LOS ANGELES--After a rousing trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4 was unveiled at Sony's gala pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo media briefing yesterday, one wonders if Konami may have let all its best secrets slip a bit early. But the company may yet have some juicy tidbits in store at its annual E3 press conference, held this afternoon at the Mark Taper Auditorium in the Los Angeles Library.
Attendees drank fine spirits and schmoozed outside the library in the warm LA sun as registration commenced, with conversation invariably turning to the big three press conferences--those held by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft since this time yesterday. As one of the most prominent third-party publishing houses, Konami's next-gen plans are understandably important to all three of these platforms.
The conference is set to begin in a few moments, so stay tuned to this page for updates on Konami's lineup throughout the event.
4:26 PR mastermind Marc Franklin kicks off the event by introducing the emcee for the press conference, stand-up comic John Hefron. They do a good job keeping these things punchy with guys like this and the occasional B-list celeb. But, of course, it's really about the games, so we'll see what they've got to follow up that MGS4 trailer yesterday.
4:30 Jeff Mulligan takes the stage to introduce the Japanese executive team, not to mention development luminaries such as Kojima and Igarashi. Now he's talking about "a year of firsts" for Konami, including the Metal Gear Solid digital comic on the PlayStation Portable and, um, an American-released dating sim?! It had to happen eventually, I guess. More on that soon, I'm sure.
4:34 Mulligan: "If you think what you saw yesterday [on MGS4] was impressive, we've got a big surprise for you today." Predictable, I guess, but still exciting. Let's see it.
4:38 Mulligan launches a lengthy demo reel showcasing some of the company's more, ah, casual products, for a bunch of classic arcade retro-fits for mobile--Frogger and Winx Club. Here's DDR SuperNova, for the PS2. Ultramix 4 for the Xbox. Oh hey, DDR Universe for the 360. I wonder how that will tie into Live. Unsurprisingly, they'll make us wait for all the big stuff.
4:43 Ah, Silent Hill. Riding on the publicity of the movie, no doubt. Random scenes of unsettling monsters, cracked mirrors, and dirty hallways. Yep, definitely Silent Hill. This dude is driving a big truck. Okay, it's Silent Hill: Origins for the PSP. Makes sense.
More info: You're playing a trucker named Travis O'Grady who's lost in Silent Hill. As the name implies, it's a prequel that goes back to the beginning of the series, and you'll run into characters from the later games. "The new Silent Hill: It's older than you think."
4:48 Producer Yasuo Daikai's up, talking about Coded Arms Assault. Same trailer we saw at Sony yesterday, which you can find on the gamespace now.
I take that back: this trailer is a lot longer and shows a ton of gameplay footage. Lots of cool Matrix-style effects of reality devolving into code, combat in an urban setting, giant enemy of some kind, a booming voice talking about ending the game, or something. Hey, it's based on the Unreal engine--there's an awful lot of middleware in use on that system. Makes me wonder how hard it is to develop for. I guess that's the nature of modern development, though.
4:53 Coded Arms Contagion was just mentioned, a new sequel to the PSP original. The trailer looks very similar to that game, with maybe some bigger environments. Both new Coded Arms games are due out early next year.
4:56 Castlevania ruler Igarashi is now on stage discussing the newest DS title, Portrait of Ruin. Says they wanted to take the series outside the castle walls, and there's footage in a desert environment, a town, and a countryside of some kind. Some environments and enemies are in 3D now. Looks like two playable characters that can be used at the same time.
The game is set in 1944, during World War II, right after Bloodlines on the Genesis (?!). Now they're talking about calling on your support character to get past obstacles and perform combo attacks. Iga has already left the stage--I guess that's the only Castlevania we get this year.
5:03 Hey, it's Konami's first Wii game. But what's it going to be? Ah, Elebits, a completely new franchise. Video incoming.
Quite the fanciful art style, but is it a kids' game? Three concepts behind the game: make the player feel he or she is within the game world; enable them to move and lift objects, inspired by hide and seek; and create a new character property. Check it out at the Nintendo booth, they say--not surprising since Nintendo said this morning there will be 27 playable Wii games. We'll have a hands-on for you ASAP.
5:08 Chris Charla of Death Jr. house Backbone is now on, talking about two (count 'em) new games in the series. First is Death Jr. 2 for the PSP, with Pandora as a second playable character (and two-player co-op) and a player-controlled camera system.
Next up is Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom for the DS. Glad to see the DS getting as much love as it does. Death Jr. must have been successful for them if they're pounding out two more already. Looks like the official name of the PSP game is Death Jr.: Root of Evil.
5:12 Charla's hanging around to talk about the dating sim, Brooktown High: Senior Year. HOT. I love the fact that these games are finally coming out in the states. Never played one of them (honest), but it's too bizarre not to love.
Huh. I guss this is what an American-developed dating sim looks like, all in 3D with Jet playing in the background. It's a far cry from Tokimeki Memorial but amusing nonetheless.
5:16 Here's a joint project from Revolution Studios (that's a film company) and Krome, who I guess is going to make something besides Ty the Tazmanian Tiger. But what is it? Ah, a Hellboy game, coming in 2007. Is there a new Hellboy movie coming out? The game is for the 360, PS3, and PSP and was created with input from the comic's creator, Mike Mignola. Should be fun for fans of the book.
I guess Konami's serious about comics: They're working on a card-battling game featuring Marvel characters with online play for the PC, DS, and PSP.
