E3 2004 thoughts…

I finished work at approx 5.15am on Wednesday, 12th May 2004. The final E3 build was done. I went home for a couple of hours of sleep and then got up and went to E3.

After going through the 1.5 hour queue for badge pickup, we got in and went straight into the South Hall and to the EA booth. I tried to get in to see Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, but I didn’t feel like waiting. Apparently the first day was very busy. Instead we toured the hall and checked out the games. Met up with Sylvene and Berek (aka Carolyn & Mathew) in the afternoon and had dinner with them that evening. Thursday we finished up with the West and Kentia Halls.

Final Fantasy XII: Very, very good character modelling and animation. Facial animation also superb. But I found the environments a little bland. The new combat system takes a little getting used to as well. I’m not sure yet whether I like it as much as the old.

Front Mission 4 I’d had a look at beforehand with the demo that’s been out. I hope the game is something special because frankly the graphics are terrible.

Everquest II looked very shiny. I chatted for a while with Gordon Wrynn and asked him about a few things, including what approach EQ2 would have towards the bazaar/auctioning. He was a little tight-lipped about that, but I’m sure EQ2 will include the ability to auction while offline. Also, EQ2’s “tutorial” section onboard ship almost puts Nvidia’s sailing ship demo to shame. Very nice ocean graphics.

Played a little Tabula Rasa (Richard Garriott’s new MMORPG). It was OK, but it didn’t grab me. I didn’t really get to grips with the combat very well. A few other disappointments: Katamari Damacy (“sticky ball game”) – didn’t find the controls nearly as intuitive as I’d hoped they would be. Donkey Konga – looked difficult and fairly limited, although they are using the controller for at least one other game. In the “more of the same, just what we wanted” category were DDR, Karaoke Revolution and the Taiko drumming game.

Geist I thought was a very interesting concept but I hear this is the second year it’s been at E3. Get a move on. Zelda: Four Swords Adventure also looked a lot of fun and I am looking forward to it. I like the idea of having to control 4 characters to solve puzzles, etc.

Some of the best games of the show were on the EA stand, and I’m not just saying that. Burnout 3 looked amazing and Goldeneye: Rogue Agent showed very well. Booth babes were a mixture. Some were hot (Crash & Burn), others were very cute without being overtly sexy (Nintendo). Some were “nice body, shame about the face”.

Overall, the show was a bit of a disappointment. End of the console cycle, a lot of sequels, and nothing much to get excited about yet. Neither the PSP nor the DS generated much of a buzz since they were not generally accessible and didn’t have many games showing.

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