2005: Silver bullet
Without doubt, E3 2005 was dominated by the unveiling of PlayStation 3 at Sony's pre-show event. A wide-eyed audience was wowed by a series of tech demos and sneak previews from several titles currently in development for the PS2's successor. It remained a moot point throughout the week as to whether the footage witnessed was actually a true representation of in-game graphics the machine would be capable of producing, or whether they were just - incredibly impressive - pre-rendered movies. Only time would tell...
Microsoft's sleeves were comparatively empty, having revealed Xbox 360 on MTV the week before E3 while releasing a steady trickle of 'leaked' info from the Ourcolony.net viral marketing site. Various Microsoft representatives, including J Allard and Robbie Bach, repeated several times throughout the event that their machine would be "the most powerful next-generation console", although they offered no corroborating evidence.
And then came Nintendo - who had absolutely no interest in making the most powerful next-gen console - and despite revealing its GameCube successor Revolution and a new handheld, Game Boy Micro, its conference was a real damp squib with no indication of its latest console's motion-sensing magic.
Above: After the impressive demos at Sony's pre-show event, all eyes were on PS3
On the show floor, Microsoft was the only company with a significant next-gen presence, with an abundance of 360 trailers, demos and even some playable code, albeit running at less than half power on Apple G5s rather than final hardware. Both PS3 and Revolution were also in attendance, although a lengthy line had to be endured to reach Sony's console. Even worse, Nintendo's next-gen machine could only be admired by an exclusive few.
In terms of games, the show was dominated by first-person shooters, most of which were of an amazingly high quality. Prey, FEAR, Unreal Tournament 2007, Quake 4 and Black all looked awesome - fans of shooting men in the face had plenty to look forward to.
The power of the sequel was as strong ever: every both featured at least one follow-up game. And while some people grumbled about a lack of fresh content, there were some fantastic-looking sequels on show, such as Zelda: Twilight Princess, Killzone 2, Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Call of Duty 2 and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
In terms of original software, Will Wright's Spore, Ninety-Nine Nights and Okami all put in an appearance to critical acclaim.
2006: Stumbling giant
Attendees at Sony's pre-show event were expecting the PlayStation giant to back up last year's big talk with some hard proof that PS3 would be the must-have next-gen console. Despite the unveiling of PS3's motion sensing controller and the chance to play PS3 for the first time, the audience left feeling massively disappointed.
In stark contrast to Sony's snore-inducing performance, Nintendo jump started enthusiasm with a rousing show that gave the world its first look at a whole wash of Wii (the new name for Revolution) games, among them a new outing for Mario and a Wii-specific version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Microsoft used its pre-show gathering to make two huge announcements. The existence of Halo 3 was finally unveiled with a tantalizing trailer, while the fourth instalment to the GTA series was also confirmed for Xbox 360 day and date with PS3.
Wii was definitely the show's major attraction (or is that curiosity?) and anyone wanting to go hands-on with Nintendo's new console had to endure a four hour wait. A total of 27 playable Wii titles were on display, including Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Sonic Wild Fire. A Super Smash Bros. Brawl trailer featuring Metal Gear's Solid Snake also delighted the crowds.
A few fresh faces were on display to help salvage what would otherwise have been a disastrous show for Sony. Assassin's Creed, Heavenly Sword and Resistance: Fall of Man showed a reassuring amount of PS3 promise.
Above: Nintendo stole the show with its Wii and gamers waited up to four hours play it
Microsoft boasted a generous helping of attractive exclusives, with Xbox 360 titles Gears of War, Blue Dragon and Mass Effect all making a big impression. Xbox 360 had a greater presence on the show floor thanks to it being the console used to demo the majority of multi-platform next-gen titles. Army of Two, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway and Indiana Jones were all shown on Microsoft's machine.
But while the show was dominated by shiny new consoles, PC gamers basked in the glory of some incredibly mouth-watering fruits, like Crysis, Command & Conquer 3, Battlefield 2142 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
PS2 was the only current-gen console with any significant presence and boasted a pretty decent line-up to boot, with PS2 exclusives God of War II and Guitar Hero II shining particularly bright.
The biggest talking point at the show was, without a doubt, Sony's failure to roll out its PS3 with any real conviction and the disappointing lack of wow-factor games for the new machine. Wii, in comparison, was on everyone's lips for the right reasons, leaving those lucky enough to play it feeling enthused and excited about Nintendo's new console.
Originally posted 07 Aug, 2006