With all this talk about VF4, I am quickly forgetting everything about E3. So I guess I should take this opportunity (and my jet-lagged state) to write my impressions of the show and some of the games exhibited. First, this E3 wasn't exactly the best show compared to last year at least. I seem to share this impression with a lot of others though. In general, the booths just didn't seem to be as expansive, there weren't as many games to play, there were a lot less stuff being given away and there weren't very many blockbuster games at all. My experience with E3 was very random; I had no set plans in walking around or deciding what things to play. As such, I guess my impressions will reflect that and I will basically talk about whatever pops to mind. Please excuse my lack of organization. SEGA BOOTH The Sega booth was definitely the biggest disappointment of them all. It was basically closed off to the public, largely because Sega really didn't have much to show at all. There was no playable Floigan Brothers, no playable JSRF, and most importantly, no playable VF4. Before the show opened I had talked to Shou-sama (who works for GameGo!) and he speculated that a playable VF4 was inside. That got me really excited and was even more so when I found that Bryan got me access inside, only to have my high deflated when I realized it was the same video as the mpegs being passed around. The quality of the vidoes weren't even that good! And there were no new sequences either. Very disappointing. YU SUZUKI The highight of the show, oddly enough, also came from the Sega booth. I GOT TO MEET YU SUZUKI!!!!!!!!!! Wow, poor guy, Adam, Sal and I practically harassed him. We were like bees devouring honey. Yu seems like such a quiet, introspective kind of guy. I always thought he knew decent English, but I had a lot of problems communicating with him. I introduced myself, professed my dorky love for VF, but that was about as far as I could get. Bryan did ask Suzuki if the card feature will be implemented for American arcades and he seemed to indicate the affirmative, and even showed us a network card from his wallet. Damn! I thought he was going to give it to me! Those things are limited. I asked him why a playable VF4 wasn't there and why the E button was taken away but he couldn't seem to answer back. Damn, I wished Hiro was there at the moment. Anyway, it was great to finally meet my hero (yeah, I'm a geek, so sue me). That was definitely the best part of the show. I also saw Naka and Mizuguchi but unlike Suzuki they were busy talking to people. It was just so interesting to contrast the personal styles of Naka and Mizuguchi with Suzuki...Suzuki seems more like the unwilling celebrity, the unlikely hero, whereas Naka and Mizuguchi were obviously comfortable in their stardom. It was a shame I didn't get to meet Katagiri, the guy who probably knows more about VF4 and is more directly responsible for its development than even Suzuki. GUN VALKRYIE In terms of gameplay, this game looked really exciting. It was 80% done on the Dreamcast before Sega decided to port it to the X-Box. As such, the graphics shown on the demo looked as though they could obviously be done on the Dreamcast. However, the game still looks great and looks to play great as well. Imagine a Matrix styled 3D shooter (3rd person perspective). PROPELLOR GAME Forgot the title of this game, but it's another pet project of Suzuki's. I played it a bit and it seems really fun, although the graphics are plain. It's basically a versus dog-fighting game. WEIRD GRAPHICS GAME I think this was a game by Naka or Mitsuguchi, but it's a tech-like game where the graphics are basically a bunch of lines made into models. It's a quasi-shooting game where you make music when you hit stuff. Interesting and innovative-looking. SONIC ADVENTURE 2 WOW! This game looks hot!! I swear, you can put this game side-by-side with the best of the games from the other next-gen consoles and SA2 will beat out most of them in the graphics department. It's a testament to the DC's power and untapped potential. JET SET RADIO FUTURE I thought this was the second best looking X-Box game of the show. Of course, it was unplayable and not much was shown but it's definitely a step up from the first JSR. The cities are protrayed very intricately and looks huge. NBA 2K2 Didn't play it much but it seems to be a big departure from 2K1 in terms of gameplay. It seems almost too easy to make a jump shot in this one. Graphics seem to be about the same, but the dunks are way better. NINTENDO BOOTH Nintendo's booth was most definitely the slam-dunk winner of the show. I have to admit that I was very impressed. Of the three next-gen consoles, I had always thought the GC would struggle the most but I don't think so anymore. The booth was always packed with people...not just people out for free stuff (although there was plenty of that) but the gaming stations themselves were packed. The GC controller was a bit weird