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E3 2006 Report

/ Jun 3rd, 2006 No Comments

E3 2006 represents the seventh consecutive year that Gaming Illustrated has attended the biggest gaming convention in the world. This year’s show was marked with the full unveiling of the PlayStation 3 console, and the Nintendo Wii system. Microsoft showed off Windows Vista, as well as a full slate of new XBox 360 titles. In addition plenty of companies, big and small, made impressions with their new products for 2006 and 2007. Reporting from the show are Executive Editor Sean Gibson, and staff writers Joe and Leah Presely.

report from editor sean gibson

Instead of a general “here’s what i felt walking around the show” piece, I’m just going to write about the things that really stood out in my mind at the show. So without further ado …

THQ’s SUPREME COMMANDER (PC, 2007)

I can admit with complete confidence that I am a complete and total RTS PC junkie. I love ’em! So you can definitely understand my pain when I say I’ve lived through a couple of painful years without that “wow factor” RTS title to play into the wee hours of the night. It seems that THQ, and respected RTS producer Chris Taylor, have finally answered my prayers.

The only presence of Supreme Commander at the show was a bunker-like movie trailer, but MAN, what a trailer it was. It seems that fans of RTS and strategy games like will really get a blast out of the graphics, functions, and capabilities that this title showcases. The graphics looked amazing, and the combat between the units was equally impressive. The teaser document says, “Experience a new level of control over legions of land, sea & air units, and use the innovative zoom function, scrolling outward to see the entire ‘theatre of war’ or inward to focus on the action, to command your forces to victory”. Sounds good to me.

Other features include: Includes full naval, ground and air combat, 3 unique factions, intuitive & customizable gameplay, Robust multiplayer gaming with up to 8 players online plus co-op mode, Full-on community support including a map & mission editor, downloadable content and instant battle replay features.

All in all this looks like to be one of the titles I’ll eagerly await in the first quarter of 2007 from THQ.

Sony Online Entertainment’s UNTOLD LEGENDS: DARK KINGDOM (PS3, November 2006)

I was interested to see what launch titles would really stand out for me with the PS3. Since I’ve been a fan of EverQuest, and enjoyed reviewing the previous ‘Untold Legends’ titles I definitely made sure I checked out the new “Dark Kingdom” title for PS3.

I was pleased when I was able to pick up the game with a playable demo and talk about the game with one of the environmental artists of the game. All in all, if you enjoy hack n slash action, gorgeous 1080p graphics on an HDTV, and pretty enjoyable levels and monsters – you’re going to lose many a night to this launch title.

Here’s what the game PR sheet has to say: “Dark Kingdom will deliver in-depth character progression, online multiplayer gameplay and online game services through PlayStation®3 online network. Choose one of three unique characters to guide on a perilous journey of impossible odds, as you immerse yourself in a fantastic world of beauty and terror, where only you can end the long standing oppression of a tyrannical king. Collect and equip powerful weapons, unique armor, and special items as you slay the hordes of monsters which inhabit the magical worlds from which they come.” Sounds good to me.

Cool Neat Gift Award: CoolIT SYSTEMS’ USB BEVERAGE CHILLER

While walking the show in Kentia Hall (full of neat companies and products) I spotted this product and barely believed what I saw. A device that plugs into your USB port, and keeps your drinks cold. Amazing!

See that little blue part in the screenshot to the right? That thing gets down to 45 degrees F … making this little device a great “cool” gift for a friend or a boss. Check it out here.

Bethesda Softworks’ STAR TREK LEGACY (PC, XBox 360)

There have been a few hits and a lot of misses with the Star Trek franchise in general lately, but Bethesda is taking on a challenging effort with Star Trek Legacy. The game boasts to take gamers on an adventure encompassing the entire Star Trek timeline, from the recent ‘Enterprise’ era all the way through the NextGen timeline.

The big pull for the title is playing through the ‘big battles’ of star trek movie and television fame, while also going through an entire unique adventure with a new storyline. After getting promoted you’ll have the ability to command a fleet of ships and take them over to engage such enemies as the Romulans and … yes – The Borg.

