I’m spending the week at the video game industry’s yearly confab, E3. My days will be pretty packed with appointments and activities, so if you want live news and quick impressions throughout the show, I recommend you follow me on Twitter. Each night, I’ll try to carve out a little time to recap and react to what I saw that day. More detailed recaps devoted to individual titles will likely follow once I’m back home. If you’d like to engage in a little back-and-forth during the show or afterward, or look at the occasional photo I take on my phone, I’ve recently set up a Facebook group, which you can find by clicking here.
This post on what I saw Tuesday at E3 and what I thought of it is going to be extremely short. I spent Tuesday night writing my column for Friday’s paper. Because it’s written for a little bit more general of an audience than my blog is, I’ve elected not to do a usual direct post of my column to the blog this week. (The column also contains some of my thoughts from Monday, which you may have already read.)
So, really quickly, here’s what I saw and played on Tuesday at E3. I’ll be rolling more reactions to some of this stuff into my coverage of Wednesday, so expect an extra long post tomorrow morning, as I’ve got tons to talk about.
Nintendo’s new console: My gut reaction to the Wii U is cautious enthusiasm. Nintendo’s new controller looks like a cool idea, and it seems like they’re going to be able to take a lot of the gameplay ideas from their 3DS handheld and make them possible on TVs in living rooms all over the world. Honestly, I can’t wait to get my hands on the device and try some of this stuff. That said, most of the stuff at E3 and during yesterday’s keynotes looked like canned video and tech demos. We’ll need to see actual games running before we can know for sure how everything is going to look. Also, Nintendo said all the right things about wooing publishers to put games on its new console, but a number of titles they touted sounded like they’d be ports of games that are coming out earlier on other machines. Will “Batman: Arkham City,” for example, just be a quick port of a months-old title? Or will some effort be put into trying to take advantage of the U’s new control scheme? We’ll have to wait and see.
Few games announced: Nintendo spent surprisingly little of its news conference talking about upcoming games. Of the handful of 3DS games discussed, only one, “Luigi’s Mansion 2,” was something that hadn’t been announced previously. And virtually all of the titles looked like the same franchises Nintendo’s been going back to again and again for the past two-plus decades. If you’re a diehard Nintendo nut, this is great news, but if you’re not sure you need another “Mario Kart” in your life, you may have wanted something more.
Not sure on “Catherine”: Of all the titles I got my hands on Tuesday, the one that most surprised me was “Catherine.” This erotic adventure game/puzzler has been picking up a lot of buzz, and publisher Atlus is really pushing it at the show. After spending a little time with it, I can see myself liking its puzzles, but I’m not sure about its story until I see more. The E3 demo featured a lot of in-game movies and exposition and one big puzzle for you to solve. But when you have people lined up behind you waiting to play, it’s kind of hard not to skip at least a few of the cut scenes. That whole Japanese anime “let’s show you the girl’s underwear” thing has never really appealed to me, but it also won’t keep me from enjoying a good story. Chalk it up for now as a “maybe.” “Catherine” certainly offers something different outside of what I usually play, which is nice. But “different” isn’t always “better.”
“Rayman Origins” is a lot like “New Super Mario Bros. Wii”: I got my hands on “Rayman Origins” during an impromptu walk around Ubisoft’s booth. The four-player side-scrolling gameplay reminds me of “New Super Mario Bros. Wii,” but with better graphics and more vivid colors. One thing it borrows from “NSMBW” is the way it handles characters who fall behind and stray off screen. I’d much rather see the game’s camera zoom out a la “LittleBigPlanet” than having the game just kill off any character who can’t keep up. Like “NSMBW,” though, the penalty for dying is small, and you can be resurrected in a bubble. I also played some “Driver: San Francisco,” but I’ll post thoughts later.
My favorite EA titles: Much of Tuesday afternoon was spent at appointments in Electronic Arts’ booth. I got to play “Battlefield 3” multiplayer and saw presentations on “The Old Republic,” “Mass Effect 3” and “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.” “Reckoning” intrigued me. It looks a lot like Microsoft’s “Fable” games in the visuals department, but there’s clearly a complex, “Elder Scrolls”-style role-playing game under the hood. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to play a hands-on demo at a future event.
OK, that’s it for this morning. I’m off to meet with more publishers and check out more games. I should have more time to blog tonight, so there’ll be a mega-post incoming later.