E3 2003 Wrap-Up
I really hate saying goodbye. I had to say goodbye to my new baby puppy, cat, and fish to leave for E3. (Okay, I am a dork). Now I sit on a plane heading back to Texas and I have to say goodbye to E3. For six years now I have attended the show.... For six years I have had to say goodbye to all the great titles. But for some strange reason, this year, it was much easier to leave...
Call me crazy, but there was nothing shown that I just couldn't put down. Sure, there were a ton of great products shown... However, unlike past shows, there was no killer-ap... There was no new console... There was no glitz and glamour about what the "Game of the Show" was... There was no heated debates over this either. E3 came and went without much buzz. However, I want to point out the biggest products I saw on the floor. These are the ten best products I saw on the floor and are listed in no particular order.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox, PC)
Last year, Star Wars KotOR looked like a poor attempt and taking the Star Wars universe into a single player console and PC RPG. While Galaxies is handling the work for the masses of players who want to journey together, BioWare has done a remarkable job in the last year making the quality of Knights of the Old Republic come close, if not already, to surpassing the great NeverWinter Nights. While I prefer to play the PC version, it won't come out until later this fall--with a Xbox version, running in a much lower resolution, due out in a few months. With the way the game looks, it appears that it is polished enough that it won't be delayed again. But you never know with BioWare until it is released.
StarCraft Ghost (PS2, GCN, Xbox)
While it may seem to be a Metal Gear Solid clone, this Blizzard title appears to have all the elements to make it a dynamic gaming experience on all platforms. The graphics are amazing and the stealth gameplay is sure to bring a smile to any fan of StarCraft.
Star Wars Galaxies (PC)
Star Wars Galaxies... do I even need to say more? The MMOG title is going to change the genre forever. Instead of being an action game, the title is an RPG. You build up your characters, join the rebels, empire, or stay neutral. Players can choose to fight or do other things like become a dancer or play in a band. But the biggest news I learned was that all players can ultimately become a Jedi. However, LucasArts will not provide any information on how to do this except that "it will be very difficult." Once you become "force sensitive," a new character slot will open up so you can make a Jedi. As a Jedi, you get three lives. Once you die, you will be able to walk around the world as a blue ghost. Expect to begin reading "Jedi tutorials" in the near future.
Halo 2 (Xbox)
Microsoft and Bungie won't really comment much more on the release date of Halo 2. But the live demo played at their Pre-E3 Press Conference and shown at their E3 booth speak a different story. This game is bigger, better, and going to rock the video game world--much like the first one. I would venture to say that 99 out of 100 Xbox owners have the original Halo in their gaming library. With what Microsoft was showing us at E3 with Halo 2 and some other titles, those same people are going to purchase the sequel. I would go as far to say that with Halo 2 and the other titles shown from MS that if you are an action fan with broadband, an Xbox may be a smart purchase if you don't already have it.
Doom 3 (Xbox, PC)
I got to see a video of Doom III running on an Xbox during the Microsoft Pre-E3 Press Conference. WOW! AMAZING! INTENSE! INCREDIBLE! This game is going to blow your socks away. While it isn't Halo 2, it appears to be a darn good game built upon another incredible id Software FPS engine. Graphically, the game is stunning. Sure, the PC version is going to look better, but with the exclusive console rights going to Microsoft--mainly due to the fact that the PS2 can't handle it--this game and Halo 2 are going to convert many people to Xbox.
This tiny controller from Mad Catz is a remake of a NES game pad. However, you will find all of the buttons on your PS2 but in a "retro" style casing. It is built in a protective metal casing and may soon become my favorite controller of all time.
Prince of Persia (PS2, GCN, Xbox, PC)
If I was picking a game of the show based on excellent animation and smart controls, Ubi Soft's Prince of Persia just might win the award. In the next incarnation of the series, the developers use an incredible engine to recreate the Prince of Persia experience for a new generation of players. The result, so far, is nothing short of stunning. The main character moves around the screen gracefully, running down the side of walls, grabbing drapes and swinging, and provides players with a bird's eye view of the area, when needed, to help avoid getting stuck in a particular location.
Sony was teasing us about their PSP. That is the PlayStation Portable. While the actual unit wasn't on display and probably won't see the retail market until next fall, Sony is dubbing this machine The Next-Generation Walkman. The unit will play MP3's, use memory sticks, and play games that may use PS2 style graphics. However, this will not be backwards compatible with any console. The games will appear on a disk that is similar to the GameCube and hold nearly 2 GB's of data. What is that I hear in the background? It is Nintendo crying that they are going to have to release another new version of the Game Boy soon.
Sprint may not exactly be a game company, but they are revolutionizing gaming on cellular phones. While some may claim N-Gage is the place to go for their "cellular game fix," the $299.99 price point for the non-CDMA product leaves me to believe that it may not take off with the masses. Sprint, on the other hand, has cheap games available for players to download on their existing phones. Using Sprint PCS, players can compete with friends and strangers in real time in games like bowling, checkers, and Bejeweled. They also have titles from Namco, THQ, and Sega to round out their lineup. While it may not be near the graphics of a GBA or have the depth of the latest Final Fantasy title, Sprint PCS offers gamers fun games at a cheap price on a great PCS Vision network. Also, their lineup of phones rock too!
Xbox Music Mixer (Xbox)
Xbox is trying to reach out to the Japanese market with Karaoke features in the Xbox Music Mixer. While US gamers will also enjoy this feature, the biggest draw for us is the ability to take MP3's, WMA's, and digital pictures and put them on our TV.
These products were the best of what was seen at E3. While there were several other good titles, they didn't' seem to stand out from amongst these ten listed aboce. This is a good and bad thing for the industry. It appears we have reached a point in the current console life-span where everything is almost equally as fun and playable. This makes it increasingly difficult for titles to stand out.
This was still a great show. However, until we get a new console, nothing earth shattering will probably appear. Don't worry, there will be plenty of great games to play this year! And we will be here to let you know which ones to pick up and which ones to avoid.
You can also keep up with our Post-E3 coverage by clicking on the E3 button on the sidebar. Be sure to keep checking this section out through the week of June 8. We will have articles added there until then.