What is up?!? - Hello from beautiful Santa Monica! The weather is awesome (low 70's) and the scenery is beautiful. But I didn't come here to be a tourist, I came here for the games. But I have to be honest, as I stroll around town, it just doesn't feel like a big event is going on here. Everything is so spread out. The Barker Hanger, where most of the booths are, is about 2-3 miles from the hotels where many gaming companies are letting journalists play hands on demos. This means a lot of back and forth for people covering the event. While shuttles are offered between hotels and the hanger, things feel a little chaotic right now. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this new format plays out. Before I get to the highlight of the night, the Xbox media briefing, lets check out a few other things.
ESA big cheeses - At the E3 reception that ran this afternoon, LucasArts President and ESA Board Member Jim Ward and ESA President Mike Gallagher greeted everyone and said they were looking forward to everyone's feedback on the new E3 format. We'll see about that after I've walked 1000 miles during this weeks very spread out event. The reception itself was fun, if not a little like going to an 8th grade dance. There were around 200 people there but there wasn't too much mingling, most people were just talking to other people from their own organizations. I did see quite a bit of journalistic variety. The Wall Street Journal, FHM, Maxim, The Chicago Sun Times and about a bazillion websites I'd never heard of before were there. The funniest part was everyone looking at each others ID badges to see who was who and from what orgazination people wrote for. Its like staring at Pamela Anderson in a tube top, everyone wanted to look but no one wanted to get busted. What did everyone expect? We're all writers! No one knows what we look like!
High Score - Meet David Dreger. I ran into David at a IGJA (International Gaming Journalists Association) get together that was running at the same time the E3 reception was. I stopped by after I got bored and met up with Dave Thomas, one of the founders of IGJA and a gaming columnist for the Denver Post. So why do I have a picture of David Dreger and why does he have his Xbox 360 with him? You might have seen David on xbox.com or heard about him from Major Nelson. He's the guy who has earned at least 1 Achievement every day since the Xbox 360 launched. Every day! Being the Achievement Point fiend that I am, he's my new hero.
Moore, Peter Moore - The event of the night was the first press conference of E3, Microsoft's media briefing held at Santa Monica High School. While a high school sounds like an odd place to host an event, the setting was great. The stadium seating allowed for unobstructed views and the screen was crystal clear and enormous. It was like being at a rock concert, complete with a band of "Halo" nuts from Illinois who played a rock-style version of the "Halo" theme song. Here are the highlights.
- Peter Moore gets things started by playing (with 3 other people) a live demo of the game "Rock Band" complete with drums, guitar, and bass. Moore isn't a very good bassist but the game looks cool.
- "Party Animals", a Mario Party-style game with the characters from "Viva Pinata" will be out sometime this year.
- The trailer for "Mass Effect" looked stunning. Its coming out in November.
- A 360 version of the party/dvd game "SceneIt" will be an Xbox exclusive. It comes with 4 new controllers that look like a Wii controller but with a similar button scheme to a 360
- New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush came onstage to challenge the Microsoft VP of Marketing in a game of "Madden 08". After taunting him mercilessly, Bush ran for a long TD. The live demo was meant to demonstrate the faster, less laggy Xbox Live service.
- Moore showed some games coming soon to Xbox Live Arcade. "Undertow", "Hexic 2", "Bomberman Live", "Sonic the Hedgehog", "Wing Commander", "Golden Axe" and classic Konami button masher "Track and Field" were a few of the games announced. Still no sign of "Cyberball".
- Microsoft has signed a deal with Disney, movies from Mickey's vast library will be available for download on XBL as of today.
- A live demo of "Call of Duty 4" looked great. If you're interested, Infinity Ward is looking for gamers to participate in the CoD4 multiplayer beta. Head to http://www.charlieoscardelta.com/ to check it out.
- Other random crap: "PGR4" was very impressive. Racing motorcycles against cars looked sweet..."Lost Odyssey", an RPG that looks like a sci-fi Lord of the Rings was very cool...Epic's CliffyB came onstage to talk about "Gears of War" coming out on the PC...I wasn't too impressed with the "Assassin's Creed" demo. It looked like it still had a few bugs and its coming out in November
- The 90 minute presentation wrapped up with a short, live-action "Halo" film, a "Halo 3" trailer and the announcement that a special edition "Halo 3" Xbox 360 console (colored a lovely Spartan green) will go on sale to coincide with the game's release in September.
Well, that's it for today and good thing too, I'm exhausted. If I live through the week I'll be amazed. There's a Nintendo press conference in the morning but since its invite only and I don't have an invite, screw'em. I have a very full day tomorrow anyway. I'll be hitting the hangar in the morning, wandering around hotels in the afternoon, and partying like its 1999 at night. Please try and feel sorry for me.