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Arnold’s Press Pause and Rewind: July 15th

It's been two weeks since I've put together an entry, I know that. But, needless to say, it's been a crazy two weeks for me. The follow-up week leading into E3 had me in a bit of panic, as I made sure that I absolutely did not forget a single damn thing before departing. There was no room for error, because I was the only one attending the show this year and I'm completely responsible for delivering hands-on content. There would be no one to clean up my mistakes.

Hell, I was so compulsive that I packed two days in advance, made a list of things I need, and triple checked it all. Then there were the goodbyes with girlfriend, friends, family…yeah, not much time to spend an hour-plus to put together a column. Regardless, here I am, back home in beautiful New York City – I missed it so much – and I've got things to report on.

The two questions everyone asked me throughout the entire show and even after I landed back home were: "how was it?" and "what was the best game?" The answers to those questions are a little tricky. You see, while the execution of the show was absolutely dreadful (I'll get to that later), the games on display (if you could find them) were great. There was so much to see and play that it really made E3 2007 feel like one of the best shows in terms of available content. But, once again, the show was executed dreadfully – but Sony managed to save the show, as I wrote in another article.

You see, the Barker Hangar was so grossly tiny, that exhibitor didn't have more than 4-5 game kiosks on display. The hangar was about half the size of a single level at Macy's. In comparison, the Los Angeles Convention Center is roughly 2 1/2 times larger than New York City's Javitz Center. Or five times larger than Madison Square Garden. Does that put it into perspective? It's evident just by looking at the pictures I took, everybody was on top of each other. It was tiny, so let's leave it at that.

So what's the solution? Well, for 2007, someone decided it'd be a brilliant idea to also spread the show out into hotel conference areas and ballrooms all along the Santa Monica stretch. About a mile's worth of hotels in Santa Monica had various publishers and developers also exhibiting additional content that they couldn't fit into the hangar. What does that mean? Well, it meant that we had to commute to ten different locations on a pretty time restricted schedule (show operation lasted about 6 hours per day).

So walking to and from hotels would've wasted too much time, which means taxis had to be used. And that means money spent. It's bad enough a lot of the hotels in Santa Monica were booked full as early as February, which meant many of us had to stay elsewhere, increasing our taxi fare, but then to spread the entire show over a multitude of hotels and some crappy hangar?

If companies wanted a more exclusive approach towards E3, they didn't have to tear us away from the LA Convention Center. They could've just used *one* half of the center (the West Hall), as opposed to using both halls and the additional facilities. Just the West Hall alone would've been enough to sustain the show's smaller scale.

Oh and, was the show really exclusive? Why the hell did I see teenage kids without badges and people without badges of any kind altogether inside the show? Not even wristbands or anything. The security couldn't have cared any less about the show. Brilliant.

Thankfully, Sony saved the show from being a total disaster, and the pubs that cover Sony exclusively (like we do) will agree. Right after the conference ended, the stage right next to ours was opened up and there we had what Sony called the 'arcade'. It was basically a large homage to the E3 of yesterday: light show, decorations, tons of first and third party titles, multi-level stages, a loud DJ, food, beverages, alcohol – the works. For the three hours I was there, I was able to do quite a bit of my work walking game-to-game, taking notes and then reporting to you guys. So kudos to you, Sony.

As far as what I thought was the best game of the show…it's a bit of an odd choice. I do think Army of Two was the best game I played at the entire show, that and Killzone 2. Sony and Electronic Arts easily had the best lineups of the entire show, with Sony featuring Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, God of War: Chains of Olympus, Killzone 2, and Ratchet. Meanwhile EA's Army of Two, Need for Speed: ProStreet, Half-Life 2: Orange Box, SKATE, and Rockband were the 3rd party highlights.

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