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With E3 2006 now history, we can now look back at what was announced, what was shown, and what wasn't shown at the expo this year. Other web sites do the same thing but in their cases they give out "awards" to games and products shown on the show floor. The thing is I have always had some problems with giving out "awards" to games shown at E3 as nearly all of them are incomplete. Sometimes the promise of a game at E3 is far different than the finished product. For instance, the Game Critics Award gave a Special Commendation for Graphics nod to the PS3 Killzone movie, even though it was a pre-rendered CGI trailer. This year Sony didn't show any real Killzone footage nor was there a mention of the progress of the game at all. Ouch.
In any case, I figured that it might be a good idea to jump on the bandwagon of these "E3 awards" but do it in a different way. Instead of giving out formal awards to games and products, I'm just going to list the top 10 things I liked about E3 2006 this year. And these things may not be specific products shown on the show floor. They may be just things that I thought were cool. With that explanation out of the way, let's get on with the list (cue the drum rool, Paul) [ Is someone a Letterman fan? --Ed. ].
10. Two hours without as much of a crowd on Wednesday morning: This year E3 organizers gave a real incentive for press and retailers to get their pre-registration done for the show this year; those folks (myself included) got to see the show floor at 9 a.m., two hours before the rest of the crowd. Thank goodness. While there were still quite a few people in that time period checking out the exhibits, it wasn't nearly as much as the full crowd that came in at 11 a.m. For instance, it allowed me to check out the Nintendo Wii games before anyone else did. Kudos to E3 organizers for this move and we hope they continue and maybe even expand on this program for E3 2007 (Maybe pre-registered press and retailers can get access to the show floor one hour before everyone else for each day? Just a thought).
9.Kentia Hall wasn't a total washout this year: The below deck exhibit hall of the LA Convention Center ususally has a lot of, shall we say, below par exhibits. But with RedOctane's Guitar Hero, CDV's meeting room, and a number of other interesting games shown at the hall this year it wasn't so bad after all. Well I didn't think so. :)
8. Random celeb sightings increased: Ok, your idea of a celeb might be different than mine, but hey when you see Gilbert Goffried doing his whining bit for a camera on G4 or Survivor's "Jonny Fairplay" trying to hook up with the SiN Episodes booth models, you just have to smile.
7. Spore's game editors: No, not the game itself. We don't feel confortable in giving kudos to a game that's still over a year away (although we think it will be cool) but in our demo of the game at E3 we were amazed at how good the creature editors were in Will Wright's upcoming "SimEverything" title. It looks like people will be able to pretty much create any kind of alien they want through a pretty simple interface. Mod tools for games tend to be very hard to use for the average layman like myself but Spore looks like it will make creating bug-eyed aliens (along with buildings and spaceships) a fun game in itself.
6. Konami's press package: I managed to slip in to the Konami press conference on Tuesday and not only was it an entertaing event (nationally known stand up comic John Heffon was the host) but the folks at Konami gave us a unique press package. It wasn't filled with just the typical CD-ROM disk of their latest assets (although that was there too) but a great faux E3 Show Daily magazine that was all about Kojima Productions' current and upcoming projects. The magazine echoed the real show daily mag that's given out for free to attendees at the show right down to magazine ads. When other press packages might be thrown away soon after E3 is over, we will be keeping this Kojima mag for all time..or until we sell it on eBay :) (Konami, please note...I'm just kidding..hehehe)
5. Super easy access to Microsoft and Nintendo's pre-E3 conferences: Usually you have to take a cab or use a pre-arraged bus to go to the big three press conferences and you certainly had to do that with Sony's event (and let me tell you I never have good luck with buses; the drivers always seem to get lost). But Nintendo and Microsoft wisely made their E3 press conferences easy to get to by holding them at the Kodak Theater and Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, which are basically in the same Hollywood and Highland complex. Since there is a subway station at the complex as well, there was no need to take a cab or have a pre-arraged bus to get there. As a side note, kudos to Nintendo and Microsoft for making things easier on attendees at both events by sending out tickets in advance so they didn't have to deal with huge lines of registration beforehand. We hope this continues next year.
4. Bill Gates finally makes it to E3: Usually the head man of Microsoft is shown in some funny skit that's pre-taped at the E3 press conferences of the past, but this time the richest man in the world was there in the flesh speaking about linking the Xbox 360 to Windows and mobile phones. We hope he returns next year; we certainly prefer him to some pro athlete or Donald Trump.
3. More original IP for games: This year it wasn't the latest sequel or addition to a long running game franchise that had us excited about E3, but all the new games that were shown at the show. From BioShock to Strangehold to Spore to Mass Effect to Too Human to Gears of War to Crysis and more it looks like we are finally seeing some movement away from "so-and-so XVI" or whatever the latest addition is called to a long running game franchise. Don't get us wrong; we are also excited abut certain sequels that were shown on the show floor as well, but it seemed for the past couple of years it has been all about the sequels (Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Halo 2, any GTA game). With all these original games on the horizons, we think that the video and PC game industry has gotten a new lease on life.
2. Microsoft's push for PC games: With Windows Vista due for release in early 2007 it looks like Microsoft really wants to get the PC gaming industry excited and for the first time in their E3 press conference they devoted a lot of time to their PC game business. There's a lot going on in this industry and we hope Microsoft continues to promote our little corner of the games business more. Hey, more PC gamers means more hardware sales of graphics cards, processors, hard drives and more and that's all good with us.
And the number one thing I really liked about E3 2006:
1. Nukes, nukes and more nukes: Everywhere we went at E3 to check out games we saw variations of the big mushroom cloud going up on screen and there's nothing like seeing the act of two atoms fusing together to get us going in the morning. From World in Conflict's smaller tactical nukes that lay waste to a smaller area to Supreme Commander's demo at the NVIDIA booth of a whopping ten nukes total going off on the battlefield, no one was afraid of pushing the button. Perhaps the most impressive nuclear exchange of all was in the demo for Frontlines: Fuel of War, the upcoming Unreal Engine based title from developer Kaos Studios. In a large outdoor tank battle level the demo handlers decided to take the time to throw down the bomb. The result? A massive flash and a fire themed mushroom cloud that took out pretty much every tank on the ground. It's one thing to see a nuclear blast up from above in an RTS game. It's quite another to see it up close and personal from ground level. Where do we sign up?
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!