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Tag: E3 (71-80 of 82)

15 minutes with Stan Lee: Excelsior!

Stan-lee_l Life would be less super without Stan Lee, the legendary comic book creator behind Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the X-Men, and other iconic heroes. We chatted with him last week at E3 in Los Angeles, where the 86-year-old was promoting Activision’s upcoming videogame, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you like about this game?

STAN LEE: Just the fact that there are so many characters under your control and the fact that you can team up with three other players at the same time. Every one of them is accurately portrayed. You can be a villain, you can be a hero, you can play with your friends…it’s great. It even has a surprise ending that I can’t tell you about.

You’ve been telling stories since the '60s. What do you make of all of the sophisticated video game tools that are available to the current generation of storytellers? Do you think all of this technology makes their job too easy?

It’s never easy to tell stories. I wish they had these videogames when I was getting into the business. Videogames are like movies but with even more imagination. When you watch a movie you have no control over it, but with a videogame, it’s like watching a movie you can be part of; you can determine which way it will go. It’s like you can be the audience and also the director at the same time. I find that incredibly exciting. I wish that I were more in that field; I wish I knew the technical part and could actually create a videogame; I think it’s much harder to do than a motion picture. You start out with what a motion picture has — a basic story and characters and all of that — but then you have all these options that you thrown in that a motion picture doesn't have. It must be harder to write a videogame than a movie.

EW.com: Let’s say you were Stan Lee in your formative years right now. Do you think you would be still be a comic book creator, or do you think you would’ve been a videogame designer?

Stan Lee: I enjoy creating characters and I enjoy telling stories. Since videogames are a bigger field than comic books right now — they’re bigger than just about anything now — I would want to be in videogames. I would try to come up with some ideas that are different than what they’re already doing or else it wouldn’t be any fun. It would be a challenge. To me a videogame is more of a challenge than a comic book. From that point of view, I’d want to get into it.

Which of the two mediums — movies or videogames — have been better at capturing the essence of the comic book characters that you’ve created?

Certainly, the movies give you more characterization because a videogame, the very nature of what it is, must have continual action and obviously the characters have their own powers and weaknesses, but it's a little hard getting into their personalities the way you can in a movie. A videogame is different; it’s something where you’re a part of it and, at least with today’s games, it’s mostly action. In a movie you probably get more of an actual story. Today it seems that what the public wants is to play videogames and to be part of the action. Videogames are so big today; obviously there is room for something where the action is more paramount than the characterization.


E3 Wrap Up: Cool games, big turkeys, and eye-exploding spectacle

E3_PS3_l Adam B. Vary: So, John, it's a day after the end of E3, i.e. the annual videogaming expo where companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, EA and Ubisoft show off their newest games, gadgets, and wave-of-the-future hooziewhatsits. And I have to say, between all the giant video screens, booming speakers, gaming pods and mobs of eager gamers with only a cursory appreciation for other people's personal space, I'm still in recovery. How did you take to your very first E3 experience?

John Young: I still feel abused by it all. It's a complete sensory overload that initially seemed really impressive in an oh-this-is-probably-what-the-future-will-feel-like-50-years-from-now way. But after eight hours of being exposed to the rattling bass and the retina-searing displays, it starts doing things to your brain. But I did get to check out some very promising games. The 12-year-old version of me would have had the best time of his life.

Adam B. Vary: No kidding! I think the 12-year-old me would have especially lost his friggin' mind over what's become the biggest story out of E3, Microsoft's possibly-revolutionary Project Natal camera system, which you covered so well earlier this week. But let's face it, the 12-year-old me is so often also the 29-year-old me, and both, um, me's were stoked by the games, man: Nintendo announced a sequel to the crazy-fun Wii game Super Mario Galaxy and demo'd the long-awaited follow up to Wii Sports called Wii Sports Resort. EA presented Mass Effect 2, a sci-fi adventure that blurs even further the lines between playing a game and participating in a choose-your-own-adventure feature film. And Sony showcased the epically aggro God of War III, which had equally epic lines of people waiting to play it on the show floor.

