E3 Day 2

E3 Day 2

Written by The GN Staff on 5/20/2003 for
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I left it out of my day one report (I was really, really tired…) but I did stop by the 3DO booth to check out what they have to show. They have two pretty good looking games in The Four Horsemen in which you play a fallen angel trying to save the world from Armageddon. The game is probably going to make Joe Lieberman’s list for violent games last year and will be get a very solid M rating for content (it’s very bloody and there’s a lot of graphic violence). The game has an interesting storyline and will hopefully prove to be a game that will play well despite the controversy it may generate.

Street Racing Series looks to be another good street racing game featuring 20-30 licensed car and a ton of licensed upgrade parts. During the game you have to manage your career, your car, and your girlfriend. Yes, you will have girlfriends in the game and they are quite useful for providing intelligence on the other racers as well as providing a secondary source of income (they participate in bikini contests…and yes…you get to watch).

The last game I got to see was Jacked a new motorcycle combat racing game. You race your motorcycle through nineteen tracks and there’s a small RPG element to it where you racer changes over the course of the career. Like most racing games you pick a generic character and take them through the game, in Jacked, your racer changes as you progress, becoming more and more demented. One cool feature of the game is the ability to knock other bikers off their rides and then take over Grand Theft Auto style. I was hoping to see more of the game but we ran out of time.

My first appointment on Wednesday was to see Half-life 2, I was a little skeptical going in that the game would actually live up to all of the hype that it’s generated over the last month or so. I was wrong to have doubts the game is simply amazing and will probably re-revolutionize the PC gaming world as much as the first game did. The new engine is amazing, from the character models (the updated Gman is wickedly cool), and to the lighting and physics models this game is going to be the game to beat this year.

Next up was a visit to the LucasArts booth. Lucas is banking a lot on Star Wars this year with Jedi Academy, Knights of the Old Republic, Rogue Squadron 3, and Star Wars Galaxies. Jedi Academy takes over where Outcast left off. In the new game you play as a freshly minted Jedi trying to earn your wings (saber?). You choose the gender, species, and appearance of your Jedi and then it’s off to fight the dark side. The graphics have been updated and the game is a little less linear than its predecessors (you can choose which mission to take on, though some missions are much harder at lower levels). Raven hasn’t added any new force powers to the game but Jedi Sight (need to check this is the right name) (or as Bart likes to call it, Jedi Walk-hack) and Dark Rage are both now available in the single player portion. Jedi Sight has been enhanced for the single player to allow you to see hidden rooms. The multiplayer aspect has also been updated with players being allowed to pilot AT-ST’s, Taun-taun’s, and other vehicles in both single and multiplayer matches. The game looks like a nice sequel to the first game (which Blake and I both got a lot of enjoyment out of)

Wrath Unleashed is an update on the classic Archon-style game play where you fight for control with other players for a board. You move your pieces, one turn at a time, and try to take control of the entire board. When two pieces meet on the same space in stead of having some kind of lame chess rule you fight it out for control of the space. Each piece has its strengths and weaknesses that are amplified by the combat arena since the spaces on the board are not all the same type of arena. You have everything from frozen ice areas to damp bogs. The big thing this game has on Archon is that it supports up to 4 players at a time, which adds another level of complexity to the game.

Secret Weapons over Normandy takes players back to the air above Europe during World War II. This follow-up to the classic Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe allows players to fly planes that saw limited action in the war. Along with flying such planes as the “Flying Pancake”, users will be able to fire fixed gun encampments (both on the ground and on planes). The game is intended to be authentic but not a hard-core simulation so everyone can enjoy the game. The development team is working with Skywalker Sound and has access to the full library of sounds that they have acquired over the years from films such as “Saving Private Ryan” along with the sounds that they have developed on their own. The development team has also developed some of the best looking windmills ever seen, and the developers are set on creating a new standard in Windmill technology (no word on if a Don Quixote game is in the works or not).

