E3 2003 - SwankWorld Takes a Look Back


This article was written last May when I attended E3 for the first time to gather coverage for another gaming site. It's a nice little piece describing a first time experience at gaming's biggest expo. I toiled away on this thing until 1-2am every night just to wake up at 6am the next day. Since this article has been all but forgotten, it deserves a place here at SwankWorld as part of E3 hype week. This article is pretty image intensive, so you dial up users have some patience. I optimized as much as I could! Enjoy!

This feature is aimed to give everyone insight into a day in the life of an E3 attendee. Take this as a type of diary of my exploits and the things that I see instead of what the bigger game sites are reporting. I'll also give some insight on game related issues as well. So sit back and enjoy an alternate perspective to E3.

Let me start by saying I hate LA. Every picture you've seen and every special on traffic congestion on the Discovery channel is true. LA is a veritable hell. It takes me just an hour in the morning to get to the convention center and three hours to get back to my hotel…depending on if I get lost or not. LA also has a nice way of jipping the common traveler. I pay $9 a day just to get out of my hotel parking lot. Parking around the convention center is anywhere from $10-$35. Your common sandwich and chips runs another $10 and that's after waiting 90 minutes in line. I ended up paying $3 for a Mountain Dew the first day, and started stopping at the local gas station ever since. Needless to say, LA has a nice way of chewing you up and spitting you out. Be forewarned!

Day One

The Army had a display up outside of the show with a couple of Bradley fighting vehicles and a Tomahawk helicopter that they were demonstrating. I arrived an hour early and attempted to get into the Sony press conference to give our little site the same position in the pecking order as other sites, but no go. I had one of those football “shift-left, shift-right” with a very polite, yet stern security lady.


Pictured above: Army demos and the E3 banner. Survival Tip: Bring plenty of cash and cigarettes to stave off the bums who camp outside of the convention center.

I decided to spend the first day in the convention center's west hall where Nintendo, Sony, SNK, and Sega call home. I started by visiting Nintendo and experienced the deliciousness that was Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, Rebel Assault III, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Aside from those, Nintendo wins Dr. Swank's first annual “George Foreman Award for Shilling Excellence™” for their constant suggestions of purchasing Wario World and GBA SPs. No other company was as pushy with their wares as Nintendo was. Still, they occupied the biggest part of the show floor complete with lasers, booming techno music, live bands, and character inspired spotlights.


Pictured above: The Nintendo booth in all of its glory. Not pictured: The next killer app.

About thirty minutes into the show, Nintendo held a Mario Kart competition featuring a bunch of former American Idol contestants and the lady from Mr. Personality (who looks a lot better in person). They were forced to play the game on giant screens up on the ceiling, which had to have been difficult with all of the lasers, lights, and fog going off in front of them. One of the American Idol people won and that's about all I can tell you. If it's not Justin, Ruben, or Kimberly then I don't care. After that was done, some band came on with their own brand of electronica all the while wearing VR goggles. I got to play a little bit of Rogue Squadron III when it wasn't too busy crashing. I guess that's what you get with beta software. Everyone was psyched to see Viewtiful Joe, which made feel good to know that in this age of 3D and poly pushing, a 2D game can garner the respect of so many people. Capcom has the right idea on things. I then proceeded to get into line for Mario Kart: Double Dash, where Nintendo had nine Gamecubes hooked up on a LAN connection. There were two fluff girls and an electronic Wario calling the action. Wario noticed my Charlie Brown shirt and announced it to everyone which garnered me some unwarranted and unneeded attention. My turn finally came up to compete against seven other folks in some Mario Kart goodness. As I was sitting down, this guy with a camera comes up behind me and tells me that I'd better race good because I'm playing for Belgian television. Fortunately, I did end up winning first place by a stroke of luck (the first 3 places unleashed their weapons at the last turn allowing me to pass right through them. I got a Double Dash shirt for my troubles, which as any good player on a team would do after winning the Super Bowl, he (or she) gives the trophy to the coach. Don't ask where I was going with this...

After playing all of the big titles, I went and took a look at everything else. I see a lot of promise in Geist, which is one of the unsung titles of the conference. I think it has an interesting premise and is a new way of introducing an original spin into an existing genre. The same can't be said for GBA games posing as Gamecube games. Tetra's Trackers I'm looking at you. Yeah, it looks like a GC game and even fits into it. You get some of those nice cel-shaded Zelda graphics when she's giving you the tutorial and showing you the map, but aside from that, everything else is a mini-game for the GBA. I hope that Nintendo doesn't intend on selling this for fifty-bucks, lest they be cast into third place forever.

