E3 2002 is finally over and gaming is moving rapidly into a dangerous place... ports. Everywhere you looked, there was a port. Developers are porting their games on to as many systems as possible. While at first glance this may appear as a good thing, it leaves only a few exclusive titles. For example, TimeSplitters 2 is coming over to the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox. When I spoke to developer Free Radical Design and asked them if they felt porting the title over to every system ruined the gaming industry, the told me that "...just because a person buys a Playstation 2 and not an Xbox or GameCube doesn't mean we should punish him and not release the game on his system. I say, let the console manufacturers worry about the problem and developers will continue to make sure our games are played by as many people as possible."
While I agree that developers should not be forced into making exclusive games--perhaps it is time for Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft to open up their checkbooks and pay off certain developers to keep a few exclusive third party titles exclusive on their system. However, this practice doesn't always work. Microsoft paid Shiny millions of dollars to develop the first Matrix based game on the Xbox first. All was proceeding as planned until Shiny was sold to Infogrames. After the sale, Infogrames announced that the Matrix based games will not be exclusive to any single system and be released at the same time on all platforms.
Also, Microsoft secured exclusive rights to Dead to Rights. However, after speaking with Namco, we found out that it is only exclusive to the Xbox for three months until it comes home to the other consoles.
Companies like Sega and LucasArts have been bringing only certain titles to specific consoles. This practice seems to work best and I wish other publishers and developers would do this too. However, if the companies choose to port the title over to all platforms--please do us all a favor and give some sort of unique feature in each version.
Looking around the show for three days was a very tiring experience. Apart from running back and forth between appointments, I found very few titles that stood out. It seems we have reached a point in the game industry where graphics, music, sound, and gameplay are all almost the same. You have to look really deep and play the games for some time before you find the true gems. The good thing is that from the titles we saw at the show, most games coming out this year will be good, solid titles. So there should be fewer really bad titles... and that is always a good thing.
I was personally impressed with a few things. Nintendo had a great lineup. With a new $149.99 price point, a Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Mario Party IV, Star Fox, and Eternal Darkness titles just around the corner, gamers will definitely want to pick up the ‘Cube if they haven't done so already.
Xbox was all about Xbox live. That is great if you have broadband but I am having a hard time recommending the system to those who don't have broadband. Xbox Live goes online August 26.
Sony had a multitude of great platformers and an awesome looking GTA3 clone called The Getaway. This title could be one of the biggest hits of the year.
Moving to the third parties, Codemasters has some great titles coming out--including Mike Tyson's Boxing, Dragon Empires, and Prisoner of War.
Blizzard also had a very nice looking Worlds of WarCraft--their online title--and the single player version of WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos. Blizzard promises War 3 should be available at retail in June. I guess we can wait a few more weeks since we have already been waiting around several years for this title.
Speaking of delayed titles, I was shown an almost complete Eternal Darkness. For those of you who lost a lot of sleep because of Dungeon Siege BEWARE! Eternal Darkness is best described as Dungeon Siege on crack--with gameplay and an editor you won't believe until you see it.
Westwood Studios had demos of both Command & Conquer Generals and their online title Earth and Beyond behind closed doors. Both titles look excellent and may totally redefine their respective genres.
However, the biggest disappointment was LucasArts. As we were finishing up our appointments at E3, we saw all of the incredible titles they were working on. When we went to have Star Wars Galaxies shown to us, E3 2002 was over and they turned off the demo machine right when we went to see it. As we left, LucasArts poured Champaign in celebration of the successful show and we left saddened that we missed seeing possibly the biggest online game at the show...
There was just too much to see and do at E3 2002. While my feet will probably be sore for a month due to all the walking, 2002 is going to be a big year for games. While few titles may stand out as in previous years--rest assured we will be giving you insights to what titles you should buy and which ones you should not bother playing. So keep reading CV-Games for the latest information you need and we promise to continue giving you a reason to come back.