Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wii U be getting one?

We’ve had just over a fortnight now to slowly let the idea of Nintendo’s new console completely digest. Lots of developers are interested in it and the tablet-esque design of the controller has potential, but will it be enough to bring back the buzz that the Wii seems to have lost?

I really can’t make my mind up about the Wii U. Isn’t it just a massive DSi where you have to supply the top screen? I know it has raised graphical power over the Wii, but isn’t this mostly technology that we’ve seen from Nintendo before? It’s meant to be able to stream the game image from the TV directly to the controller, just in case your inconsiderate other half decides to clean your house while you sit there and play games, but there are some issues that I can’t get my head around at the moment.

With the main game’s image streamed to the controller, what does this mean for the touch screen control elements? One of the impressive things about the Zelda tech demo was the inventory screen being plastered over the controller. What happens when you want to change items if you’ve decided to put the main battle on the controller’s screen? I find it frustrating enough juggling windows on my PC; I don’t want to bring that sensation into console games.

Graphical power is another concern. There’s a lot of talk about it equalling and maybe even surpassing current gen consoles, but what happens two years after Nintendo have finally caught up to the rest of the world when Sony and Microsoft play their gargantuan hands? You can guarantee that they will produce something big and stupid, but capable of forcing sensations into our eyes that feels like a vigorous mint and tea tree oil scrub. Nintendo will get left behind again.

Where will this leave all of the promised third party support? We’ll fall into the same cycle of having a game that looks very similar on the Sony and Microsoft consoles with an inferior or possibly even non-existent Wii U edition. I still can’t get over what I saw the other day in Game. Even the box art for the Wii version of the Green Lantern movie game is of naff quality compared to the 360 and PS3 boxes. That’s honesty cranked up to 11.

The Wii U is still miles away and we’re yet to see any proper game footage so it’s meaningless to start passing judgements now. I’ll definitely keep an eye on it but I think the tipping point that everyone wants to know is the final price. If Nintendo can play this off as a cheap next gen console then they could be sitting on another gold mine.

Well, I say that, but Nintendo already know they are sitting on a gold mine. The Wii has built up a following similar to the mindless hordes that Apple likes to herd into its iBoat. The Wii U will sell by the trough load no matter how good or bad it is. I can’t quite imagine Nintendo pulling another Virtual Boy fiasco.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Electronic Entertainment Expo Reflection

In keeping with this blog’s usual pattern of timeliness and up to date views, I’m going to tell you all about my opinions of E3. Unfortunately I cannot say that my slightly late reaction time to the event is down to my slow recovery time from a shock and awe induced coma. Quite the opposite I’m afraid. E3 2011 just didn’t excite me all that much.

The major platform holders really didn’t inspire me this year. If I had to pick a winner, I think I’d back my earlier predictions and say Nintendo took it again. The WiiU Zelda tech demo was amazing, especially with the inventory on the controller’s screen. They would have to be on the Kerry Katona scale of crazy not to make a full Zelda title that looked like that footage.

I’m struggling to remember anything of interest that Microsoft brought up. I know that we all learned Mass Effect 3 will support Kinect. Now you’ll be able to say the voice commands to pick dialogue options, and the ominous Kinect bar of wonder will translate that to the game. I can’t help but ask; wouldn’t a microphone do exactly the same thing and not require the purchase of a £100 piece of equipment?

Halo 4 was also teased, but that just made my trousers go slack. I’ve never seen the appeal of Halo. To me, it’s a series that has never really progressed much. What people see in the green armoured genocide fetishist is beyond me. The remake of Combat Evolved would have interested me, perhaps have filled me in on what all the hype was about. That was until I found out that they are going to slap a £35 or so price tag on it for a game with no original content and some pretty graphics smeared on top. No thank you.

Sony’s conference doesn’t conjure up any exciting memories either. The NGP is now the PlayStation Vita (I still think it sounds like a bottled mineral water more than console) and Uncharted 3 looks good. That’s about it off the top of my head. I’m still looking forward to the Vita, but only if it is affordable at launch and has a good selection of games. The $249 WiFi model sounds nice, but you can just tell the price conversion will not be favourable to the pound.

I was far more impressed with what third parties had on offer. I’m very happy with what I saw of Hitman: Absolution. The level looked very impressive, especially how the room of police reacted to their colleague being a hostage. I just hope that the similarities to Splinter Cell: Conviction that the Internet is crying about stops at the UI. I want to go through the game and get a perfect silent assassin ranking like I did with Blood Money, Contracts and Silent Assassin.

Other than that, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations looks pretty sweet, although I’m not sure about the Abu Hamza tribute hook replacing one of the hidden blades. Lara’s new adventures also look very good, even though they have the distinct scent of Uncharted about them.

Even though E3 was ultimately disappointing, it still looks like a good year for gaming, even if it is mostly made up of threequels rather than new concepts.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Electronic Entertainment Expo Excitement

What? It’s June already!? Well then, that must mean E3 is almost here. Yes, the gaming Christmas that is a sweaty bitch to professionally cover returns again for the third year since its restoration to public spectacle. What is there to get excited about this year?

I suppose the big news is that Nintendo definitely have something huge to unveil. A new console from the innovative bods that will hopefully one-up all current gen machines with something more than just fancy graphics. Can Nintendo re-invent the Wiimote? Stirring rumours suggest the new console will have a high definition touch screen built into the controllers. It sounds exciting, but if true that’s going to make local multiplayer damn expensive.

Can Sony and Microsoft top that? Based on their performances last year, you’d have thought that the other big console dogs will be out to sink Nintendo this year. It’ll be interesting to see how they step up their game.

Sony will probably break out the NGP, which may possibly have had its name changed to PlayStation Vita. I suppose that’s better than Next Generation Portable, but to me it sounds more like a Sony brand of bottled water. I’m very interested to hear more about this new handheld. The reveal alone made me hold off on instantly purchasing a 3DS. Well, the reveal, and the lack of launch games. I just hope it doesn’t rely on that gimmicky rear touch pad. A gentle caress is not a suitable control scheme replacement for buttons.

More rumour mill grindings have suggested a new console from Microsoft. Last month it was reported by an industry insider somewhere that the innards of a new Microsoft console were at a games studio housed in a PC case. It’ll be interesting to see something come of that. I don’t care what Microsoft say about the future of their motion control peripheral. As far as I’m concerned, Kinect has failed. It certainly hasn’t enticed me with the wonders of arm jiggling.

I’ve already said that the game of E3 that has my knickers twisted into a wreath is Hitman: Absolution. Other than that it’s probably a mix of the usual excitement list. Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, Bioshock Infinite, Mass Effect 3 and Zelda: Skyward Sword are all high on my list of things I want to know about. High in the ranks of my hyper-optimistic surprise appearances are Halflife 2: Episode 3 and Metal Gear Solid 5, both of which have been confirmed as no shows. Ah well, I can always hope that Gabe Newell and Hideo Kojima are just hideous teases.

I’ve just realised the especially sad detail that every game I have listed is a sequel to a series that already has at least two entries. Some more originality would be nice to see again.

Roll on June 7. It’s been a good year for gaming so far, and from what I can tell, it’s only going to get better.