All-in-all, Nintendo took a good three hours to complete (minus 10 minutes for smoke break and camera configuration). I decided to turn my focus to the Sony booth for some slightly less candy coated, hardcore gaming action. Sony, while not advertised as taking up more room than Nintendo, rivaled them in size by dedicating two floors to their display. They managed to take a little from each 3 rd party developer and add in a little of their own magic to make a veritable cornucopia of gaming goodness. Huge displays focused on Final Fantasy XI and Gran Turismo 4, where each displayed their repective online capabilities. Both turned out to be very impressive. I only managed to catch the bottom floor of the booth which featured Final Fantasy X-2, Arc the Lad, and Jak 2. I spent a lot of time on X-2, mostly getting used to the chaotic battle system and dressing up Rikku into every skimpy outfit available. It is definitely a different game than Final Fantasy X. I then discovered Castlevania: Lament of innocence across the row. Personally, I think it's going to be a great game when it comes out. It's a combination of Rygar and Symphony of the Night which makes it NOTHING like Castlevania 64.

After a double smoke break (hey, people smoke after sex, I can smoke after some Castlevania and FF X-2 action!), I decided to go pay SNK a visit. The president was out at the counter talking with everyone, which was uncanny for any of the other companies. He seemed really exited about this new company set up and was yelling to everyone with a smile “Yes we're back!”. I made sure to take the opportunity to shake his hand and thank him for being back. He told us that they were going to catch up for the years of absence by releasing KoF 2001 and 2002 later this year, and they're going to be starting production on a 3D KoF game for next year. I'd like to see how that one will turn out. The booth was set up to show off KoF 2001 and Metal Slug 3 along with an arcade stand-up of KoF 2000 which had about the same sized crowd as Gran Turismo across the way had.

After another smoke break (I tend to smoke a lot more at lower elevations), I went to check out what THQ had to offer. On the way I realized all the free paper publication I could pick up for my trinket collection. I got a DVD from Gamespot, and a gaming mag from every publisher there, including Game Developer, Tips and Tricks, and Variety for some crazy reason. I guess I just see it on E! True Hollywood Stories all the time, and I wanted to take a piece of Hollyweird home with me. PSM was passing out anti-static bags with a mag and a shirt with a warning saying “Danger! Contents cause extreme platform loyalty.” It doesn't take much for me in that case. I pretty much had my Xbox Live tote full at this point. With twenty pound backpack on my back, fifty pound Xbox tote in my hand, and my camera in the other, I went over to THQ. THQ, like they do every year, had a wrestling theme set up for their booth. I tested out Wrestlemania XIX and WWE Raw 2, which turned out to be the same game in the end. Sphinx seems to be a PS2 Zelda set in ancient times and I got to snag up a demo for that as well.

By this time it was nearing three o' clock and I forgot to steal some apples from the hotel, so I set out to forage for some food. This is where I discovered the astronomical prices and equally astronomical wait times for food. I decided to save myself for Jack in the Box which have become extinct in Colorado . I asked the nearest help desk where I can find an internet connection, and they pointed me to the Yahoo booth up the stairs. Turns out, it's just a kiosk to check Yahoo mail. So much for midday updates. I had an hour before my booth tour of 1C Games, so I decided to head down to Kentia Hall and browse to kill time.

Now, you might have heard of Kentia Hall before. It's been regarded as a flea market for companies that shouldn't be there. This is only partially true. There were companies selling old DOS software and gray market DDR pads, but there were also some software companies showing off some impressive games. Aside from that, while the bigger developers seem to ignore you unless you're a member of the press, these guys actually make conversation with you and ask for your input. One in particular was JCE Software. I walked by their booth and saw that they were demoing a game called Netsphere, which is a multiplayer FPS featurning mechs. Picture Virtual On with an Unreal engine in free fly mode and you get the idea here. I saw the game running, and the lady there noticed my attention. She asked if I wanted to play against one of the company employees. We proceeded to play for about twenty minutes while the booth lady was snapping pictures of us playing and laughing whenever we killed each other. Turns out the game is being shipped out in Japan and Korea later this year and they're at E3 to find a developer for the states. She asked if I was freelancing for a gaming site and proceeded to give me her card to let her know if I do a write up on the site.

