Gamers go gaga over grandiose gala

Two weeks ago as the Electronic Entertainment Expo graced the halls of the L.A. Convention Center, gamers around the world waited with bated, Mountain Dew-scented breath for announcements from their favorite developers. Speculation ran rampant before the show, reaching a fever pitch prior to Microsoft’s press conference on the 14th. Would we see a Wii-centric Legend of Zelda? Was the PSP getting a redesign? What was Halo-developer Bungie’s secret announcement? And, most importantly, how will I be able to afford it all?

Fret not, frantic gamer. We have a full breakdown of what was hot, what was cold, and what you’ll regret buying in 3 months because you didn’t listen.

Microsoft, which many will argue “won” E3 this year, brought the heat from day one with the megaton announcement that Final Fantasy XIII would also be coming to the Xbox 360, after being touted for years as a PS3 exclusive. This announcement, combined with the introduction of a sequel to the cult hit Portal, the announcement of Netflix/Xbox 360 interoperability, and a bevy of game-play videos from anticipated, exclusive titles like Gears of War 2, Halo Wars, Fable 2 and Fallout 3 set a very high bar for the next day’s proceedings.

Starting off hot, Nintendo announced Wii Motion Plus, a small device that can be attached to the bottom of the Wii remote in order to render full 1:1 motion. Nintendo’s efforts, including a demonstration of their new online voice chat, dubbed Wii Speak, and showings of games like Animal Crossing Wii, Wii Music, Wii Sports Resort and Grand Theft Auto DS almost made for an interesting press conference. Unfortunately, these announcements were drowned out by a deafening silence from the Mario, Metroid and Zelda teams and by Nintendo executives’ self-congratulatory attitude and overuse of marketing buzz words.

Following Nintendo, Sony put on a show that is best described as solid. While there were no bombshells, so to speak, there was plenty of footage from system exclusives like Resistance 2, Killzone 2 and Little Big Planet. Multiplatform releases such as Resident Evil 5, Final Fantasy XIII and Bioshock, along with the PSN movie download store announcement rounded out Sony’s show.

Aside from press conferences by the big three hardware makers, software makers also showed off their wares. Standouts include the PC God-simulation Spore, The Conduit and MAD WORLD for the Wii, Banjo Kazooie 3 for the Xbox 360, Infamous for the PS3, the multiplatform Force Unleashed, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia for the DS, and Resistance: Retribution for the PSP.

With these and other fantastic looking games on the horizon, 2008 looks like a great year to be a gamer. Unless, of course, you only own a Wii.

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