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Sony They've led sales in the last console generation and are working on the next with the PS3. Will that and the PSP keep them moving at the top of the pack? Discuss it here.

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Old May 19th, 2001, 09:01 AM   #1
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Post Someones E3 impressions

Stole this from Gaming-age forums. Though it was pretty informative.

On Nintendo:
"The booth: You know it in your heart the second you gaze upon the entrance to the lair of the big N. You’re going to be in for a massive treat. Their booth was easily the most impressive at the show. The walls were adorned with timeless Nintedo characters via a projected cycling light show. The floor was an equally impressive spectacle with water spouts and falls and plenty of color to remind you of one thing and one thing alone, you’re here to have fun.

The system: The GameCube is small, deceptively so. From screenshots you might think it were comparable to any electronic appliance, only more ‘cubish;’ this is not the case. It’s like a slightly taller, bulkier alarm clock, believe it or not. It does have the look of a toy, but the multiple color schemes and design styles should do well for Nintendo. Though, in judging its appearance you can’t let yourself forget the purpose of the GCN, and that’s to play games and give gamers a good time, and at this its design is suited perfectly to convey just that. This is a game machine and nothing more, and at that it will succeed greatly. No crap about DVDs, VCDs, CDs, or whatever (although there was a design of the system that was a DVD player –think stylish DVD player that can also play GameCube games).

On the back it has got the standard AC input as well as two outputs for audio and video. One is for Component video output and the other for the standard stuff. Yes, it can display a VGA signal like the Dreamcast, but it can also output in HDTV quality and even take advantage of progressive scan televisions. Its audio is supposed to be the second iteration of Dolby’s Prologic. The first iteration was something that was really great on the N64, but generally under appreciated. To give you a better idea of what this means, the Xbox can play 5.1 discreet surround sound during actual gameplay (which is awesome and generally considered the best for quality), while the PS2 can only play 5.1 during cutscenes, with stereo sound during the actual game. Now, 5.1 surround is better than Prologic, which only simulates a surround sound environment, but the Gamecube is said to support Prologic 2, which is significantly better than the first iteration and is in fact right on par with the widely accepted 5.1 in terms of quality. Don’t ask me how it all works, but as far as I can tell the thing does a better job of separating the sound channels so that there is not as much bleeding and the end result is very similar to 5.1 surround which uses separate channels from the outset. In the end it will essentially be very competitive to the Xbox’s audio capabilities and is going to completely destroy the PS2’s aging stereo sound.

On the front of the system are four controller ports, which plenty of games will no doubt use, such as Smash Bros, WaveRace, and Madden. Underneath the four ports are two slots for memory cards, (standard memory card type deal like the PS or PS2).

I honestly don’t know the specs for the damn thing, but I’m sure you could find them from another, more in depth news site.

The controller: Like the system the controller is also deceptively small, yet it still manages to fit in your hands perfectly (and I have normal to big hands). After about ten seconds of adjusting to the new controller layout, playing becomes second nature. The triggers beautifully mold to your fingers, they are contoured and cradle them perfectly. No more terrible aching following long bouts of Tony hawk on the DC, these badboys do well to keep your precious phalanges soft and delicate. They are also analog and at the same time not analog. That means that you can press them down and they have that analog feel (like the DC or Xbox) and will react as an analog control, but then if you press all the way down to where it clicks it acts as a standard button (like the PSOne, N64 trigger, or whatever); this comes in very handy and is an excellent addition. For instance, in a game of WaveRace, the developer (an utterly cool guy) showed me that you could lean your character with the shoulder buttons in an analog fashion (more depressed equals more lean), or you could also do a quick push to where it clicks as a normal button and your character would react accordingly. Very shui. The controller also has a built in rumble feature, which works as well as anything else out there, although I find it can be somewhat annoying at times, but then I find all rumble features to be kind of annoying after a while. There are a few minor problems with the controller that I can see. The digital pad is not all that great (pretty standard N64 stuff) why oh why can’t they mimic the Saturn pad? The face buttons are not pressure sensitive, which some could argue is a travesty against mankind (but I never use the pressure sensitive functions on the PS2 anyway, so I don’t really give a damn). Finally, there are only three shoulder buttons including the two triggers. It’s kind of strange that they went for the asymmetrical route, and it would have been nice for future games to have a fourth shoulder button to work with, but it’s alright. I think the third button (Z, which is above the right trigger) was placed as a kind of afterthought anyway. Well, I’m sure you can find a much more detailed rundown elsewhere so let’s just move on.

