Warning about this blog post: I'm still very dizzy/tired/whatever-you-name-it from the super flu I picked up at E3 and/or L.A, so please excuse me if this blog reads like someone's crazy illicit substance-fueled dream. I didn't want to keep from posting for too long. It might not be the most detailed account trip ever but I hope you enjoy it.
The chance to go to this year's E3 didn't pop up out of nowhere. It might have seemed that way towards the end of the "journey" to get there, but it truly wasn't. I won't go into details about the how's and who's, the why's and the what's, only to say that it wasn't easy. It's never easy to go out of your confort zone with someone you only had a distanced relationship via e-mails and actually work something like this out with them.
Luckily, one day, the e-mail I've been waiting for most of last year and the five quick months of 2011 arrived - I was qualified to go to E3. Going to the show has been something I've wanted to do for a while now, probably since I saw the crowd gathered watching the Metal Gear Solid 2 during that one particular show a while back. Before that, I was content with watching scattered coverage, which I started watching in full after that.
E3 is an amazing thing for someone going there their first time - a bunch of new games being shown, some of the people you look up to are there and it's a "happening" place. I walked a bunch, wrote a ton, talked a lot, saw many many games and enjoyed it immensely. Why would I feel like not coming back immediately after the thing was over? I'm not sure.
Maybe it was my tiredness talking. Heck, I did get there feeling tired already, on the first day. My trip started out where most international flights arrive in California - LAX, Los Angeles airport, on the Friday before E3. Since L.A would be extremely expensive to stay in, I chose, through rushed planning, to stay somewhere in Orange County (O.C), in a cheaper place, where I could easily move around and go to L.A on Monday, so I could meet my website buddies and start going to the show.
Plans are plans. You're never sure what you'll find once you get to the place, unless you're already familiar with it. I was not. And when I got to Buena Park, C.A, I quickly saw how unprepared I was. Let me start this with a statement: transportation in O.C is awful. My thorough Google maps plans proved futile when I started making my way to Buena Park from L.A, in order to get to my hotel and sleep. Trains very rarely leave for that place and once I finally got there, the buses proved to be even awful. I spent the weekend fighting with that transportation system and got extremely spent by Monday.
Monday was an interesting day. I had already discovered a much quicker way to get to L.A by then, but since I already had my train ticket bought out on Friday, I made my way to the train station just in time to catch it and get moving. I arrived at the L.A convention center a few hours later and made my way to get my badge. The day was mostly spent waiting for my website friends to arrive at our communal hotel.
Tuesday rolled out extremely early. Heck. I did have an invite to the Nintendo press conference! And I saw that wonderful Zelda orchestrated intro live. BEAUTIFUL. It was amazing for a Nintendo fan like myself. Seeing Miyamoto stand there and do his antics while I was actually there to watch him was amazing. I really love his energy and personality. After the press conference, we made our way to the convention center for the first day of E3. On the way, I was able to shake hands with the Giantbomb crew and got to meet part of the other half of the site I had not met personally in 2008, Ryan Davis and Alex Navarro. They were busy getting ready for their own thing so I didn't stick around for too long. My GameRevolution friends, Nick (former GameSpot mod Draqq_Zyxorian), Josh and Kevin accompanied me to the convention center, where we got to see the huge lines of people already waiting to get in. We ran to the media room to see the rest of the GameRevolution/Playstation LS crew and made our way to the actual show.
The first E3 day was probably the most hectic. I had a few appointments that were pretty tight in terms of scheduling. I saw Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 and NeverDead, almost back-to-back over at the Konami booth. Actually talking to a developer about NeverDead was pretty cool and I could see his genuine excitement about his game. The rest of the day was spent running around with me trying to get the most of my list of assigned games. I had the chance to play quite a few of them on day one, including Ninja Gaiden 3, Silent Hill: Downpour and of course, Bastion. I had to stop by and talk to Greg Kasavin about his new game, where I also met the other members of SuperGiantGames. Highlights of the day: seeing Ms. Jody Robinson again, meeting Tim Shaefer (I really did!), playing Bastion and some of my assignments.
Wednesday started out pretty well and evolved into awesomeness once we made our way to Sega's Sonic Boom party. Before that, though, I played Batman: Arkham City. Drop dead amazing. I also got to cruise through the Telltale Games showcase and got to see their impressive array of games. I gotta say, The Walking Dead is sounding amazing. Can't wait to actually see that one turned into reality. The aforementioned party. What a crazy little setup they had there. We had a blast there, listening to a bunch of heavy metal themes to Sonic games we never played and seeing the crazy people who adore and worship Sonic by cosplaying the many wacky characters in that franchise. Fun party. Got to hang out with some of the Rocksteady crew that was at E3 and met a very cool guy I had only got to listen to before. Oh, and during E3, I managed to run into an awesome developer and got my copy of Mortal Kombat signed. That developer was of course Mr. Ed Boon! Highlights of the day - meeting Ed Boon, seeing Telltale Games, stopping by the GameSpot booth, the Sonic party.
