Games E3 Lite, Day One
posted by July 14 at 13:40 PMon
Microsoft has tried for decades to take over the living room, starting with the turd known as WebTV. Result? Four thousand grandmas are still using the thing to forward Christian redemption chain e-mails. Nice work, MS. They’ve done better as video game makers, at least in the States, but their secondary goal of hawking movies and TV shows—a huge part of the Xbox 360—has been somewhat muted. TV episodes at $2 a pop? No thanks, and movie rentals, while comparably priced with PPV, are difficult to navigate with the 360’s clumsy interface.
If Microsoft wants to outdo the Wii, it shouldn’t try with weird games with add-ons (like You’re In The Movies [requires a camera] and Lips [requires a microphone], both announced today at their Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference). The novelty of gizmo-games like Wii Sports and Guitar Hero must wane at some point, so it’s good to see Microsoft try a parallel route—make the Xbox a dominant digital media center before anybody else gets there. Say hello to the first great blows in that direction: Starting this fall, NetFlix users will stream movies off their Xboxes, done with a new interface that will make navigating long lists of TV shows and movies much simpler. Seems fair to expect a neutered NetFlix film selection on the game console—much like the selection you can currently stream to a laptop—but it’s a huge step in the right direction, and it’s Xbox-exclusive. Sony can tout Blu-ray high-def movies on its systems, but if digital distribution is the future, Microsoft has just taken the lead.
Other announcements: Xbox 360 is gonna get the next Final Fantasy game, an announcement nobody predicted—and I could care less. Look at the title of the game: Final Fantasy 13. Thirteen? What else can the game do that it hasn’t done 12 times before? I know, people in Japan go ape for anything with an “FF” attached, and Microsoft could use a sales boost there (Sony’s had the lock on that series for years), but Final Fantasy games represent everything I get tired of as a grown-ass gamer: long grinds of quests, dialogue that is “good enough,” melodrama, birds that are ridden as horses, etc etc. Every time fanboys go on about how games are maturing and becoming art, I point at this series’ human characters with cat-ears and make a fart noise.
Speaking of gizmo-games, Nintendo’s announced a Wii add-on for motion control. Say what? This Wii MotionPlus add-on will apparently improve the motion sensing—or, I should say, make the Wii Remote actually work for anything other than Wii Bowling. You ever play a game other than Wii Sports and been asked to “turn a key” or something? The key will never turn. Nintendo will announce tomorrow what new games this gizmo will support. I’m crossing my fingers for Punch-Out Wii, but it’ll probably just be Brain Training Wii with support for scratching your forehead.
Oh, and let’s earn that “Nerd” tag:
(PS: Xbox players might’ve heard that a demo for the long-awaited Too Human is now online. I played two minutes of it and turned it off. Talk about an ugly, hard-to-control, harder-to-see game. Should’ve held off on releasing that demo, MS.)