My trip started with an ending. I'd just closed the book on an old relationship that had been haunting me for some time (allowing me to appreciate my current one a good deal more) and watched my dad get married for a second time. Leaving Connecticut early in the morning I headed back to Arizona to gather the group together and set out for E3. The flight left 6:30am Connecticut so that was 3:30am Arizona time. I made my landing in Texas after a good little nap (I only slept 2 hours the night before) and found myself back in Arizona at about noon. In due time we set out for Arielle Shearer's house who's family had offered to put us up while we where in LA. (They are awesome people!) I had just crossed the UAT, coast to coast, in about 22 hours.
The trip proved a greater stain then we had imagined as we left at about 4pm and got in rather late (or early if you are of that school of thought) and the twisting mountain roads that Google Maps sent us on was quite terrifying for Betsy. (Betsy is my piece of shit '95 altima...) We eventually arrived and crashed close to 3am.
Day 1 was AMAZING, we explored the larger of the two expo halls (EA, THQ, Disney, Playstation, SquareEnix Bandi, ect) and got TONS of swag. My first stop was the THQ booth to gawk at the 40k booth for a bit. They where really tights lipped about EVERYTHING- not even commenting on a speculative release date for Dark Millennium in a number of YEARS. T.T
Day 2 saw us explore the other hall (Sony/SOE, Capcom, Konami, Nintendo, ect) and there was much swag to be had as well. I think I have to give the “nicest people” award to SOE- we got chatted up by the developers of DC Online for a good while and they not only know their stuff but where REALLY friendly and professional. They gave us struggling college students a LOT of hints and tricks about the industry and that really made my day. Thanks SOE if you are reading this!!!
The last day was our “wait in line day” and I got to play some excellent games as a result (though sadly FF14 was BOOKED SOLID). Among them was the Zelda game, Skyward Sword that had me standing in line for about an hour and a half.
Force Unleashed II
Despite headlining E3 and having an AMAZING movie in the entrance hall- Force Unleashed II really didn't make much of a showing to the industry. I hear press was allowed to get a better look at it- but all we got to see was a trailer. I LOOKS good and so did the first so I got high hopes.
Castlevania: Lord of Shadows
Now the thing that really grabbed me about this game was that at first I didn't peg it as a Castlevania game until I saw the title really. It doesn't LOOK like a Castlevania game in the trailer. Also- Patrick Stewart is voicing someone so it's an auto-buy :D I also tried a Castlevania puzzle game that reminded me a LOT of “Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine” for the sega genesis. It's just a Puyo Puyo clone.
The statue looked good. That's about all I got to hear/see of it XD
Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam
I only got about a minuet long clip of this to go on but it looks like a solid companion to BC2's original setting. Not much info on it but it is sure to excite you if you are a history buff like me. They also showed a little bit of an “Onslaught” mode for BC2 which allows for 4 player co-op. Hell yes...
Rift: Planes of Telara
Now allow me to rant here for a second by what is up with developers claiming that their fantasy MMO is “innovative” and “unique” when it is really just a WoW clone. Besides a stunning booth and a booth babe I'd like to cast a few spells on- I wasn't impressed at all by this game. It looks like WoW (right down to 2 factions, a series of classes with a talent tree system) with a slight graphics upgrade. If you are going to throw money at something and you want to claim innovative gameplay- don't just tweek a few things and call it a masterpiece. Really redesign the wheel. If they where trying to ride the bandwagon- by all means go for it. It makes money and will be a GREAT launch title. The game looks FUN but it looks like WoW. Nothing wrong with that- just don't tell us that it's a new and innovative thing... I'm sure every gamer watching that demo thought the same thing.
End of Nations
Also by developer Trion was a game called “End of Nations”. If Rift was a WoW clone- End of Nations is the polar opposite. It's a VERY COOL RTS MMO that employs a lot of familiar aspects while still keeping it fresh enough to get me interested. When my “cool” radar goes off that normally means that the game has something new/cool/unique about it and I felt a twitch of two. It's got a plot- world wide battles, persistent upgrades, what looked like classes, and rolled together with a lot of RTS (starcraft-ish) goodness that you don't see in a traditional MMO.
