Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Last E3 Column (cue cheering)

This last E3 column is going to be pretty episodic, as I’m just going to list topics as I go.

Before I start, let me just mention Ben, who met me at the airport, took me to the show, let me stay at his house, and took me to the airport the next morning. This is the kind of guy Ben is: he’d give you the shirt off his back, then send you a new shirt. If there were more people like him (well, besides his wife Tanya, who is every bit as nice), I would be wholly unable to write this column in the cynical manner to which you have become accustomed.

Here’s one more note about people before I get to games: I also met DQ readers Lee Rawles (attorney) and Thomas Moyles (game critic) in Kentia. It’s funny how the media used to stereotype us gamers as being, well, losers, but everyone I meet seems to be far more intelligent and interesting than the people who were writing those articles.

Okay, here we go.

Funniest Line I Heard All Day
From Certis (Shawn) of Gamers with Jobs, after seeing the new Nintendo Micro Game Boy or whatever they’re calling it: “Nintendo wants to dominate the change pocket.”

Thank God For Nipples
Because without them, women would be running around totally naked, instead of essentially naked. I have nothing against naked women—I’m a big fan—but I don’t want my chocolate in my peanut butter, so to speak. I’m just here for the games.

New record for double entendres in one sentence: three.

To the Stewardess
Before my return flight left, I looked behind me to see the stewardess attaching a long red seat belt across the aisle, and then she sat down on a seat about three feet behind it. I looked at her and said “Okay, I’m not an expert on seat belts or anything, but I’m pretty sure that’s too far away to do you any good.”

Viva La Something or Other
Some sort of French outfit rented six or seven consecutive rooms in the back of Kentia. These areas are generally only open by appointment only, and they’re very small. Proudly displayed on the side of the wall was the phrase “France is Rising.” Sure you are. I can’t wait for your next game about a quirky little boy and his magical adventure through Obtuse Land.

Iron Nemesis
An online game whose big selling point, based on the footage we saw, are ass cheeks. Because female warriors just love to wear those pants with the cheeks cut out.

Yes, I could have used “assets” at any point in that.

From Ben
“How do you know somebody started in the Main Hall? By the trickle of blood behind their ears.”

Straight From Visual Concepts
Some of the best news I heard at the show: both NHL2K6 and ESPN College Hoops 2K6 (along with NBA2K6) will ship for Xbox 360 this year.

Shattered Union (PC)
I looked at this and thought “What the hell is Poptop doing?” 2K Games describes it as “Set atop the smoldering ruins of a fictional United States torn apart by civil war, Shattered Union is an action-packed turn-based strategy game for console and PC.”

This sounds like an absolutely terrible subject for a game, since it’s already been done to death and beyond. However, it’s Poptop and Phil Steinmeyer, and if anyone can pull it off, they can.

Call of Duty 2 (360)
The Xbox 360 footage (which was in-game) looked phenomenal. Just phenomenal.

Rome: Barbarian Invasion (PC)
The expansion pack for Rome: Total War should satisfy anyone who enjoyed the original. Very solid.

Tycoon City: New York (PC)
I took a look at the new effort by Deep Red (makes of the excellent Monopoly Tycoon), but this game just didn’t grab me, and it didn’t make as strong an impression as Vegas Tycoon, which they released in 2003.

Killer 7 (Gamecube)
This game has a similar visual style to XIII: cel-shaded and very stylish. I couldn’t tell much else, but at least they’re trying to do something different.

UFO: Aftershock (PC)
Looked fantastic, just like UFO: Aftermath, which wound up boring the crap out of me. I’ll wait for the reviews this time.

Singles 2 (PC)
I accidentally saw this on a monitor, and after I did, I felt dirty.

Burnout Revenge (360)
Looked outstanding and should be a huge hit, based on the outstanding gameplay of Burnout 3: Takedown.

Madden NFL 2006 (Xbox)
Well, it looked exactly like—Madden. ESPN NFL 2K5 still looks leagues better than Madden 2006.

NCAA Football 2006 (Xbox)
See Madden comments.

Need for Speed (360)
I’m not sure which version name this will get, but the footage looked absolutely wicked.

The Guild 2 (PC)
I would have really liked to have seen this, but I guess Jowood decided that since Europa 1400: The Guild sold about, oh, 500 copies in the U.S., that they could show the sequel behind closed doors only.

Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends (PC)
This did absolutely nothing for me. However, the original Rise of Nations also completely underwhelmed me when I saw it at E3, and it turned out to be an excellent game. Plus it’s Brian Reynolds, who deserves to be trusted. And it’s steampunk.

Auto Assault (PC)
Mark it down: this is going to be a bit hit when it goes online. Stylish car combat is going to be very, very well-received. NCSoft with another great idea.

Call of Juarez (PC)
A very nice looking FPS western. I thought this actually was pretty interesting and worth keeping an eye on. Not to be confused with Call of Juarez Duty, which has different gameplay entirely.

Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball (Gamecube)
Blech. Nothing like showing a baseball game that ships in less than two months with a choppy batting animation. NO problem, because that’s only going to show up, oh, A HUNDRED times a game. I was really hoping this would be a surprise, but no luck. Nice bright colors, though.

MLB2006 (PS2)
This year’s version was almost a terrific game, and it does a ton of things right. I think Sony gets more of the nuance of baseball right than any of the other developers. And this game looked excellent. I can’t imagine what the PS3 version will look like, but hopefully there will be one next year.

Starcraft Ghost (Xbox)
I think this game was showing when I first started coming to E3 in the mid 1930’s. It looked like it’s looked for years, and I guarantee the reason it still hasn’t been released is because it’s still not fun.

My guess? D.E.A.D. Not at the show, no word, too bad. It’s gorgeous and has an interesting premise, but who knows if it will ever see the light of day.

Duke Nukem Forever
Except for the fact that Duke Nukem featured sixth grader humor and To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the finest novels ever written, 3D Realms is basically the Harper Lee of gaming.

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