though, but comfortable. The GC itself is funky and cool looking. I can definitely see Japanese chicks going "kaaawwaaaai desune!!!!!" WAVE RACE The water effects in this game are AMAZING but the rest (i.e. trees in the background) look really bad. It seems as if the developers spent most of their time on the water...at least thus far. The game is pretty fun though and I enjoyed playing it a lot. SUPER SMASH BROTHERS Not VF3 or VF4. The graphics are quite cute though and the F-Zero stage looks really interesting. STAR FOX ADV. Looks stupid, but I didn't play it. LUIGI'S MANSION I didn't get to play this one either but it didn't look all that jaw-dropping, IMO though it does look great. A lot of people will tell you otherwise though. The frame rate wasn't that great and the image quality wasn't as sharp as the other GC games. ROGUE SQUADRON Heh heh, probably Dan's game of the show. This game DOES look impressive though and looks very much like the movie. I read in EGM the game ran at 60 fps (I believe it) and that one of the stages involved has a big ship consisting of 130,000 polys. HOT DAMN! That means the game runs at least 7.8 million polys a second, and that's discounting other stuff besides the ship and the AI and CPU calculations needed for gameplay. Damn, the GC isn't kidding around when it claims to have power. However, I thought the game itself looked pretty boring. Certainly, the demo wasn't very exciting gameplay-wise. GAMEBOY ADVANCE Checked it out some. Much better than NES but has yet to prove games will look better than the SNES, which I doubt. I'm not much of a handheld fan though. SONY BOOTH Like last year's, surprisingly nondescript. The booth wasn't as defined as Nintendo's. THE STREET An interesting take on basketball games. The emphasis of the game is on tricks, and you get awarded points depending on what you can do (i.e. better dunks -> more points). However, the outcome of the game is still determined by how many points you get from what you can score. Points inside the arc or worth 1, outside worth 2. Which just absolutely kills the balance and IMO the importance of doing tricks. I personally think the outcome should depend on a combination of tricks and points. The graphics are OK but the animation is great. GRAN TURISMO 3 The set up was pretty sweet and right on the money. Sony set up 5 linked stations with wheels and seats; i.e. it was like a 5-linked Daytona race-fest. Nice. The graphics of the game is obviously technically advanced, but for some reason or another I can't help but think of how *boring* the game looked. Seriously, in my books, Scud Race (Super GT) is still the best looking racer. The control of the cars are way touchier than what I'm used to for arcade racers, which are about the only kind of racing games I play. I sucked and finished 4th in the race, heh heh. I think someone snickered as I got up and left. HEY! At least I was using manual transmission!!! BALDUR'S GATE, DARK RISING Here's a game where I thought the graphics were done right. The look is very clean, high quality, high resolution, very detailed, silky smooth 60 fps and with great lighting and texturing. Admittedly, the game is played from a over-the-top perspective and so may not require much to produce such a nice look, but still, the effect is absolutely gorgeous. The head developer of the game was actually demonstrating the game while I watched and he jumped around to several stages and showcased the graphics. Seriously jaw dropping...I thought this was the best looking PS2 game of the show (MGS2 is better in the sense of its cinematic presentation). The gameplay looked absolutely dull though. METAL GEAR SOLID 2 Oooh, still the most exciting game of the show. I didn't play MGS at all though and don't really have the patience to excel at this type of game so I can't really comment on the playable version. The videos shown on the Konami big screen were definitely the highlight for me though of the game. SILENT HILL 2 The in-game engine isn't too great...slow frame rates and a grainy look. However, Adam and I were arguing whether some of the scenes (usually cut scenes) were prerendered or real time so that's definitely a good thing. I think the developers need to focus more on the actual in-game graphics than the cut scenes though. SH2 looks to be an absolutely chilling and disturbing game...some of the stuff in there is outright disgusting and definitely R-rated. VAMPIRE NIGHT I thought this shooting game by Namco for the PS2 has a lot of style. It's really cool in the HotD (the first one) sense and does a great job in enhancing the atmosphere of things. You almost want to continue playing the game to see what cool thing Namco will throw out next; I LOVED the lake bit. However, it IS a gun-shooting game so there's just inevitably a ceiling on how much you can enjoy the game. VN is actually a good example of something I have noticed with a lot of PS2 games...the jaggy, "shimmering" problem. A lot of