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E3 - Nintendo Press Conference Thoughts

Okay, time for the Big N to show us why they are king! Or... something like that.

- New Zelda game... I'm actually over Zelda. This doesn't excite me as much as it should.
- Okay, so now they're showing us how it controls.
- It's basically what Twilight Princess was meant to be, but wasn't. Bit late Nintendo...
- This looks terrible to control. Half the time he's swinging and nothing is happening.
- Haha, it took him 5 swings of the Wii remote to throw one bomb.
- Miyamoto is claiming that they are having some difficulties, and that it usually runs smoothly. Riiiight.
- LOZ: Skyward Sword won't be out until next year.
- Apparently characters look real on the Wii. Well that's a blatant lie.
- New Mario sports game is called Mario Sports Mix. Coming next year, games include hockey and basketball.
- Now comes the bragging about how Nintendo is the best. Seriously Reggie, get over it.
- "We have sold 20 billion copies of everything we've ever made!"
- Wii Party - sounds like a fetish porno.
- Haha, Nintendo is trying to top Harmonix's Dance Central with Just Dance 2. Good luck...
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is up now. Looks boring to me, don't see why it's so anticipated.
- A new Goldeneye game is coming out. Exclusive for Wii. Prediction: It will be disappointing.
- It'll also be out this year.
- Hahahaha. New Disney game is titled Disney Epic Mickey. Whoever named that should be shot.
- The main selling point of this is a painting mechanic that lets you paint things into the world, or erase them.
- A new Kirby game is coming for the Wii... I think. The stream is crappy, I have no video at all, just audio.
- It's called Kirby's Epic Yarn. Yo Nintendo - Adding 'epic' to your game titles won't make them better.
- Dragon Quest IX - coming in 26 days to the US (So like 5 months for us)
- Metroid: Other M is up now. I can't see it but I can tell by the music and sound effects.
- Still trying to find a better stream. Trying and failing.
- Okay, got video back up.
- I feel a new Metriod title coming on.
- Oh no, it's Donkey Kong! I assume this is for Wii, where's the DS love? :(
- It's called Donkey Kong Country Returns.
- The 3DS is now being talked about.
- Won't need 3D glasses. That's a plus.
- Looks like you'll be able to turn the 3D off if you want, or make the effect stronger.
- It also includes heaps of other additions, like a slide pad for analog control and accelerometer.
- You'll be able to watch 3D movies on it. Yay, let's all strain our eyes! It was bad enough on the PSP...
- A new game with that angel dude I don't care about has been announced.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising.
- Don't know if this is for the 3DS or Wii... can't tell.
- It's 3DS.
- I can't understand half of the things this guy is saying...
- So the 3DS connects to wifi points all the time, even when it's off.
- Yay, Nintendogs and Cats!
- Now he's quickly going through some 3rd party games that will be made for 3DS.
- Big cheers for Metal Gear, Resident Evil and Kingdom Hearts.
- Laughter for Saints Row.
- Now some industry people are talking about how cool 3DS is. I wonder how much they got paid.
- Oh, apparently the 3DS has a 3D camera too.
- You heard it here first - Nintendo 3DS is the ONLY thing worth seeing at E3!
- 3DS will make fluffy dogs come out of the screen and into your arms.
- Nintendo is giving the people in the crowd a 3DS to trial... the 3DS is chained to a lady!
- Microsoft's free Xbox 360s was a much better sign-off.
- No Nintendo, you haven't raised the bar. You've just jumped on the 3D bandwagon.

So that's it for Nintendo! I miss Cammie and the crazy drum guy. Not too bad though, because they really brought it with the hardcore titles. There was hardly anything exclusively casual!

Now I'm going to bed, because there's no way I'm staying up past 4am!

E3 - Microsoft Press Conference Thoughts

Alright, it's 1:30am and I'm waiting for the MS press conference to start. I plan on leaving my thoughts for all 3 of the main conferences, so time to get started on this one!