The GBA connection: So, what special port does the GBA use to connect to it’s cubical mother? The controller ports, believe it or not. You can plug four GBAs directly into the four controller ports on the GCN. Nintendo plans to take full advantage of this possibly using them for voice command systems with the aid of a microphone thingy, fancy memory cards, and even expanded games. I don’t really care about this much because I’ve never been into portable gaming, but I guess it’s a cool idea so long as they don’t go overboard and start making games that require the GBA in order to get the most out of a game. Imagine playing RF, but in order to unlock a couple secret levels, weapons, or vehicles, you had to have the corresponding version on a different system, which you then had to beat and upload into the main game… Pretty crappy, huh? I really hope they don’t go this route. I know third parties probably won’t, but Nintendo just may with some of their franchises including Pokemon.

Luigi’s Mansion: Probably the most surprising and still disappointing game from the big N was Luigi’s Mansion. Surprising because it solely involves our favorite green wearing plumber and is pretty original. Disappointing because it’s not even close to a 3D platformer. I liken the game to an odd 3D mix of Dig-Dug and Smash TV. Dig-dug because you latch onto enemies (in this case ghosts) with your vacuum and try and suck them in, not at all dissimilar from the Dig-boy trying to pump up those goons so long ago. Smash TV because the control is very similar. One analog stick controls your movement while the other controls your aim (the vacuum is operated via a button though). You can move and aim independently of each other. No, it is not a third person game played like a first person shooter (MDK, Fakk2, DS9: The Fallen, Alice, etc.). The game’s camera stays in front of every room you enter always seeming to be in the same direct on look, which almost gives the game a 2D platformer type of feel. I would have preferred a more traditional Mario style adventure, but what can you do? The saddest part is the thing was a very novel idea, but seemed as if its novelty might wear off rather quickly. As far as I can tell, the only things you can do are suck in ghosts and open doors. Still, it is innovative and fun, and is also headed up by the evil genius himself, Miyamoto, so here’s hoping for the best. I’m optimistic, but still cautious.

Wave Race: Blue Storm: This is a great racing game that takes place entirely on the water with jet skies. It melds both tricks and flat out racing together wonderfully. Oh yeah, it should be known that I’m a total junkie on the original N64 version and have been anticipating this game the most. Boy, did it ever come through. The water is downright gorgeous (although not as technically impressive as that found in Blood Wake), the physics are straight out of the original, the racing is intense with eight characters in a single track, and the whole game has gotten a beautiful makeover and runs at a very smooth framerate. Four-player split screen is in there and will run at an easy 30fps. They already got the three-player split screen going and that runs at a constant thirty so everything is looking mighty peachy on the multi front. There will also be different modes such as race, point accumulation, point race, tag, etc. Levels also have different conditions such as rain, fog, day, night, sunset, etc.. Very, very kickass.

Starfox Adventures: Dinosaur planet: So, basically Rare was making a game for the N64 called Dinosaur Planet, which then got pushed to the GCN. Sometime after that Miyamoto stepped in and thought it would be great if they incorporated the StarFox universe into there. It basically plays like Zelda with no jumping, and an emphasis on running around with a lock on feature and beating things up with weapons or items. It’s all pretty good, but graphically it can at sometimes seem like a strange amalgamation of N64 environments and high quality GameCube stuff. As a whole the game is pretty cool and should be pretty fun to play, but I wouldn’t say it was the greatest thing there.

