Rudo's HUGE E3 Report
Okay, in order to make this easier, I will go at it booth by booth so it's easier to follow and to make sure I don't forget anything. So here we go:
The booth over at Atlus was not very big but the important thing was that Thousand Arms was there and the english translation is well under way. It would have been even better if it had been there in playable form instead of only on Video. There was also a partly translated Tail Concerto at the booth and if you want more info on that one, we've got 2 reviews of the import Tail Concerto on our reviews page. There was also a playable version of Maken X for the Dreamcast. That one is a first person samurai game with swords and like all Dreamcast games, the graphics were really good.
I don't have to tell you that I spent a lot of time there looking at the games and talking with DaveZ and Victor Ireland. You probably already know what was shown but for the sake of being complete in my report, let me recap what was at Working Design's booth. First of all, Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete was there on 3 TVs. 2 of them were playable and the third one was playing the intro over and over again. There was also playable versions of Silhouette Mirage and a TV showing the "Making of Lunar" video that will come with Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete.
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue was also there in video form and it was indeed footage from the Playstation version that was being shown. DaveZ mentioned to me that most of the voices of the original game will come back but there's a possibility that some may be replaced or re-recorded depending on how happy Vic was with the voices in the first place and of course, some characters will now have voices (like Hiro's grandfather Gwyn). Dave also said that he wasn't doing any voices in the game and that he hasn't done any voices at all since he started working at Working Designs. C'mon Vic!! Give him a chance, how about using him for the voice of Hiro in Eternal Blue? :P.
The other game shown was Detonator Gauntlet which is a strategy RPG originally from Human and released in Japan under the name: Epica Stella. The game will have 56 missions and 5 endings which gives it a lot of replay value. The battles in the game look like your typical Strategy RPG with an isometric view and square's on the field representing where you can move to. When you attack, the game switches to a battle sequence similar to Shining Force 3 or Brigandine. The interesting part though is that if you attacked the opponent from behind on the field, you will attack him from behind in the battle sequence. Also, the characters actually converse during the fights. You see the characters faces at the bottom of the battle sequence and the text changes depending on what happens in the battle. If you miss your attack for example, the opponent will say something like: "Ahhh! You won't get me that easily!". The game is reminiscent of Elemental Gearbolt because of the way the characters look and the mech style they have. The game is slated for an October 1999 release.
SquareSoft was showing a lot of Final Fantasy VIII around its booth and even showed the PC version which looks incredible graphically (especially in the battles). Chocobo Mysterious Dungeons was also there in playable form but that's about all Square had. The big thing Square was counting on to impress visitors was the big video they were showing in a room with about 40 chairs. The video was really impressive showing footage from Saga Frontier 2, Final Fantasy Anthology, Parasite Eve 2 and especially Final Fantasy VIII. Most of the video was spent introducing all the characters from Final Fantasy VIII through the use of the CG sequences in the game and let me tell you that those sequences are absolutely incredible. The CG is without question the best you've ever seen in any game and I personally feel it doesn't have anything to envy the Toy Story and Bugs movie because it has the same quality as those IMO.
Crave's booth was pretty good and the big push was no doubt Jade Cocoon which looks like a kick-ass RPG. The graphics look REALLY good and is probably the best thing graphically after Final Fantasy VIII. What surprises me though is the fact that everything in the game is spoken. I started playing an Alpha copy of the game and I have to say that I'm impressed. The music is also very good and so far I don't have any problems with the voice acting (it's not like Castlevania SOTN, Resident Evil or Shining Force 3 so don't worry) and I think Crave is doing a very good job with the game. Shadow Madness was also there but I can't get excited about that one unfortunately. Maybe if I sat down with the game and actually played it, that would make me change my mind but I was in a hurry and didn't check it out much. An interesting thing though is the fact that Crave is very much supporting the Dreamcast. They already have 3 games for it and this bodes well for any RPGs that Sega doesn't want to translate because I'm sure that Crave will jump on them (especially with Working Designs out of the picture on Dreamcast). I was rather impressed with a racer for Dreamcast that Crave will be publishing. The name of the game is Tokyo Extreme Racing but it was called Shutoko Highway Battle in Japan. The graphics are amazing and the replays look a lot like Gran Turismo but on steroid. The reflection on the car at night is incredible.
As GhaleonOne mentioned earlier, Ninja Gaiden was a no-show but Tecmo had 2 arcade machines playing Dead or Alive 2 in Demo mode (which means you couldn't play) and that game in my opinion was probably one (if not THE) best looking game of the show. The detail, the animation, the backgrounds, this game just kicks ass and not surprisingly, there was always a pretty big crowd around the 2 machines.
