Despite some whispered rumblings about the ethereal Xbox 720, the only hardware in the spotlight this year was the Wii U. What was an ambiguously described idea last year, was full-on hands-on playable this year. And, the verdict?
Much like the original Wii, the Wii U is a roll of the dice for Nintendo. Instead of just trying to compete with the big boys in graphical and processing power, they go outside of the box with quirky gameplay and innovative interaction. The Wii U is the younger, hipper brother of the Wii, with the same idea of motion control and Nunchuk support, but with a new angle… the monstrous new controller.
The controller is like PS Vita on Lance Armstrong’s ‘supplement regimen’. It’s and Ipad with a D-pad. It feels more comfortable than you would think, but it still feels a bit unwieldy. But to be fair, it’s not supposed to be tiny and agile… the selling point is that big, sexy screen in the middle. In the Wii U-specific version of Arkham City, you hold the controller up to your TV, and use the controller’s screen to scan for evidence, or hack computers.
In the ridiculous-but-entertaining Zombie U, you use the screen for things like frantically typing on a door’s numberpad, trying to gain access before zombie chew your face off. And the one I am most personally excited for, the dev team for Aliens: Colonial Marines assure us the controller’s screen will hold the motion scanner that Hudson was, in fact, reading right.
Another of the big games we got a look at was the new Star Trek game, wherein we watched about 10 minutes of co-op gameplay. It’s third-person-view adventure title, where the Spock player uses more technical and gadget attacks, and the Kirk player uses more of a ‘run around with a phaser’ approach. My reaction there is a resounding ‘meh’. It will surely sell well to Star Trek fans, but nothing of what I saw seems to elevate it to a must-play for the average gamer.
The swag and booth babes were fantastic, of course, though there seemed to be less of each than normal. The military-garbed Wargaming.net booth babes were again a pleasure this year, as were the annual ‘hot asian chick’ offerings of Koei-Tecmo. And, of course, the immodestly garbed NO2 girls slinging free energy drinks as you enter are always a welcome sight.
Swag-wise, there were the typical T-shirt-button-lanyard giveaways, with the GREE booth earning special brownie-points for having those new, trendy plastic glasses that look disposable but are actually durable and kind of awesome, and filling them with tasty beverages. Again, not as much swag as previous years… but still enough to cover a hotel bed.
All in all, it was kind of an ‘average’ E3. Which is still good, falling in the same area as the ‘pizza and sex’ spectrum of enjoyment. There’s been rumblings and rumors that E3 2012 will be in a different city, so it’ll be interesting to see how much a change of venue will affect the experience. I suppose there’s only one way to find out.