I continued down the row and took notice of some unique RTS games, including one that has you controlling a group of Lions (would that be a den or a herd?). Picture SimAnt with lions and there you go. I got a mouse pad for noticing that one, and the game is called Animal Kingdom by the way. I came across another booth that was demonstrating a MMORPG called Priston Tale by Triglow Pictures. It looks like Final Fantasy: Chrystal Chronicles, only in a massively online setting. The guy there said that they too were looking for a publisher in the US as well. They have about 100,000 subscibers in Korea and want to expand on that. He says that they were planning a free beta for those of us here in the states, and only planned on charging $3.00 a month if the full game is released. Now they can teach those fat cats in the south hall a thing or two. He told me that even though he wasn't allowed to do it, he gave me a demo, poster, and his card and told me to email him for a password. Not bad! You can get it at www.pristontale.com.

Another title that deserves mentioning is a game called Vultures by CDV, which will be out on the Xbox this December. It features some VERY impressive visuals and some clunky, slow control.

I arrived at the 1C booth for my tour and interview. The PR lady noticed by attendee badge (or lack of a press badge) and walked off telling someone to help me out. I got to preview Perimeter, and neat RTS that features a ton of terraforming action and Vivisector, a super gory FPS. Remember the FPS called Chasm that came out back in 1996? Yeah, these guys made it.

After my tour of 1C, a lady got on the loudspeaker, and like the principal of my elementary school, proceeded to yell to everyone like little children to get out. So ends my first day of E3.

I proceeded to get lost for two hours after the show, but I happened upon a Jack-in-the-Box in a not-so good part of town. You can tell because the counter had a window of bullet-proof glass, you paid through a hole in the window like a gas station and they handed you your food in a bullet-proof box that you couldn't open while the door was open on their end. What a country! I highly suggest the ultimate cheeseburger, it's exquisite!

  Day Two: Celebs, Wrasllin', and Online Massive Multiplayer everything!

  I arrived early again today to try to get some food before the show to avoid starving all day; that, when combined with four hours of sleep makes a nasty E3 experience. I walked a couple streets one way, then a couple streets down the other and found nothing but a closed up taco shop. I noticed some other attendees wandering the same way as I was. I asked them if they were looking for some eats as well, they did and even asked some of the natives where to find some. They were told that there wasn't anything for another five blocks. Sensing that might not be a good idea, since I was wearing my E3 badge, carrying an oversized backpack with laptop and liter of Mountain Dew, and holding a camera just screamed “Lost tourist, please loot!” I decided to just got back and starve until my trip to Jack that night.

Day two kicked off with a trip to the South hall where Konami, Square-Enix, Capcom, EA, and Microsoft called home. I wore my Shoryuken shirt for the occasion. At 9am on the dot, Konami started up the Metal Gear Solid 3 trailer which lasted for about 7-8 minutes. Afterwards, I basked in the oldschool glow that was TMNT and Gradius V. Both are excellent games and totally fun. Konami also had a really impressive setup for Castlevania and Metal Gear which I had to take pics of. Silent Hill 3 also looks to be coming along really well, but reinforces the fact that I suck at survival horror games.

From there I visited Disney Interactive which had Tron 2.0 on display in cabinets that look like the grid cars from the movie. The game really looks impressive, but seems a bit stingy when it comes to killing innocents. If you do, you get an" illegal program termination" message…now that's witty! I would have been there yesterday for the Tron reunion, but like Police Academy, without Steve Guttenburg, it's nothing! (Please note the sarcastic connotations –ed)

The Eidos booth had to be the loudest, most obnoxious, most prize giving booth at the show. There was an excellent display for Backyard Wrestling (which seems pretty fun!) featuring the masked guy getting a frog splash off of the ceiling of a house (see pic). There was a ring set up in the back yard where they had wrestlers from the game wrestling each other. Pretty entertaining indeed, but without some flaming tables or barbed wire, it's nothing. Thief 3 and Deus Ex are stunning visually. One mention is a game called Whiplash, which is your typical platform game, but with a weasel and a rabbit chained together. It's a blast. On the other hand, Tomb Raider and the new Legacy of Kain look like more of the same old...stuff.


Pictured above: A dummy and a guy on a table. Gamepro protip: Dr. Swank is a three-time world karate champy-own!

