Well, E3 2011 is now consigned to the annals of games industry history. Everyone in the gaming media has rounded up the expo with their best of list and here I am bucking absolutely no trends whatsoever.
Best press pass: Microsoft
Why: You got to make your own press pass with a series of stickers! Feast your eyes on E3 creativity!
Best attitude in the face of adversity: Simon Miller from Imagine
Why: Not only did Simon suffer through massive queues, battle shonky Wi-Fi and generally work his backside off, he also got concussed when some lousy cab driver floored it before Simon had managed to get out of his cab. His head slammed against the door and he went through the remainder of E3 with a cut on his forehead and a splitting headache. In spite of that, he never once was anything other than his cheery, lovely self. Kudos! And speaking of Kudos…
Best wearer of sunglasses at night: Kudo Tsunoda
Why: Because he wins every year. He’s that good at it!
Best attempt to make their corporate rooms look otherwordly: Blizzard/Activision
Why: Have a look…
Seriously, the only thing missing from this scene was Woody Allen wandering in and pretending to be God.
Best quote: “If Modern Warfare 3 is set in the middle of World War 3, then why are there so many people waiting for the Tube on the London Underground?”
Source: Tom Hoggins – that’s @Thongings on Twitter.
Best Oasis vs Blur contest: EA and Activision
Why: While everyone else at the expo just got on with the business of showing off their games, there was a definite sense of antagonism in the air when the subjects of Battlefield 3 and COD: MW3 came up. Admittedly a lot of it was hack fueled; the best rumour of the entire E3 concerned EA allegedly denying Activision CEO Bobby Kotick a hands-on with Battlefield 3. Still, you have to be a little concerned by the idea that sometimes it feels like fans and journos alike are standing around EA and Activision yelling “Fight! Fight! Fight!” This is the games industry, not pro-wrestling!
Best “Where the hell did that come from?” moment: Prey 2
Why: I didn’t play the first Prey so I had no idea what to expect from this demo. Early signs weren’t positive, I’ll have to admit – the ‘Lost’-stylee plane crash at the beginning and the uninteresting gun battle left me cold at the top-end of the demo. Still, when the action switched to the main body of the game I actually started drooling.
Here’s a game set in a cyberpunk city, in which you play a parkour-skilled bounty hunter with a bag full of gizmos including a HUD which points out hostiles and potential threats, jet-boots to soften the landing from high buildings, electro bolos to catch crooks, shoulder-mounted mini-rockets, an electric teleporter to bounce captives back to contractors… you getting all this? On top of that, it feels gritty and is shot through with a ton of nice touches – such as the fact that you can holster your weapon and pulling it out actually causes a reaction in the characters around you. Or the option to screw over your contractor should the bounty you pick up offer you more money to let them go. The best thing I can say about it was that it was like watching a video game version of the tabletop game Cyberpunk 2020 by Talsorian Games. I played the hell of that in my youth, so Prey 2 is going on my pre-order list. And I never saw it coming.
Best “Holy cow, what’s it going to be like to play that sucker?” moment: BioShock Infinite
Why: Rails, inter-dimensional tears, skyhooks, vigors, guns, RPGs, flanking enemies, burning zeppelins, Revenge Of The Jedi, Songbird, Columbia, Ken Levine… BioShock Infinite looks utterly insane. If it plays as well as it looks, we’ll be standing in the presence of greatness.
Best Comeback: Hitman Absolution
Why: Yeah, yeah, I know everyone and their dog is up in arms about the new, gritty reboot of Lara Croft and I have to admit the demo for the game looked pretty sweet – high-pitched lady squeaking noises notwithstanding. I was also quite hyped to see SSX back in the running. Not sure about the whole ‘re-shaping’ the mountain mechanic, but I will be buying it nonetheless.
But for me, one of the best moments at E3 came when I walked past the Square Enix stand and saw this fill the massive screen out in front of it. It stopped myself and everyone in my vicinity dead in their tracks:
After two lousy Kane & Lynch games, it’s great to see Io going back to what made us love them in the first place.
Best booth bloke: This guy. Whatever he’s selling.
Why: Because he and his compatriots at least tried to look chipper all the way through E3. That’s an entire day on your feet wearing that get-up. Could you do it?
Best booth lady: Harley Quinn
Why: Because she stayed in character the entire time, alternately freaking out and telling off all the journalists who weren’t queuing properly. Top marks!
Best song: “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People
Why: It felt like it was everywhere. Microsoft closed their briefing with it. Nintendo had it playing before their’s started. It was on the shop floor. It was even playing in the hotel lobby of the Marriott the day we all checked out. Not that it needed to be playing that many times – seriously, once you hear it, you’ll never forget it.
Best game: Elder Scrolls V Skyrim
Why: Why? WHY??!! HERE’S WHY!!!!