John Young: You're right, it is ultimately about the games, and boy did they look sweet. Unfortunately, most of the ones that totally knocked my socks off weren't playable yet. I'm talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that could genuinely compete with World of Warcraft; Avatar, based on James Cameron's upcoming sci-fi movie, with its breathtakingly realized alien planet called Pandora (Jeff Jensen gushed about the game earlier this week); and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which made the audience at Sony's press conference literally gasp when they saw just how beautiful it was. Speaking of press conferences, who do you think came out on top: Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony?


Nintendo and Sony at E3: Forget the fancy controllers, bring on the awesome games!

Nintendo and Sony announced nothing at their respective E3 gala presentations yesterday as omigod-if-this-works-I-think-I-may-have-just-glimpsed-the-future impressive as Microsoft's Spielberg-endorsed Project Natal. (Seriously, as a friend pointed out to me, the thing is like watching the earliest version of the holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation, except actually frickin' real.) But that didn't stop Microsoft's competitors from trying super hard to top Natal.

Along with announcing games including Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini's March Again, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Nintendo trotted out what they're calling Wii Motion Plus, a small cube that plugs into the bottom of your Wiimote, allowing the controller extra sensitivity. Nintendo showed off the add-on doohickey by demo-ing a sequel-of-sorts to their insanely popular Wii Sports, called Wii Sports Resort, which lets players take on games requiring subtle, complex movement, like hitting some ping pong, slicing a sword and shooting an arrow. At the very least, the game (out July 26) looked enticing enough to get those who still only use their Wii's to play tennis and go bowling to actually shell out for another game. But the company's claims that the Wii Motion Plus will revolutionize videogaming would be slightly less dubious if they hadn't announced Wii Sports Resort and Wii Motion Plus at last year's E3. Weirder still, the Nintendo folks pretended like those announcements last year had never even happened.

And it's Sony's games that really, truly impressed. From the supple renaissance-era details of Assassin's Creed II to the haunting storybook scope of The Last Guardian to the epic brutality of God of War III, it's becoming more and more clear just why videogames make so much more money than even the most successful Hollywood blockbusters. Nintendo's games looked like they were super fun to play, but it was dry as toast watching other people play them. Not so Sony's games; shot and paced like top-of-the-line movies, I could happily watch someone else playing these (quite intimidatingly complex) games for hours. To wit, embedded below is the (slightly NSFW) demo for the PS3's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves — tell me by the end you aren't thinking it's more fun than Terminator Salvation and X-Men Origins: Wolverine combined. (For comparison, after the jump I've embedded the demo for Nintendo's new Super Mario Bros. Wii — tell me how long you lasted before clicking "stop.")


Microsoft's Project Natal at E3: No wonder Steven Spielberg is so excited

If you needed any reassurance that the videogame industry is doing just fine, thank you very much, then Microsoft's E3 press conference Monday morning provided it. Hundreds of journalists and industry members crammed into the Galen Center in Los Angeles, creating an unending sea of Twittering laptops and iPhones. The fellow next to me had journeyed all the way from Sweden to be here. Luckily for him, and us, Microsoft delivered. It was a splashy presentation with surprising star voltage — look, it's Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr! And what's this? Steven Spielberg at a video game show? But all the razzle-dazzle didn't overshadow the fact that Microsoft had some pretty substantial products to show off.

The coolest, by far, is a motion-capture camera for the Xbox 360 that Microsoft is currently calling Project Natal. This is what's making Spielberg so excited. Natal, which looks like a rectangular bar that sits above or below your TV, can track your body's movements in three dimensions. Thus, there's no need for a game controller, or as Don Mattrick, the senior VP of Xbox, puts it, "We're using the best controller ever invented: you."

Natal is Microsoft's response to Nintendo's extremely successful Wii, and it promises to trump the Wii in a couple of ways. First off, Natal utilizes face recognition — simply stand in front of your TV, and Natal will figure out who you are and sign you in. Second, Natal features voice recognition, so you can use verbal commands to do everything from playing a movie (simply say "play movie") to having a conversation with a virtual character. The latter is where we enter groundbreaking (and potentially unnerving) territory. Developer Lionhead Studios showed off a Natal project in which players can interact with a virtual boy named Milo, who responds to your voice, movements, and facial expressions. It's best to check out the demo video yourself, embedded below:

With inventions such as Natal, we're quickly approaching a future in which humans can partake in a virtual experience that's nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. And then we'll be faced with intriguing decisions: If a skateboarding video game requires the same body movements as actual skateboarding, why not simply go outside and ride a skateboard? If you can have authentic conversations with a virtual person, will you choose to do so — possibly at the expense of your true relationships? For now, let's admit that Microsoft's Natal made quite an impression. There's no word yet on when the device will be available or how much it'll cost, but it will be compatible with every Xbox 360 system.

