E3 2011: I Hope You Like Sequels!

As any hardcore gaming fan knows well, last week was the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3. It’s one of the biggest events of the year for videogames, and it tends to be where all of the really exciting stuff gets announced. This year was no different in terms of scale, but in terms of content, I think it’s fair to say that E3 was a bit of a letdown.

Let’s start with the games, since that’s what we’re all in it for in the first place. I’m just going to go ahead and list the winners and runners up for Best Xbox 360 Game, according to 1UP: ‘Gears of War 3’, ‘Modern Warfare 3′, Mass Effect 3’, ‘BioShock Infinite’ and ‘Forza 4’. See the problem?

The one big announcement not on that list is ‘Halo 4’, which people honestly seemed surprised about. There are something like 100 ‘Mega Man’ games and I’d be willing to bet that not a single one of them sold as much as ‘Halo 3’.

PS3 is more of the same as well. Wow, ‘Resistance 3’, ‘Uncharted 3’, ‘Batman: Arkham City’, ‘Sly Cooper’ and ‘Twisted Metal’. They’re a bunch of games we either already knew about or could have guessed. Unless, of course, you thought that we wouldn’t see another ‘Battlefield’ game.

Sure, there were a few cool new titles in there, but it’s all so safe. At least the companies are doing something interesting when it comes to hardware.

The Wii U is probably the most talked about piece of hardware to come out of the event, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. The system’s announcement was confusing, and made it look more like a new controller for the Wii than an actual new console. Nintendo’s Wii U is indeed a new console, but the company isn’t really talking about it. They are, however, talking about the fancy new controller that looks like a stretched version of the Dreamcast remote. I’m sure I’ll get into this more in the future, but the Wii U seems like a system that Nintendo decided to make before figuring out exactly what they’d do with it. That may have worked out for the first Wii, but this may be going a step too far.

Microsoft didn’t have much to say about the Xbox 360 console except that Kinect will soon be able to control just about everything. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you to decide. The company is also adding live streaming television this fall, but that’s really about all that was mentioned in terms of details. Way to go, Microsoft. You just did a Nintendo-style E3.

Finally, we come to Sony, who announced that the follow-up to the PSP, which we’ve called the PSP2 or the NGP in the past, will now be known as the Vita. Sure, why not? Pricing is nice and low, fortunately. The Wi-Fi model comes in at $249 and the 3G version at $299. That puts it at the same price as the 3DS, but with far greater capability. Good move, Sony.

E3 2011 was made up of sequels and disappointing hardware announcements. Really, guys, don’t feel the need to have an expo on our account. If you don’t have anything to announce, just skip a year.

That’s a quick and basic summary of E3, but it’s still 600 or so words that could have been summed up with: “Meh.”


  1. I know what you mean Dick, this years E3 was underwhelming in just about every conceivable way. It’s interesting to me that as technology has advanced movies and now video games have become, in some ways at least, increasingly uninspired. As this cracked author points out, Modern Warfare 3 is really Cod 8 … and we complain about sequels coming from Hollywood sheesh. (name links to article)

    He also points out that the industry has been in this headlong technological rush to achieve photorealism, and now that we’re there (arguably) game creators just don’t know what to do with it. I think that’s an oversimplification of the issues at hand, but it bears mentioning.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love sequels, but I also like new games that offer me something different. Even if it’s simply a novelty like swinging a plastic wand at a tv to throw a bowling ball down the lane, or using motion controls to maneuver a breeze across plains to spawn flowers, or yes even flinging a group of constantly angry birds at anthropomorphic pigs. The only innovation I really see going on these days tends to be in the casual market, and of course casual gamers and games are persona non grata in most “hardcore” gaming circles. I just don’t understand what’s going on with this hardware cycle. One of the most successful games of all time is Farmville? Gah!!!

