: PSX Extreme Roundtable Discussion (Week 1)

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PSX Extreme Roundtable Discussion (Week 1)

For the past nine years, the Electronic Entertainment Exposition has been the biggest and boldest showcase of all that is good in gaming. With more games than you can shake a stick at jam packed into the Los Angeles Convention Center, E3 is lots of fun to say the least. It's also a lot of work! The PSX Extreme staff sacrificed their bodies, minds and souls to bring you the best coverage possible, and in our E3 wrap up we took some time to give you, the reader, our personal impressions of the show. For this feature, Senior Editor Peter Skerrit was kind enough to act as moderator for our roundtable discussion by asking the rest of us some intelligent questions.

Peter Skerrit- Senior Editor says:
Before we get into specifics, what were your basic impressions of this year's E3, in a few sentences?

Arnold Katayev- Editor-in-Chief says:
Well, the amount of good games certainly cast a well and round shadow over the amount of poor games at the show. Last year's show was riddled with mediocrity. 

Peter says:
So you were impressed, Arnold?

Arnold says:
Oh, yeah. The leap was welcome.

Matt Stensrud- Executive Editor says:
Overall, I was quite impressed with the amount of kiosks and playable games, along with the ability to play almost any title within minutes. The presentation aspect provided by most companies was excellent and it wasn't over pressuring in any way in terms of PR relations.

Ryan Hartmann- Managing Editor says:
I'm with Arnold on this one. The games at this year's expo were, on a whole, far superior to last year. I also think the expo had a much more professional feel to it this year. I was very impressed.

Arnold says:
Professional...with the exception of a few baby carriages here and there at Nintendo's booth. 
(I'm so dead)

Peter says:
Now, now... 

Peter says:
OK, next question.

Arnold says:
Couldn't help it. Continue.

Peter says:
All right... I think we've got a consensus early on. That's a good sign. What was, in your individual opinions, the biggest surprise of the show? 

Arnold says:
While I can't say I was "surprised" when Ken Kutaragi (President, Sony Computer Entertainment) made the announcement -- it was definitely the PSP. I was more gleeful than I was shocked. I had a feeling that's why Kutaragi came out in the first place. 

Peter says:
What gave you that impression?

Arnold says:
Well, I had heard rumbles about it here and there, and then as soon as Kutaragi said he'd be welcoming a new member to the Playstation family, it just clicked. 

Peter says:
OK. Fair enough. 

Matt says:
Hmm...well, I was shocked when Arnold told me about the PSP, so that would probably have to be my choice. In terms of announcements, there wasn't much else that surprised me. 

Ryan says:
I'm going to have to go with Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. I really didn't have much hope for this title until I got a chance to play through the game, and it took me about three minutes to pick my jaw up off the floor. It was simply amazing.

Peter says:
Which publisher, in your opinion, made the strongest splash at the show, and why?

Arnold says:
This is not even debatable in my mind - Sony, by far. The amount of incredible games they had was astonishing. God knows how long I played Gran Turismo 4. I was in awe when playing Socom II. I played all of the Jak II kiosks, only because each one had a different stage running. The list goes on. The only Sony game I didn't really think much of was Rise to Honor. It just screamed "Bruce Lee". That is, of course, excluding the 989 Sports games.

Matt says:
For me, it comes down to EA and Sony. Electronic Arts absolutely awed the crowd with its presentation and amount of games. With the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King immediately hitting you, along with 007: Everything or Nothing also being presented, you were immediately in shock. Their sports presentation was comparable to none, not even SEGA. Also, their giant screen really made an impact throughout the show. However, Sony also really wowed me.

Ryan says:
Definitely Konami. They had a good booth last year, but this year they simply dominated. With titles like Castlevania, Twin Snakes, Gradius V, Cy Girls, and of course Snake Eater, it was hard not to be impressed.

Peter says:
Although I was not at the show, I do agree with Ryan here. From my perspective, with the games that were announced and the media I saw, I'm very much looking forward to Konami's lineup. 

Matt says:
In just terms of impressions and overall impact, I'd put EA and Konami ahead of Sony.... however, Sony did have an abundance of amazing games.

Peter says:
Fair point, Matt... sometimes it's hard to choose just one. 

Arnold says:
That's true. Sony's booth was easy to get around and it was easy on the eyes. Konami and EA were eye-candy galore.

Peter says:
Anything else on this topic before we move on?

