My first Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone and while it has been claimed to be the best one in years, it's memorable for so much more. Not only did I get to experience so much as a videogame writer I got to see what I can expect from myself as a person.
I was able to learn what is required from a successful member of the press.
1. Do not make yourself look like a fan. If you happened to have seen images from E3 you there is one clear fact that separates the Gaming Press from Gamers, shwag. The Press knows not to walk around with huge Inflatable Wiimotes from Nyko or wearing Ninja Turtles headbands. Yes, companies will give you promotional material, but you know the difference between taking it and putting it away and flaunting it. No one will take you serious when you're asking them about a game when you're wearing a Battlefield 1943 T-Shirt. The same goes with the people you see. This is my opinion, but as a new writer in the field, I still view myself as a fan and at E3 I saw many people I wanted to go up and talk to. I saw writers like Jeff Gerstmann, Jeff Green, Robert Ashley, Ryan Scott and Dan Hsu (Ryan and Dan sat beside me during the Miyamoto Panel) but I didn't try to disturb them and go 'Oh man, I really love your writing...' They are there working, just as I am. Maybe when I cover PAX in September I will be more inclined to chit-chat with them considering the relaxed environment, but during E3 hours, it just didn't seem right.
2. You will not have time for everything. Even with essentially three full days attending E3, I did not manage to get to play everything that I would have liked to have. I wanted to sample the God of War III demo, but the line-up was too long, the same goes for The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Even with Press credentials, the line-ups are too long and scheduled meetings are always more important.
3. Promptness is appreciated by all. Just like in the real world, if you are scheduled to meet with a developer or studio, be sure to get their early. It's just common sense. They'll appreciate it and more often that not, they will be willing to start the meeting earlier and/or show you more.
4. Treat the little studios the same way you would treat the big boys. This works both ways. During my time at E3 I had interviews with many 'smaller' studios such as Koei, Tecmo and Ignition and even had sessions with Bethesda, Eidos and Electronic Arts. I made sure to treat every meeting the same way. Just because a smaller studio doesn't make the marquee game does not mean they deserve less respect. More often than not, it's those smaller studios that will be willing to give you more details about their products because they are in the same boat as you (that is if you are covering the event for a smaller site like I was).
5. Cleanliness is Key. I hate to admit it this, but the stereotype that most videogamers are unhygienic was extremely evident here. When I was at PAX last year I made this same comment and E3 continued to solidify that. With all the problems we have with Swine Flu and other airborne bacteria, make sure that you are proper when attending such an event. Wear clean clothing, wash your hands when you leave the washroom and just be sure to careful with what you touch. I will give props to Sony in their PSP office that their guys were constantly wiping down PSP and PSP Go units. It might have been more to keep the units clean, but every time they wiped a unit, unnecessary bacteria was taken away.
6. Just because you have covered E3 certainly does not make you a journalist. E3 might be the Mecca of videogames, just being there doesn't make you a journalist. It's what you do afterwards. If you were a member of the press but you didn't actually interview companies or attend any of the closed room sessions, then you are more an enthusiast than anything else. It's going to be the coverage you do in terms of previews, hands-ons and interviews that will set you apart.
There are certainly other things that I learned but I don't want to go on and on about it.
Since I managed to get hands on impressions on a bevy of upcoming games, I want to give my highlights on some of the games I actually got to play for a few minutes. Here now is my list of 'Favorite Games from E3 that I actually played'
Nintendo DS - Scribblenauts
I heard about this game last year on an IGN Podcast but thought nothing of it. Then when so many people on Twitter (specifically Area 5's Matt Chandronait) were mentioning it, I just had to find out where it was and go check it out. On Thursday, as soon as I got into the doors, I ran towards the Warner Brothers Interactive booth and began playing it. I was lucky enough to have the Lead Designer Matt Cox talk to me about the game for a few minutes before he was stolen away from me by the Joystiq guys but from the moment he started telling me what to do I was in love.