Next, I visited Midway who was preparing to have Cold play live that day. Everyone there was nice in that kentia hall kind of way. One of the employees offered to play Roadkill, a vehicular combat game with me. I then realized later on why they were friendly, they weren't allowing pictures to be taken. So much for that. Roadkill was okay, just another Twisted Metal Black clone. Same can be said for Freestyle Metal X as well. One game that really stood out was The Suffering, which is apparently based off of a comic book. I never saw so many gruesome deaths at once, and that's after playing Silent Hill 3 an hour earlier! Also on display was Spy Hunter 2, which doesn't need any explanation.

On the way to the next booth, I walked through Conspiracy Entertainment's booth which a friend forewarned me about just days prior to the event. I immediately searched for it and found one of the poorest excuses for a game I've seen. A game based on Eminem. Now, Def Jam Vendetta was good, hell, Shaq Fu was good compared to this. It's slated for a straight to PSX release and touts four Eminem videos and seven puzzle modes like those square games that you arrange the squares to make a picture…yeah that one. This better sell for $7 and stocked next to the Jumpack demo CDs to even garner my respect for it as a game.

Off in the distance, I saw my own incarnation of heaven: Square-Enix in the foreground and Rockstar in the background. Rockstar's display was somewhat disappointing since the only new game they had was Celebrity Death Match, which was just ok in my book. Everything else was pre-released like Mafia and the soon-to-be-released on PC but already out on PS2 Vice City.

Square-Enix was demoing their Final Fantasy titles in addition to Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Unlimited Saga, and a game called Drakengard which is 50% Panzer Dragoon and 50% Dynasty Warriors 4. Add in a dash of Square and you have one tasty action RPG! I made it a point that I was coming to E3 to hobnob with Square, and that I did. We got into conversations about Chrystal Chronicles and about how I was afraid about how it was going to turn out being on a Nintendo platform, but they put me in my place by telling me the best FF's were always on Nintendo platforms, save for FF VII. While waiting in line for the Square theater attraction which demoed more gameplay footage from the said games, I noticed a booth for a company that was showing one of those MMORPGs that are so popular nowadays. They didn't have anyone visiting them, so they brought out a chick dressed in a loincloth. All of a sudden, men with cameras flocked to the booth. So that's how you do it.

Next stop was the Half-Life demo with one speed bump; the wait was four hours. I sat down and thought about writing my feature thus far while I waited, then I realized that I could be out playing other games instead of waiting for one. At the time I decided to leave, ATI started passing out tickets for half-life showings at their hotel down the block to try to ease the crowd. Score!

I got a golden ticket...

Since I hadn't had my Half-Life fix yet, I decided that it was finally time to get my Halo on. Microsoft had its thinking hat on, because their theater could sit 65 people at a time. After a 15 minute wait, we were basking in the glory that was Halo 2. The demo was played by the guy who was hosting the demo, as to guarantee it was all realtime. The game started off wth you getting out of a dropship and helping out some soldiers that were pinned down by the Covenant. The game already looks beautiful, everything's been upgraded in terms of visuals. Aliens have slimy surfaces, cars and Master Chief himself have reflective surfaces and so on. The entire demo was in a city with a lot of combat going on around you. You hop into a Warthog as gunner and start gunning down dropships and Ghosts. You jump off and fight off more guys, then you're surrounded by a fleet of ghosts. The guy then runs at a Ghost, jumps up on it where it switched into third person perspective, and commandeers it by kicking the Covenant guy out.. He's then chased by the fleet until the cliffhanger conclusion. Pretty amazing to say the least.

At this point, I realized that Rare was in fact showing up at E3. I was walking over to Conker: Live and Uncut when I had a group of guys walk by me. I noticed that one of them looked familiar and turned out to be Snoop Dog(g?) who was there to judge a Midnight Club II competition on Xbox Live. I never got to play Kameo because it must have had a hypnotist coding it and was causing people not to want to get off of it. Conker was good for being a group of mini games based around a revamped N64 version of the game with the more racy items put back in.

There was a great display for True Crime: Streets of LA (fitting title for the location) displaying a couple of wrecked cars. Too bad the game crashed more times than I could count. The developer had to sit there and poke a chopstick into the case to trigger the reset button. What little I played was fun, though.

Capcom's booth was next. On he way there, I saw about four more MMORPGs and the American Idol booth was packed. Paula Abdul and Ronnie What's-his-name were there judging how people played the game. Why not kick them while they're down, it's their first time!

