E3 2008 Picks and Pans
For once it doesn't matter whether you swear by the Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, or PC gaming. It's all here. Here's what caught our eye--and what we wish we'd never laid eyes on--at this year's E3 gaming expo in LA.
Xbox 360 Gets Netflix
Out of all the "big three" press conferences at E3 2008, the one thing that stuck in most people's heads was Xbox Live supporting Netflix. Of course, this has little impact on NZ, but might be a sign of things to come.
Nintendo Woos Casual Gamers, Forgets Hardcore Fans?
Nintendo previewed its forthcoming Wii Sports Resort and Wii Music games. Our early verdict based on activities like sword fighting, disc throwing, Jet Ski riding and rocking out on virtual drums: Both deliver the irreverent fun you'd expect, coupled with some crafty control methods that you perhaps wouldn't.
Spore is Gonna Be Huge
Whether upcoming designer celeb Will Wright's forthcoming soup-to-nuts PC-based "life simulator" turns out to be an actual game or just a clinically addictive toy, E3 2008 confirmed that everyone wants to play Spore. Whether it's fussing virtual putty into tripods with 20 eyestalks or teaching your tribe to ape your groovy Joey Fatone moves, Spore's going to turn heads and, who knows, maybe even raise a few anti-evolutionist eyebrows.
First Person Parkour?
My personal favorite from the show: Mirror's Edge, due on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC late 2008 from EA DICE--the team behind the excellent Battlefield series. You'll play Faith, an information "runner" from a dizzying first person perspective as she traverses stunning cityscapes, using both Parkour (a gymnastic system of fluid movement around obstacles) and the martial art Wing Chung to evade and disarm enemies. You'll see motion trails as Faith builds up speed and the camera will spin when she somersaults. Vertigo and motion sickness could be an issue with this one, and I can't wait.
Oh, The Horror!
So long as you don't mind a smattering of blood on your screen, you've got plenty to scream about this fall. EA's Dead Space was a huge surprise for me. This trippy sci-fi thriller has shades of the films Event Horizon and Alien as you try to survive--and escape--a derelict spacecraft. No surprise, though, was Left 4 Dead. Every time I play Valve's Left 4 Dead, it's a completely different survival horror experience. Fighting floods of zombies with four friends online: Y'know, fun for the whole family.
Was PS3 exclusive sci-fi shooter Resistance 2 pilfering Gears of War's bossy Brumak with its footage of a Godzilla-sized walking rock-pile whopping on skyscrapers? Maybe, but then everything about Insomniac's gorgeous-looking sequel screams Big and Bigger. I, for one, cannot wait to plug alien uglies on U.S. soil, even if it means firing blind and squandering bullets because I'm too engrossed ogling all the sexed-up, invasion-laced panoramas.
If humble developers with little games are making a big dent in the gaming world, then the uber-cutesy LittleBigPlanet must be the poster child. Build your own levels and race your creations through 'em. Another game with a similar approach is Capcom's Flock. Herding sheep, cows and chickens is fun enough, but the level editor lets you create and share with buddies. And then there's D3's Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. Imagine an addictive puzzle game like Bejeweled gets turned into a role-playing game. It may sound harmless enough, but you've officially been warned.
Sorry, Konami, but the Rock Revolution is in jeopardy. I know I stink as a drummer, but your game just drummed that into my head. The drum pads are a little tiny--I can live with that--but it's near-impossible to see the colored buttons onscreen. Think I'm out of touch and alone on this one? A band came on to "play" during Konami's press conference and they bombed out in less than a minute. At least I don't feel alone now.