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E3 Preview

With E3 only a fortnight away we thought it was time to come up with some predictions about what we will get to see at the biggest gaming event of the year...

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What most people, including us, focus on during E3 is what "the big three" are up to. And with "the big three" we mean the hardware companies - Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. They each have a press conference (Microsoft also has "the Natal experience) lined up before the expo kicks off. On to the speculations:

Microsoft

Since Microsoft decided to host a separate Natal event (Sunday June 13), we expect them to reveal the name (Wave?) and price ($79, $149?) of Project Natal. More importantly we will get to see the first proper games revealed. Will Microsoft bring Natal functionality into one of their major franchises (Fable III is a heavy favourite) and what kind of third party titles will have Natal functionality (not just party games, please).

Microsoft have three extremely strong titles to release on Xbox 360 over the next 10 months. Starting with Halo: Reach, continuing with Fable III and on to Gears of War 3 next April, it's hard to see Microsoft revealing another huge hardcore title that is set to be released during the same time period. We could definitely see the next Project Gotham Racing (developed by Turn10?), and perhaps some kind of teaser of what's next for the Halo franchise (or is it too early for that?), but I think it's a safe bet that Microsoft will focus on these titles mainly. Microsoft likes to end their E3 press conference with some kind of bomb, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Rockstar there with the announcement of Grand Theft Auto V, possibly with some kind of timed exclusivity or "exclusive" DLC. Perhaps we will also see Hideo Kojima and Metal Gear Rising at the Microsoft press conference. Rock Band 3 could also make an appearance.

E3 Preview
Gears of War 3 will be one of Microsoft's big guns at E3.

Nintendo

Nintendo have already said they will reveal their next handheld, the full blown successor to the wildly successful Nintendo DS, nicknamed Nintendo 3DS. As the name suggests it will feature 3D and hopefully Nintendo won't make the same mistake they did with Virtual Boy. Cheap 3D effects won't win over many fans these days, but Nintendo have been on a roll as of late, and I'm willing to bet they'll be right on the money with Nintendo 3DS as well. I expect Nintendo have a Mario title that relies heavily on the new features of 3DS to be available at launch.

We all expect the next Legend of Zelda to be the main revelation for Nintendo Wii during the press conference. It was a bit of a surprise when Shigeru Miyamoto mentioned it and showed an artwork last year, but it has been quiet ever since. The Wii Vitality Sensor is also likely to be given a lot of attention, along with the first software that supports it (Wii Relax?). Could there be any additional surprises? Last year Nintendo threw hardcore fans a bone with the Team Ninja collaboration on Metroid: Other M, and perhaps they will bring back some old franchise to keep the Nintendo loyalists happy. Perhaps a high profile Donkey Kong title, or is it time to reinvent Kid Icarus for a new generation of gamers? We'll find out on June 15, when Nintendo will hold their press conference.

E3 Preview
We expect to see more of the Wii Vitality Sensor this year...

Sony

Sony are in a similar situation as Microsoft as they plan on revitalising Playstation 3 with their motion sensing Playstation Move peripheral. Essentially a technically superior take on Nintendo's Wii concept, Playstation Move was given a lot of space at GDC this past March. But given the proximity of the launch of Move, Sony cannot afford not to push Move heavily at E3. I expect several new titles to be revealed, and perhaps the rumours of Move functionality in Gran Turismo 5 are true.

Little Big Planet 2 and Killzone 3 have been revealed prior to E3, but I think we are going to see more reveals at the Sony E3 press conference. It should be noted that both those titles are made in Europe and traditionally Sony in America have been reluctant to give European titles the centerstage at E3. Insomniac recently signed a multiplatform deal on a new title with EA, but I think we may very well see the next Resistance at E3. After all Resistance 2 was released prior to Killzone 3 so it would make sense. The Last Guardian will keep the connoisseurs happy. What about third party exclusives? The Agent is a game we would love to see more of, but given that Rockstar have had their hands full completing Red Dead Redemption and whipping L.A. Noire, and Max Payne 3 into shape, I'm somewhat doubtful we will see it at E3. It's hard (read it would take a lot of money) for both Sony and Microsoft to convince third parties to exclusivity develop for one platform, but I believe Sony are looking to strike deals on exclusive DLC or maybe a timed exclusivity on one or two major titles from the likes of Activision, EA, Ubisoft or Take Two for the holiday season.

Will the next PSP be shown at E3? Internet rumour mill says no, and with the need for Sony to focus on Move and Playstation 3 that seems very likely. But perhaps Sony will give us a little glimpse of it.

E3 Preview
Killzone 3 was announced this month, and will likely be given some love at Sony's press conference, but perhaps it will be eclipsed by something else.

The rest

These days most third parties stay away from making to many announcements at E3, afraid of not getting enough attention, but we are going to see some new games revealed at the show outside of the three big press conferences. EA are likely to feature the next Need for Speed title (rumoured to be developed by Criterion), Ubisoft will debut the next Driver, Sega will show of the next Total War title and the recently revealed Sonic Colours. Square Enix also has a surprise lined up for E3, perhaps the rumoured in developed action-RPG take on Final Fantasy. Portal 2 will get a proper presentation, and we expect Metal Gear Rising to feature heavily for Konami. We also expect there to be a number of new Move and Natal titles on the floor from third parties, they have been tied up by NDA's until E3, but at E3 they will be available for testing.

There won't be much in terms of major MMO reveals at E3 (not the right arena), but it will be interesting to see how Sony Online Entertainment have progressed with their titles. THQ's Warhammer 40,000 MMO is likely to be the biggest draw in the genre at the show.

Our expectations

Bengt Lemne: "I would love to see a bit of the EA vs Activision battle unfold at E3. Perhaps a teaser from whatever Respawn are working on countered by a cryptic teaser from Bungie's next game. I think Nintendo are going to surprise us with not just a better than expected 3DS, but perhaps something that will keep my Wii active as well. Oh, and I hope Namco Bandai have something nice planned for Pac-Man's anniversary, and not just a party. And of course, I expect people will once again be disappointed with the perceived lack of major announcements..."

E3 Preview
Pac-Man recently turned 30 and Namco Bandai plan to reveel his "next evolution" at E3.

Petter Mårtensson: "While it won't be the kind of E3 where we get to see any next generation consoles, at least not any stationary ones, it is still a E3 where the hardware will go head to head. Playstation Move and Natal will face off against each other, and Nintendo will be showing where they will be taking handheld gaming over the next few years. Especially Natal and Move will be compared to each other - do they lag? What is better, having something in your hand or not? Get ready for a lot of discussion, including a whole slew of flame wars, across the Internet after E3. And me? Well, hopefully I will be in my own corner, salivating over Vigil Games' Warhammer 40,000 MMO..."

E3 Preview
Small heads in giant armours will keep Mårtensson happy...

Vic Bassey: "I think I've gone on record and said, I once again cling to the faint hope Valve will announce something big, like a new orange box bundled with Team Fortress 3, Counter Strike Re-armed, Portal 2 and of course Half-Life 2: Episode 3. A new GTA might be a tad too early seeing as they've been churning DLC stuff for GTA 4, but should such an announcement come, they can't possibly do any worse than revisiting the mean streets of London. Official confirmation of a re-release of Team ICO's past gems on the PS3 would also be top news."

E3 Preview
Another orange box? Vic knows what would make gamers all over the world happy...


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