For many gamers, going to E3 is an unfulfilled dream. Attendance is tightly controlled (depending on your definition of tight), so unlike a boat show or comic book convention, you can't just buy a ticket and show up.
But if you do someday make it to E3, the show secrets presented here may help you get the most out of the experience. Regular attendees eventually work out most of these tips, but we're always open to new suggestions--feel free to list your own E3 secrets in the comments section below.
Among all the myriad events and announcements of E3 2011--some bombastic, some evolutionary--the unveiling of the Wii U was one that, no matter who you asked, generated some degree of mixed feelings. As gaming press and players, what we saw from Nintendo's future console controller produced sensations of excitement, skepticism, ambivalence, and intrigue.
That might be due partly to the expectations that Nintendo set for itself. The Wii was a new experience, a new idea. It also might be due in part to Sony's PSVita stealing some of the spotlight a day before; the handheld device actually has … Read more
The big booths, high-profile games, and general spectacle of E3 all ranked very highly with attendees, according to the informal polling conducted during and after the show. Everyone has his collection of the best and worst games, and it's a dangerous minefield to step into that subjective field, so I'd rather avoid that (still, some of my favorites are easy to pick out).
There were, however, a handful of annoyances and missed opportunities. Some are long-term issues, others may have a quick fix. If you're interested in what E3 missed the boat on this year, check out our list below, and offer your own suggestions in the comments section at the end.
The console company press conferences failed to highlight some of the best games. Sony, Microsoft, and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo all use their respective preshow press conferences to highlight notable upcoming games, both first-party (those actually published by Sony, Microsoft, etc.) and from other publishers such as EA.
We saw the latest Call of Duty, Uncharted, and Zelda games, but several of the most notable contenders were missing. Perhaps it was because they weren't calculated to be key sales drivers, in the way that Call of Duty is, or because key partnerships required press conference stage time at the expense of other games.
I'm inclined to agree with a games industry executive who told me immediately after the show that the hottest E3 buzz-builders were BioShock Infinite, Skyrim, and Batman: Arkham City. Of those, BioShock got a brief plug at the Sony press conference while the other two went unmentioned.… Read more
Another E3 has come and gone, leaving gamers and journalists equally dizzy with anticipation. We saw dozens upon dozens of titles at the big show but only a few can be called "best of."
We've wracked our brains to bring you the 20 titles we were most excited about in an easy-to-use slideshow. Not sure you agree with us? Make sure to sound off in the comments section below or click on over to see if the title you're most excited about landed in our short runners-up list.
Even though these titles missed our top 20, there's still plenty to look forward to from:… Read more
LOS ANGELES--Look around the halls of E3 2011, and you might notice something strangely similar about many of the most-hyped games on display. There's Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, and Mass Effect 3. BioShock Infinite is the third game in that series, and Skyrim is the third modern/console version of an Elder Scrolls game (technically, it's the fifth game in the series, as there were a couple of prior PC games back in the '90s). We've also spotted Saints Row: the Third, Serious Sam 3, and Ninja Gaiden 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution (the third game in that series), and there are probably a few others I've missed.
This collection of third-timers is partially a coincidence, and partly indicative of the industry's addiction to sequels. With production and advertising budgets at or near what Hollywood movie studios have been spending for years, there's a natural, and very understandable, attraction to finding a successful formula and sticking with it.
A trilogy is also a familiar construct from the larger media world that consumers are comfortable with, and the format is useful for putting together a compelling story arc over the course of three films or novels. But while most movies quit after three outings, there's no doubt you'll be seeing a fourth chapter in many of the game franchises above within a year or two. … Read more
It takes a lot to excite three seasoned gaming writers independently at a single show, and it looks like Bioshock Infinite has pulled the trifecta. Big, bold, and highly hyped, Irrational and 2K Games' prequel to the Bioshock universe is undoubtedly one of the most exciting games at all of E3 2011. Here's why.
