Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NINTENDO's 3DS Signals the Future of Entertainment.

(Hands-on at E3 2010. The 3DS Nintendo had on the show floors were indicated to be non-finalized versions.)

E3 2010 had many great things to line up for and experience. The longest lines were clearly at Nintendo's 3DS booth. The second the doors opened to E3, everyone rushed to the Nintendo area to line up for the 3DS, bypassing all the other booths. Wait times ranged from 1 to 2.5 hours. The crazy part was that they let in 100 people at a time every 20 minutes. Was the wait worth it? I would have to say yes. To have a glimpse at the real future of videogames and home entertainment, waiting was well worth it.


Holding the 3DS for the first time you will immediately notice a few changes. The first significant change is the addition of a left analog stick, which is actually more of an analog slider. its very smooth, comfortable, and responsive to the touch. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if Nintendo decided to adapt a variation of this for future home consoles. The second thing you'll probably realize is the addition of a slider, on the right side of the top screen. This was indicated to be used as a modifier to switch the images you saw on the screen from 2D to 3D. Also the front facing camera is no longer inbetween the top and bottom screens, but at the top of the top screen. As you turn the 3DS around you'll notice the camera on the back is no longer in the corner, but has been replaced with 2 cameras in the middle top for taking 3D pictures. The size of the 3DS is roughly the same size as its most available recent incarnation.


Everyone was so curious to know how 3D with no glasses will look like, and how Nintendo will pull it off. Well, it looks great. Its completely convincing. It was by far the coolest thing at E3. As you play with the device, you were encouraged to use the slider on the side to alternate 2D to 3D to get the full effect. It's by no means some sort of hologram. The best way to describe it is, it's a miniature version of the latest 3D television. The lenses that you put over your eyes, were flattened and integrated into the screen as an additional layer, in Nintendo's own magical way ofcourse. The 3DS then replicates the exact same 3D that you would see in the theaters. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but that's what observing the 3DS feels like.


A lot of what was available weren't actually playable. Many of them were trailers to show the visual technology of the 3D. With the exception of the Resident Evil Revelations trailer, that had constant problems maintaining the 3D effect, the rest worked excellent. The Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater trailer looked fantastic, as well as movie trailers like, How to Train Your Dragon. Upcoming titles such as Nintendogs + Cats and Steel Diver, I was fortunate enough to play. Other titles like Starfox, Mariokart, and The Legend of Zelda, I sadly didn't get hands-on experience. At the very end, near the exit, were demos on the 3D camera. Show floor assistants will take a picture of you in a silly pose using the 3DS for your amusement.

The most impressive demo I was able to play was the 3D Target Shooting. You are instructed to point the camera on a card on a table and press A. As you are looking at the video image through the 3DS, the game then creates a virtual world around that image. You then have to tilt the 3DS in various directions, to shoot at targets and get a better view of the image. The gameplay elements and interactivity that this presents shows a glimpse of what we may be able to experience with the 3DS, as well as future consoles.


Best bet Microsoft and Sony will adapt this form of technology in some fashion in their upcoming products. Microsoft's KINECT and the Playstation Move are direct results of the success and ingenuity of the Wii. A 3D PSP or an iPHONE 3D, doesn't seem that far fetched. It shouldn't be too long that we will see 3D TVs with no need for glasses either. Imagine watching 3D movies in theaters without the need of 3D glasses. Realistically, nobody wants to wear 3D glasses. It's just the sacrifice that we make until better technology, like the 3DS presents itself.

Nintendo has once again shaped the forthcoming future of its industry. The value of this company in gaming and entertainment is immeasurable. I love my XBOX360. I loved my PS2. I don't own a Wii, but I will admit, like Neo from the Matrix, NINTENDO is "the One."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

EA MMA - Hands-on E3 2010

EA MMA better than UFC UNDISPUTED? Many signs point ... YES

( Hands on demo at E3 2010 for Xbox360. Control set-up may vary for PS3 )

As I waited at the EA MMA booth, eagerly looking for my opportunity to get my hands on the game. I see someone reaching out to hand me a controller to play with him. I see on his shirt, "THQ." He quickly indicates to me, "I worked on UFC UNDISPUTED 2010. I'm checking out the competition." That's when I realized, this experience will be much better than I ever expected.


