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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
2005 Electronics Entertainment Expo
Day: 1


by:

Matthew Prunty



When gamers think of the single most important event in the Gaming Industry, E3 comes to mind. E3 (Electronics Entertainment Expo) has been bridging the gap between developers, publishers, media, and fellow gamers for more than 10 years. This was and is also an opportunity for small developing companies to make a name for themselves with the ability to display their upcoming projects practically to a world audience. So with that in mind, I bring to you E3 2005 Day One.

The buzz has been circling around the internet in regards to what can be expect form the Next Generation consoles, and what developers were going to bring to the table to end the current era, and bring about a new era. Several titles were announced and products were announced, and even revealed in the march up to the actual day of the E3 expo, which was today. Everyone from Microsoft, to Sony, to even Electronic Arts, had several titles and products up their sleeves to recharge interest in the current generation, while giving everyone who attended a little taste of what is to be expected from the next generation of gaming.

Nintendo
Console and Handhelds

I will admit, when you first see the Nintendo booth, it doesn't look as fancy and attracting as last years setup, but it didn't stop Nintendo from doing what they do best, and that is entertain and bring about that great 'Nintendo experience'. Nintendo had a lot going for themselves in their section. From several Gamecube, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS titles set to be released soon; there was an extension to their handheld family, that will entice gamers on a whole new level. The biggest draws to Nintendo section were the new Game Boy Micro, online gaming for the Nintendo DS, and the beloved Legend of Zelda. Now don't get me wrong, there were tons of titles within Nintendo's camp that are worthy of mention, but when you actually think about it, those were the true highlights of the Nintendo booth.

At one point, it was rumored that Nintendo would be revealing another Game Boy Advance, just much sleeker and more compact. There was also talk going on about Nintendo unveiling their next Game Boy handheld in order to compete directly with Sony and their PSP, since the DS is meant for a whole new gaming experience and not to compete with the PSP.



At Nintendo's press conference, Reggie Fils-Aime (Nintendo Executive Vice-President of Sales and Marketing) unveiled the Game Boy Micro as another addition into Nintendo's handheld family. Being billed as the world's most portable handheld system ever created, the GBM is fully compatible with all Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles currently on the market, and that are planned for future releases. The handheld will also use a standard headphone jack and features a more comfortable experience through its ergonomics and redesigned buttons.

In regards to the online structure for the Nintendo DS and the Legend of Zelda title heading to the Nintendo Gamecube, we will have more coverage during the second day of the E3 expo.

Sony
Past Meets the Present

Sony had a pretty impressive showing, both third-party and first party titles across their entire showcase, including the forthcoming Playstation 3 (Spring 2006). Sony wanted to insure that their gamers were getting the support and the titles they wanted. From games like Dragon Warrior 8, which will be making an appearance in North America under the title Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of The Cursed King (which makes the first time the series has ever been in 3D). to the sequel to hit Kingdom Hearts by Square-Enix and Disney. Sony is all about their fanbase and providing a variety that is unparalleled by any other gaming platform in the industry (except the Game Boy line).

Sony even took the liberty to talk about the future of their Eyetoy product. Their camera attachment will see big and new exciting ways to communicate with fellow gamers and gaming as a whole. One example of this is Eyetoy: Chat. For the first time in gaming history, you will be able to turn your gaming center into a videophone. Using the Eyetoy camera, Playstation 2 system, and a network connection, you are able to chat with gamers around the world via your very own home. And this service is free. The only thing you will be paying for is the software itself if you already have an Eyetoy and your home Internet connection (which you have already been doing anyway,). All in all, Sony's aim is to bring the best multimedia experience that will soon become the staple for gaming platforms to come.



In regards to the Playstation Portable, nothing has yet to be mentioned in regards to its online structure that is already up and over in Korea. Hopefully Sony will mention this within the two remaining days of the expo, as there are several gamers who want to take the multiplayer experience to a whole new level. But to make up for that, Sony, along with third parties, showed some strong backing for the newest 'kid on the block'. From EA (Burnout Legends, Madden 06', Sims 2, Marvel Nemesis, etc.), Konami (Coded Arms, Death Jr., Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim), Majesco (Advent Shadow, Guilty Gear Judgment), Sega, Rockstar, Namco, Vivendi Universal, and even themselves (Gran Turismo 4, MediEvil Resurrection, The Con, etc.), one thing was clear and that was Sony's PSP wasn't going to just take a backseat to Nintendo and their Game Boy series. Sony is aiming on taking it to Nintendo through established franchises, new series, and even classical remakes.

