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My late E3 2014 review & my comfortable shoes

My late E3 2014 review & my comfortable shoes

26.08.2014.

Ladies & gentleman, my esteemed fellow gamers & last but not least, the god like Citérémis supporters, I return with news from E3! It is rather late, I know, but I finally scrounged enough time to finish it. These always take longer than anticipated. I had hoped to keep this post short & sweet like I have promised in the past however, to my dismay, it was naive of me to think otherwise for there is simply too much to tell. I can only hope that I am decent enough of a writer to keep your interest throughout your read & if we are meeting for the first time, please bare with me & welcome! In order to simplify the whole, I have separated my thoughts into two sections. The first is my overall impressions of E3 followed by the performance of the three console manufacturers: Microsoft, Sony & to my surprise, Nintendo.

MY OVERALL IMPRESSION

So how was my first E3? My still aching feet, well not so much now but they were when I started writing this a couple of weeks ago, is a testament to the GOLIATH size that E3 is renowned to be. Upon entering, I was a deer starring at headlights, an ant looking at the sun; I was reminded of my insignificant size compared to that of the ever expanding universe. To say the least, I was overwhelmed by emotions of amazement, shock & joy. Fair enough, I was probably easily impressed being that it was my first time attending but I am only slightly exaggerating. Then… I took my second step. I was mesmerized by the sheer size of EVERYTHING, the bombardment of lights, sounds, props & the “HOLY SHIT LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT! GAMING ON THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!” screens. Of course my desire to steal that particular TV was inevitably replaced by the other one in the following booth. Often, I could not help but wonder in awe at the assembling process of the supersized props & booths in which hid all the lovely goodies that kept calling out to me to play with them. I still cannot grasp the cost of such an event. Surely, at that level of expenditure, great scientific advancements & cures could be discovered. There is no doubt in my mind that some of the posters were worth more then my yearly salary. I do reckon however that I prefer a salary over a poster. These were fleeing thoughts however for just as quickly I would be hypnotized & lured back into the world presented before me. On the first day, I let myself get entranced & bathed in its glory. I had followed the advice from a friend to note which games I wanted to try out with their locations for the next two days would be line-ups & a walking marathon. A word of advice, choose your games wisely, for once you have committed yourself to a line-up, it is precious time you cannot take back. From all the walking, overbearing noise, lights & excitement, I would come back to the hotel room exhausted. I am therefore obliged to give thanks & congratulate the brave souls whom worked during the event. PAX was tough on me, but I cannot imagine the fatigue they had. So, thank you. Oh, as far as food goes, get out of the convention center. The nearby restaurants will be easier on your wallets & far better tasting. All in all, mind blown, check… wet dream, oh YEAH!

Although an incredible experience, the expo did not fall short of disappointments. Once my eyes grew accustomed to the lights, inevitably became deaf & got over my height complex, I began exploring the actual content. I had always associated the E3 as the opportune moment for developers & publishers to baffle & amaze us with revelations which justified our existence as gamers. Furthermore, I presumed an attendee would be amongst the first to hear of such announcements. Unfortunately, I was both disappointed & surprised to have seen more reveals while watching the conferences, which are available to watch before the doors open, when I returned home. I understand that demos of some of these announcements were not possible to showcase, but I would have appreciated a little information on those games specifically. They could have easily added posters of upcoming titles or play teasers on smaller screens. I would have been just as happy with a pamphlet of  “What to look forward to…”. I cannot deny that it is possible that I missed it, but find it highly unlikely since, during a show of this magnitude, one would think such information would be showed off.  I just find it a shame that most news is pronounced before the event which made me wonder as to what the purpose of the event was. There is so much media coverage or “leaks” before getting there that it leaves very little to the imagination & if you abstain yourself from it, you are actually missing out during the E3. Even though I had not seen the conferences, I did keep myself up to date before my departure thinking, naive albeit, that the real fireworks would be revealed then. To my dismay, again, I was already aware of most of the content.  Do not be misconceived by my criticism, E3 is definitely a show to attend but I would have liked a bit more of “GET THE F* OUT!”

