Back from E3 2010

So I’m back from E3 and finally have some time to write down everything I saw. I would have liked to do some posts while I was there, but sadly the internet at the hotel was incredibly slow.

Anyway, here is each day in detail:

Day 1:

If you’ve never been to E3, just the size of the LA convention center is enough to send chills up your spine, that place is HUGE. My plan for the 3 days was to spend the first day in the south hall, the second day in the west hall and the third day standing in line for stuff I missed.

Even though I only stayed in the south hall I got to see a lot of games.

Games I played:

  • Vanquish
  • Mafia 2
  • Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (multiplayer)
  • Tron
  • Epic Mickey
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Games I saw demos of:

  • Red Faction Armegedon
  • Homefront

Hardware I played with:

  • Onlive
  • Novint Falcon controller with normal controller attachment and gun attachment

Day 1 thoughts:

My favorite game of the day was Red Faction: Armageddon. This is only because I am a big fan of the Red Faction series and the new guns you get in Red Faction: Armageddon look insane. I think I’m going to wait to talk about the new stuff in Red Faction: Armageddon because I’m so excited for it I’ll probably just ramble on.

I saw Homefront at GDX and while it looked a bit better at E3, it still looked pretty shitty. As for the gameplay, it left a lot to be desired. It seemed to be a very basic FPS, just with a pretty interesting idea of the US being invaded and pretty much torn apart.

Vanquish was really cool. The level we got to play was a boss fight and I don’t think it was the perfect level to show off just how fast the game is because you basically have to stay in a small area till you destroy the boss. Nevertheless I had a blast playing it and will continue to follow it.

I absolutely loved the first Mafia and besides the Xbox 360 that I was playing the Mafia 2 demo on overheating on me, it was a fun experience. It didn’t hold my attention as much as I thought it would, but that’s probably because I wasn’t able to explore the world as I wanted to and instead forced to play a linear mission.

Tron was a treat that I wasn’t expecting. They had one of the coolest booths and the game was actually pretty fun, especially when a level in which I drove one of Light Cycles. It still needs some tweaking though.

I got to play an entire level of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and wasn’t really surprised to find that it was basically another Devil May Cry, except in the Castlevania universe. Perhaps I didn’t enjoy it because it was the tutorial/ demo level and I didn’t really get a chance to try anything in depth, just touch the basics of the usual stuff.

I tried Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker on the PSP Go and have to say, what the fuck were they thinking. I’m not sure if it’s the PSP Go or just the game itself but the controls were awful, even trying to sneak around and take guys out stealthy was way more difficult than it should have been. I don’t own a PSP and nothing really made me want to buy one, so I’m probably not the best judge on whether this game looks promising. So just keep that in mind if you’re looking forward to this game.

I don’t own a Wii, but Epic Mickey really made me want to buy one and as you’ll see in day 2, this happens a lot during E3. I’ve got a lot to cover for E3 and I don’t want to spend all my time talking about Epic Mickey, so I think I’ll leave that for an in depth post.

The multiplayer of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days seemed pretty cool. It was basically cops and robbers and reminded me a lot of Grand Theft Auto 4 multiplayer.

I am really excited for Onlive, after trying Gametap, Gamefly, and having a subscription to Fileplanet for demos and betas I am really excited to see a service that combines all of those into one. Although I’m not sure if they’re going to have betas.

I was really impressed by the Novint Falcon controller. I had seen it before and had always wanted to try it, but never had the chance. It works really well with FPS games, however I don’t think I’ll be replacing my mouse with one anytime soon. It was just a cool piece of tech.

Day 2:

Games I played:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Metroid: Other M
  • Medal Of Honor (multiplayer)
  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (multiplayer)

Games I saw demos of:

  • Kirby: Epic Yarn
  • F3AR

Hardware I played with:

  • Dual SFX Frag Pro
  • PS3 Move

Day 2 Thoughts:

Playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was pretty awesome. I hear a lot of people complain about how colorful it is and it does have really intense colors, but I had a good time with the gameplay anyway. You have complete control over the sword with the Wii Remote and you control the shield with the Wii Nunchuk. I hadn’t had a chance to play with the Wii Motion Plus yet and sadly spent most of my time cutting trees into tiny bits while in midair- oops. However from what  played, I’m excited for the game. Hopefully they dial the colors down a bit, but it didn’t bother me all that much to begin with. I’d also like to see it be a bit snappier when taking the shield and sword out for combat. Plus the camera controls were pretty dreadful.

Surprisingly it took longer to get through the Metroid: Other M line than it did the Zelda line. It turned out while the Zelda demo was only about 10 minutes, the Metroid demo was as long as it took you to complete the demo level. I didn’t really like the demo all that much. My biggest problem with it was how clunky the game was when switching from horizontal controls and side view to first person view and vertical controls. While in first person view it didn’t seem to follow my movement very well which was really frustrating and overall ruined the experience for me. I learned after playing that the way they had set up the demo was screwy because we had to stand up to play the demo and we were probably too close to the sensor bar. Not having a Wii myself, I probably should have realized that I wasn’t in the correct position for the sensor bar and played around with where I was standing.

