June 10, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

E3 2014: Video game industry hopes to dazzle average consumers

The Los Angeles Kings may have vacated Staples Center for New York’s Madison Square Garden this week, but the blocks surrounding the arena have been replaced with a level of testosterone that not even the NHL can muster. Cloaked assassins, military tough guys and a fantasy knight have taken control of the neighboring Los Angeles Convention Center and beyond. All that aggressive advertising can herald only one thing: The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has once again landed in Los Angeles. North America’s largest video game trade show, one that pumps $45 million into the local economy, never makes a modest entrance. “The future begins,” is E3’s slogan for 2014, and the 45,000 registrants will ensure at least that the future is hyped. Less than eight months after Sony and Microsoft each released new consoles, this year’s E3 will step away […]
June 09, 2014 | 10:44 a.m.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Charting the video game console evolution

The world’s largest annual video game trade show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, kicks off in downtown Los Angeles this week, with more than 45,000 people expected to converge on the L.A. Convention Center for the event. Now in its 19th year, E3 has become a mecca for video game developers, retailers, industry professionals and journalists. The trade show, which is to run Tuesday through Thursday and is not open to the public, often serves as the pulpit for the industry’s biggest announcements, such as last year’s reveal of two next-generation video game consoles — Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Buzz on the show floor often revolves around the rivalry between the major consoles, and though the wars between the systems couldn’t be more contemporary or contentious, the modern-day brawl has been more than three decades in the making. […]
May 16, 2014 | 7:00 a.m.

‘Halo 5: Guardians’: Microsoft targets fall 2015 release

Master Chief is returning, and he’s more conflicted than ever. “Halo 5: Guardians” will be coming to Microsoft’s Xbox One in fall 2015, 343 Industries — the tech company’s in-house studio for all things “Halo” — confirmed Friday morning. The game will be set after the events of “Halo 4,” the first-person sci-fi shooter that was the No. 3-selling video game of 2012, according to the NPD Group. “Halo 4” served as one of the final major titles to be released for the Xbox 360 console before Microsoft introduced the Xbox One late last year. The studio is revealing little in the way of specifics, but “Halo 5” will find its technologically enhanced super soldier Master Chief at a crossroads. “Halo 4” ended with the franchise’s hero mourning the lose of Cortana, a nearly sentient artificially intelligent computer program who would appear in holographic […]
March 07, 2014 | 2:37 p.m.

‘Titanfall’: Xbox One is gunning for next-gen dominance

It was Valentine’s Day, and I was afraid someone was watching me die. On a night when most are finding ways to celebrate (or curse) romance, I had opted to spend the evening curled up on the couch with a game, a first-person shooter. At least I wasn’t alone. I was one of many worldwide who were playing “Titanfall,” a game in beta testing that Microsoft has declared the showcase title for its recently released home console, the Xbox One. Connecting to strangers via Microsoft’s servers, many of whom were engaged in midgame conversations, I was outgunned, anxious and nervous about letting down my new teammates. In eight minutes, I would be killed 11 times by people I will never speak to. Once, a giant robot stepped on me. Moments later, a giant robot fired a rocket into my chest. […]
Dec. 19, 2013 | 2:19 p.m.

‘Doki-Doki Universe’: Video games make a play for emotions in 2013

“Doki-Doki Universe” begins with heartbreak. A robot is left alone on an asteroid, dumped there by his human family. The robot has only a sentimental, hug-happy balloon as a companion for the next 32 years. Then things get abstract. The game, released this month across numerous Sony platforms by the Bay Area’s HumaNature Studios, has one main objective — to make players feel as much as to challenge them. Like many of the most intriguing of 2013 games, the bright, colored-crayon-like world of “Doki-Doki Universe” wows not by being a technological showcase. Instead, in a year that brought us fancy next-gen game consoles from Sony and Microsoft, “Doki-Doki” impresses by illustrating how a still-growing medium can provide a moving, affecting experience via simplicity. (Check out our picks for the top 10 games of 2013 in the gallery above.) “Specifically,” said […]
Nov. 21, 2013 | 9:44 a.m.

