The Good, The Bad, and the Gamers
So E For All has come and gone folks and I’m here to report on what I saw and experienced. The event went for three days and was a lot of fun; well, at least most of it was fun. There's some that worked and some that didn’t, but there’s a lot to go through, so let's get to it.
The highlight game of E For All was the brand new Gears of War 2. I never even got a chance to play it myself, the lines were so long, but I sat and watched for what seemed like forever. The game actually looks much better than the original, which is more than I think anyone was expecting.
Gamers got a chance to try out the new online co-op mode called Horde, where five players work together against wave after wave of enemies. Some of the cool new options were a completely maneuverable camera called 'ghost cam' that allows you to watch all of the action if your character gets killed off.
Another cool effect is that the weapons heat up, making its edges glow white-hot. The game has plenty of new action animations to go along with the traditional curb stomp and whatnot. There are also new weapons and enemies to fight against. The levels I saw where highly detailed and very colorful, something that the first game lacked.
EndWar, the new Tom Clancy game at the show is my personal favorite of the event. A real-time strategy game, it allows you to speak directly to your troops through a series of easy-to-use voice commands. The graphics are out of this world, and the action is intense. I found that this was the only game I didn’t completely suck at and (thus) was the most fun to play.
In the same booth was Far Cry 2, an awesome-looking first-person shooter that offers the player a ton of freedom of movement and plenty of weapons. The girl who helped me understand the controls had no problem letting me know how bad I sucked, as the enemy kept gunning me down before I could heal myself. That’s okay, because I did manage to crash my car into a car full of enemies and then shot them to death as they exited the vehicle. If only I hadn’t crashed all the other vehicles…
The amBX booth was very cool with their nifty peripherals. The amBX package offers ambient lighting effects for your PC to start, with a rumble pad and fans placed to give players an immersive gaming experience, especially when I played a little Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on it. Everything in the kit is USB-powered and runs from a central hub that sits quietly behind your monitor.
Another booth that stood out was the one featuring Beyond Protocol, an MMORTS that allows players to engage in massive space battles and planet wide offenses. While most RTS games focus on speed and quick button strokes, Beyond Protocol is about the long haul. Battles can take hours to complete, allowing for more strategy instead of winning through attrition and overwhelming forces.
Most of the games featured at E For All were already out on the market, like Mercenaries 2, The Force Unleashed, and Madden 09. There really weren’t that many games to play to be honest, and there were not enough attendants to help you with the games. It’s no fun trying to play a game like Crysis without a map of the buttons, and there was no one around to ask about things like running and reloading your weapon. The display was obviously for those who already had experience with the game.
Most of the booths were showing off hardware, not games. Without any real video game makers there, the show was lacking in that respect. No Street Fighter 4 or Ghostbusters here, just the same Halo 3 game from last year. This was definitely the place to be if you wanted to check out one of those cool gaming chairs, but not much else.
The absolute worse part of the show had to be the overkill of Guitar Hero and Rock Band stations. They had the nerve to let people perform Rock Band live with a real mic. [Oh, now I get it. ~Ed. Nick] The singing was horrible and loud, like being stuck at the worse karaoke bar in downtown LA, it was really sad.
The order of the day when it was all said and done is gamers. Pro gamers were on showing off their skills in several capacities, from Jonathan Fatal1ty Wendel to entire teams on hand for the World Cyber Games National Championships. These guys were the real attraction to the show. They had two huge big screens set up to watch players go head to head in all sorts of games like Guitar Hero 3, Virtua Fighter 5, and Project Gotham Racing.
The pros lived up to their namesake as they put the clinic on how to play and get better at games. Fatal1ty even held a physical-fitness-inspired obstacle course where the best times won prizes. In fact, prizes were a dime a dozen. If it wasn’t a free drawing at the Samsung booth, then it was a chance to play against the pros at the Combat Arms booth.
I never got to see pro gaming up close and personal, and E For All afforded me the opportunity. Take it from me, these guys are killer at what they do and they take it very seriously. Watching pro players play was akin to watching a pro baseball game – the best players duking it out at the highest level. (Of course, that reminded me of how much I’ve come to suck at video games.)
In the end, E For All was okay, but not as great as it could b, and not as good as last year when Metal Gear Solid 4 stole the show. There wasn’t a show-stealing game this year except for maybe Gears of War 2, but even that seemed to fall by the wayside. While it was a big show for pro gamers and pro-gaming fans, E For All could have been much better for everyone else.