Friday, May 19, 2006

Some gaming musings

I think the biggest story at E3 was probably Nintendo. Judging by the massive lines every day to get into their dome to play Wii, they captured everyone's attention.

I didn't have a chance to play the Wii, due to these lines (that didn't stop noted line but-er inner, Steven Spielberg) but the impressions I heard were mostly positive. The system is allegedly tiny (the height of a dvd case and 3 cases thick) and the remote control-style wand works well in most applications and not in others. Graphically, my eyewitnesses tell me it's a bit above Gamecube level. It's also a full-fledged Gamecube and with their download service, you can get all old Nintendo games from previous systems as well as select Genesis and Turbografx titles. That is really interesting. So Nintendo is banking on not pushing forward power-wise but rather going for innovation. The Xbox 360 and the PS3 run exponential circles around the Wii graphically but the Wii's novelty value definitely has something going for it. To wit: the PS3 section right across from Nintendo was quickly empty after people saw Sony's unimpressive display.

The PS3 underwhelmed me. I am not speaking as an anti-Sony basher. It's just that the games they had on display (granted, they were unfinished) were not impressive. The games were nothing I would want to play. Sure, they had cinematics of some neat looking stuff in development, but nothing that is on the horizon.

And the controller is pretty bad, too. I didn't like the boomerang style design they had originally proposed, but at least it was different. The new design is the same as the PS2 controller, except a bit larger, and they changed the L2 and R2 button to be like the shoulder buttons on the Gamecube, with degrees of depression. They also added a "PS" button in the middle, which I assume is similar to the "X" button on the 360's controller.

They removed all rumbling capabilities and added a motion sensor, like the Wii has. In short, they ditched any original design elements they had and combined items from Xbox 360's and Wii's controllers to make an unfocused, uncomfortable device. I happen to think a controller is very integral to the enjoyment of a system, seeing as how it's the only interface between player and game. You gotta make it as good as possible, and I think Sony has struck out in this respect.

In keeping with Sony, the actual system's shell is huge. However, it's still not big enough to house the insides of the machine.
The PS3s we played were all development kits because Sony hasn't yet figured out how to fit the machinery inside the box. Anyway, that's it for now. I'll write next about some stuff we did outside of E3 next.

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