8-Bit Thought Bubbles

Well children, E3 is upon us and that means that gaming news is flying around at a pace unmatched at any other time of year. Sure, Blizzard saves stuff for their own Blizzcon event, but let’s be honest, the vast majority of publishers save all their juicy stuff for this event. If your game doesn’t have at least a CGI trailer that makes it looks awesome while showing NO gameplay – see The Old Republic – then you aren’t doing it right.

What have I seen that truly stood out? That is hard to say. E3 is all about flash and sometimes determining actual substance is difficult. Despite my ire for the shooter genre being virtually identical in its new ever more modern and with more warfare games, I still find myself ogling MW3 and BF3 for just how darn GOOD they look.

I also find the new Lara Croft appealing and might give the new Tomb Raider a closer look when it comes out. Bethesda has also completely taken my breath away with Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. Unlimited dragons, open world RPG, some revisions to the look and feel of the UI and combat...just very cool looking overall. I can’t wait for this to come out in November.

As usual, most games didn’t reveal anything I haven’t seen before, but what I was excited for is the new tech and angle of game development. Are you an Xbox 360 fan? You better go buy a Kinect. Check out after the break if you haven’t been watching the coverage to see what I’m talking about.

First let me just mention live TV on Xbox. I have no idea how this will work or if the service will be good enough to allow me to cancel my cable. If that ends up being the case this is really exciting as it will keep cable companies honest and actually provide me with a choice of service! Imagine that! I’m curious to see how this ends up doing in practice, but it is certainly an intriguing idea.

Second, Kinect integration is in FULL SWING on Microsoft’s end. All Tom Clancy games will support it from here on out. Mass Effect 3 will support voice commands for squad members and you can select dialogue options with voice command – all new ways to screw up your AI!! There is a Virtual DisneyWorld that is modeled on the entire real park with rides looking like Kinect Adventures with a Disney theme for the kids. The new Star Wars game looked like crap to me really, but it is fully Kinect integrated. The bottom line is that Kinect is going to finally get the widespread support it needs to really become popular.

The two coolest applications of the Kinect that I saw were from Tom Clancy: Ghost Recon Future Soldier and Fable: The Journey. In Ghost Recon the gun customization feature with Kinect was awesome. You basically blow the gun up with a hand motion separating all the parts and can then manipulate things in a big way.

It reminded me of old movies where scientists would have a big virtual reality headset and gloves on moving things around on a screen to see them better. It just looked cool and was really one of the only things that got a non-prompted “ooooohh” from the crowd during Microsoft’s press event.

In Fable you could use hand motions to power up spells and combine them. The effects and spells will be familiar to anyone who has played Fable in the past, but The Journey really takes it to another level.

I’d have more to say about the Wii U – I think that is the proper name for it – but the Wii was such a letdown for me personally as an impulse buy that I haven’t really been watching. It will represent Nintendo’s true entrance into the “next gen” field of games and the big innovation was apparently the controller because it has a screen in it.

I haven’t heard a lot of details but this does mark the first new console system to enter the market in what will become the next 2-gen markets. I anticipate Sony and Microsoft have 2-3 years before they join in, but I wonder if Nintendo will be innovative enough to capture the market that they did with a Wii. As long as they launch with either Zelda or Mario as a launch day game they’ll do okay.

There are lots of media outlets with more E3 articles than you can possibly read in one day killing productivity at work so if you forgot this was going on I’d suggest Joystiq, Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun, IGN or whatever your gaming news outlet preference is to get caught up.

Thanks for stopping in for this diversion from your regularly scheduled comic content.