Well, that didn’t work out quite as planned, did it? I’d hoped to liveblog all three major E3 media briefings but owing to the poor Wi-Fi setup at both Nintendo and Sony venues, I wasn’t able to effectively keep up with #oneaday whilst in LA. Even given those issues I’d hoped to contribute a daily piece from my hotel room, but alas a combination of ruinous jet lag and an incredibly hectic schedule put a stop to that.
LA, then. It was great fun, but it felt like the right time to go home, even if I did miss what was probably a real party atmosphere surrounding the final Lakers/Celtics game on Thursday evening. But there was much to enjoy – my guilty pleasure trip to the cinema to see The A-Team with buttered popcorn and a cup (well, more like bucket) of root beer was followed by an even more enjoyable filmic experience watching the premiere of Toy Story 3 in 3D. And yes, I blubbed like a small child at the end. The food, while often a little too plentiful, was – with one exception – uniformly excellent, and the nights out were hugely entertaining.
And the games? In truth, there was little that genuinely blew my socks off. The 3DS was a real highlight, a hugely impressive piece of tech with a potentially immense launch line-up, albeit supported here only by tech demos and very brief playable portions. Elsewhere it was sequel city, though Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood brought something new to a familiar franchise with its excellent multiplayer mode. A lot of the biggest titles were unfortunately presented as hands-off demonstrations – though Valve’s superbly efficient look at Portal 2 was a textbook example of how to present a new game. Some of the most impressive stuff was found on the download services – the chilly but brilliant Limbo might feel unseasonal in XBLA’s Summer of Arcade, but was one of the most striking titles of the entire show, while the videogame version of Scott Pilgrim was a delicious slice of retro fun. NBA Jam evoked fond memories of the original while playing a mean game of multiplayer b-ball, while the gorgeous Kirby’s Epic Yarn was arguably the pick of Nintendo’s Wii stand.
Of the motion control offerings, I was most impressed by Kinect. Though Sony’s Move was more precise, it definitely felt a bit “me too” (Mii too?) while Kinect was something genuinely different, even if much of its software line-up too closely echoed existing Wii titles. Ubisoft’s majestic Child of Eden – spiritual sequel to the fabulous Rez – made excellent use of the tech, though time with the game was limited to behind-closed-doors screenings with Tetsuya Mizuguchi.
The best moments of the week, however, were the times spent with other journos. The group I arrived with were a cracking bunch, and we had a great time just shooting the breeze, eating and drinking together and sharing the atmosphere of the biggest E3 for years. It perhaps says something that there’s a planned ‘reunion’ night out already in the offing, and that’s something I’m very much looking forward to.
That said, while I had a great time I’m also thoroughly glad to be back, having missed both Mel and James terribly. Both greeted me as I stepped off the train, a kindly inspector letting them both through to see me even though they didn’t have a ticket – a wonderful surprise which rounded off a very enjoyable trip in the most perfect way possible.