Rogue Leader: Wow, now them’s is some pretty graphics Jethro. A Star Wars game that don’t suck? can such a thing be possible? I though they ended the cool Star Wars game trend with Jedi Knight and Tie Fighter? Anyway, this game is at worst a graphical tour de force and is the single, best representation of the Star Wars universe (at least aurally and visually) yet. It’s a space and land based shooting game in the vein of Rogue Squadron and Battle for Naboo that takes place during the original three movie trilogy. The coolest part about this game is how it’s so radically different than previous games of a similar genre, at least in the visual sense. Space and air combat based games usually have long expanses of flat textured polygons that depict large vessels, and buildings and such. This is not the case in Rogue Leader. The polygonal detail here is outstanding. Every surface has tons of indentations and dents and protrusions (think the Death Star trench from the original movie and how it was like boxes on boxes on boxes). On the planets there are buildings everywhere. The star destroyers actually have texture, scale, and definition and are not just comprised of a few enormous polygons. The end effect is truly dazzling, and yes those screens you’ve been seeing are from the actual game. What I don’t like about the game is that it plays just like the previous Rogue Squadron and Battle for Naboo. it can be a bit touchy when steering and the camera is a bit too quick to turn with you. It can also be a bit arcadey, but they did add some wingman ordering options that will surely add to the game. Looks pretty killer all in all and should be a seriously kick ass game when completed. Starfighter doesn’t even come close to touching it, I mean seriously, this game just wipes the floor with it.

Kameo: A quirky adventure game that has a kind of Rayman style look to the environments and characters. You absorb monsters whom you can then turn into and subsequently do stuff. That’s pretty much all I could figure out. It seems like an odd, original kind of game.

Eternal Darkness: This game may look like an offshoot of Resident Evil, but once you control it you’ll find it plays more like MGS or whatever. Hit a direction and your character will go in that direction. It was at times visually impressive, but wasn’t too spectacular. You can control three separate characters in three separate time periods too (Roman centurion, English knight, and modern day, sexy chick). Each character has his or her own set of attacks and weapons, (the knight and centurion being hand-to-hand with the chick utilizing guns and such). The control and movement can be a bit stiff at times and you’re only able to attack when you’re not moving. During combat you can choose to target specific parts of the enemy like head, left arm, torso, and right arm. It seems to have a better combat system than Onimusha and a better shooting system than Resident Evil. It certainly has potential, but I’ve seen better.

Smash Bros: A sequel to the original N64 version, it’s a four player fighting/brawl style game where the action takes place on a 2D plane in a 3D environment with 3D characters. I haven’t gotten too deep with the combos and moves and such, but it seems very similar to the first game on the N64 only much, much prettier.

All in all Nintendo had a killer booth, but the majority of games were focused around the younger demographic, contrary to what Nintendo has been asserting (where are all the shooters and fighters?). There was also virtually no third party support on the floor. A lot of developers and company reps told me that while they were interested in the Gamecube, they were still hesitant and a bit skeptical. Some companies had games like EA and such (wouldn’t no about Sega because their booth was closed), but it wasn’t near the level of support for the PS2 or Xbox. I’d say the big N’s showing wiped the floor with that from Microsoft, but I’m not entirely convinced that it’s better than the second generation PS2 stuff I’ve been playing. They’re going to have to reel in the third party support and start cranking out the serious actioners if they want to win the PS2 and Xbox crowd. Can they do it? From what I saw I’d say hell yeah they can."

On Sony:

"The PS2 had a surprisingly strong lineup. Check it out, or scroll through for some of my general opinions about the system's showing.