Second; E3 is only accessible for those who are in the press/media or work in the industry & there lies the conundrum. As my colleague & friend pointed out during our stay, there was little focus on the actual development aspect of the games presented. In essence, E3 is all show & no tell which is perfect for the press. Granted, already that it was difficult to breath & I cringe at the idea of more attendees at the same time & place, I still cannot fathom as to the reason why the public is excluded. I did come to the following conclusion after much thought; I accepted & agreed to the exclusivity since the E3 incites those of us in the industry to just be gamers again even if it is for a brief time. Let me explain: I am a gamer at heart, however, with all the time I have spent on the development side, I find myself more often than not, similarly to a film student watching a movie, breaking down & analyzing a game I am playing instead of just enjoying the moment. I unconsciously interrupt my immersion with the experience that the developers want to offer me. In the end, E3 gave me the possibility of just being excited & inspired by the games which reminded me as to why I got in this industry & more importantly, why I love being a gamer. If I made you angry by that last statement, don’t be. I believe that the public should be permitted to join in the fun. This event could easily function similarly to that of the Tokyo Game Show or even the Gamescon where the doors are opened to the public after a certain period. This would give us all the opportunity to wander in the greatness that the E3 has to deliver & they would definitely make a higher profit. After all that said, I would still have greatly appreciated the possibility of learning more about the building process & speaking with the developers as opposed to responses such as: “I was hired from a modeling agency…”. Unlike E3, PAX remains to be the perfect venue where those interested will most likely have the opportunity to meet & discuss one on one with developers even though it certainly does not have the grandeur that E3 has to offer.

Consoles

THE CONSOLES

So, in response to my concerns that I voiced in my post: Xbox One: The confused Adolescent. Was Microsoft able to woo me into falling in love with them & skip alongside on Venice beach holding each others hands towards the sunset? Nope, nada. In fairness though & in their defense, nor did Sony. Granted, if I had the extra cash lying around or felt it wasn’t necessary to feed my children, the pair would already be resting under my television just because they are new. Fact is, both companies do have exclusive games which I would love to play, but none, for me, justify an immediate purchase. On top of that, most games I am eager to play are available on both. In the end, I have concluded that I will wait another year to let them brew up some magic! Let’s face it, both consoles are still in a pubescent stage in which neither console will be used to their full potential. Granted, it will not be next year either however I do expect more games which will be dedicated to them. At that point, I will have a greater incentive to actually give away my hard earned moullah.(I am wondering if any of you still say that…) It’s not to say that I have not been impressed by a number of titles so far but there simply isn’t enough to justify the cost. Besides, they made it clear during the press conferences that they would continue to add content for the previous generation which signifies that my Xbox 360 still has life to it. Consequently, it is also the perfect time for those who have not had the opportunity of owning the PS3 or Xbox 360 to do so because they are getting dirt cheap. The next reason for my desire to wait & it is a sad one in my opinion since it concerns all those whom purchased on day one, the price will go down or new interesting bundles will become available. My biggest beef with Microsoft, to this day, concerning the Xbox One, as I pointed out in my pre-E3 post, was their claim of the necessity of the Kinect. At least those who will buy the One at this point are given a choice & that is key to consumers. As for my final reason, well, I have to be honest with myself… I don’t think I will actually be able to wait longer than that period & certainly will not be disappointed if I receive either as a gift…

