For those unfamiliar with the E3 (Electronic
Entertainment Expo), it is an industry-wide showcase meant to
introduce the newest video games that the public will be playing over
the next two years. Every year thousands of journalists, developers and
designers gather to be entranced by the newest technology while losing
their voices shouting over blaring video game music and dining on gamer
cuisine such as bacon-wrapped hotdogs. This May’s E3 elicited frenzied
anticipation over several titles scheduled to dazzle audiences later this
Heroes of Science
As the sequel to the critically acclaimed 1998 first person shooter,
Half-Life 2 is one of the most anticipated PC titles
to be released this year. In the original Half-Life, a player assumes
the role of Gordon Freeman, a scientist conducting secret experiments
at the Black Mesa Research Facility. When these experiments go awry, the
research facility becomes overrun with alien creatures and government
forces trying to cover up the situation. It is your job to stop this invasion
and escape the research facility alive.
In Sierra Entertainment’s Half-Life 2, players again
assume the role of scientist/hero Gordon Freeman. Although little information
about the story has been released, we do know that it will take place
in a fictitious European city known as City 17, and there are more aliens
to battle against. With five years of development going into this sequel,
a lot of work has been put into following the successful footsteps of
the original. From early previews of the game, it looks like they are
on the right track. Look for Half-Life 2 to hit store shelves in late
Bionicle – the Game
Riding on the success of their popular LEGO Bionicle
product line, LEGO and EA Games are set to introduce
brand new content in the form of a video game, animated movie and a multitude
of product tie-ins. Bionicle - the Game
lets fans of the Bionicle series take control of six different Toa characters
from the Bionicle universe. Players will use the unique elemental powers
of each character to solve puzzles, rescue villagers and defeat enemies.
Special extras will include art galleries, “Making of Bionicle – the Game”
and a sneak peak at 2004 products. Bionicle - the Game will be available
for the PC and all major game consoles this fall.
The first movie based on the Bionicle franchise, Bionicle: Mask of
Light, is a 70 minute CGI animated movie based on the adventures
of the Bionicle characters. Mask of Light will be released directly
to VHS and DVD formats this September.
Are You Ready for Some Football?
When most people think of football video games, they think of EA
Sport's Madden series. Last year's Madden game outsold all other
competitors’ titles by a hefty margin. This year, EA Sports is looking
to continue their domination with new features, better graphics and improved
online play. Players in this year’s Madden will look more lifelike with
new animations, hairstyles and tattoos.
For 2004, Madden is introducing a new “owner mode,” which lets the gamer
control not only his team, but also other business responsibilities including
hiring staff members, pricing merchandise and even building a custom stadium
in the city of your choice. The new owner mode is also detailed enough
to allow you to pick the menu at the stadium and price each individual
food item. Madden 2004 will be heading to store shelves
this August for the PC and all game consoles.
The Soul Still Burns
The Fourth installment in the "Soul" series by Namco,
Soul Calibur II is yet another refinement to this unique
fighting-game series. In 1996, Namco released Soul Edge to arcades. Unlike
the average arcade fighting game where bulging muscles and fists are key
to victory, Soul Edge focused on an intricate weapon-based fighting system.
Set in the 16th century, Soul Edge follows a handful of warriors both
good and evil in their quest for the "Soul Edge," a demon sword
believed to hold great power.
Soul Caliber II
In Soul Calibur II, the battle continues for the Soul Edge. New warriors
have emerged to complement tried and true favorites. Exclusive for home
release is the inclusion of special characters for each game console.
Playstation 2 owners will have Heihachi from the Tekken
series, Xbox owners get Todd McFarlane’s
Spawn and Gamecube players can use Link
from The Legend of Zelda. In addition, the home version
of Soul Calibur II will contain a plethora of extras and unlockables to
keep fans busy for hours. Soul Calibur II will be available in the US
for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube this August.
Live the Fantasy...Online!
For the first time in its long history, the Final Fantasy
series is moving into the online realm with Final Fantasy XI.
As with similar online RPGs like Anarchy Online or Everquest,
players start the game by creating their own character. Character customization
options include height, weight, sex, hair color, facial features and race,
as well as a variety of different creatures: Elvaan, Humes, Galka, Mithra
and the cute, magical Tarutaru.
Final Fantacy XI
After your character is created, it's off to do battle in the medieval
land of Vana'diel, an online world that allows hundreds of players to
interact at a given time. When you start out, your character will be weak
and only able to take on small creatures. However, Final Fantasy XI focuses
on teamwork between online players. Up to six players can join together
to take on larger monsters impossible to defeat alone. In addition, three
parties can join in an alliance of up to 18 characters. Final Fantasy
XI has been available in Japan since May of 2002 and recently received
an expansion pack. The US version of the game will include the expansion
pack as an added bonus. Final Fantasy XI is expected to ship for the PC
and PS2 in early 2004.