With no presence from Microsoft of Sony, Nintendo was free to take over the show in full force. They held the pristine spot right in front of the entrance with Super Mario Galaxy setup and a few rows of Wii’s setup behind them. Greeting gamers was a legion of young women in blue Wii-shirts and black mini-skirts with hand ours and tips on how to play the games.
The DS showing was miniscule, but they did have a big stage setup where gamers could play Super Smash Brothers Brawl on a big TV in front of a crowd sitting on bleachers. They had a few lovely ladies MC’ing the event that seemed very excited to be there, but we knew that every moment was a pained struggle to keep the nerds at bay.
Behind the bleachers were 10 or so Wii’s running Brawl that held small lines throughout the day. Waits weren’t bad and it would only take about 8-10 minutes to get to the front of a line. The 2 minutes of playtime was short, sweet, and short.
The next biggest draw of the show was Metal Gear Solid 4 playable in the United States for the first time! The unfortunate part was the 1+ hour waits for 15 minutes of gameplay. There were only 12 demo stations for the game and it took about 20 minutes for the line to move at all. Ryan Payton gave a short introduction to the controls of the game and Konami’s attitude seemed to be that no one had ever played MGS, ever.
Past that, there wasn’t much to see. There was a Guitar Hero III tournament, a Rock Band setup that was mostly unvisited, a large EA area with already released games and rough builds of Warhammer Online and NFL Tour (their answer to NFL Blitz).
HP Blackbird had a great display, which was a strong showing for PC Gaming. LAN games of Unreal Tournament III (the publicly available demo) and Gears of War PC with no real wait drew most of our attention. We still love Gears of War, but it felt like we were cheating on Halo 3.
The real issue with the show was that they didn’t even come close to filling the hall and for a show that was created so that the public could play games… there weren’t many games to play and a ton of space left. It was really easy to feel the absence of MS and Sony.
A few of the games we played came with surveys, which made us realize that some of the publishers are treating this event as free market research. Konami was particularly interested in what American gamers thought of the controls in MGS4 and a few of the UI elements. Firaxis wanted to know what gamers thought of a very rough build of Civilization Revolution.
As much as we didn’t particularly enjoy the show, the gaming public seemed to be having a really good time. If this show does continue hopefully they will draw a bigger crowd and have more games to play so that the public can enjoy what the press only previously got to do.
Did you get to attend? What did you think?