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E3 2004 Impressions


Mark P. Tjan's Impressions
Top 5 RPGs:
1) Tabula Rasa (PC)
Lord British (Richard Garriott) has been one of the movers and shakers of the industry. If anyone has ever played an Ultima title, there is the extremely high possibility it was his brainchild. Along with Starr Long and Ralph Koster, he and most of the key players from Origin have come together as Destination Games to develop Tabula Rasa. One of the most exotic looking MMORPGs I've ever seen, the game's most attractive feature was undoubtedly the idea of "dramatic timing". No waiting around to do this or that, instant teleportation to mission parties waiting on you, mission-based adventuring, a PVP ranking ladder in a separate arena, and character customisation like I've never seen before. The game got me salivating like a possessed man, and I'm definitely going to be hopping all over this one when it launches.

2) Tie - Phantom Brave (PS2)
I'm a huge fan of Nippon Ichi's games, even back when Rhapsody was first released, so Phantom Brave is a big deal to me. From what I saw and what I read, the game promises to satisfy the Disgaea crowd. I've always liked RPGs that have a healthy dose of humour. Granted, Phantom Brave looks sufficiently more serious than Disgaea, but still retains that light-heated feel I'm fond of. That and the fact there won't be any tiles in this SRPG makes me giddy. Hooray for free-roaming! | Star Ocean: Till the End of Time: It's not that this is a new game by any means, but I've been anticipating its release for quite awhile now. Finally being able to play it, most of my fears were put to rest. A great battle system, good art direction, and a fitting control scheme? I have no complaints.

3) Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
Being the avid-yet-reasonable Square-Enix fanboy I am, being able to play FFXII was quite exciting in itself. The game has a very mature feeling to it, not in the sense that it's bloody or oversexed (which seem to be the generic prerequisites to some companies), but that it has dramatic flair and a very historical feel to it. The opening moments alone are juicily reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics, with political intrigue already afoot. On top of all that, the character models and environments are so deliciously rendered that it feels more "real" than any previous instalment that I can recall, despite having a reportedly lower poly count than FFX.

4) Digital Devil Saga (PS2)
Ever since the first time I picked up Persona: Revelations on the PSX, I've been a fan of Atlus' Megami Tensei series. Although not officially part of the MegaTen series, Digital Devil Saga has all the elements. A technological, otherworldly setting mixed with themes of the occult and the art of Kazuma Kaneko? I'm there.

5) Chulip (PS2)
While perhaps not an RPG, that's at least what Natsume is calling it. It's a bizarre little title where the main character, in order to kiss the girl of his dreams, goes around practising how to kiss, who to kiss, and gains experience in the field. In addition, his kisses help to enliven the town and bring it out of abject misery, so there's a humanitarian lesson there. That or someone's been eating way too much sugar at Natsume. Either way, this title was incredibly amusing from what I played, and I thank Natsume for their insanity.
Top 3 Non-RPGs:
1) Half Life 2 (PC)
I'm not one for buying new FPS. Heck, the one I regularly enjoyed for three years was Quake III before it got old and the urge in me died. But Half Life 2 may just be the game that gets me into the genre again. The artificial intelligence looks incredible and I have to say I'm looking forward to seeing it work up close and personal on my home computer. Much like Stephen, the game makes me salivate, amongst activating other bodily functions.

2) Gradius V (PS2)
I'm sorry Treasure! I know I said I stopped believing that you still existed, but I take it all back! I want your sweet, sweet Gradius V and I want it now! Uh, I mean... Yeah, it's a shooter, and it looks awesome. Treasure, honey! I love you!

3) King of Fighters: Maximum Impact (PS2)
Okay, I know most fighting afficondos and KOF fans will probably cry "foul" on this one, but honestly, I like KOF in 3D. It's not a deep fighting game, but it's a smooth fighting game. I had a lot of fun juggling Iori into a wall with Terry and making him feel like the less-masculine partner in a prison convict relationship. On top of that, Maxima finally plays like he isn't just a pack of meat in leather. As in, he's useful. Thumbs up SNK!
Favorite Show Experiences:
1) Being at the NCSoft booth, interviewing the development teams, and getting to see Tabula Rasa.

2) Interviewing EasyFun Entertainment and learning about Beast Deity, The Best MMORPG Ever!

3) Watching Stephen check his Mog house on FFXI from the media room. It's a sickness, man.

4) Coming across GamePro's rooms (re: cubicles) at the back of Kentia hall. This is the equivalent of running a lemonade stand in the back of a McDonalds.

5) Stephen dragging out Chris H. in a headlock after he called someone the wrong name.
Least Favorite Show Experiences:
1) The site being pulled offline on day 2. God that sucked.

2) Lying to Damian about what he did while intoxicated. That was not cool of me.

3) "Someone" biologically firebombing the bathroom after eating El Pollo Compero.

4) Forgetting my jacket and remembering only after I was in the airport, past customs. Thank God Mike's taking care of getting it back to me. (Thank you Mike!)

5) My camera turning out 70% of my pictures with a huge amount of blur.
Best Swag:
1) Cow plushie and Cow Harvest Moon shirt from Natsume: Oh hell yes, the shirt is my official geekwear. The cow plushie currently guards my Grandmother's bookshelf like... a cow.

2) Squirtle plushie from Nintendo: Given to Johnny, and it made him smile. The thing has ghost eyes though. Creepy!

3) NCSoft shoulder bag: This has replaced all my other bags. I just need to buy a longer strap for it. Nice, durable, and isn't cumbersome like my Samsonite.

4) Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne stand-up that Stephen snagged for me from Atlus. I love you Stephen! You ah mah dad-day!

5) Tabula Rasa music disc. Sweet listening.


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


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