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SXSW Highlights from Austin, TX

  • Free Stuff: I have disposable income, but there is a certain charm about being given so much stuff for free. I didn’t pay a single dime during my whole three day SXSW experience. (Most of the panels and presentations require badges, which cost a *LOT* but there is tons to see and do for free). The PlayStation lounge had a free open bar (kind of surprising): any liquor, beer, or mixed drink was completely free. Pepsi had an area with free ice cold sodas and some creative free food (spiced sliders and some deliciously spiced corn on the cob). Mozilla Firefox gave out some inventive combination ice cream cookie sandwiches. The guys at the GroupMe booth actually made me download their Android app before giving me a free grilled cheese sandwich (which I tossed).
  • Best Game: Resistance 3. I am feeling shooter fatigue; the shooter genre has been filled with so many amazing but similar games that my interest has been wandering elsewhere. Resistance 3 looked way better than I expected. The multiplayer looked like it had lots of interesting abilities and depth, the campaign play looked like it had fun objectives and avoided the trap of feeling overly scripted, and the graphic tech is definitely up there with the Killzones, God of Wars, and Uncharteds.
  • Best (free, no badge) tech talk: Google presented some really nice APIs. They announced a new 2D geospatial indexing system (for developers) called S2. They also had a variety of other novelties (free bar, steampunk art, google photo booth, mindstorm battlebots), but the venue was too small for the crowd.
  • Sony’s “Meetup”: Sony’s Meetup was in a trendy bar, but really there wasn’t anything to see beyond the same Insomniac games that are also at Insomniac’s booth (on Sunday night, they featured Socom 4, which I missed). Sony should have have shown more titles. They have other near final titles ready that have been demoed in other mediums such as Motorstorm Apocalypse. BTW, R&C:A4O looked good and was fun from the piece that I played, but I would need to play it for a longer period of time to form more meaningful impressions. Also, I wish they had a more organized queueing system to try the games: people were hogging the games for extended periods of time and the only way to try them was to get to the controller first when someone voluntarily left.
  • Mortal Kombat: They had a truck with four HDTV/PS3 setups that seated eight players. The lame part was they offered the exact same PSN demo that PS+ subscribers got last Tuesday and everyone gets this coming Tuesday. I’m shocked they didn’t have the full game to show (the booth attendant said they don’t trust the booth people with an unreleased game like that). The attendants were super nice, although they didn’t seem to believe me that the game supported stereoscopic 3D (I have played the demo at home in 3D – only the backrounds are in 3D). I’m surprised that there is such a large fan base for the classic-era 2D figher genre.