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E3 2004 Impressions

John McCarroll's Impressions
Top 5 RPGs:
1) Jade Empire (Xbox)
Aside from playing a little bit of Bioware's Jade Empire on the first day in Microsoft's booth, Brian and I got an extended demo inside Bioware's cube in the back of South Hall. Needless to say, this game looks and feels amazing. Using a version of the Aurora (KotOR) engine, Jade Empire's action is pulled off quite well, especially considering the company's only real-time game was MDK2. Bioware showed us a new 'humor' character, but he just didn't have the style of Minsc or HK-47; hopefully this will be remedied.

2) Beast Deity (PC)
I'm sure most of you have never even heard of this MMORPG that comes from the land of Taiwan. A brilliant looking toon-shaded MMOG, Beast Deity features gameplay similar to Ragnarok Online, but improved. The key behind Beast Deity is the graphics, however. Fully 3D, Beast Deity was shown to us on a Pentium 3 450 with a TNT2 and ran beautifully. Of course, we weren't shown how it fared when you have 200 people sitting in an area hawking stuff, but, hey, that'll never happen in an MMORPG.

3) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 (PC, Xbox)
I played only a small portion of the demo before deciding, "They're showing us the gameplay. We know the Aurora engine rocks. I'll just have to buy it when it comes out." If you were a fan of the first, you'll probably be a fan of the second. For those of you who are screaming Bioware fanboys, relax. Obsidian Entertainment is some old Black Isle brains -- you know, Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment? Yeah. Them.

4) World of Warcraft (PC, Mac)
Yeah, it's in beta. Yeah, it's good. Yeah, it runs on a Mac. Yeah, it's Blizzard. That is all.

5) Sid Meier's Pirates! (PC)
What? They showed Sid Meier's Pirates! at the show?! Yeah, running on a single PC in the "Games for Windows" booth in South hall, I went to scoop out how the "other" platform's games are doing -- I'm a Mac user if you haven't guessed -- I saw what would be my holy grail. A new, smooth-looking, fun to play Pirates!
Top 5 Non-RPGs:
1) Gran Turismo 4 (PS2)
No comments necessary.

2) StarCraft: Ghost (GCN, Xbox, PS2)
I played the single level of this game last year, but didn't think that it could really be as fun as that through multiple levels. Oh, how wrong I was. StarCraft: Ghost is simply one amazing stealth-shooter. I simply can't wait to put my hands on a final version and throw myself behind Nova.

3) Outrun 2 (Xbox, PS2)
If you've played the arcade version, you know what's going on here. Drift-heavy arcadey race action that is simply going to amaze everyone. It's still as fun as the original was so many years ago.

4) Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat (GCN)
A platformer that's not only quite fun to play, it uses a gimmicky input method?! Sign me up. Roll the right bongo to go right, and the left bongo to go left, both to jump, and clap to attack. Simple enough, but the puzzles created by this system are quite fun.

5) Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (Xbox)
Out by the time you read this, it's actually a very fun first-person sneaker/semi-RPG. It reminds me quite a bit of Deus Ex.
Favorite Show Experiences:
1) Crashing the Phantom. Oh, how it filled me with joy.

2) Crack Chicken. Warm. Last year I just got some cold leftovers. I want to open a franchise, now.

3) Dear Friends: Music from Final Fantasy. One of the best classical concerts I've ever been to. Also featuring the Square-Enix Press conference which included my now-favorite phrase "NETWORK IS GAME. EVERYTHING DOES GAME."

4) Watching drunk editors frolick. I'm still a minor, so I didn't drink *wink wink*, but it was quite humorous to watch the video of Rob with no wits about him.

5) Meeting those who I hadn't met. Mark, Tim, Damian, and even a couple of the guys we play FFXI with. Quite fun.
Least Favorite Show Experiences:
1) Site going down on day 2.

2) Begging my sister to help us restore the site on Day 2, regardless of the fact that it was her only day at the show. Thank you Emelie!

3) Trying to do Pictures work at 1AM. On a Windows machine. When I suck at pictures.

4) Lack of anything on Chains of Promathia.

5) Full Metal Alchemist not being a totally awesome game. Sure, it's fun, but it's not the anime.
Best Swag:
1) Nintendo Press Bag - AKA New iBook bag.

2) Phantom T-Shirt - I believe.

3) Dear Friends Signed Poster - Mmmm Mmmm. Available only to invited press who went to the concert.

4) Jade Empire Poster - Framed and on the wall.

5) Shin Megami Tensei Poster - Mmm Mmm good.

More Impressions
Tim Duong Stephen Harris Liz Maas John McCarroll
Mike Salbato Damian Thomas Mark P. Tjan


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