Gamers consoled by new and improved E3

Electronic Entertainment Expo celebrates its 14th year.

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo, called E3, used to be the most exciting time of the year for most gaming nerds. Publishers would spend millions of dollars on hi-tech booths, showcasing all of their big upcoming releases. Although only members of the press were allowed in, fans would always seem to find a way to get in as well. With each passing year, E3 grew larger while its focus deviated from the games themselves to complete hype.

For 2008, the Entertainment Software Association, which ran E3, decided they'd had enough and forced publishers to cut back on their displays. E3 '08, while decidedly more efficient, just didn't feel right. It lacked the glamour for which the event had been known.

So for 2009, the ESA has been more lax with its requirements, allowing a return to the former glory that is E3. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all had great showings, and MOVE is here to break down each of their press conferences.

Microsoft

Last year, Microsoft's news conference was a lot of graphs, charts and silliness. This year, they decided to ditch the numbers and focus on what we all want: the games (though much silliness was retained).

Starting off the conference with a bang was the debut of the opening cinematic for "The Beatles: Rock Band," complete with real-life Paul and Ringo coming onto the stage to promote the game. Coming out Sept. 9, the game promises to be much more than just a track pack.

Demos for "Call of Duty" alum "Modern Warfare 2" and "Tony Hawk: Ride" were cool, though Microsoft will have to share these with Sony. Spy thriller "Splinter Cell: Conviction" looks sick and seems to be introducing some brand new ways to tell stories.

Microsoft also showed off a ton of exclusive, ranging from teasers of super-cop sandbox game "Crackdown 2" and "Halo: Reach," to demos of ambitious Xbox Live Arcade game "Shadow Complex" and ultimate racing simulation "Forza Motorsport 3," Microsoft made it clear they know what gamers want.

Continuing to steal more of Sony's exclusives after last year's theft of "Final Fantasy XIII," Microsoft announced the "Metal Gear Solid" franchise would finally be coming to the 360 in the form of action game "Metal Gear Solid Rising."

Trying to reach out to the casual market Nintendo's been dominating, Microsoft also pulled back the curtain on their own motion-controlled monstrosity named "Project Natal." The twist is that no controller will be necessary to play "Natal-style" games as a camera will track players' movements. It has a ton of potential, but could also be a huge mistake.

Overall, Microsoft came out looking very strong and 360 owners should be very happy with their next generation console of choice.

Sony

With the lackluster U.S. hardware sales and high price point of the PlayStation 3 looming over its head, Sony had to keep its head above water for this year's conference. Much like the past couple years, Sony made PS3 owners feel confident about owning their consoles, but didn't do much to sway skeptical would-be consumers over to its side of the fence.

Sony has picked up the hardcore gamer slack Microsoft dropped when the Xbox family decided to pursue the casual market more aggressively. To make up for the lack of a price drop announcement, Sony brought the best first-party lineup of any publisher. They delivered in both quality and quantity, featuring a solid mix of hit sequels and original titles: "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves," "MAG," "Heavy Rain," "God of War III" and "The Last Guardian." They even threw in some important third-party exclusives -- "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker" (PSP) and "Final Fantasy XIV Online" (PS3) -- for good measure.

Because everybody is apparently too afraid to use regular game controllers these days, Sony has also decided to embrace motion-based controls by showing off a prototype of their own "waggle wand." Rather than placing focus on how motion-based controls would appeal to the casual crowd, Sony demonstrated how developers could apply this technology to more traditional genres like shooters and strategy games. The question going forward is whether developers find value in this type of control scheme or continue making games for the tried-and-true DualShock.

The tradeoff for uber-precise 3-D movement tracking appears to be looking ridiculous waving around a ball on a stick. But hey, we already looked ridiculous playing most Wii games, I suppose.

Nintendo

There's no denying it, Nintendo has once again become an industry giant with the phenomenal sales of the Wii and DS. To help maintain this market domination, Nintendo revealed several games at its E3 press conference that'll appease both casual and hardcore crowds.

The presentation began with the quick announcement of "New Super Mario Bros. Wii," a follow up to the 2006 DS title of the same name. This new game allows up to four players to indulge in a classic, side-scrolling Mario adventure, shipping later this holiday season.

With "Wii Fit" selling out globally, it was only natural for Nintendo to reveal a sequel. "Wii Fit Plus" utilizes the Wii Balance Board to bring you new work out routines, the ability to customize your own work out schedule, and will undoubtedly sell millions more Wii consoles. Even though it was unveiled almost a year ago, Wii MotionPlus was a big topic for discussion. Bundled with titles like "Tiger Woods 10" and "Wii Sports Resort," Wii MotionPlus is an add-on to your Wii Remote allowing you to control in-game objects (golf clubs, tennis rackets, frisbees) with true 1:1 motion.

Now that the Wii is completely saturated with further noticeable picks, such as "Super Mario Galaxy 2," "Metroid: Other M" and "The Conduit," it was time to give the DS some love. Several promising DS games, such as "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story," "C.O.P.: The Recruit" (a "Grand Theft Auto" clone), "Scribblenauts" and "Golden Sun DS" will satisfy the hardcore crowd as well as bring in hordes of casual consumers.

Overall, Nintendo held a very successful press conference every Nintendo fan, new or old, should have left understanding why they are, and will continue to be, industry leaders.

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