E3 2012: Day one, Thoughts and impressions

Day one of E3 started out with excitement and a sense of being overwhelmed. At an industry trade show like this there is always so much to see and do, knowing a single person can’t get hands-on with every game demo and video presentation.   Never having the opportunity to attend E3 before, I only had a outsider’s view of what to expect.

The day started off for me by picking up my media badge, and then basically standing in the first of many lines, this was just for the show floor to open.  Once the expo was officially open I headed into the South Hall of the convention center to make my way around the booths of many of the top third-party game developers.  After crossing the EA and Sega booths I came across Ubisoft.  What caught my eye was not only a small enclosed theater room for Watch Dogs, which was already booked for the week, but my first chance to get hands on with the Wii U.  I quickly decided to stand in line and try out ZombiU.

This is a mature first person survival horror game.  In the demo, you play in an area in the rain just outside Buckingham Palace.  The goal is to stay alive while looking for an antidote to help cure NPCs who have become infected. It took time to find and figure what the controls were and what they did.  This game used the new Wii U GamePad. The two thumbsticks did what a player should expect when playing a game of this genre, left was for moving around and right was for looking and aiming when you used the right trigger to aim and shoot.  The A, B, X and Y buttons did the usual reload, change weapons, jump and pick-up items.  The touchscreen portion of the controller was not only used as a menu to show items, it also served as the scope when using the crossbow, sniper rifle and other such weapons.  This meant that the GamePad had to be moved around in order to aim using the scope.  Needless to say, Nintendo is clearly letting developers make games that appeal beyond the casual gamers that currently play the Wii.  Unless you are a hardcore gamer, playing ZombiU for the first time might be hard because there is a learning curve for getting used to the controls.  I might have actually completed the demo had I been completely comfortable using the new GamePad and unique control scheme, especially in how Ubisoft implemented the touch pad.

After this experience of playing the Wii U, I walked around and explored what else was on the show floor.  At this point, walked into the Disney Interactive booth.  There was a sizable line forming and I soon found out that it was to get a personal embroidered Oswald “the lucky rabbit” ears.  This was part of the promotion for Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two.  Needless to say, I stood in what was probably the shortest wait time for these ears during E3.  Later in the week I did come back to the booth and actually play the game for the Wii.

Another game that I had heard some positive things about was Theaterhythm: Final Fantasy.  I was able to walk up and start playing the game. It is 3DS, touch based music rhythm game.  Not only is this for fans of Final Fantasy, gamers who enjoyed Elite Beat Agents for the DS will like this too. It takes the touch based music rhythm concept and merges it with RPG-esque elements and music from the many of the Final Fantasy games, going back to Final Fantasy 1.

Before leaving the South Hall for the day, I went over to the Namco-Bandai booth to see what they had to show.  One game that interested me that I did play was Dragonball Z: Kinect.  This game is a one-on-one VS fight game.  For me the game wasn’t too exciting because the difficulty was not very high and there were onscreen prompts telling you what to do and when to execute the gesture based motion controls.  I wonder if on different modes or difficulties, there would be no onscreen prompts.  The view showed both characters in in the arena until prompted to use the motion controls, then the gameplay switched to first-person.

To end the day, I headed over to the West Hall.  This is when I actually got to play some first party Nintendo games on the Wii U.  In the Nintendo booth, they had an area set up called NintendoLand.  This had stations setup for people to join in playing one of five different multiplayer party, mini-games. There will be twelve mini-games in the final version of NintendoLand. Each one of these games showcased the capabilities and hardware of the Wii U.  Each mini-game gave the player using the Wii U GamePad new and creative controls, some touch based, others just using the accelerometer and gyroscope.   For three of the games, one player used the GamePad and was always looking at the touchscreen, using unique gameplay elements hidden to the other players. The other three to four  players used the Wiimote in landscape configuration. Then there were two GamePad only games, one using only the touchscreen and the other controlled by tilting the GamePad.

The The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest mini-game allowed for one person to be fire arrows using the GamePad and touchscreen.  Allowing the player to attack the enemies from afar.  The other players attacked upclose using a sword. The second mini-game is Luigi’s Ghost Mansion.  This involves the GamePad controlled played to be a ghost trying to scare and stun the other players.  The up to four other players have flashlights and attempt to drain all the energy from the ghost.  Another playable mini-game was Animal Crossing: Sweet Day.  The main player moves around two characters trying to catch three of the four other players.  This player only looks at the touch screen while controlling their characters using only the two thumbsticks.  The four other players are trying to collect fifty candies as a team.  If a player eats too many and becomes slow, they may drop candies to pick up speed.  Donkey Kong’s Crash Course uses the tilt functionality of the GamePad.  The one player has to get from the top to the bottom of the screen without crashing. This requires making precise tilt movements at the right times so as to go the needed speed and momentum.  The final of the NintendoLand games was Takamaru’s Ninja Castle.  This required the player to hold the GamePad in a vertical position and swipe their hand across the touchpad to fire the throwing stars at the enemies on screen.  The GamePad can be moved with the nondominant hand to aim before firing.

These articles are simply to give you the reader an insight into the games I saw and played at E3, not to prove what sort of a gamer I might be.  I am not trying to brag about being a hardcore gamer or being very good for that matter. I just want to share my firsttime E3 experience with those who were unable to go. Look for my articles about days two and three of E3 coming soon as well as a full article expanding my first impressions and thoughts on the Wii U, and a few detailed articles on some of the other games that I had a more indepth preview or demo with.