It Begins!

Well, we thought nothing could make the fantasy world of E3 more fantastic would be to pit our own Todd Hargosh and Ken Urben in rival columns about the show.

Things are heating up as both contestants don their gloves and recieve last minute instructions from their managers. They shake, and there’s the bell….


E3 DAY 1: THE BEGINNING

By: Todd Hargosh, GiN Director of Product Testing

As I am writing this review in my hotel room, I am also watching Los Angeles Channel 13 (KCOP) news. After watching some of the best news broadcast I have seen in a long time (including reports on "Ghetto Gladiators," the quick left jab by the French Prime Minister after being egged, using a puppy, a baby, and a car to attract babes, hangover cures, the 100 hottest women in the country, and watching bear cubs plunge to their untimely deaths, there was a short blurb about the X-Box. This report, appropriately titled "Hot Box," (considering WWF Superstar Lita was plugging it), showcased one of the new systems to debut at E3, the Microsoft X-Box.

On the other side of the spectrum, Nintendo was debuting two new systems: the Game Boy Advance handheld (which has been available on display at various retailers), and the brand new GameCube. Also, Sony was letting everything out as their PlayStation2 plans were put into full bloom. Meanwhile, Sega was leaving me asking more questions as their booth was locked behind closed doors whereI can't get entry until my meeting on Saturday.

My first stop in my great E3 adventure landed me at THQ, where I was hoping to catch a working alpha of WWF Raw is War. Unfortunately, I was only welcomed to a short video clip which, although looking very impressive, let me feeling empty. That is, until I glanced at the Smackdown 3 booth, and after playing for a short while, my impressions were raised. Considering how I am a big fan of the first two games, I was more than happy to see my favorite Smackdown engine running at 60 frames per second, with up to eight characters on screen at one time. I was only able to see a handful of the 35+ characters (which include Kurt Angle, The Rock, Austin, Lita, and Molly Holly), and only a few of the proposed 70+ different match types. Currently the game is 40 percent complete, and is scheduled for a 4th Quarter release.

Next I saw what I consider the real reason to attend: to see the new trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2. I'll first say that after playing the demo, I had too many questions that needed to be asked. Now, these questions have only been added with MORE questions. Who is Solid Snake really? What is up with Ocelot's replaced hand? Is Liquid really alive? Is President George Sears really Solidus? I mean this game is supposed to be really something, but these questions are getting way out of hand. Considering that there will be NO more Metal Gear 2 spoilers after this week, I will be pondering in these questions for until the game's release this fall.

I will mention that I did get my first glimpse of the GameCube. Surprisingly, I am very impressed. Rogue Leader looked unbelievable, Wave Race is stunning, Smash Brothers 2 is as chaotic as the original, and Luigi's Mansion is not only an impressive feat, but quite innovative as well.

Speaking of innovative, I have to say that the GameCube's controller is easy and simplistic to get into. I'm very glad to see the left and right triggers are the analog style in the same manner of the Dreamcast. I'll put it this way, if GameCube provides an impression to everyone that it has on me, Yamauchi will definitely think twice about his option to cancel releasing it.

Other games that I had the opportunity to gander upon today include Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (PSX, running at 60 frames per second and featuring network play), Devil May Cry (a very impressive survival horror game which I feel Castlevania 64 should have been), Spy Hunter (a remake of one of my favorite arcade classics which I feel needs more work to improve the frame rate), and NHL Blitz 2002 (which I KNOW needs more work as the frame rate was appalling at times.)

Lastly, the best surprise that I observed today came from Olympus. Their new Eye-Trek computer monitor goggles impressed me as they are capable of simulating a 52-inch television as it is being shown from 6 feet away, while maintaining a crisp, LCD-monitor display. A new version has just been released to be used with the PlayStation2, so I can only imagine what playing Metal Gear Solid 2 will be like.

Once again, E3 is upon us, and the hardware wars have begun again. I have seen GameCube, and it is good, but we have to see how the X-Box will turn out. That will come in the next few days.


Dueling Column

By: Ken Urben, GiN Industry Reporter

Rather than begin talking about E-3 loyal readers, Ken must concur with his fellow GiNmate Mr. Hargosh by speaking on KCOP-TV13 of UPN. Ken must say in all his days that it was the greatest display of television journalism he has ever, and Ken means EVER, seen. Between the sex, drugs and disco music, KCOP had it going on.

Todd has already told you some of those stories, so Ken won't repeat them, but what Ken noticed was that the co-anchor (female) looked like a porn star, the sportscaster (a female) looked like a porn star, the weather-person (a female) looked liked a porn star and they interviewed" you guessed it – porn stars. Ken says UPN news in LA rocks the body that rocks the body. Lord only knows what we'll see tomorrow and we will see it tomorrow.

So about E-3 — oh yeah that little show. Well, to be honest Ken didn't get to see much of the show on Day One, given the fact that the powers-that-be at GiN had him running around interviewing various members of the video game industry. But what Ken did manage to see and get his hands on (no booth babes jokes please) he has mixed feelings about.

Yes, many of the games look awesome. Gamecube's efforts on Luigi's Mansion, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 2 and their version of Wave Racer were tremendous titles, as were Final Fantasy X, Tony Hawk 3, Dark Cloud and of course, without saying – Metal Gear Solid 2.

But while all those titles looked tremendous they all have something in common – we've seen them all before. Luigi's Mansion is still another Mario platform game, even if Mario isn't in the title, Rogue Squadron 2 is still another flying Star Wars fighter game, Wave Racer is but an extension of the N64 version, Final Fantasy X looks an awful lot of FFVIII, Tony Hawk 3 – pretty self explanatory, Dark Cloud really does look and play like Zelda 64 and Metal Gear Solid 2, for all its splendor – is still an upgrade of Metal Gear Solid.

Where's the innovation? Where are the new ideas? Where are all the new "limitless creative advancements" IDSA President Doug Lowenstein was talking about? Like Ken said, he hasn't seen a lot on Day One, but he's worried the video game industry has sacrificed creativity for profitability far, far too much.

However, the bright spot of Ken's day was a small little display of a small little PSOne handheld game named Snoopy: Unleashed. And while the graphics were pretty shoddy and gameplay very simplistic, Ken had an absolute blast playing this 2D jump, duck and dodge game as the various Peanuts characters. Ken was completely addicted to the game and could barely tear himself away from Linus, Lucy and of course, Charlie Brown's exploits.

Way to go Chuck!

So, Ken is looking forward to seeing much more tomorrow. He'll be sure to drop by some of his favorite developers that he missed, check out that Xbox thing people are talking about and maybe, just maybe get a little more Snoopy: Unleashed action. Oh, and he can't forget to watch tomorrow night's KCOP news broadcast on UPN. TV news in LA so totally rules.

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