June 05, 2009

E3: Microsoft wows with "Natal," Sony delivers PSP Go

This year's E3 conference in Los Angeles turned out to be a blockbuster, starting with a jam-packed Microsoft keynote that featured not only trailers for several hotly-anticipated games (like "Halo: ODST," the newly-unveiled "Halo: Reach," "Left 4 Dead 2," "Modern Warfare 2," and "Final Fantasy XIII," not to mention the news that Metal Gear Solid is coming to the 360), but also word that Facebook, Twitter, and streaming 1080p movies and TV shows are on the way, plus the unveiling of "Project Natal," a motion-sensing camera that'll let you frag bad guys, swipe though Dashboard menus, swat bouncing Brickout balls, and more, all without a controller. Pretty awesome.

Also impressive: Sony, which finally confirmed the widely leaked PSP Go (small and slick, but pricey at $249), along with its own new motion controller (set for release next spring). Sony's motion-control demo wasn't nearly as flashy as Microsoft's Natal demonstration, but those present in the audience appeared bowled over by the level of precision in the bulb-shaped, LED-equipped controller, which managed to map such virtual objects as a sword, flashlight, tennis racket, and even a Japanese fan into the hand of a Sony engineer, all with pinpoint accuracy. Sony also scored the biggest surprise of the show: The unceremonious announcement of "Final Fantasy XIV" for 2010 on the PS3, which left a few hundred jaws hanging open (especially given that "Final Fantasy XIII" hasn't even bowed in the U.S. yet).

In other news: Apple gears up for next week's WWDC in San Francisco (I smell new iPhones in our future); an online personal shopping service for men (like me) who hate, hate, hate shopping for clothes opens for business; a News Corp. exec floats the idea of charging for Hulu videos (now that'll be popular); and a new study reveals that just 10 percent of Twitterers account for 90 percent of the activity on Twitter.

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