Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles drew nearly 47,000 video-game developers, publishers, retailers, analysts and media, showing off and taking in the latest and greatest in equipment and titles. Attendees got a look at the battle plans for dueling futuristic military shooters Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and previewed the Wii U, a future system from Nintendo. Here's a look at other top items:

Apple has gotten a lot of attention recently for the unveiling of its iCloud, but in the video-game sphere, two companies already in the cloud, delivering complex games via the Net to smaller, simpler devices than consoles and PCs, unveiled new advances.

OnLive demonstrated new apps that allow full-featured games to be played on tablets such as the iPad, the Motorola Xoom and other devices based on Google's Android system.

Many games will be able to be adapted for touchscreen control when the service expands later this summer. From Dust, a game in development by Ubisoft for Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, was shown being played using the iPad's touchscreen. Players also can choose to use an accessory universal controller (no price set).

You can have this little TV, if you will, and this controller, and have a full gaming experience. OnLive, which began delivering games via browsers to computers and, using an adapter, to TVs last year. (Games can be rented, purchased or played as part of a $9.99 monthly subscription.)

If publishers choose, they could adapt games so that OnLive players could use a tablet and TV in tandem, which is the vision that Nintendo was showing at E3. The in-development Wii U console's handheld controller includes a 6.2-inch touchscreen. The difference is, of course, this is something that works outside of your living room and is not tethered to the TV.

Also on the way: OnLive capability built into Vizio TVs and other smart sets.

Cloud-gaming competitor Gaikai takes a different approach, pitching publishers such as EA to use its globally connected network of servers to deliver their games directly to consumers. Games and demos can be played within a standard Web browser on computers, TVs and tablets.

Most games can be streamed, but deep, rich games such as Mass Effect 2 might have a portion of the software downloaded to the user as the initial scenes play out. The download would be smaller than the standard game installation. They believe in the Web being the future.

Publishers also could allow their games to play directly through Facebook.

Services that deliver console-quality experiences without requiring console-strength hardware could be a glimpse into the future. This may be the last generation of consoles, and if it is, it's going to be replaced by this sort of thing. Having two competitors just validates the space.

Perhaps the most talked-about game at E3 was BioShock Infinite (due in 2012 for PS3, Xbox360 and PCs), the third in 2K Games' celebrated sci-fi action series.

Unlike its predecessors, based in the ruins of the underwater city of Rapture, this imaginative sequel takes place in the floating-on-air city of Columbia in an alternate 1912. You play as an agent, who is attempting to rescue the mysterious young Elizabeth from her jailer: a 20-foot-tall birdlike mechanical creature called the Songbird.

The stunningly detailed world, memorable characters and intense action sequences — including a heated firefight that becomes dizzying when you hop on a roller-coaster-like sky-rail system to get around — all add to the unique, immersive experience.

They really wanted to put the player in this amazing world and tell their story not through non-interactive sequences —they tell the story through the world. Irrational Games, which created the original 2007 hit BioShock said they tell the story through the character you areand through the woman you're with.

First James Bond, then Dr. Who. Now the latest British action hero to be reborn? Lara Croft.

An origin story due in 2012, Tomb Raider unveils Lara Croft's transformation into the tomb-raiding adventurer. And this game, now in development for PS3, Xbox 360 and PCs, leaps out of its previously cartoonish mode into a full Mature-rated treatment, a first for the series.

The story line involves Lara surviving a shipwreck only to be pursued on a mysterious island.

Crystal Dynamics said that in order to portray this survival experience, this real visceral experience on the island going through these situations, you cannot do that in a Teen-rated world.

Early creepy scenes show her evading a shadowy captor in a dark, claustrophobic escape and self-treating serious wounds.

The creater said it is not about being able to constantly drop the F-bomb and have gore and grotesque use of language - it's just real survival and real situations. They want to make you feel like you are right there with her.

At the outset, Lara is sort of innocent, young and naive, but she has some of the qualities and the essence, the determination and the grittiness. There are stages of character development. The goal of that is there will be a point in the game, probably within the first 1½ or two hours, when the player will fell that they now feel connected to and understand Lara Croft.

The franchise also is getting a movie reboot (the two originals starred Angelina Jolie)expected in 2013.

Sony officially christened its next-generation portable the PlayStation Vita, successor to the PlayStation Portable , to sell for $249 (Wi-Fi) and $299 (Wi-Fi plus 3G) when the global rollout begins at year's end.

The PS Vita has a 5-inch multitouch organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen, a rear touchpad, two thumbsticks, front- and rear-facing cameras and SixAxis motion control.

Among the Sony games in development for PS Vita are Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipeOut, Sound Shapes and Modnation Racers. Several third-party games were revealed as part of the Vita roster, too, including an original BioShock title from 2K Games, Street Fighter X Tekken from Capcom and Call of Duty from Activision. Other publishers such as EA,THQ and Ubisoft also are supporting the portable.

They believe this device will change how people think about portable gaming. They claim the advanced technology packed into the PS Vita will deliver experiences never before seen on any handheld.

AT&T will serve as the exclusive carrier for the 3G models.

Sony is introducing the Vita as it attempts to reverse its fortunes in the portable gaming market. Although the company's announced sales of the PSP exceed 70 million units worldwide, the device has struggled against Nintendo's formidable DS, which has already sold more than 135 million.