Cakes, Trucks and 3D – Day 3 pt2
MS have laid on shuttle buses to ferry delegates from the Galen Center to the Orpheum Theatre for the EA conference – perhaps one of the kindest things they did for gamers today. Just as well, since the two were a wicked distance apart and the sun is, by this point, blazing. Queues are once again wrapped around the block someway, but they move quickly and eventually we’re in. No arse killing seats here. No, this is a proper theatre, thankfully, move aside prolls. Not only comfy, but impressive. The proscenium arch is stunning, incredibly ornate and detailed, with the lighting giving it an almost burnt umbra glow. A surprisingly small screen bearing the EA logo hangs in the middle of the stage and the audience is buzzing. Flashes punctuate the low lighting and phones can be seen everywhere, like tiny windows into a thousand gaming worlds – I find it fascinating.
I’m actually looking forward to this one. After having my hopes dashed over Alan Wake, I don’t plan on sweeping them up and rebuilding them for Mirror’s Edge 2. So, I do the ‘sensible thing’ and expect a range of sports titles, more Kinect, Mass Effect 3, Star Wars, and maybe something Sims related. We’ll see, but overall, I’m not that excited. I’m still too deflated from the last experience at this point, so I’ll remain ‘cautiously optimistic’ to use a politician’s turn of phrase.
EA have broken the mould somewhat in recent years, with some great new IP, so if any show will impress, it will be this one. MS was always going to be Kinect based, I’ve never played a Sony game, and we didn’t get into Ubi – gutted – *note from future self: you won’t be when you see it streamed, or Nintendo *insert sarcastic note here*. So, EA is to be the baby bear’s porridge. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t taste of faeces and fur.
12:15 - Reminders are piped into the auditorium. Locate exits… in the unlikely event of an emergency… you’ll be trampled to death in the scrum for the exit, but all trampling can be played through our new Origin service.
12:17 – Joy. A huge headed guy parks his arse in front of us. His melon neatly obscures the entire screen – only the entire screen. I want to stab my biro into the back of his neck.
12:20 - Hungry. Hands are trembling with a lack of sugar or cake. Not good. If there is a next time for all this fucking madness, then I’ll be better prepared with edible supplies. A stick of gum is no match for a giant KitKat at your side, kid. Lee keeps putting a camera in my face, I don’t want my double chin to be famous.
12:22 – Just seen a woman with the biggest hair of the day. Fuck help her if there are any pyrotechnics.
12:23 – Busy fantasising about a KitKat mating with a Lion Bar. Kit Bar. Sounds good. It will have a picture of a soldier on the army green wrapper, pulling the head off a member of N Dubz while sitting on a Bergen the size of Wales.
12:24 - How about a Curly Wurly/KitKat? Curly Kat. Or Whirly Kit? How much does a trademark cost? I’ve got a pound and some earwax. I spent the rest of my money hiring a Terminator.
12:25 – Man in one of the boxes is controlling a huge camera arm. It sweeps and bobs over the audience and looks like he is fishing for gamers. I wonder if he can look down anyone’s top with that. I would.
The show starts and the curtains sweep open to reveal a huge screen as the theatre vibrates with the sound of a thumping Mass Effect trailer. The whole Mass Effect segment is absorbing, leading to an internal sigh as I have to bump the first two further up my shameful ‘to play’ pile.
A few digs at MS and more new games are paraded. Need For Speed: The Run. Like Gumball Rally with added violence, or Cannonball Run without Burt Reynolds. I get distracted imagining a Burt Reynolds avatar and nearly miss some blah about Autolog and stat comparisons, which are all actually very interesting, but the QTE stuff, sans car, was unimpressive and ultimately pointless. Just show us a cut scene or don’t, but if you make a half hearted stab, don’t expect my X button to be participating please. I’d rather have a Burnout Paradise 2, but this looks interesting enough. Well, two for two actual games that look interesting so far. Ah, here comes the Star Wars music. Old Republic looks as good as ever. At least, the cinematic trailer does. An actual fucking release date before Ben cries would be nice, you callous bastards.
Puffs of dry ice and a soundtrack which vibrates the floor herald the arrival of SSX. Blistering pace, snow, more snow, sexy ladies with cool hair – sold. So far so good, but it all had to hit a wall sometime and that wall is Fifa. Well, at least I can scribble notes about Star Wars now, which include the words ‘fucking’, ‘awesome’, and ‘Kurly Kat marketing plan’. On the subject of football, I wonder if there will be a ‘Sectarian Violence’ DLC pack? I’m sure our non-favourite Sectarian, game pirating HDN delivery driver would be all over that… at least a pirated version of it.
Next up is more football of the squashed kind, with costumes and more padding than the entire wardrobe of a typical Dallas episode. Madden. I wish I had a Sudoku or something.