Medal of Honor… I just got to play the multiplayer… meh. It was fun I guess, it was like any other FPS. I really wanted to try the single player, but sadly they didn’t have it on the floor.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer was pretty cool. You choose a character and have to stealthy find your target and kill him while making sure your pursuer doesn’t kill you. Sadly the problems I’ve had with other Assassin’s Creed games made it pretty frustrating. For example in Assassin’s Creed 2 you had to get at least 8/10 prisoners to safety and while following you they would bunch up on parts of roofs that got narrow. This bunching up caused them to push each other off and was extremely frustrating. How does this apply to multiplayer? Well luckily you don’t have to lead any AI around, but the point of my frustrating story is that they didn’t seem to play test enough to fix those frustrating moments and the multiplayer of Brotherhood sure needs more play testing. For example I was being pursued by someone so I jumped into a hay pile to escape my pursuer and of course he saw me jump in. So he came over to start stabbing into the hay pile and just as he was getting into it I pushed the button to get out. Sadly during the animation of me getting out I guess he pressed the button for killing someone while they’re in a hay pile. The game decided even though I was practically outside of the hay pile that the kill counted and I died. My strategy for evading my pursuer was probably flawed but this very black and white game logic they have going on is very frustrating when their animations don’t incorporate this idea of black and white safety.

Kirby: Epic Yarn looks as adorable as it does fun. They had a playable demo on the show floor and I really wanted to play it, but while in line for it people from the media kept taking over and causing the line to become congested. However a friend of mine played it and told me what looks to be true, it’s as fun as it is cute. That’s why I love Kirby games. They’re fun, simple, and addictive. I’m really looking forward to this one and all of these games will undoubtedly make me buy a Wii. Plus I’d love to play this with my girlfriend, and since this one has co-op, it’s perfect. If there was ever a game made for her, this one is it.

F3AR was pretty interesting. I loved the previous Fears, especially the multiplayer and ragdoll effects. For the third installment they added co-op, but not just as an add-on feature. It’s completely relevant to the story of the game. However if you want to play single player, you’re covered and it still makes sense.  It still has slow-mo and gore and the 2nd character, Fettal, a ghost with the power to take over the bodies of enemy players as well as the power to lift up enemies gives the game some new mechanics. Like all the other games, I’ll have to play the demo first, but it looks pretty cool as it is now.

I finally got my hands on a Dual SFX Frag Pro for the PS3. If you’re not familiar with what this is, it’s a mouse and nunchuck controller that replaces the regular PS3 controller. It was made with bringing the great controls of FPS games on the PC to the console. Sadly, what I was afraid of was true; you have to mess with it a lot. The settings of the controller, the settings of the game, and the on the fly settings all need to be messed with and every game will have different settings for the controller. Plus, ramping up the on the fly sensitivity to max really shows how they trick the PS3 to use the mouse and makes anything above about 6 (out of 10) completely useless. However, I still haven’t lost hope for finding a mouse like controller for the console and I might end up buying one of these to mess with. That or waiting for a better alternative.

I was really lucky to try PS3 Move as quick as I did. I ran by the line with only about 4 people in it and jumped right on in. This in comparison to the line for Kinect with about a hour and a half wait. The only game I got to try was ping pong, but I was excited to play because I absolutely love ping pong and have been playing for a number of years. Now I’m pretty good at Ping Pong and was sad to find that for the demo they had the AI opponent at the easiest level, because of this easy level I wasn’t really able to get a fix on just how well the Move controller scheme works. I could basically do anything and win against this shitty opponent, however I did find I could put spin on the ball which was cool to see and I was able to really slam the ball across the table. With the Ping Pong game my main complaint, besides the shitty opponent for the demo, was that when you serve it’s extremely difficult to tell where the ball is located, height wise, in comparison to your paddle. To serve in the game you jerk the controller up, like you would throw the ball up in regular Ping Pong. After throwing the ball up you can’t really tell where ball is because the controller has no feedback what-so-ever. So basically, you jerk the controller up and swing like mad till you hit it. It would have been nice to have a dual shock version of the Move controller but as far as I know there is no such thing. Basically, Move works pretty well, now we just need to see if any worthwhile software comes out.

