E3 Memories: E3 2005
Wow, take a look at that countdown clock over there on the right! We’re getting prett-y close to E3 2011, aren’t we folks? Don’t forget to request your customized coverage over at this article! All you have to do is comment, and you don’t even have to sign up first!
In the meantime, I’d like to reminisce. For you Sony fanboys out there, that’s a fancy word meaning “talk about things in the past.”
The year was 2005. It was my very first E3, and though I was going with another website (long story; needless to say, it’s in the past), I was pumped. I mean, this was a dream come true for me, a life goal achieved, the first day of the rest of my life. E3 was that important for me back then. It was the culmination of my life to date; everything was just leading up to this. More after the jump.
The EA Booth
And nothing could have prepared me for that first moment, walking into the South Hall… Being greeted by a humongous, vision-filling EA booth. I mean, it was overwhelming, the entirety of the hall with the eardrum-crunching noise and sheer tide of humanity washing past me, the sights and sounds of the pure essence of video games flooding my senses… And there was EA, right smack dab in the middle of it. I have to admit, at first, that I was actually disgusted. I had a lot less respect for EA back then, Sims-and-Madden-peddlers that they were, and just was not prepared for their presence.
It was, however, a critical moment for me, one that helped me to realize that EA was a cornerstone of the gaming industry, and a force to be respected. Once I actually ventured into the booth, later in the conference, I was in awe of how much work and money they’d put into it. The booth is a massive ring, with a series of screens lining the entire top half of the wall, even above the entrance, in effect creating a 360-degree screen. To top this off, massive amounts of speakers were below the metal floor, blasting bass vibrations up through our legs into us. Let me tell you, even Madden is damned impressive in 360-degrees and with that kind of sound system.
The Show Floor
Earlier I used the phrase “tide of humanity” to describe the flow of people at E3. This was only true part of the time. Other times, it was more like a tide pool of humanity, stagnant water going nowhere fast. Trying to get through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd was common in those days, when they were allowing any employee of any retail store that even sold video games, or any employee of any cable company that aired G4, to attend. That’s right, any Wal-Mart, Best Buy or Time Warner employee could attend. Needless to say, it got a bit old. It’s no wonder they started doing Press-Only slots the year after.
Also, it was ridiculously loud, especially over on the left side of South Hall, where NCSoft had erected a stage directly opposite from Activision’s True Crime booth. On the stage, we had punk and metal bands constantly playing while fire-eaters and dancers did their thing. Directly opposite that, the True Crime booth had a DJ playing non-stop, with monolithic speakers busting out beats. Of course, these two waged war over sound supremacy, and any passer-by caught in the crossfire had the unfortunate side-effect of having their eardrums rupture.
Eventually, I made my way over to the Blizzard booth, and though I was deafened and dazed, I was not to be denied. Blizzard had Starcraft: Ghost available to demo, so I picked up a controller and tried it out. It was… interesting. Though the theme of the game, a Terran ghost fighting through a compound being invaded by the Zerg, was awesome, the gameplay was, to be honest, mediocre. The graphic design of the level was uninspiring, and third-person sniping is a flawed concept at best. Needless to say, I was not surprised when the game itself was cancelled months later. The only thing to be impressed about was the fact that it was a Blizzard game on a console.
My experience, however, was destined to be shortlived. After about 15 minutes of gameplay, a Blizzard rep came over and asked if I had an appointment. I answered truthfully, replying that I did not. He replied, “Well, I’m going to have to ask you to leave, this is by appointment only.” I apologized and took my leave, slightly embarrassed, but this opened my eyes to one truism about E3. Not everything on the show floor is for anybody to play. Game companies guard their biggest secrets from the Wal-Mart crowd by requiring personal appointments for specially-determined games, often in meeting rooms adjacent to the main floor or even in another building.
The Twilight Princess Line
On the last day of the show, I was determined to play Twilight Princess, which had been announced the year before to joyful cheers and happy tears. I wasn’t prepared, however, for the fact that the line was 4 hours long. Four grueling hours in which I could have been playing other games. Let this be a cautionary tale to you, dear readers: if you ever go to E3, choose your lines with care.
Nintendo graciously made the wait a little less painful by having booth babes walk the line with Metroid Prime Pinball on DSes tethered to their person. It was a solid game, and brought 15 minutes of peace to an otherwise joyless time filled only with sitting, occasionally getting up to walk 2 feet, and Pictochat.
Once I made it to the end of the line, I finally got to play… sheep herding. ‘Really, Nintendo?’ I thought. ‘You make us play this after this kind of wait?’ I finally got to play the bridge battle, and as I was doing so, I looked over to my right… and saw Jerry Holkins, a.k.a. Tycho of Penny Arcade playing the console beside me. I recognized him from the interview Break had done with him years before, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t recognize me. “Hey Tycho,” I said nonchalantly, “How about that 4 hour wait?” He replied, “Actually they just let us in, we didn’t even know there was a line until someone else mentioned it.” ‘Damn,’ I thought, ‘those are the perks of fame.’
The Rest of the Show
Overall, E3 was one of the best experiences of my life. I experienced a demo for Tabula Rasa that was guided remotely by a guy in Texas through noise-cancelling headphones that silenced the aforementioned Firepunk vs. Ghettobass Noise War. I saw the Boomerang PS3 controller on display. I played the 360 before its release. I saw a wall of Game Boy Micros, which were probably given away to charity later because God knows Nintendo couldn’t sell them. It was an unforgettable experience, one I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I look forward to making more memories with my best friends next week.