Consumer Electronic Show 2012 — Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, & More!

Posted on Jan 14 2012

As some of you know, Kana got the chance to attend the Consumer Electronic Show here in Las Vegas this week. She comes back with goodies from Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony in addition to a special K-Pop surprise! Hit the jump for her full report.

The Consumer Electronic Show fills up not only the Las Vegas Convention Center, but the Venetian, Renaissance, and Hilton on top of that. This year the show was the largest it had ever been in its forty-four year history, using 1.861 million net square feet of exhibit space as well as welcoming over one hundred and fifty three thousand attendees. If those numbers don’t make you go wow then I’m not sure what will.

Video supplement of the many wonders of CES 2012.

Most of my time at the show was spent on Thursday when a majority of the keynotes were over and the show was beginning to slow down. I had gotten a chance to be at the show for a small time on Wednesday, however, just in time for a special presentation. Samsung’s booth, which was directly across from Sony, was consistently filled with individuals looking at everything from TVs to laptops to refrigerators. Nevertheless, on Wednesday there was a whole other reason that people were gathered. Nick Cannon was there to showcase not only J.Y. Park, the founder of JYP Entertainment, but also the Wonder Girls. The girls unveiled their latest English music video, “The DJ Is Mine” which features School Gyrls. The song will be used in the Wonder Girl’s self-titled Teen Nick movie slated to air the first quarter of this year.

Samsung showed off the music video on hundreds of TV screens with the girls watching and singing along. There were plenty of international attendees who were definitely already fans of the girls, but the interesting thing was how present US reporters were. The Wonder Girls finally seem like they’ve got a bigger piece of the North American pie, but we won’t know for sure if they’ll keep the market’s attention until the movie premieres on TV.

On Thursday I got the chance to check out Microsoft’s booth, first thing in the morning. There was already quite a line considering it was the first thing a person saw as they entered the Center Hall. The bizarre thing to me was what games the company decided to showcase. At first glance all one could see was Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, Call Of Duty, and other well-known games that are not only already out, but have sold millions. On closer inspection, hiding behind the other side of the booth, were games such as I Am Alive, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, Nexiuz, and Warp.

Out of all the ones I tried Warp was the most unique and surprising. Not only was I tricked by the cute, little alien that I was controlling, but the bright colors of the world made me feel like I was about to play something ridiculously happy. Instead what I got was the ability to make scientist explode from the inside out. What a family game this is! The alien has the power to warp around, thus the name of the game, and you can take control of people to get through the level. All in all, it’s a funny, quirky game with an noteworthy approach.

Another game I feel worth mentioning that I didn’t play, but watched is I Am Alive. A lot of the listeners know how I feel about a game that could have been, and I feel the same way now watching the mixture of browns, whites, blacks, and reds in the highest contrast possible. The game doesn’t actually look appealing, especially in world of the latest, crispiest LCD screens out there. Granted, a few of the mechanics I saw gave me hope that the game would at least be enjoyable. The climbing is very much akin to Uncharted except I can’t really see I Am Alive taking place in a thicket of shrubbery, but you still get the same feel in terms of getting the main character around. Your biggest disadvantage is the stamina gauge à la Metal Gear Solid 2’s grip meter. I do like the idea of trying to make the main character a regular guy, but as to how this will hurt you in later levels I can only speculate.

Fighting (or defending) is as frantic as it should be with bums pretending to barter with you when really they’re just trying to get closer for the kill. You’re not at a disadvantage however as when someone gets too close you can easily “Surprise Kill” them. The weapon on display in the preview was a bow and arrow, which interestingly enough could be used to threaten someone if they saw you pointing it their way. Some enemies would cower in fear while others would remain unmoved. For the most part the player shouldn’t be fighting the NPCs they meet as is since doing so might cause unnecessary death.

Ignoring Call Of Duty to save my sanity, I went in search of Sony’s booth (looking out for Nintendo the entire way, even though I knew they technically didn’t have a place on the show floor). The PlayStation biased fangirl in me was happy to see twelve PlayStation Vitas on the show floor to be played with. The first one I approached was all about the social features of the little device; I got a quick run-down of the modified trophy system, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media portals available. Switching between each was easy with no load time; in fact, I only experienced load time in-between levels of games.

