Specials: The most wonderful time of the year...
The PlayStation 2 always has an impressive slate of games come E3 time. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
and Gran Turismo 4
were unveiled last year to great applause and great anticipation. Those two games are on tap the show once again this year. But there are also a lot of smaller games this year that are being dwarfed by the shadows of several 800 pound gorillas.
Of course, the game everybody wants to know about is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
. For a game that currently only has a logo and a release date, there are an awful lot of questions. Will it be set in the past like Vice City or will it take place in the present? What new weapons and vehicles will show up? What kind of radio stations will flood the airwaves this time. Will it even appear at E3 at all?
Yes, rumblings around the industry seem to say that GTA: San Andreas might not appear at E3 and it might be delayed from it's planned November release. Other speculation speculates on this speculation that Rockstar started these rumors purposely to shock everyone with a huge San Andreas unveiling at E3.
To most people, Contra: Shattered Soldier was just another game that was added to the PlayStation 2 shelf of their favorite game shop two years ago. To fans of the side scrolling shooters of yore, Shattered Soldier was a pure recreation of a time in video game history we missed. With Neo Contra
, Konami is bringing the series back into 3D for the first time since the disastrous C: The Contra Adventure, but with a twist. Neo Contra is using an overhead pseudo-3D view that actually seems to look spiritually linked to the arcade classic Smash TV. And that is never a bad game to be compared to. With a preview trailer that shows more firepower than any previous 3D Contra effort and alien designs that are not a washed out polygonal/pixilated mess, I can see big things for Neo Contra. Or as big as a niche genre like side scrolling shooters (or pseudo-3D overhead shooters) can be in today's world.
This E3 will also feature the anti-thesis to Contra in the form of THQ's Destroy All Humans!
Destroy All Humans! puts you in the sparkly silver boots of a little green man named Crypto, who's goal is to wipe humanity off the map. He will do that by first infiltrating a human community and attempting to abduct as many humans as he can all the while evading various government agencies and the Tin Foil Hat Brigade, wackos that believe everything that Art Bell spews on his nightly radio show. After Crypto and company have probed enough humans, it'll be time to bring out the 1920s Style Death Ray and rain destruction on an unsuspecting metropolis. That will be accomplished by whipping around in a flying saucer and just holding down the "Fire" button as humanity flees in terror. The only real question will be if these two games can co-exist peacefully on my games shelf after they're released.
Another series that gets a well deserved sequel after being resurrected in 2002 is Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat: Deception
will feature online play, two mini-games (in the form of the Tetris-like MK Puzzle and the chess-like MK Chess) and a revamped Konquest mode that Midway says could stand on it's own as a full fledged Role Playing Game. A lot of gamers favorite Kombatants are returning for this go-around including Baraka, Mileena and Ermac. After keeping Deadly Alliance relatively simple, Midway has promised that Deception will include more blood and fatalities than ever before. Deception will also introduce the prospect of Kamikaze kills. After the MK voice intones "Finish Him!", if the player being finished can pull off his Kamikaze before the other player can punch in a Fatality, the loser will leap across the screen, kill his opponent and die. Now that's what I call Mortal Kombat.
While there are several sequels mentioned in this list, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent
uses such a broad definition of the word that it's probably giving the Webster's people seizures. Rogue Agent will explore the underbelly of the Bond world as players take on the role of a disgraced MI6 agent with a faux gold eye, nicknamed GoldenEye. As much as this crass and blatant cash grab bothers me, the idea of creating a Bond supervillain still intrigues me. In fact, it intrigues me so much that it almost makes me angrier that I'm not more angry about what I was originally angry about.
For all the bright, shiny new games with their polygons and bumpmapping and pixel shader effects that will be unveiled this year the old classics still can stand tall next to them. And Capcom knows this better than anybody. Two of Capcom's biggest series' are turning seventeen this year and while that's not considered a milestone birthday to many, the time is just right for a compilation.
The Mega Man Anniversary Collection
and the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection
are both currently on track for a July release and I for one am counting the days. The Street Fighter Collection will follow the lead of Mortal Kombat Trilogy in that it will not be a collection of individual games, but instead it collects every fighter in Street Fighter II's history into one game. And to make it even more complete, it will include every different version of each character from each game. For example, the Ken and Ryu of Street Fighter II are subtly different from the Ken and Ryu of Street Fighter II Turbo who are subtlety different from the Ken and Ryu of Super Street Fighter II. The collection will also include a new conversion of Street Fighter III: Third Strike with a special "cameo" by Chun Li.
The Mega Man Collection will include all eight games in the original Mega Man series: six from the NES, one from the Super Nintendo and the PSone/Saturn eighth game. If this weren't enough, the set will also include both Mega Man Power Fighters arcade games that were only released in Japan and more bonus videos, music tracks, interviews and artwork than you can shake a Leaf Shield at. The latest Mega Man X game wishes it could have this kind of good feeling behind it.
Finally, we come to the little handheld that could, Sony's PSP, the PlayStation Portable. Dubbed the "Game Boy Killer" before even so much as a concept drawing was revealed, Sony has let a little more slip out since that first press release last year. At the GDC this year the first game was unveiled, an action platformer known as Death Jr.
Concept drawings were also leaked at an earlier time and I gotta say, the PSP is looking very sleek. We also know that EA is apparently salivating over the chance to create games for Sony's little wonder. But the specs change almost daily depending on who you ask, how you interpret what they said and whether a butterfly is flapping it's wings in Tokyo. Sony has promised to blow the lid off everything about their handheld this year and that's really all there is to say about it.
This is by no means a complete list of games that PlayStation 2 owners will be able to check out at this year's E3. I'm sure a lot of people out there will argue, quite vocally, that it's not even a list of the most important PS2 games that could appear at the show. Let's not forget the aforementioned MGS3 and GT4. And then there's Silent Hill 4: The Room, Final Fantasy XII, Tekken 5, Jak III, Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal
and that's just scratching the surface. Who knows, maybe a little gizmo that Sony's been working on called the PlayStation 3 will appear. But I guess gamers the world over will get all the answers they crave soon because the show starts in less than twenty four hours.
23 hours and 59 minutes...
23 hours and 58 minutes...
23 hours and 57 minutes...