E3 2011 Day 1 Recap Ryan Smith/Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

Ok, hardcore gamers, you can finally take a deep breath and raise a glass of Red Bull in triumph. If the opening day of E3 was any indication -- it’s time to stop muttering that the gaming world will soon be overrun by moms, grandparents and preteen girls.

In the past couple of years, cutesy-pie pet sims, music games and dumbed down motion gaming titles were all the rage at E3, but in the 2011 the focus has seemingly gone back to epic big-budget action and sim-heavy sports titles. Because let’s face it -- grandpa probably isn’t going to pick up “Ghost Recon” anytime soon.

Here’s a look at some of the other big news from Press Conference Day at E3 -- which saw lively presentations from several of gaming’s giants.

Microsoft

Some of the biggest news for the Xbox had surprisingly little to do with games. Microsoft announced a “new Xbox experience” coming this fall that will bring live TV access, YouTube and the search engine Bing to the 360. It doesn’t mean you should toss your laptop out the window anytime soon, but it appears Xbox is traveling further down the path of becoming an all-in-one entertainment hub capable of TV, movies, music and games on demand -- perhaps eventually making the DVR and physical media like DVD’s go the way of the dinosaur.

Speaking of dinosaurs, Microsoft dusted off the “Halo” franchise at E3 by revealing a remake of the original “Halo: Combat Evolved” for a 10th anniversary edition and a sneak peek teaser trailer of “Halo 4” -- which company officials dubbed “a brand new trilogy.”

Master Chief will have stiff competition from Marcus Fenix in “Gears of War 3” -- which also made a flashy debut with a trailer showing the Gears crew taking on an epic Leviathan emerging from the depths of the water.

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Sony

Sony said “Sorry” to gamers for the infamous PlayStation Network hack in a big way at E3, with guest appearances from Kobe Bryant, Jane’s Addiction, a host of new games like “Uncharted 3” and “Resistance 3,” and the stunning debut of the “Vita.”

The goofy name might make it sound like a model of hybrid car or a character in “Assassin’s Creed,” but better get used to hearing the name “Vita” because it’s the name of the Sony’s sequel to the PSP that will hit shelves at the end of the year. Bragging a 5-inch touch screen, front and back-mounted cameras, two mounted joysticks and a touch pad -- the Vita is expected to not compete not only with Nintendo’s 3DS, but also the iPod Touch. The Wi-Fi only version of the handheld will sell for $249 and a 3G model, with exclusive AT&T service (just the mention of AT&T garnered boos at E3), will cost $299.

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In addition to the Vita, Sony surprised at the press conference with a new 3D display bundle they say will help make gaming in three-dimensions a bit less expensive. The package will include a pair of active 3D glasses, a copy of the game Uncharted 3, an HDMI cable, and a 24-inch Sony TV for $499.

EA

It’s been over a half a decade, and no other massive multiplayer online game has been able to touch “World of Warcraft,” but EA’s upcoming “Star Wars: The Old Republic” looks promising enough to give WoW a run for its gold coins. The trailer, emphasizing outsized battles between familiar Star Wars characters, certainly cast a Jedi mind trick-like spell on the E3 audience.

Later in their show, thick fog filled up the theater and EA unveiled a trailer for a new “SSX” -- the newest in the long-awaited snowboarding title that will apparently let you ride just about every mountain range on the planet. Similarly, “Need for Speed: the Run,” which also debuted at E3, is about racing across America from San Francisco to New York with the mob and cops hot on your tail.

Ray Lewis, Clay Matthews and newest cover boy Peyton Hillis also appeared in full football gear during EA's press conference to discuss innovations to defense and clutch play in the upcoming "Madden '12."

Follow Ryan Smith on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter

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