E3 2000 Wrap-Up
A look at Sega's showing at E3 - By BenT and Fragmaster
Sickeningly cute 3D platformer, 'nuff said. Really, I can't tell you much about this. I ran around a garden for all of ten minutes and nothing happened. I put down the controller in boredom and went on to more eventful games. You know, the kind where... things happen? Yeah. Those are cool.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
The original Soul Reaver was a megahit for both the PSX and Dreamcast, so it's no surprise that the sequel is already far into development. At this point Soul Reaver 2 looks like one of those "more of the same" sequels; it'll keep fans of the first happy, but doesn't look to innovate in many ways. There are more spells, better textures, cool light sourcing, and the same excellent control and voice acting, but I came away with the feeling that the series is just treading water in terms of gameplay. Sure, the game will be as solid as ever, but I'm guessing it'll leave players feeling a bit empty inside. Let's hope I'm on crack on this one, eh? Soul Reaver 2 is set to debut this fall.
Electro Source, LLC.
Sydney 2000 marks the return of multi-event Track and Field style games, as were popular in the mid to late 80's. In fact, the designers of Sydney 2000 have stated that they were inspired by Epyx's classic Summer Games. In any case, Sydney is looking to be a good multi-event sports title. 32 countries will be represented, with a unique male/female model for each. There's also a wide variety of events, including javelin, skeet shooting, weight lifting, triple jump, 100 meter sprints, 110 meter hurdles, 10 meter platform diving, kayak slalom, hammer throw, and the proverbial "more". Only a select few events were playable at E3, but what was there looked pretty decent. Control was good, but the quality of the graphics could vary. Hammer throw had framerate problems, for example, while skeet shooting was smooth but graphically undetailed. I'm sure they'll resolve some of these issues before the game launches in the fall, and we'll have one fine Olympics title to review.
Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour
One of the trends at E3 this year was mascot-based cart racers, and Eidos' Magical Racing Tour was just another face in the crowd. The game isn't terrible, but it's certainly not a winner, either. While it has the obvious appeal of the famous Disney characters to support it, the game's technology just can't keep up. Draw-in (fade-in, really) is disturbingly close to your character, and the framerate is just hurting. Visually, it's quite apparent that this is a PSX port. Still, there are some redeemable qualities. The idea of racing through the major Disney attractions is admittedly cool, and there was some pretty sweet track design to be seen. There's also one really cool gameplay mechanic I'd like to see in other racers. When you powerslide (done by hopping first, just like in Mario Kart), you'll build up energy. If you hold the slide just long enough and then release it, your character will shoot forward in a huge burst of speed. This technique is clearly the core of the gameplay, and must be mastered to, well, master the game. It was pretty fun to slide around a corner and then shoot down a straightaway, so I hope Crystal Dynamics can button up the rest of this title before its June release.
This obscure company delivered what was arguably the best surprise of the show: they're localizing Treasure's Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh for the US market! If you're not familiar with Treasure, then shame on you. They're a team of ex-Konami programmers (Axelay, Contra III) that are responsible for some of the best action games ever. Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier, Guardian Heroes, Silhouette Mirage, and Radiant Silvergun are just a few of their awesome titles. Their latest is Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh (renamed Bangai-O! for the US), which is a mech-based 2D shooting game which originated on the N64. There's only one real idea behind the game: create as much chaos and destruction as possible! This Dreamcast version tweaks the rules of the N64 title, making it a different experience than the earlier game. Of course, the graphics have been improved as well, with much less slowdown and sharper detail. While release info was scant, we got the impression that Bangai-O! will be headed for a Q3 release date.
World's Scariest Police Chases
It was only a matter of time, I guess. Fox's trashy, sensationalistic TV show has made the jump to video games. Is it worth getting excited over? It's a bit too early to tell, but this one could go either way. While Fox only had the PC version on display, and a number of problems were apparent. Chief among these were the incredibly unrealistic, "floaty" physics -- your car could tip over at the oddest times, such as when trying to turn around on the incline of a roadside hill. Control was passable, at least. Graphically the game was average. There was moderate pop-up in the distance, cars displayed damage, and there was a decent rain effect. The most impressive aspect was the light sourcing -- the lights on top of your police car bathe the environs in a revolving red and blue glow. Gameplay consists of chasing down felons in and around a realistically modeled city, but I never did actually catch one. Oh well.
Next: Gathering of Developers and Infogrames