E3 2010: What we learned from the show

Matter-of-fact conclusions from a crazy week in gaming

E3's over for another year, leaving us to examine trailers and screenshots, save our pennies up for 3DS and catch up on some much-needed sleep. But what do we feel we've learned from E3 2010? Each member of the GamesRadar UK team has contributed to create a list of all you need to know about the show and what it means for gaming over the next year.

Sony wants to make more money out of PSN

When Sony announced the PlayStation Network Platform at the 2006 Tokyo Game Show one of its key features was that, unlike Xbox Live Gold, it was going to be free.

Well at this year's E3 PlayStation conference it was revealed that the PSN we've been using to date has been more of a PSN Silver account, with PlayStation Plus - a premium, paid service, mimicking the existing Xbox Live Gold service, becoming available later this month (June 29).


Above: PlayStation Plus extra cash. With wrong colour button symbols?

The question is, will people want to start paying for something they were previously getting for free? The difference with the Xbox service is that to play online games you need a Gold account - that's reason enough for most people to justify the cost. On PSN playing online is free (and will remain part of the free offering), so you might struggle to understand why you'd want to pay the $49.99/£49.99 price point for PS Plus.

The best reasons we can come up with from the list Sony has cited are early access to demos and game beta trials and full versions of PS3 downloadable and PSN titles to play for as long as your membership is effective; but that's a fairly short list. If we're totally honest we won't be dropping 50 notes for avatars and custom themes so it’s going to live or die by the games Sony decides to include as part of the package.

2D is cool again

Nintendo's press conference was full of new and innovative 2D gaming, not least Kirby's Epic Yarn, but it wasn't the only company to stick two fingers up at the Z-axis. Strong showings fromLittleBigPlanet 2, Rayman Origins, Shank and Marvel vs Capcom 3 all proved fewer dimensions can indeed be more.


Above: Donkey Kong Country Returns, Rayman Origins and MVC3. Woot!

Is it just an attempt to appease the hardcore gamers while motion control gets all the mainstream attention? Or is it just that we've got to the point where analogue movement within a 3D space has become less impressive to modern gamers? There's no denying polygons are nowhere near as exciting as they were in 1995, so maybe it's time games just gave us what plays best, not what everybody expects them to look like.

Bottom line is, these games got us excited like children so they're very welcome indeed.

The big three are relying on game franchises more than ever

It was pretty evident that while Microsoft and Sony are busy ploughing a huge amount of investment into new gaming ventures, both are relying on established franchises to keep their core audiences satisfied.


Above: Spartans in Space! Or, as it's more commonly known, Halo Reach

Before embarking on its terrifying hour-long pimping of Kinect, Microsoft made sure that it had rolled out a host of familiar names. Gears of War, Halo, Call of Duty, Fable, Metal Gear. Likewise Sony: Gran Turismo, Portal, Infamous, LittleBigPlanet, Killzone and, er, Twisted Metal were all carefully name-checked alongside the Move titles that most gamers couldn't care less about.

And Nintendo? Well, their whole business is built on their trusted and beloved game franchises. And it always will be.

There's no end to the party game party in sight

Chuffing party games. They promote the playing of games as part of a social gathering. We are in support of this gregarious notion. But owing to the vast majority of party games being a bit cheese-on-a-casual-dick, we have developed a general disliking for party games. This year's E3 had an unhealthy amount of party games that may or may not turn out to be shit: Wii Party, New Carnival Funfair Games, Vacation Isle: Beach Party, Oops! Prank Party, Start the Party! (Move), Pac-Man Party...


Above: Pac-Man Party. Is this the cruellest mini-game ever?

And while we're on the subject of bitching about games that we inherently and irrationally dislike, it's worth mentioning that E3 produced a bunch of stupid sports titles that all whiff a bit of sicky (Sports Champions, Kinect Sports, Sports Island Freedom, MotionSports, Racquet Sports) and also some utterly repellent fitness bollocks (Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, Get Fit with Mel B, Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout).

Handheld gaming is back... and how

Handheld gaming had become a bit stale in recent months. PSP's big push lastyear saw some good games come out over the past 12 months too, but even that momentum seems to have fallen away again, thanks in no small part to PSP Go's terrible first year.Everyone's got a DS, but its release schedules have been increasingly light on first-party Triple-A games (which was a massive clue that something new was coming, in hindsight).

But the unveiling of Nintendo's 3DS not only ignited excitement over handhelds, it gave the entire industry an adrenaline shot with its phenomenal 3D graphics (that don't need glasses) and ultra-strong line-up of games. Everyone wants this handheld and we can't wait to get our hands on it again.

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