About 45,000 members of the interactive entertainment industry have made the annual pilgrimage to Los Angeles this week at E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo aka – to catch a glimpse of tomorrow today titles.
And so, for three days of grueling trek through the largest exhibition of video games, the following are some key points.
Nintendo unveiled its next-generation video game console, Wii U, slated for a late 2012 launch.
Gamers will use a 6.2-inch wireless touch screen to control the action – be it swiping or tapping fingers, using the buttons and analog sticks or taking advantage of the builtin gyroscope to tilt the controller around. Think of it as an iPad meets a Nintendo Wii (but with high-definition graphics, too).
If someone in the family wants to watch TV, you can keep playing your Wii U game on the tablet. The console will also play older Nintendo Wii games.
The tablet – which also includes a camera, microphone and speaker – is lightweight and comfortable, and the half-dozen games and other demos were a blast.
Sony also unveiled new hardware at the show. The PlayStation Vita will soon replace the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), bringing console-like graphics to a hand-held system for the first time. Be sure to check out Uncharted: Golden Abyss on YouTube.
You can play games in one of four ways: via the 5-inch OLED touch screen, the back touch panel, various buttons and dual analog sticks, and a built-in gyroscope. The “PS-Vita” also boasts dual cameras, Internet connectivity, customizable apps, and the ability to chat with friends while playing online.
Shoot now, ask questions later
Action games were all the rage at this year’s E3, including a number of firstand third-person shooters. Amassing much of the buzz at the show were sequels with a “3″ in their name: Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3, Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3, EA/BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 (see below), Sony’s Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and Microsoft Game Studios’ Gears of War 3. Whew. One of the most impressive shooters was 2K Games’ BioShock Infinite – which is also the third game in the popular franchise – and the behind-closed-doors demo had game journalists, like yours truly, in a word, breathless.
The wildly strange and imaginative action sequel takes place on a floating air city in an alternate 1912, as you attempt to rescue a mysterious young woman with uncontrollable powers. The stunningly detailed world, memorable characters and intense action sequences – including the ability to hop on a roller-coaster-like rail system to get around – all adds to the immersive experience.
Keep it Canadian
Canadian-made games were well represented – and received – at E3 2011.
EA/BioWare’s Mass Effect 3, for example, is an actionheavy role-playing game that had the crowds buzzing over its epic storyline (featuring hundreds of thousands of lines of dialogue), vast areas to explore and intense tactical combat. Picking up where its award-winning predecessor left off, you’ll once again step into the shoes of Commander Shepard, who must protect the human civilization from an ominous force.
While the game also will be available for PlayStation 3 and Windows when it debuts next March, the Xbox 360 version support the Kinect peripheral, allowing gamers to give verbal commands to their computer-controlled squadmates, as well as converse with characters in the game.
Other impressive Canadian games include EA Canada’s new SSX (an over-thetop snowboarding title out in 2012), Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution (a futuristic role-playing game) and Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (the latest chapter in the celebrated franchise).
For the kiddies
Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 might get all the press, but the California-based publisher likely has another monster hit on their hands – for younger gamers. Out this holiday season for all major consoles and the PC, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is part toy, part video game. Players get three small action figures that, when placed on the “Portal of Power” – a small disc that plugs into the video game machine’s USB port – unlocks that character inside the action role-playing game. There are roughly 30 action figures to collect in total, each with their own unique skills and abilities, and you can “level up” the in-game character over time. When you bring your Skylanders figurine to someone else’s Portal of Power – even if it’s on another console – your character and all of its powers are teleported into the game.
Microsoft has also impressed the participants with the next set of games that use the popular Kinect Xbox 360 peripherals. Children will fall in the charm of Kinect Disneyland Adventures, where you can walk in the park, take virtual images of Disney characters and start over a dozen motion-sensing games (with a friend by your side, if you like). Coming this fall in love Kinect is Warner Bros. ‘Sesame Street: Once upon Monster, that uses Kinect camera so that the children play with Elmo, Cookie Monster and other Sesame Street characters.