Friday Slide: It’s Showtime!

For games journalists, E3 is the ultimate professional test–kind of a cross between the bar exam and the Normandy Invasion. It’s all on the line. You prove that you have the best connections, cover the most games, write the best previews, take the best videos… or you get beat. And all of this happens in a literal madhouse.

In past years, I would do E3 and then collapse for a week, unable to think or move, let alone write. This time around, my “vacation” will be spent at WWDC, covering Apple’s keynote and previewing even MORE games.

But when you’re covering the iPhone, that’s par for the course.

Do I sound daunted? I’m not. I’m actually excited, because we’re going to be seeing a lot of cool stuff at these shows. So instead of writing my usual Friday manifesto, I’m going to run through some of the highlights of our upcoming coverage.

The Sims 3

We’ll be stopping by EA’s booth on June 2nd to gawk at The Sims 3 for iPhone, which will actually hit the App Store that same day. From what we’ve gathered so far, this version of The Sims 3 will be a somewhat different animal than console and PC gamers are getting.

However, it should still retain that open-world Sims flavor. According to an interview with the producer in Pocket Gamer, you can play the game for as long as you want, even after its 75 goals are completed. Another excuse to duck out of real life from time to time? Fantastic!

Mass Effect Galaxy

Another main attraction at the EA booth will be Mass Effect Galaxy, formerly known as Mass Effect: Jacob’s Story. Despite the name change, the game still has you playing as Biotic-powered soldier Jacob Taylor through a bite-sized prequel to Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect Galaxy’s Saturday morning animation style and overhead shooter gameplay don’t match up with the console Mass Effects, but that’s potentially a good thing–it’s important to make adjustments for the platform, after all. We just hope there’s still plenty of sweet, sweet alien lovin’ going on.

Real Tennis 2009

Gameloft’s given us a few tips on what to expect from them at E3, and one name that stands out is Real Tennis 2009. The French publisher did a fantastic job with Real Soccer 2009, which may still be the iPhone’s definitive soccer game. We could really use something similar for tennis fans.

We don’t have any details on gameplay yet, but if Gameloft sticks to its usual MO, we’re betting that Real Tennis will have some big licensed players in it–maybe Federer, Roddick, Nadal, and the like–and solid 3D graphics. Maybe they’ll do us all a favor and tune down the seemingly super-powered Nadal a bit, too!

Virtual Families

The Sims 3 won’t be the only big virtual life game we’ll be previewing at E3. Another title that’s flying a little further under the radar is Virtual Families, the latest from the developers of Virtual Villagers 2.

Like all of Last Day of Work’s simulation games, Virtual Families continues to play out even when you’re not around–you kind of set the wheels in motion by setting expectations for your virtual dude (the bathroom’s over here!), and then check back in every once in a while to make adjustments. It’s like being Ozzy Ozbourne’s handler or something.

Rolando 2: The Quest For The Golden Orchid

We’re meeting up with ngmoco the first day of WWDC to scope out several upcoming titles, but the next Rolando game is going to take center stage. We loved the original to pieces, so expectations are extra-high for Golden Orchid.

New Systems from Sony, Microsoft, and Apple

Oh, and a Jobs-esque one more thing… over the course of the next two weeks, we’re likely to see the portable hardware fight between the newly minted Big Four (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Apple) hit a boil as three of the four competitors are likely to roll out new systems.

Sony may be coming to the table with a new PSP, which reportedly sports a touchscreen and only plays downloadable games. Microsoft’s Zune HD has a touchscreen and connects to Xbox Live. And we are pretty darn sure that Apple’s going to announce some kind of souped-up iPhone at the WWDC Keynote, probably with more memory and a faster processor. It’s on now!

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