VHScapades: E3 2003

Oh, Infogrames. You tried so hard.

Alright, so E3 2001 was spectacular and E3 2002 was kind of a dud. Well, E3 2003 was somewhere in between. Sony had the big surprise with their announcement of the PlayStation Portable, and there were quite a few blockbuster games to be seen. The talk of the show for most people were actually three non-playable games; Halo 2, Half-Life 2, and Doom III. While those shooters were getting all the attention, there was also this little game at Activision's booth known as Call of Duty. Other highlights included the EyeToy for PS2, Project Ego, True Fantasy Live Online, Gran Turismo 4, sequels to Jak and Ratchet, Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand, Metroid: Zero Mission, Soul Calibur II, Resident Evil 4, Viewtiful Joe, SSX 3, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Final Fantasy X-2, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

8-player Double Dash is the whole f'n show!

I also got to watch Rob Van Dam and Rey Mysterio play Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. So, that pretty much stole the show.

If you get there early enough, you can basically stand on Figueroa and get some good shots. Here we are entering West Hall's lobby, then taking a 360º view of South Hall's lobby.

Starting this off with the show stopper. Here's the epic 9-minute gameplay footage of Halo 2 that Microsoft was showing in a theater at their booth. I don't think they wanted people filming this, but they never specifically said it, so I sat down in the front row and kept the camera at my side and somehow kept a good angle on the screen for (mostly) the entire time. Most of the videos I've seen of this don't include the introduction by Sergeant Johnson. So, get ready to dance, you pasty bastards!

After exiting the Halo 2 demo, I immediately ran into Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I'm pretty sure that's Greg Zeschuk guiding the demo, but I had no idea who he was at the time. Also featured in this video from Microsoft's booth are people playing True Crime: Streets of LA and Conker: Live & Uncut very poorly. Then there's trailers for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 and Sonic Heroes.

Here's the Doom 3 video that Activision was showing around their booth. I never got into the actual gameplay presentation because the line for that theater was insanely long. Also, there's a trailer for Tony Hawk's Underground featuring a lot of getting off the board nonsense.

Once again, Konami stopped show goers in their steps with a super lengthy Metal Gear Solid trailer. This time it was Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. And, as you'll see in the trailer, "this is no vice city."

Here's a short panoramic view of EA's massive booth followed by a deluge of trailers for stuff including:

And here's the other half of EA's video wall featuring all their sports games set to early 2000's pop music. You know, like the All American Rejects. Games featured here include:

Remember when someone thought making polygonal Castlevania games was a good idea? Oh...they're still trying to do that? Okay, carry on then. Just don't forget to call Zobek.

Edited by Marino

This World of Warcraft trailer seemed to loop infinitely at the corner of Blizzard's booth, which was at one of the major walkway intersections of the show floor. The video walls at this area got progressively louder and louder throughout the day.

Here's an extensive look at EverQuest II from inside SOE's closed booth. Once again, you had to find a pass to get into the booth by hunting through copies of the daily E3 newspapers. What's interesting about this video is that most of this character creation stuff never made it into the game. So, when the demo guy says "this is just a fraction of the options," he's lying a little bit. Even with a really choppy framerate, the Lord Nagafen battle at the end was pretty awesome at the time.

Oh, and there's some Lords of EverQuest footage at the end. No one remembers that game exists, and rightfully so probably.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a game that does not exist. After Devil May Cry's success, there were a lot of games trying to capture that gameplay style. 3DO was working on this Four Horsemen game and it actually seemed like it might be good. The only reason I knew this game existed was, while waiting in various lines, two or three random people had asked me if I'd seen it yet. So, I went and checked it out. Unfortunately, the game locked up a lot, so getting video of it was fairly difficult.

The talk of Namco's booth at E3 2003 was clearly Soulcalibur II with its guest characters. But, there was also this little game called kill.switch, which to this day does not get the respect it deserves as the innovator of Cover Systems.

I feel like 2003 was when Ubisoft really became the Ubisoft we know today. Sure, they'd around for a long time before this, but not in the same mega-publisher way that they are now. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time came out of fucking nowhere and stole the show at E3 2003. Despite the cliché, it was the very definition of a game changer. Also in this video are the mostly forgotten cel-shaded shooter known as XIII and the Ghost Recon expansion, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Island Thunder.

