Next Console Cycle Full of DRM? Ugh, No Thanks.

I love consoles. I have most of them, but nothing about this next console cycle is enticing to me. The lack of games on WiiU, no backwards compatibility for Virtual Console, all of this awful DRM for the Xbone and possibly the PS4... I'm honestly considering giving PC gaming a try.

I've never really been a PC gamer. But the Oculus Rift has me more excited than anything that Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft have shown. I've downloaded Skyrim on Steam (already played through it all on 360) and plan on getting Bioshock and Fallout 3 as well. Once my Oculus Rift arrives, this is where my gaming hours will be invested.

Steam is nice for older games, since the prices are greatly reduced. But I really don't know what I am going to do about new games. The best Oculus Rift games will obviously be on PC, and will likely come from Indie developers, so they likely won't be 60 dollar titles, so I don't mind just downloading those.

But paying full price for a AAA game without a disk is still a bit irksome for me, maybe I will buy a PC game on disk? Ugh, I just don't know. I'll likely keep buying games on 360 for as long as they release them, but I'm not sure yet.

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E3 has come and gone!

Overall, it was a great show that left me excited for what the future of gaming has in store; a stark contrast from last year's E3 which left me a bit underwhelmed and sad for the industry.  Microsoft started things off with a bang, showing game after game, until revealing their answer to the Wiimote: something currently being called Project Natal.  Nintendo's performance in 2008 was particularly awful leaving them with no must-buy fall-release.  I am happy to say, however, that Nintendo had a much better conference this time around, unveiling a number of surprises; perhaps most notable were the games Metroid: Other M (it can't be said enough, this name is terrible and needs changing) and Golden Sun DS.  Sony kept the show riding high with several announcements of their own, including their own Motion Controller.  E3 2009 was a great return to form for the industry and here's hoping it continues in 2010.

Microsoft's biggest surprise was Project Natal.  A motion sensing, body detecting, and voice recognising camera.  The aim is to eliminate the controller and to make the input medium invisible: Arthur C. Clarke springs to mind.  The demonstrations left much to be desired, especially the 1-to-1 mapping of person-to-avatar, which afflicts your digital counterpart with a bad case of cerebral palsy.  Still, there is a lot to be excited about: the navigation of the menus by hand swipes, the voice recognition capability, and the very futuristic idea in general.  The most interesting part of Project Natal to me was that they said the dev kits are just making their way to developers now.  This will surely increase the life cycle of the console by another two years.  The other big news from MS was the continued folding-in of all the popular franchises, that once belonging to Sony alone, into the 360's library.  From Final Fantasy to Metal Gear Solid, the need to own a Sony system seems to continually dwindle.  All in all, Microsoft gave a lot to look forward to, probably had the best performance of the Big Three.

Metroid: OM is a 3rd person-y Metroid game being developed by Team Ninja, the guys responsible for the Ninja Gaiden series and the Dead or Alive series. Reggie tells us they have a track record of more mature titles (although he didn't mention that bra-size was usually the reason for this).  Nevertheless, Team Ninja does make some quality hardcore games and it will be interesting to see what they turn out. Golden Sun DS was perhaps the biggest shocker of E3 for me personally.  Announced 6 years after Golden Sun: The Lost Age, many people had given up on a sequel.  With Camelot Software Planning and Nintendo parting company a few years back, it seemed like this game would never see the light of day.  Initial impressions of the game on the show floor indictate that the playable copy isn't much more than a tech demo. However, some nice poster art was released and serves to excite fans of this franchise, including myself.  A number of other games for hardcore players were introduced, they key one being Mario Galaxy 2, which is sure to energize the Mario devotees.  Nintendo is positioning itself for a big "I forgive you" from its fanbase, so here's hoping these games turn out great.

Sony's Motion Controller uses a combination of gyroscopic technology and camera input.  Sony's eye toy was one of the first motion sensing technologies to be found on Consoles, so it's a logical next step to make a controller that works using that existing tech.  The demos of this controller were pretty good, with fast 1-to-1 mapping of hand motions.  Sony also had a number of game announcements, including a bold faced lie that stated FF14 would be available only for the PS3.  Square-Enix, in a later meeting revealed that this may not be the case and that there is a possibility that the game might appear on the 360.  The PSP Go looks like an intersting update to the PSP, including 16 Gigs of internal flash memory.  I was a bit disapointed that the device didn't have a touch screen; I long for an iPhone like device with proper controller input, as that would make for a great gaming console.  Overall, it was a more than decent show from Sony as they showed they have the means to keep pace with the changing industry.

With all 3 companies hitting high notes with their conferences, it was a great time to be a gamer.  Fans from all sides are proclaiming victory for their team, and it's obvious why.  Each company was able to show that they have great games coming down the pipe, and plans for the future.  With More Halo, Mario, and Uncharted, fans of each console are sure to have lots to look forward to this fall and beyond.


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