Day Two – Party Rolls On

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Everyone talks about the big hangover received after attending a major E3 party. However, for someone who doesn’t drink like I do (well, alcohol at least), it was not hard for me to be hung over from the party, but when you consider I only had 4 hours of sleep the night before because we found our hotel so late, and spending the next 16 hours on exhibits and parties, not even a case of Bawls (heavily caffeinated soda water) would help me overcome Day 1.

Fortunately I was able to get a decent night’s sleep in preparation for Day 2, and it started off easy. A meeting with the Essential Reality staff allowed me to test out their P5 glove, which I was able to get a feel for easily. Now, we’ve seen these gloves used in cyberpunk stories and movies, but I never thought it would work out as well as the P5 did. I can see myself using it to access the web without suffering from mouse hand, not to mention how great it would be for racing titles and shooters.

Today was also my annual meeting with EA Sports. For once, the meeting was rather successful. I did have a jump start last year with both NCAA 2003 and NHL 2003, but it was quite a relief to see the new titles in action. I can say at the moment that NBA Live 2003 is an improvement, as the speed feels about right, and I was able to back down in the same way I could with NBA 2K2. NASCAR Thunder is also looking better, and adding the new NASCAR Moments mode is a good idea, basically adding situations to the already good gameplay. However Madden 2003 seems to be the most improved (as is NCAA 2003). In addition to the new commentary team of Madden and Al Michaels (a result of Madden moving to Monday Night Football), EA has added a new Mini-Camp mode, which already adds to the impressive training modes in 2003, and (on the PS2 only, unfortunately) the addition of online play. In fact, each day between 1 and 3pm, players had the opportunity to play against Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell. I wasn’t able to play against McCardell, but I did get to play an online game, and it was as good as NFL 2K1, if not better. Madden will even keep an eye on how many times a player will disconnect, which should easily detect any early quitters.

Konami also had an impressive showing this year. The much awaited Xbox release of Metal Gear Solid 2 (codenamed Substance) was shown as a new video clip, and will be released on both the PlayStation2 and PC as well. Zone of the Enders will also be returning with 2nd Runner. Let’s just hope that it will be much longer than the previous game. Contra is also back, featuring 2D gameplay in a 3D environment. Going back to 2D is a good start, but the 3D engine still concerns me. Admittedly I didn’t get to play it so we’ll just have to see.

Aside from my daily meetings, I had the chance to check out other booths that I wanted to see. Namco was always on the top of my list, and this year I was both pleased and disappointed. Why disappointed? NO SOUL CALIBUR 2! Apparently Namco wants to develop it for arcades first, but why do it when arcades are dying as they are?

But why pleased? Dead to Rights is absolutely bad-ass. Take Max Payne, but add new moves, such as disarming, neck snapping, taking a person as a human shield, then pinning him down, stealing his weapon and SHOOTING HIM IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD! I hate to admit it to Rockstar, but unless I see something new from them tomorrow, Namco might have beaten them for the most f-ed up title ever made.

I finally was able to see Nintendo’s booth without overpowering the crowd. Zelda actually looks better when played. I still think the new look is sacrilege, but after a while I got used to it. As for Mario Sunshine, it is looking unique as well, but what is the deal with Mario’s new water cannon? Metroid Prime, however, is very stunning. I was originally worried about the game being a first person shooter, but the game in action changed it otherwise. The engine in itself is alluring, right down to the facial reflection seen through the monitor. Now if only Robotech on the N64 came out"

I guess we’ll have to leave the Robotech franchise to TDK, and to them, I say thank you. It looks great, it plays great, it IS great. It is not cel-shading overkill as Xbox magazine thought, the visual quality is perfect, emulating the animated series. Now if only the voice acting will be returning. A TDK representative said it is in the works.

Only one day left in E3, and the pieces are starting to come together in the whole Game of Show puzzle. DTR, Robotech, Metroid Prime, Splinter Cell"what’s next?

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