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IN MAY the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) took place in Los Angeles. This is the gaming industry’s yearly major blowout, and for those anticipating a slew of major announcements there was plenty to whet your appetite for the coming 12 months. As usual, every major studio, manufacturer and developer was represented, and, with gaming becoming an ever more widespread entertainment phenomenon, there is some serious money riding on their successes and failures.

The major announcements at E3 2010 revolved around hardware – both Microsoft and Sony unveiled forthcoming motion controllers in an attempt to regain some of the market share surrendered to Nintendo’s Wii console. Microsoft’s presentation of its Kinect motion camera revealed a sleek device that has a bunch of nice features but left some hardcore gamers nonplussed due to the dance, sport, family and fitness-related games announced to be compatible with it. No word on the price yet, but it’s due out in time for Christmas. Microsoft also announced a new redesigned Xbox 360, which is smaller and quieter and will be released on 16 July in Europe.

Sony’s PlayStation Move, on the other hand, looks suspiciously like the Wii remote with a colourful glowing table tennis ball glued on top. You’ll need a PlayStation Eye to use it and an optional navigation controller, the latter being unnecessary as happily, if uncomfortably, you can also use a regular DualShock 3 controller in one hand. No matter how snazzy the hardware, though, their success will largely depend on how good the games are for them, and whether developers can make the most of the systems without resorting to – God help us – Zumba Fitness Party sequels.

Games-wise, some fantastic titles were on show. Bungie revealed Halo: Reach, the latest in the 360’s signature franchise while PS3 gamers can look forward to Little Big Planet 2, SOCOM 4 and Killzone 3. PC users can feel smug about getting exclusive access to Civilization V, Company of Heroes Online and Shogun II: Total War. As has been the trend for years now, the majority of games are sequels mixed in with a couple of new titles. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong in continuing with a successful franchise, of course, especially when it’s something as interesting as, say, Portal 2 or Deus Ex: Human Revolution, both of which are coming out for consoles as well as the PC.

Whatever your gaming interest there’s certain to be some titles of note over the coming year. So much so that my fingers ache just thinking about it.

Nick Barlow