E3 or the Electronics Entertainment Expo

Every year in Los Angeles the gaming industry trudges out to an exposition in the Los Angeles Convention Center to show off what they are currently working on and their big projects. The shows highlights this year were not only games such as Microsoft’s Halo 3 and numerous Final Fantasy titles but the much anticipated consoles from Nintendo and Playstation. The Wii is Nintendo’s next console version coming sometime in the fourth quarter of 2006. The Playstation 3 is coming in the fall of this year as well.

Wii (pronounced “we”)

Nintendo is trying something truly different in the console gaming field. Using unique technology they are concentrating on a totally different approach to console gaming. Instead of spending more money on the console hardware they are concentrating this console versions power and features in the games as well as a unique controller system. Each game will have a unique game type that uses one of several controllers that come with the console. First person shooter, pick up the mock gun and shoot your way to the next level. Sports game, grab a hold of the handle and lob the tennis ball back to your virtual opponent or cast for that trophy bass. Gaming will be more of an activity and less of a couch sport with the Wii.

The Wii’s controllers use gyroscopes to digitally trace movement of controllers and translate this to movement of sports equipment, guns, people and other objects on the screen. “Even people?” you ask, yes. Depending on how you move the controller this can translate to approximate how you are moving or standing. Hold the controller to your hip and gyrate, yes it is very suggestive, and you’re using a hula hoop. The controller will show movement on the screen and many games are being designed to take advantage of this new console version. The console will be backwards compatible with the current GameCube as well as some others by what is called the Virtual Console. They will offer downloadable titles from the NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64 and TurboGrafx consoles. Other companies are also jumping in on this new revolution to gaming by offering gaming favorites on this new console version. Titles that are currently in the works include Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Call of Duty 3 and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Playstation 3

Playstation 3 by Sony is also due in the fourth quarter of 2006. This console was delayed and is hotly anticipated for a November release. It will cost $500 for the 20 Gigabyte version and $600 for the 60 Gigabyte one. The game console uses memory on the drives for things like network downloads, applications, saves for games and caches for quicker load times for games. The console has its hefty price due to the drives that will have the capability to use Blu-Ray discs that hold 54 Gigabytes of data. This is a plus for game designers and publishers because they can print all the language versions of a game onto one disc, lowering the cost for them. Movies will still need to be on different discs due to the region locks but changes are in the works for some of that, also.

The hardware for this console like the memory and processors are impressive but you really don’t need to know much about that unless you’re really interested in all that techy talk. The main point is the games clear and crisp graphics, great processor speed and really quick load times that make the hassles of the games less and the enjoyment greatly improved. Games that are currently in the works are Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Unreal Tournament 2007, Resident Evil 5, Vision Gran Turismo, and Sonic the Hedgehog.

The convention highlights not only the newest of the big industry leaders like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, the smaller ones get to show off what they have been up to and try to hawk their newest titles. One company that is trying something that is truly a fresh new idea and one that is welcome in the eyes of this avid gamer, free games with the costs coming out of the additions to the games. NCSoft, creators of Guild Wars, Auto Assault and City of Heroes/Villians, has come out with some good video games in the past and is trying something new in gaming. Four titles are being published that you download and play online for free, then if you want to gain higher levels, better equipment or other skills you’ll need to pay for them. The company has not released exactly what the prices will be or how it will work for each title but it will be a good way to play the game and see if you really want to pay the cost without playing only what the company wants you to like in a demo. The four titles are; Exteel, a mech fighting game, Dungeon Runners, swords and sorcery type, and two sports titles, Soccer Fury and Star Smash(tennis) .

The gaming industry is not without its problems at these events just like any big gatherings. The aforementioned NCSoft was also cited for noise and fined $5000 at their stage show featuring Mutaytor. At a convention with thousands milling around and games running constantly the convention has to keep tight reins on things like noise, power consumption preventing overloads and people overcrowding certain areas due to safety of the public.

The convention also does things that are both good and bad for people that are attending the annual event depending on who you are. This year a new addition to the Expo was a press pass only time during one of the first days of the E3 event. This meant that people with pre approved press passes could enter and enjoy checking out the booths without the general public in attendance. With interviews, articles to write, pictures and video to be taken this was an especially welcome bit of news to the many press people from gamer websites and magazines.

The Electronics Entertainment Expo is over for 2006. The gamers and fans go home to anxiously await their favorite game, gadget or console as the reviewers and other press rush to start in on their articles and feature stories. The big and little people of the video game industry now pack up their computers, consoles and other show equipment and head back to business as usual. Trying to hold up to the expectations they gave out at this yearly preview of the video game industries biggest annual event.

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