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Archive: E3: Dispatches

Posted at 6:15 PM ET, 05/12/2006

Windows Vista Aims to Get Gamers' Attention

Microsoft is doing something for Windows Vista that is usually only done with consoles -- releasing game titles concurrently with the new operating system.

They're calling them "spotlight titles" -- when Microsoft releases Vista (whenever that is; it's been delayed quite a few times), it will apparently have a lot of features built in specially for gaming. One is that that Xbox 360 controllers will work with PCs running it.

Microsoft will also release a wireless dongle that will make every 360 peripheral work with your computer. It will also use Auto Update to update your graphics drivers.

Some of these spotlight titles are Hellgate: London, Shadowrun, Crysis ... eight altogether, but they won't all be released on the same day.

Vista will have DirectX 10 integrated, although the games will also run on DirectX 9, so if you have an XP machine and haven't upgraded, you can still play them but they won't look as good.

One game they showed was Flight Simulator X. The demo has a national park -- I think it was Yellowstone -- and they showed an actual picture of what the park looks like in reality, then rendered the simulator with DirectX 9 -- it looked pretty darn good -- then in DirectX 10. I tell ya, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between that and the real picture if you didn't know to start with.

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Posted at 5:40 PM ET, 05/12/2006

My Top 10

1. Gears of War
2. Assassin's Creed
3. Mass Effect
4. Bioshock
5. Command and Conquer 3
6. Rainbow Six: Vegas
7. Mercenaries 2
8.Justice League Heroes
9. Crysis
10. Virtua Tennis 3

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Posted at 4:57 PM ET, 05/12/2006

Lost in Space

This is how you know it's getting near the end of the last day of E3. You're playing a sci-fi shooter game, right? With a bunch of other people? You ask what console the game is on, and then realize something: You are holding an Xbox 360 controller. You are in Microsoft's booth.

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Posted at 2:48 PM ET, 05/12/2006

Quotes From the Floor

Despite being the last day, the floor is still packed. Prior to the staff's opening of the doors, the crowds lined up outside, ready to rush in at the first possible moment. At 9 PT, the moment arrived and the group surged forward like the Running of the Bulls.

Some opinions from the show floor:

Eric Rodriguez, an Earthlink employee from Glendora, Calif.: "I'm definitely going to shell out the $700 for the PS3!" Said he's disappointed at the lack of Madden NFL games at Electronic Arts' booth. Also disappointed that there didn't seem to be an enormous improvement between the 2006 and 2007 versions.

Randolph D'Amore of Anaheim, Calif.: "The Wii blows everything out of the water this year. [The] controller is immersive, anyone can pick it up." Genuinely impressed by the Wii controller's ease of use for players of any age. "The Wii is the only real innovation this year."

Sean Levin of Topanga Canyon, Calif.: Commented that Final Fantasy XII seems to be a little out of date graphically... the Xbox 360's graphics are up to date. No real innovation from the Japanese markets, but the American markets are also guilty of this. Most of what's being seen tends to be very pretty versions of new games. He wants more online role playing games that "don't suck your life away."

Nelson Quintanilla of Irvine, Calif.: Excited about Battlefield 2142, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Crysis and Call of Duty 3. Liked the release of the PlayStation 3 and what they've done with it. "It's not that different from the old one."

Anonymous person catching his breath outside the Expo: "I'm really looking forward to the Wii. ... I was initially impressed with the PlayStation 3, but not with the price." Mentioned that he spends in excess of $5,000 per year on video games. Was disappointed that Nintendo didn't announce a set price or definite release date on the Wii. "I have it on reservation." Also, "the booth girls are great. ... I see their attire toned down, but I don't see a lack of them."

Debbie Fields and Maria Quintero, graduate students at UCLA: "The only females here really seem to be models and announcers," Fields said. She claimed she liked the Nintendo DS games and the Lord of the Rings Online game. "I like the quick puzzle and racing games," said Quintero, who mentioned a proclivity toward Sudoku and the casual Nintendo DS titles.

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Posted at 1:32 PM ET, 05/12/2006

Unreal and Stranglehold

Unreal Tournament 2007 -- coming early 2007. New tech, built from the ground up. Four main modes, new vehicles (shipping with three times more than previous game), new weapons and upgrades and firing modes. This game is going to rock. For PC and PS3.

John Woo Presents: Stranglehold -- Starring Chow Yun Fat. It incorporates all of the elements we have come to love about Woo movies. Big gun fights, bullets everywhere, massive debris -- total carnage. Everything in the world will be destructible. Visually stunning. Think Max Payne on steroids.

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Franchises Roll: Star Trek and Pirates of the Caribbean

Bethesda Softworks' meeting room was the nicest I've been to so far; it's like sitting in a movie theater. It's on the second floor of their booth -- four rows of plush seats, complete with cupholders. Nothing says "geek" like Star Trek, and geeks have been waiitng a very long...

