E3 vs. Jake: E3 wins.
Jake's mad rambling report on LucasArts and the showfloor scene at the Electronics Entertainment Expo 2000, Los Angeles, California.
E3 hurts. I'm not saying it was bad (nothing involving the most anticipated unreleased games, piles of free stuff, booth babes, and food can be bad), but it just hurt. Punching your way through roaming packs of programmers and reporters to get from booth to booth definitely tires you out, but you get to see some sweet sweet games. Some of my favorites were Myst III: Exile and Myst Dimension, Warcraft III, Paper Mario, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Halo, and of course the fine products being shown (behind closed doors, which were for some reason opened for me) by LucasArts.
LEC had an impressive (most impressive) offering at this years E3, showing eight new releases, six of them completely new titles (two of them ports to new platforms). I didn't have the time to take an extensive look at all of them, I did get quick looks at Battle for Naboo at the Nintendo booth (see screenshots), Super Bombad Racing, which looks fun although it appears to be a more detailed Mario Kart running on the Episode I Racer engine, and at Obi Wan (the below Obi Wan report is written by my friend Ted who also E3 with me). I did, however, take more extensive looks at Episode I: Starfighter, the Indiana Jones Infernal Machine port to N64, and of course Escape From Monkey Island ...
Starfighter for Playstation 2
Episode I: Starfighter, the 'sequel' to Rogue Squadron, looks amazing - visually at least. Starfighter takes place at the same time of the Episode I movie, but the story is quite different, centering around three pilots (Rhys Dallows, piloting the Naboo fighter, Vana Sage and Nym piloting original ships not seen in the movie) brought together by their hate of the Trade Federation. During the course of the game you pilot the three different ships, which you gain access to through meeting the different pilots as you progress through the game.
The screenshots from Starfighter look almost exactly like Rogue Squadron, but once you play it you'll see that its a new beast altogether. The ships look gorgeous - the shading looks real, and the reflections on the metallic part of the body may very well send you running for the bathroom. And when you take the ship way up into the sky, and turn to look down at the ground it looks like you're looking at a texture, not at an entire level. But, as you progress closer you can make out tiny dots and lines flying around - the battle taking place waaay down near the ground! Progressing closer you can see that the little circle you saw up in the sky was in fact a full crater 4 times larger than your ship. If you liked Rogue Squadron you should like Starfighter.
Episode I: Obi-Wan
Episode 1: Obi-Wan takes Jedi Knight and crosses it with the Episode 1 game. I have played both games extensively and saw immediately how much Obi-Wan looks like Episode 1. The game is a third person shooter...err... lightsaber game that focuses on Obi-Wan instead of switching players every level as in Episode 1. The similarity lies in that the levels that you play look very much like some of the levels in Episode 1 and nothing like the levels from Jedi Knight. They have combined the game play from Jedi Knight and the graphics and level design from Episode 1.
LEC did not reveal much about the plot of the game however we do know the game centers around Obi-Wan's quest to become a Jedi during the time frame of The Phantom Menace. You can play as different characters, Qui-Gon Jinn, the Sith Lord, a bounty hunter, a destroyer droid and a few others in multiplayer mode. You have many of the same Jedi powers that you had in Jedi Knight, force push, force jump, and saber block.
The game brings another level of realism of a lightsaber battle with moves like cartwheels and improved graphics. LEC has not released the system requirements for this game except that a 3-D accelerator is required but from what I have seen I would certainly recommend an up-to-date system. They did not know the specification for the machine that they demonstrated the game on but the game play started to get choppy when the action got hot and heavy, however over all I will find this an entertaining game to play.
Infernal Machine for N64
Next up was Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine for Nintendo 64. It follows the same exact storyline as its PC counterpart, including all of the levels, cinematics, music and voices found on the PC version. In order to make it easily playable on a console some gameplay factors had to be changed though.
The first noticed addition to the gameplay is a little button map in the upper right corner, closely resembling the one in Zelda 64, showing inventory items bound to three of the C (yellow) buttons, and one to the green button (blue button is for practical purposes always jump). These are used to manage the large inventory Indy picks up along the way, and saves hassling with large button combinations (N64 doesn't have a full keyboard at its disposal). And, like Zelda, if an action like 'drop' or 'push' is needed the green button's icon changes to that action. Also for the ease of playing and to keep the button count down Indy will automatically climb ladders or vines if he walks up to them and continues to move forward.
Obviously Infernal Machine N64 isn't something to buy if you already own the PC version (unless you're an impossibly huge fan), but for people who prefer more action based games on the console, don't own a good enough PC, or have never heard of this Indy guy but liked Zelda a lot this should be heavily considered (I loved the PC version), or at least rented. Now ...
... moving on to the really important stuff