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E3 Review 2001

Monday, May 21, 2001 by TheDoc

I've been into computers for almost 10 years, and I've been to quite a few expo's, conferences, Comdex, etc, but I've never been to E3, until now. I'll have to admit I've wanted to go to this for some time, but never seemed to get around to going. Finally, I was able to go, and I spent quite a while there.

Lets just jump into it. I'm sure everyone wants to what's new out there. I'm not going to pretend that this will be all inclusive, as I'm sure there are probably things I missed (I don't know how) or things I'll forget (I'm sure I will). There was a number of standouts in games this year, some I'm anxiously awaiting, other I can do without, and a few I'll probably play if I get the chance, but probably won't by.

There seems to be a trend this year. It seems that there are a few games (and companies) out there that want to try to try to grab on to the success of Counter Strike. I can't tell you how many games I saw that I thought looked like clones to CS. Sierra is making a new version of Half-life called Blue Shift, which looked more like the first HL game, but you play as Barney, the security guard. I think it looks pretty good, but I'm a HL fan. There was C&C Renegade, which looked nice, but it looked like a clone. There was Global Operations (Cavedog), which had some nice features, but looked lacking in the gameplay that I saw (when they could keep the game running…) Sierra and Fox are doing a FPS based on Die Hard, which I got to play, and it looks pretty good. I'm sure once they get in more keys it will be a nice playable game (I hate using W, A, S, X to try to play a game). There was a new Rogue Spear game (Black Thorn) that looked pretty good, although it looked pretty much like the old ones, so I'm guessing new maps and probably some other stuff. There was another Tom Clancy game there, but for the life of me I can't remember the name (guess I should have taken notes)… It looked pretty good as well. (Note: It's Ghost Recon). Imagine Rainbow Six…outside. Huge outdoor maps, a planning phase map that you can change in mission. The ability to lay prone. Oh, and there are indoor environments you can infiltrate, such as caves and barns. You'll receive support from tanks, helicopters, and air combat vehicles, be called upon to work with international military forces such as NATO, and blow up the occasional bridge.

There were other games there that looked nice initially, but once I got to see them, I had second thoughts about. From Dusk til Dawn makes me think that they shouldn't have given up the license just yet (unfortunately, most of them are from the same company). The game reminded me of a FPS of that one game a while back about going around shooting the dead that was a top down view (can't remember the name of the game right now) … Think of a tombraider clone but shooting the undead. Next there was Megarace 3. I liked both 1 and 2 (sorta) and was thinking, ok, using today's technology, MR3 should be a cool game. I thought that until I played it. They handling was horrible. I remember playing the first two using the keyboard, and I couldn't play this one with it to save my life. It shouldn't be hard, you have forward, brake, left and right, but I couldn't stay off the walls. While the graphics looked cool, the gameplay was a minus. Then there was Dune. I was looking forward to this game. While I only was able to play the PS2 version, I found it totally unplayable. The controls were unmanageable to say the least. I might pickup the PC version if the gameplay or handling is any better. On to Jekyll and Hyde. I didn't get a chance to play the game, but it looked decent. It reminded me of Alice. It had that same twisted view of reality type thing going on.

There was several games that I'm going to wait for in anticipation. I've already mentioned the things like the new Rogue Spear, HL:Blue Shift and Die Hard, but I haven't mentioned the new Aliens Vs Predator 2. This looked like a remake of AVP but it had some nice differences. The new Star Trek Armada 2 is looking very nice. I played the first on a substandard system, and still liked the game, and even though they say the minimum will be a P2-266, it supports hardware T&L and bump mapping. The 3D environments look very nice. You will be able to play as the Federation, Klingon, the borg, and species 8472. You will see the frengi and cardasions as well. I'm also looking forward to the Diablo II expansion Lord of Destruction, and Warcraft 3. What can I say, they are blizzard games, and look incredible!

Blizzard Blizzard
Blizzard Entertainment

I'm also looking forward to Freedom Force, which reminds me somewhat of Fallout ala Super Heroes. A birds eye view of your super heroes and your fight to kill the bad guys. Return to Castle Wolfenstein while is going to be a pretty game, might just be another FPS, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Freedom Force
Freedom Force Image

There were many other games that I saw but didn't check out too well, as they either weren't my type of game, or didn't really look like anything interesting. I have to admit, there seemed like there were more games for the PS2 and Xbox, than for the PC. I didn't look at to many console games, as I don't own a PS2 or Dreamcast, and I don't know if I'll pick up a Xbox once they are released. I did play a few games that I might consider picking up if I had a PS2 or Xbox. Fox is making Aliens: Colonial Marines for the PS2, and I played Advanced Tactical Fighters for the Xbox which really kept my interest. There were quite a few side scrollers and kids games for both consoles. A number of sports game from Activision, such as Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3, a surfing game, a BMX game, etc, where there to demo as well. I’m not into those types of games really, but they didn’t look too bad.

