I have to hand it to Activision for deciding to change the format of their press conference. Rather than having an executive come out and just drone on all about the game and have a few developers show off footage of the game they decided to have a pseudo talk show that would allow the developers to go up and talk about the game in a more causal setting before showing off footage from the game. This was a great idea up until they decided to bring in Jaime Kennedy, a no talent ass clown who started off the evening by insulting everyone in the audience with the same lame “gamers are all virgins” type jokes that were already gather mold during the Clinton administration. It doesn’t help that Mr. Kennedy appeared under the influence of something which may have been part of his act or possibly the result of eating paint chips as a child. Either way it didn’t go over well at all.
Underneath all of the crappy jokes and stiff teleprompter reading was that Activision actually has a pretty solid lineup of games coming up. We first got a look at Tony Hawk Proving Ground which has added a new skate park editing tool, a new film editing tool that will allow you to share movies with friends, and a new tool to create your own virtual “cribs”. This is in addition to the new combo system that allows you to have more precise control over your grabs and your tricks. The game looks good but it does feel like a lot of the previous Tony Hawk games.
Up next was the Bee Movie and Jamie’s decent Jerry Seinfeld impersonation. Of course impersonating Jerry Seinfeld isn’t exactly hard but he gets an A for effort. The Bee Movie is your typical movie tie-in game but with some pretty impressive visuals and a host of varied game play options. I did like the section where you flew around downtown New York and had to avoid running into cars as the sense of scale was pretty impressive.
It should be pointed out that after the Bee Movie the audience really turned on Jaime Kennedy. It never a good sign when the funniest line of the night was delivered by the Quake Wars dev team member but it did happen. Quake Wars continues to impress and we got to see the 360 version of the game. The only real change from the PC version looks to be the inclusion of a use key that automatically selects the correct context sensitive thing to do when you’re playing the game. This means that when you want to repair something or capture an item you just push the use key instead of cycling through your inventory to find the right item (which can lead to pre-mature death). The 360 will have bot support so you’ll be able to play by yourself in case you don’t’ feel like dealing with all the kids on Xbox Live.
I hadn’t seen much of Spider-man Friend or Foe and what I saw today was decent but I’m not exactly in the intended audience as the game is cleared aimed at a younger audience. There are a few differences between this game and other Spider-man games as you when you defeat one of the boss characters they join your team and you can use them as a side kick. The game also supports co-op multiplayer and your friends can drop in and out of the game as they please. Stan Lee was there to make an appearance but didn’t make it up to the stage which means either Stan was there to just collect a check or he didn’t feel like talking to Senior douchebag about the character.
I won’t lie to you and say that I wasn’t hoping that Call of Duty 4 military advisor Hank Kiersey would kill Jaime Kennedy, eat him and then crap smaller, funnier comedians but I was. I had met Mr. Kiersey at an Activision press event a few years ago and he was one of those tough military men that you always hear about. Instead of breaking him into his component parts he did make Jamie do a few push-ups on stage before bringing out the developers from Infinity Wars to show off Call of Duty 4. The game still continues to amaze and I think they’ve got another huge hit on their hands. In addition to the E3 trailer that was released earlier this week they showed off some new footage from the game. The first new bit was a raid on a freighter where you and a couple of other black ops guys are dropped on freighter in the middle of the ocean and have to take out the crew. The second clip was from a raid on a Middle Eastern village that was very reminiscent of Black Hawk Down. Both clips were very impressive and I think COD 4 is easily in the run for one of the top games at the show.
The rest after the jump
The last game we saw at the press conference was Guitar Hero III. With all the buzz about Rock Band it seems like the new Guitar Hero game is being shoved into a corner. After seeing the game in action tonight though I think the folks at RedOctane and Neversoft have another solid game on their hands. I really like the new competitive modes where you can use power ups against each other and I think the new track list is fairly solid as well. I will also give props to bringing Slash out on stage to talk about his game and how he got involved with the project (he got hooked on the game on a tour bus and got the call from Activision and signed on).
All in all it was a pretty good showing for Activision despite the best efforts of Jamie Kennedy. I hope that they’ll keep the same format next year but with a different host and more live game play.