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E3 2009





Now that we've had proper time to recover and dwell upon the week that was, it comes time for the impossible task: narrowing down E3 2009 to just five favorite things. We asked the X-Play and G4tv.com staffers to disconnect from the hive mind and come up with their individual lists, with only one rule: there are no rules.*

*(Excluding the rule that limits it to five.)

In alphabetical order and split into two parts, beacuse that's how the Nerd Army marches. Today is Part 2, and in case you missed it, here's Part 1.

 

Brian Leahy

Games Editor, G4tv.com

5. Scribblenauts -- This game is so ridiculously innovative and the dictionary is staggeringly large. You owe it to yourself to check this game out when it is released.

4. The Beatles: Rock Band -- The Beatles are amazing and this game is glorious. The instruments are top-notch as well and I'll probably have to get the full bundle.

3. Splinter Cell: Conviction -- Sam Fisher's return was glorious and I love the new focus on quick stealth. I'm so glad it's coming out this year.

2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves -- I'm really happy with the direction Naughty Dog is taking with Uncharted 2 and I can't wait to check out Nathan's new adventure.

1. MAG -- I finally got my hands-on MAG and I was extremely impressed by the pace and feel of the game. I hope Zipper and Sony can pull off 256-players when it is released.

MAG screenshot

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Steven SpielbergThere was quite a bit of commotion at Microsoft's pre-E3 press conference last week when acclaimed film director Steven Spielberg emerged on stage to talk about Project Natal, Microsoft's new camera-based take on motion control. Just because he endorsed the possibilities of Project Natal, however, doesn't mean he's working with Microsoft on making anything, as he's done with Electronic Arts on Boom Blox.

"He's excited about Natal," said Xbox exec. and corporate VP John Schappert in an interview with me after the conference. "I think you should speak to him on specifics."

"We actually went out and showed him [Spielberg] our technology when we were out in LA [Los Angeles] a few months ago," explained Schappert, "and he got so excited that he played Burnout [Paradise] -- I think it was 20 minutes. And he loved it, just loved it. And of course, he's involved in our industry, working with some our partners to make games, so he couldn't be more excited. So when we told him we were going to unveil it on stage, he wanted to be part of it and we're proud to have him."

Microsoft seemed to be hinting if Spielberg were to produce a game for Project Natal, it would come from outside their group. Considering EA has publicly declared support for both Microsoft and Sony's motion initiatives, that seems likely.

"Steven's been an ardent support of controller-free gaming," concluded Schappert. "Everyone can go to the movies, everyone can watch a movie, not everyone can play a game."

Who wouldn't want to play a version of Boom Blox using the Project Natal camera?









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Blur

EA Games Europe’s senior vice president Patrick Soderlund is on a roll this week. On Tuesday, I told you about his alleging that, unlike the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360’s tech has been “maxed out.” Now today, Soderlund is once again taking personal shots, only this time they’re aimed at targets closer to EA’s home.

During E3 last week, Soderlund told VideoGamer.com that Bizarre Creations’ high-octane action racer Blur is “completely underwhelming. I don’t understand what’s up with that game to be honest.”

Not content with belittling just one rival racing franchise, Soderlund went on say that he’s “very confident” that EA’s Need for Speed: Shift is a “better game” than Microsoft’s racing sim Forza Motorsport 3. Sounds like your typical corporate posturing to me, so I can’t really fault him for that.

On the positive side, Soderlund did say that he was impressed with Disney Interactive’s mind-blowing kaboom-fest Split/Second. Of course, that game looks absolutely insane, so no real surprise there. It probably also doesn’t hurt that Shift and Split/Second aren’t exactly competitors the same way Forza and (to a lesser extent) Blur are. Whatever the reasons may be, one thing is quite clear: There aren't nearly enough racing games coming out this year.

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Ah E3, the biggest gaming event of the year. E3 2009 was full of amazing games, and this year more MMOs than we could count! Check out Part 1 of The MMO Report's E3 2009 Special featuring DC Universe Online, Heroes of Telara, The Agency, Soul of the Ultimate Nation, Huxley, and APB. Then come back here tomorrow to check out Part 2. Yes, there really were that many MMOs on the show floor. And yes, I'm exhausted. Enjoy.

The MMO Report: E3 2009 Special Part 1 »



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Microsoft's Project Natal Launch To Rival That Of The Xbox 360?Even if Microsoft and Sony are actually using the same motion-sensing technologies that Nintendo supposedly rejected when it was developing the Wii, that will most likely have absolutely zero effect on how successful and game changing those motion-controlled technologies will be once they’re finally released. For Microsoft, the risk/reward ratio for its Project Natal is significantly higher than Sony’s own motion-based project, given that Natal is attempting to make hands-free gaming a reality.

