E3 2008: 'Spore'!
It is Monday evening here in L.A. and I’m stuck in a hotel room recapping the day’s events while my friend (and regular EW.com contributor Gary Eng Walk) is off having fun at a Gears of War 2 party. And what, you are likely asking yourselves, is Adam Vary doing? Well, it turns out the eager young padawan — who’s supposed to be filing these daily dispatches — was called back to the office to fill in for a flu-stricken colleague. Because that’s the kind of guy he is: one who’ll use just about any excuse to get out of doing work. (I kid, I kid.) Monday’s summary begins after the jump.
E3 actually begins today (Tuesday), but there were a few pressevents on Monday, starting with Microsoft’s late-morning briefing.Microsoft senior VP Don Mattrick hosted the presentation and began byreciting a list of high-profile titles coming out on the Xbox 360before he brought out a few developers to discuss their soon-to-shipwares. All of them screened in-game footage of their games (as well asnew trailers). Here’s a quick rundown of a few titles:
It took a while, but we’re finally close to getting our grubby littlehands on the third installment of everyone’s favorite post-apocalypticaction RPG. (It should be in stores this holiday season.) The trailerfor the game, which takes place in Washington D.C. in the year 2277,can be seen here.
Resident Evil 5
Saw a pair of development-team members demonstrate a nifty two-playerco-op mode. We kinda dug the way Chris Redfield, the game’sprotagonist, sent fellow operative Sheva Alomar somersaulting across awide alley — and used his sniper rifle to pick off some undead ugliesthat begin to swarm her position. Check out the trailer here. Oh, and they announced a U.S. release date: March 13, 2009.
Gears of War 2
Mark your calendars: the sequel to Cliff Bleszinski’s viscera-spillingthird-person-shooter goes on sale November 7. The Designer FormerlyKnown As Cliffy B gave us a demo in which Marcus (and Dom) jump into ahuge sinkhole to take the fight to some Locusts (hate those guys!). Theaction was spectacular. Here’s the trailer— which includes a look at the “meat shield,” the controversial movethat has Marcus use a Locust corpse protect himself from gunfire as headvances on the enemy. Bleszinski also introduced a nifty five-playeronline co-op mode called “Horde.” Enough talk: give us the game already!
Guitar Hero: World Tour
Got a look at the new drum kit (which includes two high hats) and heardan announcement about an intriguing new “studio” mode included in the new game.Luckily, we really like this game — otherwise, we’d be singing “WeDon’t Need Another Hero” (Har! Har!) Sorry about that — this is whathappens when I write using a laptop computer. I hate — I mean, really hate — using trackpads. They make me feel clumsy, as if my finger were like big ol’ kielbasas.
Rock Band 2
Wow! There are a whopping 84 songson the disc of Rock Band 2 (due this September on Xbox 360, followed byPS2, PS3, and Wii versions a few month later) — including tracks by BobDylan (“Tangled Up in Blue”), AC/DC (“Let There Be Rock”), and a singlefrom the legendarily delayed Guns ‘n Roses album Chinese Democracy(“Shackler’s Revenge”).
…and, last but not least, some announcements from Square Enix. Thegame publisher, long associated with Sony, will put out no less thanfour titles on the 360, including Infinite Undiscovery (jointly developed Microsoft, Square Enix, and tri-Ace; in stores September 2), Star Ocean: The Last Hope (on sale the first half of next year), The Last Remnant (shipping this fall)…and an RPG called Final Fantasy XIII (you mean there have been a dozen of these games?).
Well those are the highlights from the Microsoft briefing. Therewere lots of talk about sales figures and how the 360 is on track tobecome the dominant next-gen console. But that’ll have to wait foranother blog post. And wouldn’t you know it, Gary just knocked on thedoor — he’s back from the Gears party. He’s grumbling somethingabout the lousy parking. Lucky for him, I have just the thing to makehim feel better: I’m gonna let him recap the EA briefing. Take it away,Gary:
EA’s CEO John Riccitello emceed the briefing, which was held in theOrpheum Theater, a shabby but still gorgeous movie palace and concertvenue located in a funky part of downtown Los Angeles. This will likelygo down as the loudest event I’ve ever attended. I think I saw plastercoming down from the ceiling. Let’s get right to the games:
The Sims 3 and Sim Animals
Sim Animals lets you breed and coo over all sorts of real-world(as opposed to the whacked-out, out-of-this-world organisms in Spore)wildlife. Far more anticipated, The Sims 3 is coming at you some time in 2009. From what we can tell from the trailer, the jump from 2 to 3 is just as significant as the improvements the Sims 2 made over the original. Much more customization, much more personalities.
Barf-bag alert! If the accurately named “strategic dismemberment”feature in this M-rated sci-fi survival horror game doesn’t make youfeel queasy, the zero-G frag-fests surely will.
There’s a new femme fatale on the scene, and this one is both a stunner and a runner (she’s some sort of super-courier). The game seems to emphasize acrobatics seemingly lifted straight from the Matrix movies.
Game designer extraordinaire Will Wright charmed the crowd with anotherone of his signature PowerPoint presentations, and if this one wasshorter than most, it was certainly packed with an abundance of his wryobservations. For example, in the few weeks that the Spore Creature Creator hasbeen available to the public, users have already created about 1.8million species that will populate the full version of the game (onsale September 7). The total number of living species on our big, blueplanet? A mere 1.6 million. Ya say you want an evolution?
Dragon Age: Origins
Fan favorite RPG developer Bioware had a new game to show, one that they claim is “the spiritual successor to the Baldur’s Gate.” Those popping sounds you hear? A thousand game-geek heads exploding.
Left 4 Dead and Rage
Two more “EA Partners” — the growing all-star collection of prestigiousdevelopers who can churn out products with minimal creativeintervention — gave a peak at some very promising new IPs. Valve isapparently bringing the same magic it used to create its sublime Team Fortress 2 to create its own survival-horror game, the cheap-sounding Left 4 Dead. And any time id Software announces a new game, first-person shooter aficionados salivate. Can they score another hit with Rage?We barely saw a glimpse of it —there are dune buggies and butte-filleddeserts involved; creator John Carmack hinted at lots of “action,exploration and driving” — but who are we to doubt the company (and,indeed the man) that gave us Doom and Quake?
I’ll take it from here, Gar! Many thanks — I couldn’t have written it any better myself.
Well, this concludes the recap of Monday’s E3 events. Today, bothSony and Nintendo have their briefings — and, of course, the showofficially gets underway. We’ve made appointments with nearly two dozengame publishers. And have lined up some interviews with several keyfigures (including a half-hour with… Shigeru Miyamoto).Which you can read all about in PopWatch. For Gary, Adam, and theentire EW Action News team, this is Wook Kim. Have a safe lunch.