My E3 Photos
I'd like to thank Geoff and Jeff for working everything out so I could attend E3 for VGT this year. Taking part of the E3 extravaganza as a member of the media was truely a unique experience. Anyway, I know it's late in the game, but I'd just like to recap some of the best and the worst on the show floor.
Best Gameplay in a Playable Demo
: Super Mario Galaxy
If I wasnít leaping around like a madman, I was running around asteroids without a care in the world. Mario has come a long way and the control is really flawless, although a bit awkward at first. The classic Mario gameplay is much more freeform due to the nature of the open environment. None of the other Wii games came close to the quality of Super Mario Galaxy especially with integration of the Wii controller.
: Dead Rising
Killing zombies has always been a wonderful video game pastime, but it has never been this much fun. I re-visited Dead Rising every chance I got at Capcom and Microsoft booths. There is really something visceral about lopping off heads with a golf clubs, not to mention twisted. The amazing quality of this title comes in the form of unlimited replay-ability. The game isnít supposed to be very long, but the number of ways to kill the moaning undead is incredibly vast.
Best Graphics in a Playable Demo
: Gears of War
Watching Gears of War in the videos doesnít even come close to the bloody beauty it exudes in playable form. Bordering on the cusp of a 2nd or 3rd generation game in terms of visual prowess, Gears of War will be the standard Xbox 360 games will be judged by graphically until the likes of Halo 3. The PS3 had nothing in playable form that looked as good as Gears of War, nor did I expect them to this early in development.
I wasnít too keen on Prey before the show, but the multiplayer demo changed my mind. The adapted Doom 3 engine has never looked better. It rivals F.E.A.R. in terms of gameplay and beauty.
: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
This 15 minute trailer played every hour at Konamiís booth and usually attracted a seething mass of PS3 hungry gamers. While it seems a bit far off in the PS3ís future, I heard several people, who just viewed the trailer, say they are buying a PS3 if only to play MGS4.
Best Booth Setup
Who would have guessed N-Gage would have one of the coolest booths? Not only was the booth set up for ultimate comfort with plush carpet and thick, cushy chairs, but the club theme really topped it off. I stopped by several times to rest my dogs and ogle the vinyl-covered booth babes. Itís too bad the games sucked.
Worst Booth Setup
: Nintendo Wii
I commented a bit on the popularity of the Wii in another thread. Part of the Wiiís rampant notoriety at E3 had to do with Nintendoís horrific booth design. Waiting in line took up to 2 to 3 hours by mid-show and getting inside wasnít much better. Basically, the line circled a rotating disc that carried 3 Wii setups, each featuring a different game and people to demonstrate them. As the line dribbled along, more demonstration booths were lined up on the left which were all clogged with 20 to 30 people each. After managing to push through the masses, the crowd settled around the playable demos. Additionally, each demo station easily had 10 to 15 people waiting in line and very few people wanted to leave the stations.
Nintendo could have opted for an open design like the PS3 playables. They certainly had enough room at their gigantic booth area for it, even with the vast quantity of DS stations. Interestingly, it created a manufactured buzz at the show, which sent some attendees, previously uninterested in the Wii, to stand in line just to get a glimpse at the console behind the white walls. Perhaps a purposeful tactic by the big N?
EA stupidly had an enormous amount of space dedicated to its 360 degree jumbo-tron screen and very little space to view one of their most popular E3 titles, Spore. The Spore line got up to 2 hours at one point on Thursday. Perhaps less space dedicated to the umpteenth version of Madden could have certainly sufficed.
Worst Surprise Announcement
: Sony PS3 motion controller
I picked the motion controller because several PS3 developers that I spoke to knew absolutely nothing about it before the show. Furthermore, they had no plans to incorporate it into the PS3 games that were on the show floor. Iím interested in seeing this motion functionality in PS3 games, but the late nature of this announcement may hurt the adoption of the controllerís functions in the first generation of PS3 games.
: Two PS3 models
While I was prepared for a high PS3 price, Iím quite shocked Sony is following Microsoftís lead with two skuís. The Xbox 360 pricing was confusing at first, but the obvious choice became the Premium very quickly, even at $400. While the PS3 certainly has the same advantage (Wifi, HDMI, 40 extra gig) in terms of differences, the already high price of the lower model may detract from the number of gamers willing to upgrade to the premium PS3.
What happened to?
I remember being extremely excited at the concept (MMOFPS) for this game last year, so I was ready to see it in action. Unfortunately, the annoying stage performer with the shrillest voice in the world beside Huxley's display was more impressive than Huxley. The game looks astounding awful and the gameplay is next to pathetic. It plays like an ancient MMO without any of the fun. If the developers plan on selling this game, they need to invest time traveling technology to sell this game in the late nineties.
: Nintendoís online offerings
Why so little info Nintendo? The throngs of people in line for the Wii would have loved to see all the old-school games they would get to revisit this fall. Not to mention play them while standing in that gigantic line.
Game of the Show
: Gears of War
Everything Iíve seen of the single player & what Iíve played of the multiplayer just screams a system selling game. Honestly, this FPS title makes the Halo series look bad in terms of quality. The A.I. is fantastic, the graphics are silky smooth, and the action is completely non-stop. It will be the top selling Xbox 360 game of the year, without a doubt.
: Super Mario Galaxy
I havenít had this much fun with Mario since the N64. The incorporation of the motion controller with the fresh take of a planet hopping Italian plumber is perhaps the most imaginative game at E3 this year. From what I played, the unique re-invention of the series will sell tons of systems when it finally comes out within 6 months of the Wiiís release.
Overall Winner of E3 2006
Guess what? Itís not the PS3, Xbox 360, or the Wii.
Itís PC Games. The release of Windows Vista will bring about a much-needed marketing push for ďGames for WindowsĒ. Itís finally time PC Games got some love from the industry marketing machine. PC Games have always chugged along, but itís nice to see Microsoft bringing games to the forefront of the Windows Vista experience. While I realize this all depends on the stability of an operating system created by Billy-boy, Iím confident the features I saw at the show will really increase the attractiveness of PC gaming.
Plus, the games I viewed and played like Brothers in Arms: Hellís Highway, Quake Wars: Enemy Territory, Bioshock, Prey, Crysis, Battlefield 2142, the WoW Expansion, Neverwind Nights 2, Star Trek: Legacy, and of course Spore will really continue the tradition of quality PC titles. The next year will be an exciting time for PC Gamers, even more so than anyone in the console world.