By now you may have heard about a little event called the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or by its street name “E3.” In the days leading up to this catastrophic conflux of lights, sounds and adult beverages, we here at G4tv.com are taking turns with an annual tradition as reliable as salmon spawning and Cubs playoff collapses: wild speculation! We’ll be keeping track of what we get right for bragging purposes, and when we’re wrong we’ll be pointing over there because HEY WHAT’S THAT?!?! We’re calling this feature (E)3 Thoughts, because without limits, we could hypothesize all day long.
E3 and Me, or: "Eighteen and Life to Go"
A long, long time ago, in an Internet technology far, far away, I decided that I would like to go to E3. The year was 1997, and I was just about to graduate from high school. These were the days were any old teen off the street could write a “review” or two for a website, print up some quick business cards, and waltz into the true Happiest Place on Earth hassle-free. So my family decided to make a trip out of it, and we all piled into the station wagon and made the drive from Milwaukee to Atlanta. There I met all my IRC buddies for the first time (who would eventually lead me to real industry jobs, putting me on the path to 1UP and now G4), and lined up with the rest of the herd at 10 AM on the first day. No other E3 moment would or could ever top that.
Since then, I’ve only missed one year (2002). The show has contracted and expanded again, and I suspect my list of pet peeves will remain the same: long lines, overpriced food, tired feet, crowded halls, busted eardrums. And while I definitely appreciated last year’s incarnation for its quiet efficiency, I can’t deny that of any industry, this is one that deserves the most spectacle. So if you should hear me complain about it, just know that I really do like to be there.
And when it’s all over and I’m resting near the pool with a case of cold beer, it’ll hit me just like it does every year: we’re going to be playing some pretty awesome games between now and Christmas. That’s why I’ll always love E3, even if it’s not always unconditional.
Three Most Anticipated Games
1. Half-Life 2: Episode 3 – When we last left our hero, [SPOILERS WITHHELD]. Valve has yet to do me wrong, and after the climactic battle at the end of Episode 2, my excitement for this game is at a fever pitch. With Team Fortress 2 happily fragging along and Left 4 Dead devouring the general public, the path is now clear for Gordon Freeman’s return.
2. Assassin’s Creed 2 – Opinions of the first game were highly divisive, and I fell in the “disappointed” camp. The story grabbed me and the free-running was great, but there were too few things to do – a sandbox without toys. But Ubisoft claims to have heard that feedback, and the premiere trailer got me all excited again.
3. Rock Band: Pearl Jam – EA will probably focus heavily on the Beatles bonanza, and rightfully so. But throw me a Mother Love Bone and have one playable kiosk somewhere in the back so I can get my PJ fix. Or, even better, have them play your big E3 party like you did last year with the Who.
Three Hopeful Announcements
1. New Super Mario Bros. 2 – While the next full-fledged console adventure is still a ways off (explained below), now’s a great time for another 2D side-scroller for the DS. Just replace the Blue Shell with the Tanooki Suit and we’re in business.
2. Crackdown 2 – EDITOR NEEDS ORBS BADLY. The timing is also pretty good, considering the great buzz InFamous is getting. But with APB (Realtime Worlds’ other game) so close, this might just be a flash-the-logo-with-a-“2”-next-to-it maneuver.
3. 2K Boston (nee Irrational)’s next project – I kind of always want to know what Ken Levine is up to, post-Bioshock. Some say that’s obsessive, I just call it half-hearted journalism. But now I got you curious, too. Journalism accomplished.
Three Predictions for the Big Three
1. The big push this year will be Wii Motion Plus, with Wii Sports Resort leading the charge. We’ll hear the line “our partners already have [x number] of games supporting the peripheral currently in development,” supported by a brief video clip of footage from said games – including more GameCube remakes with the new controls.
2. DSiWare needs a strong enough reason to convince fence-sitters, myself included, to upgrade to the new hardware. Best way of greasing that wheel? Games featuring Nintendo mascots and/or Pokemon.
3. Miyamoto will appear onstage for a “One Last Thing…” moment, but it won’t be to show a new Mario or Zelda. The Mario games historically take longer to produce, and Super Mario Galaxy is still somewhat recent – I’d expect something maybe next year. As for Zelda, Nintendo just announced Spirit Tracks for the DS, so it’s unlikely that they’ll show a new Wii game that would overshadow it (unless there’s, dare I say it, some sort of connectivity involved?) That leaves something brand new that’s based on Motion Plus, and the audience reaction will be mixed.
1. There will obviously be some new games announced and shown for PS3 (Gran Turismo 5 chief among them), but PSP will be the focus of their press conference: All the rumors, speculation, and reporting about what’s going on with the handheld will be sorted out, and the three-way War of the Handhelds with Nintendo and Apple will commence in earnest.
2. Pending any surprise announcements, Heavy Rain and “Trico” will be competing for numerous “Game of Show” awards. The vote will be split, allowing Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 to sneak in and secure the dark horse victory. If "Trico" no-shows, though, you can put Uncharted 2 in that spot.
3. PS3 will not drop in price, much to the dismay of the Internet rabble-rousers. This, in fact, will kick off the annual Week of Dismay, as the rabble-rousers are never pleased with anything.
1. They’re piloting the S.S. Sequel and navigating by the stars: Mass Effect 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, Bioshock 2, Modern Warfare 2, Mafia II, Lost Planet 2, Crackdown 2 (hopefully!), Halo: ODST, Forza 3 (likely), Tekken 6, Guitar Hero 5…granted, many of these are multiplatform, but MS has held that advantage so far this console cycle, and there’s no reason why they’d suddenly lose it now. Regardless, that’s an awesome list of games we’re already friendly with.
2. We’ll see something about the rumored motion control for the 360. What that “something” is, I’m not entirely sure yet. It’s very possible Rare will be involved, but don’t hold your breath for Killer Instinct: performing a motion-based 34-hit ULLLLLLTRAAAAAAA CO-CO-CO-COMBO would be exhausting.
3. MS will not yet be ready to enter the War of the Handhelds, instead opting to let Nintendo, Sony and Apple tire each other out for a few more years before jumping in with the Game Zune, or whatever they decide to call it. (Of all my predictions, I’m the least confident in this one. Just FYI.)
Three Things for Third Parties
1. I’m looking forward to seeing EA Sports’ 2010 pillars: Madden, NHL, FIFA, and NBA Live. Sports games are slowly morphing into persistent services, and the next steps with online group play, custom characters, and stat tracking will make me a happy right fullback.
2. PREDICTION: The Duke Nukem Forever Fiasco will take yet another interesting turn when the game is unofficially demoed at a secure, undisclosed, off-site location. Reports will state that witnesses were “blown away” by the game; everyone else will remain skeptical and amused. Except the lawyers.
3. Tony Hawk’s return will be greeted with cautious optimism, and the demo stations for Tony Hawk: Ride will feature numerous broken skateboard controllers.
BONUS: The White Whale Wager
Odds that the following perennial vaporware games are either officially announced, have new video, are playable on show floor, or confirmed to be present behind closed doors:
Chrono Break – 100,000:1
Metroid Dread – 500:1
Duke Nukem Forever – 25:1
Alan Wake – 3:1