The other game I saw was Fullthrottle:Hell on Wheels. This was one of the games I was really looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. The game looked a lot better in person than the last batch of screenshots. The game looks to continue the great tradition of the first game. You play the role of Ben, leader of the Polecats biker gang. You go out one day to find that someone is tearing up all of the roads. As a biker you need roads so Ben sets out to find out what the deal is. Ben will have nineteen areas to explore to solve the mystery. The game now features a full 3D engine and will provide a good mix of action and adventure.

The cube like press area of Take Two was next up. The first thing we got to see was Hidden and Dangerous 2. The game is a squad based tactical shooter. You control a group of SAS commando’s through 23 missions during the latter half of the Second World War. Before each mission you can choose which members to take with you, each member has their own strengths, weaknesses, and weapons load out. During the combat portion of the game, you to either go in guns first or you can move your troops into firing positions using the in-game 3D tactical map. The game will also feature some cool multiplayer options.

Next I got to see Railroad Tycoon 3 and if you’re a fan of the game you’re not going to be let down by this next interaction of the game. The game features a new 3D engine that’s looks great. New features include multiple level of undo, easier train loading, dynamic weather and time effects, and an expanded economic engine. I’ve never really gotten into the Railroad Tycoon series but I think that’s about to change. The game has also been designed to run on lower end machines so those who don’t have the money to drop on a top end system will still be able to enjoy the game.

I also got to take a quick peek at Space Colony 2 which looks like a cross between the Sims and SimCity. The graphics and characters looked great, I just wish I had more to tell you about it.

My final appointment of the day was with Strategy First. World War II Frontline is a new RTS from the Bitmap Brothers design house (if you haven’t heard of the Bitmap Brothers…well, I feel sorry for you….). The game allows you to control US Forces at the end of World War II. The game will feature 25 missions broken into 5 campaigns. The game is kind of a scaled back RTS, instead of controlling individual soldiers you control groups of troops (rifle men, tanks, etc). There are also no resources to harvest, refine, and protect… what you have at the beginning of the mission is all you are going to get (although additional reinforcements can occasionally be earned by completing bonus objectives. Some of the units have secondary weapons as well as additional abilities. For example, the commander unit can use binoculars to scout ahead find targets for artillery. Another cool feature is that your troops have a morale meter, if it gets high then they are likely to do something incredible heroic (and possibly stupid) but if it gets low then it may take a few commands to get them to do anything. The game has a pretty good fog of war engine and the graphics look good. The game has a four player in multiplayer mode in which each side buys units before the game and then go at it.

Keeping with the WWII RTS theme, War Times which is more of a traditional RTS game where you collect resources (iron and oil). The game will feature 80 units and 70 buildings across four nations (Germany, the US, United Kingdom, and the Soviets). You will pick a side (Axis or Allies) during the campaign mode which will allow you to re-enact several historical events. During some missions you will have access to more than one nations units which should add a little more flavor. The game has some cool new twists such as allowing you to move troops to the airport to load them up in to troop transport planes and the ability to “loan” units to other players in the multiplayer portion of the game. Multiplayer modes include the typical death match, co-op mode, and a capture the flag mode. The game will also ship with an easy to use map editor so you can create your own historical (or not so historical) multiplayer maps.

Last on the docket was Chrome. Chrome is a tactical first person shooter (it’ somewhere between Unreal 2 and the Rainbow 6 series), you play Logan a mercenary turned bounty hunter try to make a buck in the 22nd century. The cool feature about the game is that you can augment your skills with implants. The game will also feature multiplayer mayhem with support of up to 32 people.