This brings me to my next point. I feel it is necessary to mention that I intentionally did not speak of Nintendo in my pre-E3 post or the paragraph above. Fact is, I am concerned for Nintendo. In recent years, I could not brush away the impression that they simply have become stagnant. Most of the content they present feels recycled or simply add-ons. I love Mario, I do, I won’t deny it & Mario Galaxy blew my mind away. But what of Zelda, Star Fox or the others that so many of us had grown to love. Surely there is still a place for them. It is a shame really since it is Nintendo that sparked my love for digital games & I can only hope that they will ignite that spark again. I am aware that a number of you will disagree with me & for good reason. They have definitely displayed innovation with the introduction of the Wii & I do recognize its staggering influence on the others. However, I often wonder if Nintendo is still capable of creating new life. Well folks, I am ecstatic to announce that they have rekindled, if anything, my curiosity. In my opinion, they are not out of the game yet. (Yes, pun intended). I was pleasantly surprised by Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Yoshi’s Wooly World & especially Splatoon. I realize the contradiction I have made since two of the three I have mentioned are recycled characters but what is most important, they looked like fun new games. Not only is Splatoon a new IP but it has Nintendo written all over it. It is the perfect example of how I perceived Nintendo to be, which is a creator of games that offer a good time in which disturbing violence is not necessary. It is necessary as well to mention that a new Zelda is in the works, which has gotten me really excited, however very little information has been mentioned about it. Many consider that Nintendo is just for kids & not to the “hardcore”. I, on the other hand, have always associated the term “hardcore” to those who love playing games no matter the color palette or how big the main character’s feet are. Don’t take me wrong, I am always up for a game of Call of Duty & the level of graphics today astound me, but none of the “realist” games truly disconnects me from reality & brings me into imaginative worlds like “kid” games do. Such games force you to imagine what it would look like if it was real. This was the true magic of the 8bit era. It is for this reason why I will always love playing games such as Ratchet & Clank or why Hohokum is amongst my most anticipated games. I can only hope that Nintendo will continue in this path for although the Wii U is still not my first choice, the games they showed in particular are the ones I want my children to play & of course an opportunity to play with them.

As far as the conferences of the console manufacturers are concerned, I thought all of them to be successful in getting me excited. I did find it humorous that the Xbox’s presentation was one they should have done last year where they focused on games where as PS4’s take, even though their major focused remained on games, was similar to that of the Xbox’s from last year. I must admit that I did get annoyed with Sony at some point since they continued to take jabs at Microsoft. At this point, I think it is time for them to have a piece of humble pie. This message is intended to Sony: Get over it, do your own thing, focus on keeping us excited & stay respectful. Rare is the pompous kid on the block liked. That sounds like I took that from a fortune cookie. I even enjoyed Nintendo’s video version only which exuded a sense of professionalism. Of course they had the chance to do as many re-takes they wanted but it was well prepared & effectively orchestrated.

Concerning the booths, I have to give Sony the win. Maybe they fooled me, but they seemed to have had a larger space & exposed many more titles then Microsoft & Nintendo. As a matter of fact, it is a good thing that Xbox had given Forza and Sunset Overdrive the space they occupied since without them it would have looked barren. As for the games they showcased & as I mentioned earlier, both consoles offer the games that I am most interested in. Consequently, on that level, I remain neutral. Unfortunately, the only exclusives which peaked my interest for the Xbox was Ori & Below. I must admit that Below does not need to be named since it will be available on PC as well. Sony on the other hand have captured my interest with the next Little Big Planet. Media Molecule has given me so many fun moments & I am certain they will not disappoint in the follow-up. Others include Hohokum, Rime & like many other gamers out there; No Man’s Sky. Need I say more? Although Hello Games is still young as a developer, I have a gut feeling that they will deliver. In the end however, our choice of games is relative to each & one of us. It just so happens that, for the time being, Sony has more games that will remain a definite buy if I get the PS4. In other words, I am still giving Microsoft a chance to come through.

As a special mention, I was ecstatic to see a dedicated space for Indies. I got to finally get my hands on Below from Capy since I did not have the opportunity while we were at PAX presenting the greatness that RATS is. I also had the opportunity to talk to Nathan Vella from Capy & congratulate the team.

I am sure that a number of things elude me, since most of my memories are blurry, however I know I have mentioned what is most important since I figure that I have not forgotten them at this point.  In any case, like I mentioned in the beginning, this is certainly a long post but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. Of course, I welcome all comments, objections, corrections & your thoughts. If the opportunity ever arises, my friends, go to E3, it’s a trip you don’t want to miss especially since there is talk of it moving elsewhere after next year. Furthermore, if I may, I advise to all future E3 attendees, as my title suggest, make sure to have comfortable shoes on. In the end, my first E3 experience was great, but it wasn’t without disappointment.

Cheers & see you next post.

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