Dead to Rights: A highly impressive third-person action game from Namco done John Woo style. This badboy was only 20% complete but was so solid and slick that it totally put the Max ”We ain’t all that now that there’s competition” Payne video to shame. Basically you run around and use guns and hand-to-hand combat to put down the baddies. So, it’s like Oni then, eh? Oh, lordy no. This game trounces Oni in every single department. The control is simple and intuitive, you move via the left analog stick and the camera follows you around appropriately panning, zooming, tilting, and rotating (it can get a little jumbled at times, but the game is so early and it happens so little that it’s totally forgiven). There is no looking up or down in normal play, unless you’re specifically aiming, as it is not necessary. So without aiming like a normal first person game on a console where the analog stick looks and something else moves you have to have another way to get your targets in sight; this is done through an auto-lock feature so that once you hit the right shoulder button the thing locks on to an enemy. Once locked on you can start shooting, laying waste to people; the character animation and physics are beautiful, with every shot causing an appropriate reaction. If you pick up another weapon you can go two fisted. Once you jump and start shooting it goes into a slow-mo mode, but this is not just for aesthetic purposes, as it allows you to lock onto multiple targets while in the air killing three or four people in a single jump (very satisfying). Once you run out of ammo you can go hand-to-hand with some rudimentary combos going on. The animation here remains as impressive as the shooting sequences with enemy’s knees buckling with a sweep kick and their heads jerking to either side with a good hook or cross. The coolness doesn’t end here though as you can steal weapons and kill the person from which you took them Trinity style a la the lobby scene where the chump SWAT guy loses his shotgun. And yet there is still more coolness; you can actually grab dudes and use them as human shields as you blast your way through the masses. Yes, that’s right, shoot and hold people at the same time, and when you’re done with them you can execute them right there on the spot. The gore is at a Goldeneye level with no decapitations or dismemberment it looks kind of odd shooting a guy in the face at point blank range and not seeing any damage other than a blood spurt, but who really cares. As I mentioned, the game was still very early, but already it ran at a phenomenal clip and portrayed virtually none of the PS2 symptoms of poor graphics such as jaggies and low-res textures. At one point I even commented that the game had that kind of pristine crisp look of a Model 3 or even NAOMI board arcade game, and I was agreed with. It was to early to tell how good the A.I. would be, but as I was playing I didn’t notice any problems with it as enemies reacted well enough. As early as it was it was still extremely impressive. They could have released it as is and it would still be one of the best action games on the PS2. It was very, very cool and is definitely a candidate for game of show.

Half-Life: Very depressing. Sure the models and such may have been of a higher quality, but the low-res graphics and textures coupled with a very inconsistent framerate were not at all impressive. It didn’t help that right next to it was Blue Shift on the PC complete with the HD pack enabled running at a ridiculous resolution and framerate.

Batman: Vengeance: Another remarkably impressive game, especially considering how early it was. The game itself is based after the animated series (when batman switched to a black insignia and the new, younger Robin was introduced) where you take on the role of Batman and try and rescue Batgirl from Poison Ivy (I think it was Poison Ivy). Robin does not appear in the game and you solely control The Bat. It’s basically a 3D fighter/adventure game with vehicular elements thrown in. The style is dead-on with the series and although it doesn’t use the now popular cell-shading technique it manages to convey the universe brilliantly, probably because this is the same team that brought us Rayman, from which technique, code, and experience were drawn. Your character automatically locks on to the closest enemy and you start in with the fighting mode, where it essentially turns into a 3D fighter where you can strafe around the enemy and whatnot using a bevy of fighting moves that are a combination of punch and kick buttons as well as grappling. If there are multiple characters on screen at any given time only one will attack you while the others circle you with great apprehension (very cool). Vehicles include driving around via the Batmobile and flying via the Batwing. I got a chance to play the batwing stage which was kind of like a Starfox deal where you’re on a set path like that. They had me chasing Mr.Freeze between buildings, it was very hard and a bit touchy, but was beautiful and generally cool. The sound, voice, style, characters, and environments were straight out of the cartoon and were slicker than grease. The game, like I said, is still very, very early and has some jaggie and animation transition problems, but J. F. Vallet (French, so pronounce appropriately you goons) an actual developer on the game, and not some PR person, assured me this would all be fixed and I totally believe him because homeboy was cool, sincere, and just as excited as I was. Besides, this is the team that worked on the outstanding Rayman 2, so you all had best recognize. Watch out for this one boys and girls because it’s another ivan candidate for game of show.

Smackdown 3: Just Bring It: I was very briefly with this one. Basically, it uses the same Smackdown fighting system from the PSOne games with a significantly upgraded graphics engine. I thought it all looked good, but I didn’t think it was vastly superior to like the Royal rumble arcade game done by Sega. The characters looked good, but animation and movement was a bit stiff. There were no jaggies and it was smooth. I wouldn’t know about the modes and such, but off hand as a total package I’d say Raw is War looks to be the one to watch out of the two.

