Min-E3 2007 – Best and Worst Five Things to Date

Cheering and moaning fom SPOnG’s team in La La Land

Posted by Staff
By Adam Hartley - our man in L.A.

I have less than 30 mins to write my quick first impressions-slash-update from the new Min-E3 in Santa Monica. So, for reasons of time and expediency, I’ve decided to offer you my considered Top Five E3 Elements to date. This is followed by a typically British moan about my five least favourite games and other things from this year’s slimmed down show.

First up, I’ve just come out of an interview with Bethesda and my first look at the company’s mindblowing Fallout 3 - pictured here. After the general ‘meh-ness’ that typified the Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft conferences and announcements earlier in the week, it was refreshing to have my love of videogames re-ignited. This reignition took the form of a half hour demo of what is, by a country mile, the game of the show this year. To describe it as a post-apocalyptic sci-fi shooter with deep RPG elements is to do it a massive injustice. I hope I’ll be proved wrong later today or tomorrow when I see something to match or beat it. But I doubt that, a lot.

Second up, and from out of leftfield, comes the newly revived Timeshift by Vivendi. There’s nothing better than going into a demo of a game when you have little or no expectations (and, after all, I’d seen this before – in a very different state, in a very different life). Watch out for SPOnG’s detailed preview and developer interview with Timeshift’s senior producer, Kyle Peschel, in the very near future.

In third place has to be Sony’s charming little M.C. Escher-a-like optical illusion puzzler echochrome – pictured below – an amazingly simple yet genius idea that you really have to see in action to believe. Head of Sony Worldwide Studios, Phil Harrison, proves that keeping it simple is where it’s at.

Sony finally has a decent E3 conference. Not mindblowing (none of them were) but solid, with some good new games and some impressive trailers of what’s in store for PS3 owners this coming Christmas. Phew!

Fourth up, and at joint fourth, I have to say that the above-mentioned Kyle Peschel from Sierra/Vivendi and Bethesda’s PR and marketing supremo, Pete Hines have both managed to prove that you can (a) work at a very senior level within games development or marketing and (b) still remain utterly passionate and committed to making and delivering the best games ever known to man. Kyle and Pete, SPOnG salutes you!

Kyle, in particular, deserves special mention for being able to demo Timeshift while managing to genuinely sound more excited about the product than I have ever heard anybody about anything in the world. Ever. He also swears loads - which is cool.

In fifth place, although hotly contested by SPOnG’s chief of advertising, Stefan, is Wii Fit from Nintendo (pictured below). I am of the opinion that Wii Fit should possibly have been at the top of this list, whereas Stefan is of the opinion that it is just a mere gimmick from Nintendo that will not last the test of time.

After all, does anybody remember EyeToy Kinetic? (Though do bear in mind that the fact that I need to lose around two to three stone in weight and possibly imagines that Wii Fit may well be both a fun and (ha!) easy way of doing this may have coloured his judgement here). Still it looked new and interesting and it was certainly the talking point at the post-show parties last night.

The Worst
Moving onto my worst five things about E3 2007…

In first place on my E3 hate list is the general lowering of expectations among way too many publishers as to how good a PS3 or Xbox 360 game should look. Hold on! I thought we were in the next generation now? Somewhat depressingly, the feeling always seems to be the same, the year after new gaming formats have been released.

In second place, then, is the lack of passion for the games. To say that the big three conferences were 'a bit flat' is putting it very mildly. This year, it’s strictly business and all about keeping the shareholders happy. I, weirdly and totally unexpectedly, miss the whooping 16-year-old ‘CEO’ fanboys. This year, cynical journo types cheer inside but seem to be too worried to seriously enthuse about the awesome videogames on show. Why? Fear of appearing like they actually do care too much by their fellow cynical hacks.

In third place are those people who are declaring “This is to be the last E3” – of course it isn’t. There will be others, only next time, it’ll be in Las Vegas instead.

In fourth place, being in Los Angeles on an all-expenses paid junket isn’t all laughs. Here’s why: the schedule-killing lengthy walks and costly cabbing between the various events dotted around various Santa Monica hotels, swiftly followed by the fun new game of ‘try to find a free WiFi internet connection' in the six minute slot I’ve managed to snag between interviews and demo meetings, while recovering from a mile long jog in the hundred degrees heat.

So, in last place on my list of E3 pet hates is the horde of cynical games journalists, mostly (embarrassingly) Brits moaning about having to walk between hotels in order to see some of the most amazing interactive entertainment ever invented by humankind.

And on that note, I’m off to play some new games from SEGA, EA, Take Two, Microsoft, Nintendo and more. Then off to the Sony party on Venice Beach.

More from SPOnG’s E3 trip when I find the next wifi spot in between all the fun and games. SPOnG will bring you the only detailed previews and interviews you need to read in the coming days and weeks.


Joji 13 Jul 2007 00:37
I pray that this direction for E3 fails miserably. It still amazes me that the games industry wants to be taken seriously but doesn't want to mix with its customers (especially so in the west). This is a step back I feel, they say they want to save money but the show goer will end up busting a gut from A to B and paying more. They have to make up their mind, do they like their customers enough to treat them and keep them buying more games or do they just hate gamers?

Why is it that car shows can have booth babes, invite their public as well as suits and journos, but the games industry can't do the same? Is there actually an event like E3 that's open to the public in the west?

Step out of the dark ages and take tips from TGS and E3 should be better. Let the public get a dose of this games event.

Timeshift looks groovy. I wonder how Konami feel about Wii Fit right now?
sunkai 13 Jul 2007 07:35
I'm seeing a lot of online journos using "err" when they mean to use the onomatopoeic "er".

"Err" is the act of making an error: "To err on the side of caution". So every time I read it being used as an interjection it makes my head hurt. Big time.

Please, think of all the chaps (and chapettes) who had to sit through the grueling grammar lessons, and what you are doing to their nuts with your slapdashery!
TimSpong 13 Jul 2007 12:33
sunkai wrote:
I'm seeing a lot of online journos using "err" when they mean to use the onomatopoeic "er".

I was going to get immensely self-important about this one, but then I read it again and I've realised that I like it lots. The Total Pedant Level (TPL) score for it is almost through the roof, coming in at a massive 9.211121909782123.

Indeed, "To err is human, to forgive is divine."

Erm, urgh, I'll add 'er' to SPOnG-Style and remove 'err' as anything other than a verb.

And thanks for lifting the intense E3 focus...

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