E3 2005 - Day 2
If day one at E3 was marked by electrical outages, day two had its own unique dilemmas: a very real shortage of time and an overload of games. Surprised? Don't be, for we started our day at Kentia Hall, a lower level area of the convention center that is crammed to the rafters with state of the art PC paraphernalia and more importantly, games everywhere -- including children's games, edutainment games and of course, adventure games. Every second was booked for the day, and that wasn't nearly enough time for all that we had to see and talk about. We split up into two groups at one point and then abandoned that option for cutting and running to get to just one more presentation. You want games? We saw (and missed) enough games to make anyone happy. What was more impressive than mere numbers, though, was the variety, innovation, and quality we saw around the floor.
Adventure games dead? Not at E3!
It would be way too easy just to list them all, and we never take the easy route. Nope, not us; not when there is a better way. So, after careful thought and consideration, here's AG's first (un)official Kentia Hall mini-Hype-o-meter. The order is entirely arbitrary and the games selected were picked at will, just in case you were wondering. Moving along to the first game on our hype-o-meter!
Runaway 2 was our top pick. From the first cinematic, when Brian throws Gina out of a plane over a Hawaiian lake -- for reasons the player doesn't yet understand -- Emily said she was back to the Runaway she loved the first time around. The sequel has the same interface fans loved originally, like the cursor changing from magnifying glass to hand in a puff of gray smoke, and the inventory in which Brian has free rein to comment on each of the items stuffed deep in his pockets. The sequel is faithful to the original in all the important ways, and any fan of the first game should be pleased with what the second game promises. The only downside is waiting for a publisher to localize this game in English.
Lost Paradise is next on our group list. Christina was surprised and impressed by the game, but even more so by the ambitious plans White Birds outlined. From what we have seen of Lost Paradise so far, it looks like it will follow in the footsteps of previous Benoit Sokal hits like Syberia and Amerzone. The art, graphics, scope of environments, and dedication to intricate characters and plot were all there. The sheer scope of their current project was something unexpected but very welcome. White Birds has taken a bold new approach, and has a schedule that includes the game, related graphics novels, movies and a brand new partner in their company. We will detail these plans later in our coverage and we think you will be happy with their direction. As Christina noted, it is a pleasure to see a fledgling company maintain the quality of their past successes, and even go a few steps further in other departments.
Tony Tough 2 looks to easily surpass the original, as it charmed us with a new spin on the little guy, Tony Tough. From the unique look of the game, which was inspired by Edward Hopper paintings, to the more sophisticated and genuinely funny dialogue, the game was fun -- fun to watch and fun to play. Berian thinks Tony Tough 2 is poised to be a worthy successor to the first game, with the same dark, humorous tone (although it's not averse to the occasional silly toilet humour gag) and surreal plot and setting. A few areas are being re-worked to eliminate some minor game flaws. Assuming they nail the translation quality and maintain that same level of care in the other areas of the game, this title will entertain fans of the original game and new players alike.
A demo of Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Himalaya Studios sharing their latest work
dtp's many adventure game offerings
Law & Order: Criminal Intent impressed us all. What we saw was high quality, innovative and true to the series. From a flexible, adaptive interface to a clever blend of emotive dialogue, and detailed, realistic graphics, this game was a hit. There will be more than a few surprises when AG provides extended coverage on this game in the near future. The only negative news is that Legacy Interactive doesn't plan to do another regular Law & Order game due to sluggish sales of the last title. For a consistently solid and enjoyable series, this is a bit depressing.
Metronome was debated up into the special packed preview room and all the way back out the door. It has a high-concept artistic look and feel, and it also features true innovation. What other word could be used for a game whose weapons, tools and devices are sounds in your "inventory". Berian wondered about the fine edge between action and adventure the game treads, saying "Action… adventure… which Metronome is is still undecided. What is certain, though, is that Metronome is unlike any other game released before. With a blend of innovative gameplay, unique art direction, and a potentially fascinating world and story, it's destined to be a critical, if not commercial, success."
Ankh did something we thought no game would ever do again: make us happy to play a game set in Egypt. Yes, that's right. Incredible as it sounds, this group is now looking forward to playing a new game set in the times of the ancient pharaohs. This was a game that few of us knew much about before E3, so there weren't a lot of expectations prior to the show, other than the muttered, "Do we REALLY need another Egypt game?!" But the presentation made us sit up and take notice. Christina pointed out how Ankh reminded her of a LucasArts title far more than the generic, first-person puzzle machines that many of the other Egypt-based games tend to be. With a lively dialogue, distinct personality, creative challenges, and a hero for our times, this game is sure to create some converts.
And Then There Were None is on many a hype list already, but we said why not one more! The question is, will the developers manage to capture the story and atmosphere that have drawn fans to Agatha Christie's intricate whodunnit all these years? We liked what we saw. With the expanded storyline, alternative game paths, and environments rich with interaction, And Then There Were None looks like a classic game, and one that easily made our top picks list.
Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine and Quest for Glory II VGA remake. Yep, that's two games in one slot. You did read the part about this being based on our own arbitrary whims, right? Emily was impressed by the team's attention to detail, and how much they care about their audience. From the amount of detail they've infused in the QfG II freeware release, to the "perfect fit" voice acting they shared with us from the commercial Al Emmo, the developers are really showing themselves to be both dedicated and skilled, and it's hard not to be excited to see the end products.
Well, that ends our collective top picks from day two. But it is hardly the end, and we didn't even get to see some lesser-known games like Theseis, Sarkaban Flash Adventures, and Abby Gordonne's Secret.
And just think... this was just one day, one group of people. So many games, so little time. And day three is still ahead, looking just as packed as the first two. Let's hope the electricity stays on and time slows down…
Christina Gmiterko, Emily Morganti, and Berian Williams contributed to this piece.