Like countless other people who used to go to E3 each year, I'm now (thankfully in some ways) limited to scouring the internet for streaming video and live bloggers. Sites like 1up.com did a fairly good job of live-blogging the pressers from Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. Their minute-by-minute updates of what was going on and their immediate impressions were almost as good as being there.

Microsoft went first and, to be honest, left me wanting a bit more. The upcoming games look great, to be sure, but there weren't any surprises other than Final Fantasy XIII not being a PS3 exclusive and the press conference focus too much on the new Xbox Live update coming in the fall. Those who know me, know that I absolutely love the Xbox Live service and I'm thrilled the worst-kept secret about Xbox Live partnering with Netflix for video-on-demand turned out to be true. But the rest of the stuff? I don't know, but it strikes me as a bit too kiidii. I think Microsoft is trying to be all things to everyone and I'm just not so sure that's going to work. I play as many XBLA games as anybody I know and am genuinely looking forward to some of the offerings, particularly the 1 Vs 100 game-show game, but Live Party and many of the other features just seem rather unnecessary.

Microsoft was the only one to have their press conference on Monday and provided us with a nice opening act. I can't wait to play Fallout 3 and Gears of War 2, and I'm even looking forward to the new Banjo Kazooie game as well. But I couldn't help but feel that come Tuesday, Sony and Nintendo would elevate their positions and finally show me something that would make me want to buy a Wii or a PS3.

Nope. I didn't think it was possible, but the rather non earth-shattering conference Microsoft provided on Monday actually ended up being the most interesting and impressive.

Nintendo's big highight was the Shaun White Snowboarding game which uses the "bathroom scale" accessory that comes with Wii Fit and the inevitable Wii version of Animal Crossing which really looks exactly like the very first Animal Crossing, only with online gameplay. That was their big Wii announcement. That's it. Oh, sure, they also announced ports of Call of Duty 4, which everyone played last year as well as Wii Band, which was demo'd at E3 2006. The rest of their talk was numbers and DS games. In fact the only true surprise from Nintendo was the announcement of a DS Grand Theft Auto game that, frankly, I don't care about.

As lackluster as that was, Sony's conference simply seemed depressing. Aside from the video of Reistance 2 which does look great, the general vibe I got from watching their conference was that the wait (for Home, GT5, and games in general) will one day pay off. Far too much of their press conference centered around Gran Turismo 5, a great game no-doubt, but also one I played at E3 two years ago and there's still no release date for it. Sony also had several me-too moments about their online service (movie downloads... just like Microsoft, Trophies... just like Microsoft in particular) that did not so much as make me think for one second about abandoning my console monagymy.

Basically what I got out of the these three events was that my choice of sticking to an X360 and a DS is still more than enough. I'm very worried that I may completely come to hate the mandatory fall update for the X360 thanks to the new layout, but I'm willing to give it a try. As it was, the online marketplace on Xbox Live had gotten so much content that it's become nearly impossible to find things on it with ease.

I downloaded a dozen or more game trailers today and watched them at dinner with Kristin. Fallout 3 is definitely the most impressive of the bunch, but Lips has potential to steal Kristin away from me (for those who don't know Lips is a karaoke game that seems to be able to work with any song on your Zune... and hopefully your iPod too).

Can't wait to see what updates and new trailers are released tomorrow. Hopefully another Xbox Live Arcade mash-up like last year!

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