Console wars: New computer games put on show

The big guns of computer gaming are showing off their new designs - and 'motion sensors' are the latest lethal weapon. Let the games begin, says David Phelan
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The Independent Online

It is a world of myth and legend, of frightening but harmless giants and beautiful princesses. Most of all, though, it is a world of spectacle and noise.

Welcome to E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which begins today in Los Angeles. Every year, the video gaming world decamps to four huge halls, each rather bigger than a football pitch, to build huge, expensive stands equipped with massive video screens and deafening sound systems. It is a hot, airless world, so the princesses are grateful that they're scantily clad as they hand out game-branded T-shirts to the eager queues of games devotees. These all seem to fit the stereotype of geekdom - bespectacled, sneering and the right size for those (usually XXXL) T-shirts.

This is a crucial year for the games industry, which is going through that tricky phase when it upgrades from one generation of machines to the next. All three manufacturers have announced their next consoles, but Sony's and Nintendo's still haven't arrived, so this year's show is about the Japanese companies' insisting that their consoles will be worth the wait, as well as announcing pricing, titles or schedules - all rather less overwhelming than last year's E3 as excess hype gives way to more mundane realities.

But there are still consoles and mobile gaming platforms out to grab your attention. Among the mobile games, Nokia began its move into the games industry with a dedicated phone-and-games unit called N-Gage, which was only partly successful.

The company now wants to make the most of games delivered by download to some of its regular phones. Just as the Finnish giant is the world's biggest digital camera manufacturer, so, as these games-capable phones become more common, it may one day be the world's biggest maker of portable games consoles.

Nokia's smartphones, such as the popular N70, are mobile computers increasingly capable of an immersive gaming experience. Future games will include Creatures of the Deep, a fishing sim that uses the vibration capabilities of mobiles to give a sensory feedback when the fish are biting. Other titles announced in the run-up to E3 include fighting, poker, golf and racing games.

It's all a long way from the days when a quick blast of Snake was all gamers could look forward to on a mobile. While the hardcore gamer will still want a dedicated games unit, these will be good enough for most of us to while away Tube journeys.