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Hey, Hardcore Queen here at E For All in LA, the newest Gaming event in LA. The producers of the event envision this show to be as large as E3 only focused on the consumers instead of industry folks. When I first walked into the hall, I felt like I was transported back into time. Like it was E3 all over again, even though I railed against the show every year, I find that I really miss it. There was a nice little welcome, as you walk into the doors there was a band performing music. Entering the hall you immediately realize it isn’t E3, there isn’t the E3 crowds there are no packed hallways, no circus atmosphere, outside the South Hall there was almost no indication that anything was happening within the convention center, just a couple of small tents from Novint Tech who were showcasing their amazing new Falcon PC Controller.
It was weirdly quiet, at first it seemed like it would be a packed house there was a line going out the door and I was immediately thinking, ok, here we go. But after that initial rush of people it didn’t seem like too many new people were coming in. The show had two separate start times, one at 11am for people who purchased early admission passes and at 3pm for General Admission people.
When you walked into the Hall there were plenty of Kiosk’s set up, EA, Konami, THQ, and Nintendo all had a great presence on the floor with plenty of demo units available. As usual Nintendo had a huge crowd at their booth showing off a new Nintendo Zelda Title designed specifically for their new “Light Gun” and had a stage set up for Super Smash Brothers contests. The DS was also there representing in full force with a bunch of new titles including the recently released Zelda. The Wii was showcasing that latest version of Super Mario World.
Konami had the longest wait with people lined up to play the new Metal Gear Solid 4, I’m going to wait and try and play it today, but my initial reaction from my limited view is the game looks AMAZING, but it kind of looks like Call of Duty 4, I’ll know more later today after I play it. One annoying thing about the show was, the exhibitors were real tight asses about taking photos. So neither Nintendo nor Konami would allow photos of any of their games and they were aggressive in stopping folks, but they had really small staffs so you could easily sneak a picture or two before they caught up with you.
One of my first destinations was over to Firaxis games to have a chat with Producer Barry Caudill the man in charge of Sid Meier’s console translation of the Civilization franchise. The demo was really light and short, but not being a RTS player it seemed fairly straight forward and easy to pick up. The controls translated well to a console environment. The talk with Barry went really well we went into a wide ranging discussion about breaking into the game industry, what it takes to be a producer, the lack of women in games and Civilization itself.
The Major Gaming League took up the entire back of the hall with about 30 stations available to play some Halo 3 and further back they held “the firs Halo 3 Training Camp.” After sitting through this, I think I’m ready to do some schooling this weekend. I learned all about team shooting (if I could only be on a team that acted like a team), holding an area with a power up, I’m ready to lock and load. Honestly, I’m simply not feeling Halo 3, its ok. I just don’t think it’s the greatest game since toast. No matter how much I play it and try and force myself to like it, I just hate the new maps.
After taking a break with Halo, I decided to Rock Out with Guitar Hero III. I don’t like the new Guitars, they are too small and feel uncomfortable to hold – but then I’m left handed, so I’ve always had that issue with the Guitars. This year’s track listing for GHIII is just amazing. Activision had plenty of GH kiosks available through a partnership with Target, but it was disappointing that Activision and UBI weren’t at the show. Come on guys, we wanted Call of Duty 4 and Assassin’s Creed at the show!
This fall will be a fierce competition between GHIII and Rock Band, which I finally had a chance to play and it was AWESOME! The drum kit is just cool and amazing, standing in line waiting to play it seemed like everyone wanted to do the Drums. The first group I played with, I was jamming on the drums (We were playing “Are You Going To Be My Girl” by Jet), then I walked over to the other side of the floor by the EA booth where they had another set up and played another round, this time my band sucked and we couldn’t make it through one of the songs. I foolishly thought we had it in the bag since my lead guitarist was supposedly a Tester for the game, you’d think he’d be able to rock out. But I think EA had the guitar controllers switched as I did notice a couple of the bands being confused as to what was going on. To make matters worse, legendary gamer Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendell told me he was watching me play. But I blamed it on the band.
After ten years of Fatal1ty’s folks chasing me, I finally sat down with the legend and we had a great conversation about branding and becoming a professional gamer. He plays at least 8 hours day, my poor old woman eyes could never handle that amount of game time. He is a really cool guy. I’ll be posting my interview with Fatal1ty later this weekend. After we talked, we went up onto the stage to do a little one on one action with Quake 4. Of course I did some trash talking and was immediately shamed – but in my defense, I’ve never played Quake before and am not a PC Gamer.
EA also had a lot of demo units set up for Orange Box and The Simpson’s Game– both looked amazing, especially The Simpson’s Game it’s almost exactly like the television show. My only issue with Rock Band is, it is amazing to play with a group of people, but I generally play games alone – since most of my friends aren’t gamers. But if you have a party or are in a College Dorm situation, this game will make you the most popular geek on the block.
Overall E For All isn’t a destination event like the organizers want it to be, and really, you can do the entire show in about 2 hours (not 4 days), but it’s a good first start, it can only get bigger from here. It has a long way to go before it becomes E3 or something like the Tokyo Game show. It needs to add a conference program – this year folks from GameRecruiters will be at the show holding sessions on how to break into video games, again good start. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next year, a lot of exhibitors expressed disappointment in the size of the crowd and hope it’ll get bigger over the weekend, we’ll see. Tonight I’ll be checking out the Game Video Live show and will give you details tomorrow.