Sega had in my opinion the best booth of the show by far. There was a LOT of games shown for the Dreamcast and some we've never heard of before. Let me just say that I was really impressed with the Dreamcast and I can't wait until September to get one. Sonic had a HUGE display with at least 15 to 20 playable copy. Other impressive titles were Sega Rally 2, Soul Calibur, House of the Dead 2, Shen mue (although no Adventure portion was available, only faces demo of characters and a Quick-Timer battle), Power Stone, Virtua Fighter 3, Metropolis Racer, D2 and many, many more. However, here are some of the titles that I was surprised by:
Ready to Rumble: This boxing game by Midway took me by surprise with incredible graphics and by being just plain fun. They took the NBA Jam and NFL Blitz approach with this game and it paid off because it's a lot more fun than any boxing sim I've played before, especially with a second player.
NFL 2000: This is by far the best looking sports game I've seen at the show (or ever for that matter). The animation is incredible, the details and camera angles are breathtaking and it looks like Sega will finally have a Football winner on their hands. You have to remember that Visual Concepts (the developper of NFL 2000) are the ones who made Madden 94 and 95 on the Genesis so you know that the game will deliver. The only problem so far is that the interface for chosing your plays is a little awkward and the game is a bit slower than most football game (although more realistic in terms of speed). The collision detection is also not the best around and sometimes makes the hits look a bit weird but I'm sure this will be fixed in the final version.
NBA 2000: This is the basketball equivalent to NFL 2000 and although not as impressive, it still looks like a solid basketball game for Sega and the Dreamcast. Considering that this will be the only basketball game for a while on Dreamcast (can't say the same for football with Sega competing with NFL Blitz and NFL Quaterback Club), Sega is pretty much assured to sell a whole lot of this title.
Ecco the Dolphin: That one was a HUGE surprise for me. Nobody knew that this game was in development and I freaked out when I saw it at the booth. The game is still very early but the graphics are really impressive, especially the animation on the dolphin. Ahhh!! I can't wait to play another Ecco game. The music also seemed to be similar in style to the Sega CD music in Ecco and Ecco 2 which is a very good thing because it adds a lot to the overall experience of Ecco.
On the RPG side, Sega didn't show anything and that was a bit disapointing. I expected to at least see Evolution or Climax Landers but no such luck. I hope Sega won't forget about the RPGs with the Dreamcast because I'll start to get pissed off.
Sony had a pretty strong showing but unfortunately for me, the Playstation is a little too dated and it failed in getting me excited about anything except RPGs because after seeing the Dreamcast in action, it's tough to go back to crappy graphics like the Playstation has (Oh NO!!! I've become a graphic whore!!). Of course, Sony had a showing of the Playstation 2 and at least this part was impressive but it's nowhere near as powerful as what Sony claims it to be. The face demo of the Final Fantasy movie old man is really impressive but not THAT much more impressive than the Shen Mue face demo. The Gran Turismo demo looks really amazing with insane reflection on the car and greath lighting and 3D background. However, the trees were still 2D sprite bitmaps showing that the PSX 2 is not perfect. The Gran Turismo demo was amazing but still nowhere near the 10 times more powerful than Dreamcast that some people are saying because IMO, this wasn't THAT much more impressive than Shutoko Highway Battle which looks a lot like Gran Turismo on Dreamcast. However, there is no denying that the PSX 2 is a powerful machine. Anyway, Sony was showing all of its sports lineup for 2000 along with Unjammer Lammy (which looks as if it was made by a bunch of people on drugs) and other titles such as Ape Escape, Spyro 2, Gran Turismo 2, Omega Boost and a whole lot of other third party titles that I will get to when I discuss the 3rd party booth.
On the RPG side, Grandia and Star Ocean: Second Story were shown. The first in video form only and the second one in playable form. First of all, Grandia seems similar enough to the Saturn version but with more spectacular spells and visual effect. However, I was disapointed by the textures. They don't look as good as the Saturn version but I don't give a damn because all I want is an opportunity to play this game in english. Star Ocean: Second Story looked very good with nice pre-rendered background, good music and everything else that RPG players come to expect from a quality RPG. Star Ocean 2 should be release in June and Grandia has a release date of October or November.
Quite frankly, I wasn't impressed at all with Nintendo's showing this year. None of the titles even made me want to play them and some of the big name titles I thought were disapointing. Donkey Kong 64 is nothing more than Banjo Kazooie with an ape, Jet Force Gemini didn't look that good and seemed boring, the sports games were usual Nintendo sports crap and no RPGs were shown (surprise, surprise). Mario RPG 2 apparently made an appearance on video on a big screen but I didn't want to wait around and check all the other titles in this video just in order to see this footage. Ogre Battle 3 was a no-show, Quest 2 was a no-show and errrr... that about covers the RPG side of Nintendo's system. I guess the only game that had me excited was Perfect Dark and the game looked solid just like GoldenEye was. Star Wars Episode 1 Racer is going to sell probably a million copy without any trouble and might be fun for some people but I just don't dig racers that much so I couldn't get excited about it.
