Are you going to this year's San Diego Comic-Con? Then you must love video games, a medium that has a stronger presence than ever at the annual gathering of people passionate about comic books, toys, superheroes, sci-fi and everything nerdy enough to pack a convention center.
Video games are big—really big—at this year's show. Top industry players including Sony, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Capcom, plus many more, will give fans a chance to engage the creators behind the biggest games of 2011 and beyond. The action starts next Wednesday, July 20 with the Con's preview night, kicking off formally on Thursday morning and powering through until Sunday. The show is stuffed with industry panels, talent and new announcements.
Kotaku will be on hand to bring hands-on impressions of games, reports from creative panels, interviews, breaking news, and video and photos of all the Comic-Con shenanigans.
For a full list of video game related panels, including times and locations for the panels attendees shouldn't miss, visit the official Comic-Con schedule. For a quick rundown, read on.
The Call of Duty publisher isn't bringing Call of Duty to the annual pop culture gathering. Instead, it's bringing more appropriate fare, including Marvel games Silicon Knights' X-Men Destiny and Beenox's Spider-Man: Edge of Time, plus Prototype 2 and at least one unannounced game based on the James Bond franchise.
Activision is also holding its own panel at the Con on Saturday, July 23 at 10 a.m. Marvel maven Stan Lee will wax nostalgic with writer Peter David and Marvel VP of Games TQ Jefferson. Folks from Beenox and Silicon Knights will also be on hand to talk about their Marvel universe games. Activision's panel happens in room 5AB.
Activision's corporate sibling will be in attendance, largely to talk about the voluminous swag that fans of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft will be able to buy in the coming months and years. The annual swag show features Chris Metzen (Blizzard Entertainment SVP of creative development), Nick Carpenter (Blizzard Entertainment executive art director), Christie Golden (New York Times bestselling author), Hank Kanalz (SVP Digital, DC Comics and World of Warcraft comics editor), Sean Gailey (creative overlord, J!nx Clothing), and Cory Jones (Cryptozoic Entertainment president and chief creative officer). The "World of Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft Swag Show" happens Thursday, July 21 in room 6BCF. It's actually pretty fun. You should go, Comic-Conners.
Dragon's Dogma, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Resident Evil Revelations, Street Fighter X Tekken, Asura's Wrath, Dead Rising 2: Off The Record and Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition—the company's E3 line-up for the most part—will all represent at Capcom's typically lively Comic-Con booth this year. At least one unannounced title—probably a Super-style expansion for Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, I'm guessing—will be present in some form.
Capcom also has a slew of panels happening at the show. Street Fighter and Tekken producers Yoshinori Ono and Katsuhiro Harada hold a Street Fighter X Tekken panel on Thursday, July 21 in room 6BCF. The potpourri event "The World of Capcom" happens the next day, featuring discussion of Dragon's Dogma, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record and Asura's Wrath. Saturday, July 23 sees Marvel vs. Capcom 3 producer Ryota Niitsuma offering a "behind-the-scenes peek" at something(!). For times and locations, check the full schedule out right here.
The publisher of Techland's Dead Island will be in attendance for a most interesting panel discussion, "The Science of Zombies." From the schedule: "The top creative minds behind the acclaimed and highly anticipated Dead Island role-playing video game and an esteemed medical professional in the field of brain research and brain disease explore the pop culture fascination with the zombie genre as a whole and how creative talent is harnessing medical science to define and explore horror entertainment in more realistic (and therefore more frightening and engaging) ways."
Returning to Comic-Con this year will be the creative forces behind Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, including artist Todd McFarlane and Big Huge Games art director Tim Coman leading a panel of Reckoning designers who will "discuss the artistic process of creating a massive fantasy epic."
BioWare and LucasArts' massively multiplayer online game Star Wars: The Old Republic also gets some attention at the Con, with "new gameplay footage" and the hint of new surprises. That Star Wars video game panel happens Thursday in Room 6BCF at 3:30 p.m.
This year, even EA Sports is going to the San Diego Comic-Con, bringing SSX with it. If you're going to the Con, you can get some hands-on time with the snowboarding game at EA's booth (#5045).
