E3 06: Activision's booth is all in

Tony Hawk, James Bond, Quake Wars, Transformers, Call of Duty 2 all make appearances at the number-two publisher's exhibition--next to a massive poker table.


LOS ANGELES--It's not easy being number two, but Activision makes it look easy. The nation's second-biggest third-party publisher had an extensive spread at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, the centerpiece of which mirrored its own corporate lineup. Smack-dab in the middle of the Los Angeles-based publisher's booth was a massive skate ramp. Skaters performed aerial tricks on the ramp to help hype the latest wave of Tony Hawk games, which include Tony Hawk's Project 8 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.

Surprisingly, Project 8 was present in the booth only as a trailer playing on several LCD monitors. The only Tony Hawk game that was playable was Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam. The game is due out for the Wii, DS, and Game Boy Advance this fall, but only the DS version was on hand, at the bottom of a display made out of unpainted skate decks.

One of Activision's biggest announcements leading up to E3 was the revelation that it was working on Call of Duty 3 for the PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox, and Xbox 360. However, the game was totally absent from the Activision booth, save in the form of a one-sheet poster. The only playable demos for the franchise were two Call of Duty maps that became available via Xbox Live Marketplace today. The maps were playable on the PC as well.

Hey! It's a game that's not here! Can you say
Hey! It's a game that's not here! Can you say "bait and switch?"

The most intimidating display at the Activision booth was a huge futuristic artillery gun modeled after one of the in-game weapons (a Strogg artillery weapon), which towered over a 24-person LAN station for Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. The PC shooter was the most popular game at the booth, but coming up close behind was World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions. The Xbox 360 stations for the game, which were all equipped with the Xbox Vision camera, were consistently full and surrounded a large table where attendees were playing a real-life Texas hold 'em tournament for prizes. The game was playable on the PC as well.

Rounding out Activision's booth were PS2, Xbox, and GameCube stations for the film tie-in Over the Hedge and a pair of PCs demoing The Movies: Stunts & Effects. The motorcycle Hugh Jackman rides in X3: The Last Stand was on hand to promote the X-Men: The Official Game, due out later this year on the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube, DS, GBA, and PC. It was next to a 10-foot-tall replica of Optimus Prime, leader of the good Autobots faction of the TV series The Transformers, which is getting the movie treatment courtesy of director Michael Bay. Activision has the game rights to the film, as well as its newly acquired license to the most profitable film franchise of all time, James Bond. That too was represented, courtesy of a massive "007" sign and an HDTV running Bond film trailers on a loop, even though Activision has not yet announced any games based on the British superspy.

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