E3 - Game Over

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Spending the last three days at E3 has almost completely drained our will to live. All that time walking around at the LA Convention Center (and believe us, its a big place) has taken its toll. As we limp back to the welcoming embrace of the plush and eminiently comfortable LAist HQ, we are gathering our thoughts and checking our notes and putting together a hopefully interesting wrap-up of the sights, sounds and yes, even smells, of the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Ok, here goes.

The biggest news from E3 was, of course, the unveiling of next-generation consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. The PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Revolution were presented to the eager masses with great excitement and fanfare. Each console has improved graphics, wireless connectivity, backward compatibility and can be played online. In fact, the features of the three consoles seem, for the most part, nearly identical.

With all three consoles having identical or at least near-identical specs, the next year or so of console gaming excitement will probably become more about how each company is going to push its product than about the product itself. Not so much about technological innovation, although that does exist, as it will be about marketing hype. Man, will that be fun.

As for the games, as it is in Hollywood, most of the new ones are sequels. Betting on what they hope is a sure thing, or at the very least, a well-known thing, most of the major and minor gaming companies will have at least one or more sequels to their popular titles coming out this year. So, rest assured that if you loved a game last year and it was even remotely popular, a sequel is probably on the way.

First-person-shooter fans (LAist included) can look forward to "Unreal Tournament 2007", "Call of Duty 2", "Battlefield 2" and "Halo 3". And, players can also look forward to the next installment of the "Dragon Quest" series as well as the continuation of the Zelda franchise with "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess".

We can also look forward to more movie based games coming down the pipe with titles such as "Batman Begins", "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe", "The Matrix: Path of Neo", and Activision continues the story of the green Ogre with "Shrek: SuperSlam". There will also be a video game version of Peter Jackson's movie version of "King Kong".

Another movie game that we got a chance to see an extended preview for is the upcoming EA Games version of The Godfather, featuring the last performance of Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone. Watching the preview, we have to admit a chill upon hearing the first notes of the movies familiar theme. As for the game itself, it looks to be quite involved and a fun time and should do the Godfather legacy proud. We'll see when it actually comes out and we can play it.

On the portable-gaming front, the PlayStation Portable (or PSP) was largely overshadowed by its big brother, the upcoming Playstation 3. While there's seemingly no shortage of games for the PSP, it seems more like developers were just going through the motions to appease the Sony giant so they could focus their real attention on getting games ready for the PS3.

We liked the PSP and played with it for a little while. But for us, playing PS3 on our 50" high def plasma screen will greatly diminish our need for a portable gaming device like the PSP. Yes, you can't take the 50" plasma with you on a plane but damn it sure looks good.

In other portable gaming news, Nintendo continued to hype the DS and the Game Boy Advance with equal fervor. They seemed determined to convince developers that their strategy will work. Although, they did release a new Game Boy device, called the Game Boy Micro, so you could make the case that they favor one platform over the other. And, lastly, we took a look at the N-Gage system from Nokia.

While we admire Nokia's resolve and determination, they seem stuck with a product and a service that they don't know exactly what to do with. Nothing made this clearer to us than the lack of people in their booth. E3 attendees either don't understand or don't care. Either way, Nokia has some work to do if they want to remain a viable member of the portable gaming world.

So, all in all, E3 was another exercise in patients and stamina as we wondered the floor in search of the "next big thing." Sadly, it seems, the "next big thing" really didn't materialize. It was, in most ways, just more of the same.

While we continue to love video games, we hope that the video game industry doesn't make the mistake that much of Hollywood seems to have made. The mistake of complacence. The mistake that more of the same just with shiny new packaging or more explosions will take the place of creativity and innovation. If the video game industry continues on the path it seems to be on, we can expect still more of the same.

More sequels, more explosions and less innovation and creativity. We can already look ahead to next years E3 where the big announcements will be video game version of movies like "Meet the Fokker's" and "House of Wax". Really, who wants that?