I finally got the chance to wander around and check out some other games. I have mixed feelings about Soul Caliber 2, the game looks and plays great but it does seem like more of the same thing but that may not be a bad thing. Being a hockey fan I checked out the new games from EA and Sega and NHL2K4 looks much better than it’s cousin from EA. It’s too early to pass judgment but it looks like Sega may finally have turned the tide in the hockey wars. The new Xbox games from Rare look good, I played Grabbed by Ghoulies and it was cool although I’m not sure I’m in the target demographic for the game (it seemed aimed at a younger audience). P.N. 03 also looks cool, I had some problems with the controls but the game looks good and should be another solid title for the Gamecube. I also stopped back at the MS booth to check out Mythica again…yup, still kicks ass. I’m just disappointed that it’s going to be a while before we get a chance to play it. I saw a lot of other stuff that I’m still trying to process but one thing is clear, it’s good to be a gamer right now.
Day 2 of E3 was a blast and I saw a lot of really cool products. My first appointment of the day was Logitech. Given the great peripherals that they had in the past, I was pretty excited about the meeting. A couple new corded control pads will be released for the Xbox and PS2 retailing for around $20 - $25. Not much was announced on the PC side but those who don’t have the Logitech MX700 cordless mouse and the cordless Elite keyboard can get the two in a bundle dubbed the Cordless MX Duo at a price of $100. Two new PC joysticks are also on the horizon that should please those who are fans of Logitech’s joysticks. The main showing for Logitech though is the official wheel for Gran Turismo 4. The new PS2 wheel has a rubber coating, stick shift, and pedals. What makes this wheel unique though is the amount of times you can spin the wheel completely around. No longer are you bound by the 180 degrees that most wheels have in turn radius and the 800+ degree rotation makes it a much more realistic experience. I tested the wheel out with Gran Turismo 4 and it does feel great. I hope that they make one for the PC line, as the larger turn radius would give those hardcore PC racers the realism they desire. All in all, a good lineup from Logitech.

My next stop was to the Half Life 2 booth and I have already written up a very detailed article that you can view here. No doubt about it, this was the best thing I saw at the show.

AMD had a little area in the Nvidia area since they didn’t make it to the show until the second day. They talked about the Opteron and the Athlon64 that’s due out in September. The Athlon64 will easily run 32bit and 64bit applications making it a very nice processor for backwards compatibility.

Since I had a little time to kill, I stopped over at Kentia Hall and ran into the Zboard. What’s a Zboardyou ask? Well take a keyboard and offer changeable key configurations for various games and applications. The pieces fold out from three hinged areas and then lock on top of the keyboard base. A Photoshop template, for example, would have all the shortcuts labeled on the keys giving you a quick reference as to how to perform a certain task without going into the menu system. Time to play Unreal Tournament 2003? Well snap off the Photoshop template and pop in the UT2K3 template and you’ll be presented with large movement keys along with various other action keys nicely labeled with pictures of weapons for the weapon selection area. A microchip on each template will automatically program the keys to the functions listed on the template but you can, of course, remap any of the special keys to your liking. It’s only in a PS2 flavor for now with USB in the works. The base unit with base keyboard template will sell for $40 while games will sell for $20 with some application specific templates going for $30. Look for a review of this one soon.

Nvidia was my final stop of the day and they were showing their GeForceFX 5900 Ultra in full force. The booth had a nice tournament area setup and while I was there you could play UT2K3 with some of the developers and win some prizes. For the card, some demos that they showed had the sister of Dawn, Dusk, dancing and a Balrog-like monster using the same particle flame effect as in the Lord of the Rings’ digital creation.

Microsoft was nice enough to let us into Halo 2 and right before we went into the theater, Anna Nicole Smith was stumbling out. A picture can be seen on our photo album article, and yes she’s pretty big in person. Anyways, the Halo 2 demonstration showed off a cityscape battle with the Covenant. Charlie covered what was in the demo so I won’t go much into it but I’m pretty excited to play co-op with it on the Xbox. Looks to be a nice evolution for the series.

This was one of the better E3’s I’ve attended and I hope next year’s will be just as fun. Thanks to all those that took the time to show

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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