E3: A primer

Monday, July 14, 2008
I'm certain most of you know about E3 already. The Electronic Entertainment Expo is held every year and often brings with it new announcements, games, and awful moments for our industry. Once open to the public, E3 has abandoned its roots in favor of a media exclusive event. The entirety of the show is invitation only with no public tickets being sold. Aside from the odd contest here and there, there is no way for an average human gamer to attend.

Instead, we spend the days of E3 in front of our monitors, waiting for our feeds update, suckling as it were from the digital teat (yes I can compare modern information distribution with breast feeding). I try to get most of my information from Kotaku and my trailers and other media feeds from Gametrailers. These two sites provide regular updates, clear video and -mostly- unbiased reporting on the event.

So, what can we expect from E3 this year? Can we expect Sony and Microsoft to posture and dance around each other in a strange simian display of dominance? Yes. Will the media eat it up? Yes. But as far as the things we gamers really care about, what's on display? There will be a few surprises, I'm sure, but most of what's being shown are things we already know about. LittleBigPlanet, Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Fable 2, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero World Tour, Resident Evil 5. We've all seen the hype, we know what they're offering.

What I want to show you are a few games you may have missed along the way. These are some of my personal favorites and naturally I feel they deserve more press. First up, FlOwer. This is a follow up game from the makers of FlOw. FlOw was a beautiful game in which you control a creature as it grows and changes in a semi-2d sea full of strange and dangerous inhabitants. If you own a PS3, chances are you know something about it, if not, watch this. FlOwer is being called a flower simulator but it's creators say it's much more than that.

Next up is Mirror's Edge. This is an upcoming title from DICE, makers of Bad Company. While Mirror's edge looks like a standard shooter at first glance, a closer look reveals a sort of Assassin's Creed, parkour game. The big hook for this one is it's promise of maintaining a first person perspective throughout the game to keep the player immersed in the world. While the moves are nothing we haven't seen before, they've always been handled from a third person perspective. Not much has been said about the size or limitations of the cityscape or levels but most people believe it to be an open environment ala GTA. I like the premise behind the game and the promise of the gameplay has me hooked.

Then there was Bioware. We all know it's been coming and with Lucasfilm filing new trademarks the news is essentially confirmed that Bioware will be releasing a Knights of the Old Republic MMO. We've wanted it, we've expected it, now we're all just waiting for them to announce it. While the idea interests me a great deal I don't expect that I will ever get to play this game. Lucasarts hasn't liked Macs since they stopped making adventure games. If it comes to consoles I might pick it up, but I doubt it will.

Finally, Bungie, our favorite cyborg hero machines have something up their sleeve. The appearance of the so-called Superintendent on the Bungie.net forums has caused quite a stir. The most recent updates from the company have been sparse and unsatisfying, which is exactly the kind of thing they do when they're about to announce something big. It happened with Myth II, It happened with Halo, it could be happening again. The question is whether this is a new game or a major revamp for the existing Halo 3 experience. Both have been hinted at but either one could be a dirty Bungie lie. I'm hoping for something entirely new and non halo related, but there's a tiny piece of me that's hoping for some new Halo 3 stuff to mess around with.

Anyway, we'll find out soon enough what all the big secrets are. By the time you read this you may already know them. If so, my past self envies you. Hopefully I turned your attention towards something you hadn't heard about and with even more luck you actually found it interesting. E3 will be big, it will be loud and things will happen there that we will be hearing about for a while. I just hope Peter Moore stays far away from Harmonix from now on.