Developer BioWare will also bring Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age II: Legacy to the show, offering the media some hands-on time. We'll see those too. Again!
Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski, executive producer Rod Fergusson and "special guest contributors to the Gears universe" close out Thursday night with a panel discussion of this fall's Gears of War 3. Epic promises a live game demo and "key announcements" at its panel moderated by X-Play host Adam Sessler. Maybe you'll even get to see Cliffy B tweet live!
The maker of merry Marvel MMOs will bring Super Hero Squad Online and the straightforwardly titled Marvel Universe MMO to SDCC 2011. If you're attending the show and want to learn more, you may want to hit up the Marvel Interactive panel on Saturday afternoon. Spider-Man: Edge of Time, X-Men Destiny, Captain America: Super Soldier, Super Hero Squad Online, Super Hero Squad 3DS and uDraw, Marvel Pinball, and the Marvel Universe MMO will all be featured, as will "the future of Marvel vs. Capcom 3." The panel also promises "exclusive trailers, surprise reveals" and a Q&A session with Marvel game creators. Nuff said!
We know that the company is bringing El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, but perhaps just to give it a proper launch party at Comic-Con. The game ships on July 26, just a couple days after the Con closes.
The home of Metal Gear and Castlevania will be hosting two must-attend events at the show. On Thursday, fans can attend an autograph session with Hideo Kojima, art director Yoji Shinkawa and Yumi Kikuchi, the voice actress of Raging Raven and Strangelove. The Kojima Productions signing event happens at 1:30 pm in meeting room 16AB. Then on Saturday, cosplayers who want to dress up in their best Contra, Castlevania, Metal Gear and Silent Hill costumes can attend the Konami costly contest, also happening in room 16AB.
Konami will also bring games to the show for media to play. We'll play them.
Want to know more about Kinect Star Wars for Xbox 360? Of course you do. Studio head Jorg Neumann (Kinect Publishing) and lead producer Craig Derrick (LucasArts) will rap about the hands-free Kinect adventure, "sharing new game play from the iconic Star Wars universe, revealing an all-new mode, and unveiling an exciting announcement."
Halo fans might want to attend the annual "Halo Universe" panel lead by Frank O'Connor, Kevin Grace, and others from 343 Industries, plus special guests Greg Bear and Karen Traviss. If you want to be dazzled by the hardest of hardcore Halo fans and their deep wells of knowledge, plus learn a few things about Halo games, comic books, animation and novels, don't miss Friday's panel at 11:30 am in room 6BCF.
Namco's fighting game franchises get special attention at this year's Comic-Con, with a look at the Tekken series lead by director Katsuhiro Harada. He'll bring a sneak peek at the Tekken: Blood Vengeance 3D movie.
Producer Hisaharu Tago shows the latest on Soulcalibur V—including a look at at least two new characters—and Producer Hiroshi Matsuyama unveils details and a preview of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. All that happens at "A VIP Look at the Upcoming Entries in Namco Bandai's Multimillion-Selling Fighting Games" on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in room 25ABC.
MMO maker NCsoft says it will bring the latest updates to its superhero role-playing game City of Heroes to San Diego Comic-Con, as well as Guild Wars 2, both of which will be playable at the publisher's booth. Paragon Studios is hosting its own developer panel, "City of Heroes Freedom: The Future of Super-Powered MMOs," on Thursday, July 21.
ArenaNet will also host its own panel for Guild Wars 2 "set to examine how the lore, design, and gameplay of Guild Wars 2 combine to deliver a fresh, social approach to online fantasy RPGs. That happens on Saturday. The day before, NCsoft hosts a "meet and greet" at the Hard Rock Hotel where players can meet fellow players and the devs behind both games.
At the very least, expect Sega to bring the video game adaptation of Captain America to the Con.
Sony Computer Entertainment
PlayStation 3 games get strong representation at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Sony's bringing Twisted Metal, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Journey, Resistance 3 and Starhawk to the show, with each game getting its own panel.
thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago start off the Con with a look at Journey—one not to be missed, especially since Chen never fails to deliver engaging speeches.
