E3 2003 Impressions
Impressions Gallery

John McCarroll's Impressions

E3 2K3 was my first E3. Most people are expecting me to say that I was wowed beyond all preconceptions and that it's like nothing I'd ever seen. It wasn't. I live in Las Vegas; I've been to 5 COMDEXes and 3 CESes. I know conventions like they're the back of my hand. That's not to say that E3 wasn't the best convention I've ever been to - it was - but it wasn't anything particularly new for me. I was one of the last to arrive and the first to leave at this show, sadly, due to final exams. When I got in, I discovered that Rob and Nicole were out drinking. When Stephen attempted to find out where they were from Rob, he could only reply, "We're, uh, in a place with a lot of big buildings." They made it back to the hotel. Eventually.

When I first got to the show, Chris and I decided we'd go and have free-reign on the floor before our first appointments. The first booth we stopped at was some company that was porting games to the GBA -- I can't remember their name. The one thing that blew me away is that apparently they were porting Wing Commander: Prophecy to the GBA, and they had it playable. Needless to say, the game does NOT port well to the GBA. The console has the same amount of buttons as a standard joystick. Wing Commander uses the keyboard, too. It just didn't work. After browsing a few mind-numbing booths, I visited Natsume with Liz to talk about Harvest Moon and Natsume's new GBA RPG: Cima. It was fun, Graham Markay was a nice guy and we got to meet the president of Natsume USA. After browsing with Liz and Mike for a bit, I met up with Rob (who was now sober) and I went to Bethesda to talk about Pirates & Bloodmoon. Pirates of the Carribean looks decent, it almost reminds me of the game Pirates! Gold for the Genesis. It was one of my old favorites. They were also showing TES3: Bloodmoon, which I was very interested in. The PC running it crashed when they tried to load it up, so we played the Game of the Year Edition for the Xbox which includes the two expansions in addition to the original. The game didn't look so hot on the Xbox at that point, but the textures were still PC and had not been optimized for the Xbox. After exchanging cards, we got a copy of Bethesda's Press Kit -- which when we got back to the Press Room and put it into a computer turned out to be a blank CD-R. I still have it. We went back the next day and got 3 more so it didn't happen again. My favorite part of Day 1, and perhaps the funniest part of the entire show, was the Simon & Schuster Interview. I'd not yet written up the Bethesda interview when I went to see EVE online with Rob. After about 10 minutes and I was bored out of my mind, I told Rob I was going to go write up Bethesda. Rob was left with the S&S developer who had an unhealthy obsession with the game's Warp Drive. Other than that, Wednesday closed pretty uneventfully, the staff hung out at the hotel and played some games. Stephen handed me a wrapped present before I went to bed and it was a GBA SP and Phantasy Star Collection. I was awed. Then I went to sleep, after playing gratuitious amounts of Phantasy Star 3.

The second day of the show was probably my favorite. Day 2, Chris and I raided Kentia Hall for the second time. For those who don't know, There are four major halls at the LA Convention center: West, North, South, and Kentia. Kentia Hall is where everything foreign, crappy, or from small developers is. Needless to say there were only about 2 or 3 cool things in Kentia Hall. One of them was a rearrangable keyboard that seemed like it could be badass for gaming. The other was VGA Boxes for the PS2 and Xbox -- something I desperately need to play video games at school. Stephen and I hit up Codemasters to go talk to Peter Tyson, who's quite a nice guy, about Dragon Empires. Dragon Empires seems like it can be a good MMOG if they can fix up the character models. Everything seems like it's a novel concept and the environments look great, but the character models look like crap. After staring at the American Idol game for a few seconds, I decided that I'd get them back. And I did on Day 3. Rob had yet to show up at the show when the time rolled around for his Sammy interview, so I decided to go with Chris, who was my "E3 Buddy", ala Penny Arcade. Well, as everyone knows, Sammy doesn't make very many RPGs. When we got to the booth we were handed a random PR chick and she took us to see: *dramatic pause* Lethal Skies II! Hot damn, a flight simulator! After playing a level and crashing myself into the ground, she took us to see the "other" "RPG" at their booth, Seven Samurai. This woman said, and I quote, "This is a game about Samurai. I think there's seven of them." Holy crap. Well, Seven Samurai turned out not to be an RPG, it's an action game that's mind-numbingly dull. Sigh. After walking around some more with Chris, I met up with Stephen to go to my favorite interview of the day: Bioware. For those who don't know, I was the only real PC gamer from RPGFan at the show. Brian wasn't able to attend this year and Josh wasn't old enough, so I was the guy who got all the interviews with PC companies. Bioware showed us, first, the best game at the entire show, Knights of the Old Republic. Read my preview, this game is hands down awesome. I want this game to have my children some day. The game was everything I expected it to be. Probably the best part was the bug I found, however. When Scott McLaughlan, the Director of Marketing at Bioware, pulled out two Vibro-blades, they both made lightsaber noises. I was the only person who noticed and was told: "Uhh.. It's a bug we're working on." Funny. Scott then took us over to a PC that was running the new NWN expansion, Shadows of Undrentide. The expansion includes over 50 new spells as well as the addition of Prestigue classes. To my dismay, however, the Blackguard (Anti-Paladin) class didn't allow the sacrificing of Paladin levels to get free levels as you can in Paper & Pen D&D. Otherwise the game looked stellar, and Bioware also announced the 2nd expansion, Hordes of the Underdark. After leaving Bioware's booth, I realized that I'd just turned down free alcohol, so Stephen and I went to Blizzard's booth to try to score an appointment. While we waited, we played Starcraft: Ghost and World of Warcraft, both of which look and play simply amazing. Sadly, our demo for WC3: Frozen Throne wasn't behind closed doors, it was in an open area, so it was impossible to hear anything. The game did look good, however, and it fixes a lot that was wrong with WC3, mainly magical units being too powerful. From there on out we went to City Walk to go see the Matrix: Reloaded. It was good, nothing truly spectacular, but I think I'll appreciate it more when the third movie comes out. After some gay antics with Chris, we went back to the hotel and I slept on the floor, again.