Talking about games, I had the free time to mess around with quite a few. Uncharted: Golden Abyss was the Vita game most intertwined with the touchscreen and back-touchpad. Drake can jump from platform to platform by simply tapping it with your fingertip, he will pay attention to where you tap and sometimes make bigger jumps than you expect to, skipping a ledge or two. It was easy to go from controlling with the analog to touching the screen even if I had an impending gun fight. Even the puzzles were engaging despite using the touchscreen to do all the ones I saw. Most of it had to do with using charcoal to unveil a glyph, and then matching them up much like puzzle pieces.

The big gripe I had with this title was sniping, which felt cumbersome and awkward. With many things, it might be because I didn’t have much of a chance to get used to the controls or it could be I suck horribly at shooters. Either way, I never quite got used to zooming my scope or positioning my hands without being too shaky. First off, I had to make Nathan crouch with the typical square. Then I had to hold L1 to be able to aim and could position my aim by moving the Vita itself. It sensed these movements with no lag, but was pretty precise. To shoot the gun I needed to press R1, but the kicker was moving my finger up and down the back-touchpad to zoom in and out. I failed the mission twice and was unable to save the character I was supposed to be protecting.

Despite the shortcomings of sniping, Uncharted was graphically the best game I saw on the PlayStation Vita. The scenery was rich and dense and characters moved realistically. The textures gave it so much depth, and I was just surprised this sort of power was possible. To give a better scope for the other games I’ll be talking about, Hot Shot Golf looked superior in comparison to its console counterpart Hot Shot Golf: Out Of Bounds. There’s quite a few year’s difference there, but the experience still looks so much grander. The colors are crystal clear and it really shows how technology has matured.

There was another game that handled the touchpads a little bit better entitled Little Deviants. The first level I played allowed me to use solely the back-touchpad to make hills that would cause my deviant to roll this way and that. I was supposed to be collecting stars, but often times I just ended up getting the key and warping to the next level. At first I was awful at this, yet I still found it entertaining as I failed. It was charming and felt like I was impacting the game in a new way.

The next level made use of the Vita’s back camera as my backdrop as the deviants flew around in little airplanes. They were being attacked by robots that I could shoot in a 360 degree manner by literally turning and aiming. I felt like a fool yet it still got me to giggle, and having fun with it is good by me. I quickly got to the final round and killed my foes without thankfully smacking anyone with the handheld in the process.

All the games I mentioned will be out for PlayStation Vita on February 22nd. The only game that did not have a set release date at the show was Gravity Rush. I was informed it currently only has a “launch window”. This is depressing considering the game is fairly unique with the way you use gravity and the female heroine’s body to attack.

On the Move side I finally got a chance to play Sorcery which has since grown up since many of us first saw it. The game originally appeared a little more cartoony and more focused on the mechanics of using the Move effectively. The world has become much more rich and vibrant with the main hero growing up a bit to appeal to a bigger market. I was worried and concerned about trying a game that incorporates Move to this degree, but I can say my experience was positive.

Blasting off shots to get a feel of the character was easy and he followed my moves with no lag. I struggled with remembering when picking my spell (done by pressing the Move button) to do the motion at the screen and not up in the air to symbolize the type of swirl it needed me to do; regardless, once I got the hang of it I was whipping out firewalls and tornadoes at the same time to make a deadly combo. Dodging was a great resource I found myself missing until I found the button for it, using it consistently over the shield you were provided with. Fighting enemies was fun and felt rewarding, probably the most effective spell simply being to freeze your enemies until they shatter.

The game also featured puzzles to open specific doors and treasure chests littered about to make the experience feel less like “We’re incorporating the Move for a gimmick” and more like “A necessary part of the gaming experience”. I enjoyed myself, but I did wish I could get more time to actually play the game to get even better at the controls. We can expect Sorcery out in spring of this year.

