Well, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not able to attend the bulk of today's show. I was there for the last few hours, that was it. I didn't get to the Game Cube, but tomorrow I'm going to do a whole lot of checking stuff out, and Nintendo's booth is high on the priority list. They're giving away these funny foam Game Cube squishy things over there...kinda cool, in a show where the chicken is almost non-existant.
Today, the crowd seemed MUCH thinner than day one. Maybe even half the size. I guess perhaps the first day was so subdued that a lot of people decided to stay away...I don't know. Might have been people looking to go watch the Avalanche pull out a last-minute win against the Blues after giving up a 3-0 first period (I left Thomas and Onni's hotel room with about 50 seconds left in the game, disgusted that they might drop the game to the BLUES, of all teams). But, I digress.
I did check out a few things worth talking about today, though. First of all, Electronic Arts is actually coming through with some really good-looking stuff this year. Madden 2002 on Game Cube, XBox and PS2 looks fantastic; funnily enough, they all look really darn close to each other, graphically. Game Cube's colors seem a bit more vibrant, somehow...but the models and animation are all identical. NHL 2002 looks like it's fixing the problems last year's version had, for PS2...no slowdown on this year's edition, and even more player animations. The coolest EA sports game was a new NBA Jam-style game called "NBA Street." I guess it comes out next month, but it's really sharp-looking and Thomas says it plays excellently. Then there was Aliens: Colonial Marines, which looks just great for PS2...but I'm a big Aliens fan, so I've been looking forward to it.
Moving on, we went over to Midway...they've got this big theater set up, where you can recline and watch their show reel on a giant screen. We went into their press suite and checked out the exclusive "closed doors" version of the reel, which featured what everyone on the show floor saw, plus a bunch of concepts for games that may or may not ever see the light of day, and aren't even really worth talking about. "This demo uses actual in-game models." Great. Grand. Wonderful. Anyway, I think their "NHL Hitz" game is going to be a lot of fun - great player models and animation, lots of cool visual effects...and, of course, shades of NBA Jam. But watching players strike each other with lightning (I assume that's what happens when a player gets "on fire") is fun. Midway seems to be real big on Legend of Excalibur. I'm really...not. Still need to give it some playtime, so we'll see if it's more interesting than the video made it out to be. Spy Hunter sure looks pretty, I love the transforming vehicles and stuff; I think that one may do pretty well. So Midway's booth wasn't completely without merit, this year...but I'd say leave the pre-rendered "concept videos" at home next year. If it's not even past the drawing board yet, we really don't care about it. Of course, your friend and mine--Jay Boor--is working PR over there now...so I gotta cut the guy some slack. He's doing his job well, from the look of things.
I forgot to mention yesterday, how shocking it is to me that so many of the attendees are really attractive women! In past years, that has definitely NOT been the case. The moral of the story is, look around...the demographic for videogames is changing very dramatically, in a big hurry. You almost don't notice the SERIOUS lack of booth babes at the show, because some of the attendees look just as good (if a little more conservatively dressed).
Tomorrow, I've got a few items I really want to check out, before it's all said and done. First and foremost, I need to get my hands on Tony Hawk 3. Then, I'll check out the Game Cube stuff and see if I can wrangle up one of those funny foam GCs. I haven't grabbed a single piece of chicken this year, I don't want to carry it...but that foam thing's actually kinda cool. I hate to admit it, but the design of the box isn't as off-putting to me as it used to be; as long as it's not a pastel color. The silver, Panasonic combo box is probably what I'd go for.
Regarding freebies - there's hardly anything at this show, from what I've seen. Stickers, pins...tiny stuff. Microsoft handed out this collector's card holder and apparently you're supposed to go visit each XBox game and get a card for that game, or something like that. Ludicrous.
Anyway, there's gonna be a TON of stuff I didn't see. That always happens, but this year I almost don't WANT to see everything. I'm finding that the joy of the surprise has returned a bit, since I've left the industry. Seeing a bunch of games I haven't heard of or read about is a real kick in the pants...and I want to recapture that feeling I used to get when I played a new game for the first time, without knowing everything there is to know about it before I start. I'll get hands-on with 5-6 games tomorrow, watch a few being played, and that'll be the end of my big E3 2001 journey. I'll do a column about the experience, no doubt.
------------------ Kevin, the erstwhile "Hi-Fi" www.videowrestling.com