paradise - that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo in a nutshell. A place where
the gaming gods of the the land gather to showcase upcoming titles and hardware to the
press. I was one of the fortunate few that was able to attend this massive conference,
thanks to my links at Sharky Extreme, where I
cover PC hardware. While perhaps not as exciting as it was last year, E3 2000 proved to
be more fulfilling this year by far.
As both a console and PC gamer, I found E3 this year
to be moving further and futher into console dominance of the gaming
industry. That isn't to say that there arne't a slew of PC titles that
just make me so excited I'd wet my pants. No no! I would wet my pants
(and other people's pants if neccessary) to get ahold of these titles
(thank goodness they send them to me for free!).
So what was the biggest thing at
E3 this year? The Playsation 2, of course! Shortly before E3, Sony announced that
the Playstation 2 would launch in the US on October 26, 2000 for the retail price
of $299 and would have an expansion bay for a proprietary 3.5-inch hard drive and
an expansion unit for network interface;
the DVD drivers will now be incorporated into the unit; and it will no longer include a memory card.
Despite the hype that has
been surrounding this machine for a long time now, I must say I found
it's performance to be "okay" at best. The most dissapointing thing was that
the graphics really weren't that spectacular. Sure they're a leap from
Playstation graphics, but compared to the video from a Voodoo5 6000, GeForce 2,
or a Radeon 256, frankly it wasn't that impressive. The most offending part of
the graphics was definetly aliasing. For those of you less tuned into
graphics, aliasing is basically when polygons pop in and out of the scene, and
you see "jaggies" everywhere.
From the screenshot on the right, you can see
the effect aliasing has on the games. Basically those "jaggies" are constantly
running up and down the edges, detracting from the detail of the game. Why does this
happen? Well, the main issue is that most developers are creating their games for
640x480 resolution. Unfortunately to do that they render two screens of 640x240 resolution
and combine them (interlaced). This interlacing is what causes the jaggies as well as the
flickering in most PS2 games. Can it be fixed? Sure! The game "Fantavision" uses
a technique called "Anti-aliasing" to remove the jaggies. So why haven't all developers
put this feature in? It takes up a lot of performance as well as being slightly complicated
to code. Luckily, at some point we should see anti-aliased titles be the norm, since currently
it looks downright ugly.
In my opinion, the best PS2 titles were probably
Oddworld: Munche's Oddesey and Square's The Bouncer. Oh, lest I forget METAL GEAR SOLID 2: Sons
of Liberty. All three games looked just fantastic, especially Metal Gear Solid 2. Fans of the orignal
Metal Gear Solid will absolutely love this sequel, as its emphasis appears to be on stealth and cunning, with
While Sony had a dominating appearance at the show,
Microsoft was gearing up their gaming console, the XBox. The only gaming console with two, count them TWO "x"s in
it's name, the XBox was as yet just a concept with developers signed on. While nothing but pre-rendered graphics
were being shown, if the XBox can deliver on what it promises, it will definetly rival if not outright beat the PS2
in terms of graphics and sound. Of course, with Sony's almost one year lead in the United States with the PS2, whether
the XBox will sell is still up in the air.
By now I'm sure you are all just dying to know what RPGs are coming over to the US. Well,
this year looks to be Square's year, with the release of SEVERAL promising titles. First and foremost
is definetly Final Fantasy IX. Going back to the roots of Final Fantasy, FF9 brings back the theme
of the crystals, wooden airships, super-deformed heroes, and a compelling plot. I'm probably most
excited about the fact that FF9's character design is being done by none other than long time FF veteran
Yoshitaka Amano, who was the talent behind FF1-6. Although no gameplay was shown, there was a lot of
pretty FMV and the story seemed to emphasize questioning whether we exist (which will probably be the first
time such a question has been asked in recent times outside the Christian-metaphore realm of
Neon Genesis Evangelion). While I'm sure a lot of you have been fans of FF7 and 8, I must say that it's
extremely refreshing to be going back to a medieval setting with, so far as I can tell, classic gameplay.
The other big Square title at the show was Chrono Cross. The successor to the ever popular
Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross looks absolutely gorgeous (for the Playstation). With more fluid
animation than FF8, Chrono Cross comes with a very in-depth battle system, keeping the game
very involving (albeit a bit confusing at first). The translation seemed quite good, as Square
has been getting better and better with each new game.
Game of the show probably went to an RTS called
Sacrifice. This game was AWESOME, upstaging even the upcoming Warcraft III.
Amazingly detailed, it's THE game to look forward too (along with Halo, which looks faboo).
Last, but not least... the booth babes! Yes, no E3 is complete without the roaming girls in tight/missing clothing, handing out
free stuff and generally trying to attract the male audience to various booths. Given the size of the male audience there, this strategy
certainly works well!
In comparison to last year, there were a lot fewer than last year. Also of note
is the increase in women who were NOT handing out magazines and papers on the products
on the show floor. There were a lot more actual girl gamers, which was definetly a good
thing to see. Despite the declining number of booth babes at the show, they sure were
wearing less clothing! I'm not one to complain, eye-candy is eye-candy. But I can honestly say
that I was thinking more about my significant other (in the same tight outfits ;) *drool*
To say that I'm tired now is an understatement. E3 is HUGE, and I hope you all get to see it one day. It's truly
an awesome experience, and a gamer's paradise. As you can probably tell, it's still the flash, fun, fantastic land of
games (and girls). Probably the suckiest thing was that I was invited to the Playboy Party, but couldn't go because I'm not
21. Ah well... someday!
Till next year!