Twisted Metal designer David Jaffe returns to the Con to talk about the PS3 reboot. He'll reveal the newest Twisted Metal trailer and "shows off a near final cut of the game's opening live-action cinematic," portions of "the single-player campaign" and a sneak peak at a new boss: The Brothers Grimm. Naughty Dog brings us a look at Uncharted 3's performance capture at its panel, featuring creative director Amy Hennig and actors Nolan North, Richard McGonagle, and Emily Rose. Insomniac Games brings us a look at the Resistance universe and Lightbox Interactive hosts "The Evolution from Warhawk to Starhawk: The New Universe that Is Starhawk and the Characters Behind the Conflict" on Sunday.
Sony Online Entertainment
DC Universe Online gets more time at Comic-Con, offering exclusive hands-on time with the first add-on pack for the PS3 and PC MMO. SOE also brings new content from its other games, squad-based first-person shooter Payday: The Heist and adventure platformer Sideway.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution and turn-based tactical MMO Wakfu get another showing at San Diego Comic-Con with the former getting a discussion panel of its own, "The World of 2027 in Deus Ex: Human Revolution: The Line Between Science and Fiction." From the panel description: "How do video games incorporate real-life science into their storylines, weapons, and characters? This talk will provide fascinating insight into how "sci" was used to create the "sci-fi" in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, one of the most highly anticipated games of 2011. Mary DeMarle, lead writer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal) and Will Rossellini, CEO of Microtransponder and consultant on the game, discuss how they created a realistic future vision for transhumanism and a world where mechanical augmentations have changed the fate of the human race."
The masters of episodic adventure games bring their comic book best to the Con, including The Walking Dead and Fables. We'll be taking a look at those games, plus Jurassic Park: The Game and Hector: Badge of Carnage at Telltale's suite. I'd invite you, but we're a bit limited on space. Fortunately, Telltale will be on the show floor at booth # 5337 giving away swag, conducting signings with Back to the Future: The Game's AJ LoCascio (Marty McFly) and Claudia Wells (Jennifer Parker), Sam and Max's Steve Purcell and "an additional unannounced very special guest."
Kotaku will get some eyes-on time with THQ's Darksiders II during the Con, which is already exciting enough. Perhaps even better, THQ will represent the video game arm of the Voltron panel. There, Voltron creative leads will touch on the "Nicktoons animated series Voltron Force, THQ's upcoming videogame, a cool Mattel line of toys, innovative comic books from VIZ Media and Dynamite Entertainment, and some blockbuster news of special Voltron events in the not-too-distant future." That happens Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m. at the Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
Maker of fine downloadable games and the rare Kinect game we're super excited about bring the recently released Ms. Splosion Man and the forthcoming Gunstringer to the Con.
Assassin's Creed fans won't want to miss the Saturday panel "Assassin's Creed: The Creation of a Universe." Assassin's Creed Revelations writers provide Con goers with a "behind-the-scenes look at how Ezio's final journey will unfold as he walks in the footsteps of his legendary mentor, Altair, on a perilous journey of doubt and discovery." Ubisoft will bring an "exclusive preview" of Assassin's Creed Embers, the animated short film and touch on the development of the Assassin's Creed series. Room 25ABC at 3 p.m. Be there.
What else would the WB bring? Batman: Arkham City's Comic-Con panel happens Thurdsay evening, featuring panelists Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series), DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee, writer Paul Dini (Lost, Tower Prep), and game director Sefton Hill (Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City). Expect announcements.
The Other Stuff
It's not just the major publishers and household name developers bringing huge games to San Diego Comic-Con. Expect tons of great spin-off merch to be available for oohing and aahing at the show. Expect plenty of video game related action figures and merch from NECA, McFarlane Toys, SOTA Toys, DC Direct and more.
Legendary Pictures will be on hand to discuss the Mass Effect movie, just as it has in the past to talk about the stalled Gears of War movie.
Epic Mickey creator Warren Spector will even be there, signing copies of his new Ducktales comic book.
Beyond that, expect the usual brand of madness from Comic-Con attendees, not limited to lots and lots of cosplay.
Hell, you'll even get to talk to people who have their own video game convention. Penny Arcade's Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik host a Q&A session on Saturday night where they'll talk about PAX, Child's Play, Penny Arcade: The Series and the recently announced animated feature film The New Kid.