E3 2011Features

IVG at E3: A look back at Day Zero

Whew! The clock is minutes away from striking twelve this side of the Atlantic, and I am glad that a long and tiring day is finally winding down. Let me tell you; the idea of hopping between four different press conferences in a single day is not as fun as it sounds, and it kind of makes me glad Nintendo didn’t bother sending us an invite. But well, this is E3, and it is not like you get a chance to get your hands on new games before everyone else too often. With that comforting thought in mind, your fearless reporter started out on the daunting task of attending the Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony press conferences with just half a buttered bagel and two glasses of orange juice for breakfast.

Any plans of using the Los Angeles public transport system were quickly laid to rest once I realised that there was no way I was going to make it to the event on time with two bus transfers to make. And rightly so, for the famed LA traffic jam struck just a quarter mile away from the Galen Sport Center, where the Microsoft press conference was about to begin. My taxi driver unceremoniously dumped me on the sidewalk, took my money, and asked me to hike it to the destination. Well, it was still early in the day and I was excited, so that quarter mile didn’t seem too daunting.

Not until I hit the massive queue of people lining up for the press conference. Thankfully, MS had been gracious enough to mail me the badge days in advance so that I could skip the registration line and straight away go to the check-in queue. After standing behind a guy from Edge and some other random dude, our line finally started moving until I crossed the door into the Galen Sports Center, where I was handed my seating section slip. I quickly slid in to the first open seat I came across and settled down, waiting for the briefing to begin while watching a Japanese delegation with fancy cameras in front of me furiously typing away on their iPhones and iPads. Note to Sam: We need iPads for next E3!

The press conference itself was quite uneventful. As expected, Kinect got a lot of screen time and some of the stuff shown on those giant screens was quite impressive too, especially the Kinect Fun Labs and implementation of Kinect gestures in the next Fable (although, with Mr Monyleoux involved, I wouldn’t hold my breath). The laggy Kinect Star Wars demo brought back memories of my internet connection back in Bangalore; the Tomb Raider demo was interesting; the Mass Effect 3 demo, while raising the adrenaline levels a bit, was more akin to a hardcore shooter game than an RPG; and Master Chief’s appearance brought some cheers to wrap things up. No free Xbox 360’s this time around, which is a shame because I had convinced my wife to let me make this trip with the promise of fabulous giveaways. All I have now is a pen drive from EA.

Speaking of EA, their shuttles were eager to whisk us away to the Orpheum Center, where longer lines greeted us. Thankfully, they were kind enough to have bottled water and lots of chocolate for us to devour once we checked in and waited for the press conference to begin. More Mass Effect 3 followed and then a glimpse of the out-and-about driver of Need for Speed: The Run, which got mixed reactions. SSX got some wholehearted cheering, while FIFA 12 and Madden 12 were just meh. The Sims jumped in with a cheeky trailer, and Insominiac’s declaration of finally coming to the Xbox 360 drew a resounding “Yeah!” from the Microsoft camp seated in the front. The star of the show was, of course, Battlefield 3. I still have the theme ringing in my head!

Ubisoft didn’t bother sending any shuttles. Instead, we were asked to hot-foot two blocks down to the LA Theater to stand in yet another line. By now, people were ducking into cafes lining the way to grab a bite before continuing on to the Ubisoft briefing. This time, I got seated high above in the balcony along with some ladies and gents from Gizmodo (one of the ladies was spooked when she felt something run across her arm!). This press conference turned out to be more engrossing than expected, especially when they popped Far Cry 3 upon us. I can’t wait to meet the wild-eyed mohawked guy again and ask him the definition of insanity. On the flip side, Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 seems to have butchered one of my favourite WWII shooters. The show finale was a beautiful trailer of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations followed by gameplay demo.

By now, I was hungry as hell. I jumped into Sony’s shuttle at the first given opportunity, got off at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Center, and ran all the way to the food stalls that Sony had so generously set up for us hungry souls. There was free food and then there was free alcohol. I decided food was more important than Drake, so I gathered everything on a table and settled down for a long overdue lunch. Giving me company were thousands of other people who dotted every inch of the front yard of the Sports Center. Bud Light and Corona flowed like rivers and yours truly built up a healthy buzz until he realised that the doors were open and half the people were gone.

On approaching the door, a sweet lady informed me that the VIP section has been opened up for the stragglers. Never one to say no to free stuff (as demonstrated earlier with the free food and beer), I followed a couple of nattily dressed executives down to the VIP section. Before I could realise, I was sitting exactly four feet away from the stage, between all the SCEA big-wigs! I could actually see the small screens on which Naughty Dog demoed Uncharted 3! So there I sat, feeling all important (albeit with a stiff neck) through a press conference that promised much, but failed to excite, barring the Playstation Vita pricing and Uncharted 3 and Resistance 3 demos. For me, the best part was being so close to the stage, even if I had to crane my neck up to look at the big screen, and put on uncomfortable 3D glasses to view the multitude of 3D trailers. And the crowd laughing out loud when Kaz Hirai announced the AT&T partnership for Playstation Vita had a Sony honcho sitting behind me taken by surprise.

Just as the show ended, my camera battery died, whereupon I decided to get some more nourishment and some more beer. However, good sense prevailed and I instead ended up at the Uncharted 3 multiplayer kiosk, followed by quick hands-on with the other titles that were shown off during the course of the show. More food and booze followed along with DJs, loud music and skimpily clad dancers, before I decided to hunt for a power outlet and get some juice for my dead camera. That done, I took a few quick shots of the demo floor, briefly got my hands on the Playstation Vita, gathered up my swag, and caught a taxi back to my hotel, tired but happy about how E3 Day 0 turned out.
But my E3 is just beginning and I better get some sleep, because tomorrow is going to be another long day. Thanks for reading my ramblings, and I will see you on the other side of E3 Day 1.

Note to self:
1. Pick two apples instead of one from the morning breakfast buffet.
2. Ask Sam for an iPad 2
3. Find out the bus routes to LA Convention Center. Wife doesn’t like the cab bills
4. Get a lot of swag for IVG members
5. Sam..err…iPad 2?

For more E3 coverage head over to the IVG at E3 page.

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