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X-Planations #2: E3 Wrap-Up
Written By: Nick Arvites

My comments on Microsoftís showing at E3 2002 can be summed up with only one word: Wow! Yes, it is hard to describe how great their showing was without writing pages and pages, so Iím just going to elaborate on a few reasons why I thought Microsoft one-upped the competition and then move on to why I think the competition choked this year.

Reason number 1: Xbox Live

Xbox Live looks and will soon prove to be the first step into the console online generation. $50 bucks gets you a game and a yearís subscription. The voice-chat thing looks really cool and the supported game list grows longer with every new game announced. Only downside at the moment is the need for a broadband connection. However, cable internet prices are falling and can actually be found for 10-15 bucks more than services like AOL or MSN. Online gaming presents a major opportunity for both gamers and developers and Microsoft is trying to tap the full potential right out of the gate. Features for the launch version of Xbox Live include match-ups based on skill or speed, voice chat, tournaments and rankings. This plan is easily the end-all console online plan and skunks anything Nintendo or Sony is trying to do. The built-in Ethernet card will ensure that Xbox is the automatic console of choice for anyone interested in online multiplayer.

Reason number 2: The Exclusives

Exclusives make the console. Xbox certainly does not lack in multiplatform titles, but there was some question as to the value of their exclusives. E3 silenced all of those doubts. First and foremost, the most shocking development to many people was Tecmoís announcement of a new Ninja Gaiden game exclusively on Xbox. Ninja Gaiden was one of the more popular series on the NES and many had speculated (due to a public poll on the Tecmo site that indicated this) that Ninja Gaiden would return on the Nintendo Gamecube. To those who said it would never happen on Xbox, I say (in my most Simpson-esque voice): HA-HA! More screens and info was released on other anticipated 3rd party exclusive titles such as Panzer Dragoon. However, Microsoftís internal gaming division continued to shine. Mech Assault looks to bring the almighty shoot-the-giant-robot series Mechwarrior to the console world. Although it does drop the simulation feel of the PC titles, it looks visually amazing and allows you to drive 100-ton mechs into cities to destroy everything in sight. Crimson Skies is also being brought to the console world. Crimson Skies was a flight simulator from Microsoft Games released a few years ago on the PC. What separated it from the thousands of other simulations out there were the larger than life characters and the cool looking planes (think of some of the planes seen in the movie "The Rocketeer" or in the now classic Disney TV show "Tailspin"). If the cool planes werenít enough, the game also requires you to dogfight in style. This means you have to perform stunts as well as shoot down your opponents. With features like this, it is no wonder that Crimson skies is a popular title.

Ok, moving on:

Why did the competition suck?

Nintendo: Some may argue that Nintendo actually "won" at E3 by releasing screens of Retro Studiosí Metroid and by releasing screens of Celda. However, Nintendoís info at E3 reminds me of an early Upright Citizens Brigade episode in which a guy looks into the Bucket of Truth to look up and scream out "I ALREADY KNEW THAT!" Nintendo had nothing shocking and nothing groundbreaking. Iím so sorry if Celda screens donít make my week. Woop-de-doo. Celda and Metroid. Ya know what? Iím going to get a GBA so I can get a side-scroller Metroid that isnít being ruined by Retro-Crap Studios.

Sony: Again, nothing groundbreaking. Sure, some online plans, some game announcements, but nothing really major in terms of announcements, plans or exclusives. Sony disappointed me in a huge way and I really see a poor fall for the PS2 in terms of games.

So on the letter grade scale:

Microsoftís E3: A+
They did everything they had to. This yearís gonna rock.

Nintendoís E3: C-
Nice pictures, but nothing special.

Sonyís E3: D+
Boring. I found myself not really caring about anything the market leader had to say.

While Iím at rankings:

Spider-man: A+

Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones: C
Horrific acting, lame plot trying to cover up Episode I and George Lucas needs to realize that CGI is not at the point to where it can integrate with real people and environments. Every thing in that movie looked fake except for Tatooine.

What Iím playing:

Spider-man the Movie (Xbox)
See the review on XGF...

Xwing vs TIE Fighter (PC)
Fun fun, get it in a bargain bin.

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC)
Needs a patch to address stability problems...great game regardless.

Got a gripe? Send it to the XGF Mailbag.

Posted: 6-12-02
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