Being the editor that has been to the most E3 shows (4), I don't really have the same view as most of the others. After 4 years, the excitement isn't the same as it is the first few times you're there. I would say that this year's E3 ranks in 3rd place of the 4 years I went. Last year was the best, then it's 1999, then 2001 and last is 1998 (my first time). Of course, my level of enjoyment relies heavily on the showings of my favorite companies. Being the huge Sega fan that I am, last year's show was absolutely amazing since Sega totally dominated. The year before, Sega was showing the Dreamcast for the first time so it was also exciting. This year's show wasn't really bad but since my favorite company had a closed booth which we weren't able to get into, it really hampered my enjoyement of the show. The 1998 E3 show was worse in my opinion because Playstation and N64 weren't new and didn't have anything special and the games looked so ugly compared to all the PC games I saw at the show that year. These days, this isn't a problem since most console games look as good if not better than PC games. Back then however, the difference was huge and I had a hard time getting excited about Playstation and N64 games. Sega also had a poor showing since Saturn was on its death bed and all Sega had to show was Shining Force 3 and Panzer Dragoon Saga (which was already released).
Anyway, let's talk about this year's E3 since this is what this feature is about. First of all, the 2 biggest attractions at the show were obviously the Nintendo and Microsoft booths which showed their respective new consoles set to be released this Fall. To be perfectly honest, none of the Xbox titles that were playable at the show impressed me. They all looked very generic and boring. Kinda reminds me of the first crop of titles we saw on the Playstation when it entered the market. But then again, that never stopped all those sheeps out there from buying it anyway "because it had pretty polygons" and we all know that there's a lot of graphic whores out there who don't care about good gameplay and only care about graphics and name recognition on the box (casual gamers is the name for those people). Just a question to all these people who thought Toshinden was so much better than Virtua Fighter back then, what do you think of Toshinden now that the graphics aren't impressive anymore? Enough said...
Now, let's talk about Nintendo's booth. Compared to last year, Nintendo's booth was a HUGE improvement. Last year, the only thing they had was a few boring N64 titles, a few Gameboy games and TONS of Pokemon-related stuff everywhere. Hell, I think the huge Pikachu standout took about half of their booth! Anyway, this year, they had a pretty good showing with a bunch of GameCube games as well as many GameBoy Advance titles. I can't say that Nintendo's games necessarily appeal to me (I was never a big Nintendo fan) but their titles definately looked better than the Xbox titles. They also had the busiest booth of E3 and you could hardly move in there so I guess that's testament to how well they did.
Sony's booth was pretty much the same as last year. Somewhat big and somewhat desolate. Last year, everybody was at the Sega booth and this year everybody was at Nintendo's booth. Sony doesn't put that much effort into making their booth a "cool" place. Everything is "sterile" and boring. People can try out their games but that's about it.. no atmosphere. It "looks" good but somehow there's something missing. The fact that there's a lot of people at their floor shouting at you not to take pictures of their games instead of talking with you and showing you their games in a friendly manner probably has something to do with the bad atmosphere.
As I mentioned before, Sega's booth was only available if you had scheduled a meeting with them BEFORE E3. The thing is, Sega never told us that their booth would be closed and available by appointment only so there was no way to know that we HAD to schedule a meeting to see their booth. That was a real bummer and I'm still pissed about it. All those great Sega games, all available behind this wall and all I could do is stare at the wall and weep like a baby!
All of the other booths were pretty much standard stuff. I'm not going to name all the games I saw and everything like the other editors since they're already doing that so I'll just stick with personal opinions and b***hing instead :). Capcom and Konami had lots of great titles on display like Metal Gear Solid 2, Silent Hill 2, Resident Evil CVX, Devil May Cry, etc.. Once again, Konami stole the show with another Metal Gear Solid 2 trailer running on their huge screen. Everytime it started playing, a big crowd started gathering and as soon as it would end, everybody would leave not caring one bit about the other Konami titles being featured next on the big screen.