Red Faction: Let’s make one thing clear. The final rocks harshly over the demo. Let’s say that again boys and girls… The final rocks harshly over the demo. If you have a PS2, buy it. If you don’t have a PS2 and don’t have the PC thing going for you then there would be no better time then now to check out Sony’s baby. RF will get its own preview aside from this so check it out when you see it.

GT3: A-Spec: The I-link mode is a ton of fun, and I can only hope more people take advantage of this because imagine having LAN parties without any of the hassles of a LAN party. The game is graphically very good although it can be a bit sparkly at times (not as bad as Sega GT though). I don’t really need to say much about it. Project Gotham was technically superior, but it doesn’t have the feel and comprehensiveness of GT3. There’s not really much point of talking since you all know you’ll get it no matter what I say, and probably rightly so.

Drakan 2: A sequel to the original PC version, this one has very crisp graphics, sweet lighting, and surprisingly good textures. It’s the same dragon/walking action kind of game. I didn’t get too in-depth with it, but it looked promising.

ICO: An action/RPG played from a roaming isometric kind of perspective (at least from what I saw). It was pretty cool, but I sadly didn’t get as much time with it as I would have liked. It had a strangely bright lighting style to it that kind of reminded me of certain scenes from the movie Three Kings.

FFX: It’s pretty, but it’s really not the best graphics on the PS2 (unless you count the CG cutscenes). It’s just your single character running around environments when the screen will randomly shatter like glass and you’ll materialize in a fight scene, which is also pretty, but again, not the greatest thing since sliced bread. I thought a lot of GCN, Xbox, and even other PS2 titles such as MGS2, Devil May Cry, Drakan, and GT3 all looked better. I don’t know what else to say because I don’t know much about the FF series and am not too keen on RPGs in general, so I wouldn’t really be able to give a fair comparison. I’m sure the story is typical Square stuff and if you like Japanese style turn-based RPGs, including the previous FF games, I’m sure you’ll also love this, but I honestly don’t see how you’re single character running alone through some level can be considered the best graphics ever, it really wasn’t all that, in the visual respect at least. I’m honestly being as unbiased as I can be too.

Agent Under Fire: A first person shooter set in the James Bond universe outside of the storyline or constraints of any of the movies. It combines a driving element from the creators of Need For Speed and a FPS element that utilizes a modified Quake 3: Arena engine. The FPS graphics were very sharp and the textures were appropriate, but nothing spectacular. The game felt like it was essentially Goldeneye, but much, much prettier, and had animation on par with or better than that found in Goldeneye or Perfect Dark. Unfortunately, the control scheme they had setup was the stupidest I had ever had the displeasure of using. It was totally crazy; the face buttons shot and performed necessary actions, the left analog moved forward and back and looked left and right, while the right analog looked up and down and moved left and right It was completely impossible to shoot and strafe at the same time and a real chore just doing basic movement and firing. The worst part is there wasn’t even a control setup option. Everyone who stepped up to the plate was completely baffled by it. The driving element was earlier on in development than the shooting phase and was thus subject to some problems, but it was still loads of fun. The car was for the most part responsive and you could shoot and do all kinds of things with various weapons. The point of the level was chasing down a van and disabling it with an electronic pulse. The environment was a city that was quite vast. It really was pretty exhilarating skidding around a corner firing a missile at a car while darting through traffic trying to keep up with this van. It was like Need For Speed with Twisted metal action elements blended in. You cannot switch between driving and shooting in a single level due to engine constraints, so it’s like one level is shooting and the next is driving, but it’s still cool. There is also an on-rails shooting element that’s thrown in for good measure and is like the helicopter scene at the opening of Sin or SoF 2’s ROAM terrain based levels. I didn’t notice any “deformable” environments and the A.I. seemed standard but nothing special. In the end this game looks pretty shui indeed.

