AKA The “OMG! E3!” Post

‘Cause that’s where I was. In LA. At E3. 😀

Me! At E3!

Fun, for definite, a slightly surreal experience in some ways.

Our hosts were the lovely folks from Ripstone, (who are publishing Big Sky Infinity). They rented a house in Hollywood instead of just booking a hotel, so we had a pool and we could do stuff like ordering out for food or making meals. Among the many upsides of this was being able to watch the E3 conferences before going down to the Convention Centre, and have an idea of the things we wanted to see.

We spent the Sunday shopping and doing touristy things. We went up to the Griffith Observatory, which apart from being a having a really cool telescope, has an amazing view of LA and is overlooked by the Hollywood sign.

[pictures will go here when I find my card reader]

And here’s something I found kinda interesting; American shops. Everybody is so friendly. You can’t get from the door to the til without at least three “Good Morning!”s and a “Can I help you find anything?” I sort of expected the chipper customer service staff, what I didn’t expect was how genuine everybody managed to sound about it. Kinda awkward if you’re shy though. This was particularly true of waiters and waitresses, you literally finish one drink and you’re being asked if you want another.

One place we tried to get to was Caine’s Arcade, which sounds so awesome, I know that one of our hosts was particularly keen to meet Caine himself. Sadly it was a Sunday so there was nobody there and everything was packed away. Maybe next time?

So, I guess I should get to E3 itself. I saw Nintendo and Son’ys conferences, but not Microsoft’s so most of what I’ll be talking about will relate to them.

Sony: Wonderbook looks like pretty incredible technology, though it’s pretty obvious that the target market is the younger end of the gamer spectrum. AR is always fun though, and I can see kids being really really taken by this one. (The day of the holodeck draws ever closer! Muahaha!) Games-wise, they have some really exiting stuff coming up.

Beyond looks amazing; we didn’t go play it at the booth since we were concentrating on stuff that we’re not sure if we’re getting, and stuff that we had questions about. Beyond is pretty much a dead-cert. James and I both adore Heavy Rain, since we can play it for a long time, just swapping in and out on the controller. We also played “When Vikings Attack” which is ludicrous amounts of fun in that addictive “One more round! I’ll beat you this time!” kind of way that meant we played for a good hour or so in total.

In a similar vein is Playstation Allstars Battle Royale. (Which is one hell of a mouthful of a title.) We tried it out pretty much expecting “Smash Bros: The Sony Edition” but actually, it’s different enough to be its own game, while still having that Smash Bros-y vibe. I’m seriously hoping that Jak and Daxter will put in an appearance though. (Sandover Village is one of the stages they were demo-ing).

Alsoalso. The Unfinished Swan. I played both of the demo levels and its is just… gorgeous. It feels very “Indie”, in that “games are art~!” kind of way, but it manages not to be pretentious. The controls are simple enough, though having to turn all the way around to go backwards got a little bit frustrating.

Nintendo: I just… am so happy. I was kinda skeptical about the WiiU (and I still hate the name. It sounds like a small child doing an impression of of an ambulance). However. It is fun. Big big fun. The touch-screen on the WiiU Gamepad works like awesomely, and the Nintendo Land mini-games I tried out were seriously good fun (Animal Crossing: Sweet Days is my favourite so far, but none of them were dull). The motion control with the gamepad was a little awkward at first, but you do get used to it pretty quickly.

My main cause for concern with the WiiU was games. I really didn’t want to see a situation like the Wii where we got Twilight Princess and Wii Sports and then basically collection after collection of mini-games for a very long time until the likes of Mario Galaxy and Okami started appearing. I’m kinda pleased that that’s not looking like so much of an issue with the WiiU; I’m a little disappointed not to see any big first party stuff apart from Pikmin, but it’s early days yet so I’m keeping an open mind.

I actually cheered when I heard that Assassin’s Creed III is gonna be on the WiiU though, it felt like Nintendo were finally gonna try to play with the big boys again. I made a point of going over to pester a guy at the Ubisoft section of the Nintendo stand, in fact. I didn’t get to play ACIII; (they had playable multiplayer of the Xbox/PS3 versions, but I don’t have XBL gold so that is of no interest to me.) What I did want to know is what kind of uses they were finding for the WiiU gamepad, most of which are basically usability stuff, but that is definitely not a bad thing. 🙂

Speaking of Assassin’s Creed. I literally squealed in joy when I saw the protagonist for Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. Not only a woman (A female assassin! Finally!), but a black woman. 🙂 Race and gender politics in media are something I’m more than a little bit into; female protagonists are rare (especially ones who aren’t super-sexualised), black protagonists are even rarer. Black Women? The only other one I can think of is Sheva Alomar and she just sorta looks like she has a deep tan. (Please do prove me wrong on this. If you know of any more I want to hear about them.) I’m really hoping that Aveline will be a good strong protagonist and not just a “Strong Female Protagonist” (note the quote marks there) or a bundle of stereotypes, and I really really hope that the game does well.

The most surreal thing about the whole week was all the parties and gatherings though. You’re sat there at a table and you realise you’re next to “So-and-so from such-a-company” and your brain does this sort of. “Waaaaait. Hold up a minute. WHAT?!” But actually, they’re all pretty down-to-earth (except they drink martinis as well as beer). Hooters was probably one of the more bizarre evenings. I didn’t expect to feel as comfortable there as I did but, actually I found it kind of interesting to watch.

So. That was E3. Time to get on with the next thing! 🙂