By Bob Greiner | May 11, 2006; 05:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Madding Crowd

Complete mayhem on the PS3 floor, which is packed with wall-to-wall people. My closed-door meeting with Ted Price was a complete contrast, a nice relaxed atmosphere. Still, there's a huge contrast between the South Hall, where we have Sony and Nintendo, and the West Hall, with everyone else. It's much...

By Bob Greiner | May 11, 2006; 04:58 PM ET | Comments (2)

Bioshock on Xbox 360

This is the spiritual sucessor to the classic System Shock 2. Incredibly atmospheric, moody and some pretty disturbing looking enemies. Coming out in 2007. The demo was freaking rad. -- Tom Ham...

By Bob Greiner | May 11, 2006; 04:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

Hellgate: London

PC action RPG. Incredibly deep and robust. Think Diablo in London with wicked monsters and futuristic weapons. And speaking of Diablo, over 15 people who worked at Blizzard on Diablo are working on this game. It's going to rock. It has been in development for 2 1/2 years. Hopefully will...

By Bob Greiner | May 11, 2006; 03:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Gamer's Necessity: A Cold Can

Another cool gadget from Kentia Hall. Coolitsystems.com has a product calledl the Coolit Chiller, which solves a need that all gamers have: keeping beverages cold (gamers drink a lot of soda). It looks like a little hot plate almost -- it has a USB interface that you plug into your...

By Bob Greiner | May 11, 2006; 02:56 PM ET | Comments (0)

Assassin's Creed

Remember I said Gears of War was Best Action Game of the show? Well...I might have to change that. More after I spend more time with this one. -- Tom Ham...

By Bob Greiner | May 11, 2006; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (0)

Same Old Weirdness at E3

It was oen of those classic E3 moments. I'm standing in a crowded open hallway on the second floor of EA's booth waiting to see Army of Two. It's hot as Hell up there with all of the people and computers. And I look across the hall to Activision's booth...

By Bob Greiner | May 11, 2006; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (2)

What's New in the Basement?

I have a couple of high-profile meetings this morning -- my first one is with LucasArts. But then I plan to spend the rest of the day in Kentia Hall. The Convention Center is set up with two big halls -- the West and the South -- but there's another...

By Bob Greiner | May 11, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

We Mention a Skating Bulldog

Todd Hollenshead, chief executive of Id Software (the Doom and Quake guys), what are you looking forward to seeing? "Saturday." And the Nintendo Wii. The show has been chaotic for him, partly because Id's co-founder, programmer John Carmack, got stuck on a plane that was grounded for having a mechanical...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 09:42 PM ET | Comments (0)

Sony Online Shows Two New MMORPGs

Sony Online, the company that brought you EverQuest II and is now publishing Star Wars Galaxies and the Matrix Online showed two new MMORPGs, both of which should be playable by the end of the year, although they make no commitments. The first one is called Gods and Heroes: Rome...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 09:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

New Silent Hill Prequel for PSP

Just met with Konami -- they revealed details of their new Silent Hill title coming in 2007 for the PSP mobile platfrom. It's called Silent Hill: Origins -- that's sort of a working title -- and it's a prequel to all the Silent Hill games over the years. The premise...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 09:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

Conan, the Online Barbarian

I just got finished with a meeting with Funcom and they were showing off Age of Conan, a massive multiplayer online game to be released in the fourth quarter of this year. The game is interesting in the way they're going to release it. It's going to be played completely...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | May 10, 2006; 05:59 PM ET | Comments (1)

Jade Empire Getting Upgrade for PC

Since BioWare doesn't have a publisher yet for the PC version of Jade Empire, there are no deadlines, so the developers are making the game as perfect as they can before shopping it around. They shouldn't have any trouble -- it's the same story, but with new characters and new...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 05:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

Feeling Lucky at 'Dirty Harry' Event

It was obvious from the moment I walked into the main entrance of the Convention Center that the girls distributing the free magazines and Show Daily copies were more clothed than at previous E3s. I saw a few short skirts, but there certainly was less skin today off the show...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 04:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

Eve Online: Graphics Update, Plug-n-Talk Chat

Just met with CCP, company that makes Eve Online -- they have 120,000 subscribers right now, and for 2007 they're completely redoing the graphics engine for all spaceships. It looks really nice for an online game -- the game already looks gorgeous, but when you see the update compared with...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 04:44 PM ET | Comments (1)

And Then There Were Two ... Agatha Christie Adaptations

Got a look at two big new games in the adventure world from Dreamcatcher. One is another adaptation of an Agatha Christie book, using the same developer who made And Then There Were None for them. This time the subject is Murder on the Orient Express. It'll have all characters...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 04:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Look at EA Lineup

Had a meeting with EA. Checked Command and Conquer 3 (amazing visuals, too bad it's 2007). Army of Two looks promising. The PS3 sports stuff looked insane!!! Madden on PS3 is going to set the bar. Ubisoft has another killer app on their hands -- Assassin's Creed. From the same...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 03:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

Intel Demos Game-Boosting Chip

Got a look at Intel's new processor in action, set for release in the third quarter. David Tuhy, general manager for the company's desktop division, told me the new processor is designed specifically to make games run better, with about 40% higher performance, and on notebooks a little bit of...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 01:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

