Chris’ E3 2003 Report

NOTE: I originally wrote this for my friends and co-workers. It is consequently much rougher than subsequent reports. Also, some of my predictions were wrong; TMNT was NOT a good game, and Rise to Honor turned out better than I gave it credit for.

Here is some cool stuff I saw at E3. Almost all the pictures came out poorly as a result of those stupid interlaced monitors and my less-than-steady hand. I’ve cleaned up some of the pictures so that you can tell what is going on.

Table of Contents:

  1. Games that looked awesome
  2. Games that might be cool, but it’s still hard to tell
  3. Games that looked bad.

Games that looked awesome

  • I-Ninja. Namco’s ninja platformer looks awesome. He can run up and across walls (a common theme in lots of games this year), roll on barrels filled with gunpowder, grind on rails, and box with giant robots. It is sort of Jak & Daxter platforming + some elements of Sonic thrown in. Lots of fun. Pict 1 is mr. ninja on a barrel, Pict 2 is in the middle of a giant robot boxing match.
  • Prince of Persia 3. This 3rd person platformer from Ubi-soft is amazing. It looks better than almost every other PS2 game on the floor, and it plays pretty well too. The Prince can run, double jump, climb, swing on poles a’la Jak & Daxter, etc. He can also run up and along walls. Combat looks pretty neat (though I didn’t get to try it), and the enemies dissolve into sand when defeated.

    By far the coolest feature is the “time rewind” power that the Prince has. By collecting special sand, the prince has the ability to rewind time for a certain duration… something like 30 seconds max. If you miss a fall, for example, you can lean on the L2 trigger and rewind time back the point where you messed up. If you die, you have two seconds to rewind time and undo your death. During the time rewind, the screen distorts like Photoshop’s Pinch filter, which looks pretty cool.

    Another cool visual effect that Ubi Soft uses is motion blurring for fast camera movements. Whenever the camera has to make a quick turn or movement, the entire screen is blurred. Sometimes, when a particularly large turn is made (such as the 180 degree pivot that happens when you crawl down hang on a ledge), a swoop sound effect also plays. Very very neat.

    This Pict is very blurry, but it shows the prince running along a wall. Just behind him is a switch that he has hit, and just in front of him is a platform that has been activated by the switch.

    In sharp contrast to the PS2 version of the game, Prince of Persia 3 GBA looked horrible. I cannot understand why they didn’t just port the original game, but for some reason they’ve decided to make an yet another action platformer that looks and plays like every other game ever. Sigh.

  • Broken Sword. THQ has taken the old point-and-click Broken Sword adventure game license and created a whole new 3D adventure game. The graphics are very good, and the game play is classic adventure puzzle solving. Think Resident Evil without guns or zombies. In the first part of the game (which was playable), your character must get out of a plane that has crashed in the jungle and is teetering over a vast reviene. The only exit is through the windshield, but crawling through will cause the plane to fall into the valley below. To get out, you must counter balance the plane by moving heavy stuff to the back. The pilots weight is also needed for the balance to be correct, but before he can be moved he must be woken from unconsciousness. Looks and plays very well, though apparently the game is still in pre-alpha stages. This Picture shows two characters standing on a cliff face. Though you probably can’t see them very well in the shot, the shadows look particularly good.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Remember the old beat-em-up arcade game? It’s back in glorious toon-shaded 3D. Looks great. The GBA title isn’t bad either, though not as good as the seminal NES version. Go Konami! Check out a Picture of the PS2 version.
  • Silent Hill 3. Ok, so there was never really any question about this game–it is basically guaranteed to kick ass. The graphics are very similar (though better) than SH 2, and the play mechanics are almost exactly the same. The story locations and monster designs are even more creepy than before (which is saying something), and the new character seems to work pretty well. Here is a very dark Picture.
  • Chibirobo. Bandai makes weird games. Chibirobo is about this small robot with a power plug for a tail who runs around his creator’s lab. You can direct Chibirobo to specific locations and points of interest, but you do not control him directly. As Chibirobo interacts with things, he learns new skills that allow him to access new areas of the lab. While I was playing, the robot learned how to sing a melody and was thus able to gain access to a high bookshelf. As Chibirobo runs around his battery power decreases, and you must keep finding batteries for him to survive. Pict 1 shows Chibirobo looking at the camera, and Pict 2 shows a display for the game.
  • Resident Evil Outbreak. Capcom had this online cooperative Resident Evil game running at E3, and it was very, very cool. Each player selects a character, and each character has different attributes, items, and skills. I chose a large bouncer dude who started with a gun but was also good at hand-to-hand combat. Once each character has been selected, the game plays an intro sequence personalized for that character. The game begins with all the players sitting around in a bar. Before long zombies burst in and start eating people and the game gets underway. The control scheme is the classic RE “pivot and move” system, and it works fine if you are used to it. Your inventory displays the items that every person on the team owns, so if someone else has a key you need you can go find them and get it. Part of the game requires you to save fallen comrades and NPCs, though we didn’t do any of that as we played. Also, if you die and your infection meter is full, you will come back to life as a zombie and may attack your former team mates. Though none of us survived very long, the game looks like it will be very very neat when it comes out. This dark and blurry picture shows the first area, the bar.
  • Sonic Heroes. I think everyone universally hated the Knuckles and Tails levels in Sonic Adventure 2. Sega is addressing the problem while still managing to keep all the players playable in Sonic Heroes. In Heroes, Tails, Sonic, and Knuckles are all visible at the same time. You can swap out the leader at will, and each character has their own ability. When Sonic is in the lead, for instance, the team can move very quickly through some insane levels. When tails is the leader, the group can form a chain and fly to higher locations. With Knuckles in the lead, the team gets increased attack skills and the ability to break certain walls.