Actually, I'd love to tell you guys about the Eidos booth but I didn't get to see the games. The Eidos booth was so crowded that it was impossible to move around in there. Of course, you're asking yourself why the booth was so busy. Well, simply put, it was because Eidos had tons of scantily clad chicks with whom you could have your picture taken with and Lara Croft made an appearance too. The new Lara Croft model sure looks nice...but errr..never mind that, I wasn't actually looking at all that, I was too occupied with the games (yeah, that'll convince them all right). Anyway, apart from making the feminist movement go back 20 years, Eidos had Soul Reaver playable and the game looked really good and sounded like a lot of fun. Anachronox for the PC was also shown (this is a console style RPG similar to Final Fantasy) but I didn't get a chance to check it out too much cause other things at the Eidos booth were grabbing my attention and it had nothing to do with those scantily clad biker chicks on the Eidos stage (yeah right, who are you kidding). Anyway, I'll try and get some screenshot of the game up in the future because I've got some on the media press kit CD.
Konami was showing quite a few titles but obviously I was more interested in Suikoden 2 and Vandal Hearts 2. While the first one was playable, the other was only shown on video. Suikoden 2 looks to be another hit with RPG fans and the graphics are really improved over the first game IMO. The characters can now run which is really nice and the translation looks to be pretty good (although pretty literal and faithful to the Japanese version according to the translator for the game). Konami didn't show any gameplay of Castlevania: Resurrection for Dreamcast (expect some CG intro on video) and if you read my previous update, you may know that this is probably for the best.
I'm not going to elaborate much on the EA booth because quite frankly, a lot of it is sports game for PC and Playstation and other PC games. The new WCW wrestling game was playable but I didn't get a chance to try it out.
Acclaim's booth was saved by 2 games: WWF Attitude and TrickStyle. WWF Attitude looks to be the ultimate wrestling game and has basically everything you could ever want. You can create you own Pay-Per-View, you can battle in almost any kind of matches you want, you can create your own wrestlers (and this year, the create wrestler feature is even better), you have all of the wrestler's intro to the ring complete with music, and other gimmicks that they do (like Gangrel from The Brood coming out from under the stage surrounded by fire and then getting to the ring and drinking blood from an urn and spitting it back in the crowd). TrickStyle is an overboard futuristic game for Dreamcast with incredible graphics and great moves. NFL Quaterback Club for Dreamcast really sucked IMO and the graphics don't look any better than the N64 version and the fram rate was awful.
Midway's booth was full of Dreamcast games and full of babes. Especially 2 girls in a yellow swimsuit near the Ready to Rumble game. Midway was pushing its Dreamcast games a lot: Ready to Rumble, Hydro Thunder and Mortal Kombat Gold.
Infogrames continued to impress with some promising titles. When I was at E3 last year, one of my personal favorite game shown was Outcast for the PC. The game has an atmosphere like you've never seen, incredible graphics, smooth animation and an incredible soundtrack performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. On top of that, the game has probably one of the best AI engine ever seen. It's really an incredible game and this year's showing was more of the same. The game looks really good and with a Dreamcast version coming in the future, this means that console gamers will get a chance to see this great game in action too. Another impressive game was a video of Alone in the Dark for Dreamcast. The game looks really impressive and has the classic scary feel of the original games. Another impressive game graphically was Supreme Snowboarding for the PC and Dreamcast. The PC version only was shown but the graphics are some of the best I've seen.
Capcom had a great showing with a lot of big titles for both the Dreamcast and Playstation. The Dreamcast titles included: Power Stone, Marvel VS Capcom, Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica (only in video form). The playstation lineup consisted of Resident Evil 3, Dino Crisis and Street Fighter Alpha 3 and many others. Dino Crisis seemed to be really intense and will probably be just as good as the Resident Evil games. The dinosaurs in the game are animated beautifully and the game looks really scary.
Activision had a lot of games for all 3 systems. They even had playable versions of the new Vigilante 8 game for Playstation, N64 and Dreamcast. Other big titles shown were Quake 2 for both N64 and Playstation and Blue Stinger for Dreamcast. Many other games were shown (X-Men fighter, a skateboard game and Toy Story 2 for PSX for example) but none really stood out.
Namco's big title for E3 was no doubt Soul Calibur and it took center stage at their booth. However, the most interesting part for me was the video of Dragon Valor. This RPG looks really good and the fights have a lot of martial arts in them. There is also a lot of emphasis on dragons in the game as shown by the many CG sequences shown with dragons in them.
Ubi Soft had what I thought was the best game for Nintendo 64 at the show. Rayman 2 looked really good for N64 and I thought the graphics were far better than Donkey Kong 64. Ubi Soft also had a playable version of Rayman 2 for Dreamcast which was a bit of a surprise. Many other Dreamcast titles were shown such as Redline Racer, XLerator and another that I can't remember. They also had Tonic Trouble for the N64 was wasn't bad.
Well, I guess this wraps-up my E3 report and I'm sorry if I talked a lot about Dreamcast in this report but Dreamcast was definately the system of the show and since it's a new system, people tend to give more attention to it than other older sytems (the fact that Dreamcast games look so good also has something to do with the fact that I noticed the games more). Anyway, if you have any questions or comments regarding my E3 report, e-mail me. And don't think that this is the end of the E3 stuff because I will most likely put up a lot of pics and videos in the coming weeks that I took there so keep checking the site.