SIDEBAR: E3 2008 moved back to the Los Angeles Convention Center from Santa Monica this year, and it apparently brought the Barker Hangar show floor with it.
As with last year's convention, show management imposed guidelines on participating publishers' displays. Each company's "booth" consisted of a handful of identical kiosks with simple signs and plain logo banners hanging overhead, and no publisher was allowed more than 20 feet by 20 feet of floor space.
Where last year's cavernous airplane hangar setting made the show floor seem emptier than it actually was, this year's exhibit space is set in the LACC's significantly cozier Concourse Hall. The room is made to appear even smaller by a series of partitions walling off about one-third of the show's participants into a narrow (and easily missed) corridor at the back of the hall.
Even so, the show floor wasn't exactly crowded. There was very little waiting to play most of the games, and attendees generally had room to try out even the most energy-intensive of Wii games without fear of accidentally pummeling their fellow show-goers.
The first thing visitors saw upon entering the hall was Nintendo's booth, where gamers could go hands-on with Wii Music, Wii Sports Resort, and Animal Crossing: City Folk. While the focus of both Nintendo and the visitors to its booth was on that trio, a handful of DS games were also on display, including Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir, Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, and Rhythm Heaven.
Just to the left of the entrance, Sony likewise showed off some of its biggest games. Resistance 2, Killzone 2, and LittleBigPlanet were all playable, as were MotorStorm: Pacific Rift and the downloadable offering Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty. Rounding out the big three, Microsoft let gamers go hands-on with a few of its featured titles, including Fable II, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. However, Gears of War 2 was noticeably absent, and the Xbox Live dashboard update and avatar system were only present in video form.
The biggest Xbox 360 game of the show--the just-announced Final Fantasy XIII--was also nowhere to be found. The game wasn't at Square Enix's booth in any form either, although the role-playing game publisher did have playable versions of the upcoming Infinite Undiscovery for Xbox 360. RPG fans on the go could also check out DS remakes of Dragon Quest IV, Final Fantasy IV, and Chrono Trigger.
From the rest of the publishers, there were a few eyebrow-raising offerings. Akella had an early playable build of Postal III (complete with "badger saw" weapon), EA had Crytek's Crysis: Warhead and Pandemic's Lord of the Rings: Conquest out to try, and Sega showcased Gas Powered Games' Space Siege.
Even with limited exhibit sizes, many exhibitors left kiosk space empty. While most major publishers opted for the full-size booths, a handful of big names like Capcom, Square Enix, and Take-Two Interactive were content with significantly smaller parcels of the floor.
For more from the show floor, check out GameSpot's extensive E3 coverage.