Arnold says:
Too bad EA didn't let us play SSX Tricky. Appointment only...pffftt.

Matt says:
Yeah 

Arnold says:
I'm done.

Ryan says:
Yes, Sony did have an impressive amount of quality games, but Konami had a handful of titles that were just amazing. You could always tell when they were playing the Snake Eater trailer, because foot traffic at Konami's booth came to a stand still. It was the only booth where people camped out to see the game trailers.

Arnold says:
It was rather amusing, if you ask me. 

Peter says:
Thanks, everyone. Next question. Was there something that you were expecting to see at this year's show, and were disappointed to not see it?

Arnold says:
Hmm...Final Fantasy XII. I was asking myself that throughout the whole show. Final Fantasy XII was nowhere to be found. It is in development, so I was rather baffled when it didn't show.

Matt says:
SSX3...that's all I can think of.

Ryan says:
I was really hoping to see another Mark of Kri title. The first one was so amazing, and I was a bit disappointed when Sony didn't have anything on the game at the show. Of course, considering the poor sales of the first game, it wasn't really surprising.

Arnold says:
Well, Sony was planning on releasing two more Kris. But they axed all of that, because Mark of Kri sold so poorly. 

Arnold says:
That didn't surprise me at all.

Peter says:
All right, here's a good one for you: Give us your E3 Show Stinkers, up to three each. 

Arnold says:
Well, it's rather hard to judge, as all of these games aren't quite "finished", but The Fast and the Furious gets a nod. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was downright bad, and (insert any 989 Sports game here) sucked.

Matt says:
American Idol is terrible. NBA Jam also.

Ryan says:
True Crime certainly springs to mind. The game is still full of serious problems that aren't likely to get ironed out before it's current fall release date, so I'll be surprised if it doesn't get delayed again. 

Matt says:
Wow, I'm surprised. I didn't play it, but I heard it was really good.

Peter says:
Wow, it's interesting that you mention that title.

Arnold says:
So many people actually thought True Crime was good. I didn't think so.

Ryan says:
The premise of the game is VERY intriguing- a HUGE game world, full of all the usual every day crimes, however the hand to hand combat was sluggish, the graphics were fairly jagged, and the overall physics were incredibly poor. 

Arnold says:
Different strokes for different folks. I'm with Ryan.

Peter says:
Interesting points, guys. 

Matt says:
I was disappointed somewhat with Spawn. Hopefully it comes around in development a little more.

Arnold says:
Yes, Spawn was bad.

Arnold says:
That game screamed "licensed hack job!"

Matt says:
Glad I wasn't the only one who thought so...

Peter says:
OK, guys, it's nitty-gritty time. Time for your individual picks for Top 5 games at the show. Please list them, with a very brief description as to why you chose that game. 

Arnold says:
In no particular order, these are my top 5 - 

Gran Turismo 4: Ridiculously good looking. Unbelievably addictive. Tighter and better physics. The course design is to die for. My favorite game of the show -- bar none.

Sonic Heroes: Wow. I was so pleasantly surprised when I played Sonic Heroes. I was expecting nothing more than a glorified Sonic Adventure game with prettier visuals. But, what I got was a superb looking and playing game that is every bit as addictive as it looks. 

Socom II: Take the original Socom and multiply that by 10 -- no exaggeration. Socom II is leaps above the original. Sharper visuals, dozens of new features, larger environments, and improved online gameplay. Come on, who doesn't want that?

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence: It's part Rygar and part Devil May Cry. It looked flat-out wonderful. The action itself was fast paced and well done. Konami definitely did this Castlevania title the way it should be done on a next-gen platform like the PS2. 

Jak II: There was an abundance of platform titles at the show, but Jak II was the one that stood out among the rest. The game plays incredibly well. The controls were tight as hell. The new action elements are awesome, not to mention, the new objectives added to the game. 

Matt says:
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: The game not only plays as amazing as last year's version with The Two Towers, it has improved the story aspect and playable characters. Fans of the LOTR series owe it to themselves to play this game, and it also was the top action title overall at E3

Madden 2004: EA has outdone itself again and has optimized one of the top sports titles on the market. The improved franchise aspects and quality gameplay has set the game above all other competition. With superb graphics and the most accurate representation of professional football, Madden 2004 is easily one of the top sports titles available.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence: Another notch in Konami's belt, Lament of Innocence is truly amazing. It has managed to capture the tradition of the series, while adapting the aspects desirable today. While it appears to adopt some gameplay features from Devil May Cry, it has set itself aside as a completely unique experience.

