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E3 2012 Diary: Day Two

June 7, 2012

That deadening tinkle of water and tarmac hush of traffic can only mean I’m sitting outside the Staple Centre Inn for what is, for both me and the front desk night staff who gently closed the hotel door without making eye contact at 1.30 am yesterday morning, a sad and final time.

Today has been our busiest and longest of the show. For media the first day of E3 starts at midday, the third day usually ends halfway through in a lunge for the airport, making the middle day the fullest and meanest.

But that’s OK because the first thing we did this morning was meet Katsuo Harada, who’s the producer of Tekken and also the closest thing a person can get to being a barrel made of smiles and beard. One of the things I’ve always liked about fighting games are the hobbies listed pointlessly alongside fighter fist circumferences and depth of anger (I think Paul Phoenix’s profile on Tekken 3 said he ‘enjoys shopping’). Today I asked Harada what his hobby would be if he was a fighting character and he said they include yacht racing, diving, and building PCs (travelling the world and drinking was his sensible final choice).

Today on the Sega stand I heard the motion scanner whine from Aliens and I felt a jolt of alert excitement and recognition followed by a slightly empty pang of disappointment, which is basically a short version of how I expect to feel when the game arrives next year (I hope I’m being harsh, but realistically Dead Space has already stolen all the bits of the Alien series I really want to play in a game). Still, thanks to Colonial Marines the Sega stand also included the original queen alien model from Cameron’s film, which was excellent and rubbery and over twelve feet tall.

Back on the Sony stand I saw more of Beyond. It was gameplay and like Heavy Rain in that it had button-press sequences tied to character movement, although unlike Heavy Rain in that it features a sparkly supernatural guardian violently accompanying tough lady lead Jodie Holmes as she’s chased by the police, a bit like if Will-o’-the-wisp starred in an unlikely remake of a Bruce Willis movie. Jodie can also look after herself and fends off three attackers in a traintop fight using blocks and punches and taking her jacket off unexpectedly. Together with The Last Of Us and Ellie’s thumping brick-to-face moment it looks like Sony is the one developer who’s discovered what strong, interesting female characters look like, even if they all weirdly look like Ellen Page.

What serves me right for talking so much about The Last Of Us is that today after we saw an extended presentation of the conference demo I said hello to Neil Druckmann, and he went for a high five and I went for a handshake because I’m unbelievably English in a sort of rubbish way like a chipped plate. And then I went to change, which is the worst thing you can ever do, and ended up doing a diagonal handshake at around shoulder level and saying “What have I done?” out loud. Not in a cool way, just, like, “What have I done?” Maybe approaching people at industry events with my hand hovering at an ungainly angle in front of me will become my thing.

Then on the way back to our hotel this evening we walked a couple of blocks from the convention centre to avoid the exiting throng, and also the clot of hockey fans watching the Kings game through bar windows all along the streets outside. We jumped into a cab that was heading the wrong way on Olympic Boulevard. “I was gonna bust a bitch back there but there was all those cops” the driver said, explaining why he hadn’t made a u-turn earlier and at the same time almost snatching the day’s “Most Traumatically Sexist” badge from the guy on the Namco Bandai stand who acted out in jiggling cargo pants how he wanted us to make the women dressed as fighting characters “shake dat ass” all over a specially branded Ferrari using our camera. But he did it very energetically, and with his tongue hanging out like a dog who’s learning to control its new human body, and so he wins.

The image above, by the way, is the EA stand I made reference to yesterday or the day before. I was going to describe it as a panopticon of agony but decided that even after six coffees that was a bit much – this being before I’d actually explored the stand and its insistent roaring and desperate, angry volume. It’s a theme of E3 as I’ve experienced it – scores of people I know and admire, participating in an event which flogs shallow grotesques of manhood, womanhood and life with deadening scale and noise.

This is the last entry into my E3 diary because we’re leaving tomorrow at midday. I started writing because I needed something to do while progress bars filled up. I carried on because I hate LA and I enjoy swearing. I hope you enjoyed it, and I’m sorry if you didn’t. In fact I’m sorry anyway. I’m usually sorry.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick Hide permalink
    June 7, 2012 9:45 am

    Terrific post. Sounds hellish.

  2. June 7, 2012 11:59 am

    This is a fearsomely accurate vision of E3.

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