A lot of this past week was about faith. Not religious, of course, better described a faith of the geeks. Faith that Lucas would finally deliver a movie at least somewhat worthy of the massive legion of fans his films have created of the past 28 years, and depending on what camp you were in (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo), faith to deliver one hell of a knockout blow to doubters and competition at this week's Electronic Entertainment expo. In some aspects, that faith in all respects was probably shaken, or certainly not given any sort of renewed zeal.
In the case of Epsiode III, it was more of keeping faith that Lucas hadn't totally lost it. It was far, far better than the pathetic hack jobs that Episodes I & II were, but a the same time, many lines of dialogue and wooden acting nearly sunk the movie. And we have to fault Lucas, becasue we've all seen this fine ensemble cast do some great acting in other films. Plus, I think many fans complaints that the Jedi are painted as somewhat weak in the movie is pretty damn valid (I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't seen yet, so I won't elaborate on it). Yet, I'd still rank it as pretty good and the third best movie in the series (behind IV & V, I'm really not a big fan of VI). So ultimately, enough of my faith (and apparently most others from the most reactions so far) was restored that I am overall satisfied and am interested in the new Star Wars series coming soon to TV.
In the case of E3, I think faith was lessened on all sides. From what I've seen and read, it was a good show, no doubt, but way more downs than ups. Despite Sony's extremely impressive video conference, it would appear that nothing that was suppossed to be PS3 was actually running on PS3 hardware, just a suppossed approximation of what the PS3 is supposedly capable of. Suddenly we harken back to when Sony debuted the PS2 and promised "Toy Story" quality graphics, on which they didn't deliver. Then there's the design aspects. Not only does the PS3 system look pretty damn hideous (and that may not matter to some, but when everyone is touting how "sexy" their stuff is these days, it matters a lot in the eyes of your average consumer who is concerned with how this system would look in an entertainment center). The controllers look like Batarangs, so hopefully, that'll change before launch. And there are very strong rumors that the PS3 will retail for about $460, which they may feel justified since they claim their system knocks the others out of the park in technology, but I think that's above a lot of people's price thresholds. Plus, my fellow GUG'er Charred has come up with a pretty good comparison that shows the PS3 isn't really all it's cracked up to be when you really break the specs down. There were several games I was very interested in for the PS2 (Kingdom Hearts II, Final Fantasy XII, Okami & Phantasy Star Universe), but they are all way off, possibly next year.
As where Sony just seemed to keep going down, Microsoft had a lot of ground to make up. I tried to defend it eariler, but Microsoft blowing their wad so early was a horrible move in hindsight of what Sony had to show everyone. Whether or not PS3 could actually do this stuff is irrelevant at this point, Sony showed us a bunch of cool stuff we haven't seen before from franchises we love (Metal Gear, Devil May Cry, Tekken, Final Fantasy, etc.) as well as some new things. It was all new. Most of Microsoft's stuff had been leaked way earlier or shown at the pathetic infomercial on MTV prior to the event. Plus, Perfect Dark Zero, Microsoft's big gun, failed to impress with some really bad screenshots. Luckily, they did make up some ground-According to everyone who actually saw the game behind closed doors, Perfect Dark Zero actually looks and plays pretty damn good, but then why didn't us gamers get to see any of this? But if Perfect Dark Zero didn't take away gamers' collective breaths, Gears of War did. Plus the LONG delayaed Kameo (which was originally suppossed to be on the N64) was actually looking better and better with each new movie I saw. Plus, I think people are geniunely confused about the new levels of xbox live service, exactly what Xbox titles will work (what exactly would be the cutoff point for "best-selling"?), and if the 20 gig hard drive actually comes with every system or will be an add-on. The final verdict? I've reserved my 360 with an initial $50 down payment, but I'm ready to pull it immediately if I feel the price is too high ($350 is pretty much my price threshold) or the software isn't up to snuff. As far as current Xbox titles, I can say that I'll probably be getting X-Men Legends II, but that'll be available for all systems, so once again not much to look foward to.
And Nintendo continues to march to it's own drummer. I think they definitely have the right attitude about the console wars no longer being a pissing contest in terms of pure power, but they had a pretty quiet and just plain weird showing otherwise. Aside from Zelda, there was nothing noteworthy for the Gamecube (maybe Fire Emblem, that's about it). Do we really need a Game Boy that's roughly the size of an Ipod shuffle? It's too small for anyone over age 8 and I can see anyone that age a younger losing something like that quite easily. And then there's Nintendogs. Is everybody at Nintendo fucking high? I was hoping that I had seen the last of that whole "virtual pet" thing. I mean that's really the whole thing. You get a pet dog, and you pet it, feed it, clean up after it and eventually make it fat enough to sell to a Asian restauraunt for their "puppy chow" special (at least if I have anything to say about the game, that'll be in there). It's the same huge problem I have with the Sims games as well. You don't really play these games, they play you.
Overall, what all three companies really failed to do was make you think that your current system sucks ass and you need to upgrade, which they were all able to accomplish last time. I hold high hopes for the next generation, but also no rush to jump into it (my 360 reservation notwithstanding, I will definitely wait on PS3 and probably not buy the Revolution right off the bat either unless it's unexpectedly cheap, which may end up being the case).
And I thought I'd end with my thoughts on some odd but possibly very inpsired casting choices. Kelsey Grammar as the blue furball Beast in the new X-Men movie is a stroke of genius. Sure, he obviously can't do anything physically required of the part, but he's perfect to play the voice of the most intelligent mutant in comic book history. It will be interesting to see how they blend him into what will obviously be a mostly CGI character, but if they pull it off, it'll be great to see. Then there's Topher Grace in the new Spider-Man flick. The only comment is that he will play an unspecified villain. Grace is a great actor, but I just can't honestly think of a noteworthy Spidey villain he could pull off. He's obviously too small to play Venom, and if they are going to do the Green Goblin, it has to be James Franco since he is Osbourne's son. And to be honest, most of the other Spider-Man villains are far too hokey for me to think about (maybe Mysterio, but he was a pretty lame villain, so I hope they don't use him). Until next time...