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G aming 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!).

I've got your Solid Snake right here, baby 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.

Gran Turismo 2000 in all its stair-stepping glory

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.

Where'd Abe go? Looks like it's Munche's turn to party.

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 fabulous music.

X Marks the Box 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.
Yes, that IS a Moogle

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).
Oh no! Where's your bra? 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*

The only way to my heart is through... nevermind How did Cloud ride this thing?

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!