back from E for All … oh, and who the hell am I?

Greetings. The new words you are reading belong to me, known as “bensaki” on Xbox Live and in chat at The real name is Redmond. I’m a writer for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group who USED to write weekly game reviews for them, until it was decided by the higher ups a week or so ago that game reviews were a waste of time. So, here I am.

While here, I will do my best to not only review games, but also share musings and observations about stuff I see in the industry. I’m fortunate enough to still see some cool things, and I’m not one to be selfish. If you want to know more about me, hell, just find me on MySpace.

On to something more productive. I was able to check out the first two days of E for All at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The paper thought it’d be cool to check out, and I just wanted the chance to be around gamers.

OK, I’ll admit … I was a little worried about E for All when I first heard about it. No Sony, no Microsoft, rumors that the damn thing wasn’t even going to happen — is this what the next “big gaming event of the year” was supposed to be?

At least Nintendo was still coming, and there was also a playable demo of Metal Gear Solid 4 (gurgle). On this news alone, I decided I wasn’t leaving there without grabbing statue nuts or putting someone in a homoerotic CQC submission hold. Anything less would have been unacceptable.

Essentially, my first day of the show was spent getting a lay of the land and gathering quotes for my short blurb for the newspapers. My apologies for any lost punctuation … apparently it got lost in the ether of system transfer.

When I walked into the South Hall, I first thought I walked into the wrong building. That’s how sparse the crowd was at 11 a.m. I’d attribute a good part of this to the fact that only media and other pre-registered types were allowed into the hall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. But it was still staggering to witness — no cluster of fanboys, not many cameras, not even a lot of noise. It was exciting, yet sad.

When the gates opened, people went to three places: the stages for Rock Band, the Nintendo booth, or the Konami booth to get in the MGS4 line, which was by far the biggest line of the first two days. EA also had a presence there, but it was mostly to play games like The Simpsons and The Orange Box.

My focus for Day One (other than filing my small story) was to get hands-on time with MGS4. Thanks to some aid from Kevin Kelly of Joystiq, me and one of my AGI partners in crime (producer Lawrence “Mayor” Young) were able to bypass the line. The uber-clutch PR person (Audra) didn’t hurt, either.

No vids or pics were allowed in the mini-demo space, which was decked out like a guerilla briefing room, with piece of straw or nature bits all over the floor. They sat us down on some beanbag-like, sack-covered seats that were deceptively soft-looking. They hurt.

Each seat was accompanied by headphones and a controller, which was our “ticket” into the playing area later. This part of the presentation was a video showing off some of the play mechanics, as well as the tweaked Codec system, where you could fast-forward or rewind messages. It showed off the “threat ring,” which replaced the radar system, as well as the benefits of Snake’s Octocamo suit. We got to see Snake bypass a seeing-eye tank (called a Stalker), drag some bodies around and pull out a few stealth kills.

Then came 15 minutes of play time, where we were all essentially put in the same spot as the demo video. I spent a few minutes just looking at the scenery — damn, this game looks good. However, it didn’t control as well as it looked, at least not for me. You can toggle between auto-aim and manual aim by pressing the square button and holding one of the trigger buttons. Awkward. Auto-aim was a pain in the ass, especially since every time I tried it, the camera seemed to flip to a funky angle. I felt bad for the person next to me, who seemed to keep getting discovered and then cut down in a hail of gunfire.

Overall, the experience left me with the feeling that the game was stuck in the transition to being fully 3-D. It felt a little clunky. That’s not to say I had a bad time, but I’m a fan of the series (like many others) and I expect a lot from a title that a lot of people are going to base their PS3 purchase on. I know it’s early and that you can’t judge a game on 15 minutes — but I was a little underwhelmed. Sorry.

Time is short, and sadly, I must go for now. Once I get my camera back, I’ll dress this entry up with pictures. I’ll also go into more detail about my time with Super Smash Bros. Brawl as well as Igarashi, the creator of the Castlevania series.

Until then, thanks for the welcome. I’ll try not to make a mess.

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