E3 After Dark
When the E3 Media Summit officially closes down hotel suites at 6pm, the show still goes on. Many game publishers use this time to entice journalists and analysts to their booths, courtyards or restaurants with free drinks and food, as well as games.
Sony Online Entertainment and Capcom kept its doors open at the Shutters Hotel for a few extra hours with all of their games available for play. The best game at the Capcom booth was Devil May Cry 4, the latest installment in the action-horror game franchise from the Japanese publisher. The next generation debut of this best-selling series was both gorgeous to look at and much more accessible to play than the last installment. (Capcom actually had to release a second, easier version of Devil May Cry 3 for the U.S. audience last time, because the Japanese gamers like more challenging play.) Also on display was the new Nintendo Zapper lightgun (it's actually just a piece of plastic that holds the Wii Remote and Wii Nunchuck together in a gun-like shape). Capcom is supporting this new peripheral with Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. The device's aim wasn't spot-on, which is something the developer has time to fix.
Next door at Sony Online Entertainment's booth, a trailer was running for the new PlayStation 3 and PC Hollywood action massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, The Agency. This game has the potential to open up the MMO market past the "men in tights" categories. SOE has had success in that department with its EverQuest franchise. The Agency allows gamers to become a spy and get entangled in a global story that will evolve as missions occur. The game will even communicate with players via e-mail and cell phone text messages, since things in the virtual world will continue to happen even when you're not playing. A player can assign the gadget department to design a new car, and when it's ready to drive, and you're not in the game world, the game will alert you.
Electronic Arts held its invite-only get-together outside in the courtyard of Le Merigot Hotel. The star attraction at this party was a baby chimp. She was most recently seen in Fallout Boy's music video and is only 15 months old. The baby chimp was available for photos and tied into the new The Sims 2 Castaway game, which was on display. Other games featured at the outdoor gathering, which had steel drums and a tropical assortment of food, were the Wii dance/karaoke game, Boogie, the Wii trivia game Smartypants and the Wii party game EA Playground.
Dolby, which had Pioneer 5.1 surround sound speakers and headphones on display at the Square Enix and Eidos booths at the Fairmont Hotel throughout the show, held an informal dinner at Voda just a few blocks away from most of the show's official hotels. Dolby had an Xbox 360 running Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter game on display. Also shown for the first time was a non-working prototype videogame headset and amplifier from Astro Gaming. The A40 Mixer/Amp will ship in September for $100 and allow Xbox 360 and PC gamers to communicate clearly while playing games. John Griffin, marketing director of games at Dolby, said that most headphones are great for hearing game sounds in 5.1 but it's often hard to speak into them. With more team-based games shipping, and the need for clear audio communication rising, this device will fill that gaming need. Also shipping this fall from Astro Gaming is a Dolby Digital surround sound headphone with microphone for $250. This device, which is aimed at professional gamers, will work in tandem with the A40.
Ubisoft, IGN and gaming PR firm BH Impact also hosted post-show parties and cocktail hours.
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