Into the Cave

Another E3 is upon us. The L.A. weather delivers another Hollywood performance -- not that I'll have much time to enjoy it. At 72 and sunny, it's the perfect pick-me-up before the long grueling day ahead. Highlights for today include a Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment news conference with Dirty Harry...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 01:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Activision News Conference

At an Activision event on Monday, saw Marvel Ultimate Alliance running on PS3. Showed off some rad, dynamic gameplay and some pretty wicked cinematics. PS3 is already impressing me. Vibrant textures and great lighting effects. Tony Hawk Downhill Jam, exclusive to Nintendo Wii. Looked cool. Good game for Tony Hawk...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 12:01 PM ET | Comments (1)

It Has Come to This ...

Paris Hilton is here at E3. She's got a game. Paris Hilton's Jewel Jam -- designed for mobile platforms by Gameloft -- lets players "manipulate on-screen diamonds in a grid and link them up together to see the actual gems." And of course, during gameplay, photos of Hilton and her...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (1)

Gearing Up for Game Day

I'm looking forward to interviews with George Harrison, Nintendo of America's senior vice president of marketing and Kaz Hirai, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. Also looking forward to being done with my column for tomorrow so I can actually play some games. Today's going to be pretty hectic....

By washingtonpost.com Editors | May 10, 2006; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Looking for PC News

Getting ready to head over for my first day at the show ... While most people at E3 today may be focusing on the new consoles -- probably trying to get to the playable PS3s that are rumored to be there -- I will be trying to concentrate mostly on...

By Bob Greiner | May 10, 2006; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Microsoft Gets in Gear

Microsoft showed off an incredible lineup of goose-bump-inducing games at its news conference. I'm going to call it now: Gears of War is my pick for Action Game of the Show. Other key announcements: Forza Motorsport 2 (this fall), Fable 2 (2007) and the biggest, Grand Theft Auto 4 coming...

By Bob Greiner | May 9, 2006; 04:19 PM ET | Comments (8)

Gates Pokes at PS3, Names GTA4 Release Date

Bill Gates himself showed up at Microsoft's news conference, saying the Xbox 360 would have a 10 million-unit lead over the PS3 before Sony's new console even gets out of the gate, and announcing that Grand Theft Auto 4 would be coming out for the 360 in October 2007. Gates...

By Bob Greiner | May 9, 2006; 04:09 PM ET | Comments (8)

Wii, Myself and I

I've had the first glimpse of what the rest of my year is going to be like. Every time the Nintendo folks say wee, I don't know whether they're saying the pronoun or the name of their machine. "wee will make things better" ... "wee will never sleep" ... Maybe...

By Bob Greiner | May 9, 2006; 02:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

Nintendo Impressions

Solid press conference. Reggie Fils-Aime (marketing head of Nintendo America) really knows how to pump up a crowd. The live demo of Zelda on the Wii was pretty cool, too. I was kinda bummed about the visuals. After seeing PS3's HD visuals, Wii's looked kinda weak. Looked like GameCube, honestly....

By Bob Greiner | May 9, 2006; 02:05 PM ET | Comments (12)

A Wii Problem

Nintendo is the underdog in these console wars, or so the conventional thinking goes. So you have to feel for the company when it was revealed that the new console was named Wii -- as in "yes" in French, as in a misspelling of "wee," as in "say what?" The...

By Bob Greiner | May 9, 2006; 01:37 PM ET | Comments (12)

What Will Microsoft, Nintendo Cook Up?

After last night's controller announcement from Sony, everyone seems to be wondering if Nintendo will have an equally surprising announcement up its sleeve. The applause for most of Sony's announcements was a little tepid. The Nintendo event is always a little more high energy, because Nintendo fans are ... a...

By Bob Greiner | May 9, 2006; 10:49 AM ET | Comments (6)

PS3 Impressions

As in years past, Sony put on a pretty impressive news conference. Once we got through the requisite Power Point presentations about how many units they've sold so far (over 100 million PS2s in the world) and how great PSP is, we got to see what we all came for...

By Bob Greiner | May 9, 2006; 04:32 AM ET | Comments (31)

PS3's Controller Conundrum

Ken Kutaragi, head of Sony Computer Entertainment, speaks Monday night at the Sony news conference in Los Angeles. (Chris Barylick for washingtonpost.com) The Sony press conference over and the free noshies consumed (Sony holds an excellent garden-style party on their main lot amid 10-story movie studios and ample security),...

By Bob Greiner | May 9, 2006; 02:42 AM ET | Comments (5)

PlayStation Answers -- and Questions

The Sony news conference is over, and everybody's hanging around in Sony's studio space, snacking on Sony's sushi and imbibing from Sony's open bar, asking the same questions: "Is that too much money to ask for a game console?" "Will this kill Nintendo?" Sony released its price points for the...

By Bob Greiner | May 8, 2006; 10:40 PM ET | Comments (4)

 

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