BeyondUnreal @ E3 2004
Los Angeles, California
12th May 2004
Yesterday, as it is being late, was my 1st day tour of E3. Traffic getting downtown to the Los Angeles Convention Center sucked, but that's normal stuff here and doesn't even merit a traffic report. If you don't know where that is, it's next to the Staples Center where the Kings and Lakers play, m'kay. A staggering 10,000 ppl jammed the registration lines, fortunately some strings were pulled and I was ushered in as Media only stopping briefly to have my badge UV scanned and a bag check. No Sarin gas allowed apparently (Face Off movie reference). Being Southern California, I was given a warm welcome once inside.

A quick walk through of the West Hall and across the Pico Street concourse landed me in the larger South Hall. beneath the South Hall lies Kentia Hall for all the hardware distributors hawk their stuff, which I hope to preview tomorrow, er, today. Inside the South Hall I bee-lined thru towering dispays all the way to the nVidia Booth to see the Unreal3 tech presentation. Standing there was none other than Tim Sweeney and Steve Polge! You know you read about these guys and enjoy all the work nearly everyday, it was a real pleasure to talk to these guys face to face. Moments later Mark Rein arrived, thanking him for the excellent oppurtunity he handed me off to Willhaven (Bagel Boy). Willhaven and I discussed level design and he fired up 3 beta Onslaught maps for the CBP2 for me, as well as some of the mods from the MSUC. Then, you guessed it, CliffyB shows up still jazzed about his photo op with Jenny McCarthy. Hint, Cliff is the guy on the right in Italian Silk.

After a few hours of hanging with the big dogs from North Carolina, it was time to search out some of the other great Unreal-powered titles debuting at the show. I tell you the eye-candy present was overwhelming, music blarred from every corner and everywhere were flat panel displays and plasma screens. Truly the CRT is a dinosaur, my monitor glares at me as I write this knowing it soon will become landfill. With over 800,000 square feet of floor space, finding any single at E3 requires a lot of walking through crowded isles, if you can find one. This beauty posing in front of the Auto-Assault Booth warented a pic, feverishly reminding me of my beloved Scorpion. And the girl ain't too bad either...

One of the major destinations in the South Hall is Microsoft Games, aka X-Box. Easily the largest booth at E3, consoles were available to play all the latest and soon to be released titles. I, of course, gravitated towards the Unreal Championship 2 kiosk. Breifly talking with one of the devs, I played a few rounds and quickly realized how deprived I was in skill using a controller, a regular Agent K. The biggest cool play factor was the addition of a "melee" weapon for each of the 14 different player characters. Main weapons are limited to 3 initial spawn companions geared to match that player's physically represented gameplay style. The only pick ups being your power-ups, adrenaline, heath and generic ammo packs for each of the 3 weps. And for those that care, yes they had Doom3 on 20 or so consoles to play, but I can say the Mechwarrior sequel "Lone Wolf" was also recieving fair attention.

Aside from the nVidia 6800 powered rigs I fragfested in deathmatch with 5 other ppl, there are many awesome rigs demo'd at E3. The new PC console rig dubbed "Phantom" made an impression. Basically it is a PC with wide screen display and a healthy internet connection. The controller is a full keyboard wrapped to shelter a mouse pad that sits comfortably on your lap. nGage also had a large booth showcasing their portables. When I return, I will be also checking out the Sony Booth for the Playstation title Pariah. One of my favorite rigs is pictured below, sure it uses 3 X-boxes, but you can't deny this is the way you want to play driving sims.

Being easily distracted from my goals, I ended up playing some Bloodrayne2 and GuildWars, instead of Splinter Cell 2, Rainbow Six 3 and Lineage 2. Another game I want some hands on is Dungeon Siege 2, remembering the addictive properties may have to opt checking it out last. I'm not a big fan of the combat offered by these Final Fantasy-type scavenger hunts, it's more about interation and satisfying the pack rat in me that keeps me enthralled. I guess I can skip EverQuest, WarCraft and NWN for Unreal-powered versions. With that said, I'll leave you with a shot of a 20 foot projection screen playing in game footage for Lineage 2, something that stuck in my head during the drive home. Continue to Day 2 of BU's E3 2004 Coverage