Gaming Extreme: E3 2003


E3: three blistering days of sensory overload for the lucky few (62,000 of us) who attended. Getting bigger, brighter, and bolder, every year the globe holds its breath to see what’s new, innovative, and hot from the mini metropolis known as the Los Angeles Convention Center. This year didn’t disappoint, with more stuff that you can shake a joystick at. Not only did we see Microsoft draw a sword and battle it out with Sony in the console wars with price drops (Xbox and PS2 on par at only $179 U.S.), but we saw the Army infiltrate via Blackhawk helicopter, a British invasion of over 30 UK companies, Megaman’s 15th Anniversary, Halo 2, Metal Gear Solid Mania, Nintendo reinventing Pacman, Sonic reinventing Sonic, and Atari awakening like a sleeping giant. There’s more to tell, but you’ll just have to wait for the stories to unfold in our upcoming E3 feature over the next few weeks.

The best thing about E3 is the surprises. This year Sony upped the ante with exclusive EA sports titles, such as the wildly enjoyable "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004". At the Sony press conference, Cedric the Entertainer challenged Tiger Woods, who beamed in via satellite, to a round of virtual golf through the new on-line title. At the end of the showdown Cedric came out victorious with his PS2 persona doing a victory dance, while Tiger laughed it off. There’s always next time Tiger. Along with the announcement of their new portable game system, Sony let us gaze upon their new "EyeToy", a camera that reads your body movements and places them into a videogame.

There had been a lot of talk about videogame sequels before E3 started and there were no disappointments there. Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) President Doug Lowenstein said at the beginning of E3 that, “The question is whether we innovate and advance the art form.” The answer all around was a resounding “yes”! And it’s what people want. A Nintendo representative at E3 told us that though gamers love new concepts, they still like to see the old games come back or see sequels. He told us tens of thousands of e-mails from Mario fans flooded Nintendo, asking for the company to bring “Super Mario 3” back and on to the GameBoy Advance. The press alone erupted in applause during the Nintendo press conference when they saw “Metroid” appear in a video montage.

Atari attracted a lot of attention using movie sequels, such as “Terminator 3” to add to their new games coming soon, but best of all, they’ve teamed up with Sid Meier’s Firaxis Games to bring back “Pirates!”, a classic adventure where you make a career for yourself as a pirate. Good timing Sid. Atari hosts Civilization too, coming at you with a number “III”. There seems to be great anticipation for this one. We noticed that only a couple days after E3, gamers wanting a web video preview of the game had to wait almost an hour in an e-line to see it–and this was at midnight.

3 also appeared at Konami’s booth with “Metal Gear Solid 3”–a vibrant forest adventure that brings Rambo to mind and drew so many fans that some of us had to employ a few of Solid Snake’s sneaking techniques to move around. Snake may appear in #3 exclusively on the PS2, but he makes a show on the Gamecube in an impressive redux of Metal Gear Solid, called “The Twin Snakes.”

Looking for a place to cool down after visiting the South Hall, Nyko was there with the Wireless "Airflo" gamepads–that amazingly work well and look really cool. Just don’t forget where you put it. Also awesome was their new PC version of the Airflo that looks just like a PS2 gamepad and includes vibration. The best part though is it has the easiest install possible. Plug it in!

Plugging in at Capcom we saw Megaman all over. 15 years have passed and the little guy is still going strong. Megaman didn’t want to hog all the glory at the booth, so we had a look at the fish frenzy game “Pro Cast”. Available for the Xbox, develop a strategy and see if you got the gear to take on the legend of the big mouth Bass.

Talking about big now, we noticed something big brewing in the air. Project Gotham Racing 2, Rare Games, and a green glowing booth with the giant letters “UK” marked a British invasion at E3. The third largest game developer in the world, the U.K., and U.K. inspired titles presented themselves boldly this year…

So stay tuned as we present the highlights of E3 in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, check out the Official E3 site for hard-core gamers, “E3 Insider”.