Resident Evil 4 was kind of a big deal for a while there.

And over to West Hall, here's Nintendo's booth. This is the only place and time I've ever had motion sickness while playing a game. The layout of Nintendo's booth was just awful. You couldn't move in there at all most of the time. So, when it was my turn to play F-Zero GX, I was standing about 6 inches away from this 40" TV. I had to stop before the race was over. Then, I went and played F-Zero AX in one of those super rare swivel seat arcade cabinets. It was amazing. And that was the first and last time I ever saw one with my own eyes. The 8-player set up for Mario Kart: Double Dash!! was a true highlight as well. Other games featured in the video include:

After Nintendo, it was on to Sony Computer Entertainment America right next door. They had an amazing battle arena set up in the middle of their booth for Gran Turismo 4 that @pseg would die for. Also included in this video are:

And, lastly, here's a 360º view from various spots in West Hall including Sega, Sony, Nintendo, and others. Then, ending with my traditional shot of the "See You Next Year" banner that hangs above the exit of the LACC.


Sweet blog Marino, don't know why I never checked it out before.

Startling amount of awesome games shown at that E3. All your footage also reminds how far video capture and trailers have come..

Sands of Time being the kick off for Ubi is pretty apt I think, that game was so awesome and I'm still excited for the one-day eventual reboot. XIII was an amazing rental, really loved that. Extremely jealous you actually played F-Zero AX in those cabinets.

You've probably already answered this in a different blog, but who were you working for back then? You didn't just go and film all this for heck of it, right?

Posted by Marino

You've probably already answered this in a different blog, but who were you working for back then? You didn't just go and film all this for heck of it, right?

Well, kinda. To this day, I enjoy trying to document the shows I go to. I typically take hundreds of photos, which you can see as recently as PAX East 2013 and as far back as E3 1999 right here on the site. I started doing video as well primarily to boost pre-orders in the Software Etc (and later GameStop) that I worked at during the time. I would make copies of the tapes for the stores in our district. It worked quite well.

The last year I went to E3 was 2006, and I wasn't working for GameStop anymore, so I didn't bother taping anything and just had fun. Now, it's not really worth videoing shows because it's exponentially easier to get quality video and/or streams online anyway. I still enjoy doing the photos though.


@marino: You're a real go getter duder!

I wish I didn't live so far away and could have afforded going to an E3. The grainy from the shoulder footage of the MGS2 trailer is just burned in my memory, can't remember what year that was offhand though.

I'm pretty surprised they let people walk around with those big tape cameras. Maybe it's just because my internet was so slow back then but it never seemed like there was that much video out there.

2006 is a long time ago. Any chance you'll go again? Next year's could have just tons and tons of next-gen games (if we're lucky).

I'd definitely seen some of your photos. What's most shocking about them is that you label them all.

Posted by Marino

@geraltitude: The first crazy MGS2 trailer was 2000. I live in Georgia, so getting to LA was about $300 back then. As for the camera, I was using a VHS-C camera, so it used the mini tapes that I would then convert to full VHS tapes before giving them to stores. I won't be going back to E3 any time soon because I don't qualify to get in anymore. It doesn't matter if you can afford it or not, it's about having the credentials to get a badge.


@marino: right, of course.. Credentials! Minor details. I wonder if I could use the publication I work for to get in. I should probably try it sometime. We're most a TV mag though and I assume attendance is pretty limited.

I can't believe that was 2000.. 13 years ago?? Scary.

Posted by Marino

@geraltitude: Yeah, I don't know. The requirements to get in have changed multiple times especially in the last few years. If you're not doing it for work, I'll tell you what I tell most people. Go to PAX instead. The environment and availability of things to do is much greater at PAX than at E3.

But, even so, I totally understand the desire of most gamers wanting to somehow get into E3 one day.

Edited by FunkasaurasRex

Holy crap this all happened 10 years ago? WHAT HAPPENED TO MY LIFE?!