Now that E3 has come and gone I thought it might be fun to look back and what we just went through and come up with a few fun (and informative) awards. Everybody else is doing it, so why can't we? Below you will find some of my favorite moments, paired with some E3 moments I will never forget (no matter how hard I try). That's right, we're going to hand out E3 awards ... regardless of whether they like them or not!
Game of the Show: Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is everything you could possibly want from an epic adventure game, complete with a huge landscape, interesting characters, great graphics and a nice sense of humor. Unfortunately I was only given 30 minutes to play through the game, but that was more than enough time to convince me that this is one of the best games around. What's even more impressive about the game is how different my 30 minutes were from other peoples. As I walked away from the demo I was comparing notes with other people. One person talked about how they decided to go to an abandoned school and search for artifacts. Another person talked about going into the town and killing the Mayor. Yet another person decided to go hunting, trying to cover as much ground as he possibly could. What's interesting is that all three of these stories sounded like things I would want to do. These are the things I can't wait to try out when the game ships later this year. Sure, I had a great time doing what I did, but hearing all of the other possibilities only makes me want to play the game more. 30 minutes just isn't enough time to play a game like this ... but it is enough time for me to know that Fallout 3 is definitely the game of the show!
Biggest Announcement: Final Fantasy XIII for the Xbox 360
This year's E3 wasn't about huge reveals, which is why Final Fantasy XIII somehow manages to win this award. Don't get me wrong, Final Fantasy XIII coming to the Xbox 360 is a big deal ... however; it's certainly not of the same caliber of somebody announcing a new console or Nintendo announcing Kid Icarus. But since nobody did that, I guess we'll have to settle for this weird Final Fantasy XIII announcement. Yes, Final Fantasy XIII is coming to the Xbox 360 ... but only in the U.S. and Europe. What looked like a game changer may not have the full impact because Square Enix won't be releasing it in Japan. Still, this is big news for those Xbox 360 owning gamers who are sick of the half-assed RPGs found on the console.
Biggest Disappointment: Nintendo's Press Conference
At Nintendo's 2007 press conference they spent much of their time talking about their upcoming line-up, which largely focused on games that would broaden the group of people who played games. While the core audience didn't care about Wii Fit, they accepted that Nintendo was going to spend a year growing the market. This year we all expected the pendulum to swing the other way, with rumors of a new Punch Out, Kid Icarus and more. But Nintendo had something else planned. Unfortunately their plans involved talking about snowboarding, glossing over the Nintendo DS, ignoring WiiWare and really only announcing one or two games that we didn't know about ... all of which were casual games. The Nintendo press conference was so bad that they later apologized for it, but it makes you wonder if Nintendo really cares what the core audience cares about. Seeing how the Wii continues to sell remarkably well, it's their belief that the core gaming audience isn't the group that will help them win the war. Judging from this press conference, it's painfully clear that Nintendo doesn't care about you (unless you're a grandmother or a soccer mom).
Craziest Concept ... That Works: Flower (PS3)
Who would have thought that playing a flower would be so relaxing and rewarding? While the concept of Flower may not appeal to the hardcore first-person shooter fans out there, it is something brand new and innovative that, most importantly, worked. And when I say it worked I mean that it's fun, the kind of weird experience makes you sit up and take notice. Flower isn't hurt by its stunning presentation, the graphics are perhaps the best displayed at E3 this year. And it's not just me saying this; everybody that came away from Flower was wowed by the stunning art style and creative gameplay. Flower is a crazy concept, but at least it's a crazy concept that is fun to play.
Craziest Concept ... That Doesn't Work: Rock Revolution (Xbox 360/PS3)
On the flip side, Rock Revolution is a crazy concept that DOESN'T work. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think it's crazy to come out with a brand new music game featuring fake plastic instruments. But Konami has jumped in the crazy river without a life preserver on this one. For starters, the drums have seven different objects to hit. And it's not just that it has too many rubbery things to hit, it's also that the placement of these objects seems to be completely random (both on screen and off). And that's not even the craziest part. Konami, for whatever reason, will NOT be making their own guitar! That's right, they want you to go out and buy a Guitar Hero or Rock Band guitar so that you can play it. Heck, if you want to play three players then you're going to have to buy two! And don't even get me started on the fact that this game offers 50% less songs than Rock Band 2, all of which are covers. And did I mention that the Konami band failed out when showing us the game at their press conference? Yeah, Konami has to be crazy to think people are going to buy this over Rock Band or Guitar Hero!
Where the Hell Is ... Award: Whatever Bungie Is Working On
Way to get our hopes up, Bungie. In the week leading up to E3 Bungie tossed a countdown timer on their homepage and let slip that they would have a brand new game announced at E3. Microsoft's press conference came and went, and there was absolutely nothing from Bungie announced. Then I sat next to Bungie at the Sony Press Conference and they joked that maybe their new game would be announced there. It wasn't. Here we are weeks later and we still don't know what Bungie working on. So what's the deal? Various media outlets have done some digging and come back with various reports (mostly based on speculation and rumor), but we aren't any closer to knowing what the Bungie game is. So, Bungie, where the hell is your next game?