Gran Turismo 4: Without a doubt, GT4 sets the standard for all race titles. With GT3 still playing better than many of the newest racing titles released, GT4 has created an even higher bar for games to shoot for. With possibly the best graphics seen at E3 and the same amazing gameplay style that is known to the series, GT4 will be the racing title to own in 2004. 

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004: For avid fans of golf titles, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 is easily at the head of its class. There simply is no other golf game that can compare to the features and quality of the game, as it even competes with the top sports games amongst all categories. With precision control and customized characters, Tiger Woods PGA Tour is an absolute joy to play. Personally, NCAA Football is my favorite title, but it didn't quite improve itself from last year to get a top spot.

Ryan says:
NFL Blitz Pro: Midway took a big risk on creating a more simulation-like feel with Blitz, but I think it's going to pay off. The game retains that Blitz attitude, but with more simulation for the hardcore football fans.

Gradius V: 2D shooters have been sparse lately, but Gradius V could be the title that brings back the glory days of space shooters with what could be the best installment in the Gradius series to date.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence: By far the best PS2 exclusive title this year, it blends the classic Castlevania feel with a Devil May Cry attitude that is hard to resist. I wouldn't be surprised if Lament of Innocence became the most critically acclaimed Castlevania title to date.

Legacy of Kain: Defiance: This has always been one of my favorite series, and I almost wet my pants the first time I played Defiance at E3. After playing Soul Reaver 2 back in 2001, I started wondering “Wouldn’t it be cool if Crystal Dynamics made a sequel where you could play as both Raziel and Kain?” Apparently Crystal Dynamics thought the same thing, because Defiance will finally bring Nosgoth’s two baddest vampires together in what looks to be the best Legacy of Kain title to date.

Soul Calibur 2- As amazing as the first Soul Calibur was, this second installment improves upon it in every way imaginable. With new characters, new moves, enhanced graphics, and controls so perfect it's almost stupid, Soul Calibur 2 is in position to become the best fighter ever made, and was definitely the best game at the expo. 

Peter says:
All right, those were all playable games at the show. What title or titles impressed you that you couldn't play or weren't playable?

Arnold says:
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Words cannot express how badly I want to experience this game. I can almost see myself awing in surprise from some plot twist featured in the game. 

Matt says:
Tony Hawk's Underground: While the series is one of the top selling amongst all franchises, development has decided to completely overhaul the game with a new story mode and aspects that completely set it apart from the previous games in the series. This game is simply hard core and is not a sequel in any manner.

Peter says:
How about you, Ryan? Anything different, or are you in agreement?

Arnold says:
I bet Ryan agrees with my MGS3 sentiments. 

Ryan says:
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: It's hard to put into words how impressed I was with this trailer. All of my favorite MGS gameplay packed into a brand new package with a new attitude all its own. Hands down, this trailer stole the show, and for very good reason.

Arnold says:
Hahah, ding!

Peter says:
How prophetic, Arnold. OK, fellas, last question. Evaluate the next year in the PS2 lifecycle, based on what you saw at E3. Will the PS2 continue its current success, build on it, or perhaps come back to the pack a little bit? Please give us some reasons why, too. 

Arnold says:
I see no reason why the PS2's momentum will stop anytime soon. The amount of incredibly solid franchises on the PS2 will continue to push the console. The PS2 is only 3 years old and it's already sold nearly 55 million units, and now, Sony announces a new PS2 model bundled with a network adapter, and with the PSP coming out in the future...forget it. This race was over before it started.

Matt says:
The PS2 will continue its success with the amount of quality games expected for release within the year. Although Microsoft is showing more potential each year, it still doesn't quite have the sheer amount of amazing titles on its upcoming games list. Nintendo has really disappointed me again with their lineup, so I find no way for them to even touch the PS2.

Ryan says:
What I am most impressed with is that Sony is not content to rest on their laurels. They know they have this console race wrapped up- they could easily just sit complacently and ride the hype. Instead, they are forging ever ahead, always trying to bring us the best content available. I don't see Sony losing any ground in the future. 

Peter says:
Excellent points, everyone. Thanks for your participation in this week's roundtable. If you want to know more about our E3 experience, pictures and impressions can be found on our website.

6/2/2003 PSX Extreme Staff

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