Week in review: Play it again

Attendees descending on E3, the game world's biggest conference, may be feeling a little deja vu.

Attendees descending on the gaming world's biggest conference may be feeling a little deja vu.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo kicked off in Los Angeles with Sony announcing that its oft-delayed PlayStation 3 game console would hit store shelves in North America on Nov. 17, a breath before the holiday shopping season kicks off.

The PS3, which is based on the Cell processor, will play CDs and DVDs, and will include a Blu-ray drive. It also includes built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as Ethernet compatibility. Further, it includes Dolby digital surround-sound functionality and supports high-definition video.

The PS3 will come in two configurations: one version with a 60GB hard drive that will cost $599 and a second with a 20GB hard drive that will come in at $499. Those prices are significantly higher than Microsoft's Xbox 360, which has two versions--one with a 20GB hard drive that costs $399 and another with no hard drive that retails for $299.

If Sony's announcement sounds familiar, that's because the company told us much the same thing at last year's E3, where the company declared that the next-generation game console would be in our hands by now.

Many CNET News.com readers were unhappy with some of PS3's technical specs and debated the value of the Blu-ray drive.

"Not only is the price offensive, but Sony's insistence on the stupid Blu-ray in every system is another perfect example of Sony trying to impose a new media format on the market," one reader wrote in News.com's TalkBack forum.

Many anticipated that Nintendo would also unveil specific pricing and availability information for its forthcoming next-generation console, the puzzlingly named Wii (pronounced "we").

Instead, we got the first detailed demonstration of the Wii controller, a two-handed, motion-sensitive system that enables players to mimic actions on-screen with the movement of their hands. Users playing a tennis game, for example, will be able to serve by raising their controller above their head and swinging down. Similarly, fighting games will allow players to swing swords or shoot arrows with hand movements.

The game world also got a blast from the past from Microsoft, which touted new partnerships that will bring classic games such as "Ms. Pac Man" and "Paperboy" to the Xbox 360's Live Arcade feature. The company announced deals with Konami, Midway, Sega and Namco to breathe new life into old titles such as "Dig Dug," "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Root Beer Tapper."

One could also take a trip down memory lane via E3's "interactive game museum," which was a hit with attendees eager for a chance to play their favorites from yesteryear. Those at the "museum" could take a peek at some mighty old handheld games and get their hands sweaty playing on old consoles like Mattel's Intellivision or on classic arcade machines like Galaga.

Washington watch
The Beltway Boys had our attention this week, mostly because they were keeping close tabs on us.

Social-networking sites like MySpace.com, LiveJournal and Facebook are the potential targets for a proposed federal law that would effectively require most schools and libraries to render those Web sites inaccessible to minors, an age group that includes some of the category's most ardent users.

A group of Republican congressmen endorsed new legislation that would cordon off access to commercial Web sites that let users create public "Web pages or profiles" and also offer a discussion board, chat room or e-mail service.

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