    Besides the character swapping part, the game plays exactly like the cool parts of Sonic Adventure 1 and 2–the fast-as-hell Sonic levels. The game also looks excellent on GameCube and PS2. Here is an amazingly blurry picture.

  • Syphon Filter Online. It looks just like syphon filter… but some of the other people are real players. Neat! Plays pretty good, though I am not totally convinced that the control setup will work. This picture shows that you can still set people on fire with the taser.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. Ok, so Silicon Knights is working with Konami and Nintendo to remake the original Metal Gear Solid for GameCube. While they are at it, they’ve gone ahead and added some of Snake’s moves from MGS2, like the first-person shooting interface and the ability to shoot from the prone position. The game looks exactly like the original MGS, except everything is all smooth now. The cut scenes promise to be slightly different and more dramatic, but the game is mostly the same. Snake now starts out with a dart gun, which is sorta cool.
  • F-Zero. Move over Wipeout. Very very fast, extraordinarily nice looking, very easy to control.
  • WarioWorld. I didn’t get the chance to play this, but it looks like some awesome 3D platforming goodness. Not to mention that Wario makes evil wisecracks every now and then.
  • Viewtiful Joe. Oh man this game is as fun to play as it looks. The control is very, very tight, the style is great, and the time speed up/slow down effects are awesome. Reason enough to get a GameCube. Check out my crappy Picture.
  • XIII. You’ve probably seen the screenshots for this cell shaded FPS. The designers have taken the “cartoon look” idea to its logical conclusion: the game looks like a comic book. As you play, cells sometimes pop up in the corners of the window, showing you an event happening near your location. Sometimes when you kill an enemy in a particularly cool way, a series of still shots will appear over the regular view showing the progression of the dude’s death. And every sound effect has a visual cue with it; guns say “bam,” foot falls appear as “tak tak,” and every explosion has “boom” written on it somewhere. The visual presentation alone make this game amazingly cool.
  • Guilty Gear X2 and Metal Slug 5. Two great 2D games are back… and thankfully are still 2D. Both look great, though there are few surprises. Check out Picture 1 and Picture 2 of Guilty Gear, and this Picture of Metal Slug.

