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July 11, 2011 | by  | in Arts Visual Arts |
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Anomalous Materials – The Electronic Entertainment Expo

Over the exam break, the largest press event in the videogame industry took place in Los Angeles, California—the infamous Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3). This is generally the time of year where the majority of significant announcements relating to videogames and new gaming technology take place. As expected, at E3 2011 the three main competitive companies—Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft—held large-scale conferences to detail their plans for the future..

Sony’s conference was largely centered around the detailing of their new handheld, the “Playstation Vita”. My impression is that of essentially a bigger, beefier PSP. This is a literal comparison—the screen on the Vita supports video resolutions up to four times as high as a PSP, and is also solid enough to comfortably sport two analogue sticks: a first for any handheld gaming device. It also has a host of other features you would expect of a modern piece of gadgetry, such as a touch sensitive screen and support for both wireless and 3g. However inevitable these inclusions may be, it’s a little tiring to hear Sony tout touchscreen controls at every available opportunity, as though the DS wasn’t released a whole seven years ago. Still, an almost-PS3 in my hands? Yes please.

Although the PSVita had an undeniably impressive showing, Nintendo’s unveiling of the Wii U stole the show. An entirely new kind of home console, the hardware is comprised of both a console, and an ipad-esque tablet for a controller, with the ability to switch between the respective television and tablet displays, or utilise both at once. No actual games were shown, only tech demos that explored a myriad of ways in which the technology could potentially be utilised. I feel that Nintendo really gave a clear sense of the exciting, innovative capabilities of the console, that it could nurture new and interesting ways to play games without forcing the use of awkward motion controls.

Speaking of which, Microsoft confirmed that we are not to expect any radical changes in their focus at any point in the near future, with a conference that basically mirrored last years—plenty of painfully underwhelming kinect demonstrations. Clumsily grafting said awkward motion controls onto pre-existing types of games and calling the result “better with Kinect” is nothing short of a regression. But hey, I guess it’s selling?

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