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by Michael Moore

It had been one of my dreams in life to go to E3, so since the opportunity finally arose for me to go I had to, and it didn’t disappoint at all. Unfortunately I could only go for two days, and missed the press conferences, but it was more than worth it.



Day 1:
I decided to start day one off by checking out Nintendo and Sony’s booths. Unfortunately Nintendo’s booth was rather crowded so I decided to go back later, and decided to check out Sony’s booth since it was right next to Nintendo’s.

First game I played was Sly Cooper 2, I was a huge fan of the original and the second game doesn’t look like it will disappoint. In this one you get to play with not just Sly but also with his two sidekicks: Bentley and Murray. Each character has different objectives in a level and each has their own style to them. Sly’s objectives are your typical platform stuff with stealthy things thrown in here and there. Bentley’s tend to be more puzzle based, and you tend to avoid combat a lot more. And with Murray his tend to be more combat oriented. The game was definitely enjoyable from what you could play, and will definitely be worth checking out when it’s released.

After playing Sly, I wandered around Sony’s booth a little more. People were playing Metal Gear Solid 3 and Final Fantasy XII. I decided I’d check those games out later at their actual booths. Then I noticed Bandai’s booth, which was right next-door. The first thing that I saw there was the Cowboy Bebop game. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play it, but it looks cool from the video. I did get to play the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex game, based off the anime of the same name. It’s one of my favorite animes, so I was very happy to see it there. The demo they had playable was just an area of a Japanese city, which was kind of slummy. I played as Major Motoko, and it plays like a typical 3rd person action/shooter, but there are some nice enhancements here and there to make it pretty cool. Because Motoko it almost completely a cyborg you can pull off some pretty impressive aerial and hand-to-hand combat stuff. The two best features I think in the game so far are the variety of futuristic guns in the game, and also the hand-to-hand combat.

Next I checked out the Gundam SEED game coming out for GBA. It reminded me a lot of the Gundam Battle Assault games for PlayStation One. The attacks and special moves are graphically impressive, seamless, and fast. Unfortunately moving the mobile suit toward and away from your opponent is really slow, which makes it very hard to talk and withdraw quickly. After that I moved over to Gundam Battle Assault 3 for PS2, which is a huge improvement graphically over the previous two games. The game is now 3D, and you can battle in 2 on 2 fights. But like the Gundam SEED game for GBA it suffers from slow movement, but unlike the SEED game the attacks are also slower so it matches the pace of the game. Regardless it was still pretty fun and easy to pick up, so it will be interesting to see how the final product turns out.

I then decided to go check out the other hall where the majority of the companies were, on the way I stopped by Sega’s booth. I was really unimpressed by what Sega was showing. There was a Sonic Collection including the Genesis games, and some other ones. There was Superstars, which is a game they made for Sony’s EyeToy. It looked all right; I didn’t stick around really to check it out. Sega also made a big deal about showing a video of Phantasy Star Universe. Unfortunately it was just a computer-generated video with no actual game footage, because of that I didn’t find it all that impressive. I’ll wait until I actually see game footage before I make a ruling on that game.

Then it was over to SquareEnix’s booth to check out their lineup. First up was Full Metal Alchemist, the RPG/Action game based off the anime of the same name. I really enjoyed the game, it reminded me a lot of the anime. Square has done a good job of turning the anime into a game, especially in the fighting. When your fighting you can use alchemy to change different objects into weapons to assist you in battles. The game play can be compared to how Kingdom Hearts was, where it’s a real time battle with menus, and leveling up. My only complaint with the game is that the English voice acting is sub par compared to the Japanese. So hopefully they’ll be an option to hear that when the game comes out.

I then tried to play some Final Fantasy XII, but due to the crowds around them I was unable to, so instead played Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for GBA. I really didn’t understand what was going on in the battle system since everything seems to be based off these cards you get by defeating enemies. The controls were good, and the graphics were pretty good, but I don’t think Kingdom Hearts translates very well to the GBA at least in this version.

After Square’s booth I decided to go see Konami’s. Luckily I made it in time to see the Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater trailer from the beginning. The story looks really impressive, what surprised me most of all was the appearance of Revolver Ocelot, but not the old one we are used to, but a much younger Ocelot. Also Raiden appears to make an appearance at the end of the trailer, but it’s hard to say he’s in it until the game actually comes out.