Even the movie industry is showing some strong backing of the media format choice of the PSP, the Universal Media Disc (UMD). From Twentieth Century Fox, to Lion Gate Entertainment, to even their very own picture company, Sony is aiming at the total package with the PSP. So far the UMD movie feature has seen moderate success, and there are no signs of the support declining.

But what most gamers want to here about is the beloved new child of Sony, the Playstation 3. This console is by far the sexiest console that Sony has put together. Virtually playing every media format in existence (except HD-DVD discs), The PS3 aims at bringing the future and the past together once again, as with the PS2. The console will be backwards-compatible will all PS2 and PS titles in existence, as well as proved a multimedia experience that Sony has come to pride themselves on. Not being able to videotape the demo that they showed, displaying the capabilities of the PS3, it's hard to tell what the experience will be like. The graphics capabilities of the PS3 are unfathomable. Imaging playing a game looking likes the CGI intro to Final Fantasy XI, and you got an idea of what can be expected.



But the real tread had to be seeing the PS3 up close and personal right when you exit their video showroom. They had all three colors (gray, white and black) of the PS3 spinning in a showcasing along with the next generation version of the PS3 controller, which some say looks like a boomerang. All in all, Sony has provided the best overall package for delivering their brand of entertainment.

Microsoft
America, Lets Game

Most gamers, when you mention the Xbox console, can name several titles that fully describe what the Xbox experience is all about. Microsoft is all about taking a typical gaming experience, and turning it into the ultimate experience via immersed worlds, fantastic gameplay, highly detailed graphics, and their beloved Xbox Live. Having the best possible online structure on the market, Xbox Live is about to achieve an impressive total of 2 million gamers (worldwide). Via Xbox Live, you are able to download upgrades, patches, new levels, and compete with fellow gamers from around the world. Also being the second best selling platform in the world has Microsoft sitting relatively closer to their destined place among the industry greats.



Microsoft held a special event via MTV that showcased the future of gaming for them, known as the Xbox 360. Striving to dethrone Sony from their top seat in the industry, Microsoft has worked diligently in order to get and amazing array of third party support to back their next-gen platform. From EA, EA Sports, Rockstar, Ubisoft, Activision, Thq, Square-Enix, Mistwalkers, etc., Microsoft is trying to bring the experience that made Sony's PS2 a huge success tot heir console with an added bonus, Xbox Live Next Generation. They are taking the successful formula of Xbox Live, and rework it into a global community of its own. Allowing for voice chat, messaging, online gameplay, a marketplace (for purchasing updates for titles) and several other possibilities.

Preparing for the next generation, Microsoft and third-party companies haven't forgotten about the current Xbox console on the market. There are several titles in the work that will come out between now and summer 2006. From Burnout Legends, Madden 2006, Half-Life 2, Halo 2 Expansion pack, Grad Theft Auto: San Andreas, Advent Rising, True Crime 2, NBA 2k6, Final Fight Streetwise, Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, Dynasty Warriors 5, Prince of Persia 3, etc. And for those who don't have an Xbox console, you can either invest in one now, or wait until the 360 debuts later this year (Mid-November) seeing how the console will be somewhat backwards compatible. This means that the popular titles will support this feature, while the average title that didn't have good sales, most likely will be only playable on the Xbox console. This actually makes good sense. Since gamers all have different taste in titles, this would keep the Xbox consoles sales pretty interesting, though the 360 is out on the market. Not to mention that the Xbox console is suppose to get support all the way up until 2007.

As it being only the first day, it's already clear that Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony and third party developers are ready for the transition from the current generation to the next generation. But if the first day is any indication of what is suspected of the companies, 2005 and beyond will be nothing but a long, and fulfilled adventure from beginning to end.

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