E3 Conference Roundup 2011

So, we’ve finally seen all of the conferences E3 has to offer for 2011 but just incase you missed it here is a quick recap of the big 3’s plans for the coming year.

First up of the big 3, as usual, was Microsoft, and within 30 seconds they started showing gameplay of a level from many people’s most anticipated game this year, Modern Warfare 3. After a quick accident with the controllers connection, we were shown footage of scuba diving and submarine invading warfare, and it did look very nice (And that’s saying something, I don’t like Call of Duty). After a quick hello from Don Matrick we were plunged into the world of Tomb Raider for the latest reboot to the series, and the first Tomb Raider game to interest me personally. It would seem Lara is taking lessons from Heavy Rain and Uncharted and it seems to be paying off.

Next on to the stage is Bioware to show off Mass Effect 3’s first ever piece of Gameplay, along with the confirmation of the Kinect support rumour. ME3 seems to be upgrading its character conversations as you can now use Kinect to say the options you want. Not too impressive to be honest, maybe it’ll be better than the demo showed. But after the short appearance to confirm Kinect support, up comes Ubisoft to show off Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, yet again incorporating Kinect. (See a pattern emerging) This demo showed how Kinect will be used to customise weaponry and for combat. (My fears are coming true, we are going to be using invisible guns in our living rooms!) The weapon customisation is very thorough too, right down to the air canisters and barrels in the guns, with optimising for different tactics (Ranged and Close Combat being used) and randomization both present. Finally before leaving the stage a quick announcement about future Tom Clancy games, they will all use Kinect in the future.

Time to stray from the games for a bit, MS want to talk about Xbox Live. And they have a few announcements. More services have been confirmed for XBL, including Live TV, Bing searching and Youtube with more media services that Bing can search too. Incorporating these new feature is also yet another Dashboard update (Guys we only just had the last, I was a Beta tester!) and it’s coming this fall. Another service for Xbox Live is UFC matches, basically remember the ESPN service they announced last year, it’s just a UFC version of that.

Here comes a long rumoured remake.

Time to return to games, up comes Cliffy B! Some Gears 3 co-op gameplay from the story shows off some new mech gameplay shooting a very big creature in the eye. Also, a rather quick announcement that Ice T has written a song about Gears of War’s Horde mode. Crytek up next with what appears to be Codename Kingdoms, but now confirming its name as Ryse. Nothing more than a teaser trailer though and then we are off for the next announcement. And it is one I’m sure me and MintagedVortex will love, Halo: Combat Evolved has been remade and remastered for Xbox 360. Can’t wait. And now for the car junkies among us all, is Forza 4, and some pretty looking in-game graphics.

Molyneux comes up to the stage next…. with another Fable. Seriously Peter you’re starting to kill the franchise now. Wait what, Fable: The Journey isn’t like the other Fables at all? Oh, it’s a Kinect based on-rail shooter. Yay (sarcasm). Oh, he’s gone now, good. Time for an announcement barely anyone saw coming. Minecraft for Kinect! Yes, Minecraft’s console debut will be on Xbox 360. More Kinect next (I think there’s a theme here) and Disney have made a virtual model of their Disneyland resort. Complete with Kinect Adventures styled minigames. Now, the one Kinect game we’ve all been waiting a year to see. KINECT STAR WARS! Buuuut, it doesn’t look as impressive as last year, now that we actually see a demo. Really, “Lightsaber on!”? Don’t remember that from the movies. Double Fine time as Tim Schafer takes the stage and shows us what he’s been doing with Sesame Street, guess what peripheral it takes advantage of? If you guessed Kinect, have a cookie from the cookie monster.

And just when you think you’ve seen all the Kinect that could be in store, Kudo takes the stage. (Does he ever take off those glasses?) What’s he announcing? Kinect Fun Labs. Now you can access another feature that was promised from the start, scanning in your real-world items! This seems to be used in Avatar creation and some, rather unexplained feature to scan your items in, for example a cuddly toy, but what’s that for? Oh well, you can find out as Kinect Fun Labs is already available on the Xbox Dashboard. Feeling sporty? Did Kinect Sports not give you all the sports you wanted? Well here you go, have Kinect Sports Season 2. Complete with Golf, Tennis and more. I swear I’m nearly finished with the Kinect, because here is the final game announced. Dance Central 2. Complete with more songs, importing songs from the first game and multiplayer. Time to get your dance on guys.

Oh wait, did I say that was the end of course not, Microsoft had a surprise up their sleeve. It’s more Halo. New this time, 343’s first game in the form of Halo 4. What’s that announcer voice, a new trilogy…. ok. (Please don’t be bad!) Right MS’s conference is done now. Time for Sony.

