While there were a few computer hardware manufacturers at E3, the main focus of E3 is obviously the gaming entertainment industry. Many developers, public relations people and other industry professionals such as console manufacturers were there as well.



The most well known manufacturers in the gaming industry: Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, were displaying their latest developments in some of the largest booths on the show floors. Here, we'll be taking a closer look at Sony's and Nintendo's latest creations: the PlayStation3 and the Wii, respectively. The PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii are being shown for the first time to the public at this year's E3. Microsoft's Xbox360 has already launched, of course, and while it had a large presence at E3, we will be focusing on the two new consoles.


Nintendo Wii

Most of the hype around the convention floors seems aimed at the Nintendo Wii. The line to view the Wii is about three hours long, if not more for some people. As we said in our previous article, the Nintendo Wii can be found inside a closed off section of Nintendo's booth with about 75 game stations available running various games and demos, covering all the traditional genres as well as some more obscure offerings. There are first person shooters, adventure games, and of course the famous Mario and tennis games, not to mention a couple musical titles. 27 titles all told, and more in development.



In our opinion, the Nintendo Wii looks like it will be a great hit amongst the younger children and the less hardcore gamers. We see the Wii being a success for those individuals who are looking at just having fun gaming rather than looking for the best available graphics. The graphics for the Wii are not fantastic, but we believe that the people the Wii is targeted towards aren't the type to look for such things. We noticed that, for example, the upcoming Metroid graphics look just about exactly like the GameCube's Metroid Prime. Other games like Zelda: Twilight Princess and Mario Galaxy look slightly better, but nothing to compare to the graphical power of the Xbox360, PlayStation 3, or a high-end PC. The graphics are roughly the same as the GameCube, only with an upgrade to support widescreen (720x480) and 480p (640x480) resolutions.

Naturally, Nintendo isn't pushing graphics as the major selling point for the Wii. It's all about the new gameplay experience, powered by the new controllers. Evaluating gameplay is a more subjective task, but we did have a chance to play around with the controllers. Has Nintendo found the Next Big Thing, or is the new wireless wand just a gimmick?


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With games like Table Tennis, we found the controller to be very easy to use. Just a slight left or right movement quickly moves the paddle side-to-side. We found making our hand movements as smooth as possible aided our control of the cursor greatly. Jerking/twitching movements cause the virtual hand to jump around all over the screen, and doesn't allow you to effectively control the game. This is likely a limitation of the sensitivity of the controllers, but we were able to adapt quickly to the requirements.

Many games such as Mario Galaxy needed the Nunchuk along with the standard remote to play the game. You hold the Nunchuk in one hand and the regular remote in the other hand, and the combination of the two allows you to control movements and actions as well as camera angle. We found this to be a little confusing at first because of the separate controllers, but as we spent more time with this setup, again, we grew accustomed to the new controls, and the gaming experience became much more enjoyable. As an example, think back to the first time you used a keyboard and mouse to control a first person shooter, rather than just using the keyboard. It takes a little time to adapt, but once you're comfortable with the new controller scheme, it greatly enhances the gameplay experience.


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After seeing the sensor bar the other day, many of you wanted to know how it works. We were able to get together with a developer and he was kind enough to answer most of our questions regarding the controller setup.


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The sensor bar emits an infrared field out directly in front of the TV. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary to place the sensor bar in the same plane as the TV, either on top of or below the TV is recommended. As the remote is pointed towards the TV, it interacts with the infrared field. Using triangulation logic, the remote is able to determine location, angle, and distance; as you move the remote around, the change in location/angle/distance is calculated. The remote then communicates with the console via Bluetooth, sending this information to it, and from there the software determines how your movements relate to the game world/application.

The sensor bar doesn't receive any type of signal from the wireless remote and is there purely to generate the field. The remote also has a gyrometer and accelerometer to allow it, for instance in the tennis game, to know the difference between a back hand or regular swing. You need to maintain a proper distance from the sensor bar as well; if you come to within about three feet or less, it will not work precisely.


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We found first person shooter games to be a little difficult, as we weren't fully accustomed to the controller just yet. There's definitely a learning curve with the new controller mechanism, but long-term that shouldn't present too many difficulties. We noticed quite a few people had already mastered the remote fairly well.



The Wii's remote is fairly light and holding it in the two positions is very natural. As we mentioned before, the on-screen cursor you see when moving the remote around is very sensitive, but once you get accustomed to it, it becomes quite simple to use. We weren't able to find out whether the cursor's sensitivity can be configured to one's liking, but we're hoping something to that effect will be implemented.



We also were able to confirm that Nintendo has no plans for HD output or any Blu-Ray/HD-DVD technology in the future for the Wii. They are aiming to keep costs down to a minimum, and keeping such technology out helps achieve this goal. The size of the console is fairly small and in comparison to the Xbox360 and the PS3 (and the original PS2, for that matter) is significantly more compact. We weren't able to get very close to the Wii, so we can't give precise measurements; however, it appears to be slightly larger than your typical 5.25 inch DVD-ROM drive.