Xbox One review roundup: Critics praise ambition, question Kinect

The Xbox One hits stores on Friday, and the reviews are pouring in. Game critics are weighing the pros and cons of Microsoft’s next-generation video game console, and, much like last week’s reaction to Sony’s PlayStation 4, the reviews are overall positive, with a few notable shortcomings. Critics praised the Xbox One’s ambition, its relatively seamless integration into existing media centers, its launch game lineup and its potential as an all-encompassing media hub, while complaining about its seemingly uncreative console design and several flaws with the Kinect’s voice-recognition capabilities. Reviews were divided on the elegance and functionality of its new user interface. The Times’ own Todd Martens notes that the PS4 and the Xbox One focus on different aspects of a video game console’s potential. “Their presentation — the arguments they put forth about how games can and should be […]
Nov. 20, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.

Review: Microsoft’s Xbox One wants to speak to more than gamers

“Go ahead,” the screen on Microsoft’s Xbox One will tell you, “say ‘Xbox.’” “No,” you may very well think, “I am an adult, and I will not talk to my video-game console.” Oh, but you will. That’s because Microsoft’s $500 all-in-one entertainment system is the first video-game console ever made that can utilize your voice to go from zero to playing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video in 47 seconds. One simple command, “Xbox on,” brings your hardware and television to life; three more commands and you’re on YouTube watching her get fierce with a sledgehammer — all without pressing a button. The Xbox One terms such ability “automagical,” and while that’s a marketing buzzword that probably shouldn’t be attached to anything that doesn’t involve Tinker Bell, it’s admittedly pretty neat. But what does it have to do with games? Well, […]
June 19, 2013 | 4:07 p.m.

Xbox One: Microsoft reverses stance on connectivity, sharing

Microsoft has pulled the plug on many of its controversial network connectivity policies surrounding the Xbox One. No longer, wrote Microsoft executive Don Mattrick today, will the company impose many of its earlier stated requirements in regard to offline gaming and the sharing and selling of used games. Most important, the company has backtracked from its intention to have users register a game every 24 hours in order to play. Just two weeks ago Microsoft stated that the Xbox One would only allow players to utilize a game for 24 hours without an Internet connection. “After a one-time system setup with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc-based game without ever connecting online again,” wrote Mattrick, president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business. “There is no 24-hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want […]
June 12, 2013 | 10:27 p.m.

E3 2013: Conan O’Brien will weigh in on PS4 vs. Xbox One

Conan O’Brien’s familiar pompadour of red hair stood out at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at the Los Angeles Convention Center as he made a stop at the small SnailUSA booth Wednesday. O’Brien was among fans, retailers, media and industry professionals who took to the aisles to get some up-close time with new offerings, many of which they’ve been hearing about for a few days. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all hosted big press events, including the introductions of two new consoles in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. FULL COVERAGE: E3 2013 When asked why he was visiting the SnailUSA booth, he shrugged. “I was here just to cover E3 and mostly to try to settle the controversy between the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One consoles — the Hatfields vs. McCoys argument of our time,” O’Brien said. “I haven’t […]
June 11, 2013 | 7:48 p.m.

E3 poll: Xbox One vs. PS4, plus 5 things to know in the console wars

If the console wars between PlayStation and Xbox had been languishing the last few weeks, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) media presentations by Sony and Microsoft launched gamers back into the brawl. On Monday, Microsoft revealed more details and new games for its upcoming Xbox One console, unveiled last month, and Sony finally gave gamers a glimpse of its next-generation PlayStation 4 console, announced in February. The companies traded barbs during the press presentations, game enthusiasts argued online, and the battle continues as critics and industry professionals converge on the Los Angeles Convention Center this week for E3 — the largest video game trade show in the world. The war’s outcome will likely be decided at the cash register; both consoles are slated for release in time for the holiday shopping season. PHOTOS: Scenes from E3 2013 In the meantime, […]
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