In the second day of E3 Press Conferences, CVGames met up with and to attend a majority of the conferences. The day began bright and early with a trip down to the media center at E3 to pick up our press badges. After accomplishing this and approving a few articles, our group left for the Sony event. Unfortunately, since there were no shuttles provided, we had to overpay for a cab. The good news was since we took a large cab, we were able to split the fair five way. Once we arrived at the Sony event, there was a huge line waiting to be checked in. Sony was not organized at all so it took us about twenty or thirty minutes to finally get inside the press conference. They had tons of food and drinks waiting for us–including my favorite–Red Bull. Honestly, is there a better way to start your morning than with a Red Bull buzz?

The press conference was very extravagant and all of the press were crammed into chairs that could barely hold your butt. This is the exact feeling you have if you have ever been on an American West flight… (bad memories of flying to Sony’s Gamers’ Day 2003 begin to flash in my head…)

As always, once the event began, Sony flexed their muscles by gloating about their huge numbers and boasted once again that the console war is over. But you really can’t argue this because they have almost 100 million PSone consoles sold and already have 51 million PS2’s sold.

Sony’s big announcements at this show are a new version of the PlayStation 2 hardware that will come bundled with the network adapter, have support for DVD R playback, IR for the remote, and a $199.99 price point. While I would have preferred the price to be dropped–this may still occur at a later date. Sony also announced that in the new version of the console, which looks exactly the same as the normal PS2, the CPU fan will be much quieter–resolving an issue users have had with the current model.

Sony also confirmed that EA will be delivering their titles exclusively online to the PlayStation 2. However, this agreement is only good for the upcoming year of sports titles. EA will also be utilizing the SOCOM headset (which will also be sold separately) to utilize voice over IP in all EA Sports games played online. This is dubbed “EA Sports Talk.”

Sony also showed Eye Toy to the press. Eye Toy is a camera that connects in the PlayStation that will allow players to control games without a controller. Logitech will also showcase a conferencing tool using this Eye Toy camera. The only game that has been announced for it is a very low budget collection of games where you wave your arms at the screen and control the action. While it may be a pretty worthless accessory at first, it has potential to be something great.

Rise to Honor was shown to the public once again. Sony originally showcased this title during Gamers’ Day 2003 in San Francisco. While the game is still in development, it has a ways to go. The textures and polygon count seem to be a little bit low compared to what developers are doing with the GameCube and Xbox. The gameplay also needs a little bit work. However, with a bit more polish it could be a great title.

By far, the biggest announcement Sony had was the PSP. This stands for the PlayStation Portable. Yes, you read that right–Sony is getting ready to release a portable PlayStation console. Before you rush out, pre-order the system, and dust off your old games, the system won’t be released until sometime in 2004 and the games will be released on some sort of mini-CD similar to what the GameCube disks come on. However, Sony said that they haven’t decided on a final format for the games–but they would be on some sort of CD instead of a cartridge. The processor should be at least 32 bit and the system will play MP3’s and be dubbed “the next Walkman.” Hopefully things will go well for this new item when it is released.

Last but certainly not least–there is a little title called Metal Gear Solid 3 that will be exclusive to the PlayStation 2. This is a great move for Sony but will prove to be hinder the business for GameCube and Xbox. I guess this is yet another reason why Sony dominates the market. This is the kind of third party exclusive content needed on the other two consoles.

Nintendo was supposed to come pick up everyone from Sony’s event and drive them to their press conference. However, the shuttles were completely full and CVGames and Gamerweb had to grab an overpriced cab once again to head over to the conference. And to be really honest, the trip to Nintendo’s press conference was not worth it this year. Nintendo spent a large amount of time making excuses about their business decisions and explaining that they will succeed in this business in their way… Nintendo still has not come to realize that they are no longer anywhere near the ultimate gaming experience. Instead, they seem content to offer Sega and Namco a limited partnership to develop games based on Nintendo franchises. GBA connectivity was also a big topic again. However, this is the same exact thing they were pushing last year. The public doesn’t seem to be buying… at least right now.

The biggest things Nintendo showed, besides a 15 second Metroid Prime 2 clip, was a Mario Kart, Metal Gear Solid, and RE 4 videos. However, overall, Nintendo’s lineup is very weak compared to the last two years. It is as if Nintendo is punishing their audience because, as they admitted, Mario Sunshine, Eternal Darkness, and Metroid Prime did not sell as well as they first anticipated.

After Nintendo was over we headed over to the Nokia N-Gage event. This was the most uncomfortable event of the day. The crowd was stoked to see the even and everyone sat in amazement waiting for the final details to be announced regarding the specific carriers and pricing. While no other carriers were announced, the price of $299.99 was revealed. It was like the air out of a balloon was released and shortly after the event ended, 85% of the crowds were gone. Talking to several different members of the media, everyone felt the same thing… the N-Gage looks nice but it is overpriced. Nobody is betting the N-Gage will be a success. While I feel that the price is a bit high, the general public goes crazy over new cellular technologies. My guess is that this may propel the system to great sales. Time will tell on this one.

The night ended with a mini-convention called eFocus where several publishers showed titles in a smaller environment. The highlight of the evening was seeing the new Vampire the Masquerade title. While it won’t be released until next year, it looks like it is going to be a great RPG. I should have a preview of the title up this week.

The press conferences are pretty much over now and the real event begins tomorrow. The last two days have sapped my strength but the next three days are going to be even more draining. However, while I may be tired, it is still the most fun you can have!

By Kaleb Rutherford – 05/13/03

Screenshots for E3 2003 Journal 5/13/2003