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E3 2011 – Day Two Summary (And A Bit Of Day One)

E3 2011 – Day Two Summary (And A Bit Of Day One)

Apologies for not updating the blog yesterday. Or was it yesterday? Because it’s now tonight. Phone says 20:15. Computer on UK time says 04:15. Different time zones suck.

Anyway, E3 is is held in LA Convention Center and is split across two halls, South Hall and West Hall. South Hall was home to the likes of Ubisoft, Square-Enix, Activision and Microsoft while West Hall was where Sony, Nintendo, Capcom and Bethesda hung out.

There’s a lot of free tat being handed out during the show and while there are presentations for games that go on during the day, the queues for them are absolutely huge. The playable pods are almost always manned, unless it’s The Sims Social, in which case it’s never manned.

Here are the quick-fire points about E3 2011 that stood out:

It’s Far Too Crowded

It’s not really a complaint so much as a fact. When the doors to E3 opened on Tuesday, it took 20 minutes beyond that to actually get into South Hall. The reason is that security was worried about a stampede of people – in their defence, you can see why – so the stairs were sealed off and only an escalator was open to let people in and out.

This led to the slightly farcical situation of it taking ages to get into E3 once it opened. On the press side of things, appointments to see games are booked in half-hour slots. So by the time you get in, you can only see 10 minutes of the game you’re due to see and that’s provided you actually get there in time once you’re in.

Again, not really a complain – it is what it is and it’s the massive throng of people that give E3 its almost legendary status as a gaming mecca. Word went round that 77,000 people registered for E3 passes this year.

Developers And Executives Just… Hang Around

It’s probably the only time in the games industry that you’ll see developers, publishers and executives hanging around like… well, normal people.

That’s Harada (Tekken) and Ono (Street Fighter) pictured above. Other stuff I noticed during E3 2011 – Yoichi Wada, president of Square-Enix, heading over to EA’s executive booths for a meeting. Peter Moore, EA Sports boss, hanging out at the canteen talking to fans. Masachika Kawata, Resident Evil producer, doing a spot of downtown shopping before E3 kicked off.

Skyrim Presentation Had The Weirdest Start

See that image above? Look at that for 10 minutes. In silence. Ideally in a small room with no lighting.

That’s how the Skyrim presentation kicked off. Everyone was ushered into a small room but then no further word was given and all the room had in it was the above display, which is apparently an elder scroll.

So everyone just stared at the elder scroll for 10 minutes. I don’t know why. Maybe there’s some psychological thing going on. But it was just plain weird. Fortunately…

Skyrim Was Game Of The Show

I’ll be doing a full preview later on and besides, my notes are just out of arm’s reach which is officially Too Far for a shattered, broken man who just needs sleep, so I shall leave you with a brief example of why.

The 30 minutes gameplay sequence we’re shown is played live by the lead artist, talking through different features. Eventually the sequence takes the character outside, where he gets into a fight with woolly mammoths and giants.

Then a dragon swoops in, grabs one of the giants and pulls him high up in the air before dropping him hundreds of feet to his death. It’s a dramatic, brilliant moment that gets a gasp from the crowd because it happens in the middle of live, unscripted, unpredictable gameplay battle.

There’s obviously much more to it than just that but wait until the full preview. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Dragon’s Dogma at this point. In one fell swoop, it’s been blown away by Skyrim.

Whatever Happened To The ‘No Booth Babes’ Rule?

We’re pretty sure it was brought in at one point. We’re also pretty sure it was taken back out before E3 2011.

Ridge Racer Unbounded Was Surprise Of The Show

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this. I’m still not expecting it to ride its way to Game of the Year awards on a wave of 10/10 scores. But it’s far, far better than I was giving it credit for.

It’s basically a cross between Ridge Racer and Split/Second, with the difference being that the destruction is more aggressive and in your face – knocking debris across the track and into other cars – rather than the passive rollercoaster ride Split/Second could be.

EA Had The Most Impressive Stand

Bethesda’s looming dragon and Rage freaks made for a really interesting stand but they lose points for making people stand in a dark room and stare at an elder scroll for 10 minutes. Square-Enix’s stand was quite nice and spacious with cool design but it didn’t have raw impact. Sony’s glass theme was slick but didn’t have enough room for the thousands of people cramming in.

Instead, it was EA’s stand which took the honours. Flanked by huge Battlefield 3 and Star Wars posters, it had plenty of room on the actual floor for Need For Speed: The Run, Mass Effect 3 and and FIFA 12. It was also the first thing you saw in West Hall. Full points EA. Well played.XXXX

Something Always Goes Wrong

Schedules change. Wi-Fi fails. Interview slots were never booked. Consoles crash. Tempers flare. Queues grow. Phones get lost. People get trampled. Developers don’t show up. Press don’t show up. Journalists ask questions that have already been answered.

But it’s the most gloriously chaotic celebration of games you can imagine. And there’s one more day to go…

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