This year the buzz at E3 was predictably the next generation console lineup. The Xbox360 actually had playable demos, Sony showed some pre-rendered movies about the PS3, and Nintendo talked about hardcore backwards compatibility. The conversations in front of the $8 pretzel stand were invariably about whether or not Sony had out-hyped Microsoft, and whether the next gen was going to be “motherfucking awesome” or just “totally sweet.”
But despite all the buzz, this year’s E3 was conspicuously lacking in a major area: compelling games. There were games on the show floor, of course, but they were fewer in number than I have ever seen. Furthermore, the games themselves were pretty bland; every other game was a racing title or third person shooter, and all of them seemed to sort of blend together in mediocrity. Microsoft and Sony’s booths had lots of graphically-amazing games that we’ve all played a million times before: first person shooters that came out on the PC a year and a half ago, Lovable Platform Character Sequel #17, generic drive-around-and-hit-stuff games, and a plethora of games requiring that all generic enemies be shot by the generic protagonist.
Most surprising was how little content some of the booths had. Capcom’s showing was weaker this year than it has been in the past, but Konami and Tecmo’s booths were practically nonexistent. Konami’s “big game” of E3 was the next Dance Dance Revolution (which is surely a great game, though no longer much of a revolution). Tecmo didn’t even have a big game to display; instead they paraded scantily-clad women around their large raised stage and showed videos of Fatal Frame 3, a new Ninja Gaiden, and a new Dead or Alive. I suspect that these companies are working on next gen content that is too early to show, but it was still lame.
Fortunately, there were pockets of coolness stashed away between the three exhibit halls that house E3. Nintendo’s booth was full of high-quality highly original titles, most of them for the Nintendo DS. The best things I saw there was Nintendogs, followed closely by Viewtiful Joe DS, Under the Knife, and Gunstar Heros GBA. Though Capcom’s booth was a little thin on games, what they did have showing was pretty cool. Killer 7 was probably the best game I saw at the entire show; it’s really weird and hard to describe, but it was extremely fun to play and looks like it’ll pack quite a surreal experience into its cell-shaded depths. Okami is just amazing as well, and I can’t wait for it to come out. Capcom also showed a trailer for Dead Rising, which looked really, really, really cool. Imagine a “kill all the zombies with whatever is available” game where they can put 1000 zombies on the screen at once. Looked great. Though Sony’s booth was pretty lame (especially the PSP content–ugh!), they did have Shadow of the Colossus running, which is going to rock. Burnout PSP looked pretty nice, and I know I’ll buy Katamari Damacy 2 on the day that it comes out. Over at Microsoft, Stubbs the Zombie on Xbox was pretty high quality. Condemned was playable, but I was pretty disappointed. I looks like it is not really going to be much of a horror game after all. Speaking of horror games, there were fewer on display this year. The Suffering 2 was pretty fun to play, though it looked extremely similar to the first game. Siren 2 was unfortunately not on display.
So E3 2005 was a bit of a let down for me. The promise of new hardware isn’t really enough to make me get excited (I ranted about this topic before I left), and the games that were showing seemed either very derivative or just not my cup of tea. The number of booth babes this year seemed to have increased dramatically from last year (which I take to be a bad sign–companies are running out of compelling content and thus turn to sex appeal to draw in customers), but on the other hand the amount of gratuitous T&A in the games themselves was far lower than last year (perhaps this is because all the games were racing games). All and all, I’m glad I went for just one day–there just wasn’t enough to hold my interest for any longer.
Show Highlights: The interesting games were quite fresh and innovative.
Show Lowlights: The interesting titles made up less than 10% of the whole.
Most Confusing: GameBoy Micro
Best of Show: Killer7
Runner Up: Shadow of the Colossus
PS3 vs Xbox360: IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER!! THEY ARE BOTH THE SAME UNLESS THE GAMES ARE GOOD!! CHOOSE BASED ON GAME QUALITY, NOT ON HYPE!!