E3 2011 Report – Part One
Sean W. Gibson / Jun 9th, 2011 No Comments
E3 2011 has come and gone and in this article, I’ll share my personal report of booths I visited on Day 2 of the show. I was very fortunate to get some exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at some games and products that the general public wasn’t allowed to see, even if they attended the show.
Also as a heads up to our readers, we got 14 exclusive interviews with some of the top names in the industry which will start appearing on our site next week, so be sure to come back for that. Our first interview is going to be Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Game Director James Ohlen (aka the head honcho) which is a great way to kick off this one-of-a-kind content.
So without further ado, let’s get to some of my E3 2011 report.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
The goal was simple early on when we arrived – immediately run over to the EA booth and get in the line for Star Wars: The Old Republic, the new Star Wars themed MMORPG from BioWare. Even with our press passes, fellow writer Carl Armstrong and I didn’t even make the second batch to get in and waited a good 45 minutes to get behind the closed doors for the 15-minute hands-on playable demo. The wait was well worth it as actors showed up to interact with people in line and I finally got to meet Yoda. Yes, THE Yoda.
We got a quick 8 minute demo video to watch as a primer as to how to play the game. It’s in line with all the other MMOs out there and the controls didn’t seem too confusing. Both Carl and I were able to jump into a Sith character at level 26 and start a mission as a party. All characters have companions so there were four of us running around Tatooine. We were able to immediately see some of the story-driven missions which were very “BioWare” and had all spoken language dialog. As we flew around on our mounts we found a group area and engaged in combat. As a Sith Juggernaut I was the tank of the group and I can definitely say my character was a serious bad-ass. The problem is that there is some definite combat strategy to the game and in these group sections of the map simply having a two person party won’t suffice as we regularly got our butts kicked. So, without knowing much about controlling my character I died quite a bit, but it was the good kind of dying, meaning, the game was an enjoyable level of difficult and made me want to try again.
One of the concerns I had going in about Star Wars: The Old Republic were the in-game graphics. Those concerns are gone now as the in-game graphics of SWTOR are just fine and the special effects of the abilities given to characters are really cool. My juggernaut had some pretty awesome abilities and Carl’s Sith Inquisitor was more of a casting class and had some pretty cool things going on in his own right.
Honestly, this live demo we played came as more of a relief for us than anything else. YES – this game is awesome. YES – it looks good. YES – it plays different in a good way than other MMORPG games. Bring it on!
The biggest sports franchise was also represented at the EA booth. We caught up with the art director for the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions and he told us that more has gone into this year’s game from a presentation and art direction perspective than any other year-to-year edition of the game. Every team’s proper introductions are in the game, as well as all the mascots and complete integration with the CBS sports team. All the added presentation elements plus the new tackling animations and logic further authenticates the best sports game in the industry. It looks fantastic on both platforms and I also played it on the iPad 2 which looks pretty good too.
AMD Video Cards
AMD has been doing some great things in the world of PC video cards. Their line of gaming video cards has historically been nothing short of awesome and they were representing themselves in impressive fashion. I was most impressed with their ability to run DiRT 3 on a PC with three 30” monitors attached running at full speed and full frame-rates. The new Radeon HD 6990 was on display and is a 2nd generation DirectX 11-capable card and was one of the new products debuted at E3. I’m a real geek for killer video cards so seeing AMD at the show was fun, especially their six-monitor (yes, you read that right) setup for Dragon Age II.
3D Gaming – Sony & Optima
One of the new technologies on display at E3 2011 was 3D gaming, and not just from our friends at Nintendo. With some PS3 games utilizing 3D Blu-Ray technology, we figured to see some 3D display technology available for demo, which took place at the Sony and Optima booths.
At the Sony Online Entertainment booth they also had an area dedicated to their VAIO line of products. The L series coming in the near future are going to feature a fully 3D capable touch-screen monitor that is built similar to an iMac. These Sony machines are absolutely gorgeous and trying out the 3D technology seemed much more of a gimmick than anything else unfortunately. However, throwing the 3D concept out the window, these 1080p machines are just stunning to the eye in regular format and offer gamers the ability to build-to-order which is always a good thing.
The other company touting 3D that we ran into was the well-known projector company, Optima. They were showing off a 1080p-converted solution which looked really good, showing off a PS3 3D game that had been hooked in. We had a real good conversation with both product managers about the future of 3D technology and if it will really be a viable technology for gaming in the next few years.
We were walking by the Turtle Beach booth and we checked out their new line of headsets. They position themselves as a company that builds a headset for everyone and that just might be true. We looked at their $39.99 value line and they were lightweight and sounded decent. Their mid-range offerings were decent too but they really shined with their new wireless bluetooth headsets. These headsets were really well made, amazingly lightweight and offered an amazing surround sound audio experience. We got an interview with one of the Turtle Beach guys and they really “get it” when it comes to knowing what gamers want.
Square Enix – Dungeon Siege III & Deus Ex
We were able to get some hands-on time with both of these games at the Square Enix booth and neither disappointed. Dungeon Siege III looks really solid on all the platforms and plays really well on the consoles. We chatted with one of the team members from the game who let us know that Obsidian worked together with Chris Taylor on this one, so there really won’t be a dramatic disconnect for the DS3 vision. There’s also a lot of story built in which we always love to see. The game is shipping later this month and looks great.
Deus Ex is a game that we had been reading and seeing a lot of in our Pre-E3 coverage. We got some time with the game at the PlayStation booth and talked to one of the guys who worked on it. He confirmed that they built the game with the hopes that people will want to play through multiple times as they’ve left a ton of different ways open to get through missions. Kill nobody, kill everyone, it’s up to you. The graphics didn’t really impress, especially in the wake of having just left the Modern Warfare 3 demo and seeing Battlefield 3 earlier in the day. Despite that, the game looks like a lot of fun so we’re keeping a close eye on it.
Trion Worlds – Rift 1.3
We had done some coverage of Trion World’s MMORPG Rift with a review and a patch report but this was the first time we were able to meet with them and talk about the game. We talked to one of the top content developers of the game who gave us a sneak peek into patch 1.3 for the game which is going to contain the biggest World Event the game (any MMORPG?) has ever seen. It’s massive in scale with multiple multi-part bosses to defeat and in usual Rift style, there’s layers upon layers in the story. The guys at Trion Worlds really impressed us with their smarts and dedication to their game and especially their community. They let us know part of their job description is to not just troll their own forums but to respond and engage their community and find out how to make the game better. This is a really good, smart bunch of people really dedicated to making a great MMORPG (which they have) and this new patch brings a ton more great content to the game.
tags: amd video cards , deus ex , dungeon siege 3 , e3 , e3 2011 , madden 12 , rift , star wars the old republic