Did Natal put Sony's E3 keynote in second place?

God of War III
OTT and brutal: God of War III

Hardware-wise, there were two things the world wanted from this year's Sony conference at E3: number one, to finally announce a price drop, or cheaper version, of the controversially expensive PS3. Number two, to somehow trump Microsoft's startling Project Natal mo-cap/voice recognition.

On number one, it came up short – rumours of a new, slim PS3 proved, for now, unfounded. Given the Playstation 3 has an unfortunate reputation of being over-sized and over-priced, addressing that could have earned a whole lot of good will.

Still, defaulting instead to what was a pretty classy line-up of upcoming, if familiar, games does suggest the troubled console should have significantly more pride of place in the living room over the next 12 months than it did last year.

The show-stopper, though, was Sony's own motion controller. Though a little hobbled by its resemblance to some sort of nightmare sex toy, and of course by Microsoft's Natal reveal the day before, the stick 'n' ball wand certainly puts Nintendo's Wii controller to shame.

If the on-stage demo is indeed reflective of the wand's abilities, it truly offers the precision the world had originally hoped the Wiimote would.

While all the sword-waving and arrow-shooting was fun, it was the hand-writing demonstration that most aptly demonstrated the potential of this new toy. The accuracy of a mouse, but in true 3D space: RTS and FPS games controlled via motion are finally a realistic possibility.

The use of the Playstation Eye to visually insert the player into the games also offers a sense of egomaniacal immersion that the Wii's simple Mii avatars cannot.

Sony motion controller

ANTI-NATAL: Sony couldn't resist a few digs at Microsoft's Natal: "there's really no way to do this without a trigger."

Of course, the wand needs good games to back it up, and for now all we've seen is impressive but Spartan, isolated tech demos.

Nintendo still has Wii Sports and Wii Fit as killer apps, and if the PS3 is to lure in some of the casual crowd, it too needs a must-have wavey-arm title.

Precision is a noble goal, and one that will interest hardcore gamers much more than the Wii ever did, but on its own it's very unlikely to win over non-traditional gamers as Nintendo has.