- First up is COD: Black Ops. Looks good, but the game's not really on my radar.
- MGS: Rising now. I was thinking that this wouldn't be a big deal, but the sword mechanic looks awesome. Can't wait to kill some watermelon!
- The sexy beast of gaming, Cliffy B, is up!
- Live Gears 3 footage! Awesome! Loving it so far! The new Lambent enemies, especially that badass with the mouth lasers! Also female Gears - unnecessary, but I can see why they did it.
- Peter Molyneux is on stage. Yawn... so over him now.
- Fable III will be totally unlike the other Fable games! Yeah, heard that before >_>
- Okay, so we get a trailer for Fable III. Looks... like Fable really. It's a shame the trailer is made like a shitty movie trailer.
- New gladiator-style Crytek game looks promising. Can't wait to cave some skulls.
- Halo Reach = awesome. Specifics that I'm loving: Assault rifle sounds like a REAL WEAPON NOW! :O! Takedown move on Elite looks awesome. And was that space battle gameplay footage?! Awesome!
- Okay, boring stuff now. Kinect (Natal) seems to be the big talking point.
- The song they want you to play on Zune? Justin Bieber. /wrists
- Some more boring stuff, I wasn't paying attention.
- ESPN partnering with Xbox. Yawn.
- "Oh hai, I'm an ESPN dude, I makes sports jokes so you know I'm cool *thumbs up*"
- The guy talking about Kinect looks like a hobo...
- There's now a small child on stage playing with a tiger called "Skittles" via Kinect. She's creeping me out.
- The tiger is cute though.
- This game looks like some random fun, but as a Kinect exclusive, I doubt I'll ever get it.
- Now: Kinect Sports, a game where your 360 avatar plays some sports! Sound familiar? I wonder if this will be free with Kinect...
- Hurdles? Seriously? Yeah, cause I always want to run on the spot and jump like an idiot...
- Wow, racing with Kinect looks worse than it does on the Wii...
- The woman playing the game is annoying me with her terrible self-commentary.
- Now a game where you jump around to collect tokens... Kinect is just looking like Eye Toy now.
- And now some soccer moms are playing a rafting game. MS are obviously whoring themselves out to casuals just like Nintendo. Hopefully when they fail they turn back to the hardcore games.
- A fitness game is next. Very original Ubisoft.
- Ubi must have paid MS quite a bit, they're spending much more time showing this than pretty much every other game shown at this conference.
- I'll admit, the punching part of this demo looks fun. The rest of the game however... boring.
- "No other exercise option gives you what we do!" Yeah, except, you know, going outside and actually doing it.
- Oh damn, Harmonix is bringing a dancing game out for Kinect. Looks like I'll probably be forced to buy it by my DDR-loving girlfriend...
- Kinect release date: November 4th in the US
- New Star Wars game exclusive for Kinect. Looks pretty cool, but we didn't get to see what the person playing was doing.
- Now some guy from Turn 10 is talking about how Forza 3 works with Kinect.
- Okay, so apparently they couldn't do a PGR-style, walk-around garage without Kinect...
- You can also sit in the car. Cool I guess, but you can still do that with a controller.
- 360 Slim announced, predictable. Awesome looking, built in Wi-Fi and 250GB hard drive! And apparently it will be the same price as the old one (don't know what model).
- Being shipped in US today, in stores by the end of the week!
- Everybody in the audience gets a free one. Lucky bastards.

That's it for the MS press conference! The announcement of the new 360 was worth waiting for! I shall be back tomorrow night for the Microsoft and Sony conferences!

Red Dead Review

Set in 1911, Red Dead Redemption is one of only a few games in the western genre. Why aren't there more games in this genre, I don't know. Frankly, I don't care, because this is the only one that matters. It's just that good.

