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by SimHQ Land & Armor Combat Editor Chuck "Magnum" Ankenbauer

Reflections by Joe Keefe
Reflections by "Chunx"

“The Entertainment Software Association today closed the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo and announced that the 2010 E3 Expo will take place from June 15-17, 2010, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Over the course of the 2009 E3 Expo, more than 41,000 attendees from 78 countries viewed hundreds of new products and developments from 216 exhibitors.”  - ESA

Reflections Reflections Reflections The Flight to L.A.

The Monday flight from Ft. Myers, Florida to L.A. almost made me not want to attempt the E3Expo thing again. I haven’t flown for over 15 years, since my Army days. I was assigned the back row, with two large people on both my sides (I’m large too). A miserable, slow, uncomfortable flight.

I finally arrived in L.A., which by the way looks like one huge industry park to me. Little to no greenery and overcast. I can’t see how anyone would enjoy living in such a overcrowded, dirty place. But to each their own.

guod’s flight was delayed, so we couldn’t get into the hotel room until he arrived. Chunx was kind enough to pick me up at the airport around noon. Chunx took me out for lunch, then showed me the sights and sounds of L.A., including UCLA, Beverly Hills, the Pacific Ocean, and many other places of interest. It was great since I never have been to the western USA before. After an all day flight I wasn’t really in the mood for much more travel, but appreciated it and Chunx was a great tour guide.

Finally Doug arrived, then a couple of hours later Joe arrived then still later 531 Ghost. We all meet at the hotel. It was great to finally meet the backbone, the heart, the brain, and a few limbs of SimHQ.


I won’t repeat the stories from each day, what I did and what I saw. You’ll get that information by reading the SimHQ daily reports and my Tweets. What I will do is list some games of interest and summarize what we know and don’t know. The first thing everyone needs to know is that according to some survey mentioned at E3, Mainsteam gamers make up 96% of the gaming population. SimHQ type members are usually not mainstream gamers. We are the 4%’ers. The hardcore, the simulations, the tactical gamers. So what does that mean at E3? Well I learned that all the games displayed were usually displayed on a console, and almost all of them were set to casual game mode, or easy game mode unless you're able to entice the exhibitor into changing their settings. That means that most of the reporting, screenshots, and videos are based on easy play settings of games. So judging a game based on what is reported at E3Expo may not be what the hardcore or hard settings will be. Another point. Looking at screens and watching videos is great, but if you don’t read the words of the reporters you really don’t learn about the game itself.


Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is my game pick of E3 2009. I loved this title so much I went to it every day to play and ask questions with the developers. On the last day, I spent the last 2 or 3 hours playing this game.

OFP: DR is coming out on PC, Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3. There are a number of different levels of difficulty and what was shown at E3 was the casual easy mode. That means that there were GRAW-type icons over friends and foe, markers on the map, and an easy-to-use floating sight on screen. You give orders to your teammates, either AI or human, via a circle HUD you call up with the right bumper button. In the actual release of the game there will be a hard or simulation mode that turns off all aids. There is a single player game with improved AI compared to other similar titles. You can also play the complete campaign in four player co-op with one leader able to issue orders to the team or individuals. At the time of E3 there was no mention of how many players will be supported in multiplayer, and what type of modes there will be.

Forza Motorsports 3

Forza Motorsports 3 is my runner-up for game of the show. FM3 gameplay is just like FM2’s gameplay, with a whole lot added to the game in size and scope. Over 400 cars with cockpit views, over 100 tracks, including more ovals. 40x the polygon count per car over FM2. Absolutely gorgeous scenery and sounds. A new, more detailed, easier-to-use car painting program. The ability to capture screenshots and share them online, along with the new video editor that lets you do the same sharing. FM3 looks to be the king of console motorsports racers. Coming exclusively to Xbox 360.

IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey

IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey is my third place game of show. 505 Games was showing it in a private room. I heard about it from guod who had visited the room earlier in the day. I introduced myself and asked if I could join in on the current briefing. I was glad guod encouraged us to wear slacks and SimHQ golf shirts because the other three gentlemen in this briefing were all wearing suits. I entered when they were talking about “other flight sims on the Xbox 360”, one "suit" mentioned H.A.W.X just being released. I had to control myself from laughing out loud, and screaming “H.A.W.X is NOT a flight sim!”