Going back to Sony’s E3 Press Conference from 2010 one of the most memorable moments was Sweet Tooth pulling up in his signature ice cream truck and stepping out to confirm the next Twisted Metal with David Jaffe. Almost two years later and I had finally gotten to see this beast of a game in action. To the dismay of the presenter with the game I picked the helicopter as my vehicle of choice. Ironically enough, it was the second weakest vehicle in terms of health with only the motorbike beating it. I took to the air like a pro until I realized turning fast was not this certain helicopter’s strong point. Picking off enemies was difficult simply due to the fact they could turn swiftly enough to where I had to readjust before I could shoot them back. Either way, I was able to pull off two kills online before I died in a fiery explosion.

I tried a regular car in the next round and I was told this was the fastest automobile in the game. Killing things was easier, but keeping track of my opponents was actually more stress-free in the helicopter, but regardless the new flamethrower I had kind of threw out my concerns at the time. The game is played like previous iterations in the series. The player drives around as fast as possible to pick up power-ups, ammo, and other specials items. With the triangle button you can switch between them and use them on your enemy of choice. R1 uses the items you pick up while L1 is your regular attack (or in my case bullets).

The game is faithfully how I remember it, but this time my older brother isn’t driving circles around me (I’m also not five, so perhaps I’ve gotten a bit better). Twisted Metal was simple fun with the small details, such as killing your enemy and then as they ditch the car running them over for bonus points. The carnage you remember is still there, but it might seem tame in comparison to what we’re used to now-a-days. That’s not really something the developers can help, and shock factor doesn’t seem to be the main priority anyway. Twisted Metal is slated for a bloody Valentine’s Day!

One of the last games I played was Journey, and naturally I was instantly attracted to it. Flow was one of my very first PSN games for the PlayStation 3, and since then I’ve been hooked on games developed by ThatGameCompany. Their next release, Flower, showed how a video game doesn’t need to be tense and grating yet can still be engaging and enjoyable. For those of you unfamiliar with Flower, since the company has only made games exclusively for PlayStation, you are a single petal piece drifting in the wind. With your SIXAXIS controller you can move the wind and float between blades of grass, make flowers bloom, and discover other petals to ride along the breeze with you.

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? It’s certainly no Gears Of War, but that’s what makes the company unique. I was able to talk to Kellee Santiago, their president, who explained that they purposely focus on a small amount of tasks to implement in their games so they don’t get bogged down. Some indie developers want to add too much far too quickly, and this makes releasing a game with enough polish rather difficult. This method has definitely worked for them, and rang true for what I saw of their newest title, Journey.

In the game you play a robed figure that is taking a journey in the desert trying to reach a large mountain in the distance. The main character can “shout” when cloth is around to help them fly, get through puzzles, or other various obstacles. The first level I played allowed me to play online with another person, whom I later found out was someone stuck at the company playing the first three levels all day. He guided me along the desert towards long strips of cloth, and by pressing circle I was able to use a “shout”. This activated the fabric in some way which made them glow, and in this level made a portion of a bridge form. We moved from cloth to cloth until eventually there was an item hidden up rather high. The other player used his “shout” to propel me up so I could jump even higher. It actually took me awhile to get that, since we were unable to communicate, but I appreciate the guy’s patience. He eventually led me into a sand waterfall, revealing behind it some odd statues and a blank wall. Activating my “shout” made the stone figures light up and displayed a few pictures on the wall, which Kellee explained was the way the game was telling me the story or letting me know more about the world.

Once we cleared the bridge we were onto the next level, which had us releasing kites that flew in and out of the sand leading us to our next destination. At this point I found my favorite part of the game, which was literally being on a big hill and sand surfing my way down. The sand moved like liquid sun and the world felt so vast. Besides the person I was playing with I truly felt alone and oddly curious about what I could find. There are barriers in the world, however, when I inquired about this I was told it was similar to how Flower had the wind push you around if you were going too far one way.

In the end, this was my favorite game with lots of interesting puzzles we had to do together without any form of communication. The game also looks visually stunning whether due to its sheer simplicity or color palette, I’m not quite sure. I did learn, however, that the levels change colors in the way Flower did to set the mood. For those of you unfamiliar, Flower starts out bright and cheery, but levels become darker and darker as you proceed through the game. I’m very curious to see how this looks in Journey, simply because I cannot imagine it without the tans or reds, so to see it altered even a little will leave a big impact.