On a side note, there was a cool trailer for Spiderman (as well as a game) that looked pretty good. I’ll wait until it comes out to see if the movie is worth it, but so far it looks like it might be good. I can’t believe some of the companies trying to hang on to the coat tails of some of the so-called game shows out there as well. There is a game about the Australian version of survivor, a game based on the (only 1) show Stunt driver (I liked the show, but it did look a little planned.) There was a game (for the PS2 I believe) for the Worlds scariest police chases as well. Most of these I foresee as going down in massive flames. I can’t stand watching most of these, much less playing them. I guess someone out there has to like them, since they seem to keep coming back in one form or another but I can’t seem to figure out why.

Well, I hope you’ve had fun going through my adventures in E3, maybe next year I’ll see you there!

5/22/01 - Some additions here, since I forgot some things... (it's been a long weekend)... There are a few others I forgot to mention that are worth mentioning. The first is Jurassic Park 3. This looks like it will be a pretty cool game. What isn't cool about hunting for dino's with cool gfx. The next is a title based off of the X-Men movie. I think there were a couple of games based off of this one though. They might be for different systems. The gfx were nice though. Next is Halo, and while the game might not be that exciting, the effects and gfx will make the game. Last, if I didn't already mention, is Duke Nukem Forever. He's back, and with a vengance. Not only that, but the babes are hot, 3d rendered and it looks like it will give serious sam a run for it's money. I can't wait for this one!

5/23/01 - One game I forgot twice now I wanted to mention for some reason... Disney's new Rollercoaster game. I was talking to one of their reps about the Rollie Polie game (for my son) and he suggested that I go check out their coaster sim. I went over there, and sat down for the demo. After watching the demo, I was impressed, but felt that it's nothing really new. Basically, I think it's Coaster redone. Remember Coaster? It's like 5-6 years old, where you can build your own coasters and have fun riding them. Well, this just has better gfx, the ability to add other buildings, and the ability to make wood or steel coasters. Outside of that, nothing really new. It'll be fun to play with for a few hours, but after that, I suspect that anyone would get bored of the game, unless they are fanatical about coasters.

Also Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix once again uses a Quake 3D engine, this time using the latest incarnation, from Quake 3: Team Arena. While the specific advantages of using the Quake 3 engine can be saved for a later date, suffice it to say the engine is terrifically refined and offers furiously fast game play. On top of the base Quake 3: Team Arena engine, Raven Software has developed its own terrain modeling to create levels which are tenfold larger than standard Quake 3 maps. Of course, Soldier of Fortune 2 takes place on maps which are significantly larger and require that kind of space: the levels we saw took place in the Colombian jungles and another in frozen Russian. In total, approximately 12 maps and 70 individual missions are planned for SOF2.

Also Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. BioWare and Star Wars, together. It's a dream come true. This 3D RPG allows you to play as classes such as a Jedi, and a Han Soloish rogue called a "Scoundrel." The very early build we were shown took place in a Mos Eisley-style town on Tatooine, which had Star Wars atmosphere down perfectly. Droids and aliens walked around, there were landspeeders parked nearby, and huge freighters would fly overhead. The combat system will show animated moves for your many fighting options, so during a fight, Jedi will leap, spin, and do all sorts of new moves. And, you can also go down a completely different path as a Dark Jedi if you want, heh heh heh.

Another one to keep an eye out for is Max Payne. This action/shooter is one of the most hyped titles in recent memory. Trust me, it deserves it. Many games promise to put you in an action movie, Max Payne actually does it with "Bullet Time." The game goes to slow motion to let you pull off cool, John Woo-ish stunts like leaping to the side while firing two guns. The 3D models are so sophisticated, Max's coat has a life of his own, and his face squints from the flash of his guns. Not only that, the story of Max Payne is well told with a graphic-novel style slideshow and good voice acting. One of the levels we saw demonstrated had very realistic-looking fire ripping through a building while Max desperately tried to escape.

I don't normally talk to much about console games, but a few that stood out where Dead or Alive 3, StarWars: Obi-wan, Munch's Oddysee, Devil May Cry, Spy Hunter and Advanced Tactical Fighter.

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