Anyway I only got in some of the footage and game play being shown. It of course was on casual mode with all the icons on. But it did look beautiful with its full woodlands, large cities, and well-modeled planes. Their was no background pop-up. Several layers of clouds were used to demonstrate how to use them for a sneak attack. With the right stick for the Xbox 360, or maybe even a HOTAS, this could be one heck of a flight sim for the Xbox 360.

Rogue Warrior

I stopped by the Bethesda booth which was showing Wet and Rogue Warrior. At one time was looking forward to Rogue Warrior, but after seeing the trailer and then some gameplay footage, I'll pass on this egotistical story telling of a thousand ways to kill someone. Rogue Warrior is a faster paced action version of the old Splinter Cell type games. Many moves on how to kill a man, without much substance.

Modern Warfare 2

Activision was there to show their much anticipated follow up to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. They have dropped the Call of Duty prefix in their titles. If you liked the first one then you’ll damn sure like the follow-up. Really all that was shown was 8 minutes of actual gameplay, but it looked to be incredible stuff, just like the first one.

Army of Two: The 40th Day

I went into one of EA’s private booths for this one. They had the room decorated in military theme combat colors. About 12 audience chairs sat in the middle and on the main wall two huge HD TV screens. The two developers showing the product played while explaining what was new in this sequel.

Army of Two: The 40th Day is bigger and more bad than the first. Teamwork is mandatory. The game was built around 2-player co-op.  There are bigger moves and plays the two characters can do together. They seemed to “borrow” a couple of ideas from other games. Like Rainbow Six: Vegas series of tagging the enemy for faster and easier kills. And a little from Gears of War like human shields and special kills. The biggest disappointment to me, (but that everyone else in the room seemed to love except for the 4%’ers) is the customization of your weapons. You can add any stock to a barrel, any barrel to a receiver, any receiver to a trigger housing. No matter if the weapon parts would never fit each other in real life. You can add accessories like a silencer, or even a homemade soft-drink can silencer. Sure cool for the kids, but for us tactical gamers it's pure BS.

Battlefield Bad Company 2

Battlefield Bad Company 2 was in another private room in the EA section. I’ve already explained this in detail in one of the earlier reports. Lets just say, it’s an action shooter that requires good teamwork, just like the first one, but with a bigger combat area, more explosions and environmental destruction.

Battlefield 1943

This game from EA will be released as a digital download July 1st. You’ll be able to get it online for the PC or via the console’s online stores for $15 USD. It is beautiful and fun, but make no mistake it's a pure action shooter. I got a certificate for a free copy and can’t wait till July 1st. It will be a great game for a quick and fun action kick. No CD required.

Order of War

I asked the presenter of Order of War what made this game any different or better then all the other WW2 RTS games out. He honestly stated, “I’m not really into these types of games but it does have a cool cinema view”. I couldn’t help but laugh. At least he was honest, I’ll give him that. After I played about 15 minutes of this game I realized he was correct. The only thing different was the cinema view. You simply click on your units and right click to move or attack. That’s it. You can hit a little camera icon in the top left corner and watch the battle unfold in a action/cinema view that looks like a movie someone made with many of the other RTS games, like Company of Heroes.

Tom Clancy’s Spliter Cell: Conviction

This was UbiSoft’s big title display. It looks like the stealth game has really evolved with this new and improved version. As the announcer hyped, “it’s not stealth, it’s dynamic stealth”. They claim this one is more action and less tedious hide-and-seek gameplay. In this game you are still the protagonist Sam Fisher, but you're on your own looking for the person responsible that killed your daughter in the last game. The action/gameplay never stops. You get your mission in game, and it's highlighted on the side of a building or on a mirror. You have plenty of new tools, toys, and weapons. You use the shadows to your advantage, and hit when you're ready. You can attack slowly and precisely, or tag some enemies behind a door and go in guns blazing. UbiSoft had a 5 minute gameplay walkthrough at E3, which is out on the web now. The game is the same as the classic series, but as with most new games this year, just bigger and hopefully better.

Left 4 Dead 2

This was a surprise to me. I didn’t even know it was coming. The game play is almost exactly the same as the first one, which is a good thing. But this time there are new locations, new characters, and new weapons (such as the more hands-on baseball bat, chainsaw, and even a frying pan). If you liked the first one then you’ll like the new and improved version. I do wonder if maybe this should have been an add-on for the original title.

