The 3DS is a mystery machine. With Nintendo's current stranglehold on the portable market, I'd be interested to see how many people are willing to upgrade. You could generalise and say that Japanese consumers will buy it by the barrel-full, but with Nintendo DS, DS Lite, DSi and DSi LL(XL), the market could potentially have reached saturation point. The EBGames website currently lists the 3DS with an estimated RRP of $348, which if true would be fantastic for gamers as well as being a reasonably competitive price point. Would I buy it? I don't know, I would have to see what games are available at launch (read: I need to wait until my next pay to pre-order).
I can't find any videos of the 3DS in action (not that you would be able capture the magic of 3D in a 2D video), but I am itching to see the quality of visuals it is capable of conjuring. There were rumours that this machine would have the capabilities of current generation consoles, but from what I have seen this must not be the case. This may have something to do with the console needing to produce the same picture twice, in order to create stereoscopic 3D visual effects. Screenshots can't really be used as an indicator, with Mario Kart looking somewhat underwhelming and the Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater tech demo looking promising, but far from current generation quality. Despite this, Kotaku have confirmed that when the technology works as intended, it is truly a sight to behold.
While the Sony conference featured no new pieces of hardware, there were an array of announcements that captured my interest. We've heard plenty about the Playstation Move, so that part of the presentation was not really my cup of tea, save for the announcement of a new Time Crisis game (!!!). I'm more interested in Playstation Network Plus. Subscribers will be entitled to discounts on content sold via the Playstation Network Store and will also receive free games each month. The subscription service will also allow players to download full retail games and trial them for one hour. If you follow through with a purchase, any progress and trophies you achieved in the trial will be unlocked. That sounds great for two reasons:
- The Playstation 3 should now have a service to rival Games on Demand. Further to that, it actually sounds like a stronger alternative, as this will potentially save gamers a lot of money.
- For gamers who appreciate intrinsic reward schemes (such as trophies, like me!), this means that they won't have to waste time replaying gameplay segments usually featured in demos.
It was also encouraging to read that Dead Space Extraction and Medal of Honor Frontline will be included, free of charge, with PS3 copies of Dead Space 2 and Medal of Honour respectively. Light-gun shooter Dead Space: Extraction was voted Gamespot's Wii Game of the Year and Medal of Honour: Frontline was a PS2 classic with a metarating of 88. Better news, the Medal of Honor multiplayer beta starts on June 21 and it looks brutal and hectic. I hope you choose to get involved, whether it be on the 360, PS3 or PC.
Last but not least, Portal 2 was announced for PS3 by Gabe Newell himself. Steamworks support has also been confirmed, meaning that the game will continue to be supported after release. This should go some distance to winning back Playstation 3 owners burned by the technically deficient port of The Orange Box.
The Microsoft conference was disappointing to say the least. It looks as though the Xbox 360's emulation of the Wii has come full circle, with both the new Dashboard and Kinect being fully detailed. The software lineup anounced for the launch of Kinetic is as derivative as one would expect; with a fitness title, a casual sports game, a racer, a (more competent) version of Eyepet, and a dancing game. Bundle this together with the already available Avatars, and the Xbox 360 is soon to become a HD Wii.
To add to the disappointment, no compelling new titles were revealed for the Microsoft console. There was nothing new or surprising revealed about Fable 3, Halo: Reach, or even Gears of War 3 (which I am genuinely looking forward to). The announcement of the Xbox 360 Slim was a massive kick in the pants. Wi-fi enabled, and packing a 250gb hard drive, the Slim (out July 1) is a bitter pill to swallow for anyone who has recently bought a 360. Imagine if you had just bought an Xbox 360 Arcade. With the cost of the system, the hard drive and a wireless network adaptor you would need to spend $650 to bring it up to speed with the new model which only costs $449.
While the 3DS has piqued my interest, (for me) there was enough new, and further elaborated upon products at the Sony conference to swing the battle of E3 in favour of the Playstation family. Have their been any announcements at E3 which are sure to steal your hard-earned dollars? What has you excited?