by IMTIAZ FAROOQ
So… Microsoft and Sony (oh go on then… And Nintendo) made their pitches this week at E3 and for fans of either, there were games aplenty to savour. Big titles making their way to the next gen consoles, some new hardware and gaming services from Sony in particular and for X-Box fans, Master Chief erm… re-mastered.
For Sony, news of its Playstation TV got me a little excited. A box that has access to a digital library of games and video streaming content for £100? Shut up and take my money! But look through the surface layer and I find myself thinking what’s the point, especially considering the fact that a PS3 can be picked up for that much, if not less. People will buy it, kind of like how people have bought the Wii Mini. But savvy customers might want to look at the previous generation console, with an equally large collection of games and better functionality. The Playstation Now service though, has potential and judgment will be retained until I get to use the service.
As far as games go, it was all about re-mastering old games (YAY! For re-mastering Grim Fandango) and sequels to big franchises. Mortal Kombat X was my personal highlight, with gameplay looking excellent. Destiny was a close second and GTA V being released on the PS4 will no doubt add a few hundred million to Rockstar’s coffers. New content for Infamous Second Son and a first glimpse of Uncharted 4 rounds off my look at Sony. Oh and let’s not forget that Destiny will come bundled with a white PS4 which admittedly is a strikingly beautiful bit of kit. The white makes those angles pop good and proper. On a final note, I feel it should be noted that MKX, Destiny and GTA V are making their way to X-Box One too which left me with the question, ‘not much in the way of exclusives, Sony… What’s up?’
With Microsoft, critics argue on the interwebz that Redmond played things safe. Lack of new hardware, a big announcement regarding no X-Box Live Gold membership required to access video streaming and so on was a sizeable miss, sure, but I feel Microsoft made up for those omissions with some serious exclusive content. Let’s start with the Master Chief, shall we?
Halo: Master Chief Collection was announced for November 11th. All the previous games have been remastered with bigger maps and all the downloadable content unlocked but that’s not all. Halo 5: Guardians in beta comes with that as well as the Nightfall series. ‘Substantial’ would be an apt description of all that for sure. Other exclusives include Sunset Overdrive which looks to be great fun and a potential franchise in the making and Forza Horizon 2 which is built on the Forza 5 engine and looks equally as stunning as its foundations would imply. Evolve looks creepy as hell, I can’t wait to see more trailers and news on it.
On a negative note, Microsoft not taking the opportunity to highlight new services that might be coming to the entertainment side of the X-Box One presented a glaring miss for me. This is, after all, a console which was showcased as the great unifier of the living room, the best of everything in one monolithic package. Sure, they might be saving such news for later but why not deliver it now and get the jump on rivals? Such a shame.
And finally, Nintendo. Such a big name reduced to a sideshow act as the big 2 of Microsoft and Sony show off their gaming jewellery. But sideshow act isn’t Nintendo’s game, judging by what they showed off this year. Super Smash Bros, Zelda for Wii-U, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Hyrule Warriors, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (based on the Toad puzzle levels in Super Mario 3D World) are the big titles promised for the American holidays/early 2015 so anyone who has a Wii-U and is feeling left out of the Sony/Microsoft action (Hello Katie Heath… How are you doing?) should be happy with those titles. Add to that the big announcement of Splatoon, a new shooter-style game where half-squid, half-person characters team up in four-on-four paintball-style territorial matches… Imagine Team Fortress and you’re nearly there.
All this positivity hides a glaring negative clear to all but the most ardent of Nintendo fans; these games could be too little, too late for a console that debuted 18 months prior to the next gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft and is about to be surpassed in sales by both of them. Now that is something considering the troubled path Microsoft has gone on with it’s One. I hope that these titles allow enough breathing space for Nintendo to begin the process of making a successor to the Wii-U, one that learns from the failures and creates a proper ‘#3’ option for gamers that isn’t too geeky like PC Gaming and not too limited like mobile gaming. Over to you, Nintendo. Show the world you still got it.