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article imageThe Game's Not Over: Digital's Preview of Video Game Fest E3

By David Silverberg     Jul 14, 2008 in Entertainment
Rock Band 2. The anticipated release of evolution game Spore. Mind-controlling hardware. Welcome to the gaming orgy of this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Here is’s preview of the innovative games to expect this year.
Digital Journal — The annual festival of video games will take over Los Angeles this week when the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) arrives with pivotal announcements in tow. While the past few years have focused on hardware from the likes of Microsoft and Nintendo, this E3 should excite gamers hungry to learn about the latest and greatest releases.
Thanks to developers growing more comfortable with the powerful hardware lurking inside the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3, upcoming games are bursting with new innovations and unique gameplay. Video games are enjoying a banner year already – in the first five months of 2008, U.S. retail sales of games software for consoles and handheld game machines grew 45 per cent over the same period last year to $3.42 billion.
As always, the big names in game software will be in attendance at E3: Electronic Arts, BioWare, 2K Games, Microsoft Game Studios and many more.
Here’s what you can expect from the most notable gaming expo in the world. And there are some tasty rumors that are fuelling speculation about another Halo, mind-controlling hardware and iPhone games.

Afflicted with Sequelitis

Just like Hollywood, the gaming industry is suffering from “sequelitis,” where new games from notable brands are trumpeted at E3 as the best thing since Mario. Developers are hopeful known names will help spur the buzz for sequels set to debut at E3: Gears of War 2, Far Cry 2, Diablo 3, Fallout 3, Soul Calibur 4, Street Fighter 4. Yes, these are amazing games that deserve to be tinkered with for a sequel. But will gamers clamour for part two’s and three’s or will they be tired of seeing the same-old repackaged in a shinier coating?

Battle of the Karaoke Games

Speaking of sequels, two of the most popular party games will release new versions at E3. Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour will go head-to-head this week in an attempt to garner the most publicity. Rock Band 2 will include a sturdier drum kit and an cymbal pack add-on. Guitar Hero World Tour will allow users to compose their own licks in Music Studio mode, adding a layer of user-generated content to the already popular franchise. There could be another musical battle brewing between Guitar Hero and Rock Band in the coming year.

The Arrival of Spore

The evolution-friendly Spore has been hit with more rumours about its impending release than a Guns N' Roses album. But word has it that Will Wright’s Spore will finally be unveiled at E3, ending years of speculation about its visuals, gameplay and marketing campaign. Spore lets you grow a single-cell organism into a creature that can then travel to other galaxies. Its Creature Creator tool puts you in God's chair by offering the chance to design your own species. Expect Spore to be the next-generation Sims. But it could also spark controversy among evangelists upset at a game promoting evolution.

Creating Your Own Superhero

Also winning noteworthy buzz is Champions Online from 2K Games. Billed as a massive multiplayer online game, Champions Online lets you create and control a custom superhero, later plunging your Superman into a comics-like world. Even more geeky is the ability to write your superhero’s backstory. Judging by the range of customization tools available for Champions Online, this MMOG could be a groundbreaking release attractive to both comics aficionados and RPG fans.

EA’s First-Person Shooter

Electronic Arts is diving into the first-person shooter genre at E3 with Mirror’s Edge, differing from other FPS games by allowing gamers to slide under barriers, shimmy off ledges and run along walls. Also, the legs, arms and torso of the shooter can seen on screen. Combat is on the back-burner in Mirror’s Edge, with the gameplay focused on traversing through complicated environments and finding escape routes. The released screenshots are stunning, and an idea of employing parkour while beating up bad guys could be an appealing feature.

Sports Games Galore

Although sports game sequels feel like roster updates and nothing more, developers like EA and 2K Games are trying to up the ante. EA says their next NBA Live game will use a “constantly updated artificial intelligence.” EA will also introduce Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 09, Madden NFL 09, and Skate It. Tennis games are also in the spotlight: Atari will release Smash Court Tennis 3 and 2K Sports will launch Top Spin 3.

Dissecting E3 Rumors

iPhone games are making their rounds on the rumour mill, considering the strong engine powering the 3G version. But what developer will step up to create a truly immersive game iPhone owners can enjoy?
A smart move for Bungie and Microsoft would be to offer E3 attendees a Halo 4 announcement. Bungie would steal the limelight from other publishers, and the Halo franchise would remain in the minds of gamers, who may be obsessed with Gears of War 2 news and Spore sneak peeks. Rumors are flying about Halo 4 being in development, so bringing back Master Chief this summer could finally satiate the gossipy gamers.
Emotiv recently released a mind-controlling device that can use your brain to affect characters on screen. Why haven’t publishers taken advantage of this futuristic gadget? There’s some buzz Emotiv is working with upcoming games but no news has hit the presses yet.
And since Xbox 360 lost the next-gen DVD format war, will Microsoft finally cut its losses and join the Blu-ray team? Adding Blu-ray to Xbox 360 would add more appeal to the console, which is lagging behind Nintendo Wii in sales in 2008. If Microsoft goes this route, expect the news to trump other announcements in light of the home entertainment implications of bringing Blu-ray to the popular console.
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