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E3 09 reverses course and will be remembered as a good show

June 11, 2009

E3 ’09 reverses course and will be remembered as a good show
By Michael Lafferty

Video-game tradeshow shrugs off errors of past two years and makes a solid showing with a great lineup of games

With some effort, the rigors of E3’s daily grind are starting to fade and the true measure of the event is starting to shine a bit more brightly.

For those who were asleep all of last week, or simply do not follow video-game news on a regular basis, E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo – the biggest annual video-game tradeshow in North America. It is where publishers and developers gather to show off their wares (otherwise known as their games) that they are either working on or that will likely be released in the coming year.

Journalists from around the world gather and hurry from one publisher to another, visiting with public relations folks or developers and attempt to get as much information on as many games as possible in the short allocated meeting time frame.

While, in many ways, the atmosphere at E3 ’09 was a bit more relaxed, the publishers and such were allowed to return to the big displays, and the miscellaneous promotions that were sometimes tied to games and sometimes just tied to fun. There were the odd contests, and even a mini-concert by music recording artists The Dares, who set a first at the SOE booth by simultaneously performing in West Hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center and in the cyber world on a stage in SOE’s Free Realms massively multiplayer online game.

Also back were the booth babes, the comely young ladies dressed to attract attention while handing out freebies to anyone willing to stop, gawk and take what was being handed out.

But the real hallmark of the show won’t be the return to the near form that it was when I first attended 10 years ago; it wasn’t quite at that frenetic level anyway. What will make E3 ’09 memorable will be the games it showed off. There is little doubt that the year to come will be very, very good for gamers.

Games like Scribblenauts and Demon’s Souls were surprises, but the list of games to look forward to within the year is long and varied.

Uncharted 2, God of War 3, Halo 3: ODST, Mass Effect 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Modern Warfare 2, and Heavy Rain were all attention grabbers, but at almost every step along the way there was a title that tantalized with incredible graphics and gameplay elements that – if realized as advertised – will progress the gaming genre on the whole. Even downloadable games are looking better than before and should help keep gamers occupied for a long time.

And it was not just the games, but peripherals like Natal and Sony’s yet-unnamed motion controllers. And don’t forget games designed around new peripheral controllers like Activision’s DJ Hero and Tony Hawk: RIDE.

From a journalist’s perspective, there was a lot of reasons to be excited about what is coming up in the next year. From a gaming fan’s perspective, this was one of the more impressive lineups to grace an E3 in some time.

It is much too early to proclaim that E3 is back – that is a determination that will be made in years to come. E3 in 2008 almost felt like a morgue, and the show was pronounced dead by several media outlets. But the 2009 outing was much better in many regards. As a journalist in the video-game industry, one learns to take the good with the bad. If the prior two years either bordered on bad or simply forgot the border and stepped full-on into that territory, the 2009 certainly has to be – by contrast – considered good.

 

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