PR from Bethesda says, “Legacy is an epic game of Starfleet combat covering the entire Star Trek Universe. Players become the Admiral of a task force of warships and must lead their fleet to victory in large-scale battles. As the Admiral of the Fleet you choose the ships, equipment, and captains that you will lead into battle. The game is designed to provide an impressive strategic and tactical experience by emphasizing the dramatic excitement of large-scale battles without the hassle of complex starship management.” All in all our demo of the game was pretty solid, and something to check out upon release.

report from staff writer joe presley

E3 came and went, and let me tell you it was quite interesting. I saw just about everything there was to see and did just about everything there was to do. I’m going to try to break it down for you day by day.

While waiting to get in, I hopped outside for a quick cigarette and saw Amp’d setting up their booth. I went over there and had a chat with one of the semi-higher ups in the company. We were able to talk about how they’ve been doing since their December release and from what I heard, business has been good. Their new game “phone tag” has been a tremendous hit. It’s kind of played like assassin, except your hunter and prey are chosen at random, and you use your phones GPS to locate who’s where. As I was talking with Amp’d, they were able to tell me that they are planning to get Final Fantasy out to there phones in August (a couple hours later I talked to Square, they said yes, FF is going mobile, but they would not confirm who).

Going back in, and I’m amazed at the lines. If there was a word for E3 this year, it would be line — or snake, because of how the lines would snake around in every direction. Starbucks most definitely made out this year because all I would see were lines for them snaking around the conference floor. The line in the South Hall was able to spiral around itself 3 times; that’s like 300 people! After 30 min wasted on that, I went back over to Microsoft’s area, where all they were showing was the 360 and its new games. I got myself a ticket to see he Gears of War demo and was able to get a good seat in the theater.

So I’m sitting down and watching them play the beginning, and it looks pretty cool. You can go one way to start to get the controls, and the other way to just jump right into the action… So they’re walking around showing the cool helicopter walking by and then — OH YE FLIPPIN GODS! The most awesome freaking monsters I’ve ever seen come bursting through the door!! They’re big, they’re ugly, and it takes more than 3 bullets to kill them! I don’t think this has happened on the first level of an original game since Halo! After that the game just keeps getting better and better. The graphics are crisp, the gameplay looks good — although they rely on the a button a whole lot — and the sound is amazing. The best part was when you see your character turn on his chainsaw and start slicing a fool in two! Once I saw that I thought “this is a game I’m gonna play come hell or high water.” After that I went over to the media area of Microsoft to see if I could get an interview with someone about the 360 and what they plan to do for accessories and games for the next year. Unfortunately all they gave me was a card with a link to the site with info that hadn’t been updated in a week.

Leaving pretty fumed, I decide to go off to the Sony area to check out the PS3 since I missed the early viewing. All I got from them was the same old same old. I worked through the crowd to get some pictures of the PS3 (which turned out horribly on my disposable camera). All I can say about that is thank god they changed the controller. Unfortunately it looks just like a PS2 controller except a little bulkier so that it can be wireless and have gyroscopes (jealous of Wii much?). I went over to check out the big name game, Gran Tourismo HD, and found myself incredibly unimpressed. While the graphics were good, I did see some trouble with a lack of frame fluidity. The cars were well detailed as were the tracks, but the paint jobs didn’t look very realistic and there was not much background at all to see details in. In all honesty, the graphics didn’t even stand up to NFSMW for the 360. I know NFS has that stupid soft filter over everything giving it a fuzzy look, but there’s still incredible detail in everything and its rendered properly with no lag and no problems. Gran Tourismo HD’s graphics were a little choppy, a little jaggy (although very very small jags) and not quite what I expect from a 360 killer — or a regular xbox killer even.