Best E3 Party: MTV's Rock Band 2 Party
Talk about an amazing party ... that I didn't have a chance to attend. While I did manage to hit a few noteworthy parties (Activision, Kotaku, etc.), there just wasn't enough room for me at the Rock Band 2 party. So what made this party so good? Well, how about the fact that The Who was there? Or maybe you're into more contemporary bands, like Coldplay? Either way, that's the kind of thing that you got to check out at the Rock Band 2 party. On the other hand, I did talk to a very drunken Shane Bettenhausen at the Activision party. That's as good as watching The Who perform, right?
Least Informative Press Conference: Capcom
When you go into a press conference you expect to hear people rattle on about how well they're doing, their top selling games and what they have to show for the next year. Usually this is a boring affair that the media dreads attending. But I had high hopes for Capcom. After all, this is the company that is bringing us tons of big classic game resurrections (Bionic Commando, Street Fighter, 1942, Mega Man, etc.) and everybody was expecting them to at least mention something about Dead Rising 2. But no, that's not what we got. Instead we got an hour of Capcom talking about the Lost Planet movie. That's right, the only thing they announced was Lost Planet: The Movie. Worse yet, the hour-long press conference didn't provide any real useful information. Surprise, Capcom thinks that Lost Planet is a perfect fit for Hollywood. Surprise, Capcom thinks this movie will be better than all the other movies. Surprise, this movie is still two years away. Surprise, I don't care. At least I got to meet Solid Snake.
The "Force Them To Play" Award: Travis Barker and Hayley Williams (Tie)
At their non-E3 E3 press conference, Activision decided to trot out a couple of "celebrities" when talking about how amazing Guitar Hero: World Tour is. Since their big focus this time around is the drum set, they brought out Travis Barker (the ex-drummer of the faux-punk band Blink 182) to tell us why the drums are so amazing. This would have been a perfect time for the obviously drunk Travis to sit down and show us why he's endorsing this brand new game. But that's not what he did. Instead he left the stage and somebody else played the drums. The same thing happened with Hayley Williams, the lead singer of faux-Christian band Paramore. Like Travis she came out and endorsed the product, telling us how excited she was to be able to sing her own song in the game. But she opted to not sing anything at the Activision event, which makes no damn sense. Activision paid these people to show up to their event, so why not make them work for their money? Activision should have forced them to play.
The "Force Them To Stop" Award: Duffy
Who? Yeah, exactly. When this Welsh singer/songwriter was first introduced I thought we were going to get one of the Duff sisters. Boy was I wrong. Instead we were treated to her wailing away at what can best be described as Amy Winehouse-lite. Her job was to demonstrate Microsoft's new SingStar clone, Lips. Unfortunately her rating was just "ok" and her demonstration didn't exactly instill much confidence in the actual game. But that's not my complaint; instead I was annoyed that I had to sit through something that would have been better suited for American Idol than E3.
Best Downloadable Console Game: Braid (Xbox 360 Live Arcade)
While Sony had an overall better showing when it came to downloadable games, there's one game that really resonated with me. And best of all, it's a game that everybody can buy right now. It's Braid, Jonathan Blow's stunning homage to Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and a ton of other 8-bit platformers. But this is more than just a boring old 2D action game, it's a brain-busting puzzle game that will actually require you to use a part of your head that you probably didn't even know you had. The gimmick is that you can rewind time, which certainly plays into a lot of the puzzles. However, that's not all you can do, in some levels you will be able to slow down time, use your shadow and much, much more. Couple this with some amazing hand drawn graphics and you have a work of art that every serious gamer should pick up.
Best Resident Evil Game that Plays EXACTLY Like Resident Evil 4 Award: Resident Evil 5
Going into E3 I couldn't be more excited about playing Resident Evil 5. I've been a big fan of the series since 1996 and can't wait to see what Capcom comes up with this time around. But when I finally had a chance to sit down and play Resident Evil 5 I was a little disappointed. Not because the game is bad or the graphics don't hold up, but rather because it felt almost exactly the same as Resident Evil 4. Not that that's a bad thing, Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games on the GameCube, if not one of the best games of the entire last generation. But it's hard not to be a little disappointed at how similar everything is, complete with yet another chainsaw wielding baddie just looking to chop your head off. Still, the game looks amazing and it's clear that Capcom is only showing us a small slice of what Resident Evil 5 will offer. Resident Evil 5 will no doubt be one of next year's best games, but don't expect it to radically change the formula.
Best 8-Bit Game of E3 2008 Award: Mega Man 9
Believe it or not, this is my eighth E3 in a row. In my eight years flying to L.A., eating at La Bella Cucina and fighting through the crowds I have learned one thing: Everybody wants to have the best looking game. Let's face it, we're a group that chases great graphics (usually to the detriment of good gameplay). But this year was different, because this year we had a company put forward a brand new 8-bit game. That's right; Capcom's Mega Man 8 is a brand new 8-bit game, complete with new bosses, graphical glitches and much, much more. I'm curious to see if this approach works or if people consider it to be nothing more than novelty. Either way, Mega Man 9 was definitely the best 8-bit game of E3 2008!
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