Capcom was giving out Megaman 15 th anniversary pins and Maximo action figures. They know what I want. They also had an arcade cab with Street Fighter II. The people working the booth were cool, and talked to you in the kentia hall kind of way without any shady ulterior motives. They grouped us into a game of Resident Evil Outbreak which had us grouped into a restaurant that was being attacked by zombies. We all had different abilities to work out of the situations presented. I had the key. One person had a gun, the rest of us had knives and so on. I don't doubt the online readiness of RE from now on. Maximo: Army of Zin makes me remember why I really liked Maximo in the first place, but then laughs at why I never bought it. The megaman games were all there, and no matter if you were playing as Megaman, X, Zero, Bass, or Roll, it was all the same game.

At this point I decided to take off early and see the demo of Half-Life which really has me exited for the final product. The first game was cool for the first two hours, then we got platform hopping involved and all of that outside nonsense, and I had to force myself to beat it from then on. This one looks like it will keep my attention for a long time. I'm a sucker for distorting water effects and 700mhz system requirements!

Tomorrow's the last day, I'll be sure to live it to its fullest!

Day Three – Booth babes and freebies!

  LA seems to have changed overnight. My drive downtown took two hours today, which made me late for my appointment with Metro 3D. Oh well, turns out Stake: Fortune Fighters wasn't it was all cracked up to be, was it?


This is what I have to drive in every morning…

Lucas Arts was next door to them and was invitation only. They had a big screen in the lobby of the hall which showed Sam and Max 2, Jedi Academy and Knights of the Old Republic . Jedi Academy and Sam and Max look really good. I can't say the same for Knights…it looks like it's going to flop. But that's just my opinion.

I went back to the south hall to start catching everything I had missed in the previous days. I started by going to Nintendo's booth to check out Pikmin 2. It plays the same as the original game, but now you have an assistant and the poison white and burly purple Pikmin add a little variety to the game.

Next, I went to the Microsoft booth to see what happened to two titles I was looking forward to seeing, N.U.D.E and Fable. I found out that a demo of Fable was going to be shown in an hour on the big screen. I stuck around to check out Voodoo Vince, since it sounded like it was pretty cool. I was waiting to play it when a Microsoft guy started talking to the guy playing the game in front of me. It turned out to be one of the developers of the game. We started talking about character platformers, and he showed us some of the voodoo attacks in the game like the guillotine, pins, fire, and my personal favorite, running with scissors. We made idle chit chat for about 45 minutes as he walked me through the game. I turned out to be the first person he's seen that lost all lives in the demo version of the game. I made it clear to him that platforming is a weakness of mine.Upon saying goodbye, I made sure to thank him for bringing in an original concept to the genre.

At this point, all of the games started looking the same to me. The floor was saturated with games that were either 3 rd person sword combat or first person shooters. Call it prolonged exposure to video games in general perhaps. There were a few standouts, however. XIII is a lot of fun, and the artwork is excellent. One of the artists was actually there drawing peoples heads onto the characters for a fee and autographed. Talk about nice. About this time, I had realized that my camera has yet to capture another facet of E3, the booth babe. I made it a point to be on the lookout for any and all booth babes to act like they care enough to pose and smile for me. This was going to be the theme of my day.

I ventured over to the Vivendi-Universal booth for some Starcraft: Ghost and Simpsons Hit and Run action. This is where I discovered the Cat in the Hat booth babes. Outlaw Vollyball caught my eye right of the bat. Now I haven't played DOA Vollyball yet, so the concept of jigglies is totally new to me. These girls seemed to already have skimpy outfits. One was even wearing a wet t-shirt and it was VERY apparent she didn't have a top on underneath. Talk about taking things to the next level. Gameplay was okay, but the hot girl-on-girl action at the end of the matches was worth the price of admission alone. Yes you heard right, girl-on-girl action. Okay not really, but they would embrace and look like they were seriously thinking about it and that's enough for me. I picked up a bottle opener for my trouble off of that one. At this time they were also giving away cat in the hat mice, so I snagged one of those up. I'll be posting pics of it, as well as the rest of the trinkets when I can get some new batteries in the camera when I get home. I ran out of juice just before the show ended. It's a nice mouse though, it's got water and a little Cat in the Hat hat floating where you rest your palm, kinda like those soap dispensers with frogs, ducks, and Santas floating around in them. Getting off of my tangent, sometimes I really wish they would make a Simpsons game as good as the old arcade game. Hit and Run is just like GTA with free roaming environments and missions from the towns people. The same can be said for the Fast and the Furious game which also features a non-detailed rendered LA and missions from icons on the map. The only thing the game seems to pioneer is damage to licensed cars.