Blood Omen 2: An action RPG that’s a sequel to the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain where you once again control Kain, a vampire. Total crap beyond all crap. I was wondering why the kiosks were empty when I approached, and I soon found out. The control is like Tomb Raider where forward and back move forward and back but left and right turn your character left and right without actually moving in that direction. The only problem was it was so stiff and unresponsive that it became an impossibility to play let alone enjoy. Everything else about the game is just bleh anyway, so there’s no real point of playing it despite the controls. The animation is weak and the combat is substandard. I don’t care how much they improve it unless its cleansed by fire and rebuilt by the same people who made the 6 million dollar man it’s going to suck big sweaty goat balls. All hype and no bite.

Aliens: Colonial Marines: A first person shooter set in the Aliens universe, this game may not be what you think though. So, you know how certain games have a distinct look and feel and you can say game “A” feels and looks Unreal style while game “B” feels and looks Quake 3 style, but that doesn’t necessarily determine what type of game either is? Well, let’s say Quake 3 is like Elite Force, and No One Lives Forever is like Aliens Vs. Predator 2; then, Aliens; Colonial Marines would be like Swat 3. It has that same kind of photo look to it, and everything seems bigger and closer, it jus looks very similar and the pacing seems to be the same. The environments were pretty killer and everything was very well detailed but the animation was pretty stiff and the game didn’t seem nearly as scary as the original AvP. Aliens actually looked kind of goofy standing completely upright and fumbling toward the marines. The marines looked equally goofy stumbling into one another stiffly as the aliens approached. Still, if they improve some of the stiff animation and crank up the fear factor this could be one killer game. It’s worth looking out for, but is not as initially impressive as red Faction or even it’s PC counterpart AvP 2 (although that’s a bit unfair to compare).

Project Eden: A first person shooter developed by Core (original Tomb Raider and Fighting Force) that’s kind of like DX meets Rainbow Six. You can control a squad of guys possessing each individually or dispensing basic orders provided you’re in close proximity to them (stuff like follow me or whatever). The portions I played made it seem as though the game were more focused on puzzle solving and environment interaction then all out action. The graphics were decent although its PC counterpart totally put it to shame with high-res graphics and silky framerates. You can’t jump, but you can see your own feet, which actually works pretty well for them. The game looks pretty good, but I’d say it might be a bit hard controlling everything with the analog stick especially since you really have to point at a lot of stuff (think DX style highlighting of items and such). On the plus side, it has full split-screen coop play for the single player story and the guy hinted to me that they really want to try and implement i-link coop, which would be just killer. Although, I have to say that this is a time where I’d unconditionally recommend the PC version over the console one because it can really be difficult using the analog sticks in this fashion. Well, I don’t want to be misleading because it’s hard but it’s not like it’s completely impossible; it’s just that the PC version is so much easier that it makes the PS2 one rather tedious. Definitely worth giving a closer look.

Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies:The fourth in a series of prestigious air combat games by Namco, the first of which was originally an arcade game and then subsequently a PSOne launch title (which used to be ironically called Air Combat). This installment appears to be a very crisp, solid game. It seems to have a better flight engine than its opposition on the Xbox, Air Force Delta, although its graphics aren’t quite up there, in comparison, and that’s kind of odd to say because the Ace Combat graphics are really damn good. The only problem is that when you fly close to the ground they can become rather blurry and smudged. If you liked any of the previous incarnations you’ll love this one.

Altogether the PS2’s second-generation lineup was very impressive and finally makes me satisfied with my initial purchase of the system. I can’t say for sure whether it’ll be able to compete with the upcoming systems because GameCube first-generation games as a whole compete with or look better than these second generation PS2 games and are easily as innovative and cool (Xbox ones also compete graphically -at least some of them, but maybe not gameplay-wise). Baltogether I was greatly impressed by the PS2 offering. Batman and Dead to Rights are especially promising. If the PS2 can keep some or most of these titles as exclusives then they have a real chance, but unfortunately for PS2 die-hards most of the game’s developers I spoke to agreed that there was more than a likely chance for ports. For instance, the guy on Batman told me that while they’re not entirely sure about the GameCube, an Xbox version was certainly not out of the question, but they were now concentrating on the PS2 just to get work done. Similarly, the guy from Dead to Rights told me that he’d love to port it to other systems but was currently just working on the game also just trying to get work done. Some of the other developers have already confirmed ports to other platforms or dropped hints on me that they were indeed coming.

