So, E3. All in all, I'd have to say that this year's show far surpassed last year's. For one thing, it's generally agreed that the more interviews and demonstrations you go on, the better the experience it is - and I'm inclined to agree. I went on 8 scheduled interviews, and I left the show feeling like I'd not gotten to see everything, as opposed to becoming bored on the second day and losing any real sense of enjoyment from E3. And it does happen - once you've seen everything you want to see, the rest of it really doesn't count for much.
It's all in prioritizing, of course. Day one on the floor was spent with Nathan and I on Swag Duty - we raided pretty much everything we wanted out of West and Kentia halls. Sure, we missed some stuff like the Bandai .hack t-shirts and the inflatable Growlanser swords, but when you're raiding for swag, it's all a matter of priority - you want to get everything in a reasonable amount of time, and spending half an hour in line for a cheap inflatable sword just diminishes your overall take. Plus, it was kinda fugly anyway, though I do wish I'd gotten the .hack shirts.
You've probably read about the swag we got from Kentia Hall by now, but needless to say that it was a surreal experience.
Games? Oh, yeah, we came to E3 for games. Most of my time was spent dealing with the MMORPG side of things, especially in terms of interviews and demonstrations. As with swag, I've covered that pretty much in Logfile - that's pretty much everything. If Star Wars Galaxies does not suck, with its combination of Wookies, Jedi, and hairstyling, I may not need to play other MMOGs. Until then, there's beta accounts for other games, and NWN. It's good.
Aside from that, I didn't play too many games on the show floor - tried a few here and there. Gamecube Zelda was fun with its portrayal of Link's spin attack (WAAAAAAAAAAAAH). The four player Zelda game was similarly fun, though it may lead to violence among friends ("Stop knocking me off the ledge!"). Animal Crossing was vaguely amusing in a "The Sims Online will do this better and without needing a dozen optional peripherals to fully run" kind of way. Connectivity my ass.
On the PS2 side I was more impressed. The Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance video was utterly hilarious, with the giant VR troopers ("GO SMASH") and the skateboarding segment that may be the most bizarre game bit witnessed since any minigame in Incredible Crisis. Shinobi was a blast to play, as was the new Contra game. I was even impressed by Kingdom Hearts, but I think that being a Toontown Online fanboy somewhat negates any anti-Disney-game bias I could formerly claim. Wild Arms 3 also looks entertaining, but the Japanese version I watched in our hotel was much more entertaining than the version on the show floor (can someone explain to me why there's housecats running at 50 MPH - on their front paws? Please?). Gladius looked cool, but that's not platform specific anyway. If I do buy any of the consoles it will end up being a PS2.
XBox was a disappointment, really. Once again, any games I really want will be available, and done better, on the PC. Panzer Dragoon Orta was fun to play, but not worth a console purchase. Knights of the Old Republic will end up on my PC, and probably look a lot nicer. Besides, if it's coming out in the winter, I'll be playing SWG. Morrowind... bleh, I don't even want to start. (XBox fanboys, mark my words - you are going to wish that there was a toolset available on the XBox version, because you have no way to remove Cliff Racers from the game. I laugh at you.) I don't remember much else on XBox, but since I wasn't that impressed with it to begin with, I admit to not paying too much attention. On the bright side, XBox WILL have Dead Or Alive Beach Volleyball. The demonstration, as part of the "get leid at Tecmo" spectacle, was about as close to a 1-900 sex line as you can get without a credit card. Definitely a good way to start Thursday, admittedly.
PC-wise, most titles I was looking at were the MMOGs. Deus Ex 2 didn't look good, really, but I only got a 2 minute glimpse at it when going to the Mythic interview. I hope that by simplifying the interface they don't really, really screw it up. If so, I will be very annoyed. Lionheart has a lot of potential, but I just want to join the Inquisition and burn heretics (and the auto-adjusting difficulty and loot, while somewhat seen in Diablo 2, is a terrific, terrific idea). Icewind Dale 2 looks fun in the IWD 1 Monty Haul style, but I don't know if I'll get around to it. I didn't see too much of the non-MMOGs for PC, but I'm not really interested in any of them anyway, considering how much online gaming I have coming up in the near future.
Still, the reason to go to E3 is not the games. Burn me at the stake for saying that if you must, but it's a giant tease. You get to play 5 or 10 minutes of a bunch of different titles, get overly excited about games that will be on display next year in all likelihood, then move on. In that sense, it's overrated, and you really can't get a truly good idea of the games from what you see on the floor (just look at my impressions from last year - Neverwinter Nights is only NOW coming out, Arcanum and Dungeon Siege were only mediocre, and so forth. On the other hand, I DID suggest players wait a few months for the MMOG situation to get worked out, and I think I was onto something there, given AO's launch. Aieeee). These games look good, but until you actually rent them or play a demo, you have absolutely no clue. The only game of the show I can authoritatively state will be good is Neverwinter Nights, and that's because Nathan and I got to play it for an hour. One solid recommendation of a game out of hundreds seen and shown - those aren't good odds, folks.
Overall, the reason I had so much fun was with the staff - and the rather nice variety of liquor and food available both during and after the show. The first night featured Nicole and I laughing our asses off at Star Wars: Episode 2 (and annoying some of the hardcore geeks in the theatre - give it a rest, people), and the joy that was Canadian Smirnoff Ice. Day two featured excessive walks for arguably pointless media briefings (including a disturbing number of old mattresses along the roads), a very nice suntan/sunburn I got for falling asleep by the pool, and some good sushi and sake. The third night featured free liquor at the Wildtangent booth, Bacardi Silver, and some excellent Korean barbecue excellently cooked by Ken. Day four consisted of free beer at Bioware, more free liquor from Wildtangent (see if you can spot the staff pic with me holding a screwdriver and wearing a s**t-eating grin), decent Mexican food, and so on. The last night included the incomparable Crack Chicken™, Skyy Blue, and so on.
Still, liquor aside, it was a blast just hanging out with the staff. I'm fortunate to work with a lot of really cool people on the site, and I'm glad I made it to E3 this year. That's the reason to come - cool people, not game hype. I'm somewhat disappointed I didn't get to meet up with some of the people from #hate, but it's cool. Even though we didn't get into the Sony or Microsoft parties, or do much outside of the hotel, it was a much cooler vibe than last year, where we basically were at the show or we were playing games at the hotel.
So I'd say that E3 2002 was great. I only have last year's to compare it to, but it definitely beat it out.
I'm not gonna bother ranking my favorite games - you should have an idea what I thought was and wasn't good. Like I said, doesn't matter anyway - E3 isn't the time and place to form such opinions.