some more time with their games and taking the opportunity to digest it all. My gut reaction is that no one messed it up, but Microsoft just got me a little bit more excited.

That’s all for now. Left 4 Dead 2 awaits…


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