We've already taken a look back at what transpired on the hardware side of things in our previous special edition QuickPeeks, so this time let's review the game announcements from E3 2008 that graced these pages. We'll see if the words of the big three as well as the third-party developers and publishers at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo came to pass.
Microsoft kicked off the expo with a bang, heavily hyping up Fallout 3 with a demo and Bethesda's promise to provide "exclusive" DLC for the Xbox 360 and PC versions. While we now know that the "exclusive" in this case actually meant "timed exclusive", the Xbox 360 version of Fallout 3 did benefit a lot from the DLC.
Link: E3 2008: Bethesda announces exclusive Fallout 3 DLC for PC, Xbox 360
The Microsoft conference was also the first time a specific release date for Resident Evil 5 was mentioned: March 13, 2009 for both North America and Europe. While that was certainly right on the money, a little caveat is still in order. The on-screen presentation showed that the game was coming out in Japan on March 12, but it was actually released a week earlier.
Link: E3 2008: Resident Evil 5 demo, features, launch date revealed
Lionhead's Peter Molyneux also got in on the fun. After garnering applause upon announcing that Fable 2 was finished, he continued on with a brief demonstration, confirming rumors of an online cooperative play option. Molyneux also announced that the game would hit store shelves in October 2008, and he was right. Post-conference, we heard about the length of Fable 2's gameplay from Lionhead employees.
Link: E3 2008: Fable 2 online co-op confirmed, game coming in October
Link: E3 2008: Fable 2's main storyline to yield 12 hours of gameplay
Some Xbox Live love was also present in the form of announcements for upcoming XBLA games with an XBLA version of Portal spearheading the assault. Other games announced and dated were Galaga Legions, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, and UNO Rush. Fable 2's Pub Games was also given an August release target along with an XBLA remake of the original Banjo-Kazooie.
Link: E3 2008: MS announces Portal: Still Alive and more XBLA-loving for this year
Arguably the biggest news to come out of E3 2008 was saved for the last minute of the conference. Scoring a coup that made a lot of gamers slack-jawed, Square Enix's heavily anticipated Final Fantasy XIII - long expected to be a PS3 exclusive - was announced to be Xbox 360-bound as well. We can't really say that this has come to pass yet since the game doesn't even have a rock-solid release date, but there's zero chance that the Xbox 360 version will be canned.
Along with the Final Fantasy XIII announcement, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada also announced released dates for three other Xbox 360 RPGs: Infinite Undiscovery, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, and Last Remnant. Wada got all of these right the first time around. Developer tri-Ace also let gamers in on a few details about Star Ocean: The Last Hope.
Link: E3 2008: Final Fantasy XIII also heading to Xbox 360, Square Enix talk roundup
Link: E3 2008: tri-Ace lets loose Star Ocean: The Last Hope details
Nintendo was the next one to take to the conference stage. Amidst lots of charts, graphs, and statistics, we heard about new Zelda and Mario games for the Wii. And that was the last we've heard about them so far.
Post-conference, Shigeru Miyamoto mentioned a new DS Zelda, and that actually turned out to be true, although we had to wait until GDC for the formal announcement. Miyamoto also confirmed that a new Pikmin game was in the works. There's been speculation that this Pikmin game will make an appearance at E3 2009, so we'll see if it shows up next week.
Link: E3 2008: Zelda and Mario games for Wii confirmed, Zelda project for DS
Link: E3 2008: "We're making Pikmin," says Miyamoto
Speaking of Miyamoto, he was also on-hand at the Nintendo press conference to demo and present Wii Music. You can improvise all you want in the game, you can't mess up. The game, on the other hand, did mess up a bit as it failed to reach the sales numbers that Nintendo expected from it. At least they got the pre-holiday release bit right.
Link: E3 2008: Wii Music playing in time for holidays: new screenshots, details
Another Wii Series entry called Wii Sports Resort was also revealed during the conference as a bundled game with the new Wii MotionPlus accessory. They flubbed this one's spring target release though, as it's now scheduled to come out in July.
Link: E3 2008: Wii Sports Resort announced, coming this Spring
Just like Wii Sports Resort, the unveiling of Animal Crossing: City Folk also involved a new peripheral: the WiiSpeak microphone. The microphone peripheral was going to allow players to talk to each other with a new voice chat feature (it did). The game will also allow you to send messages to real world cell phones (again, it did).
Link: E3 2008: Animal Crossing to have microphone peripheral, WiiSpeak
Since they had nothing really concrete to tell their core fans, Nintendo turned to third-party developers for some much-needed help. Among the third-party DS games announced during the conference were Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and Spore Creatures. They also revealed a new Pokemon game called Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. The DS Chrono Trigger remake was also detailed during E3 2008.