If that sounds like a massive undertaking will the potential to reach the same level of importance and technological significance usually reserved for next-gen console launches, that’s because it could be, according to Microsoft executive Shane Kim.

Kim told Kotaku during E3 2009: 

"Conceptually, the launch of Natal will be like the launch of Xbox 360. It's going to be that big. We're not just going to ship it when the hardware and software are ready. We have to make sure that there are enough content experiences that are really good. That's similar to how you would think of the launch of a new console. It's got to have a great launch line-up. That's the same thing here."
 

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Now that we've had proper time to recover and dwell upon the week that was, it comes time for the impossible task: narrowing down E3 2009 to just five favorite things. We asked the X-Play and G4tv.com staffers to disconnect from the hive mind and come up with their individual lists, with only one rule: there are no rules.*

*(Excluding the rule that limits it to five.)

In alphabetical order and split into two parts, beacuse that's how the Nerd Army marches. Check back with TheFeed tomorrow for Part 2...

Billy Berghammer

Director, Gaming Editorial, G4tv.com

5. Diet Mountain Dew -- Still the one thing that powers my soul and keeps me sane during E3. It's the nectar of gods.

4. Alan Wake -- Granted, the game was announced eons ago, but I think Remedy is going to tear up the formula for survival horror gameplay. Capcom should keep an eye on this one for ways to freshen up Resident Evil.
 
3. Left 4 Dead 2 -- Screw the haters. While I personally want Half-Life 2: Episode 3 more, I'll take more Zombie blasting co-op action any day.

2. Heavy Rain -- This was my game of the show last year for both E3 and Games Convention, and the latest demo doesn't dissapoint. Sony may have one heck of a time marketing this puppy, but it's my second most anticipated PS3 game of the year behind...

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves -- Holy crap! I loved the first game and the Naughty Dogs look like they're going to crush it with the sequel. I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves screenshot

 

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While the Valve faithful were probably expecting an update on what was happening with the third Episode of Half-Life 2 episodic content, or something about a Portal sequel, E3 2009 would prove not to be the place for that. A few days before E3 dropped, the world discovered what Valve was hiding. Coming off a successful Left 4 Dead release on the PC and Xbox 360, the Seattle based company decided to go back to the drawing board and blow out Left 4 Dead 2, a fully-fledged sequel that will drop later this year.

Known for consistently adding content for free, the publisher caused tantrums among its fans.  Among the many questions: “Why a sequel so soon?” “Where the hell is Episode 3?” I swung by E3 for my annual interview with Valve’s Gabe Newell and Doug “Don’t Tell Billy” Lombardi to get the latest on everything Valve.

G4: So, I guess the big surprise or not so surprising - because it got leaked - is Left 4 Dead 2. Why did you guys decide to go back and fire off a sequel right away?

Gabe Newell: Well, there are a couple reasons for that. One was when we were shipping the game, a bunch of the people who were working on it had all the stuff that they wanted to do right away. It really grew out of the fact that we all played Left 4 Dead pretty religiously and so people said, “You know, we don’t really want to stop. There’s too much fun stuff to go and do here.”

And then there was this other issue was from a project management perspective, we were looking at different ways of thinking about scheduling. So Robin’s [ed: Robin Walker, Software Developer/Designer] been working on Team Fortress 2, and he’s become really good at turning two month long projects, and having everybody have a lot of fun and being able to do really good work. So, like the Spy update that just came out was on schedule and everybody knew exactly what they were going to get done and felt very productive.

Opening The Valve: The Gabe Newell Interview

Tom Leonard [ed: Software Developer] has been really interested in how to manage longer scale projects that have similar characteristics to what we’ve been doing with the Team Fortress 2 updates. So, that combination of having a group of people who really wanted to do more Left 4 Dead work with Tom wanting to bring some new methodologies to bare on the questions of year-length projects were two of the things that really drove us to think that it was an interesting project to go do.

From a customer’s perspective, we think that given the sort of insane popularity of Left 4 Dead, that people are going to be super excited about getting a sequel to that. We’re going to continue to do Left 4 Dead updates and release more content for Left 4 Dead, and then also have Left 4 Dead 2 coming out as well. So, those two things were what made us say, “Okay let’s go ahead and ship something relatively quickly.” A bunch of people wanted to work on it, and Tom wanted to take a stab at proving on a larger scale one-year length project that it would have more manageable and predictable characteristics that we’ve gotten sort of used to out of Valve time and some of our larger-scale projects.

