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: "Half a Decade of Red Bull Evenings"
I still remember hopping on that flight from Atlanta to LA for the first time five years ago. As I boarded the plane, I glanced at someone's USA Today and saw a mock-up of the Nintendo DS. It got me pumped for my first E3. Also, it was the only thing that managed to distract me from Abu Ghraib for five minutes. Since then, I've covered the show for both indie websites and big publications. My stint with the smaller sites provided me with less access, but I definitely experienced the show without all of the bitching and moaning that you'd hear from the staffers of a major online pub. But immediately following my second E3, I scored a gig and moved to California. Since then, my E3 sleeping habits and smile have shown diminishing returns with each year.
It's not that E3 isn't fun. It's that I'm pretty hard on myself during the show. In the past, I've always prided myself on delivering the best first-looks at upcoming games, because it's the first chance for legions of gamers to start learning about the fall lineup. But it's never easy to try to write about games when you're completely cracked-out on four hours of sleep, and that's probably the thing I like least about the show: it's hard to fully appreciate what you're seeing through that bleary-eyed stupor on the last day of the show. That's something that never happened to me during the first two expos.
But then I think of great moments, and they justify the grind factor. I'll never forget playing LittleBigPlanet for the first time at E3 2007, or carving my first Locust in May 2006 during a Gears of War LAN match that we had to sneak into. Also, it's small work stuff, like making bets on what songs they'll play before/after the press conferences (here's a hint: every publisher likes Daft Punk, Chemical Bros, Goldfrapp, and Justice) or sitting in a press room at 2AM trying to find the worst of the worst YouTube videos to see who cracks first. To me, E3's all about connections, whether it's business, it's my comrades and colleagues, or it's readers.
Also, the epic steak on the last day makes it all worth it.
Three Most Anticipated Games
1. Heavy Rain -- When I saw this last year at E3, I got rug burn on my chin from my jaw hitting the floor. I've been following this one for three years, and I hope that Quantic Dream's ambitious project delivers at the show.
2. Assassin's Creed 2 -- Think about everything you loved about the first game, then think about everything you hated. Pray that they iterate on the former and fix the latter. I still want to know if Ezio will be shanking dudes in the Vatican.
3. Uncharted 2 -- The first game is still my favorite PS3 title. It's scrappy and charming. I hope Naughty Dog can maintain the same level of craftsmanship that we saw two years ago.
1. Split Second -- I've got my eye on Disney Interactive's racer. I haven't seen it yet, but the buzz has been really good. As a guy who loves Burnout to a near-fanatical level, I want to check this one out.
2. Alpha Protocol -- I'm not nearly the RPG gamer that my peers are, but I have the feeling that between BioWare's heavy hitters and Obsidian's other nukey-RPG project, this one might get overshadowed in the glitz and glamour of the show. But I hope I'm wrong.
3. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories -- If you go back and look at Silent Hill on PlayStation, it hasn't aged so well. I like the ideas behind this Wii redux, especially the ways that the team incorporates the remote into the experience. Hopefully it doesn't go overlooked.
Three Predictions for the Big Three
1. Although Nintendo seems to hate everything that relates to the Internet, I believe that March's firmware update (the SD card one) paved the way for the biggest motivation to buy a DSi: the ability to take some of your Virtual Console library, slap them on an SD card, and pop them into your handheld. I anticipate some restrictions (N64 games might be problematic), but it could be huge.
2. An awkward moment will ensue onstage as a celebrity joins Cammie "Good Cop" Dunaway to show off Wii MotionPlus, which Nintendo will push the hell out of this year with a bombardment of games designed to piss off most of G4tv.com's readership with their very announcement.
3. Reggie "Bad Cop" Fils-Aime will unveil Nintendo's video-on-demand service, which launched in Japan a few months back. Media partners will provide a lukewarm response.
1. I'm going to get flamed so hard for this, but I believe that Sony's going to pull out something crazy media-wise. The media catfight this year will be between Sony and Microsoft for exclusive rights to HBO's on-demand library. But my big money's on something involving Hulu. Sony's already got something unique for Europe with PlayTV, but Stateside, we've got nothing. Unless you paid for that PlayOn license.
2. Sony will announce the next iteration of PSP, which will be digital-only. They'll offer a "Red to Blue" deal, similar to Warner's HD-DVD for Blu-ray exchange, for UMD owners to download their PSP games. It will launch with Gran Turismo Mobile, which will heavily integrate with Gran Turismo 5.
3. Heavy Rain will be the most visually impressive game, but God of War III will get people talking the most. I'll be surprised if Team Ico's project shows up; I'm banking on Tokyo for it. But I wouldn't mind being wrong, either.
1. Modern Warfare 2 will dominate the press conference as the third-party crown jewel, much like COD4 did two years back, and Fallout 3 did last year. Splinter Cell: Conviction will re-emerge, and Microsoft will reaffirm it as 360 exclusive. Faces will melt like the Ark of the Covenant was opened.
2. Microsoft will introduce motion control technology, which will be really cool, but will be wasted on some game that'll be on par with You're In The Movies.
3. As the press conference ends with a Microsoft figurehead saying "you've seen what we have to offer, this is why Xbox 360 is the dominant console for gamers this genera-" the lights will drop, a green exclamation mark will pop up on-screen, and that all-too-familiar guard alert sound effect will ring out. Hideo Kojima will take the stage. Gaming message boards will 500 out. Justice's "We Are Your Friends" will play as we leave the conference.
Three Things for Third Parties
1. Since multiplayer sequels are so hot right now (RE5, BioShock 2, Uncharted 2), Assassin's Creed 2 will have co-op. I will recoil. But I'll still be excited to play single-player.
2. DJ Hero will end up looking cooler than any of us expected. Not mind-blowing, but cooler than expected.
3. EA will announce another huge development house as its latest EA Partner, following up on last year's surprise announcement of id.
The White Whale Wager
Either officially announced, new video, playable on show floor, or confirmed behind closed doors:
Kingdom Hearts III -- 1,000:1
Kid Icarus Wii –- 500:1
Half-Life 2: Episode Three -- 20:1