After walking around Konami’s booth a little, I headed back to Nintendo’s booth and stood in line for the Nintendo DS demonstration. The demo began with them first showing us a video of what some game developers thought of the DS, and then they allowed a few people from the large group to actually play the DS. I was one of the lucky few. I have to say that I was really impressed with the system, especially with the Metroid game. They had a 4 player wireless multiplayer game of Metroid going. It took a little time to get used to shooting and looking with the touch screen, but once you do it’s a lot of fun. The other game I played was one of the tech demos they had where you have to draw clouds to navigate baby Mario as he falls to the ground. That was also really enjoyable, and I hope that Nintendo releases it at some point, even though it’s just a tech demo.

While standing in line for the DS demonstration I got to see the video trailer for the new Zelda game. It looks like it’s going to be really good. Even though the Wind Waker graphics have grown on me, I really like that they are returning to a more realistic graphics for Zelda.



Day 2:
To start day two off I headed over to SNK’s booth. First I played SNK vs Capcom Chaos, and was greatly disappointed in it. The game features far fewer fighters then Capcom vs SNK 2, and the graphics are very sub par for a 2D fighter in this day and age. I then decided to try out the first 3D King of Fighters game. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how this KoF game plays and looks. They managed to keep things close to the 2D fighter while transferring to a 3D fighter. I have to say it’s far from a perfect 3D fighter, but it’s definitely a very good first try.

I then headed over to Microsoft’s booth, which looked more like a futuristic fort then a booth. I watched some people play Doom 3, it looked all right on Xbox, but it didn’t seem that great to play. It seems like its just eye candy. Basically you enter a room and there are a couple zombies or other evil things in the room and they come at you and you shoot them. It hasn’t really evolved since the first Doom game, except that the graphics are better.

I then played some of Thief III since one else was. It was a good-looking game, not up to Half Life 2 standards but still. It was pretty enjoyable. It’s basically like a medieval first person Splinter Cell. It’s a little tricky to pick up and play, especially since I played it on Xbox and not on a PC.

I then headed over to Capcom’s booth and played Devil May Cry 3, which I was surprised to see in a playable form. It’s a prequel to the original game, basically the plot to it is that Dante hasn’t learned that he’s part demon yet and is learning about his genealogy as the game progress. The game play reminded me more of the first game, small to medium sized areas, with lots of enemies in them. It has potential to be good, but some of the battles took too long, which tends to be a downside of the series.

One of the biggest surprises for me was at EA’s booth. After watching a video for Burnout 3, I thought I’d play it. I’m not usually big on racing games, but it looked cool. So I went and tried it out, and I have to say it’s going to be really cool. It’s the typically racing game formula; you pick a car and race around a track that is laid out in a city. The big difference here is that there is traffic going throughout the city as you race, and you get rewarded for taking out the other cars with nitro boosts. You take out other cars by forcing them into walls and some of the traffic. The really cool thing is that when you crash everything slows down and your able to maneuver your car, to some extent, to try and take out your opponents while you crash. The graphics are surprisingly good, for the number of cars there are on the road and for the damage that appears on the cars.

After I stood in line for the one of the Half Life 2 trailers. The footage they show, showed off more of what they had shown off the previous year. It was really cool to see the game in action for real. The levels seem really open, and allow you to explore and use terrain as you see fit. It seems as though they made it perfectly realistic. The game looks like it’s going to be really intense, and the AI looks incredible smart. One of the great parts about the video was that they showed us what Counter Strike will look like on the new engine. And I have to say that I can’t wait to play the new CS. They showed us one of the classic levels, which for the most part looked the same, but the finer details made it so much better, like the splashes of water from footsteps and bullets. Also the canisters that could be knocked over to prevent them from being used as cover.

After that it was to another line, this time at Ubisoft’s booth for Splinter Cell 3. SC3 was probably one of the most impressive games I saw at the show. The improvements they’ve made to the game are almost staggering, considering it’s been less then 6 months since SC2 came out. The thing that stood out most were the 2 player co-op missions. The most impressive thing about it were the tandem moves you could execute with the other player. Things like giving the player a boost over a wall, or holding/pulling one player up the side of a building with a rope. It was really cool what stuff they built into the co-op mode.



E3 Awards:

Best Xbox game- Halo 2 (runner up- Knights of the Old Republic 2)

Best PC game- Half Life 2 (runner up- The Sims 2)

Best Gamecube- The Legend of Zelda (runner up- Viewtiful Joe 2)

Best of Playstation 2- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (runner up- Kingdom Hearts 2)

Biggest Surprise of Show- Splinter Cell 3 (runner up- Half Life 2: Counter Strike)

Best new hardware- Nintendo DS

Best Booth- Sony/Playstation (runner up- Nintendo)

Best non-game software- Unreal 3 engine

Best Game of Show- Metal Gear Solid 3 (runner ups- Half Life 2, and Kingdom Hearts 2)



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