Courtesy of annual tradeshow the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the holidays come early for PC and video game enthusiasts every year. Running June 2-4, 2009 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the trade-only event is expected to draw 40,000 attendees hot to catch a glimpse of this and next year's biggest releases.
Though just a shadow of its 2000-2006 glory years, when skate ramps and strobe lights dominated due to recent invite-only policies and publisher cutbacks, the confab's still expected to be ground zero for industry announcements. With the rumor mill already buzzing, here's a sneak peek at what could be some of the convention's biggest titles and unveilings.
Talk about playing favorites: Time recently named Grand Theft Auto czars Sam and Dan Houser to its annual list of the world's 100 most influential individuals. For their efforts to incense every parent and politician in North America, the Rockstar Games heads join illustrious alums including Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Guitar Hero/Rock Band virtuosos Alex Rigopoulos and Eran Egozy.
Played a lot of Zubo lately? Logging in tons of time with Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? Chances are, probably not. But as a recent spate of under-the-radar PC and video game gems are quick to remind, sometimes the most compelling titles aren't the ones splashed all over your TV or local GameStop.
For example: PC outing Plants vs. Zombies, which hardly seems an obvious choice for strategy fans. But the downloadable epic -- demanding you use sunflowers, cherries and potatoes to keep shambling cadavers from invading your garden -- doesn't just boast a great sense of personality and attractive hand-drawn visuals. It's also incredibly deep, and one of the simplest to learn, yet hardest to master tactical combat challenges we've ever encountered.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, 40 percent of video game players are female, while women over 18 represent a larger built-in audience than even teenage boys. But where are the titles which speak to this diversity, and intelligently at that? One glance at store shelves and online portals -- crowded by childish outings (My Fashion Studio), self-help programs (Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009) and cutesy diversions (Diaper Dash) -- and it's hard to tell.
Once upon a time, $40 or $60 went a long way towards satisfying your gaming jones. Not only did it buy a hot new title or two, but also must-have accessories like chips and soda. Nowadays though, that's the bare minimum you'll drop on first-run PC, handheld, or next-gen console releases. So what's a poor, cash-starved player to do? Easy -- take advantage of a new breed of products and services designed to help you get more for your dollar.
According to conventional wisdom, most video games inspired by popular film licenses make Gigli look like Citizen Kane. See: 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which almost single-handedly sunk Atari; 1995's Street Fighter: The Movie, starring a digitized Jean-Claude Van Damme; and 2006's Jaws Unleashed, wherein you play the shark, natch. But as a recent spate of current and upcoming Hollywood adaptations aims to prove, it's not all stale popcorn and watered-down soda for today's couch potato.
If it's not broken, don't fix it: Simply add a couple digital cameras, music playback, voice recording capabilities and an online store. That's the mantra behind Nintendo's new DSi handheld, just launched this week. We put the portable game system through its paces, and found it a surprisingly robust contender, albeit not for the reasons you might think.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times at this year's Game Developers Conference, held March 23-27 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. The annual confab, which brought together the electronic entertainment industry's most celebrated minds, pointed clearly to interactive entertainment's increasingly divergent future. Grab your controller and hang on tight. Even we were surprised at how rapidly the industry is undergoing an extreme makeover.
Party in your pants! Given excitement levels surrounding set-top systems like the Wii and Xbox 360, enthusiasts often forget several of today's most advanced gaming platforms actually fit in your pocket. With spring here, it's worth reiterating a few ways vacationers can enjoy a little fun on the run, even while braving the horror of direct sunlight.
Played any good books lately? Thanks to increasingly literate scriptwriting and dialogue, today's top video games are beginning to rival novels and films. With epics like God of War III and Heavy Rain soon forthcoming, we polled developers about gaming's literary trend. Happily for street scholars, most insist that the future of high-tech storytelling looks bright.