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Continuing my walk around Nintendo, I happened to see the WiiU. At first I had a bit of a “meh” feeling about it, but after seeing some of the games on the pad controller and NintendoLand, I have to admit my interest was piqued. This could be a killer app for the WiiU, just like Wii Sports was for the original Wii. NintendoLand appears as a large amusement park. You can enter various areas to play mini games. The park is very bright and well designed and will no doubt please the youngsters in the family, but not so much it would make older gamers puke. Donkey Kong Crash Course was the first game I saw running and I instantly wanted to play it. Using the controller, you tilt to control a cart that Donkey Kong is riding in through a maze of tracks. While my excitement level is not as high as with the original Wii, I still find that I’ll be keeping my eye on this.
Taking a quick run through the Playstation area, I was able to check out Little Big Planet Karting. It really looked great, and having the Sackboys and Sackgirls as drivers looks to give the game a lot of character. The line was way too long for me to spend any time with it, but I could see my kids are going to go nuts for this game. The Playstation area featured a lot of games showing on a big screen, including some sort of multiplayer riot game in which you control a group of people who pick up items from the environment (benches, cars, etc.) and throw them at the other players. Interesting to say the least, but it was now time to head back for a second presentation of the Tomb Raider demo. On the way I came across some of the coolest action figures sold through the Eidos store. The figures included Nathan Drake, Lara Croft, Batman, the Joker and Harley Quinn. All were wonderfully detailed, and I was able to take some pictures, but since the figures were behind a case the pics didn’t turn out well and don’t do them justice.
The second, more detailed look at the new Tomb Raider demo allowed us to see things not presented to the press, and I found it to be a much better presentation. While I enjoyed the first one, this more detailed demo showed so much more concerning exploration and the amount of space available for the player to play in.
This was the end of my first day at E3. Time to reflect on the day and collapse.
Day 2 left me with a lot of places I wanted to visit, but I had very little time. Our final day only allowed us three hours of free time, so I had to hit those areas I really had a desire to see. My first priority was Dungeon & Dragons: Neverwinter. I had to wait more than an hour, but it was really worth it. I was able to actually spend some hands-on time with the game, after which I decided that I will be pre-ordering it. First, I would like to give a special kudos to the attendants for being very helpful, professional, informative and extremely nice. Next to Karl Stewart and Meagan Marie with Crystal Dynamics, the young ladies working the Neverwinter booth were top notch. Playing through the cavern, hacking up the beasties and taking all the loot I could find was really fun. The character I was playing was able to teleport, so attacking from behind was actually pretty entertaining. The character and beast design and animation looked very good, with a wonderfully detailed environment. The controls were very easy to use, and I was immediately able to get killing. I really hated leaving after such a short amount of time, but at least I got a cool mug and access to the beta.
Heading over to the other hall, it was time to see if we could get in to play Borderlands 2 and check out Star Trek. The Trek line wasn’t long, so I hopped in and waited for what seemed like an eternity, and the heat only made it worse. When we finally got in we were handed 3D glasses. Cool! After sitting down and putting on the glasses, we were treated to a view of a gaseous cloud or nebula, which looked killer in 3D. The screen was split in two and you could see the view from either Kirk or Spock’s point of view. The story fits between the first film with Nero and the new, upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. The game starts with an outside view of the Enterprise, with the camera panning along the hull of the ship and traveling to the bridge, showing the crew. The 3D effect was really well done and made the wait to get in worth it. The interior of the ship looks very faithful to the film. A big plus goes to the movie actors who voiced their characters in the game. How many times have movie-based games been spoiled by crappy-sounding voice actors trying to sound like the originals? Too many to count. It’s a great credit to all the original actors who were willing to lend their voices to this game. There’s plenty of banter between Kirk and Spock as they move around the ship and during missions, which feels like a continuation of the original movie and is very well done. During the demo we were treated to several firefights, and while they looked tense, I did find the animation speed between standing and crouching to be jarringly fast. But release day is still a long way away, so I hope this will be addressed in the future. The enemy shown in the demo is a re-imagining of the Gorn. Bigger, faster and scarier and in 3D. By the end of the demo I was happy with the direction the game is heading.
Little time left, so time to head over to Borderlands 2. Yes! Not only was it crowded, but it was also the busiest I had seen it during the entire show. I got some nice-looking pictures and watched some gameplay and it looked fun, but I have to admit to being a little disappointed not being able to spend any hands-on time with it. Before I knew it, it was time to meet up with everyone, so off I went. About two thirds of the way back in a little corner of a Sega box was Hell Yeah!, a very interesting game with a cartoon graphics style like Earthworm Jim. I really needed to spend a little time with this game, but with no time available I’ll have to put it on my must-check-out list.
E3 day 2 is over. I’d like to give a big shout-out to Meagan, Tom and all the Crystal Dynamics team. Thanks for the honor of allowing us to see Tomb Raider. I’d also like to thank Katie, Karen, Martin, Jannina, Jana, Tom and all the other ambassadors for keeping me company while I spent so many miles away from my family, and for the new friendships. Thanks all for the wonderful time.
Now I’m home and I’ve had some time to relax and reflect. Now that E3 2012 is part of the past and I’ve had a chance to think back on the show, there are a few things that I wish had gone better. Here are some of the things that really disappointed me:
No new Battlestations game announcement. I know, but I can dream. There was a “leaked” trailer, or was it a good fake? I’d been hoping that we’d sooner or later hear something. Even with Eidos Hungary disbanded I still held out hope. Oh well, maybe next year.
This one really irks me. I missed swinging by the Kalypso booth. I’d been talking to Mario Kroll for a while and wanted to at least say hello and check out the games that Kalypso was bringing out. I’ve heard about several that sound great and I really wanted to check them out. Even though Mario said it was OK, I’m still disappointed in myself for not managing my time better.
I’ve mentioned earlier how great the attendants at the Neverwinter booth were. Now we go to the opposite with the attendants at the X-Com: Enemy Unknown booth. They were not in any way rude or mean and, trust me, having done big trade shows in the past I can understand a burnout point. But most booths had friendly attendants. This was very important when waiting for 20 to 30 minutes in line, but even though we were just a few feet away, they just sat and talked amongst themselves instead of engaging the people in the line. Maybe it was the time of day or (as I said earlier) burnout, but nevertheless it was disappointing.
World of Battleships wasn’t on display. Maybe it was a private press thing, but I was looking forward to seeing it and doing a little writeup on it. What made it more disappointing was that the sign for the game was up on the wall of the wargaming.net booth.
Not enough pictures. I only took about 150, of which only about 100 turned out well.
I do have to say, though, my biggest complaint is there were only 24 hours in a day. There’s way too much at E3 to cover in a couple of days. Had I thought about it I would’ve collected business cards and such and gotten back to them once I got home, but no luck. If I ever go again (fingers crossed) I need to get me a darn press pass.
With everything taken into account, I have to say that I really did enjoy E3 2012. Warts and all.
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