The last E3 day was the most melancholic of the bunch. I hadn't seen everything I wanted to see and I had a bunch of not so interesting appointments. Sadly, the day ended and I ended up not finishing seeing the rest of the games I wanted to see. That was due to poor planning of mine but I was very happy to just be there at the show. If there's ever a next time, I'll make a comprehensive list before setting foot on a plane. Highlights for the day - seeing Batman Arkham City again, behind closed doors, thanks to my friends Anthony and Bill from GT, meeting old Gamespot pal Doug Buffone and his friend Pascual, hanging around with the legendary Yoshinori Ono, seeing /playing Catherine for the first time and getting a taste of Uncharted 3.
So why would I say that I wouldn't want to do this again? Well, immediately after the show, I was spent. Tired as a dog. The circumstances were against me. I didn't get a lot of sleep during the show and was starting to get sick. That mix got to me. Also, a lot of the stuff that makes E3 so great is sometimes only shown behind closed doors, which means missing out on stuff that a video stream would show in some fashion. So does that mean I'd trade going personally to E3 for an internet stream? Now, almost two weeks later and fairly rested, my answer is a definite no. If I get to go again in the future, I will. I just have to plan things out better - get a list of what I want to see and organize my time better. This was my first time going and was obviously pretty messy. Looking back, I know I saw a lot of cool stuff and met even cooler people. It was an experience I would never get by staying home.
I did miss hanging with my chat friends that always pop up during the streams, though! Hopefully I'll have some way of popping into chat next time, at least for a while!
Overall thoughts about the 'big three' at E3 2011:
Microsoft had one of the weakest E3's in my opinion. I'm not that into Kinect. The few applications I saw of it were laggy and unresponsive. Their showcase of XBLA games was pretty good, though. Their big franchises didn't disappoint, either! Forza 4 looks amazing, for one.
Sony had a mix of good and boring with their conference. Granted, I only watched it after the fact, in a stream, so I got to see what they announced and showed at the show floor before getting the context they were trying to setup with their press conference. I was not able to play Vita during E3, sadly. Uncharted 3 looked as fun as ever and I got to play a bunch of its multiplayer. The PSN section of their booth had some really great games like Papo Yo and Pixeljunk Sidescroller.
Nintendo was pretty exciting for me, being a fan since childhood and probably because it was the only company where I was able to actually attend the press conference. I got to play tons of 3DS at the show floor and that got me interested in owning one in the future. Luigi's Mansion 2 was a highlight for me there. I got to hold the Wii U controller and take a few pictures of it. Not sure what to say about it - it's a safe bet Nintendo will have much more on it next year and frankly, I still got crap tons of games to play on the Wii!
(Some/very few/tired picks) Game highlights:
Dark Souls - I really have to play through Demon's Souls before this one comes out. It kicked my butt and I eventually got to beat one of the stronger enemies before the demo ended. I can see why so many people fell in love with the original game.
Batman: Arkham City - I'm a huge fan of Arkham Asylum and this game is bigger and even badder. Didn't need the demo to know I'd play it... it only made me even more anxious to jump and glide around Gotham. Truly amazing. And the devs behind them are great people, I was happy to meet them.
Bastion - it's so close to come out and even so, I had to see it with my own eyes. Plays great. Got to talk a bit more with Greg and the crew.
Luigi's Mansion 2 - This made me want to get a 3DS. I wasn't interested in one 'til now. I can't wait to bust some ghosts with my pal Luigi. I liked the gyro controls used to wrangle ghosts in.
Super Mario 3DS - I grew up playing Mario and every time a new game comes out, I gotta try it. This new one looks gorgeous and plays pretty well on the 3DS. Didn't play nearly as long as I wanted.
Uncharted 3 - didn't get to play the single player but I had a blast trying out multiplayer. If it's nearly as good as Uncharted 2, it'll be a blast.
Catherine (or is it Katherine?) - Oh my! This one's difficult as heck. Will play it once it's actually out. Very challenging gameplay. That demo level was brutal. I only saw it to the end when the Atlus rep took the controller.
Rock of Ages - C R A Z Y! Katamari turned military. 'nuff said.
- Pics from the show floor -
- Videos from the Nintendo press conference -
I'm a terrible fotographer and cameraman, plus my camera is also not the best, so please keep that in mind. I was not able to upload anything to Gamespot due to a glitch in the video uploader (it just doesn't work, I tried!) and the sheer number of photos.