Scott: I'm rarely excited about E3 games. I hate genre repetition. I don't like the endless flow of shooters and racers and fighters, the summer-movie-cliche money-shot explosions, the tacky dialogue.
However, once in a long while, a game comes along that has a big imagination. So big that it seems to challenge the perceiver, and bend the mind. Consider my mind bent, because BioShock Infinite seems to get ever more bizarre, epic, and richly detailed every time I see it.
The E3 closed-door demo of the game is hard to describe. We couldn't play the game--we only watched a 20-minute controlled playthrough--but what we saw had the scope, drama, and surprise to rival most of Hollywood's output. Early 20th century floating isolationist city in an alternate steampunk universe. Psychic powers, mechanical robot birds, gangs of political deviants, roller-coaster rail systems--yes, check. There are also endless clever and creepy historical details akin to what filled the original BioShock, such as a decaying gift shop filled with presidential forefather marionettes, dangling their decaying limbs from the ceiling.… Read more
LOS ANGELES--One of the most common questions you hear from nongamers as they watch someone playing a game is some variation on, "Hey, can you go over there?" Usually, that refers to being able to open a door in a building, get in a car on the street, or walk down a winding mountain path going off into infinity. For gamers familiar with the visual language of interactive entertainment, it's a silly question, there are simply places you're meant to go, and places you're not. For a casual observer not as familiar with the limitations of virtual game worlds, it seems like a matter of common sense; if there's a shop in the middle of the street, why can't I open the door and walk in? If there's a car next to me, why can't I drive away in it?
For example, the recent game L.A. Noire addresses the issue with a bit of visual shorthand that makes perfect sense to gamers, but is honestly ridiculous if you stop to think about it: only doors with golden doorknobs can be opened. Everything else is shut tight, essentially facades painted on wooden fronts, like a video game version of a Potemkin village.
Few games dare to deal with the demands of creating a truly open sandbox-style world, which surprises me in a way, as the few times it has been done, it has been done to great success and critical acclaim. The best example is Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series, the latest of which, Skyrim, is on display at E3 this week. Like its predecessors, Oblivion (2005) and Morrowind (2002), Skyrim takes on the considerable challenge of letting players inhabit a virtual world so complete that nearly every door can be opened and every computer-controlled character spoken with--a level of interaction many times greater than sandbox-lite games such as Grand Theft Auto (or the previously mentioned L.A. Noire). Perhaps the closest cousin is online games such as Second Life, where the basic rules and building blocks are laid out, and it's up to participants to decide how to use them. … Read more
Formally unveiled at the company's E3 2011 press conference, the PlayStation Vita aims to provide the most comprehensive portable gaming experience around. We've had some time with Vita, so here's a preview of what gamers can expect before the end of 2011.
Overview Available in two models, the PS Vita will go for $250 or $300, a Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi/3G version, respectively.
Armed with a dazzling 5-inch OLED capacitive touch screen, the Vita also allows players to interact with games through a rear touch panel. Under the hood the Vita packs an ARM Cortex-A9 core (4 core) CPU and a SGX543MP4+ GPU.
Its 16:9 screen sports a 960x544-pixel resolution, which is flanked by a front-facing camera that can take 640x480-pixel photos. An identical lens is placed on the back to bring "augmented reality to a new level." Like the 3DS, iPad, and iPod Touch, the Vita will make use of motion control. This is accomplished via a three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer.… Read more
LOS ANGELES--The biggest single story from E3 2011 is easily Nintendo's Wii U, the sequel to the best-selling Wii console, with Sony's PlayStation Vita a close second. Both devices were broadly hinted at before (with the Vita previewed earlier under the codename NGP), but this week counts as the official coming out party for both hardware devices.
Both the Wii U and Vita boast impressive features. In fact, both have touch screens, dual analog sticks, and some form of TV-to-portable-screen functionality. But, both are also going against the conventional wisdom of recent tech hardware, adding layers of complexity … Read more