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E3 impressions


May 18, 2000
Web posted at: 9:26 a.m. EDT (1326 GMT)

(IDG) -- The GamePros have finally returned from a bustling weekend in L.A., where they basked in the pounding hype that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Read on for impressions from our intrepid band of gaming gurus.

KiloWatt lights up the show

The non-playable game of the show was without a doubt Metal Gear Solid 2 for the PS2. The 9-minute video footage, cut by Kojima himself, shows exactly the type of game we expect from Sony's super machine. It's a shame that we won't see it till late 2001, since nothing else on the PS2 looked nearly as good. There were a few PS2 highlights like the new Madden, FIFA soccer and Munch's Odyssey, but everyone hoped for a hot crop of games for the PS2's US launch, something to blow away anything currently on the market, and at this rate, that just won't happen.

The Dreamcast, on the other hand, had an amazing line up of truly great software covering every genre possible. The new line of sports titles looked and played great with a few (NBA and NFL 2K1) supporting the upcoming Sega online network. Other highlights include Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, IllBleed, Samba De Amigos, Quake III, Alien Front Online, Outriggers, Phantasy Star Online, Eternal Arcadia, and too many more to list. Without a doubt, the Dreamcast is going to have the best quality software selection for 2000.

  PlayStation2: A system for the millennium?
  Sega makes noise at E3
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Which leads me to my playable game of the show, Ferrari F355 for Dreamcast. The look and feel of this game (in my opinion) totally blows away Sony's GT 2000. Being a huge racing fan, I went back and forth playing both games, but in the end I was disappointed with the clunky handling and the overall rough graphic look of GT. Ferrari, on the other hand, was gorgeous and controlled like a dream. It must be said that they are different breeds of racing, so of course they'll play differently, but it's still surprising.

As for Nintendo, I was really surprised by Conker's Bad Fur Day and Eternal Darkness. Both should positively redefine what we expect from Nintendo. Dinosaur Planet had a lot of promise in that Zelda-derivative way, and Mario Tennis is a ton of fun. Of course there's the new Zelda, which alone is enough to keep the N64 afloat for another year.

Overall, I was pleased with the large amount of great software, though somewhat surprised that most of it is on the Dreamcast.

KiloWatt recap:
Game of the Show (non-playable): Metal Gear Solid 2 for PlayStation2
Game of the Show (playable): Ferrari F355 for Dreamcast
Best Booth of the Show: Sega

D-Pad destroys the hype

E3 is a loud sea of pounding music and overbearing hype, but even in that marketing-induced cacophony a handful of titles stand out. Game Demo of the Show props go to Metal Gear Solid 2, with the X-Box not too far behind. Oddly enough, the Dreamcast booth pounded with awesome new titles and innovative new concepts, while the PS2 stuff was mostly pumped-up ports of stuff you've seen before. Survival horror was the genre of the show, with uncountable titles on the way, such as Alone in the Dark, Dino Crisis 2, Resident Evil Zero, Evil Dead, and more. The PlayStation channel choked on mediocre racing games and Dreamcast ports, and for the first time, the good ol' PSX looked like it was on its way out. Conker the Squirrel fouled up the N64 as Bad Fur Day stole the N64 show from the already-hyped Perfect Dark. Keep your eyes on Munch's Oddysee, Jet Grind Radio, Power Stone 2, and, of course, MGS2.

D-Pad Destroyer recap:
Game of the Show: Metal Gear Solid 2 for PlayStation2
Booth of the Show: Sega
Massively Overpopulated Genre of the Show: Racing/Driving, Survival Horror (tie)

Dan Elektro shocks E3

Metal Gear Solid 2 truly was a showstopper -- people lined up and sat in the aisles to watch the 10-minute non-interactive preview, practically shutting down the South Hall every hour on the hour. Sega had the strongest software lineup of the big three, but G.O.D's lot was the weirdest and wildest of them all. Brave souls who ventured outside of the main halls were greeted by tons of private trailers, tubs of free soda (and a full bar), sexy Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 star Julie Strain, midgets dressed like characters of the games (including a midget Julie Strain), a half pipe with skaters (but no skating game to justify its existence), and much, much more. Oh, yeah, and there were good games, too, like Max Payne and Blair Witch... but KISS Psycho Circus on Dreamcast, in a word, stunk.