Just gone midnight in the UK, but it’s mid afternoon in LA so Sony don’t mind doing their conference now. After an opening montage of various games and an opening speech about Netflix and Cinema Now support it’s time for Naughty Dog to take stage, here’s Uncharted 3. The demo shows Drake on a boat with the surroundings moving all over the place. After a stealthy takedown of some guards Drake gets cornered. An escape using a grenade as a distraction and the boat goes under. Next up is Insomniac to show off Resistance 3 with some fun weapons and some 3D. Here’s a pricing announcement, a Resistance 3 bundle along with PSMove and a gun peripheral will be released September 6th (US date?) for $150.

God of War fans who don’t own a PSP but want to play those PSP versions? Have no fear, they are coming to PS3 in the form of the Origins Collection. And yes, full 3D support. What’s that you want another collection on PS3? Here, have ICO and Shadow of the Collossus also with 3D.

Hey Sony, you make TV’s don’t you? Whats that? A special 24″ TV specially made for 2-player split screen? With a special set of glasses you can now play split screen on the same TV, assumingly without the worry of the dreaded screen peaker. It’s PlayStation branded and will come in a bundle with 3D glasses, Resistance 3 and a HDMI cable. All this for $499. Oh, want a second pair of glasses? That’ll be another $69.99.

Sports now courtesy of 2K, it’s NBA 2K12 and it’s a PSMove demo, showing how pointing at a player gets you to pass the ball on to them. Apparently it’s the most realistic NBA yet. Now from the makers of Sports Champions is another game, Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest. It’s first person for firing arrows at enemies, but shifts camera to third person when you draw out your sword. Complete with a cartoon art style it sounds interesting.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is getting a Move functionality update. Allowing users to create levels with their PlayStation move controllers and allowing the creation of PS Move exclusive levels. A trailer for the upcoming Starhawk game is shown, with transforming vehicles (Transformers?) and then it’s on to Sly Cooper. But wait, that’s a lizard… called Dimitri. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is due out in 2012.

Now from the makers of EVE is a PS3 Exclusive called Dust 514. It includes move support, extends on to the NGP and will connect to the PC MMO EVE. It’s space-themed shooter with a Beta coming by the end of the year. Irrational games are up for the next Bioshock now. After a gameplay trailer, there is some talk about Move, but no official announcement. He’s now pulled out an NGP from his pocket and has proclaimed the coming of  a NGP exclusive Bioshock game. Hey whats this, they aren’t done with Bioshock announcements. With every copy of Bioshock Infinite on PS3, there will also be a free copy of the original Bioshock. Sounds like a great deal if you are yet to play that single player gem!

OK, some EA games have exclusive features, including SSX (Mt. Fuji is exclusive), Need for Speed: The Run (exclusive cars), and Battlefield 3 (free copy of Battlefield 1943 on the disc).

They’ve now moved on Playstation Suite, which is how you get Playstation games on your Xperia Play guys. Wait, after a quick mention he moved onto NGP. It’s name is…. PS Vita. Looks like those source code based rumours were true guys. Personally the name has a funny sound to it, anyone agree? Remember that Sony promised 3G? They announced the exclusive US carrier, AT&T. That got some laughs, and I’m not joking, they laughed in the conference. There will be cross-game chatting via headsets.

The newly renamed PSVita

Time for some Uncharted on your PSVita’s and they are emphasising the new controls available on the Vita including the touchpad, tilting and new dual analog sticks. The pricing has now been announced for Vita. $250 (later confirmed to be £230 in UK) and $300 (£280) for 3G version. Next is a new Vita game called Ruin. A fantasy set dungeon crawler with social networking integration to allow for “rivals”. There is also cloud storage and you can continue playing on your PS3’s. Next is Modnation Races for Vita. You can now use the touchscreen in track creation in conjunction with the touch pad on the back of the handheld. If that wasn’t enough, it also communicates with the PS3 version to give “over 2 million” pieces of Modnation content.

Our sackboy friend is also making the jump to Vita again making complete use of all of Vita’s input methods. Oh, remember that Street Fighter and Tekken are having some crossover in the future? That’s also coming to Vita with inFamous’ Cole as a playable character. Now for a highlight real summing up a few of the titles. There’s Golden Abyss, Wipeout, Little Deviants, LittleBigPlanet, Sound Shapes, Hustle Kings, ModNation Racers, Super StarDust, Ruin, Reality Fighter, HotShots Golf, a Dynasty Warriors title and more. Vita is due to come out by the end of 2011.

