Wednesday 22 November 2017

Digital Life: Beam me up, Slim Shady -- it's game on!

City of Angels: Rihanna rocked the stage at E3. Photo: Getty Images
City of Angels: Rihanna rocked the stage at E3. Photo: Getty Images
Eminem performs onstage at the Activision E3 2010 preview. Photo: Getty Images
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

'Make some mother f***ing noise," Eminem bellowed to the 10,000-strong crowd as he stood underneath a giant image from the Call of Duty series before launching into a duet with Rihanna.

In terms of star power, the party for games giant Activision easily stood out amid the glitz at the annual videogames showcase E3 in Los Angeles last week.

Eminem's five-song set at the Staples Centre stadium followed performances by acts including Usher, Pharrell Williams and Jane's Addiction, interspersed with clips from Activision's forthcoming line-up.

The bombast and pyrotechnics were quintessential E3, where the heavy hitters of an industry worth up to €30bn annually vie for attention.

From Playboy Playmates to familiar faces such as wrestler The Rock, actor Leonard Nimoy and golfer John Daly plugging new games, publishers worked hard to grab eyeballs.

Microsoft kicked off the show with a quirky performance by Cirque du Soleil to spotlight its new motion-tracking Kinect system, an Xbox 360 add-on that enables players to control games with body movements.

Sony hit back with a two-hour presentation, founded on the twin pillars of PlayStation Move, an answer to the motion controller of the Wii, and 3D games.

"The difference with Move is one word: realism," said Jack Tretton, head of Sony Computer Entertainment America, as if to head off criticism the whole shebang is just a Wii knock-off.

Move goes on sale on September 15, well ahead of Microsoft's Kinect in November.

The three components -- one camera and the two parts to the controller -- will cost €90 together but can be bought separately. About 20 Move titles will be on the shelves at launch, with some resembling sophisticated versions of what's already available on Wii. But the smarter tech should lend itself to more original ideas using the uncannily accurate motion tracking.

"What Avatar did for 3D movies, titles like Killzone 3 will do for games," Kaz Hirai, chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment, told the audience.

Killzone 3 (out next February) will be just one of several key Sony franchises to enter the extra dimension. Others include Gran Turismo 5 (finally releasing in November-ish), MotorStorm Apocalypse and a welcome return for the Sly Raccoon series.

The 3D bandwagon became even more crowded as Nintendo jumped aboard. It revealed new details about 3DS, an updated version of the venerable DS handheld that displays 3D images without the need for those daft glasses.

Alas, Nintendo refused to name a date and price but at a guess after Christmas and €250 wouldn't be far off.

One Irish company at E3 showed off technology that enhances the visual depth of any game or movie without the need for expensive glasses.

RealView Innovations, based in Roscommon, sells a €35 screen adapter for the PSP, which creates an effect half-way between 2D and 3D. The company is also making similar overlays for TV screens and developing an iPhone version.

Irish Independent

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