If you haven't heard about Scribblenauts, the objective of the game is to assist the lead character Maxwell collect 'Starites'. In order to do so, you need to specific objects to do so. In some cases you might need a ladder to climb a tree or in another you might want to have a snorkel to swim underneath. To obtain the items necessary, all you have to is write it and it appears. If you want that ladder, just type in 'ladder' on the keypad and one will appear. Feel like being creative and destroying the tree to get the 'starite', then right bomb or dynamite and place it by the tree and watch it explode. There are thousands of different ways each level can be completed and this creativity alone will make this game one to watch later this year.
(Honorable Mention: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box)
Nintendo Wii - Sin and Punishment 2
One of my favourite games from the Xbox was Panzer Dragoon Orta and I really enjoy on rail shooters because of the frantic action that are associated with them. After playing through the one of the characters demo (the boy character Isa) I knew that this will be an incredible game.
I never played the original but after going through this, I seriously want to go pick up a Regular Controller for the Wii and download it from the Wii Store. S&P2 is filled with beautiful visuals, stunning sounds and a lot of variety. The game is extremely easy to pick up but offers plenty of challenges. I am a bit disappointed that this has been overshadowed by other marquee Nintendo titles, but I do feel that this will ultimately be one of those games that will appeal to the hardcore gamers that have complained they are not loved.
(Honorable Mention: Muramasa: The Demon Blade, New Super Mario Bros. Wii)
Xbox 360 - Just Cause 2
The first game I got to see behind closed doors was Eidos upcoming Just Cause 2 and I have to say that what I at first thought would be a gimmick could turn into a feature that will be copied by many others in the future.
The key aspect of Just Cause 2 is the use of your parachute and grappling hook to play the game. Both items are available to use at just about anytime and both are important in completing the game's 60 missions. Let's say you're battling it on the roof of a building, you can quickly jump off and paraglide yourself to another spot on the map. Another use could be when you're on top of a speeding car; you can hop off of it and use the parachute to avoid an explosion.
The grapple works on so many levels as well. On top of the being able to use it in conjunction with the Parachute, you can use to grab enemies or weapons or combining two enemies together. Again, the use of both can do so many different things.
As long as the game doesn't make the use of both too much of a necessity, I can see this being yet another satisifying title for Action-Adventure fans.
(Honorable Mention: Samurai Showdown: Edge of Destiny, Need for Speed Shift, Mass Effect 2)
PlayStation Portable - Motorstorm: Arctic Edge
Fans of the PS3 Motorstorm series will feel right at home when they pick up Arctic Edge. The game feels and plays nearly identical to what we've become accustomed to on with the PS3 controller. The game moves fast and sound really good. I did notice some graphical issues in a few minor spots, but other than some clipping issues and collision detection problems, this looks like it's heading in the right direction. It certainly won't be able to replicate the PS3 version tit-for-tat, but it will be pretty damn close. Racing fans will be really happy on the PSP later this year.
(Honorable Mention: Gran Turismo PSP, Dissidia: Final Fantasy)
PlayStation 3 - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
I will not deny it, I am a massive Uncharted Fan and ever since the first announcement I have been waiting patiently to play and thankfully I got my opportunity to see it, touch it and love it. On the show floor we got the opportunity to play both the Multiplayer and Co-op modes and both are extremely fun to play. Thankfully, if you own inFamous, you already have the same opportunity to experience the Multiplayer Beta so there is no need to explain myself here. This will not only be one of the best titles for the PS3, it quite possibility could be the best game of 2009.
(Honorable Mention: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2)
Things I am glad to have seen:
1. Being able to attend the Shigeru Miyamoto Panel
2. Sitting in the second row during the Sony Press Conference
3. Crossing paths with Hideo Kojima
4. See a few games well before the rest of the public will
5. Trying out the PSP Go and not enjoying it
Things I wish I got to do:
1. Attending Private sessions with Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft (If I was a Senior Editor then I would have)
2. Taking more pictures with Booth Babes (I had work to do)
3. Playing God of War III and Splinter Cell Conviction
4. Either showing up a day earlier or staying at least a day longer. I would have either liked to have spent more time on Monday or being in LA on Friday once everything was done. The more time in LA would have allowed me to see a bit more.