The third day of E3 is the shortest, as the show closes early, but it was still fun. I sat down and played Konami's TMNT game and was very impressed, it plays like a great beat-em-up. After traipsing around a few halls, Chris and I headed back to Kentia hall to visit 1C, a Russian publisher. Both of us were expecting the interview to be subpar, but 1C actually had some cool games. They were showing 1 SRPG, 1 traditional RPG, and 1 MMORPG. The SRPG is what caught my attention the most. The game engine itself seems only decent, but the cool thing about it was that everything was destructable. We took and old german tank and were shooting chickens with 50mm cannons and running over houses. They just had a video running of their traditional RPG, but it seemed like it would be fun with its mix of magic and technology. Their MMORPG was lacking, but it wasn't very far into development, way before the pre-alpha stages. After 1C, Chris and I walked around Kentia Hall some more and decided that we'd go to CodeMaster's booth so that I could reap my revenge on American Idol. They took me up on stage and asked me what I thought of the game. Me, playing a lot of music games, said it was a standard music game, which insulted them to no end. In an attempt to spite me, the PR guy said, "Well, this game is meant for 7 to 17 year old girls, so let's ramp up the difficulty and see how John does!" I killed the demo. They weren't expecting me to be able to pick up their game and play it, but they looked at me flabbergasted, gave me a hat, and I left. Chris and I then decided we'd hang out in the media room and do write-ups. So we went to the media room and did write-ups and I waited for Eric to go to LucasArts. I get a call from Rob like 15 minutes before LucasArts' interview and I'm told that "We're at Sony's booth. You need to come down here so that we can get video of you playing with the Eye Toy. You've got to do The Run." I've left this unexplained so far; when I get bored, I do strange things. During E3, it was this thing I kept doing when I bent over and started running in place. It was weird, to say the least. I went to Sony's booth and played with the Eye Toy and flailed like an idiot, which we have videos of, and then headed to LucasArts all sweaty. We met with Ronda, our contact at LucasArts and were shown Knights of the Old Republic (again), Gladius, which looked like it could be a really good SRPG and Star Wars: Galaxies, which I want to play but know that every which fanboy will be playing their "Jedi". After LucasArts, I hung out in the media room and waited to leave, because I was so tired, and just sat by RPGamer's staff staring at them. When they got up to leave I waved and said, "Bye Bye, RPGamer, I love you!" They looked at me funny. We headed back to the hotel and planned to get Pollo Campero, the Crack Chicken, but Justin and I had planes to catch, so we got a taxi and headed to the airport. Justin's bag got searched at the airport because he had steel-toed boots, so I waited for him there. They were also gawking at my tube and asked me several times what was in there. It's posters. Really, guys, I've got them at home, now. We hung out in the terminal for a while and his flight left and I went and boarded mine. I was happy to sleep in my own bed, but I miss all the people I've grown to hate at RPGFan already.

Best RPGs:
  1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox/PC)
  2. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS2)
  3. The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon (PC)
  4. World of Warcraft (PC)
  5. Star Wars Galaxies (PC)
Best non-RPGs:
  1. Starcraft: Ghost (Multiplatform)
  2. Soul Calibur 2 (Multiplatform)
  3. Sonic Heroes (Multiplatform)
  4. DDRMax2 (PS2)
  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Multiplatform)
Best Show Experiences:
  1. Meeting the people I've called friends for over a year. Rob's just as stupid in real life as he is online.
  2. Getting a GBA & Phantasy Star Collection from my Boss.. Holy crap!
  3. Playing with Sony's Eye Toy. We have videos of me playing it. They're super.
  4. Straight up insulting Codemasters' American Idol game when I was at their booth and was on-stage playing it.
  5. Leaving Rob at Simon & Schuster's booth to play EVE online with one of the eastern European developers who had an unhealthy love for the game's Warp Drive.
Worst Show Experiences:
  1. Not getting any Crack Chicken. We had planned to go after the show on Friday, but I couldn't because of time constraints on my flight.
  2. Not being able to beat up Chris because I found out he was actually a pretty cool guy in real life.
  3. Having to arrive late and leave early because of finals at school.
  4. Realizing that I'm not going to see any of the people I saw at the show, aside maybe Mike or Eric M. for another year.
  5. Not seeing Brian because he had to miss the show, and being the only RPGFan staff at the show who actually plays PC games more than console games.

More Impressions
John McCarroll Nicole Kirk Robert Bogdanowicz Liz Maas
Mike Salbato Eric Farand Stephen Harris Ken Chu
Christopher Holzworth      


Twitch Schedule & Status

Sunday, September 23
Dragon Quest VIII • 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Sunday, September 30
Final Fantasy XIV Patch 4.4 • 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT

Star Ocean: Till The End of Time • 3:00pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Wild ARMs 2 • 5:30pm 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Wild ARMs 2 • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Kingdom Hearts - Re:Chain of Memories • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Wild ARMs 2 • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Final Fantasy IX • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
Friday Super Variety Night • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Week in Review: Live Edition • 11am PDT/2pm EDT
Wild ARMs 2 • 5pm PDT/8pm EDT

CrossCode Giveaway

CrossCode Giveaway

Heaven Will Be Mine Review

Heaven Will Be Mine

Retro Encounter 154

Retro Encounter 154

CrossCode Review


428: Shibuya Scramble Review

428: Shibuya Scramble