E3 Wrap up


posted 5/26/2005 by The GN Staff
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Charles Husemann – Editor In Chief

One of the best things about covering the show as a member of the media is getting to check out some things behind closed doors. This year I got to check out two things that just blew me away.

The first was Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the new action RPG from Bethesdasoft. The game looks beautiful and it looks exactly like what you would expect a next generation game to look like. The screenshots below just don’t do any justice to the game as it is one thing to see screen shots from a game and another to see those pictures in motion. The other thing that’s cool about the game is that the technology behind the game is as cool as the technology that you see it.

The second was Alan Wake, the new psychological thriller from Remedy. The game looks to be a dramatic departure from their previous work on the Max Payne series in terms of tone and storytelling. This is another game that that’s really going to push the next generation of games. Just watching the guys from Remedy cycle through the weather and lighting effects was impressive. Then add a mysterious plot about the secrets of a small town in the northwest and you’ve got the potential for a great game.

Another thing that became obvious at this year’s show is that in-game physics are here to stay and they are here to stay. This was brought home by my meeting with AGEIA where they demonstrated their new hardware and software products. Maybe it’s a little hard to get excited about 6000 objects falling around in a tech demo but given the application of that technology in a game and you’ve got some serious potential for realism in games.

Battlefield 2 - I only got a chance to play a few rounds of this at the EA booth but I’m hooked on the game play. It’s easy to call this just a pretty version of the Desert Combat mod for Battlefield 1942 but the game play feels a lot more than that. They added some sensible tweaks to the game to make getting around a little easier and the game just feels solid.

The final thing on my list was the C3 conference held by Microsoft after hours on the first day of the convention. This really exemplifies what E3 is about: getting together with people from around the community, playing games, and checking out the new stuff at the show. Hopefully they’ll be able to put something together like this again next year.

As far as negatives this year I’m going to jump on two major band wagons here. The first is the PS3 tech demo’s that may or may not have been real in-game footage. We saw a lot of pretty imagery but we really won’t know until next year. We know from the PS2 launch that Sony likes to exaggerate a bit on what their hardware can do so until next year I guess we’ll just wait and see what they can actually produce.

I was also pretty disappointed with Nintendo’s showing at the show this year. I know the Revolution is a year away but I really wanted them to announce something big and cool that would prevent them from being marginalized even further. Instead they announce a new GameBoy advance and that the Revolution will support every game they’ve ever produced. This is cool until you realize how many times you’ve actually paid to play that game and that if you want to play it on the new console next year you’re probably going to have to pay for it again.

While I think the new physics engine stuff is pretty cool I can also see PC Gamers going through something of a format war between Havok and AGEIA when and if Havok comes out with their own hardware solution. We saw this during the initial wave of dedicated graphics accelerators with Glide, OpenGL, and a few of other forgotten technologies. Hopefully there’s a quick winner and soon because with the card costing between $249 and $299 it’s going to be tough to have more than one of the cards in your PC.

I also want to gripe about NC Soft. Please stop making such great games, there’s no way I’m going to be able to work a full time job, manage this site, and be able to play every great MMORPG you guys produce and be able to find time to eat, sleep, and play hockey (the three critical parts of anyone’s life).

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