Since these games are all pretty much slated for late 2001 or early to mid 2002 it’s safe to assume that the chances for ports will be determined on how well the GCN and Xbox do. You figure if they do well then they might have the time to shift their focus or at least begin developing ports that won’t release too far after the PS2 versions. Conversely, if both consoles pretty much sink, or the demographics aren’t right (which might be the case with the GCN) they may just stay with the PS2. Pretty strange, but very exciting."

On XBox:

"See kids, stats don’t mean jack. Case in point, you got a P4 1.7 GHz, 2 gigs of RAM and a GeForce 3. So your games are guaranteed to rock, right? Not if they’re Mortyr and Daikatana they ain’t. The Xbox has undoubtedly the most impressive spec sheet around, dwarfing the PS2 and even the mighty GameCube, yet its games as a whole are mediocre at best. They pale in comparison to the PS2’s second generation offerings as well as the GCN’s insane initial lineup. Sure, I suppose you could call them good, they certainly have the potential to be good (at least some of them), but I guarantee you that Tony the Tiger won’t be bursting through the door with his characteristic exuberance proclaiming their G-r-r-reatness.

The setup: Before you read ahead on how I trash pretty much all the Xbox games, you should know that it is not entirely their fault. Practically all of the Xbox kiosks were outfitted with either super cheese TVs, which looked like they may have been connected to Xboxes via RF adapters, or even crappier LCD screens which utterly rape the image changing it into something that is just downright ugly and distorted (think really good Internet quality movies with washed out colors and some image breakup). Of course, it didn’t help that practically all of the marquee Sony and GameCube titles were on high quality monitors or kick ass high-scan TVs (1080i WEGAs and the like).

The controller: Think Dreamcast, but heavier, bulkier, curvier, and surprisingly more awkward. The face buttons are oddly shaped and nearly impossible to utilize in conjunction with both analog sticks or even each other, (which Halo and others so mercilessly demand). I often found myself fumbling around the face pressing the wrong button and I consider myself to be a very good gamer. The triggers feel all well and good but in light of the familiarity of the Dual-Shock and the utter perfection that comes out of the GameCube, this fat boy just lacks all around. Not terribly bad though, I suppose I’d get used to it after a bit, but like everything else with a green X stamped on it it’s also not terribly good.

Halo: Halo has framerate problems and if you don’t know what Halo is you have framerate problems, Can you believe that? Don’t even try playing four-player because it’s worse than Perfect Dark and the single player often stutters too. It’s understandable because this is a work in progress and will assuredly be ironed out by release, but this is the flagship for the Xbox, and as such is responsible for setting the standards. Anyway, it has good graphics, right? Well, it’s graphical prowess lies in its subtleties. The way light gently reflects off chrome. The way the ocean catches the sun. Watching dropships go sailing by as you’re tearing around your jeep. Heading up a hill littered with small boulders with your squad clearing a path through the enemy while the sun beautifully shines through trees. Yeah, it’s all fine and dandy, but believe it or not it really isn’t anything special. Not to say the game is completely devoid of redeeming qualities, it’s just that while it is technically impressive, if you take the time to notice, it’s not something that is truly spectacular; to give you an idea, I found SoF 2 and the PC version of Project Eden to be as graphically impressive, SoF 2 perhaps more so. Driving the jeep is an utter chore and has the stupidest control layout that utilizes one analog stick to solely steer while the other goes only forward and back (unlike any racing game with gas and brake or whatever). It can also be a bit floaty at times, but does have some generally cool shock physics. Even with the control problems the jeep is by far the best part of the portion of the game shown. Driving straight down the stairs inside the Covenant base running fools over is real fun, Texas style.

Project Gotham: It’s basically a prettier Metropolis Street Racer (they’re pretty much the same game). Although, I suppose it’s technically superior to GT3, it just doesn’t have that panache, and the control (particularly on the wet track) can be disturbingly hard and unresponsive at times.

Munch: Quirky, and odd (duh) platformer adventure type game (third in a series). It looks cool, but it’s not something you can really judge at a brief sit-down, so I’m going to reserve commenting on it till I get a hang of the controls and figure out just what the heck I’m doing.