I got over to Nintendo and walked over to the Wii line and saw that it was a 6 hour wait. So I decided to skip it because I wasn’t going to wait 6 hours to get a look at a console I’m most likely not gonna buy. So off I got to the makers of one of my favorite franchises — Koei. For those who don’t know Koei makes one of the rockinest non-stoppinest games for the 360 and it started at $40, Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires (review coming soon). I go over there and try to talk to them and find out that the head guy at the show is packed for appointments and that if I try to stop by from time to time I might catch him free. Whatever, I can understand that, So I go and check out Samurai Warriors 2 (another cool franchise that will be coming to the 360). They had PS2s on Samsung LCDs and it was the crispest crappy graphics I have ever seen — good tv, bad console. I was able to find out that they’re planning a Dynasty Warriors MMO (I’m all over that — believe it) and a Samurai Warriors game for the 360 (that too).

During all this I was able to browse through most of West hall to see everything going on there. I don’t really remember which booths are where, but I do remember that aside from grabbing all the Magic: The Gathering Mouse Pads and Core Sets as I could get my hands on that was pretty much it. Not a bad job!

report from staff writer leah presley

E3 2006: The Good, The Bad, and The Obnoxious:

E3, the annual gaming expo, is the Mecca for gamers, developers and insiders from around the world. Booths from Scotland, Singapore, and Korea, among others, were there trying to make connections to get themselves into the US market, and to get US companies into their countries.

Participants were there from all over the world. Walking down the corridors I heard Japanese, Russian, French and Spanish spoken (as well as a plethora of languages I couldn’t identify).

What does all of this mean? I’m hoping this means the games we can buy here in the US will be more diverse. Don’t get me wrong, I like the games we have. I am excited about Gears of War and Halo 3 (even though Halo 2 was a let down). I just want the opportunity to play games that come from different countries and different cultures. If you have seen Yugoslavian* movies you know, their approach to movies is very different than hours. What would they do with the same first person shooter platform? What elements, twists and fresh approaches would we see from a Brazilian game developer? I don’t know, but I want to find out.

Some companies at E3 made seeing what they had to offer easy and enjoyable. One example is Gears of War (GOW). Microsoft was giving out movie tickets for the demo that was held in a private room. You didn’t have to stand in line. You got your ticket, showed up at the appointed time, got into the room, sat on a platform and saw the game being played with commentary. An unexpected twist was the platform you sat on had a rumble pack or something, so it was vibrating like the control does. It made the experience better.

What did other companies do? They made you stand in line, for hours, to see their demos. Why? There was a lot to see and a lot do. I didn’t want to wait in line for hours. What is the result? I didn’t see them and I won’t be able to tell you about the game. Seems like they might have missed out on free publicity. Oh well.

Who was the worst offender? In my mind it was the Nintendo Wii. We were told the line was an 8 hour wait. What??? I don’t think so. There are Nintendo fans out there, but I don’t think Nintendo has ever been impressive enough to make me want to wait in line 8 hours to see their new system.

Playstation 3 was in an open area that was constantly filled with people. We saw the console (it is stylish). We saw the controller (no longer is it weird boomerang). And we saw the games and could play them. Oh my, are they pretty. I was uncertain if I wanted the PS3, but after seeing the games that going to be coming out for it, and the fantastic graphics, it is most definitely on my shopping list now.

So, what releases am I looking forward to now? That would be the PS3, for the above mentioned reasons. GOW is on my list. I am a fan of first person shooters, the game looked good, and very playable, even for a casual gamer like myself. Not sure about Prey, they only part of it I got to see was the multiplayer death match. The Cartoon Network racing game from Game Factory was fun to play, even if it didn’t seem too original. I also really like the 360 backpack Mad Catz is coming out with. It allows you to take your 360 and all cables and accessories in a convenient bag. You don’t even need to worry about taking the console out of the bag to hook it up. Seems cool, but I don’t know if leaving it in would cause over heating issues.

Well, there you go. Lots of stuff to look forward to. E3 was good times.

Sean W. Gibson

Sean W. Gibson

Founder, Featured Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Sean Gibson has been the owner and Executive Editor of Gaming Illustrated for over eleven years. His roles include acting as CEO and President of Gaming Illustrated, LLC and also includes being a reviewer, previewer and interviewer. Sean's opinions on this site do not reflect those of his full-time employer.
Sean W. Gibson
Sean W. Gibson

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