    Before my ps3 died recently (shucks!) I had only ever played less than 10 games on it, and only one to completion (God of War 3). It’s not that the ps3 lacks good games, but rather that most of the games I’ve seen, read about, or demoed were basically sequels or older games repackaged in shiny new skins. Uncharted was basically Tombraider with a guy, sorry but that’s but when I’m pushing stones around to unlock a door for the thousandth time it gets old. Oddly God of War 3 was guilty of this too, hmm.

    The situation with my xbox is just about as bleak. Once I got rock band out of my system and had my fill of the handful of really good xbox arcade games it basically sat under my computer monitor gathering dust. I don’t play shooters on consoles, I’m one of those guys who prefers pcs for that sort of thing, and I have the Mass Effect games on Steam … so my 360 was basically just another piece of clutter on my desk. And looking at the announcements at E3, it doesn’t look like I’ll be spending any time with my 360 anytime soon.

    And the Wii U, man don’t get me started. I honestly don’t know what to make of it yet, and why should I since Nintendo doesn’t seem to have the slightest idea either. So I can only use one Wii U controller per console? I have to go out and buy last gen console controllers? I wasn’t really sold on the Wii nunchuck-wand combination from the start, and I’m even less interested in it now. Oh wait it does HD graphics now? Hmm, that hasn’t really helped any developer make better games/experiences so what’s the draw then?

    I don’t know Dick, I’m worried about video games a bit these days. The super fun days of getting together with your buddies and talking trash as you played games on a split screen are long gone. Replace “fun” with “tedious” and “friends” with “children who shouldn’t be allowed near an internet connection” and that just about sums up the state of online gaming today. This just in: I’m old, get off my lawn you darn kids!

    But Valve is great. I just need to get that on the record.

  2. I’ve added an embedded video that shows the weeeeyuuuu in action. It looks like a pretty worthless gimmick as described there. However, I will say that there is another video out there on the nettertubes that shows a Nintendo rep playing Zelda, which makes a more compelling case for the new controller. On the TV screen, the game’s graphics are totally free of status bars, inventory, and other screen clutter because all those things are now found and can be manipulated on the controller.

    I like the idea of that, but not enough to buy the console just for it. I imagine that both Microsoft and Sony will eventually build their own peripherals (for the current generation of consoles) that can do the same thing.

    Nintendo is occupying a very strange position where the company is an innovator when it comes to controller interactivity, but is a whole product generation behind the competition when it comes to everything else.

    • Nintendo does have a history of innovation at least in regard to controller development while lagging behind on console tech (remember the n64?). But their new controller idea is really just a contemporary take on the old Dreamcast controllers and VMU unit.

      It still just seems like a very odd direction for the company to take. Only one player at a time will be able to take advantage of the new controller’s capabilities, due to system limitations (as of right now at least). Imagine playing football and being able to pick your own play without giving any clue to your opponent, that’d be nice, but it won’t happen in the same room.

      I never count nintendo out though, and I am a big fan of the company and their properties so here’s hoping they do something amazing with that giant ass controller of theirs.

    • It just occurred to me that Nintendo has released 4 different versions of the DS in about 6 years (not including the 3ds). If I had bought each of those systems at launch I would easily have spent a thousand dollars. Now nintendo wants to blame cost as a reason to exclude blu-ray/dvd playback? Lame. Those guys made iterative improvements to their handheld console and released the cheapest (both literally and figuratively) home console on the market … basically to make as much money as possible while doing as little R&D as they could get away with. Nothing wrong with that, gaming is a business, and if the games are good who cares.

      But I really think that the Wii U is going to be a hard sell. It brings current gen technology to market at a point in time when the competition has had a five year head start. And since nintendo isn’t interested in giving the consumer extra value (blu-ray/dvd capabilities) I honestly don’t see what advantages the system has over the competition, giant ass controller aside. The xbox and ps3 both have motion control, they both have excellent netflix support, the 360 has a robust premium online experience and will soon function as a set top box, the ps3 supports 3d gaming/movies and plays blu rays! I know it’s still too early to judge the Wii U (ugh hate that name), but the console has failed to excite me … rather I find it’s odd selection of features to be confusing.

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