EA Sports

What this will cover is simulation type games like Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf, Madden NFL, NHL, and other sport titles that simulate the real word sport. News and information will be coming, along with scheduled events and tournaments. Along with schedule events and tournaments. So therefore I made a stop by the EA Sports section at E3. Our new SimHQ Console Sports Center will cover these games.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf 2010 - This title comes out very soon for the PS3 and Xbox 360. There is a demo out on both platforms right now. New courses, new players, and new online tournament modes. Along with a new putting system.

Madden NFL 2010 - The biggest complaint from past Madden football games is unrealistic AI. Well both offense and defense AI is supposed to receive a major upgrade this year. Add two player co-op and Madden NFL 2010 is another winner in the franchise.

NHL 2010 - NHL 2009 was my sport game pick of last year. Just an incredible all around hockey game. This year it just gets better with more plays, first person view fights, and more ways to score.

What Was Missed

I was extremely disappointed that America’s Army v3 was not presented at E3, especially since it is due out June 19th.

I also was hoping Armed Assault 2 would be shown by Atari, but no luck. You'd think it would have been shown with the German release already out, and the U.S. release coming soon.

I went to the UbiSoft presentation on Day One of E3 and saw not one sign, monitor, or booth relating to the next Ghost Recon game, nor did I see anything about the next Rainbow Six game. I noticed a UbiSoft developer (who I shall not name) and kindly asked about the two titles being presented at this year's E3Expo. He quickly and rudely snapped back, “NO, and we're tired of hearing about that” turning sharply and walking away. I was more then a little pissed at his attitude.

The next day I revisited that UbiSoft section, and saw the closed door show room. So I stood in line for almost an hour to get inside and see if maybe Ghost Recon or Rainbow 6 was being announced behind closed doors. After finally getting into the private show room, the door closed and the only thing UbiSoft showed were kids games; a new girl line of games and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I opened the door and left Ubisoft in disgust never to return.

I also looked for whoever owns the SWAT series of games. I asked all the major publishers if they had any information on who owns the rights to the series and if anything was coming. No one knew, or admitted to anything.

So, the three games I most desired information about were "no-shows" at E3Expo 2009.

The Flight Home

The flight home was a lot better than the ride out! guod and I took a shuttle to the airport together. I waited with him at his gate until his flight; my flight was 45 minutes later. We had a good long talk about what works at SimHQ and what doesn't. We talked about the future of SimHQ. And then we said our goodbyes until next year's E3.

I got on my plane and as luck would have it, I was assigned an emergency exit seat, which meant just a little more room and no kids. It was an aisle seat. To my left was an advertising executive (who looked more like a beach side gamer) that owns his own company advertising for games and game companies. We talked games for a while, exchanged business cards, and XBL user names (he’s now on my friends list). To my right across the aisle was a man in a business suit that didn’t look like a gamer at all. He sells those free games you see online that are “free to play”, but then you buy upgrades, vehicles and weapons if you like the game. He swears that’s the future of online gaming. We discussed opinions on that. I told him that if they're good tactical games, I'm in. But he was mostly referring to MMO’s and kid games.

Finally we arrived at the airport where my wife and daughter were waiting for me at midnight eastern time. What a long ride.


It was a great event, and a pleasure to meet fellow members of SimHQ. I feel somewhat sorry for the likes of guod, who rarely has time for actual gaming due to running and organizing events at the SimHQ web site. He’s a hard worker and needs to be for SimHQ to be kept up-to-date. We would go to dinner after the E3 event, and then spend from 9 PM till about 2 AM writing our articles, making videos, or posting pictures. Then Doug would spend another 2-3 hours formatting and publishing the articles to the web site.

Then the staff of great writers and gamers.

Joe knows technology, and constantly talks about hardware products and issues, which is somewhat boring to this simpleton.

531 Ghost knows flight controllers inside and out. CH Products would be wise to continue listening to his thoughts and ideas. Ken has lots of interesting stories and anecdotes acquired during his military career.

Then there’s Chunx. Not only was he a great tour guide but that guy knows way too much about everything simulation. Anything about car simulations or flight simulations and he has the answers. A very well educated man who knows how to interview, talk and write. Most of the time I just stood next to him, taking notes and letting him do all the questions. An incredible asset to our SimHQ community.

Thanks for the great time, and maybe… just maybe, I’ll see you next year at E3 2010.


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E3Expo 2009

Report 1: Arrival
Report 2: Day 1
Report 3: Day 2
Report 4: Day 3


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