Summary: Tired of the typical E3 awards that sometimes don't mean a thing? Then this article is for you as John gives his choices for the top 10 things he saw or encountered at E3 2006. This list might not be what you are expecting.
In any case, I figured that it might be a good idea to jump on the bandwagon of these "E3 awards" but do it in a different way. Instead of giving out formal awards to games and products, I'm just going to list the top 10 things I liked about E3 2006 this year. And these things may not be specific products shown on the show floor. They may be just things that I thought were cool. With that explanation out of the way, let's get on with the list (cue the drum rool, Paul) [ Is someone a Letterman fan? --Ed. ].
10. Two hours without as much of a crowd on Wednesday morning: This year E3 organizers gave a real incentive for press and retailers to get their pre-registration done for the show this year; those folks (myself included) got to see the show floor at 9 a.m., two hours before the rest of the crowd. Thank goodness. While there were still quite a few people in that time period checking out the exhibits, it wasn't nearly as much as the full crowd that came in at 11 a.m. For instance, it allowed me to check out the Nintendo Wii games before anyone else did. Kudos to E3 organizers for this move and we hope they continue and maybe even expand on this program for E3 2007 (Maybe pre-registered press and retailers can get access to the show floor one hour before everyone else for each day? Just a thought).
9.Kentia Hall wasn't a total washout this year: The below deck exhibit hall of the LA Convention Center ususally has a lot of, shall we say, below par exhibits. But with RedOctane's Guitar Hero, CDV's meeting room, and a number of other interesting games shown at the hall this year it wasn't so bad after all. Well I didn't think so. :)
8. Random celeb sightings increased: Ok, your idea of a celeb might be different than mine, but hey when you see Gilbert Goffried doing his whining bit for a camera on G4 or Survivor's "Jonny Fairplay" trying to hook up with the SiN Episodes booth models, you just have to smile.
7. Spore's game editors: No, not the game itself. We don't feel confortable in giving kudos to a game that's still over a year away (although we think it will be cool) but in our demo of the game at E3 we were amazed at how good the creature editors were in Will Wright's upcoming "SimEverything" title. It looks like people will be able to pretty much create any kind of alien they want through a pretty simple interface. Mod tools for games tend to be very hard to use for the average layman like myself but Spore looks like it will make creating bug-eyed aliens (along with buildings and spaceships) a fun game in itself.
6. Konami's press package: I managed to slip in to the Konami press conference on Tuesday and not only was it an entertaing event (nationally known stand up comic John Heffon was the host) but the folks at Konami gave us a unique press package. It wasn't filled with just the typical CD-ROM disk of their latest assets (although that was there too) but a great faux E3 Show Daily magazine that was all about Kojima Productions' current and upcoming projects. The magazine echoed the real show daily mag that's given out for free to attendees at the show right down to magazine ads. When other press packages might be thrown away soon after E3 is over, we will be keeping this Kojima mag for all time..or until we sell it on eBay :) (Konami, please note...I'm just kidding..hehehe)
5. Super easy access to Microsoft and Nintendo's pre-E3 conferences: Usually you have to take a cab or use a pre-arraged bus to go to the big three press conferences and you certainly had to do that with Sony's event (and let me tell you I never have good luck with buses; the drivers always seem to get lost). But Nintendo and Microsoft wisely made their E3 press conferences easy to get to by holding them at the Kodak Theater and Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, which are basically in the same Hollywood and Highland complex. Since there is a subway station at the complex as well, there was no need to take a cab or have a pre-arraged bus to get there. As a side note, kudos to Nintendo and Microsoft for making things easier on attendees at both events by sending out tickets in advance so they didn't have to deal with huge lines of registration beforehand. We hope this continues next year.
4. Bill Gates finally makes it to E3: Usually the head man of Microsoft is shown in some funny skit that's pre-taped at the E3 press conferences of the past, but this time the richest man in the world was there in the flesh speaking about linking the Xbox 360 to Windows and mobile phones. We hope he returns next year; we certainly prefer him to some pro athlete or Donald Trump.
3. More original IP for games: This year it wasn't the latest sequel or addition to a long running game franchise that had us excited about E3, but all the new games that were shown at the show. From BioShock to Strangehold to Spore to Mass Effect to Too Human to Gears of War to Crysis and more it looks like we are finally seeing some movement away from "so-and-so XVI" or whatever the latest addition is called to a long running game franchise. Don't get us wrong; we are also excited abut certain sequels that were shown on the show floor as well, but it seemed for the past couple of years it has been all about the sequels (Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Halo 2, any GTA game). With all these original games on the horizons, we think that the video and PC game industry has gotten a new lease on life.
2. Microsoft's push for PC games: With Windows Vista due for release in early 2007 it looks like Microsoft really wants to get the PC gaming industry excited and for the first time in their E3 press conference they devoted a lot of time to their PC game business. There's a lot going on in this industry and we hope Microsoft continues to promote our little corner of the games business more. Hey, more PC gamers means more hardware sales of graphics cards, processors, hard drives and more and that's all good with us.
And the number one thing I really liked about E3 2006:
1. Nukes, nukes and more nukes: Everywhere we went at E3 to check out games we saw variations of the big mushroom cloud going up on screen and there's nothing like seeing the act of two atoms fusing together to get us going in the morning. From World in Conflict's smaller tactical nukes that lay waste to a smaller area to Supreme Commander's demo at the NVIDIA booth of a whopping ten nukes total going off on the battlefield, no one was afraid of pushing the button. Perhaps the most impressive nuclear exchange of all was in the demo for Frontlines: Fuel of War, the upcoming Unreal Engine based title from developer Kaos Studios. In a large outdoor tank battle level the demo handlers decided to take the time to throw down the bomb. The result? A massive flash and a fire themed mushroom cloud that took out pretty much every tank on the ground. It's one thing to see a nuclear blast up from above in an RTS game. It's quite another to see it up close and personal from ground level. Where do we sign up?
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