Sunday, June 12, 2011

L.A. Trip the Third (Days Four, Five, and Six: Of stripcheese and E3)

E3 is the Electronics Entertainment Expo and is one of the most important trade events for video games in the United States if not the world. And I was there.

I love video games. They're a great stress reliever and have helped me break through some sticky creative binds. I play all kinds of games, from the adorable Mario games which captured my heart as a kid to hardcore action titles like God of War to FPS like Left4Dead and Borderlands (one of my top favorite games).

I had been asked to write a video game for a friend of mine who is a programmer. Since I was going to be in LA anyway, I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn more about my hobby so I registered and, a day after BleedFest, I found myself on the L.A. subway at the unGodly hour of seven in the morning to get there in time for the opening of the Expo.

I get to the L.A. Convention Center and find my way in and discover that they're not letting people in yet. That's strange, the email and the website said 8 am. I check the website again. Yep, it opens at 8 am...for badge holder pick-up. The event itself didn't open until noon.


I manage to occupy myself for four hours, eventually getting in the line two hours early just to have easier access to the other people who were using Street Pass on their 3DS. As I tweeted that day, my Mii knows more Mii-ps than I know peeps. I think I gathered 230 unique street passes over the course of the expo and accidentally 3DS dissed one dude because I wasn't paying attention. Dude, I'm sorry!

Eventually, the doors open and people are pushing and shoving to get in. So much for this being a professional event. I made my way right over to Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and started playing. I LOVE it. The level load time is a bit long, but I understand why...most game load times these days are painfully long (I'm looking at you, Dead Rising), but they have to be in order to give a longer level experience, so it doesn't have to break every so often to load a new section of the same area.

I'm not explaining it very well, but it's a long-run good thing.

Anyway, from there, I played Silent Hill: Downpour in 3D. I'm not a fan of the Silent Hill games, but I love the plot (I love the movie, too). I like to go all Leeroy Jenkins in my games so careful planning and a flashlight aren't my cup of tea. It's a game I think will make SH devotees happy and could bring in new players...just not me. Also, the 3D sucked.

After leaving the Capcom section, I toured the hall a little, then made my way to the Nintendo area. I love me some Nintendo. I love my Wii, but there haven't been too many good games for it outside of Super Mario Galaxy, Zelda, and the RE4 port. I got into line for the new Zelda game, Skyward Sword. If you liked Zelda: Twilight Princess, you'll like Skyward Sword. I loved Twilight Princess so yay!

I wanted to try the new Kirby game, but the line was a bit long so I went to the next level and played with the new 3DS games like Super Mario (ace) and Zelda: Ocarina of Time (eh). Later on in the expo, I also tried Luigi's Mansion (I loved it!).

I realized that I'd spent a lot of time in Nintendo and while I wanted to play with the Wii U (or the PS Vita), I wasn't about to spend three hours waiting so I headed over to the other hall and walked around some more. Here, I waited in line for a while to check out Aliens: Colonial Marines, the new game from Sega and those wonderful folks at Gearbox. It looks amazing! And, it's an official sequel to the films, taking place around the time of Aliens3 when the cavalry comes to LV426 to investigate what happened to the Sulaco and her crew. I'm looking forward to investigating the derelict!

My basic plan of attack for the first day was to get the flow of the place, see what all was there, play with what I could and then come back the next day with a more comprehensive plan of activities. Like eating. I didn't eat all day. I got back to my hotel room and had room service because I was just too tired to go out again.

The next day, I ended up being my friend's minion, taking photos and stuff for her as she flitted from appointment to appointment as press. That was fun because I got to see a little bit of the other side of E3, the impress the press side. The whole thing is geared toward industry people and not the common folk (even though there were plenty of people there who weren't supposed to be), but it's cool to see all these sides of an event of this magnitude.

I got to see some gameplay from The Darkness 2. Mark Patton from Faith No More is back as the voice of the Darkness, so that's pretty cool. The graphics are pretty and the game looks smooth. I couldn't get into the first game, I don't know why.

About halfway through the day, my friend and I parted ways and I toured the booths again. The second hall had so much more that was interesting, like Disney and SquareEnix and Namco Bandai as well as merch merchants and tech stuff like a teeny tiny projector that you could hook to your iPhone/iPad/iTouch. Only 480 resolution, though. For $400 msrp? Please.

I found time to eat this day, grabbing some grub from an overpriced vendor in the back. It may have been because I was so hungry, but it may have been the best sandwich of my life.

One of my favourite demos of the day was Dead Island. I got to play a few minutes from the beginning and it's awesome! I love zombie games and this one is pretty epic. Another one I liked was a re-imagining of Centipede. I liked that one a lot more than I thought I would.

Later that day, I met up with my friend and her co-workers because they'd gotten me an invitation to the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary party. It was...interesting. I like Sonic, but it was one of those sides rollers that always irritated me because I couldn't go backward to pick up the rings I missed and it was too fast going forward that I couldn't enjoy the work put into the graphics.

The final day was fun. I went around with my friend for a little bit, then I became sort of a tour guide / handler for scream queen Tara Cardinal who wanted to check out E3 for inspiration on one of her many projects. It was nice to have a goal on the day, you know? I didn't get to play with the Wii U or the PS Vita, but I know the stores will have demo versions next year so I'm not too terribly broken up about that.

Afterwards, I went to dinner at ESPN Zone with Tara, my friend, and my friend's co-workers. Good food, but it's best to avoid that restaurant like the plague on game day. They charge you through the nose AND ass for the privilege of placing your buttocks upon their gilded chairs. Whatevs.

Afterward, my friend came back to my hotel because I was going back to her place on Saturday morning. But we still had Friday to tear up the town!

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