E3 2009: Wednesday Roundup

With most of the press conferences over and done with, the attention at E3 turns to the individual games. Over the final two days of the expo, we’ll take a look at some of games making waves. We also have a quick recap of the Konami press conference.

Konami

Konami led off with three versions of one of its big franchises: Metal Gear Solid. The first is actually an arcade game. Imaginatively called Metal Gear Arcade, it will be in 3D so each unit will have its own pair of 3D glasses. The game will also have an online capability so players from different arcades can compete against each other. The second title shown was MGS: Peace Walker which is their handheld title developed exclusively for the PSP. The final MGS game shown was MGS: Rising. This is the next-gen console game for the MGS series and will be available on PS3, XBox 360 and PC.

Konami is also working on a new Castlevania game called Castlevania: Lords of Shadows. This has been designed as a reimagining of the series according to a Konami exec. This unveil was followed by a trailer for the Saw game. As expected, the game is dark, violent, and extremely gory. So par for the course when it comes to the Saw franchise. The premise of the game is to escape the clutches of Jigsaw without getting killed.

Konami also showed off a couple of its music games. Karaoke Revolution will be on the 360, PS3, and Wii. The game will ship with over 50 songs and music videos with new downloads available weekly. Konami will also release a new Dance Dance Revolution for PS3, 360, Wii, and PS2. The Wii version will have compatibility with the balance board, though it will also need the WiiMote to play. The PS3 and 360 games will have 150 songs available for download online and an eight-way dance pad.

Microsoft Natal

All three consoles will have their own motion controllers and camera setups. Ubisoft has developed a camera for the Wii which all ready has the WiiMote motion controller. The Playstation 3 has the Playstation Eye camera and a new motion controller similar to the WiiMote. Microsoft appears to have made an all-in-one combination with their Natal camera and motion controller.

The Natal is designed to translate your actions and translate them into the equivalent actions that a controller would have made. An IGN editor took a look at the Natal in action. He played a normal (unmodified) version of Burnout Paradise with the Natal acting as a controller. You pretend to hold a steering wheel and pretend to turn it to turn the car while moving your right leg forward and back to accelerate and brake. If the Natal can work with games out of the box that weren’t designed for it, there is a lot of potential for great games that fully integrate its use.

Bioshock 2

We’ve all heard about the BioShock 2 story by now. It’s about 10 years after the first BioShock game and you play as the first Big Daddy. However, 2K Games and Digital Extremes aren’t talking about the single-player game at E3. They were showing off the new multi-player experience that will be part of BioShock 2.

The multi-player part of the game is based around a completely different story. In multi-player, you are a human, not a Big Daddy, employed to investigate the side effects of splicing. Somehow engaging in combat with splicers gets you that research. Anyway, you don’t start off with all the weapons and plasmids. You earn them by playing multi-player matches, scoring kills, and other hidden objectives. You start with a fire, an ice, and an electricity plasmid at your disposal. The MP games are set before Rapture falls so everything is in relatively good shape. It will be interesting to see how things are supposed to look in a utopian underwater city that hasn’t torn itself apart from the inside.

Personal opinion: I still think that the single-player experience will be far stronger than the multi-player. Let’s not go crazy. Halo is a multi-player game through and through. The last thing we need is BioShock to become a mindless aim-and-fire shooter.

Guitar Hero 5

Like last year’s Guitar Hero World Tour and Guitar Hero Metallica, this will be a whole band experience. Guitar Hero 5’s big selling feature is the new Party Mode. Players can now jump into and out of songs on the fly as well as change difficulty levels without restarting the song. Players can also swap instruments on the go. You also aren’t limited to one player per instrument. A band can be four guitar players or three bass players and a singer or what ever other combination you can think of. Selecting Party Mode will fire you into a song and randomly run you through your list of songs.

A few changes have been made to the gameplay. Every band member will have their own, individual Rock Meter. If they fail out of a song, a band revival meter comes up where the band as a whole must perform well enough to get their fallen comrade back in the show. Band members also have individual Star Power meters as opposed to just one for the whole band. The band does have a substitute for star power. They have a “Band Moment” multiplier which gives a band-wide point multiplier if all members of the band hits all the notes in a specific set.

Songs confirmed for the game so far include Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream” and the Arctic Monkeys’ “Brianstorm”. For a complete list of artists, click here. The artist list looks better than World Tour but still doesn’t stand up to any of the Rock Band games (including The Beatles). Fortunately, the visuals are a little better but not as good as Rock Band.

The Beatles: Rock Band

Speaking of Rock Band, a controversial announcement was made by Harmonix today. They broke the news that downloadable content (DLC) for the previous two iterations of Rock Band will not be compatible with The Beatles. Instead, it will have an exclusive list of DLC that will include full albums. No word if it will include any songs from the band’s solo projects.

Gran Turismo 5

A quick blurb about GT5. There is still no confirmation on a release date but it is expected to be released either for Christmas 2009 or by March 2010. There is also no definite word on the number of cars and tracks but those numbers have been rumoured to be over 600 and 90, respectively. What is more interesting is, in addition to the usual large complement of Japanese Grand Touring Championship cars, they have licensed vehicles from the World Rally Championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Perhaps the most exciting bit of news out of the E3 trailer is that a car was shown damaged. This could be a hint that we will have car damage for the first time in the series. In addition, we can expect night racing and changing weather conditions in GT5.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at two new entrants into the music game genre: DJ Hero and Scratch.

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