The first thing you will immediately realize is, this game is beautiful. Even the THQ Representative agreed with me on that. The graphics engine is a modified version of the one used for FIGHTNIGHT ROUND 4. The natural movements of the characters in action, and while being still, feel more organic and smoother than its competitor. We can all agree many of the fighters represented in UFC UNDISPUTED are just not that ripped in real life, and look very rigid in many of their movements ingame. Giving EA MMA a more realistic visual feel.


The striking and movement is also a modified version of Fight Night Round 4's. When moving your character with the left thumbstick, the movements of the characters appear fairly quick in the ring, so adjusting where you place your fighter as you gauge your distance for attacks is pretty easy. The striking is done with the right thumbstick. Quick flicks into various directions will throw various straight punches. While rotations of the thumbstick will throw hooks. flicking the thumbstick, down then up, will perform your uppercut strikes. To throw kicks, you hold down the left trigger, which acts as your striking modifier, and all the movements on the right thumbstick will become kicking strikes in the same amount of variations as your punching strikes, like leg kicks, head kicks, front push kicks, etc. To switch the levels of your strikes, just hold down the right bumper. You can immediately imagine in your head all the different combos you can come up with using this intelligent and intuitive gameplay format. In addition, the left bumper acts as your Feint/Dodge modifier. Holding the modifier while moving the left thumbstick makes your fighter dodge, and while the right thumbstick will throw fake attacks, instigating your opponent to make errors, giving you opportunities for counter attacks. And ofcourse, the right trigger button is used for blocks.


The truly surprising aspect is the grappling system, using the face buttons A,B,X,Y in a way that was adapted directly from ASSASSIN'S CREED. In a standing position, button A represents lower body , Y represents upper body, B represents your right side for grappling defense, X represents your left side for grappling attacks. For instance, if your press Y ( upper body ) from a standing position, your fighter will clinch your opponent. From there you can perform strikes with the right thumbstick, or press X to perform a submission from the standing position, like a flying armbar. Or, from the clinch, you can press A to switch to lower body grappling, performing a takedown. Then press X for a kimura, armbar, leg lock, etc. depending on your positioning on your opponent. If you want to stand up and strike instead of grapple on the ground, press Y. If your opponent tries to take you down, or perform submissions, the controller will vibrate, hinting for you to press B to defend in a sprawl. The same idea applies on the ground. If you're opponent is in your guard, and wants to advance his position, he will press A. Your controller will rumble, and you will press B to deny his advance. If you're opponent wants to submit you on the ground, he will press X, again your controller will rumble, prompting you to press B. As your opponent tries to submit you, a few things will occur. the first thing you'll see is the Stamina bar under your fighter's name activate. Both of you will have to manage your stamina. The faster he presses X to submit you, the more stamina he uses. The same applies to your fighter depending how you rapidly press B to defend. If your opponent has spent all his energy trying to submit you, but doesn't succeed. You will clearly have an advantage on him later on, as his character will perform sluggishly. The second, and coolest thing, about the grappling, is when you perform a submission, like an armbar, the camera will zoom in and create an x-ray of your opponent's arm so you can watch his bones break underneath. Grappling becomes more of an issue of timing your moves and managing your energy, very much like in reality.


Unfortunately, the hands on time i had was only for the fighting demo. Other aspects of the game like Create A Character, Career, etc. I wasn't able to experience. A second review might have to be written when the game comes out. As for now, the game looks very, very promising. EA MMA is a definite contender to compete at the level of UFC UNDISPUTED. The biggest weakness of EA MMA is that it just doesn't have UFC's roster of fighters and large fan base. In the world of MMA, UFC is number one. However, in the world of gaming, EA MMA's approach to focus on the gameplay to be as intuitive as possible, allowing the player to feel as close as they can to what actual combat would be like while performing these moves, may be the key to its success, fun factor, and replay value. The FIGHTNIGHT series was the best depiction of boxing in videogames. EA may have just done the same for the sport of MMA.

Available Oct. 19, 2010 for XBOX360 and PS3.