NowGamer’s Best and Worst of E3
Sometimes the things for which we’re most unprepared are those which inevitably have the greatest impact. Brink is certainly one of them, NG neither seen nor heard a single detail prior to our late sweaty arrival at Bethesdas stand in a forgotten corner of the West Hall of the LA convention centre. Late because we were behind seeing the also-excellent Split/Second, and sweaty because we’d had to run all the way from the South Hall.
Arriving two minutes into Splash Damage’s pre-demo monologue, the gameplay kicked off without the benefit of introduction. To say we were impressed would be somewhat of an understatement
Chatting to Hideki Kamiya (Chris)
When we entered the behind closed doors showing of Platinum Games’ awesome Bayonetta, we had no idea that the game’s director Hideki Kamiya would be right there on presentation duties. If you didn’t know Kamiya-san is one of our favourite devs, having played an instrumental role in the creation of games such as Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe and Okami, and even though we only had around 10 minutes to ask him a few questions, it was a pleasure nonetheless.
We all know Lucasarts have some great IPs, but what they’re doing with them this year is special nevertheless. Not one, but two brand new Monkey Island products littered their strictly invitation only meeting room. The first, a remake of the original The Secret Of Monkey Island, managing to eclipse even the forthcoming episodic The Tales Of Monkey Island, sweeping it lightly aside with brutal nostalgic merit.
And then, of course is Star Wars: The Old Republic; two of our favourite licenses fused together into one of our favourite genres. We are counting the seconds. There’s one. And another.
The unvieling of Project NATAL (Chris)
Watching Project NATAL being unveiled at Microsoft’s keynote was a real highlight of E3 for us. Perhaps we were getting a bit drawn in by all the glamour and occasion, but during the unveiling we really felt like we were present at a very important moment in the history of interactive entertainment, invoking that sense of E3 magic we used to feel during the show’s heyday. Though cynicism over NATAL’s capabilities has crept up on us since, the tingly feeling we felt when we first saw Milo will stay with us for quite a while.
God of War 3 kudos (Chris)
So there we were, in Sony’s press meeting room tearing through undead hordes in God of War 3, while its combat designer Adam Phul sat behind us, occasionally glancing over at the screen. As God of War fanboys it was a huge pleasure to get our hands on the third iteration after such a long wait, but it was even more of a pleasure when after we interviewed Phul, he said we were the best GoW player he’d seen so far at E3 (in so many words). Yes we realise how pathetic that makes us sound, and yeah, he probably said that to all the other journos too!
Too Much Information (Dan)
We love Q&A’s. They allow us to delve behind the scenes and dig up truffles of info that weren’t offered during the presentation proper. Even better than a Q&A when you’re tight for time are those rare sessions when no matter what question springs to mind, the producer on MC duties then goes right ahead and answers it in his next sentence, leading to a lot of hastily scrawled half questions which are then ruthlessly scribbled out before they have a chance to do their job.
Mafia II was one such case in point. A fantastic looking game, but one which its presenters rendered to us in such excruciating detail that by the time the words ‘Any questions?’ escaped the presenters lips, all that was left was the droning sound of the ceiling fan and a lot of clueless-looking journalists. We interjected with the question ‘Is this game as awesome as we think it is?’ just to break the uncomfortable silence
Paid Hooters (Dan)
It’s a well-known fact that Microsoft has, in the past, paid for a section of the crowd to maintain a level of vocal enthusiasm unbefitting anything that was actually happening on stage. In previous years, these guys have normally been confined to a single section of the auditorium. Microsoft appears to be getting smarter about this however, perhaps realising that in ensuring that one section of the crowd is incongruously more ecstatic than anyone else, their not so subtle ploy to add unnecessary excitement would be laughed into next Tuesday.
Sadly, though, this appears to have lead to the decision to sprinkle them liberally around the crowd, so that no matter where you sat, you were never more than three metres from a hooting numpty. Isn’t the same true of sewer rats? Very irritating, but to be fair, pretty funny when there’s a guy screaming ‘Oh my God! Hell yeah! Wow! Woooooooo!’ at the top of his voice when Don Mattrick makes some banal comment about Facebook.
Unvieling of Wii Vitality Sensor (Chris)
Nintendo’s conference at this year’s E3 was a vast improvement over last year’s, but come on, Vitality Sensor? “What a load of crap,” was the first thought that came into my head after Satoru Iwata unveiled the damn thing. Of course, it’s bound to make Nintendo bags of money. “Wii Stress Reliever”, “Wii Health Analysis”, “Wii Find Out Who Is A Lying Little Shit”. The Vitality Sensor is brilliantly targeted at the Nintendo’s current demographic of Brain Training-addicted self-improvement seekers.
Being kicked off UFC (Dan)
We actually missed our first opportunity for a behind the scenes guided tour of THQ’s stand first time around. Luckily, said company’s PR guys are an understanding lot, so we were able to return the next day for the works. As well as getting to see first glimpses of Kaos Studios’ very promising-looking Homefront and the console only Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, we had a ten-minute respite between showings of the two games. Just enough time to brush up on our level 60 UFC skills.
THQ’s booth reps seemed only too happy to bring noob after noob onto the stand, only to be KO’d within the first twenty seconds of the match. We don’t reckon THQ thought we were doing a very good job of bringing new people to the UFC experience – rather just pulping their faces with no mercy – so they kicked us off. Yep, they passive-aggressively, politely asked us to relinquish the controller and leave the stand. We were only just getting warmed up
WiFi woes (Chris)
Wobbly WiFi connections were the bane of our lives at E3. We went there expecting the conferences to have WiFi access as in previous years, only to be disappointed and unable to live blog. We also expected to get connected anywhere in the convention centre, only to find out we had to make a mad dash for the press room whenever we wanted to upload something. And even worse, when we got back to our hotel the connection kept terminating every 5 minutes. Not good when you’ve got a website to update!
Rogue Warrior (Dan)
That Brink made it in as one of the best, if not THE best of show takes nothing away from the incredulous ineptness of Rogue Warrior. The two games share only a publisher and otherwise have nothing in common, but this has to be the most humdrum, uninteresting, shoddily executed mess we saw during the entire show.
We don’t need to go into significant detail other than to say that it was PS2 in every respect, but hiding inside the shell of a 360. Horrible animation, effect, AI, and gameplay staples as old and shit as dinosaur poo.
Booth babes (Chris)
Some may say booth babes are a highlight of E3, but to be honest they just made us slightly uncomfortable. Well, actually the girls themselves were fine, what was unsettling were the throngs of sweaty gawkers who were perfectly content to spend 20 minutes standing in a rough semi-circle around each babe while staring at their tits with no shame. We were far more respectful during the show, and did all our gawking over pictures while in the convention centre toilets.