Letter From E3, Day One: June 15, 2010

From listening to dance music in the Nokia Theater (perfect for keeping me up at the wee hour of 7am) to milling about awkwardly outside once the show had closed, I spent a full twelve hours at E3 2010 today. I have to say though that the day felt like it lasted maybe 45 minutes, tops. It was that fun. I know it’s probably not that hard for anyone out there to believe me on that.

I’m thoroughly spent (I woke up early and I could hardly sleep out of excitement last night anyway), but I’ll give you some of my quick impressions:

What did I like? What were my “holy shit!” moments?

  • 3DS, 3DS, 3DS. Holy shit!!!! I haven’t had any interest in handheld gaming since the original Game Boy, but it looks like all that is about to change. This new device made me nearly shit myself. I literally almost crapped my pants when I heard that the 3DS has a 3D camera (two separate lenses) that you can take 3D photos with. Holy shit!! I’d heard about the 3D presentation on the screen, and it didn’t disappoint. It looked great on the demo device I briefly used, and it has a 3D slider on the side where you can slide from full 3D to 2D and all points in between. This, truly, is some far-out shit and is definitely the coolest thing at E3 this year. Nintendo has done it again!! The bar for gaming has been raised, and can never go back.
  • Don’t hate me, but I thought some applications of the Microsoft Kinect were truly revolutionary. For example, I can rave about its use in the Ubisoft fitness title Your Shape. In every other way, the game was just another of the many Wii Fit knockoffs crowding the floor space at this year’s show. However, I was blown away when I saw people at the demo step into the square and get scanned by Kinect’s camera. In a minute or so, a pretty damn good likeness of them appeared on the screen, next to their digital trainer. And I’m not talking about a Mii likeness- I mean a real-time image of the person playing the game. It felt a bit like watching a magically shrunken Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie, in a good way. Maybe it was just me, but I found this pretty staggering. I felt like I’d just seen another barrier being broken between the gamer and the game. I may be alone in this, but I think Kinect is a device with tremendous potential for advancing the gaming experience. It’s my sincere hope that clever developers fully explore its many possibilities.

What else did I like? In brief:

  • The new Donkey Kong Country title for Wii. Talk about long overdue. I went bananas over these games (sorry…) on N64, so I was hooting and hollering when I heard of the new upcoming release. I just hope the new developers do as good a job as Rare did so incredibly with the originals.
  • Speaking of Rare titles…GoldenEye for Wii. ‘Nuff said.
  • Speaking of overdue updates…I played the new Twisted Metal and it is truly awesome.
  • Speaking of overdue in general…I played Gran Turismo 5 in 3D and it is likewise pretty damn awesome. I’ve been following this game’s development for over three years, and it does not look like I will be disappointed.
  • Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. The only thing I didn’t like about the Assassin’s Creed franchise is that it didn’t have multiplayer. Bam! Now it does. A terrific gameplay experience just got even greater. A definite pre-order.
  • Playboy Playmates at the Mafia II booth. So hot. Who cares about the game?? They were probably there to distract from it. And they did their job well. Congrats, Miss January and friends…
  • Tron: Evolution. I know movie games always suck, but this one has some truly intriguing aspects and I love the visual design. Oh, who am I kidding…I’m going to be waiting on the reviews for this like everyone else.
  • Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Truly innovative design that takes its obvious LittleBigPlanet and Paper Mario influences and raises them to a whole new level. Definitely the single most eye-catching game I’ve seen yet for the Wii.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Hahahahaha…just kidding!!!!

What didn’t I like? (Much less than what I did):

  • PlayStation Move. Its tagline on all the banners was “this changes everything”, but really it changed nothing. It was just a straight-up knockoff of the Wiimote and sensor and nothing more. The colored light-up knobby bulb at the end of it was fun to squeeze, but that’s about it. Game-changer this was not. I tried it out on the new Tiger Woods game (a shitty game, by the way), but unlike the real Tiger it underwhelmed. Sony should have done something much bolder with this effort.
  • All the stupid assholes who kept bouncing me from trying out games that I’d been waiting in line for. I’d wait in line and make nice with the requisite booth babes, only to get bumped at the last second because some sort of “important” muckety-muck showed up on the spur of the moment and decided to try out the game. Way to piss off the little guys, you dunderheads. By this I mean specifically Ubisoft. Bad karma is never good business.
  • Epic Mickey. Somehow I expected much more out of this game. A world full of forgotten Disney characters?? What, the developers couldn’t afford the licensing rights?? Give me Donald Duck, goddammit!! Not the crows from Song of the South. I expected to be impressed, and was not.
  • Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring. What a stupid title; what a stupid game. Neeeext!
  • The lack of free non-decaf coffee in the Media Lounge. Don’t they know the army marches on its lattes? It was nonexistent after about 10am. Some goddamned free coffee later on in the day surely would have been a nice (and affordable) gesture for those of us in the Fourth Estate. I certainly didn’t get more awake as the day progressed.
  • The new Medal of Honor. Meh.
  • The E3 t-shirts for sale. All ugly. What, are you saying gamers don’t have fashion sense??
  • Last but not least, the creepy platoon of L.A. aspiring actors who were hired to march around in fatigues posing as North Korean soldiers. Especially since most of them didn’t look like North Koreans. They were annoying and sort of freaked me out. I first saw them while eating at ESPNZone (forgive me…). The North Korea-Brazil World Cup game was on, and suddenly a brigade of at least 60 “soldiers” trooped through bearing North Korean flags. I was genuinely spooked, because I figured they were there to support the North Korean soccer team and intimidate us non-Communist Americans. I was relieved when I later found out that it was a media ploy to promote the upcoming THQ title Homefront (which, incidentally, does look pretty promising). However the damage was done, and that particular publicity stunt definitely backfired on this naturally very jumpy gamer.

Well that’s all, folks! That wraps it up for Day One. I won’t be at the show tomorrow, but I’ll report again after Day Three. Who knows? I just might change my mind about some things (but probably not Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows…). See you next time.

-Justin Slosky