Report on E3 Atlanta 98


Le Boss of QUANTIC DREAM gives you a piece of his mind

Report on E3 Atlanta 98

I am one of the fortunate ones who were lucky enough to attend E3. In between Omikron demo sessions at the Eidos stand, I managed to have a look about the place for good games coming up. Which of course gave me the opportunity to criticize the competition (my favorite pastime) and declare to one and all that I've had a bellyful clones!
by David CAGE

For those who missed out on the previous episodes, here's the basic principle behind clones: one team had an original idea that earned a lot of money. The competition, who didn't have any original ideas at all, thought they too could make lots of money with the same idea because it's been tried dand tested and everyone will go for it. The incredible thing is - it works!

The great classics in the genre are "Doom-like" (or "Quake-like", or "Duke-like" or "Kill-em-all-in-a-dark-corridor-like"). This year again, they were out in force: Unreal, Daikatana and the rest. Only "Duke Nukem For Ever" seemed to stand out from the crowd of lookalikes.

The recipe is simple: take a few uncomely looking and preferably aggressive monsters, stick 'em in some dark corridors, add a subjective camera and ten thousand weapons, spice the lot with post-apocalyptic mystico-technologico design, not forgetting multicolored special effects all over the place, shake well, and you too can have a "Doom-like" (or "Quake-like" or "Duke-like" or "whatever-like").

Just in case there's anyone who doesn't get the message, it's a genre I don't like.

This type of game is based on the principle of "nothing new, just more of the same, only bigger and better". Nothing very exciting, although there are dozens of new ideas just waiting to be invented.

And now we have Tomb Raider-like. It was only to be expected that the success of Lara Croft would not leave the competition indifferent. Several titles have appeared with dolls in shorts stalking through dark caverns. It's interesting to note that although Doom-likes (or Quake-likes or see above) appeared quite quickly, the Tomb-likes took a while to make their appearance, with Core already on Tomb 3, whereas the first of the "like" brigade are just beginning to appear. One of the main reasons for this is no doubt that this genre is more difficult because you have to manage animation and cameras, which is by no means plain sailing (and I speak from experience).

I won't even bother to talk about C&C-likes, there have been so many of them in the last two years. 3D hasn't really done much for the genre so far (Westwoood's Tiberian Sun ignored it), and instead of innovation we find imitation.

For all of these genres, only the first team with the idea had any talent. The rest are just sheep, and in it for the business (it takes all sorts).

But there were also some interesting things at E3. I finally managed to see Zelda 64, which looks really great, Dreamworks' Lost World 2 with a very impressive physical engine.

In the sequels I liked SoulCalibur (sequel to Soul Edge), Tiberian Sun, Duke Nukem For Ever, Crash Bandicoot 3 and Oddworld 2.

Just a word about Oddworld, with yet again a magnificent introductory film sequence and a game which, though it doesn't introduce any major
revolutions (still in 2D), promises yet again to be a success - with simultaneous management of several characters (if you hit one, pandemonium breaks out, absolutely hilarious).

Metal Gear Solid was a little disappointing: really not very beautiful and the manipulations are strange to say the least. I didn't play for long enough to get a good idea of the game. It's no doubt great when you play for long enough.

Among the direct competition for Omikron I saw Outcast, brilliantly marketed by Infogrames, who spared no expense. It's really beautiful, particularly the music by a composer of film music with a symphonic orchestra. It's also got the most beautiful water ever seen in a video game, with reflections and wavelets.

Just one problem: the game turns over slowly on PII 400 in 400x300 resolution. No console or 3D card version possible.
In the preview department, Messiah was presented on invitation at the Interplay stand. In spite of all my efforts and having tried all my contacts I still couldn't manage to get an invitation. So I had to make do with rumors, which say that the engine is really something but that it's difficult to understand where the game fits in.

The constructor prize must surely go to Sony, with a gigantic stand and an impressive amount of new products.

Nintendo is still sadly short of titles, in spite of the arrival of the excellent Zelda 64.

Sega was mostly showing PC games - strange. No sign of Dreamcast on the horizon with a public presentation (some journalists told me they got backstage and were very impressed). Just one or two Saturns hovering in corners.

Autor: David Cage
Source: Quantic Dream
Language: English

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What does the future have in store for independent developers?
How to Sell a Game.
Report on E3 Atlanta 98.

ReportSaturday, August 22, 1998

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