For those of you waiting like I am, Journey comes out in spring of this year to PlayStation Network. For some of you that feel left out unable to play these games it might be fair to say that ThatGameCompany only has a three game contract with Sony. While I personally like that they are an exclusive company I feel it is a shame for people to miss out on this exceptional experiences.

Before I left Sony’s booth I got the chance to view the 4K projector that was on everyone’s mind after their press conference on Monday. This home projector has a resolution four times greater than 1080p and that translates to a resolution of 4096×2160. Holy crap! I learned that this was the industry staple in theaters since 2005, and as such, Sony is just attempting to adapt this to the home. The only problem is this projector is just under $25,000. I’m gonna pass, I don’t really have that lying around.

Either way, I was able to watch the projector go from a 16:9 aspect ratio to the ridiculousness that is 4K. It looks absolutely stunning and convinced me that I was in a theater for at least ten minutes. I’m sure watching it on a 182” inch screen helped the appeal here. The big problem is having something to watch if you put this thing in your home. Most, if not all, Blu-Ray discs have films that were shot in 4K but then were downscaled to 1080p. Ouch. Overall, Men In Black never looked better.

Moving on, I decided to check out the GameTech area that CES was touting. To be fair, it wasn’t exactly what I expected, but if there was a peripheral I needed then I would certainly find it there. From chargers to gyroscope bouncy balls, it was here. Wandering around I stumbled upon a booth for STYL . They had an assortment of cases for iPad and iPhone, but once I had a representative show me their Combat Case I couldn’t help but think that this was a neat idea. You can actually hear the rep explain about the product in my video supplement above, but the short and sweet is that the case is adjustable so it protects your iPhone while also giving you a nice grip for your gaming experience.

My last and final trek was ultimately discovering Nintendo. If you’ve been under a rock you might have missed Nintendo’s E3 announcement last year where they unveiled their next console, the Wii U. I was skeptical then, due to the fact the majority of the HD footage the console touted shown was from previous trailers for other consoles. The one tech demo I saw left me indifferent and feeling like I was just missing something. At least now I feel as though I can say that the Wii U at least keeps up with Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. As for the full potential, none of us will really know that for another few years, simply because people are still exploring and figuring out the technology.

While my worst fear was the HD, I was a little unsure about the controller and can say confidentially that I’m not a fan. While the controller is technically very light and the grip itself is nice, the problem stems from the fact it feels bulky in my hands. Now, realistically, my hands are smaller because I’m a girl, but I feel like I’m struggling to reach the D-Pad or four face buttons located under the analog stick. When resting on the analog, everything is picture perfect, and reaching upwards actually makes more sense to me if I wanted to get to something. Regardless, I might just have to get used to it. I had several problems with the Xbox 360 controllers due to their size, but I can at least attest that the Wii U’s controller doesn’t have the weight to make swinging it around a chore.

In terms of switching the game from the controller screen to the TV and vice versa, it is instantaneous, which is a welcomed feature. I personally had a hard time remembering to look back at the controller, but this was for some games. Others, I felt were done well, utilizing the controller in a way that made sense, while others felt gimmicky. Granted, it showed off the tech either way so I can’t complain too much. One of the neater things about the console was the way the TV could be seeing one thing while the controller could look all around the world completely unhindered. For example I could look around in a 360 degree manner while the TV just focused on one thing. Depending on the way developers actually utilize this is the big story here. Just like there are amazing games for Wii there are those that make you shake the Wiimore just to shake it. Whether this becomes a problem is still debatable, all things considered.

I was more impressed seeing the actual Wii U console. I came out of the footage from E3 going “wait, is there a new console? It sounds like there’s a new console, did we actually see one?” So much focus was on that controller that the real base of the entire thing felt left out of the loop. It is bigger than the current Wii, mostly in terms of how long it is and not how wide. I’m also a fan of the rounded edges since it makes the entire thing seem more modern. I believe in general the shape encourages laying the console flat instead of on its sides, which is something that I prefer and am glad to see.

God, that was a lot to go over and I still feel like there are quite a few things I missed at the show this year. Next year I can go in much more prepared, all things considered, but I do hope that this barrage of information helps you with gaming’s latest releases. For the Fanatics out there, look out for unedited video footage, and for all the fans out there, make sure to check back for more coverage of the world’s biggest events in 2012.

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