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E3 2011 Keynote Analysis

I’m not actually at E3 per se, but that won’t stop me from giving some objective analysis of the recent E3 keynotes from the major players. Let’s start with the major points from Microsoft:

  • Modern Warfare 3: Not surprisingly, it looks pretty good. The combination of the Call of Duty franchise coming back to Infinity Ward‘s capable hands and the lessons learned from Black Ops (both the positive and negative experiences) give this a lot of potential. I’m not crazy about Elite, the paid subscription service, but it’s optional so I won’t complain. And please tell that was another round of Hans Zimmer‘s phenomenal musical handiwork I heard. 🙂
  • Tomb Raider: Could be good. I’ll watch it with cautious optimism.
  • Mass Effect 3: I was pleased with the second installment in the series, enough to make me look forward to the third.
  • Kinect everywhere: With Kinect up and coming, it would have been easy for all of the products to be gimmicky, horrible shovelware. Microsoft’s keynote managed to come up with a collection of useful, sensible applications of the Kinect sensor… mostly. Tactical voice commands, head tracking, interactive menus, and so on.
  • XBox: Live TV, Bing, Kinect Fun Labs, Interface upgrade, etc: This was a great move for the XBox interface and platform, as long as it’s not weighed down too heavily with extra fees.
  • Big Name Sequels: Gears of War 3, Halo 4, Forza 4, Fable: The Journey. Yeah, these will probably be pretty solid. I’ll be interested to see how Halo evolves now that 343 Industries is developing.
  • Minecraft: Did not see that one coming. Still, nice to see an independent developer doing so well. I wonder what Mojang will pull out of their hat for this.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary: The original Halo, remastered with modern graphics and art. The loved, classic multiplayer with XBox Live support. With any luck, they won’t mess significantly with that wonderful game balance. Must… keep calm. YEEHA–, ehem. Should be good, yes.
More after the jump…
Sony is up. Let’s see what they’ve got:
  • The Games: Battlefield 3 has been putting out some impressive media for a while. Need for Speed: The Run could be good. SSX looks a little showy for my taste, but as with Pure, I like racing games with expansive, beautiful environments. Hopefully that comes through in the final product. Street Fighter X Tekken could be a solid contribution to the fighting genre. Also, Star Trek.
  • Playstation Vita: … Cool. It’s another handheld, this time with a touch screen, rear touch pad, tilt, 3G/Wi-fi, and so on. I mean, it looks like a solid product, but I’m not real excited about it. But then, I was never really big on handheld gaming.
  • … More Playstation Vita: Wow, they really like this thing. A lot. Cross-platform stuff between Vita and PS3 looks nice, as do Uncharted: Golden Abyss and ModNation Racers.
  • LittleBigPlanet is always a favorite.
Let’s round out the field with Nintendo:
  • The Classics, 3D: Mario, Mario Kart, Starfox, Tetris, and Metal Gear all made appearances with new games for the 3DS. Everybody loves those, right? Also, Kid Icarus, and Luigi’s Mansion 2.
  • Extra Classic: Excitebike in 3D – didn’t see that coming. Those seeking nostalgia from Nintendo will be pleased.
  • Another Pokemon game: Yup.
  • eShop: Nice.
  • The Rest: Darksiders 2, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed, Lego: City Stories, Animal Crossing, Zelda, Resident Evil, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Dirt… they have a nice set of games coming together here.
  • Wii U: Ah yes, the main event. Nintendo is continuing its trend of puzzlingly short console names. The touchscreen controller is an interesting move in that it opens up some interesting gameplay possibilities, but could make switching between screens weird. I think this one is one I’ll just have to try before I pass judgment. There are some nice features in there though, like increased processing and graphics power.
If it looks like I talked more about Microsoft than the others, it’s probably because I was more excited about what they had to offer. At least to me, Microsoft won in a big way here with offerings that were, for the most part, both wide-ranging and impressive. Nintendo also produced a solid offering for its fan base, with enough new firepower to draw in a few new supporters. I’m surprised Sony’s keynote was dominated so heavily by their handheld; this made their presentation seem a little underwhelming. It will be interesting to see what other details show up in the coming days.
Think I missed some things that deserve more attention? Got some comments on what I spoke about? Leave a comment!
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