games have this problem and it's really noticable, especially in contrast to GC's sharp, clean images. DEVIL MAY CRY This is possibly my game of the show. The graphics are great (though not jaw dropping) but like VN this game OOZES of style. The action and gameplay is exactly the type I enjoy...I personally dislike the character gameplay/control in Resident Evil and even the gameplay in Onimusha seems boring. But in DMC the action is fast and furious and most importantly the game is in full 3D. And the enemies in this game are awesome! Imagine this: Some witch with a reaper comes floating at you and strikes out. You dodge just out of reach and slash them with your sword. As the witch staggers away you draw your pistols and blast them to death, Trigun style. Kick ass!! This is a game I'm definitely getting. CAPCOM VS SNK 2 I was surprised to see this at E3, in an arcade cabinet and in a very advanced state. The game now has 6 buttons, SF style!!! Man, I was so surprised to discover that. I actually played my first game without realizing it. It was so weird to try out the SNK characters and find out what their heavy attacks were, but I don't think the transition is so off. SNK characters already have a heavy attack (C+D) and most characters have directional attacks (i.e., f+B for example) that could easily serve as mid or heavy attacks. It was pretty easy to get used to and I got a 6 win streak with my Iori, Sagat and Guile team. I definitely welcome the change since SF characters are no longer short changed and most KOF characters are actually upgraded. Welcome to the Capcom world, SNK! (Good thing too, now that SNK is bust). Oh yeah, one thing: Haohmaru is damn strong in this game. Manoel got a 32-win streak primarily because of Haohmaru. Great reach, good priority and quite fast. However, I noticed that not a lot of people rolled much and this seems like the best way to beat Haohmaru. Also, there are now multiple grooves, each groove having some techniques. For example, C-Groove has the roll, counter, dash, 3-part meter, etc. S-Groove, on the other hand, has the small hop (KOF style!!!), the KOF95 evade (without the evade attack), dash, charge meter etc. These were the only two grooves available but there were three others I think. Damn! I'm excited! I really want the groove with the small hop and the roll, as these are my two favorite aspects of KOF. Capcom is really looking to do something phenomenal with CVS2, and I'm certainly looking forward to the final product. Oh yeah, CVS2 will be out for both PS2 and DC. I'll probably get the DC version since it's most likely closest to the arcade version. GBA SF2 Yee haw!! This could convince me to get a GBA. Only 4 buttons however. Not good. SLIPHEED Shooting game for the PS2. Looks great! I think shooting game fans would def. like this game...I only partially like shooting games but this is a title I'm probably going to pick up based on the demo at E3. X-BOX BOOTH Very so-so. Not as flashy as Nintendo and definitely smaller than Sony. I don't know what is up with Microsoft, but the X-Box is BY FAR the biggest loser of the show. Most of the playable games are terrible and very early...the frame rates are horrid. I don't care if those games are on 50% workstations--the fact is what is shown was just nasty and Microsoft has no real excuses, considering it's supposed to launch at around the same time the GC does. PROJECT GOTHAM I didn't know PG was by Bizarre Creations (the same people behind MSR) but I sure as hell could tell after looking at the game. PG and MSR are weird games for me...I mean...they look great, but they don't. Know what I'm saying? The detail is there, some of the textures (especially the ground in PG) look great. HOWEVER...the game just looks ugly to me. It seems to have this muddy, low-res look. If you don't think MSR looks good, chances are you won't think PG looks good. As for the gameplay, it's difficult to say but the controls are not what I'm used to in arcade racers. MUNCH'S ODYSEE Probably the best playable game for the X-Box. Some graphic elements (for example, shadows from the clouds reflect the landscape) are amazing but honestly, with the 2nd generation of PS2 games and GC games the game doesn't look so spectacular any more. In fact, some parts of the game look pretty average. The gameplay seems varied and interesting though. HALO Man, there was a ton of hype for this game. Like Odysee, it was one of the few X-Box games that could be shown but even then it's not that great looking. The frame rate for a FPS is unacceptable, at 30 fps and it often crawled with heavy action. Yes, I know the early demo of this game generated a lot of hype and excitement, but honestly, although the game looks great, it's not really jaw dropping. CRAZY DASH One of the few X-Box games I had the stomach to play (and only because the frame rate wasn't so bad it caused a headache to watch/play). Seems quite fun, especially with other people, but not exactly