Love the concept- gameplay needs work. I didn't get to see much of it but the parts I saw where kinda so-so. The art style is what carries it but the gameplay for the Wii with it's hardware limitations seem kinda... meh. Go go Warren Spector- I LOVE you, your plot and setting and I might try this out when it launches but... please work on your gameplay- it seems kinda bland for a game so awesome.
Just Dance 2
Ok- I'll roll all the dance games in with this. The Kinect is a solid, interesting, much needed step up in the industry and it makes Just Dance (and all it's clones) amazingly fun to play or watch. The Wii & Move versions kinda “cheat” it but the Xbox 360 version is as solid and fun as you can get. I recommend it! (It's a game that's fun to even WATCH)
Suddenly cute- Okami is back to make it's many dedicated fans squeal with cutsey joy. Nothing seems super innovative but it looks like a real crowd pleaser.
Def Jam Rapstar
What can I say? 4MM and Terminal Reality knows it's demographics- Def Jam put out what it does best. There where a lot of oldschool hits and old music videos from the Wu-Tang Clan. How can you not love it if you're into that stuff? Konami's gonna make bank!
God I hate your controller and your hardware. Upgrade that stuff and put it out as a “Wii 2” or “Wii Advanced”. Your demographics deserve better than gamecube era hardware and shoddy motion tracking.
Avatar the Last Airbender the Movie.. the Game
I sat though the trailer for this an immediately regretted wasting that minuet of my time. It looks like it was developed on Unity if we had to graphical limitations we did in the N64 era. Seriously guys- if you are going to make a tie in game, PLEASE don't make it suck. I'd like to give my “Worst in Show” award to this game.
Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest
Nothing to write home about. If you are a kid and liked the LOTR movies you're gonna like this game regardless of my opinion of it. My only real complaints are that it's kinda samey to all the other LOTR games, has a weird control scheme, and poor graphics. However- it was somewhat fun. Call it a lukewarm thumbs up. The developer at the booth was cool though.
UFC Undisputed 2010
I don't really like sports games all that much but this was actually a solid, fun game to play. I enjoyed the lack of UI- I intuitively got when my character (or the other guy) was injured. Cuts and bruises showed up to show damage and the graphics where well polished. The controls where just so-so and grappling was just plain bad. To get out from being pinned you rotate one of the control sticks which seems to have a randomly determined effect. Sometimes my character tried to get out one way and the other times he seemed to just want to lay there on his back while a big brute pounded him to death. The game slowed SIGNIFICANTLY when you hit the mat and it was more like just waiting for the match to resume. I originally ranted it's praises but after playing it a second time and getting grappled and pinned over and over I just kinda left the controller at the booth and continued on my merry little way in the middle of a match. “Bored- lost interest” is all I could think.
Clunky unintuitive controls really made this game stand out as an excellent example of over-complication. If I have to have the booth guys explain to me a few times how to equip/draw a weapon or attack then that's not a well designed control scheme. Maybe it would be better on PC.
Zelda: Skyward Sword
I liked this game- it reminded me of the good old days with Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask only on the Wii. I didn't like the Wiimote with it but it was a FUN Experience (the 10 min demo showed me that) with gameplay that made me satisfied. Rock on Zelda.
Battlestar Galatica Online
Not much was said about this but I saw a quick trailer and I LOVE me so Battlestar so I'm pumped about this.
DC Universe Online
Using a modified version of the UE3 engine to develop an MMO is NOT an easy task I'd imagine but SOE did it was style. It's kinda reminiscent of Champions or City of Heroes/Villains but overall I give it a BIG thumbs up. The banding gave it a bigger budget and it was well used. My only gripe is that using the havoc physics engine with it means weird cape movement in a game with superman and some very sticky flying mechanics.
I am a fan. I'll admit it right now, I LOVE 40k and it's entire universe so I was very excited about the stuff THQ had on display. Unfortunately it was sparse info and didn't really tell me anything I didn't know. THQ developers where very tight-lipped about their stuff on the 40k franchise games so I can't really say much about them. Dark Millennium Online (the 40k MMO) only had a trailer and some screen-shots up and “Space Marine” the FPS was just about the same. I'll reserve comment on them but I'm hopeful Dark Millennium Online doesn't go the way of the Fantasy one.