E3 2006: Picks and Pans

It's a tough job, we know. But someone's gotta do it. We trekked to Los Angeles this week for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the annual showcase for the latest and greatest in gaming. We braved long lines and played plenty of video games to find out what's hot--and what's not. Here's our take on this year's show.

In Control: It was great to see Nintendo's Wii controller in action. Motion detection in the device lets you mimic your game's steering wheel, sword, gun, bow and arrow, tennis racquet and more. A built-in speaker gives further feedback, such as the twang of a bow in Zelda. Meanwhile, Sony's standard PlayStation 3 wireless controller will have six degrees of freedom: It can maneuver through the X, Y, and Z axis, so you can rotate, pitch, and roll through most all aspects of gameplay. We tried the controller ourselves, and it worked particularly well with WarHawk. The Nintendo has the edge on uniqueness and sheer innovation, but the Playstation 3 is expected to be a much more powerful machine when it launches on November 17 in the U.S. priced at $499 (20GB) and $599 (60GB). --Danny Allen

Biggest Coup?: It took several months for the hugely popular Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to arrive on the Xbox after its PS2 debut, but this is set to change as the battle between the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 gets under way. Grand Theft Auto IV will be available simultaneously for both platforms when it launches on October 16th, 2007. Moreover, Microsoft and Rockstar Games have entered into a strategic partnership for exclusive "episode content" to be delivered via Xbox Live. --Danny Allen

Ole Ole: The biggest sporting event in the world this year is the soccer World Cup and as much as I'm looking forward to spending some long nights soaking up the atmosphere through my television tube, I can't wait to do likewise with Konami's Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007. Personally, after playing an early build at the show, I still believe it to be the best soccer game franchise. The new title is slated for a January 2007 release on Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, PS2, PC, and PSP. Although the Playstation 3 wasn't mentioned, it's widely expected that Konami will still come to the party on the front. If not, I guess I'll stay an Xbox 360 man. --Danny Allen

Tripping Down Arcade Game Alley: In Kentia Hall, the Electronic Software Association had a cool display that was easy to get lost in for a few minutes--or hours. The display included an array of old console video games, set up with cartridges for you to play at will (among those represented: Atari 2600 and ColecoVision), boxes of old handheld and console games, and--best yet--several rows of beloved arcade games, no quarters required. I personally spent a little time revisiting my misspent youth on Galaga and Ms. PacMan?and Atari 2600 Missile Command (incidentally, someone bought that cartridge for all of $1, according to its red tag). --Melissa J. Perenson

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