The sun has set on yet another E3, and good lord, did I see a lot of games today. I’m pleasantly surprised to report that it was a really, really good day – there were no clunkers among the bunch, and several top-notch experiences. This was probably my best E3 yet – I saw plenty of good stuff that I was excited about before the show, both the big show-stopping productions and the little gems that I’ll be gushing all over on the podcast for months to come.
So here’s a quick recap of my day (some of this will be cross-posted over at the mothership, but this is the expanded, unedited director’s cut), complete with cursory, bullet-point thoughts on the games of the day.
I began the day with what I was expecting to be a weak appointment, at Nival – a Russian developer of strategy and social games. They were showing off Prime World, a Facebook game that they pitched as a mix of hardcore PVP strategy and casual/social gameplay.
It sounds like a train wreck – all that jargon in one sentence, but I actually found the game to be a very pleasant mix – with a really cool environmental bonus system and a Zuma-like optional minigame that yields combat bonuses.
After this totally pleasant little surprise, it was heavy hitter after heavy hitter. I saw Nintendo and got some serious hands-on time with the Wii U. I got my paws on the space combat game and chase/hide and seek demos that were shown briefly in Nintendo’s presser – both were simple, but lots of fun, and they sold me on the promise of asymmetric multiplayer with the new controller and the regular old Wii-motes.
I also got to play the new Luigi’s Mansion, 3D Mario Kart and Super Mario 3D on the 3DS. I’ll give you the bullet points – I love the 3D effect in Luigi, and I’m absolutely thrilled they’re making a new title in this hideously underrated series. Mario Kart played perfectly – the 3D is awesome, and I loved the underwater and hang glider elements. Super Mario 3D played like a strange combo of something a bit like Galaxy and something a bit like a 3D version of Super Mario 3.
After that, I crashed the Indiecade booth and took a peek at Skulls of the Shogun, had an amazingly surreal E3 experience with two experimental games (listen to the podcast early next week for the details), and had plenty of time to really just shoot the shit with the developers. Indies are really getting to be my thing these days – as someone who’s learning the ropes of development myself, it’s awesome to have unlimited access to these guys, who are almost unanimously friendly, passionate and open about their creative processes. I talked rotoscoping, engines, marketing, color schemes, all sorts of good, nerdy stuff with these guys, and could have spent a full day of E3 in that booth, just sampling the wares and chatting.
Alas, the AAA games drew me back in – I saw Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy XIII – 2 (just pick a number system already), and Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the Square-Enix booth, then finished my day – and my E3 – on an extraordinarily high note with a demo of BioShock Infinite.
So there it is. I had an absolute blast this year, and definitely feel like I’m getting into more of a comfortable groove with the whole E3 thing (in terms of balancing the networking, the reporting, the schedule juggling and the story-hunting), and always awesome to see my fabulous colleagues.
Until next year, E3. Until next year.