Final conference from the Big 3, it’s time for Nintendo. First up is an orchestra and a Legend of Zelda showreel showing gameplay from all the previous Zelda’s and some from Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time 3D, all in honour of Zelda’s 25th anniversary. After that it’s time for Miyamoto and his translator to show face, have some fun with the orchestra and announce that LoZ: Link’s Awakening will be on 3DS’ eShop in the next 24 hours and will be the first GameBoy Colour virtual console game. Next, LoZ: Ocarina of Time 3D will be launched internationally starting next weekend, it will feature the mirrored Master Quest mode, a Boss battle mode and a hint feature for those who need it. The third Zelda on the list is LoZ: Four Swords, that will be a free download for the DSi in September. LoZ: Skyward Sword will be launching on Wii this Holiday season along with a Golden WiiRemote+. There will be Zelda Orchestra’s worldwide this fall and two CD’s. The first is the Ocarina of Time 3D soundtrack for the early Club Nintendo adopters and the second will be a CD version of the Zelda Concerts.

Next Iwata comes on to the stage for a bit to tease about the Project Cafe reveal and then show a 3DS showreel. Now Reggie climbs on stage to talk about those games in the showreel. Mario Kart was first, with a new Glider mechanic and underwater races, along with Kart customisation. It’s due out this Holiday season. Next is Star Fox 64 3D, showing off gyroscopic controls (buttons can still be used) and multiplayer battles using the mic and camera for reactions and communication. Star Fox will be out in September in the US. Next is the Super Mario game which was teased a few months back. It is the first 3D Mario made from scratch for a handheld and features the return of Tanooki (Raccoon) suit Mario, it’s due out before 2012. Kid Icarus: Uprising is next and it show cases multiplayer battles, selectable weapons and some form of usage with the Augmented Reality technology in the 3DS. Kid Icarus is coming later this year. Finally is the biggest surprise, Luigi’s Mansion 2. Now with multiple mansion and making full use of 3D. This was the only game without a launch window.

Next is a look at some third-party support for the 3DS, featuring new announcements and a reminder of some previously promised games in development. The list included Cave Story 3D, Resident Evil: Mercs and Revelations, Driver: Renegade,  Tekken 3D, Snake Eater 3D and more.

Now back to 3DS downloads. There will be 10 3D trailers available later this week with demos coming later in the year. Also an announcement for the downloads available as of the recent software update, including Excitebike and Pokédex 3D (both of which are free). The Pokédex is a full Pokédex as seen in the Pokémon games along with the ability to see 3D representations of the Pokémon and add them into pictures taken on the 3DS. These pictures can be uploaded to your PC for uploading to the internet.

Wii give U, the Wii U

Now for the real news. What you read this part of this article for. Project Cafe, or as it’s actually called, Nintendo Wii U. The U symbolising that it’s made for you, whoever you may be. Obviously an attempt to win back the hardcore fans. Will they succeed? The Wii U is compatible with existing peripherals like the WiiMote and Wii Fit Board, but also has its own controller. It’s a touchscreen tablet (6.2″ screen), with dual analog sticks, directional buttons and a b x y buttons. It has triggers and shoulder buttons, a front facing camera microphone and its own speakers. A showreel shows off the capabilities of this controller which are hard to put into words. But one of the most notable is that it can be used in 3 main ways. It can be used as a standard controller, without using the touchscreen. The game you want to play can also be played on the controller itself, incase someone wants to catch something on TV. The screen on the controller can even be used in conjunction with the TV, very DS like.

The console supports full HD, meaning it can compete with the current consoles graphically and the images seen on the controller are transmitted to it from the controller with zero latency. Sorry, that means no venturing out to the grandparents whilst playing Mario.

Now an announcement that isn’t an announcement, they have started thinking about the next Smash Bros. title. They say it will be on both Wii U and on 3DS and they will somehow interact with each other. After seeing a graphical demo, to showcase the Wii U’s graphic potential. After talking about the available tech demos at E3 Nintendo then announce on of the first Wii U games. Lego City Stories. Basically Lego GTA, for kids. It will also be available for the 3DS. Next is a bunch of develops, including EA Sports, Ubisoft and Irrational Games, talking about Wii U’s potential before a third-party software showcase practically confirming that the following games will all be on Wii U. Darksiders 2, Tekken, Batman Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed Revelations and Ghost Recon Online along with a few others. (I think they won back the Hardcore audience) Then Reggie and Iwata both welcome EA’s CEO John Riccitiello to the stage to show off Battlefield 3 and Madden in use on Wii U.

And that’s that. That’s it for the big 3’s E3 2011 conferences. What announcements did you enjoy? What are you looking forward to in the coming months? Are PS Vita and Wii U as good as you expected? Leave some comments below.

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About Nick Duggan
I'm 19 an I study Computer Games Design at Staffordshire University. I'm a video gamer and also a Yu-Gi-Oh! collector/player. Twitter: @30DiedOnMars

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