By Michael WORKMAN
Los Angeles is no stranger to grand events and once again, downtown was invaded by gamers from all across the world. Figueroa Street was quite the scene for commuters driving by as huge banners for games like “Battlefield 3” and “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” were on display and even mock WWII tanks parked in front of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Another hard to miss eye-catcher was on the Hotel Figueroa across from the Staples Center which had a massive painting of a warrior from Bethesda’s upcoming title “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” which shows game developers are pulling out all the stops to create buzz for the fifteenth annual E3 trade show.
This year’s E3 had several tantalizing announcements from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Since the release last November, Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360 has sold over 10 million units worldwide. As impressive as this achievement is, Microsoft wanted to really explore the capabilities that the Kinect offers. So it was announced that a slew of Xbox 360 games that uses the Kinect’s features are underway. Some of the projects previewed were “Kinect Sports: Season Two,” “Kinect Star Wars,” and “Disneyland Adventures.” Besides the Kinect, many 360 owners were treated to an exciting gameplay video of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” and a teaser trailer for Halo 4 that shows the return of the iconic Master Chief.
Sony made some waves by unveiling a new handheld console: the PlayStation Vita, or PSV. The PlayStation Vita is the successor of the PlayStation Portable and seeks to improve what a handheld console can do. Some of the features revealed were duel analog sticks, front and back touch screens, Wi-Fi and 3G, motion sensor, and cameras on both front and back. Sony also said many companies are now working on several PSV titles for the release this holiday season. Also of note was the showcasing of the PlayStation 3-D TV a 24-inch high definition TV with 3-D capabilities. The main quality Sony wanted to tout was while players wear the 3-D glasses, two people can play multiplayer or co-op with no split screen. What the player sees is only for their character and thus makes it much easier to focus on the game. Some who have tried it reported “ghost” outlines from the other players’ screen occasionally appear but most said it wasn’t distracting.
Hands down, Nintendo had the biggest announcement with the introduction to the Wii U. This is the first of the next generation home consoles to be showcased and is being set to release in 2012. The most striking thing you notice with the Wii U is the controller. It’s about the size of an ipad and does indeed operate in a similar manner. It features a touch screen, built-in microphone, speakers, gyroscope, accelerometer, rumble and camera. The new system claims to be able to play Blu-ray like the PS3 and have video chat. Nintendo made sure to remind people that it is still being developed and the other features could be added. As the release in 2012 draws near, more information should accumulate on the Wii U and create much more attention.
The week that marks the gaming industry’s biggest event once again delivered. E3 2011 marked the beginning of some new consoles and several highly anticipated games being released in the coming months. Many eagerly await the promising news of their favorite console or game series which always make a big splash at E3 Expo.