PopWatchers, what do you make of Natal? Think it'll be the death of the Nintendo Wii? Or are you not convinced? And who here thinks Milo is a bit too charming for his own good? I think the little guy may be up to something…Skynet, anyone?

'Star Wars: The Old Republic' game spot: George Lucas wishes he was hot like this

Hot on the heels of the Beatles: Rock Band trailer comes this dark, awesome nugget out of E3: A spot for the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic game. And this may actually be the best two minutes of Star Wars footage I'VE EVER SEEN.

It's amazing what you can do with this universe once you pry it from George Lucas' hands.

Where does this rank for you? Do you, like me, wish you could trade the Clone Wars stuff for a TV series that looks like this? Or am I overselling it a bit? (I'm not, but you're entitled to your opinion…so long as it agrees with mine. Welcome to the Dark Side.)

On the Scene: Penny Arcade Expo videogame convention

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Paxcollage_lThis past Labor Day weekend, while most of America was busy with picnics and barbecues, morethan 58,000 gamers flocked to downtown Seattle for the fourth annualPenny Arcade Expo (PAX), North America’s largest gaming festival. PAX rivaled last month’s E3, with more than 70 exhibitors — including bigwigssuch as Nintendo, Sony, and EA — packing the convention floor. I was onhand to soak up the geek frenzy and to play a bunch of upcoming titles. Check out the highlights from PAX2008:

Little Big Planet: I think I can safelysay that LBP is the cutest game I’ve ever played. It is thesole reason I will finally be purchasing a PS3, and I can’t wait tospend hours upon hours customizing my SackBoy, playing through themore than 50 (adorably detailed) levels and constructing my own world for himto explore. Oh, and did I mention that one of the outfits is the neon-green Borat thong? In stores October 21.

Fallout 3: The BioShock of2008. Fallout is definitely not for the casual gamers out there. Butfor those looking for a truly engaging storyline and near-cinematicexperience while blasting away post-apocalyptic mutants, it’sdefinitely a game to lose yourself in for weeks. In stores October 28.

A sneak peek at more games after the jump…


E3: Blood, afros and barking lullabys

Videogames_lThis round-up of the final days of E3 is way, way overdue, and my apologies for that, PopWatchers, but in my defense I gotta say that this year’s E3 was pretty spectacular…ly underwhelming. The Los Angeles convention center was all atwitter about how dead the show-room floor felt, how meh the Big Three press presentations were, and how few games really double-jumped out from the fray and demanded attention from everyone. In fact, there was some talk that there may not even be an E3 next year. But, fear not, there was still plenty of gaming goodness (and not-so-goodness) to take in, so, forthwith, my rundown of the highlights, medium-lights, and lowlights of days two and three of E3…


Of all the shoot-’em-up protagonists I came across this week, the heroine of Bayonetta (out in 2009, for Playstation 3 and XBox 360) was by far the most over-the-top, and in the best way, really. A witch in skin-tight black leather who walks with a serious hip-swinging strut (developer Platinum Games definitely knows their core audience), she sports stiletto heels in which the heel is an automatic pistol, and hair that can morph into a giant fist, foot and dragons’ head when the situation calls for it. (Which is, of course, always.) And I’m cautiously optimistic about the newest Sonic the Hedgehog game, Sonic Unleashed (out in November for the PS3, Wii and XBox 360), which looks gorgeous and far less suck-y to play than all the previous attempts at 3D Sonic games. I was far less enthralled, though, with MADWORLD, a very MA-rated game for the Wii out in March ’09 that’s black-and-white-and-red-all-over — the more sadistic and brutal your methods to dispatch your enemies, the higher your score. Lovely!