5:22 Now it's DDR time, with the three new games I mentioned before. DDR Universe (the 360 one) will get exclusive music, as well as new songs through Marketplace. Welcome to the age of microtransactions.
Hey look, an American Idol game. So it's actually called Karaoke Revolution: American Idol, but all they showed was the intro from the TV show (I swear I've never seen it, ever). 40 songs, and you get critiqued by the judges. No word on whether you get to brutalize Simon Cowell.
5:27 Everybody's favorite American ex-pat Ryan Payton (of Kojima podcast fame) just hit the stage to talk about Kojima Productions' upcoming lineup. This is what everybody's been waiting for, obviously.
He's announcing their...E3 pamphlet? They're parodying the E3 ShowDaily paper with a ShowMaybe?, containing juicy MGS stuff. We'll bring you some scans of that if at all possible.
5:32 Oh boy, Kojima just hit the stage. Talking about four--four!!--new games. What are they going to be?!
First up is Lunar Knights, the first DS game from Kojima Productions. Sort of looks like Boktai? At least in terms of style and gameplay. Except you're fighting vampires in this. Space vampires! I hate those guys. You use the stylus to perform special attacks. There's also a 3D space shooter included (?!).
Okay, there's going to be a "digital weather gameplay mechanic" involving the top screen. Looks like you use the stylus to play those shooting stages. Hey, the more DS games the merrier. Looks fun.
5:38 Next up is the Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel for the PSP. Not the most thrilling announcement, but a cool product anyway. This is all based on the MGS comic book that's been out for a while now. Looks like a Flash applet--lots of parallax with foreground and background elements moving independently. They're adding some interactive elements, too. Actually, we'll have a lot more info on this one in a few hours, so stay tuned.
5:44 Oh man, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. I've been waiting for a real MGS on the PSP since the system came out. Trailer starts with scenes of the Boss from Snake Eater. Portable Ops is set in 1970, six years after that game. You're playing as Big Boss, who's defected from the Fox unit but has been charged with treason. You have to disarm the Fox members leading the resistance, and take out the, uh, ultimate enemy. Metal Gear?
All the characters you'd expect from Snake Eater are in here. It's talking about building a team of characters? Quick menu shows something about recruiting Eva and Ocelot. "Recruit members and create an online Wi-Fi squadron." Must be the multiplayer mode. The graphics in this look really exceptional for a PSP game--nearly up there with the PS2.
"What's it going to be? Loyalty to your country or to yourself?"
"The tragedy of Big Boss. The missing link before the rise of Outer Heaven. Commence the inauguration of Foxhound."
I am so stupid for this series. Payton: "Looks pretty cool, huh?" Rub it in. Okay, this is "set within the MGS lineage," so it's official canon. This further sets up the very first Metal Gear...looks sort of like Big Boss's fall from grace.
5:49 Oh hell, it's the real MGS4 trailer, the one they "really wanted us to see." Stay tuned!
Col. Campbell is talking about the Manhattan incident of MGS2. The United States has imported too much military technology and is now paying the price. This is the voiceover from last week's Kojima podcast. Chilling talk of Outer Heaven.
Now it's the excerpt from yesterday's Sony conference. If you haven't watched it yet, DO SO. Okay, no, there's more to this. Campbell talks of a man trying to create the world envisioned by Big Boss. But who? Footage of one of those bio-mech Metal Gears rampaging through a city street. Old Snake in a cemetery, saluting a grave. Shades of Big Boss. Voiceover, talk of nanomachine-controlled soldiers who can't point their guns at "clients." Otacon lands in the graveyard in a chopper, brings Snake on board to meet a client, Roy Campbell. Says "we've found him" in the Middle East. These cutscenes look utterly incredible. They must be real time, because the frame rate is not consistent.
"Liquid has made his move." But which Liquid?
Naomi telling Snake a regular man would have dropped dead by now. Snake has six months to live. Another bio-Metal Gear, fighting Snake. These are basically the best real-time graphics I've ever seen. Rivals most CG. I am such a fanboy.
Two Metal Gears now, searching for Snake inside a cardboard box. Nope, fooled. These things can leap a hundred feet in the air. Snake was hiding with chameleon-style suit camouflage! This is great.
An extended reveal of all the characters teased at Sony yesterday. Otacon saying "he" can't be stopped. Naomi talking about not passing on sins to our children. Campbell, talking again about "him." Who is he? Ooh, Meryl did not just drop the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo. Otacon is crying, beseeching Snake to "end it." End this whole mess, I think, not his life. Ocelot condemning Snake for "killing his own flesh and blood." Snake again ruminating over his pistol. Chambering a single round. "One last punishment I must endure." Gun in his mouth. I can't watch this.
That's where yesterday's trailer left off. "Some bloodlines must come to an end." Is there going to be more?!
You bet your sweet derriere. Notice I didn't mention Raiden this time? Well, here he is, and since when did he become the utter badass of the world? He just decimated three of those bio-Metal Gears with a katana, a dagger, and the most wicked moves this side of The Matrix. Ends with the shot of him from yesterday. Massive applause to this trailer. I'm sorta in shock. This looks SO GOOD. (The trailer is now viewable via the official Konami Web site.)
Now we just have to wonder how it's going to play.
6:05 The conference is over. I can barely move after that trailer. Oh my. Stay tuned for media and other fun stuff from this conference and lots more from E3, if we don't all suffer collective heart failure first.