DOUBLE DIPPED: Nintendo’s DS will shake your gaming world.
It’s hard to believe that the first E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) took place nearly 10 years ago. This year, still at the Los Angeles Convention Center, E3 (the conference for all things video game) was bigger, better and more fun than ever. Here are some of the highlights.
Microsoft had a few announcements, one of the most popular being that gaming publisher Electronic Arts has finally committed to bringing its sports games to Microsoft’s online gaming service, Xbox Live.
Bill Gates’s huge organization also showed new, widely awaited sequel games such as DOOM 3 and Halo 2, as well as the role-playing adventure Fable and the racing simulator Forza Motorsport.
But to psych us up for the future, Microsoft announced a new software development platform called XNA (think DNA). Microsoft calls XNA an “ecosystem” of tools to be used by gaming developers that will reduce the amount of time they spend working on games–therefore containing costs. Of course, this is proprietary, so we’ll have to take their word for it for now.
Sony was a bit more subdued this year, once again showing its upcoming handheld for the mobile market–the PSP (PlayStation Portable). Though the product is more solidified than last year, the launch is still slated for the first quarter of 2005. Quite a long way to go. We did get a pretty good look at it this year, however, and it does look cool. It measures 6.63 in. long x 2.73 in. high x 0.89 in. wide, and it weighs in at 9.2 ounces. Apart from having a Sony MemoryStick slot (big surprise), it also will have a slot for the new Universal Media Disc, which is touted to have three times the storage of a CD-ROM. Sony envisions this disc holding music and movies as well as games. EA Games has promised a mini-mum of four PSP titles at launch. The price of the PSP is not available yet.
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, developed by Insomniac Games, was announced as the first online action platform game for PlayStation 2. Sony’s Gran Turismo 4, using a new physics engine for ungodly details, now lets you choose from over 500 cars and over 100 courses.
Nintendo had a nice surprise for us, namely its new Nintendo DS (dualscreen). A flip gaming device with two screens, the DS is truly the first of its kind. It has a touchscreen and includes two processors, 3D capability on both screens, 16-channel sound, and two media ports–one that holds the new DS game cartridges (which can have over 1 gigabit of information) and one that holds Game Boy Advance games. This makes the DS backward compatible, which is always nice for a new product. It also includes voice recognition with a built-in microphone and wireless communications (for wireless messaging as well as game play). Games now in development include a new Super Mario game and Activision’s Spider-Man 2. The DS will be available by the end of the year, though pricing was not available at press time.
And now, the games. And wow, there were a ton of them. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about them all, so here’s a smattering of my favorites.
Konami represents boys of all ages with Rumble Roses for PS2. You like wrestling? This is a whole new experience with the Rumble Roses all-female band of perfectly shaped ladies kicking each other where the sun don’t shine. Konami says this game is all about fantasy and I’d have to agree-with a Mud Mode giving you access to bikini-clad gals rolling in very true-to-life mud (it even looks real when it slides off the wrestlers’ bodies). Game play includes a roster of moves like suplexes, kicks and elbows, as well as a personal fighting style and moves for each lady. Oh, and be sure to check out the costumes.
In the fighting vein, Mortal Kombat is back with Deception, a completely gore-ridden followup title by Midway Games. Available for PS2 and Xbox, this game includes new moves and special weapons along with secret and returning characters. Its environments are also new, sometimes interactive and multitiered–even allowing you to break through walls to get to a whole new fighting area. If blood is your thing, you simply must check this game out.
Lastly, hold on to your lightsabers. LucasArts Star Wars Battlefront is on its way. Forget that it comes out the same day as the “Classic Star Wars” DVD trilogy (or, come to think of it, don’t forget). This PS2, Xbox Live and PC game is played from the perspective of one of 20 different foot soldier types. It includes characters and environments from both the old and new “Star Wars” movies–though you have to choose which time period you’d like to play in for now, and you can’t mix and match them. Best of all, you’ll be able to re-create and participate in some of the most memorable battles from all of the “Star Wars” movies. So go ahead, indulge.