E3 was on while I was away, so on my return I eagerly checked the various gaming news for what juicy nuggets had emerged - and that would be almost none.
It’s telling that probably the biggest news was that Final Fantasy XIII is no longer to be a PS3 exclusive - not even a timed exclusive, it’ll be multi-platform at launch (in the US and Europe anyway). A headline grabber for MS for sure, but while I get the feeling that this will be greeted with equal amounts of teeth-gnashing and gloating from the Playstation and XBox fanboy camps respectively, for everyone else located on planet Earth it’s really not that interesting. After all if you were already a Final Fantasy nut willing to buy 13 (plus) of these titles, you probably already owned a PS3 in preparation anyway. Personally I played one (FFVII, considered to be a high-point of the series, or so I’m told) and have no particular urge to play any more. But, I suppose there will be some who pick it up just because they can now.
My guess is that the staggering costs associated with making that kind of game, combined with a lack of the kind of crushing dominance of the market that Sony promised (and some might say, rather smugly took for granted for a while), meant that Square just couldn’t make the numbers work as a platform exclusive. I’m guessing they got a sweetener from MS too which no doubt helped their bean-counters sleep at night. Once again I have to shake my head at the unnecessary partitioning of the consumer market that a console war entails, and hope someday we move away from it.
Nintendo showed a shocking disregard for their platform - and while they’re printing money for doing fairly little I can understand why. The MotionPlus add-on for the Wii controller certainly looks interesting but is all potential and no practical use right now. They’re milking a few franchises some more, but really no future Wii games look interesting. My Wii has been off most of the time for the last year, with small resurrections for Super Mario Galaxy and now for third-party titles Okami and Boom Blox which I got for my birthday and are very good, but that’s been all too rare. Nintendo seem to be relying on the casual audience to buy the console by the bucketload and use it to play maybe one or two games at family gatherings, and for the core gamers to eagerly lap up fairly formulaic franchise revisions. For a company that occasionally comes out with pure brilliance (Wii Sports, Super Mario Galaxy), it’s being pretty uninspiring most of the rest of the time.
Microsoft is chasing the casual market like everyone else on the planet these days, nothing really to see there.
The single interesting thing at E3 for me was the official unveiling of Rock Band 2’s feature set and track list, which are both looking very fine indeed. I like that you can import ‘most’ of the tracks on the RB1 disk as well as the DLC so once you have it you can just play RB2 with hundreds of songs. They also appear to have addressed all the little niggling things that people (including me) have mentioned could have been better in RB1, like flexibility of the band setup. Nothing startling, just reassuring that Harmonix appear to be listening to what their customers want.
So, apart from that - yawn.