PlayStation 3
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  • Saist - Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - link

    I read the article entry about the Wii being aimed at kids and younger audiences... and I have to wonder, did this author attend the same convention I did? Did he play the same games I did? Was he playing the same version of Metroid, Mario, Zelda, Excite Truck, Project Hammer, Tony Hawks Downhill Jam, and Sonic that I was playing?

    With that opening line, I think it's safe to say that no, he wasn't. I don't know where he was, but it wasn't in LA, and it wasn't in Nintendo's booth at E3.

    The Wii is a hardcore gaming system. Get over it. It's for hardcore gamers. Little kids can keep their Xbox 360's and Playstation3's. I'll take something that actually is fun to play again.
    Reply
  • Sharky974 - Thursday, May 18, 2006 - link

    Please. The wii is for little kids, girls, and old people. PS3 and 360 are for hardcore games.

    I have my doubts about Wii being a long term success. You look at some of the amazing games like Brothers in Arms on the PS3/360, I'm sorry but Wii will never be able to duplicate that wow factor of truly jaw dropping graphics. BIA it's like you're in a real city the graphics are so photoreal. We truly haven't scratched the surface of next-gen graphics yet. The first wave of 360 titles was like, not even close to what's happening now.
    Reply
  • brshoemak - Saturday, May 20, 2006 - link

    quote:

    You look at some of the amazing games like Brothers in Arms on the PS3/360, I'm sorry but Wii will never be able to duplicate that wow factor of truly jaw dropping graphics.


    i hope you're joking.

    if it's all about graphics to you then you aren't a gamer. it's about gameplay, that's why they call them 'GAMES' -- it's not solely about graphics. you could make a turd sandwich, put it on fine china, garnish it with caviar, but it's still the same old sh!t inside.

    gamers support the gameplay, not the fancy packaging it comes it. photorealism is great. photorealism in a crappy re-tread game is still a crappy game.
    Reply
  • Sharky974 - Thursday, May 18, 2006 - link


    http://www.gametrailers.com/umwatcher.php?id=2880">http://www.gametrailers.com/umwatcher.php?id=2880

    Check out this bootleg BIA video from E3.

    The game makes Call Of Duty 2 look previous gen. And I hear the Devs were specific that it was running on 360.

    I'm sorry but X360 will be priced cheap like $199 before you know it, and how many teenage boys are going to be able to resist that?
    Reply
  • Billy Idol - Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - link

    what about the F1 game pictured? :/ Reply
  • Koing - Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - link

    We couldn't spare a few hundred £££ for a half decent DV camcorder?!

    Thanks for the video though. Nice.

    Koing
    Reply
  • JNo - Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - link

    Does anyone know how long the Nintendo Wii sensor bar's cord is? Because I have a projector set up, it would need to be at the opposite end of the room from the actual console. Or is the wire actually just a power cord wire as all the sensor bar does is just 'generate the field' and the controllers talk to the console directly?

    Bloody shame about it being standard def. I know graphics aren't all but come on Nintendo! 720p on dvi/hdmi with simple graphics wouldn't be that hard....
    Reply
  • hoppa - Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - link

    Would that be worth an extra $200 to you? Because that's likely how much it would cost.

    Do you really care that much about good graphics over good game play? Keep in mind this isn't a computer where games are made at a set level and if you don't have the beefiest hardware you'll get crappy framerates. This is a system that has games designed specifically for it, and thus, your frames will always be exactly how you need them. Besides, even when you have the better graphics, how often during your actual gaming experience (assuming it's any fun) are you actually paying attention to how nice the graphics are? Do you really never pick up any of your old consoles any more because your gaming experience is ruined by the graphics?
    Reply
  • yanquii - Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - link

    I definitely agree. Although it is nice to see screenshots of an upcoming game with incredible graphics, it is even nicer to play a well-designed game that keeps you hooked.

    Doom III looked incredible, but the gameplay made the game totally boring and repetitive.

    Gameplay is much more important than graphics, and I often find myself itching to pick up Zelda: The Ocarina of Time and some old SNES games.
    Reply
  • lemonadesoda - Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - link

    What is it with the PS3. It looks aweful. I would be embarassed to have one of those things sitting under the TV. LET ALONG UNDER MY NEW ULTRA SLIM 37inch TFT SCREEN!!!!

    SONY have really fooked up on the design here. They should have outsourced the design to a proper studio rather than using the local kindergarten/playskool teachers to come up with a design.

    If only Apple has designed this thing... then we would be going WOW. Unfortunately, bacause it LOOKS SHITE, we are hoping that the graphics output will make up for it. And so far, even the fanboys are disappointed
    Reply

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