a killer app. AIR FORCE DELTA With Odysee and Halo, the only other playable game that deserves to be shown. But it is Air Force Delta. People should know what to expect from Konami on this one. DEAD OR ALIVE 3 Man, the Tecmo booth was rocking. There were some HOT chicks hosting the shows and of course there were the DOA2 girls. They had DOA2 "tournaments" but these were mainly just 2 vs 2 matches. I got in line but didn't get to play...good thing too, as the game was on two controllers and set to PS2 mode. After the "tournaments" they showed the DOA3 demo. BUT UNLIKE SEGA, Tecmo actually saw it fit to debut some new footage and a new character. The forest scene where the leaves swirl to reveal a Hayabusa was absolutely stunning. The new Makoto character looked great. Basically, even though DOA3 wasn't playable or even shown to be running on X-Box hardware I was satisfied. Also, Itagaki (the producer and designer) was also present at the show, surveying his domain to witness the reactions of the crowd to the demo. An interesting note: the host stated that DOA3 was also being shown in the X-Box booth "actually running on X-Box hardware" or something like that (these blond hosts never know what they're talking about right?) but it seems clear that there is some distinction between what was shown at Tecmo's booth and what was shown at Microsoft's. However, when I visited the booth I was informed DOA3 was only shown in the theatre. Did anyone attend the damn theatre? Any differences between what was shown there and what was at Tecmo? My personal theory is that the Microsoft version was done on Alpha 1 or actual development kits whereas the Tecmo video was done on Alpha 2 workstations--workstations that emulate the project specs of the final hardware. How else to explain the vast discrepancy between DOA3 and every other X-Box game?!?! Don't tell me Japanese developers are that much better than American developers. MADDEN 2002 Interestingly, EA had a PS2, GC and X-Box versions lined up next to each other. The X-Box version looked like crap and is probably the most early, so let's just get that out of the way first. The GC and PS2 ones look great, although I personally thought the PS2 one had slightly better character models (more polys?). The GC, however, had aliasing on whereas the PS2 suffered from the shimmering look. Weirdly enough, these jaggies actually made the PS2 version look *more* realistic! Watch a football game on a Wega--you'll see the same jaggies. THE CONSOLE WAR So...what's my perspective on this whole console race? Well, as you can probably guess, I think the X-Box has a lot to prove, especially when it's $100 more than the competition. Maybe there's untapped potential but based on the show the strength of X-Box hardware is very doubtful. The quality of GC, PS2 and even DC games just beat the X-Box games to a pulp (with the exception of DOA3 and JRSF, both of which are unplayable and not shown to be running on actual X-Box hardware). Even if they were the same price, based on what I saw at the show, if I had to decide between GC and X-Box I would clearly go for the GC. At the end of the day, if you haven't made plans to get the PS2, GC or X-Box, you should definitely get the PS2 especially since VF4 is guaranteed to appear on the console and because you know Sony will at least have a big presence in the future market, if not a leading one, and because there are a ton of good games coming out for it. The biggest concern is obviously the shimmering look, but hopefully developers will be able to get over it in the 3rd generation. There are rumors VF4 will eventually make it to the GC and especially the X-Box, and this is probably likely, but keep in mind Sega has some sort of a exclusivity contract (probably limited) with Sony regarding VF4. Plus, whether or not VF4 appears on the GC or X-Box would be contingent on how well those consoles sell...and based on E3's showing, that doesn't seem exactly promising for the X-Box. In conclusion, Nintendo really established themselves at the show and proved to everyone that the GC would most likely end up a bigger success than the N64 (at least in Japan). The X-Box has a lot to prove and I'm left wondering where all that putative power that Andy was raving about went. X-Box even more powerful than Naomi 2? Pishaww!! I'm not even sure it's more powerful than GC or even PS2 at the moment. (Please note that I profess to have little hardware authority...I only make conclusions based on what my eyes tell me at E3). The PS2 demonstrated that it is a worthy console to own, especially if you don't have a DVD player. There are a lot of good games in the pipeline for the platform, especially our favorite one. /versus/images/icons/wink.gif However, it's also clear that developers still have problems with the hardware, even in the 2nd generation of games. OK, that's all I can think of right now. Damn, this is a long ass post. This thread better get at least 100 views!!!