I successfully attended the E3 press conferences from Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony today despite getting off to a bad start.
Due to a taxi discrepancy at the hotel, a bunch of E3ers got stranded in Hollywood just 40 minutes before Microsoft’s event was scheduled to begin. After sharing with some Canadian gents and running a little bit, I made it into my seat with about 20 seconds to spare.
Although, it was a prerequisite that every Australian arrived in a noticeably seedy manor this morning, following last night’s Aussie drinks (thanks for paying, MCV and Ubisoft). In my defence, they were playing Thunderbirds on the wall opposite the rooftop bar, so it was totally worth it!
Microsoft’s conference was about as safe as it could have been. You can count the number of “new” announcements on one hand, as everything major had already been revealed. The three new games were slipped into a tiny segment in the middle, and we’re still none-the-wiser as to what they actually are.
On the contrary, they weren’t really missing anything either. We were never going to hear about a new console -- they told us -- and the software lineup featured everything Microsoft could have offered the tiring Xbox. The only real complaint is that they persist with multiplatform titles with timed exclusive DLC as a big deal.
Get some more real exclusives.
Their underlying theme was connectivity and the convergence of technology. It was a stab at Nintendo, but I agree that we might as well use a tablet we already own as a possible control input, rather than buying another device. If it actually works is another matter.
To avoid getting too dry, Matt and Trey of South Park fame jumped on stage minus the script to poke fun at Microsoft’s convergence between your tablet, TV and oven while you’re sitting in the fridge, and to tell us all about how unfinished their game is.
Following the conclusion I bolted out the door and found the bus to EA’s event, only with a 45 minute wait. “Perfect,” I thought. An opportunity to get some Gatorade. This proved more challenging than I had imagined. Nowhere in the area sold anything even remotely resembling an enjoyable beverage. I just assumed a massive convention center wold be a catalyst for such a business and because, you know, this is America.
With that sorted, we drove through some type of Mexico-town and arrived at the historic building that housed EA’s event. With half-an-hour to kill, the jet-lag kicked in as soon as I sat down inside, but push on I did.
EA was noticeably more serious, outlining that they were going to show 10 games and skip the chitchat. It lacked personality, but ensured we got a good look at all ten games in the smallest of the day’s pressers.
Old buildings are cool
There were no major announcements, besides UFC coming to EA, but that didn’t resonate with me. Likewise, the NFL focus on Madden didn’t mean much to anyone visiting from abroad, but the rest of the event was solid, albeit, forgettable.
I’d hardly eaten anything all day, but the complimentary water after check-in was a godsend. Thirty minutes before start time, I stumbled into the ground floor to find it considerably larger than EA’s venue, yet already packed. Fortunately my recently acquired US Sim card sprang to life, as I bagged a seat via Twitter.
I thought wandering around LA without a phone GPS was hard yesterday, but apparently I’m so reliant on technology that I need my iPhone to find a seat in a room.
Our gracious host was a self-proclaimed “little bit gay” woman who achieved “girl-wood” three times throughout the sexy conference.
Ubisoft has remembered that sex sells. Without a charismatic leader in high places, Ubi hired a presenter and some other bloke to make terribly awkward jokes “backstage”. At least they tried. It was entertaining for the fact that they went off-board and ignored the teleprompter, even if this was the cause of their ill-fated playful banter. Our gracious host was a self-proclaimed “little bit gay” woman who achieved “girl-wood” three times throughout the sexy conference.
It began with a live performance by FloRider (I was later informed) being flanked by a bunch of “hot girls” (Ubi’s words). There’s no contest between Flo and Usher at the Microsoft event due to the focus on the hotties (and no man dancers). Hooray! It was presumably for Just Dance, but nobody was watching the screen, and followed by boob play in Far Cry 3.
The conference itself was a highlight for one game: Watch Dogs. A new IP that wasn’t leaked and looks next-gen. It doesn’t get any better than that. The cyber-espionage thriller revolves around our always-connected lives in a near future where the protagonist can hack into the personal data of anyone and learn anything that has been digitally stored about them. As it turns out, that’s pretty much everything. Medical records, phone bills, bank statements, dignity-less Facebook photos, your deranged porn fetish, and the list goes on.
Little else is known about the backstory, or why he’s such a murderer, but that’s all irrelevant for now. It’s a new idea, and that’s all I wanted to hear.
Sony wins the bluest conference award
After lining up in the wrong direction, I eventually got a bus to Sony’s event and the last for the day. Arriving an hour early, we had to follow a slow-moving line to gain entry to Sony’s pre-show party. There was beer (free beer keeps following me) and a bunch of food trucks to keep everyone busy until we eventually moved inside.
Sony’s theatre was massive. The screens on the wall were different and gave the soiree some character, even if it was the worst for watching a trailer.
The conference itself was a little lacking. As per usual, Jack Tretton took center stage and talked a lot about nothing. The first half of the conference was mostly him reiterating what Sony has done in its 17 year past, with little about the now.
The Wonderbook was the star attraction, but will go down in history just above the Vitality Sensor in the official list of all-time terrible E3 demonstrations. Not because it didn’t work (but it didn’t), but because I don’t see a market for it, particularly at E3. Even in its rudimentary stage, it’s a cool concept, but who is actually going to buy this considering it needs Move with a PS Eye? The augmented reality isn’t that good, so why not just read a book?
At this point I succumbed to the fact I wasn't getting any mini-burgers before doors opened
What they did show was slim, but quality. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale lived up to expectations, as did the closing piece, The Last of Us. Beyond, from the guys behind Heavy Rain, was a massive revelation; although, it remains to be seen if the gameplay can live up to the story.
On a final note, I wouldn’t be running out to by a Vita right now. It was presented as a controller for the PS3 -- to combat Nintendo tomorrow -- not a portable gaming device. You’ll want to use your HTC phone for on the go PlayStation gaming, apparently. We didn’t even get to see any gameplay for COD, which was announced last year, and would have been a massive scoop considering Microsoft usually flaunts Activision all by themselves.
After waiting an hour for a taxi (with in-excess of 500 people behind me and about 50 in front when I joined the queue) I got back to my hotel around 9pm. It’s currently 12:05am and time for some much needed sleep ahead of Nintendo’s conference at 9 in the morning, followed by my first day on the E3 showroom floor and concluded with Microsoft’s Halo 4 party.
It’s a hard life.
By Ben Salter - Bio