The Wii's software release list for 2008, meanwhile, included Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels and the E3 Best On Show '08 award winner, Deadly Creatures. Too bad the latter didn't quite meet the fall 2008 release date that Nintendo claimed. A video for the Wii fighting game Castlevania: Judgment was also spotted post-conference.
Link: E3 2008: new third-party DS games revealed by Nintendo; GTA DS, Pokemon Ranger, more
Link: E3 2008: Wii games release schedule for the rest of 2008
Link: E3 2008: Castlevania Judgment debut trailer revealed
Link: E3 2008: Chrono Trigger's controls outlined, single screen option available
Of the big three, Sony took center stage last. Headlining the Sony conference was Resistance 2. Insomniac CEO Ted Price gave details on the game's campaign as well as the cranked up gore factor.
A companion game for the PSP called Resistance: Retribution was also announced during the conference, and while Price was reticent at the time about saying anything definite regarding PSP-PS3 connectivity, we all know how that turned out now. Resistance: Retribution also didn't meet its supposed Spring 2009 release. It came out earlier.
Link: E3 2008: Resistance 2 now with 44 Magnums with remote bombs and no health bars
Link: E3 2008: Resistance: Retribution announced for PSP
Link: E3 2008: Screenshots and video for Resistance: Retribution
Another of Sony's big exclusives at E3 2008 was Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet. Jack Tretton had this one pegged for an October 2008 release, and he certainly wasn't wrong. Not even a last-minute delay caused by a controversial in-game song made Tretton into a liar. Media Molecule co-founder Alex Evans was also spot on when he said a public beta would commence in September 2008.
Link: E3 2008: Tretton says LittleBigPlanet is a go come October
Link: E3 2008: LittleBigPlanet beta this September
And of course, there's God of War III. E3 2008 was where PS3 owners were finally assured that Kratos's next bloody adventure would be on the PS3 and on the PS3 alone. The release date announced for this one was a little too far on the safe side, though: sometime "after this (2008) holiday season". Well, Sony, you have the whole year to make good on that.
Link: E3 2008: God of War 3 trailer revealed, March 2009 release possible
While Microsoft had without a doubt stolen a lot of thunder from everybody with the FFXIII Xbox 360 announcement, Sony still had a couple of aces up its sleeve. The game was still going to be PS3-exclusive in Japan, and Square Enix's other home console Final Fantasy title, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, was reconfirmed as a PS3 exclusive. So far, both of these are still holding true.
Link: E3 2008: Japan won't get Xbox 360 FFXIII, Versus XIII still PS3 exclusive, new FFXIII trailer
Other PS3 games present at E3 2008 were DC Universe Online and Eternal Sonata. The former had the first public unveiling of its first trailer, while the latter got a target release date of Fall 2008, which actually did turn out to be true.
Link: E3 2008: DC Universe Online's first trailer
Link: E3 2008: Eternal Sonata for PS3 dated
Sony also made a few flubs at E3 2008. Sega's PS3-exclusive game, Valkyria Chronicles, inexplicably showed up on a PSP trailer reel. While this elicited a lot of joyful squeals from PSP-toting strategy RPG fans (I was one of those), it turned out to be a mistake on the part of the guy who prepared the reel.
This next one isn't so much a mistake than an annoying tease. Quantic Dream demoed Heavy Rain at the expo, but instituted an NDA so those who saw it couldn't really say anything. Damn. Know what? I hate NDAs. And I will continue to hate them unless I'm the one under an NDA for something awesome.
Link: E3 2008: Valkyria Chronicles showing during PSP line-up just a mistake
Link: E3 2008: Heavy Rain impressive, too bad we can't talk about it
In terms of sheer impact and the resulting gamer reaction, I'd have to give E3 2008 to Microsoft. Sony comes in at a very close second thanks to the fact that they obviously thought a lot of their software announcements through and subsequently got a lot of things right. At the low end of the spectrum sits Nintendo, who frankly didn't really have anything spectacular - or even moderately interesting - to show. This is just a personal thing though. I'm sure all of you have your own picks for who came out on top ad who ended up with egg on their faces.
Now that the retrospective's done, it's time to look to the future. In our next few E3 2009 features, we'll take a look at what we'll definitely see and what we want to see at this year's expo. I already got one of my personal predictions confirmed (Itagaki showing up at E3 is something I've been telling the other QJ peeps for a while now), so we'll leave the rest of them for next time.