This year’s E3 was billed as the biggest how in the history of the event. If you measure he amount of noise and hype generated by the show it’s hard to argue with that pronouncement. Now that we’ve had a chance to catch our breath from the show and let the hype ebb away we thought it would be good to ask all of the GN staffers who attended the show to put together a list of what they felt lived up to the hype and what they were a little disappointed in.
Ben Berry- Staff Writer - E3 Virgin
You remember how my editor wanted a list of things I wanted to see at E3? Well here it is, the end of E3, and he’s hounding me again. This time he wants a list of the things I liked and disliked about the conference. Determined not to repeat history, I didn’t mention the booth babes this time, and decided to tried to figure out if I found what I went looking for. I’ll start with the list of things I liked:
- I really wanted to see Battlefront II. I have to say, getting the scoop on Battlefront II and all of the other LucasArts titles in development was truly amazing. Even with Episode 3 in the rearview mirror, the House of Vader has plenty going on. Be on the lookout for Empire at War, which might just be the RTS that gets the sour taste of Rebellion and Force Commander out of our collective mouth.
- The title that finally makes me play games on my cell phone might just be poker. Yahoo! Games was on hand, pushing a makeover of their interface, with Texas Hold ‘em as the flagbearer. Texas Hold ‘em has become such a phenomenon in video games, companies brought out the superstars of poker. World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker Champions were all over the convention floor this week. I played cards with Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Helmuth, Howard Lederer, and Robert Williamson III, and had a terrific time. I actually beat Esfandiari and Helmuth. I won a couple nice poker prizes, to boot. These guys weren’t really even trying, but just playing well enough to be competitive with them was a highlight of the trip.
- The third thing on my list was new controllers. Between MonsterGecko’s gyroscope enabled GeckoBlaster, Saitek’s Pro Gamer Command Pad, and the fact that the next gen consoles are all set to be wireless, controls look set to take a leap forward over the next year, and by next E3, we all might be playing games in a different way.
- MMORPG’s were everywhere. City of Villians, Auto Assault, Dark and Light, and RYL: Path of the Emperor all look to make their mark on the MMO landscape. And don’t forget about the new pieces of the Star Wars Galaxies galaxy. Many of us might only see the sun this summer when it shines through the blinds after another long night of hard core online gaming.
- The last thing I wanted to see was a title that made me believe I HAD to buy a next gen console. I didn’t see a title that really made me need a new box for my tv stand, but the consoles themselves just might have done it. With the Playstation 3’s raw power, the Xbox 360’s media center integration, and the Nintendo Revolutions…. well, at least there are two boxes I want to buy.
My mom always said “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Good thing I never listened to mom, or I wouldn’t be able to complete this list of things I didn’t like.
Matt Mirkovich - Staff Writer
- The Playstation 3 controller. With all the advances made in controllers at this years E3, the folks at Sony took about 5 big steps back with their oversized boomerang shaped controller. This controller seems like it was designed for style as opposed to functionality. Here’s hoping the response to the controller makes them change their mind about this monstrosity before it goes into production.
- The lack of information on the Nintendo Revolution. I’m sorry, but the console that needs the biggest splash did a belly flop. No controller, no specifications, and no game play footage. Heck, they can’t even pick a color on their own. I knew things weren’t going to go well when Nintendo started their briefing with the line “If you care more about game play than specs, you’re in the right place.” Nintendo needs to get out from cover soon, and put a good face on this launch. Coming to market last might give them an advantage, but it could also be a huge albatross. I guess we’ll see. That is if they decide to let us.
- There was too much to do in too little time. I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this, but E3 could really stand a 4th day. With the layout of the convention center, it would make sense to visit 1 hall per day so you could take a little more time on your way through each booth. And there still would be stuff you’d miss.
Things that were rockin' my world
- Killer 7 - My game of show, no other game on the floor took such a grip on me and made me just want to sit down and play the game for hours and hours on end. The crazy style of graphics and the absolute bizarre use of storytelling and sound make me want this game more and more. The late June release simply cannot come quickly enough.
- Okami - Another brilliant game from Clover. This game also has a unique art style and the nice gameplay element that has you drawing in objects in order to progress piqued my interest. It will be interesting to see how well this game is received by the American public. Hopefully if the combat difficulty is tuned up a little bit this game can be a wonderful title.
- Beatmania - Music games, how I love my music games, and this one is no exception. I've been playing Beatmania games since about 1999 so it's good to see a console version finally come out in the US. Importing be damned I will be picking up this game regardless. The only iffy part on this game is if it gets dumbed down for American audiences which I am hoping will not occur.
- Nintendogs - I was sold on this game from the first trailer. Playing the game only strengthened my fervor for this adorable title. I didn't think the Tomagotchi style gameplay would hook me again but consider me a sucker for the trends of the past.