I was also surprised to see and overhear unannounced but expected things like a Dreamcast mouse (connected in Sega's booth to Quake III, no less) and a PS2 mouse, keyboard, and link cable -- all mentioned by programmers as things they'd be supporting, but never officially shown by Sony. Heh.

Dan Elektro recap:
Game of the Show: Metal Gear Solid 2 for PlayStation2
Best PC-to-PS2 Port: Unreal Tournament
Quietest PC Game Announcement: Microsoft's Windows version of Metal Gear Solid
Best Tony Hawk Ripoff: Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX (by Activision for PlayStation)

Star Dingo sez that's not a knoife

By the time my eardrums stopped pounding and the multi-colored splotches cleared from my vision, I realized I had perhaps spent a wee bit too much time in the Sega booth. But it wasn't just the shiny retro-futuristic plastic dance-tastic spectacle of the Space Channel 5 stage show that kept me glued to the floor, it was the abundance of top-quality Dreamcast titles that outshone even the PlayStation 2 lineup. Titles like Jet Grind Radio, Shenmue, Ecco the Dolphin , Eternal Arcadia, and Space Channel 5 really caught my attention, and I'm simply drooling at the prospect of returning to the Phantasy Star universe. The mouse-enhanced DC version of Quake 3 even edged out the demo of PS2 Unreal Tournament.

Metal Gear Solid 2 looked phenomenal, even if I don't quite believe the actual game is going to look that good. Munch's Oddysee, the latest Oddworld game, also has me pretty psyched, as did ICO, Dynasty Warriors, and Dark Cloud. Nintendo was showing a few very spiffy titles like Dinosaur Planet, Conker, Eternal Darkness, Perfect Dark, and Mario Tennis, but the lack of any surprise Dolphin stuff was still a little disappointing. On the PC side, I really dug Neverwinter Nights, and I can't wait to get my hands on Black & White.

Star Dingo recap:
Game of the Show: Metal Gear Solid 2 for PlayStation2
Most Disturbing Celebrity Cameo: Michael Jackson in Ready 2 Rumble 2 and Space Channel 5
Most Overused Cool Graphical Trick: Real-time blacklining (Jet Grind Radio, Wacky Races, Simsville, and more)

Bad Hare day

E3 held surprisingly cool news for the retro fans out there. Besides Activision's drop-dead gorgeous Quake III-based Return to Castle Wolfenstein and the excellent PC version of Dragon's Lair 3D from Blue Byte, an even more obscure laser disc game is poised for a comeback -- Sega's Time Traveler! Rick Dyer's holographic coin-op from 1991 will live again as a DVD -- in both 2D and 3D -- this September, courtesy of Digital Leisure. I also got a peek at early Spy Hunter PS2 footage -- it looks promising and exciting, preserving the flair and style of the original game. And while PlayStation games aren't exactly old-school, there were many more people lining up to catch a look at Bleem! for Dreamcast than I expected.

Bad Hare recap:
Game of the Show: Return to Castle Wolfenstein for PC
Best Promotional Item: Microsoft's force feedback pens
Worst Promotional Item:'s urinal mats (second year in a row)

Hands-on with the PlayStation2
March 10, 2000
Review: Alloy Arcade Stick
January 14, 2000
Retro roundup: Classic arcade games return
October 25, 1999
Sega Dreamcast: Good games, better graphics
October 1, 1999

Review: Mario Party 2
Review: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
PlayStation2: A system for the millennium?
A PlayStation2 Oddysee
Michael Jackson in Ready to Rumble: Round 2
Sega's Makin' Some Noise: What the booth tour showed
Sonic Adventure 2 impressions

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)
Sony PlayStation

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