Sims! Yes, okay… some decent expansions please. Sims Uni, Sims Uni, Sims… Social? What? Heart sinks. I take in the graphics and the ‘dating’ crap and it sinks even further. Still, I can honestly see it being a huge hit, though the whole ‘play with life thing’ could get a little dicey… how it will exactly work with your friends list, I have no idea but it sounds a touch dodgy if your resident stalker (whom you are too scared to remove) decides to ‘move in next door to you’. I decide I don’t care and feel instantly better.
Urgh. A twat is talking just down the row.
Still talking. Shut the fuck up! This is a theatre, you common cocksock, (donchaknow). And on and ON… seriously, someone take a melon-baller to their faces now. Kingdom of Amalur looks great and the loud trailer takes my mind off the twunts sitting further along. I’d play that.
If this talky noise continues, I’ll be rerouting my Terminator to deal with the pricksocks beside us. Overstrike? Never heard of it, but looks great. Four person team, only option left to take on a shadowy organisation… reminds me of the A Team crossed with Mission Impossible, and boiled down to a pleasant jelly with Bulletstorm. The trailer and the violence look sexy, but far sexier is the thief with the invisibility skills. However, the red head looks even better, rather like Borderlands’ Lilith in a great coat. A really great coat.
Hang on, is that a Terminator in the trailer? Over here mate, they’re sitting just down there, begging to have their jaws pulled off. DICE emerge. No Mirror’s Edge 2. Argh, E3 hates me. Shooty war things and the shiny tech and gameplay of Battlefield cause loud vibrations which drown out any surrounding irritation, but the downside is that I may now be deaf. Everyone else seems to like it, despite it going on forever. And ever. Well, at least EA had a better hit rate for games than MS, so with that, it was of to the house for pizza, writing, and Ubisoft.
Lee’s laptop is set up on the coffee table and we gather supplies of cookies, pizza, and Pringles. I’m late back to the house with the snack food, so thankfully I missed most of the Rayman presentation, but that didn’t stop it going on for ages anyway. Driving game, other things… wait, something looks good. Far Cry 3. That looks beautiful. Would I buy it, probably not. I don’t want to edge into shooters any more than I already have, but there is no denying that it looks stunning; the island setting is highly appealing.
Later in the day, we head out for Sony over at the LA Memorial Sports Arena to find a surprising party atmosphere. Tents and tables are scattered among catering trucks and drinks stands and the crowds a far greater here than at the other conferences. We head straight inside and grab our seats. First impressions: very blue. Oh, get me, I’m getting pretty good at writing in the dark now *note from future self: no, you really aren’t.*
The auditorium keeps on filling and is eventually packed out. Hopefully this won’t go on too long as it will be sweltering in here before long. Someone is also bound to smell.
5:05pm – No start yet. Are half the people in this room even gamers? I study the 3D glasses that we have been given; they sit wonky. Glasses always do on me. I don’t have the energy to hate them; it’s been a long day. I should have brought some spare hate from Richie with me.
5:07pm Not sure what I’m expecting really. I honestly think my ‘dark writing’ is now at awesome levels, the end of the pen looks very neat and smooth as it bobs along. *note from future self: the ironic mess that this line was written in says it all.*
Later… I have a feeling that the blonde in front is going to be a talker. She is even talking through the noise now flooding the arena and which is now vibrating my chest, the floor, and my rib cage. The perky, hair flaking out of a lazy up do, shades on head, and white plastic earrings combination have given her away long before her chatter did. I feel like a gender traitor for thinking that some arse has brought his pain in the arse non/not-really gamer girlfriend with him for a ‘cool’ night out who doesn’t know how to behave. Also, to the idiot whooping at everything behind us: you sound like a twat.
The 6,000 people in attendance listen to Jack Tretton jump straight into the PSN issue and tackle it head on. Fair enough. Sony then lead straight in with Uncharted 3 – another series that I’ve meant to get around to but still haven’t managed yet. The water effects looks impressive, but I’m not quite sold on the 3D.
Bint in front is whooping along with a few other idiots now and not only that, but two rows back, people are talking. Forget the 3D glasses, Sony should have supplied stabby things and Semtex. If I had an auditorium, eject buttons would be fitted in seats and spikes fitted in the ceiling. Any sustained conversation would be met with punishment. I would also have a kiosk selling Kurly Kats.
Resistance and the God of War remastered collection get good reactions, but not as much as the remastered versions of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus which will be available in September. What really gets our attention though, especially Mark’s, for perhaps the first time that day, is the 3D monitor. Sony are aiming to make 3D more affordable and have come up with a PS branded 24” display to show off games, TV, and films in Hi-Def 3D. What really grabbed me however, was the fact that two people can play one game on the same monitor, but see different views. So, like co-op split screen but without the hassle, all on the same TV. I was pretty astounded to be honest, and the price was surprising. The fact that Mark applauded loudly at this, suggests that he is already planning something bad.
