On Tuesday, June 11th, I was making my way across a sea of gamers; E3 had opened at 12pm and by 12:05, the West Hall was already crazy crowded. Then I came upon Capcom's booth for Dead Rising 3, which was surrounded by a menacing-looking wire fence...turns out this was their way of keeping in the undead (READ: real LA working actors!) One of them, a woman in tattered clothes was sitting on the floor noshing on a severed limb. (I think it was an leg.) The attendees dug it, Instagramming and Vining each moment. The scene often played out along the lines of "Look, this zombie is trying to eat me, but he can't because of this fence! Ha!" Fun times.
For me, though, the experience was a bit jarring. In The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker makes the startling observation that large parties are intimate while small ones have no privacy. She's right. As I stood there with a Cool Haus red velvet ice cream sandwich digesting in my belly, I felt pretty isolated. Alone amidst that sea of fellow nerds.
This was my eighth E3. I remember my first time, just being so overwhelmed by the spectacle of it all. Being a geek, you shouldn't be surprised that I took plenty of photos with Lara Croft and Street Fighter's Chun Li.
Today, however, was different because, the week prior, I played through the entire campaign of Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, which might just be one the last great games of the PS3 era. I'll have my full thoughts on TLoU soon, but it's rather telling that I couldn't shake a feeling that experience had left me with as I traversed the Los Angeles Convention Center: I was wandering through a wasteland of America after an infection has led to chaos and finally, deserted highways, buildings. I kept thinking while at E3, someday this will all be gone...
Suffice it to say, I was pretty creeped out.
As I look over my list of of what left an impression on me at this year's E3, another thought crosses my mind. Is the era of consoles coming to a close? (Why is that much more terrifying to me than an actual apocalypse?) Is everything being sucked up into a future where our entertainment bleeds into another? Is that good, bad or at the very least confusing?
There's a lot to go over, so as Kirk Head said on one of my favorite episodes of Futurama, "settle in."
1. Best Xbox One Launch Title: Dead Rising 3
Back when the 360 debuted in 2005, Capcom's Dead Rising was a fresh take on the sandbox genre even if the execution was less than perfect: awful load times, not enough save points, too many timed missions and so on. For the Xbox One launch, DR3 promises to rectify all that plus add some genuinely interesting enhancements. You're troublemaker Nick Ramos (looking and acting like a Latino Sons of Anarchy biker), and it's a decade after the incidents of the first game. Obviously, the graphics look much better this tine, but even better, the lack of load times keeps the play tense and focused. Like in Saints Row you can play the whole thing full on silly (costumes galore, goofy weapons) or play it straight. It's up to you. As an added bonus you can use your own smart phone to send and receive calls/texts to fictional characters and command the occasional air strike. Runners up: Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza 5: Motorsport.
2. Best PS4 Game of Show: inFAMOUS: Second Son
Like Dead Rising, this is another sandbox-style game; the two previous games in the series were also PlayStation exclusives by developer Sucker Punch. It's disappointing, though, that the release is set for a Q1 2014. Annoying? Absolutely, but the game looks pretty slick so far with nary any frame rate issues.
New protagonist Delsin Rowe must choose between chaos or order seven years after the original. He has the ability to get all Rogue on other conduits (those who literally have electrical powers in their veins) by stealing theirs. Nice trick. I'm just nervous about him also being a bit teen-angsty, which I hope doesn't make him the jerk the new Dante was in last year's DMC. Runner up: Killzone: Shadow Fall.
3. Cosplay Is Alive and Well.
Okay, this dude isn't really cosplay, but whatever. The bottom of the shirt said "wiid," as in weed. Pot-smoking Mario. Clearly, a mushroom king.
4. The Walking Dead: 400 Days
Fans of The Walking Dead: The Game should be pleased that while we eagerly await season two, 400 Days will be arriving this fall as DLC to season one for roughly five bucks. You'll have to at least have downloaded episode one first, but odds are you've played all five episodes already.
This one takes place over the same time-frame with five new stories all centered around a roadside diner. The demo I saw was about Vince, another prisoner (season one focused on Lee, a convict who escapes a patrol car when Z-day hits) travelling in a lock-up bus. He's shackled to two other convicts, which doesn't bode well once the undead take over. Captivating stuff with great player tailoring, as is the staple for Telltale. The answer to the question you didn't ask is yes, I will shoot chains, even if it means severing another inmates leg.
5. Best Name Ever: Octodad: Dadliest Catch
The controls are not at all good in any way, but that name is eight arms worth of hilarity.
Runner up name: Galax-Z.
6. Nintendo Makes Us Excited About Mario & Co. (Again.)
After nearly a year of mostly zip for the Wii U, the big N showed off (all playable!) a new Mario, an HD Zelda remake, Mario Kart 8, Pikmin 3 and a new Donkey Kong Country. I've said this for years: all I really ever wanted was the catalog of Nintendo games in glorious HD. Now that I've had time with just that I can say I was not disappointed in the least. Super Mario 3D World ain't 3D with glasses (yay!) and feels like a mishmash of New Super Mario Bros. Wii with a hint of Galaxy. The new catsuit power-up allows players to claw their way to the top of world 1-1, 2-1, etc. Kitty likes.
Windwaker HD is basically a remake with a few tweaks made. So colorful though I l that look forward to playing all over again. Although I hope I can skip the King of Red Lion's lengthy dialogue. That was one chatty boat.
Speaking of Nintendo...
7. Best Surprise: Wii Trainer Girl Enters The Super Smash Bros. Arena
What started as a typical video for maybe a new Wii Fit became Wii Trainer Girl kicking much butt over Link, Mario, pretty much all of them. Hilarious and strangely arousing? I'll never admit that. I now have a reason to look forward to Super Smash Bros. Wii U. Oh, and Mega Man is in it too. Woot.