New Legends: Can we say total crap? So it’s from the guy who is basically responsible for Jedi Knight, but that sure don’t mean it’s good. This really bothers me too, because the dude who demoed it to me was really cool. Anyway, it’s basically a 3D beat ‘em up set in some kind of mythical Japan or whatever. Its graphical capabilities are right on par with the latest generation of PSOne games, but to be fair, this was intended to be a demonstration of the combat system and not the graphics engine as it stands. Too bad the combat system also lacks. There are a bevy of weapons to use and some combos you can pull off, but it’s basically running around hitting guys until they die; you can try and block, but reaching over to those black and gray buttons can be quite cumbersome, as I’ve already mentioned. Dynasty Warriors 2 gave us tons of guys to fight at any given time; Batman: Vengeance looks to give us a kick ass fighting system, incredible style, and tons of cool gameplay elements. Sadly, New Legends, in its current state, gives us none of the above.

NFL Fever: Football game that while having some killer tackle animations, is not as graphically superior to Madden as some would like you to believe. The close-ups are cool and can be quite startling at times, but standard gameplay doesn’t look any better than the competition, and the game is often jerky and awkward. I attribute this to its early state and will give it the benefit of the doubt.

Madden NFL 2002: Another football game. This one looked marginally better than the PS2 version, but was arguably on par with the GCN version. It should be known that both the GCN and the Xbox versions are ports from the PS2 one, which uses the Madden 2001 engine (this is what the similarities can be attributed to). it should also be known that all three were shown side-by-side so it was fairly easy to gauge.

Air Force Delta: A flight-combat game in the vein of Ace Combat. It did look significantly better than Ace Combat 4, in some respects at least, yet it was hampered by a very arcadey control scheme and general feel, add some real difficulty in engaging enemy aircraft due to the apparent lack of any kind of a speed control. I attribute its small faults to incompleteness and will thus give it the benefit of the doubt.

Dark Summit: A snowboarding game with a design that’s a dead-set clone of SSX and a game structure very similar to Tony Hawk. It’s a good premise for a game and proved to be rather solid, but it seems to lack both the racing fun of SSX and the trick fun of Tony Hawk. It’s kind of like a strange middle ground where nothing is quite right either way. I need to play more without some PR moron jabbering on about God knows what though.
Orange's Ed. Those THQ PR people are our friends. Love them.
ivan's Ed. Nah, this was at the Microsoft booth and the MS guy was the goob. I actually didn't play it at THQ's booth, so I wouldn't know how they are about it.

Blood Wake: This was probably the most impressive and enjoyable Xbox game at the show. It’s a boat combat game set in the past of an alternate universe. You’re basically a pirate in the South China sees with some wicked boats and firepower. It can be thought of as containing a story premise similar to that in Crimson Skies, with gameplay elements from WaveRace and Twisted Metal. The game’s water effects are truly impressive, although the splash effects (while undoubtedly early) leave a bit to be desired. The one bad part is that the demo seemed awfully difficult and those morons had the music so damn loud that the speakers were really scratchy and you couldn’t even hear yourself speak. It’s one game I’m really looking forward to seeing completed.

I’m not ready to say the Xbox sucks though, because what I’ve seen shows me that there is great potential, and I have not yet also seen all there is to see. It’s just that what I did see really was not that impressive and was more often than not quite disappointing. With all the technical muscle of the system you’d just think they’d be able to crank out better stuff. Oh well."

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Old May 19th, 2001, 09:19 AM   #2
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I knew that the XBox games were going to be pretty pieces of shit. I was right. Sure, the Sega games may be good but that and DOA3 is all thats going for it at the moment

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Old May 19th, 2001, 10:04 AM   #3
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What bothers me most, is the fact that NGC's 1st gen games are on par or above, with 2nd gen PS2 games. It doesnt surprise me though, since we have yet to see anything besides GT3 and MGS2 take advantage of the PS2's CLAIMED power. I had high hopes for HALO, but it is still very early to go bashing the game, so I'll wait until later this year to decide on whether to get NGC or the XBOX. REAL shots of Metroid will undoubtedly be the deciding factor for me though.

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