More E3 after the jump…


E3: Day Two: More Spore and [system error]

SporeYou know how I said in yesterday’s write up of E3 that Wednesday’s events would be less jam-packed? Yeah, I meant more jam packed. Much, much, much more. So much more, that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to relate them all to you here (this is what happens when you also have a TV Watch for two-hour episodes of So You Think You Can Dance looming over your head like the sword of Damocles — or just Dante from Devil May Cry).

So I’m punting a bit and promising the highlights from Wednesday in a super-deluxe entry about Thursday’s offerings, which really do seem to be on the lighter side anyway. (Famous last words. See above for proof.) But I don’t want to leave you empty handed, so let me tell you about the two hours I spent in the thrall of Wil Wright’s gorgeous, ingenious and clinically addictive Spore. It’s one of the most intricate and dense life simulation games I’ve ever seen, and yet it’s intuitive enough to play that I simply sat down at a kiosk in the EA Games suite, grabbed a mouse, and within minutes had my own little cellular organism flittering away through the primordial ooze. And then I swapped out my dude’s flagellum (i.e. tail) for an extra eye and realized I’d stuck him with almost no method of forward locomotion, which made it kinda hard to, you know, eat. Or not be eaten.

Eventually, an EA expert came over to give me and my colleagues Wook Kim and Gary Eng Walk a proper tour of the game, including a database of thousands of user-generated creatures, which is when we discovered just how insanely flexible Spore’s creature creation engine really is. There are Yoshi-shaped creatures, Whack-a-Mole-shaped creatures, Pokemon-shaped creatures. There’s a creature that’s the spitting image of Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes. What’s even crazier is that our guide told us that the Spore team often has no idea how people made these creatures.

Wook and Gary grew restless and moved on to check out other EA games in their suite, but I stayed parked right there, learning about everything from how to organize my own tribe, to how to navigate my space-ship to distant planets. Even the guide moved on to other people, but I stayed right there, mesmerized, and I only left because they were closing for the day and had to kick me out.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the Samuel L. Jackson martial arts game Afro Samurai, the all-new 8 bit Mega Man game (you read that right), the most violent game the Nintendo Wii is likely to see, and what it’s like to play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" while barking in a dog suit while your friend is strumming a sitar.

E3: (Officially) Day One: The Sequel: Migraine Mania!

Fallout3There are only so many times you can watch a vaguely militaristic man, armed to his digital wisdom teeth, fire a pulse weapon at some marauding zombie/leviathan/genetic freak/Wookie before the bloom pretty much gets eviscerated from the rose. And I write this after just the (official) first day of E3 — I’ve still got two more jam-packed days of giga-pixeled decapitations to wade through. "Wait, Adam, do you mean to tell me that you’re actually complaining about getting to spend your Tuesday learning about videogames as your job?!" No, dear reader, I’m not, promise. (Before I explain why I’m not complaining, though, mega bonus points to my colleagues Wook Kim and Gary Eng Walk for doing me a solid and filling in so awesomely yesterday.) There was plenty to enjoy yesterday, and I’ll get to all that shortly. But it’s also my job to be honest, and, I gotta tell ya, this isn’t exactly turning out to be a blockbuster E3.

Exhibit A: Nintendo’s morning press briefing, which took placebright-and-early at the famed Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Surely, thecompany with the hottest home and portable consoles around bussed ingaggles of E3-ers from their downtown Los Angeles hotel rooms (anddragged me from my apartment ten minutes away) to the home of no lessthan the Academy Awards because they had something to seriously dazzlethe teeming sea of laptop-tapping jaded journalists and industrybig-wigs? (Whew.) Um, no. And after the jump,I’ll tell you what Nintendo did instead, along with the highlight’sfrom Sony’s confab, and which games made the biggest impressions.


E3 2008: 'Spore'!

Spore_lIt is Monday evening here in L.A. and I’m stuck in a hotel room recapping the day’s events while my friend (and regular EW.com contributor Gary Eng Walk) is off having fun at a Gears of War 2 party.  And what, you are likely asking yourselves, is Adam Vary doing? Well, it turns out the eager young padawan — who’s supposed to be filing these daily dispatches — was called back to the office to fill in for a flu-stricken colleague. Because that’s the kind of guy he is: one who’ll use just about any excuse to get out of doing work. (I kid, I kid.)  Monday’s summary begins after the jump.


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