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McClatchy-Tribune  06/14/2014 7:23 PM ET
Tech Talk: We'll see fruits of this E3 in 2015 [St. Cloud Times, Minn. :: ]

June 14--Last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, gave the media and video game enthusiasts a look at upcoming games and associated technology.

E3 in a year when any of the Big 3 -- Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony -- are releasing a new console is always exciting, but I prefer the year after, as the companies are then ready to show you what new games those consoles can actually play. After all, a powerful console without quality titles is just an expensive paperweight.

With Microsoft and Sony getting launches of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 out of the way last year, as well as Nintendo releasing the Wii U the year before that, this E3 was mostly all about games.

Microsoft

Microsoft made up for a disappointing conference last year by focusing almost exclusively on new games. The company is developing titles and acquiring content partners in support of Xbox One, the new Xbox console it released last year.

Before E3, Microsoft announced that it would be selling a version of Xbox One without a bundle Kinect sensor for $399, a $100 drop compared with the launch package with Kinect included. For users not interested in Kinect (the motion accessory that enables controller-less gameplay), the new price point is attractive and competitive with Sony's $399 PlayStation 4.

Microsoft bet big on "Halo" this E3, announcing a new collection, "Halo: The Master Chief Collection," that packs "Halo 1-4" in a single package for Xbox One. Games in the collection will be upgraded to 1080p visuals and run at 60 frames per second, a great upgrade considering two of these titles originally appeared on the first Xbox.

Other titles announced by Microsoft at E3 include a new "Crackdown," "Scalebound," "Forza Horizon 2," "Phantom Dust" and "Killer Instinct: Season 2." "Sunset Overdrive" and "Halo 5: Guardians" also were shown.

Sony

Sony looked to repeat its strong performance at last year's E3, where it was able to showcase the on-paper technical superiority of the PlayStation 4 and put a little egg on Microsoft's face by pointing out the latter's then-anti-consumer Xbox One policies and features.

This year, Sony announced PlayStation TV, a new set top box designed to complement PlayStation 4 and Vita. Previously announced as Vita TV, the device will be released this fall for $99. The device can play Vita games natively, as well as stream PlayStation 4 games from a PlayStation 4 console, effectively acting as a console-extender.

Games shown by Sony include "Uncharted 4," "LittleBigPlanet 3" and "The Last of Us Remastered," with the latter launching July 29 of this year. Sony also announced that impressive-looking "The Order: 1886" will be pushed to early 2015.

Nintendo

Wii U hasn't been a great seller, but that didn't stop Nintendo from announcing a gaggle of new titles for the embattled console.

New version of classic franchises are coming to Wii U, including "Super Smash Bros.," "Star Fox," "Hyrule Warriors," "Mario Maker," "Yoshi's Woolly World" and "Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker." As a tease, a glimpse of the next console "Zelda" game also was shown.

Nintendo also is getting into the collectible accessories market with Amiibo, a line of Nintendo-themed toys that add features and play options to associated games. It's basically a Nintendo version of Skylanders or Disney Infinity.

Others

Third parties turned out for E3 to show off how their games will take advantage of the graphic power and features afforded by the new consoles.

Rockstar Games (finally) announced PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC versions of "Grand Theft Auto 5," due out this fall.

"Grim Fandango," the legendary adventure game originally released in 1998, appeared at the Sony conference. Developer Double Fine says a new version of the game will be released for PlayStation 4, Vita and other unannounced platforms.

Other big titles shown include "Metal Gear Solid V," "Mirror's Edge 2," "Dragon Age Inquisition," "Mortal Kombat X," "The Division" and a new "Star Wars: Battlefront."

The big takeaway from E3 was that most of the heavy hitters for the new consoles won't be out until 2015, meaning that it may be some time until we see announcements from this year pay dividends.

This is the opinion of Times Digital Products Specialist Andrew Fraser. Follow him on Twitter @andrewfraser.

 

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