E3 and the real world

Mark Gibson

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The Entertainment Electronics Expo, a.k.a. E3, the world’s largest annual technology and video game convention, stormed Los Angeles, Calif., from June 6 to 9. For the first time ever, the UP was there.

A trip to E3 is like a trip to a theme park. People wait in lines for hours at incredible building-type booth structures just to play a game or watch a demo for 10 minutes or less and then move on to the next booth and start the process all over again.

While 46,800 gamers packed into the L.A. Convention Center to get a quick glimpse at the upcoming games and products, only media outlets like the UP were privileged enough to preview games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which were closed out to the general public. Some of these closed-off booths were like a whole other world.

Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo had full-scale two-story minicomplexes set up. Then there were the major publishers like Square Enix and Activision that had giant movie screens showcasing game trailers. Activision even went as

far as to have show times set up where people would gather in their booth’s giant lobby to watch a game trailer as if it were the intro video to a thrill ride.

But despite all the mega booths, Nintendo and Sony stole the show as they revealed new hardware, the PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo Wii U. We got up close and personal with the Wii U, and after further examination, it wasn’t quite as exciting as expected. For starters, the gameplay footage shown in Nintendo’s conference that was supposedly showcasing the Wii U’s graphics capabilities didn’t actually come from that system. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Amie admitted some of the footage from the Wii U game play reel actually came from the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

“We’re talking a year away from when the system is going to launch,” said Fils-Aime in an interview with GameTrailers.com. “In terms of how good it looks, that will be driven by what the individual developers do.” In other words, the Wii U will “supposedly” have the same third generation graphics quality as its Sony and Microsoft counterparts. Aside from that, the system seems like a larger version of a DS. The controller was the attention-getter because it looked like an iPad with more buttons on the sides. Not to mention the controller itself is bulky and feels like it’s missing standard controller buttons like analog sticks and triggers, which makes it a little awkward to use.

If you were thinking of popping in your old GameCube games on the Wii U, you can forget it. The head of Nintendo’s public relations division, Mark Franklin, told GiantBomb.com the Wii U will not be backwards-compatible. In addition, the system will also not support DVD or Blu-ray discs. Overall that’s not a big deal but it still seems like Nintendo almost took a step back with this system. We won’t really know if the Wii U is destined to be a hit or not until we get confirmations about third-party games that support the Wii U’s new graphics capabilities. Until then, fingers crossed.

For reviews of all of the conferences at E3 and more detailed coverage of games we saw on the show floor, visit upressonline.com.