The industry's biggest yearly event wasn't confined to the Exhibition Center, taking over a massive stretch of Los Angeles with ad billboards and street signs everywhere.
While locals seemed more bemused than anything (sample conversation: "What's this all for?" "Videogames!" [short pause] "Like that Mario fella?") for us gaming fans, a city-wide takeover was glorious to witness; and while the conferences were hit-and-miss, the showfloor displays hadn't lost any of their ability to impress.
Los Angeles Takeover Sleeping Dogs posters doubled with E3 adverts along the boulevards leading towards the Exhibition Center [left], but things got big as you got to within a couple of blocks of the event's epicentre [right]... ...but it was Elder Scrolls Online that'd dominate the skyline of 2012's E3, taking residency across the hotel Figueroa's three towers - on the walk to and from the nearest Metro station. The Exhibition Center: Exterior World of Warplanes plonked an actual fighter plane outside one hall entrance [left], which when last seen was belching smoke from its rear (part of the show or did the scorching heat start melting the props?), but it was overshadowed by the familiar PlayStation logo [right], Sony proving it didn't need a face to sell its brand. The advertising wraparound stretched between the entrances of E3's two main halls: Assassin's Creed III scored the longest billboard [second left], but it was South Park that raised the biggest chuckle [right]. The Exhibition Center: Interiors We snuck inside the Centre the day before E3 opened: the last time the place wouldn't be heaving for four straight days. Not a single space was left untouched by publishers - even the stairs got the gaming treatment [right]. E3 had its own merchandise store [left], for t-shirts, cups and practical products such as messenger bags. Injustice, the new DC fighter, scored multiple billboards along the corridors between the halls [right]. Microsoft didn't hold back letting attendees know who'd be making his return this year, and gave us the first glimpse at some of the stunning concept art for Halo 4 [left] and a look a a retuned Master Chief [middle and right]. Resident Evil 6 was stuck to the exterior hall walkways; while it wasn't as heavily frequented (air-con interior halls having more pull than roasting pavement) Capcom did tease one of the key scenes from the game - franchise heroes Chris Redfield and Leon S Kennedy drawing on each other. The Conferences Microsoft Microsoft's conference was a mixed bag: a strong Halo 4 opener transitioned into a mid-show dive with the multi-platform SmartGlass announcement. While conceptually a neat idea, the practicality is an issue: both for the player having to sync and juggle multiple devices, and for developers having to consider/factor in extra content for games that isn't going to be accessible by all. It's questionable if we'll see anything other than the most basic applications (such as Arkham City's Wii U tablet debut). Tomb Raider's presentation caused noticeable winces and uncomfortable fidgeting from the audience as the new-look Lara experienced a presentation's worth of abuse [left], while Kinect title Wreckateer was reintroduced to the world with a retweaked look in the Fable vein. Matching Black Ops II for cheers was the surprise appearance of South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who ignored the autocue in favour of a piss-take of the SmartGlass presentation with a segment that felt wholly natural. Cue huge laughs and applause. Who introduces themselves via a video presentation? Usher, that's who, pulling off a dance routine to advertise Dance Central 3. EA In comparison EA's conference was straight to the point: no faff, just the games. Though there were a few notable appearances, such as Peter Moore sans tattoo, and UFC's Dana White managing to look bashful at the praised heaped on him by EA's Andrew Wilson [right]. There was even a nod to Respawn's Zampella & West who were in attendance: "Congratulations!" Ubisoft Despite awkward banter between hosts, Ubisoft's conference delivered on the gaming front: showing the best use of Wii U with both ZombiU and Rayman Legends [left] that'll have platform fans delirious, and finishing with surprise of the show Watch Dogs - the presentation of which secured the loudest and longest ovation of the entire E3. Sony Sony's conference wouldn't be the same with Kaz Hirai - and while only an observer for the conference this year, he did take a bow when introduced early on in the show. But like EA, Sony spent the lion's share of its show focusing on the talent working for PlayStation. A Beyond demo wowed the crowd, and the appearance of Nathan Drake in All Stars Battle Royale drew appreciative roars. Despite coming on the heels of Ubisoft's conference, Sony managed to retain two huge Assassin's Creed III announcements for its conference: the first details on PS Vita's tie-in Liberation with cross-platform functionality, and the sea battles that'll appear in ACIII. Wonderbook was the oddity of the conference: great to see the company diversifying its portfolio to attract wider audiences, but the tech needs tinkering, as some Move tracking issues arose when one stage player tried to conjure a fire spell repeatedly. Nintendo What better way to start a Nintendo briefing than with Miyamoto and Pikmin 3? Two new New Super Mario Bros games: one for 3DS, the other for Wii U. Aside from this and a brief video montage, the 3DS line-up was oddly shunted to a post-conference video. Given the muted response to ports of pre-existing games for Wii U's titles, a better balance would have benefited the publisher's conference. Nintendoland:The big N takes cues from Disney, yet completely missed the magic and charm such an attraction should hold. Eating up the last portion of the conference, the announcement deflated what little energy show-goers had left for a fairly flat presentation. A lukewarm reaction, and the audience filed out with a quiet confusion and asking "was that really it?" E3: The Showfloor - Part 1 Hands and eyes on across the E3 showfloor! Resident Evil 6 drew huge queues [left], as did the first show of Namco's Star Trek [right] in a dual 3D screen theatre. Bar the trailer, Lords of Shadow 2 was limited to this singular booth stand; but we did get talking to Dave Cox about the title. Look for an extensive interview with the developer on the site soon. There were a few "interactive" booth displays that screamed for photo-ops: a Power Loader for Aliens: Colonial Marines was one. The Halo 4 Party The Halo 4 party, just down the road from E3 on the event's second night. Spartan Ops and competitive multiplayer were ready to be played: and played they were. Look for an extensive hands-on with both appearing soon on the site. E3: The Showfloor - Part 2 Cars cars cars! Four-wheeled beauties were in everywhere at E3. Be it outside for a roar around the car park for Forza... ...or inside for the Microsoft booth [left] Namco's [middle] and even Sonic got in on the action [right]. Photo-ops were available across the showfloor: be it professionally shot with official models... ...or snaps with cosplayers wandering the booths. Activision and Ubisoft warred for showfloor dominance and noise levels - the former scored for the massive wall of interconnected screens looping the Black Ops II trailer, while the latter's sound system for each of its titles [right] caused us to drag developers far away in order to be heard for GRTV interviews. Smaller companies suffered due to being pushed to the fringes of the halls - while the big three swallowed the lion's share: Nintendo's recreation of Nintendoland only took up the back third of its booth [right]. Most booths made grabs for the ceiling with massive artwork and mini-presentation halls. Statues! Pity the people who had to dissemble these things come the show's end. The original Alien Queen prop from Aliens got a lot of photo love... ...while the Borderlands 2 piece was nearly destroyed by an overenthusiastic crowd member who did a hand-stand against it [left], while Warner had multiple human-sized renditions of its Lego characters [right]. If in doubt, go inflatable. These guys made their presence known at booths, and didn't need a delicate hand to take apart. From retro classics to the newest titles - E3 had many flavours and eras of gaming ready to be played. Wargaming.net held tournaments and competitions throughout E3, announcing the last winners even as security were shepherding the last attendees out the door come close. Exhausted, ear-drums burst and overdosed on energy drinks, the event's close saw attendees stumble onto the L.A streets in a daze.
The show may be packed up and developers shipped back to their studios, but that's not the end of E3 coverage here at Gamereactor: the fallout continues with hands-on impressions and GRTV Interviews in the coming days, so stay tuned for more over the next week.