Games that might be cool, but it’s still hard to tell

  • Jak & Daxter 2. Ok, so Jak & Daxter 1 was a great game, right? The second game features all the same moves and an even better looking engine, so it should be even better right? Well… in theory. Jak does have all his old moves, plus a few new ones. He can pull out a hover board at will and race across the landscape, for example. But there is another addition that significantly alters the way the game is played: Jak has access to various firearms. Not only that, but Jak is now being presented as an “eXtreme badass” instead of an inexperienced young man as before: he has guns and a goatee. I played Jak 2 for a few minutes and got annoyed with hauling around a large laser cannon. What the hell? Check out this Picture if you do not believe me.
  • Gregory Horror Show. This game looks like it could be awesome, but there wasn’t enough to do in the demo I played to really tell. Gregory Horror Show is apparently a survival horror game for kids (and, if that weren’t surprising enough, it wasn’t the only one at E3 this year). The art and graphics are awesome: Gregory himself is shaped like a rectangle. Gregory has (apparently) three moves: “first person look,” “knock on door,” and “open door.” The “open door” move also doubles as a context-sensitive action button, but I am not sure what sort of actions he’ll be able to perform. The portion of the demo I played had Gregory walking around a hotel and exploring the rooms. Each room had names posted next to them like “Mummy Mommy, Mummy Daddy, Mummy Son.” Looks like it might be a (albeit weird) riot, but since I couldn’t really figure out how to do anything it is hard to tell. Check out this dark picture. Gregory is the box thing in the center of the frame.
  • Fable. Peter Molyneux’s latest creation is an RPG that offers a living world that the player may permanently change. The game, previously known as Project EGO, follows the player’s character throughout his lifetime. The player is free to go on quests, get married, cheat on his wife, make friends and enemies, start bar fights, or do whatever else he feels like. However, each action has a consequence, and the game is built up around such interactions. Molyneux demoed a bar fight and what happens if you go out in public naked, but we haven’t really seen any concrete game play yet. I am not yet sure if this game will really be cool or if it will be more of a gimmick. Here is Picture 1 and Picture 2.
  • Resident Evil Dead Aim. What do you get when you take Resident Evil and throw out the fixed camera angles and the third person combat system? Add in a mix of Silent Hill-style flashlight exploring and you might have an idea of what Resident Evil Dead Aim looks like. Game play consists of moving around in a 3D real time world with a standard “over the shoulder” camera. When a zombie is encountered you must switch to combat mode, which is inexplicably first person. The game apparently supports the GunCon2 accessory, but I am not sure how you would use it. Unlike the previous Resident Evil gun games, you must use the control pad to navigate your character around.

    This game might be cool, but I don’t think it really has anything to do with Resident Evil. Check out this Picture of game play, and this Picture of the combat mode.

  • The Suffering. Another survival horror game, this time set in a prison. The controls are ok and there is a lot of gore (and swearing!), but there wasn’t enough demo to tell if the game will really be any good or not. The intro was pretty neat. This game is different because in The Suffering, zombies are invisible.
  • Castlevannia. Looked to me like the Nintendo 64 version… maybe it will be good, maybe not. Here is a picture.
  • Seven Samurai. 3D third-person beat-em-up in a cybernetic future or something. Noteworthy because the beating looks pretty cool, and your dude can move very very fast.

Games that looked bad.

  • Rise To Honor. This game looks cool from far away but plays very badly up close. The idea is that you play Jet Lee in this third-person brawler game, and that fighting is accomplished with nothing but the two analog sticks. When you tap the right stick in a direction, Lee attempts to lay the smack down in that direction. His moves are sensitive to context, similar to the way that fighting in Mark of Kri works. However, in practice it is really hard to get him to attack in the right place, as the analog stick has far too much granularity. The first demo room was almost unbeatable.
  • True Crime: Streets of LA. Not only is this game a GTA3 rip off, it doesn’t even manage to build on the GTA concept. The graphics look worse than GTA (for the most part), and the only new feature I could find was a hand-to-hand combat system. Ugh.
  • Everything that Majesco was showing. There isn’t really much more to say.
  • Spawn. Why do they keep making these things? This game is Devil May Cry, with all instances of “Dante” replaced with “Spawn.” Even the “displacement after slice with bladed weapon” effect is the same. Sheesh.

One thought on “Chris’ E3 2003 Report

  1. i have 10 years playing KOF series but this year i meet Guilty Gear…’n i love it…the speed, the combo variety and all you can create is very amazing for a 2d fight game…
    i only want a GGX2 arcade on my town…cuz i know that will rocks…sorry for my spaglish but ama from Mexico. (>_

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