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What could be more exciting than finally watching G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in movie theaters this summer? Only joining the team to combat Cobra Command yourself with the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra videogame, of course.

Here's the trailer for G.I. Joe, which is set to be released in August '09.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra E3 2009 Trailer

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra E3 2009 Consoles Trailer »


Valve Criticizes the Architecture of the PS3

Yesterday, I posted a story about EA Games of Europe executive Patrick Soderlund’s comments about the Xbox 360 having been “maxed out” while the PlayStation 3 has not been. Vague and unsubstantiated claims aside, Soderlund is obviously discussing the architectural differences between the technologies that power each console, and what those architectures mean for developers going forward.

Interestingly enough, another major player in the game world also chimed in recently about this topic. During an E3 2009 interview, Valve designer Tom Leonard talked to Loot Ninja about why Valve does not develop games for the PS3. Leonard was quoted as saying:

“The PC and the 360 are just more straightforward. We can focus on what we want to do, which is make game experiences, instead of sweating bullets over obscure architectural decisions they make with their platform. [...] I didn’t come into this business in the 90s because of some technical fetish. I came in because I wanted to give people experiences that made them have fun.”
 

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Pandora Considers Consoles 'High Priority,' Won't Say Who They've Talked To

Don't get me wrong. When Microsoft announced a partnership with Last.fm for their streaming music service on Xbox Live, I was excited. But Andrew Pfister and I, both heavy iPhone users, looked at one another and said "I wish it was Pandora." Pandora Radio is another streaming music, radio station-centric service. Other gamers have been thinking the same thing, so I reached out to Jessica Steel, Pandora's VP of business development, about the company's future plans and if it includes consoles.

"We would absolutely love to add game consoles to the stable of devices that support Pandora," she told me over the phone. "There are obviously a large number of those devices in people's livings rooms and they're connected."

Steel doesn't consider the addition of Last.fm a deal breaker for being part of Xbox 360, but outlined a big feature Last.fm has but Pandora doesn't -- and it may have been a deal breaker for Microsoft.

 

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Of all the important revelations to come from E3 2009, perhaps the one that was greeted with the most excitement was the return of the Booth Babe, that lovable, fishnet-wearing, lycra-clad mistress of information that raises the blood pressure of passers-by and excites them about the games through the power of sex appeal.

We can think of no more qualified individual than Dana Vinson, G4tv.com's Senior Booth Babe Expert, to roam the floor, hunt them down, and ask them questions that reveal just what they know about the world in which they live.

Please, watch this video, and see just what knowledge they possess.

 

E3 09 Booth Babe Round-Up »


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A good reason to get your hands on the WiI MotionPlus is so you can play Red Steel 2, where your Wii remote can quickly switch between a giant sword and a pistol to slash and shoot down your enemies. If you're curious to see how it all works, check out the direct-feed gameplay video for Red Steel 2.

Red Steel 2 Direct-Feed Gameplay

Red Steel 2 HD Direct-Feed Gameplay »


Your girlfriend is kidnapped and being harshly interrogated in a mysterious building. What do you do? Explore!! Check out the direct-feed gameplay for the new action side-scroller Shadow Complex, based on the Orson Scott Card novel, Empire.

Shadow Complex Direct-Feed Gameplay

Shadow Complex Direct-Feed Gameplay »




We were already impressed with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves which won Best Game of The Show from E3 2009 on X-Play, but here's a more visual look with this direct-feed gameplay demo from the game. With all those flying bullets, climbing across walls and jumping between buildings, Uncharted 2 looks more like an action adventure movie than a videogame.

Watch the direct-feed below.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Direct-Feed Gameplay

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Direct-Feed Gameplay »


Live Blog: GDC 2009 Keynote - Nintendo President Satoru Iwata

In news that should surprise no one, Nintendo has reiterated -- for the millionth time, it feels like -- that the company has no plans to introduce a price cut for Wii in the foreseeable future. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata deflected suggestions of a price cut for their still-popular console in an E3 interview with CNBC.

"Right now, we have no plans at all about a price cut," said Iwata, commenting on declining Wii sales in recent months. "We are going to start launching the stronger software in the later half of the year — and we are confident [we will] regain the momentum."

Declining Wii sales, however, are still leaps and bounds over what Sony and Microsoft have been able to accomplish. If anyone needs a price cut, it's them! Or is Wii's price really keeping someone at bay?

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