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Games Launched At Electronic Entertainment Expo


Here in Los Angeles this week, the video game industry gathered for its annual convention, the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3. Companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo unveiled new products and games.

For some highlights, we're joined by Harold Goldberg. He's a video game critic who was at the convention all week. Good morning.

HAROLD GOLDBERG: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now let's begin with some of the biggest news out of E3 this week, at least in the gaming world. Nintendo, it's the only company to have a new console coming out this year. It's called the Wii U, and Nintendo really needs this product to do well 'cause in the past year the company's stock lost half its value.

So, Harold, you got a chance to play it. What do you think?

GOLDBERG: Well, last year they showed us a prototype and this year they've showed us the finished product. I'm not really sure how to play it, even though I used it. When they released the Wii, I think about six years ago, you used kind of a natural motion to play games like baseball and tennis and "The Legend of Zelda," and everyone wanted a Wii, it was kind of a phenomenon, but the Wii U is kind of like an iPad with a controller, with a touch screen and buttons and cameras and other stuff.

What Nintendo needs to do is show us that this is easy to play and they need to show us why we need to use it and they haven't really done that yet.

MONTAGNE: Well, Sony is another company that has had a tough year or two. The tsunami hurt production. There was a big hacker attack. But they unveiled something called the "Wonderbook." Tell us what that is.

GOLDBERG: Well, after their press conference, I was able to play this thing called the "Wonderbook." It's a physical book and you set this book under your PlayStation camera, and as you go through it, out pops this kind of wonderful 3-D world. And what's really interesting about it is they signed up J.K. Rowling as their first author. So you'll get a Harry Potter "Book of Spells" and you'll use the move controller for the PlayStation to conjure fire breathing dragons and cute butterflies and kill pesky demons. So, it's really kind of interesting and it came out of nowhere for Sony.

MONTAGNE: And I gather there's another game that you're interested in.

GOLDBERG: Yeah. It's actually my favorite game of the whole show. It's called "Beyond Two Souls," and it stars Ellen Page, the girl from "Juneau." And the writing looks dark and threatening and menacing. And remember when we talked last year about "L.A. Noire" and I kept saying well, the faces are really cool, they really look human? This kind of is one step better than that and, you know, maybe just one step below humanity, so it's kind of scary and really good and that's why I think the game has kind of redeemed Sony in my mind.

MONTAGNE: And finally, there is Microsoft, which showed the upcoming "Halo 4." What's your judgment?

GOLDBERG: "Halo 4" is their blockbuster game. It's their sci-fi shooter that has sold 40 million copies. And you'll see another homerun with "Halo 4." It'll probably sell millions and millions on the first day. The trump card with "Halo 4" is downloadable weekly episodes and that's a good thing because the Halo's main story has always been short. And they claim that they're inspired by "Lost" so I think that's a good thing, as long as they don't disappoint us like "Lost" did at the end of its run. If these weekly episodes work it's a game changer for the industry and every publisher will be doing it.

MONTAGNE: Harold Goldberg is the author of a history of gaming. It's called "All Your Base Are Belong to Us."

Thanks for joining us again.

GOLDBERG: Well, thanks so much, Renee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.