Mmmm…booth babes.

Blizzard was showing off Starcraft Ghost, War Craft III the Frozen Throne, and World of Warcraft. I swear, Blizzard can't seem to do wrong on anything (sans the Death and Rebirth of Superman game on the SNES). All games are very well done and just addicting to play. They're becoming one of my favorite publishers next to Square and Capcom.

I found a couple of booth babes at the Men of Valor: Vietnam booth. I got dog tags from that stint as well as a risky pic of one of the Cat in the Hat babes behind. It all started off as a simple “what if?” conversation with the guy behind me, then it turned into a competition. She was posing for pictures and didn't notice, thank goodness, but oh what joy these pics will bring! I sat in on their demo running in progressive scan and 5.1 surround. The game is really impressive in the way in conveys war as all of the little details are there. Every soldier seemed to have his personality and the helicopter you are riding in has a boombox playing Wully Bully and other songs from the era which was a nice touch. It was pretty intense to say the least.


The Men of Honor Girls. You thought I was joking? I obviously lost the contest.

I went to Encore's booth next where they were displaying two games that sparked my interest – Chrome and Neighbors From Hell. Chrome is a very well done and nice looking FPS for the PC. I managed to lift a couple of demos. Neighbors from hell plays out like a sitcom. It takes place in a two level house represented on the top and bottom of the screen and features claymation visuals similar to those from Chicken Run. Your character is cheered by a mock studio audience when he enters the house and the silliness begins. You search your neighbors drawers, cabinets, and refridgerators for items to annoy him with, you can then choose to use items on other objects to mess them up and bring your neighbor's annoyance level to 100% without getting caught. One example is you find a marker in his desk and use it on his picture of his mom. He walks by it and gets angry for 7% annoyance. While he struggles to clean it up, you can make your escape to another room.

Next, I revisited the Capcom booth to find out they had more arcade cabs in the back with SNK vs Capcom 1 and 2 along with Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I took on a few people in SNK vs. Capcom 2 and came out with a respectable 5-2 record. Once you challenge at E3 what else is there?

Next I proceeded to go off to EA's booth to search out Black and White 2 and BC, both of which were no shows, at least on the floor. There was a whole booth for their sports games, one for the Sims: Breaking Out game (no Sims 2 either) and there was a door labeled “EA Big” that was closed to the general attendees.

Next on my list was the Nokia NGage booth. Everyone there was happy to see everyone, and they were wanting feedback on everything. I played Tony Hawk, Red Faction, and some crappy motorcycle game. Tony Hawk is exactly like its PSX counterpart, which is really impressive. The thought of playing HORSE against someone over Bluetooth is astounding. Everyone kept offering me t-shirts, so I picked up three off of them. They're vacuum sealed to look like an NGage!

At this point I was finished with all of the games, so in addition to hunting booth babes, I devoted an hour to collecting freebies, which were in abundance. It seems like the last day of the event is freebie day, and everyone saves everything for that day. I picked up three shirts from Ubi Soft (Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six 3, and Ghost Recon), a shirt from Logitech, a couple of Magic the Gathering demos, some Tomb Raider mints from Eidos, a Namco badge holder, a couple posters from some MMORPGs and some glow sticks from NCSoft. I also got some pics with the fairies from Nvidia, a couple of hotties from G4 who were oddly dressed like Hooters servers, another booth babe dressed like a school girl from some company that was showing off some TV games, the vestal virgins from the Prince of Persia booth, and some crazy chick with a sword walking in front of one of the many MMORPG booths. At the time of the picture, she was going off on some guy and was just about to start swinging that big plastic sword around. Red Sonja she is not.

Above: Some handsome guy posing with the Nvidia girls and a Hooters racing sequel? Nah, just the G4 girls. Not pictured: Dr. Swank waving a dollar bill.

She-Ra in mid harangue. No really, she was going off on that guy.


Now since I thought of Logitech, I just wanted to say “thank god” for this invention:



Now, it might have been around for some time, but I just discovered it today. I played my first dose of Evercrack Adventures with it and found it totally useful. Thank you Logitech!