Day 3- My do everything else day:

Games I played:

  • Lego Universe
  • Star Fox for the 3DS
  • An alternate reality game for the 3DS

Games I saw:

  • Mortal Kombat
  • Lord of the Rings: The War in the North Trailer
  • Metal Gear Solid for the 3DS

Hardware:

  • 3DS
  • Kinect

Day 3 Thoughts:

I saw Lego Universe in a magazine a long time ago and was really intrigued, both as a fan of Legos and MMOs. For the demo I was in a newbie zone and had to do all of the basics of the game. I learned from one of the booth guys that there are 3 types of Lego building in the game. Automatic: hold down shift and your character throws some bricks to build something. Part based: take the front, back, and middle of something and put em together. Brick by brick: This one I didn’t get to try, but from what he told me you place each individual brick down. As far as gameplay goes, you equip a weapon and it appears on your hotbar, I had a spear or just my hands for the demo. When close to an enemy you left click and your character auto faces your enemy and attacks. There are cool downs and each click delivers one type of attack. For the spear there was about 3 moves, jab, swing, overhead slice. Clicking over and over makes him cycle through these attacks. It seemed pretty cool and I love killing enemies and watching them explode into Lego pieces, but it just didn’t strike my imagination like the article I read about it a long time ago did. Perhaps it’s because I only got to play the tutorial level and wasn’t able to get into what I wanted to get to, building. I’ll have to keep my eye on this game just to see what I missed in my play through.

Mortal Kombat… holy fucking shit. That game looks incredible. They went back to basics, it’s presented in the 2D plane view of the past games and because of this they really got to make the characters and environment look amazing. It’s possibly the bloodiest yet with certain combos causing the camera to zoom in on the part being affected and actually showing the bones breaking. Plus, the characters will portray their level of health by showing bloodied parts, ripped clothing, and the overall wear and tear of the match. Fatalities are really bad ass looking, you’ll see livers, people getting their faces eaten off, acid being poured down people’s throats, etc. As far as the combat is concerned, it looks really fluid, there are lots of combos, breakers for stopping the enemy from repeatedly hitting you, and of course special moves. Plus there is a bar at the bottom that fills slowly over the course of the match. When full, it can either increase the damage of special moves or let your character’s do his or her most devastating and bad ass move. I thought I was going to be looking forward to the new Capcom fighting game coming out, but after that I’m looking forward to this game for sure. Oh and while all of these awesome visuals were being displayed and the gameplay talked about, Ice T was in the audience enjoying it with us.

One of the new Lord of the Rings games coming out, Lord of the Rings: The War in the North Trailer, is a lot different from all the other ones. It’s a lot darker, with way more gore and really intense combat. The game is basically a co-op dungeon crawler with emphasis put on having each character that you can choose bringing something unique to the table. For example, the humans can see herbs that the other players can’t, the elf can track animals, and the dwarf can see weaknesses in stone. It looks pretty neat, but the demo really didn’t live up to the trailer’s hype. I’ll still be looking at this game, I’d love to have a good ole’ dungeon crawler to play with my friends.

After waiting in line for about 1 hour and 40 minutes I finally got my hands on the 3DS. Not only was it cool, but the 3D actually worked and looked great without the use of glasses. I’m not a huge fan of 3D, but it was still cool to play around with. I was really happy with the demo of the hardware. We got to try any of about 40 different games for around 10 minutes or so. I got to play Star Fox and this alternate reality game, plus I got to see the slightly interactive demo for the Metal Gear Solid game on the 3DS. The Star Fox game was a remake of the N64 game and the demo was the first level of the original game. The 3D, for me at least, made it a lot harder to play and I wasn’t all that impressed. The alternate reality game was pretty neat but you had to be at the exact distance from the card on the table and at a precise angle for it to work. So moving around the card to play was awkward. However the alternate reality game did have some really cool stuff in it, like making the table appear to bulge up and down and a 3D dragon coming out of the table and attacking the screen. The Metal Gear Solid slightly interactive video demo was gorgeous. During some parts you had control over the camera to really explore the 3D aspect of it. Other than how it looked I didn’t really get a good idea of how the game will play and I won’t begin to guess because who knows if the game will be anything like the video demo. As for the hardware, it felt really nice, the screen was great looking and the thumb stick was positioned well on the pad and it worked really well. I’m not sure I’ll be investing in a 3DS when it comes out though. With all of the cool Wii games coming out, I might spring for a Wii, but it all depends on what kind of software I see coming out.

I finally got to try Kinect, and while I love the idea of playing a game with no controller, I’m not sure what kind of games will come out of it. For the demo we got to play all of the Wii-like games that I’m sure you’re aware of. There was this driving game and a river raft game. Both of which were ok, but still seemed to have some problems. Both the Move and Kinect work ok, but it comes down to software obviously and from what I can see, Move has a better line up, however who knows whether either one will be worth it. After this year’s E3, I think I’ll still be saving up for a Wii.

In LA

After Mairo and I got our hotel room sorted out we went over to the convention. It wasn’t set up quite yet, but was still impressive. We ended up getting our passes for E3 and spent the rest of the day just going around the LA convention center, which is huge by the way.
We eagerly await tomorrow and will spend our remaining hours tonight planning out what we need to see and what booths we need to visit.