Video Games Take Center Stage at E3

"Guitar Hero World Tour" will give players the ability to compose and record their own music. "Rock Revolution" will feature the biggest drum set yet -- a six-pad station with a kick drum. "Rock Band 2" will have an 84-track set list, including Duran, Duran, Fleetwood Mac, the Donnas. There will be the option to buy more, of course. Microsoft's karaoke game "Lips" will allow players to plug their Mp3 player into the console and sing songs directly from their music library.

The popularity and prevalence of music games at E3 is a sign the industry is going after casual gamers, said Cocker. They're trying to emulate Nintendo's success with the Wii and tap into a growing corner of the market -- gamers who aren't your typical die-hard fans, he said.

His only criticism is the companies are reinventing the wheel in the process.

"Many of these titles are extensions to games from previous years," said Sheffield. "And games like "Lips" have been popular in Europe and the U.K. for years. We're not seeing anything new here."

Shooter Games: More Weapons to Die For

While casual gamers are becoming a more sought-after target this year, E3 will also include a bevy of titles for hard-core gamers.

One of the most anticipated games in this category is Epic Studio's "Gears of War 2," for Xbox 360. In this third-person shooter game, the hero Marcus Fenix and the rest of the COG Delta Squad try to prevent the Locusts from destroying entire cities. It's supposed to be bloodier, more gory and offer enhanced multiplayer modes.

Other games on view at E3 that blogs are hyping include "Resident Evil 5" (Capcom, PlayStation 3/ Xbox 360); "God of War III" (Sony, PlayStation 3); "Beyond Good and Evil 2" (Ubisoft, PlayStation 3/Xbox 360); "Resistance 2" (SCEA, PlayStation 3); and "MadWorld" (PlatinumGames,Wii).

Sports Games: Stats Galore

Along with the new "Madden" football game, this year sports games will include lots more up-to-the minute downloadable stat features.

Electronic Arts' new "NBA Live 09" for Wii will feature "Dynamic DNA," or stats on anything and everything about the NBA The most revolutionary part is that all the data -- player tendencies, scores and team dynamics -- will change every 24 hours.

"Like the NBA, it will be made fresh daily all season long," said Peter Moore, president of EA Sports.

And it's the same data that analysts for NBA teams use: which side of the court Kobe Bryant favors when he shoots; how the Celtics pass as a unit; and midseason trades. The game's designers say it will reach new levels of realism.

The Other Stuff

While game console news isn't expected to be big this year, Microsoft announced it will drop the price of the Xbox 360 from $360 to $300. Microsoft also announced that it will integrate more downloadable content options into its lineup. Users will now be able to download Netflix through their Xbox 360.

In the past 2 ½ years, Microsoft has generated $1 billion off the 500 million items downloaded off Xbox live. Expect other companies to reveal similar features.

Other talked about E3 game news? "Final Fantasy XIII" by Square Enix will make a much anticipated platform jump to Xbox 360.

E3: All Hyped Out?

While the excitement of E3 is mainly over the unveilings and the announcements, a lot of the buzz is also about whether this years' E3 will measure up to how it used to be.

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