Square's booth was like usual. The only interesting part being their "closed" showing of their upcoming games through a movie-style presentation full of glitzy footage and lots of very cheesy and over-the-top crap. Just show the damn game footage and stop having people shout in your ears that your games are changing the way people live and breathe and how because we've seen this footage and played your games, we'll now understand the meaning of life, etc... Last year's PlayOnline presentation was even worse though so I can't complain too much. Obviously, the line was huge for the presentations but thankfully, the media has some advantages and we skipped in front of everybody. Final Fantasy X's CG cutscenes are even more impressive (nothing new there) than the previous Square showings and the CG in the Final Fantasy movie is even more mindblowing. Square and Disney's RPG Kingdom Hearts though wasn't as amazing and quite frankly looked quite silly. If you want to make a Disney RPG, make it for kids and don't have it made by Square. Square's style (mostly the FF titles) has always been "overdramatic", "dark" and "taking itself too seriously". This just doesn't work for a Disney RPG which would have to be light-hearted for it to make sense. I could see GameArts doing a Disney RPG because of their light-hearted style but I just can't get used to the main character in Kingdom Hearts acting all serious and threatening people with his big... "key?"... with a serious look in his eyes (ala Cloud and Squall) like what we saw in that video at E3. It also doesn't help when you call for a summon and Dumbo shows up instead of Ifrit... it just doesn't feel right and personally I think it looks ridiculous. Then again, I haven't played the game so I'll refrain from making comments (although I just did.. oh well...).
My other gripes about E3 this year was the lack of booth babes. Yeah, there WERE some booth babes there but not nearly as many as last year and the quality wasn't the same either. Hey! It's not that I'm a macho and a pervert, I just like the tradition of booth babes as it makes for a nice change to look at women once in a while instead of looking at games. As much as I like games, sometimes you can get TOO much games and having a nice distraction in the form of a booth babe is always refreshing. I don't have any objections to having booth "hunks" for the female E3 goers either so don't think I'm only thinking about myself here :). Anyway, it seemed to me like last year, companies were making a lot of effort to attract people to their booth by having contests, games, booth babes, celebrities, and various other things. This year, I didn't get that same feeling. There were some of this stuff but not nearly as much as last year. Sniff, sniff, I miss the Heat.net Sega babes from last year as well as the dozens of Eidos tight-leather-suit chicks :). But anyway, overall, I felt like the effort wasn't there this year from the companies to put on a show for the showgoers.
RPG-wise, this E3 was disapointing. Considering that my favorite RPG series are Lunar, Grandia, Phantasy Star (the non-online ones), Shining Force and games like Skies of Arcadia, Xenogears, etc.. you can imagine that I wasn't really looking forward to a lot of stuff in there. I can actually say that there is currently no RPGs that I REALLY look forward to. I just put 4 of them on my list out of necessity (I've never been a fan of Final Fantasy). I guess I'll be catching up on old Playstation RPGs that I haven't had a chance to play in the past because this looks like a dead year for RPGs.
- Phantasy Star Online Version 2 (DC, GCN)
- Shenmue II (DC)
- Final Fantasy X (PS2)
- Tales of Destiny 2 (PSX)
- Toejam & Earl III (DC)
- Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2)
- Sega Tennis 2K2 (DC)
- Sonic Adventure 2 (DC)
- Crazy Taxi 2 (DC)
Best of Show:
- Taking a picture of Lita from the WWF at THQ's booth. She's soooo hot!
- Bikini-clad booth babe with a whip at a small booth in Kentia Hall (one of the only booth babes at the show)
- Sega's video presentation outside of their booth (which was all I could see...sniff, sniff)
- Konami's MGS2 trailer playing on their big screen.
- Playing videogames at night with the rest of the RPGFan staff in the hotel room.
Worst of Show:
- Lack of RPGs
- Lack of booth babes
- Sega's booth being appointment only
- The over-abundance of dancing games (both at the show and in our hotel room) :)
- The pain of walking all day around the show carrying tons of free stuff that you got at E3