Before I left the south hall, I took some pics of the booths and the surrounding areas just to show my friends at home the sheer massiveness and beauty of this thing. I also saw my first cosplay victim in Sammy's booth. I didn't think massiveness was a word, but my spell checker didn't catch it, so take that! Oh yeah, the Fable demo was amazing. Words can't describe how great that game can be. Hopefully we're not listening to a lot of fluff.

Pictured above: Cosplay at its worst and the hotties at Sammy's booth.

After a couple of smoke breaks I went back to the West Hall to check out the rest of Sony's booth and cash in a prize card to Nyko Technologies. Upon reaching the mail cafeteria, I got to meet one of my favorite people on the net and in EGM, Seanbaby. It felt like meeting a celebrity.

Just a portion of the Sony booth and I saw her on the way!

At the Sony booth I got the chance to try out Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain which is the most entertaining incarnation of this franchise so far. I played a single player game as well as a LAN game which proved to be really fin. I also tried out the new Ratchet and Clank game which was only doing survival modes in an arena with the new weapons. Some really had some cool effects like the volcano gun which shoots lava and has this cool liquid dripping effect.

By this time it was almost closing time, so I decided to go back to kentia hall to revisit some of the people there and to take pics of any of the interesting findings for the article. One thing worth mentioning is on my way, someone left some coupons for free lap dances at the local gentleman's club. Another score.


Kentia hall is has booth babes too. It's not 100% flea market.


One interesting find was a game called Ballerium by Majorem LTD, which is touted as the “Only real massive multiplayer RTS”. Each player has a hero, and that hero has an army which is part of a larger army. It also offers a self-balancing economic system, unit customization, and an endless world. I didn't get a chance to play it, but definitely looks like fun. You can visit them at www.ballerium.com .

Another interesting find was a FPS using the Serious Engine called Nitro Family by Delphieye, Inc. which features a guy gunning down baddies whith his wife on his back to give advice and bomb enemies. The demo I played took me through some really nice environments with tons of destructible items. Some of the best features are a bullet time mode that plays this serene piano music (like what war movies do when a soldier is getting gunned down while going out in a blaze of glory) and a juggle combo system. Your shotgun will actually launch enemies into the air and you can juggle them with your second gun and rack up combos. Your wife can also fly off of your back and bomb enemies up ahead. More info is at nitrofamily.com.

The other finds I saw were a motion sensor for fighting games. It was pretty cool watching this Japanese business man manically punching and kicking towards this stand on the floor while playing Virtual Fighter 4. I tried getting pics of it, but my camera has this three second delay, so I only captured him during his resting spells. They invited me to try it, which made the previous guy look like a pimp. I was so stiff at this point it was all I could do to walk around. It's going to be out in a couple of months and will be priced at $100. They also gave me some handmade Korean people as a freebie.


He goes for the swing! Tactical blur action.


Next was a contraption called the Pyramat. You put it on the floor and it props your head up to play video games. Sounds like a practical concept, right? Well, there's more. There are three speakers in the headrest in addition to a subwoofer and rumble support. We played Halo while testing these things out, and it was pretty cool feeling your head and shoulders rumble whenever a grenade went off next to you. They retail for $149 and are available on Amazon.com.



The Pyramat in all of its glory!


Next up was a motion chair which was being displayed alongside Combat Flight Simulator 3. The chair moved with every movement and had joysticks on each armrest. I don't know if it rumbled or not, but it looked cool as well as expensive.

While the music never subsided in then south and west halls, the people in kentia were packing up twenty minutes before the show ended. Towards the end it was pretty desolate. I decided to get back to the south hall and take some more pics of the Tron bikes and the neato True Crime: Streets of LA and Rainbox Six 3 booths and I walked back to my minivan to go search for the elusive Del Taco and a beach so I can see the Pacific Ocean for the first time since I was six.


Pictured above: (left) It's a sad day when the booth is better than the game. (right) The coolest booth ever! (bottom) I was hoping to get the neato fog effects, but all I got was this stupid picture.


And for the record, Colorado needs a Del Taco! It's the super Wal-Mart of fast food, where else can you order nachos, bean burritos with a cheeseburger and fries all at once?

In closing, it's been a beautiful experience. I am now confident enough to drive in LA and I made it up to Santa Monica beach and back in one piece without looking at directions. I can now drive like a Californian too. I'm definitely considering going back next year, especially if I'm recognized as a true media entity by then. If not, I'll still consider going as a fan of the industry. I know what to expect now and the next time will have more room for fun. I'll have until May 11, 2004 to think about it.



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