The final day of Cyril's E3 Story

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posted 6/20/2003 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
Even if you’ve survived E3, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. You still have to get to the airport, get home, get your car, unpack your luggage, and organize your goodies. And if you’re like me, you need to turn in several writing assignments, not to mention get on with your personal life.

But first things first, before we get caught up in all the things one has to do when they get home, it’s important to have something to do before you get there. In my case, I had several hours to kill in the airport waiting for my flight, which meant a whole lot of searching for things to keep myself entertained.

At first I tried to come up with a list of good things that happened at E3, things that I will go home and tell my friends about. Games like Half-Life 2, a title that used its technology in ways few games had even dreamed of. Or SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs, which ended up fixing almost every problem I had with the original, and adding so much more it’s almost mind boggling. Or even Gran Turismo 4, a racing game so realistic, it’s hard to believe a game could look better.

Before too long I found myself running out of ideas. There were many wonderful games, and even better moments at E3, but reliving them in my mind was only making me miss the expo that much more. So I started thinking about the dubious titles on the shows floor. Titles like Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure or Sony’s horrendous new invention, the Eye Toy. There were a bunch of these little titles that were easy to loathe, which made me feel a little bit better about going home.

Before too long I found myself revisiting the list of predictions I made on the flight to E3 (as mentioned in Rule One). As I scanned my list, I noticed I that many of my predictions ended up coming true, even though a few of them happened in somewhat unexpected ways. But if the video game industry has taught me anything over the years, it’s that you can never predict what will happen with 100% accuracy. Here are my predictions, and how I feel I did know what I know now.

Nintendo will be hard pressed to top last years show!
This was a pretty safe bet, considering they had a new Metroid, Mario, and Zelda at last year’s E3. Of course, this year wasn’t a total bust; there was a new Star Fox, F-Zero, and Mario Kart title. And there were a number of surprises on the GameBoy Advance, including a new Mario + Luigi RPG, a brand new Metroid, and a port to the best Mario of them all, and the best selling game of all time, Super Mario Brothers 3. But compared to last year, Nintendo’s booth was fairly tame.


This is going to be the year of the Sequel!
I expected a few sequels, but as I walked through the halls of E3, I noticed that there was a sequel at almost every booth. Metal Gear Solid 3, Rainbow Six 3, Project Gotham Racing 2, Commandos 3, Time Crisis 3, Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Doom 3, Gran Turismo 4, SSX3, Mario Party 5, Star Fox 2, Pikmin 2, Final Fantasy X-2, Gradius V, Dino Crisis 3, Silent Hill 3, EverQuest II, F-Zero GX, Ape Escape 2, Soul Calibur 2, and so many more not even worth talking about! And don’t even get me started on the updates and remakes, like Altered Beast and Worms 3D. Thankfully there were a few brand new franchises, but it certainly seemed like this year was overrun with sequels.

Nintendo & Microsoft will Drop Price … Sony will Offer Pack-In Game!
I went out on a limb here, I figured there would be a price cut, but for a while there a PS2 pack-in seemed reasonable. Towards the end of E3 Sony and Microsoft dropped the price of their units to $179.99, but neither offered a new pack-in. Nintendo, on the other hand, decided to extend their pack-in promotion to include their upcoming GameBoy Player, but opted to keep the price the same.

Sony will Support a PlayStation 2 Memory Stick Adaptor!
Going into E3 I was under the assumption that they would introduce Final Fantasy XI, and that they would not release the PS2 HDD. I figured they would go the Memory Stick route, since it would be a cheaper alternative, and could work with all games. I was surprised to see Sony’s Hard Drive up and running, and offering a browser and software support. At the moment it looks like the HDD will only support two games, but that’s better than nothing. As for the memory stick, Sony announced they will use it in their PlayStation Portable, which leads me to believe the future looks bright for Memory Stick and PlayStation compatibility.

Rockstar will have big posters for upcoming games … but few will be on the show floor!
Last year E3 goers were frustrated by huge posters for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but no product on the show floor. This year Rockstar pulled a similar stunt, with posters for Max Payne 2 everywhere, but no game in sight. They also had a huge poster for a game based on the cult classic 1979 film, the Warriors. The booth did have a few titles, but mostly ports of already released games (read: Vice City, Midnight Club 2, etc.). So ultimately, the Rockstar Booth was a bust.

First Person Shooters will be the dominant style of game!
There probably weren’t more first person shooters than is to be expected this year, but considering that almost all of them were able to wow the crowds seemed like a major feet in and of itself. Half-Life 2, with it’s destroy anything/interact with everything gameplay was worlds ahead of anything I had seen before, and Halo 2 is, well, exactly what you expected from a sequel to the best Xbox game out there. Other titles like XIII were able to make a niche for themselves even with these big titles hogging the spot light.

There will be no Online Nintendo Games
If Nintendo had any online news, then I must have missed it. They had a number of games to show off, a few which seemed destined for online play, but none offering that option. Where in contrast, almost every game at the Xbox booth seemed to be Xbox Live enabled. Nintendo’s silence isn’t exactly unexpected, but considering the state of the affairs they find themselves in here in the U.S. and over in Europe, it would have been nice to know something about their plans.


The Simpson’s: Hit & Run will suck!
I suppose this is less a prediction than foreshadowing. There was no way this concept, a Simpson’s license using Grand Theft Auto III gameplay, could ever work. Especially when you consider there hasn’t been a half decent Simpson’s game in over a decade. Seems to me that every year Fox tries to do something even more silly to the long running series. Last year it was skateboarding, so what’s next year? The Simpson’s Card Game for the GBA?

Generally speaking, I’m a pretty bad judge when it comes to predictions. Many of the games I thought would succeed, never really went anywhere, and there have been major successes I didn’t see coming. But this year I did pretty good, surprising even myself. Of course, now that everything has been announced and we all know what’s coming, predictions don’t make much sense, but unlike a few of the games at the show, at least it was fun to remember.

Once home I was able to finally get some rest and unpack my suitcase of goodies I had collected in my short time at the Expo. But things seemed different; my shower didn’t seem as quenching as I had remembered it. My bed, it felt uncomfortable and lonely. My friends, they barely remembered my voice, and my family had moved onto the planning stages of a wedding I wasn’t even going to attend. My life seemed different, changed, and unnatural.

As I gradually readjusted to the idea of living back in my own furnished apartment, watching the shows I always watched, and eating the food I always ate … I began to feel sick, and unable to move. For a week I stayed in bed waiting for this to pass, until one day the sun came out, people started returning my calls, and I could speak again.

Cured, I started gathering my notes, developing story ideas, and apologizing to everybody I owed articles to. With my goodies, notebooks, audiotapes, and pictures all lying out in front of me, I felt as if there could only be one way to tell this story. For me, E3 2003 wasn’t about video games, new portable game systems, or even the prospect of seeing my favorite game developer. Instead E3 became something bigger, something more important. Something that couldn’t be told in a news article or hands on preview for some random game. Something a little bit like this article you’ve just read.