I get distracted by wondering what it would be like to pull Bint’s ugly white earings out through her lobes. Also, my jeans are now adhering themselves to my legs in the heat like a stalker to the corpse of a prom queen.
Sony take the audience through numerous titles, from motion control Medieval Moves, to Infamous 2, Little Big Planet, and Starhawk. Dust 514 was an interesting addition to their line-up, and the exclusive persistent shooter will link with the NGP, Move, and Home for some nifty cross platform action. I was actually fairly impressed at this, and while planetary conquest has never been too high on my list of priorities, it was absorbing enough to put on the watch list.
I’m starting to fidget now, it is hot, and uncomfortable and the seats were apparently made for Oompa Loompas who’ve been sent via Wonka’s TV. Bioshock Infinite’s sexy appearance gets my attention and stops my inner griping for a short while. Spring 2012. Yes. This is what I’m looking for. Colourful, dynamic, absorbing concept, and Steampunked up to the patriotic eyeballs. Ken Levine briefly teases an NGP project still in the early stages of production, set in the Bioshock universe and then fucks off, leaving people wanting more. This has me intrigued. Bint has vanished, good good.
List of exclusive deals follows, and it is on to the NGP, or PS Vita as we now know it. It looks sexy, I have to be honest, and while the announcement of the contracts being AT&T exclusive got a very interesting mixed reception from the US crowd, we Brits were left wondering who would be scrambling for the exclusive deal in the UK. The demo of Uncharted: Golden Abyss was decent, and despite my meh-ness over touch screen tech, it looked integrated enough not to be a pain in the arse. However, it wasn’t so much the tech that slapped me into paying attention, but rather, the sexy graphics. I really must start playing the Uncharted games. They just got a free pass all the way to the top of my to-play pile along with The Witcher (that has naked ladies in it, a free pass is a given).
People talk. Things are shown. It is now very hot and my knees are starting to ache. I swear my seat has shrunk. How long have we been in here now? Should we buy shares, because I feel like I deserve them. Various Vita games are shown off and the Vita version of Street Fighter X Tekken gets a very positive reception from the crowd. Fuck, Ryu is ugly. He looks like someone is constantly shooting nails into his scrotum.
The Brits are unimpressed by the pricing of the Vita, thanks to the numbers exactly matching the 249/299 of the US, rather than reflecting the current exchange rate. Still, it is largely irrelevant seeing as Game will charge a bloody fortune for one of their putrid bundle deals anyway, and then buy up all the other stock from the supermarkets to screw over the consumer. We’d be better off stealing one from the after-show demo area.
It’s over, finally, and we fling our beards over our shoulders and peel ourselves out of our seats. Heading down into the cool air of the arena underbelly was more of a relief than any time the nutter on the bus picks on a frail pensioner rather than you, and we head backstage to the party and demo area, lead by the thumping noise of an on-stage DJ.
Food. Everywhere. More food. Why the fuck did we buy pizza? Seriously. I wanted to fill my belly with Sony’s spread of goodies, but I was full. Curses. Pasta, rolls, hotdogs, salads, weird looking stuff in tubs, free drinks, free alcohol… and I can’t possibly manage any of it, no, really, I… ohh, cakes. I take three and eat half of two of them. The rest go in my bag wrapped in tissue and I then immediately dread what I’ll find when I open it. So I don’t. Head in the sand is the best way. Lee laughs. Git.
Backstage is buzzing, with live dancers, music, and gamers filling every available space like a noxious gas. Or George Galloway as he is more commonly known. Mark heads off to try and find a Vita while I spend my time admiring the arse of one of the dancers up on one of the Sony podium pods. Ben and Lee get a brief hands on with a few things and after hanging around for a while soaking in the atmosphere and chatting about the day, we decide to head for home and slump in front of the laptops, but not before Ben and I lift a number of cakes.
Plans for home are disrupted by Lee discovering an abandoned Twisted Metal themed ice cream truck in the car park. He runs for it and jumps inside. Cue photo ops. He can’t believe his luck that no one has come to shout at him yet for playing in it, and like parents waiting for their kid to exhaust himself on the swings, we stand around and giggle, but this merriment is short lived when he breaks the horn. We leave swiftly.
Over all, a mixed, but largely good day. First time at the conferences and though it was a nightmare at times, through heat or other vaguely human creatures who should be crushed by of meteor full of space pus, it was enjoyable. Exhausting, but enjoyable. No Alan Wake 2, no Mirror’s Edge 2, but we do have a plate of rather nice cupcakes in the fridge, so it isn’t all bad I suppose.
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