You play as John Marston, a man who has lived his life in the classic outlaw fashion. He's robbed banks, shot Indians and ridden horses all his life. But his gang members betrayed him. Left him for dead. So he decided to turn his life around. Start a family. Go straight. Unfortunately, it wasn't so easy. His past has caught up with him. The government is holding his family hostage, and he won't see them again unless he hunts down and kills his old gang buddies. This is where Red Dead Redemption starts.

The storyline is engaging. It's full of memorable characters, standard western cliches and emotion. For me, the last one is what matters most. Rockstar have built this story out of emotion, and they expect you to care about the characters, your actions and the overall outcome. They succeeded in this. I won't spoil anything for those who haven't played the game, but it does get pretty emotional at certain times. The ending is especially unique. It's unlike anything I've experienced in a game before, and it will stay with me for a long time. Everything comes together for something truly memorable.

But the story is not the only thing that is memorable. The overall atmosphere is the best I have ever seen. No exceptions. As you ride up to an abandoned house, you really get the feeling that it was once somebodies home. As you're riding across the plains you'll spot birds in the distance, the setting sun making them all the more visible and easy to spot. The sky darkens and rain starts to fall. You want to get out of the rain, even though it has no effect on anything. The thunder rumbling in the distance makes you want to snuggle down somewhere and sleep through the storm.

The first thing that makes up this atmosphere is the game world itself. First of all, the map is huge. Even after over 50 hours of play time, there were interesting places I was stumbling across for the first time. The world also contains varied environments: plains, deserts, swamps, woods and mountains. And in each of these environments live animals. These animals you can hunt, and sell their skins and meat for money. They aren't just there as a source of income through. They are there to make the world feel more real. This is an alive world, and the animals reinforce that. The only other Rockstar game with this kind of scope was GTA San Andreas. It was filled with open space, but it all felt empty. There is none of that here. You could be walking through a featureless desert and it would not feel empty, because you can see the hawks flying overhead, hear the coyotes barking and chasing each other.

Not only that, but the world is full of interesting places to visit. Classical western towns like Armadillo, Mexican villages like Chuparosa and the beginnings of a modern city: Blackwater. These places are filled with life. Dogs barking and running around, chickens pecking at the ground, raccoons sneaking around at night trying to find something to steal. But of course, there are the people too. The sheriff, putting up wanted posters outside the prison. Prostitutes selling themselves to anybody who will listen. Drunks staggering around the street. The people are just as important as the animals in making up this world.

The next part the atmosphere is the graphics. They are, simply put, amazing. I have it on 360, but I know the graphics are nowhere near as good on the PS3 (my brother has it on PS3. He has a much better TV than I do, and the 360 version is still better on mine) Usually I would say that the graphical difference doesn't matter, but it really does. This is the first game where I would say that graphics are as important to me as gameplay. Because they pull you into the world, and they keep you there. At the time of writing there are a few graphical glitches, but they are so minor that it's hardly worth mentioning.

The final part of the excellent atmosphere is the sounds. Hawks screeching from above, a train chugging past, wolves howling. These all serve to immerse you further into the world. And the music! The music is authentic western music, usually not worth mentioning, but the way it is used is just so perfect. Not to mention the typical saloon music you'll here as you pass a saloon in town. I thought I would miss the radio from the GTA games while riding across the plains, but I don't.

The gameplay is typical of a Rockstar game: varied and excellent. Dueling is fun, though I only really got the hang of it once I looked it up online. I probably should have read the tutorial more carefully. Everything else, from shootouts to riding your horse, feels polished and smooth. The only criticism I have on this part is that changing weapons in a hurry takes a bit of getting used to. The animations and physics have been stepped up a notch from GTA IV, and the difference is noticeable. While taking cover, John will flinch and duck as bullets come flying towards him. It really makes it feel more real.

Red Dead Redemption is a game that I hope I never forget. It's the best game I have played all year, and quite possible the best I have ever played. It really deserves all the praise it gets. And from me, it gets a 10.