- Makai Kingdom - Nippon Ichi will have another buyer when this strategy RPG drops later this summer. The absolutely hilarious dialouge/story had me at the word "Asshat." Ditching the Phantom Brave style of character deployment for a more favorable system where your characters never leave has me itching to play this title when Lord Zetta comes to store shelves.
- Tecmo's booth - Not a single console title on the floor to play and only a video to show? For shame Tecmo, I really wanted to try out Trapt and Fatal Frame 3, but now I have to wait months upon months with nothing to go by but screen shots and movies. The gratuitous fanservice for the booth also was a big turn off but at least it kept people out of lines to play the games I wanted to play.
- Legend of Zelda demo line - 6 Hours... end of story...
- No Namco X Capcom - Despite how much I was wishing and hoping it just simply was not there. A US release is looking more and more unlikely because of licensing issues and voice acting holes. If Valkyrie Profile can run off the whole cast of Pokemon then there is no reason this game couldn't. But alas I can only wait for my import copy to arrive and I'll have to learn Japanese all over again.
- Rude Convention Goers - This gets worse and worse every year, you've got a large number of people who simply should not be at this show and when they are there they just go around collection schwag. A lot of times you need to try out a game in order to get this stuff. So when I am waiting patiently in line to play something and finally get my turn don't be quick to rush me off just so you can get your free Nintendog keychain. On the flip side you've got people who will stay on a game for much longer than should be allowed. If it gets to the point where you feel the need to sit down while trying out a game then you've been there too long.
- PS3 Tech Demos - Fanboys went nuts when the Final Fantasy 7 tech demo was shown. News sites called the Killzone movie a fake. No concrete definitions of what was pre-rendered and what was real time. C'mon Sony this is just ridiculous, Microsoft came out of E3 on top because they had playable content on the floor and it look fantastic, you guys just had a bunch of fanboy traps and PR spin.
Charles Husemann – Editor In Chief
One of the best things about covering the show as a member of the media is getting to check out some things behind closed doors. This year I got to check out two things that just blew me away.
The first was Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
, the new action RPG from Bethesdasoft. The game looks beautiful and it looks exactly like what you would expect a next generation game to look like. The screenshots below just don’t do any justice to the game as it is one thing to see screen shots from a game and another to see those pictures in motion. The other thing that’s cool about the game is that the technology behind the game is as cool as the technology that you see it.
The second was Alan Wake
, the new psychological thriller from Remedy. The game looks to be a dramatic departure from their previous work on the Max Payne series in terms of tone and storytelling. This is another game that that’s really going to push the next generation of games. Just watching the guys from Remedy cycle through the weather and lighting effects was impressive. Then add a mysterious plot about the secrets of a small town in the northwest and you’ve got the potential for a great game.
Another thing that became obvious at this year’s show is that in-game physics are here to stay and they are here to stay. This was brought home by my meeting with AGEIA where they demonstrated their new hardware and software products. Maybe it’s a little hard to get excited about 6000 objects falling around in a tech demo but given the application of that technology in a game and you’ve got some serious potential for realism in games.Battlefield 2
- I only got a chance to play a few rounds of this at the EA booth but I’m hooked on the game play. It’s easy to call this just a pretty version of the Desert Combat mod for Battlefield 1942
but the game play feels a lot more than that. They added some sensible tweaks to the game to make getting around a little easier and the game just feels solid.
The final thing on my list was the C3 conference held by Microsoft after hours on the first day of the convention. This really exemplifies what E3 is about: getting together with people from around the community, playing games, and checking out the new stuff at the show. Hopefully they’ll be able to put something together like this again next year.
As far as negatives this year I’m going to jump on two major band wagons here. The first is the PS3 tech demo’s that may or may not have been real in-game footage. We saw a lot of pretty imagery but we really won’t know until next year. We know from the PS2 launch that Sony likes to exaggerate a bit on what their hardware can do so until next year I guess we’ll just wait and see what they can actually produce.
I was also pretty disappointed with Nintendo’s showing at the show this year. I know the Revolution is a year away but I really wanted them to announce something big and cool that would prevent them from being marginalized even further. Instead they announce a new GameBoy advance and that the Revolution will support every game they’ve ever produced. This is cool until you realize how many times you’ve actually paid to play that game and that if you want to play it on the new console next year you’re probably going to have to pay for it again.
While I think the new physics engine stuff is pretty cool I can also see PC Gamers going through something of a format war between Havok and AGEIA when and if Havok comes out with their own hardware solution. We saw this during the initial wave of dedicated graphics accelerators with Glide, OpenGL, and a few of other forgotten technologies. Hopefully there’s a quick winner and soon because with the card costing between $249 and $299 it’s going to be tough to have more than one of the cards in your PC.
I also want to gripe about NC Soft. Please stop making such great games, there’s no way I’m going to be able to work a full time job, manage this site, and be able to play every great MMORPG you guys produce and be able to find time to eat, sleep, and play hockey (the three critical parts of anyone’s life).