• Log In | Sign Up

  • News
  • Reviews
  • Games Database
  • Game Discovery
  • Search
  • New Releases
  • Forums

E3 2006 - Day One

Ahh, it's that time of year again -- the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining... and thousands of gamers are ignoring all that and flocking to the dark, deafening environs of the Los Angeles Convention Center for this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, typically referred to by those in the know (and in my case, those who are lazy) as E3.

This being my first experience at E3, I only had a general sense of what to expect, having been forewarned going in to expect a zoo. But after surviving my first day (sometimes just barely), I can safely say that there is absolutely no truth to that myth!! A zoo... Ha! Zoos are organized, spacious, mostly outdoors, and filled with cute, exotic animals. E3, on the other hand, is a chaotic, wall-to-wall, neon mass of exhibits and not-at-all cute or exotic people (except those of us from AG, of course). So no, nothing at all like a zoo -- more like a neverending last-minute Christmas shopping blitz. (Or so I hear.)

But there are games. Boy, are there games! Games everywhere, in all different shapes and sizes. Blockbusters and indies, sequels and innovations, next-gen and past-gen, large games and Wii games (sorry, couldn't resist!)... It quickly became apparent that there was no way we'd get to see everything we wanted to, even with three days ahead of us. But we had a job to do, so Emily, Christina, Doug, Berian, Deirdra and I sucked it up and plowed on into the crowd.

The day actually got off to a relatively peaceful (in other words, misleading) start. The pre-registered press got to roam the floor for a couple hours before the show officially started. We took full advantage of the time by making a beeline to Nintendo. So okay, this probably isn't the first place you'd expect us to go. Or for those of you who know us better, maybe it is. But sure, while we MAY have passed the odd Mario, Yoshi, or Zelda in our travels, what we were really looking for was more adventuring goodness courtesy of the DS. We weren't disappointed. We didn't get to see as much as we'd have liked, but news of Phoenix Wright: Justice for All, a sequel to last year's highly popular Ace Attorney, and Hotel Dusk: Room 215, from the developers of Trace Memory (or Another Code in Europe) had us pretty excited about the prospects even before we got to the playable display of Touch Detective, the English version of the game whose gorgeous art style captured our attention since first appearing under the Japanese title Osawar Tantei Ozawa Rina. The game on display still featured Japanese subtitles, but the game looks even more delightful in action than it does in its already impressive screenshots. Between these three titles, the DS is definitely looking like the place to be for promising new handheld adventure.

Phoenix Wright: Justice for All
Hotel Dusk: Room 215
Touch Detective

But of course it's the PC titles that most of you will be interested in, so when the show began in earnest, we plunked ourselves down at GameTap's booth for the grand unveiling of the new Sam & Max trailer. This trailer will be publicly viewable on Telltale's website starting Thursday, so there's no need for me to say much in detail now. I just wanted to rub it in that we'd seen it first... Wait, no! If I wanted to rub something in, I'd mention the free posters. Really I just wanted to help stoke interest in what is looking to be a fantastic new iteration of everyone's favourite canine shamus and rabbity-thing. If the sweet looking trailer is any indication, our recovery from that fateful day two years ago will soon be complete.

Much of the rest of the day was spent with two of the genre's heaviest hitters, dtp/ANACONDA and The Adventure Company, but we also managed to grab some time with Deck 13 (developers of Ankh) and Kheops Studio (Return to Mysterious Island, VOYAGE) to talk about their latest projects, as well.

I have to admit, with the recent release of seven or eight top games, I was a little discouraged coming into the show about the prospect of an adventure void in the foreseeable future. And while it's true that there may yet be something of a lull in the next couple months, it's merely the calm between the storms, because rest assured, even after only a single day of E3, my earlier fears vanished in a steady stream of one impressive-looking adventure after another.

Belief & Betrayal
Undercover: Operation Wintersun

If a theme emerged today, it's that story-driven games are quickly becoming the dominant style of adventure. Not at the expense of puzzles, but simply due to the focus on integrating those puzzles into really compelling stories. Included in today's highlights were the first looks at Overclocked, the psychological thriller from House of Tales, Belief & Betrayal, a tale of ancient church conspiracy, Undercover: Operation Wintersun, a game of high-stakes espionage set during the second World War, and Jack Keane, which looks to be a lively, swashbuckling mix of Indiana Jones and Monkey Island. And did I mention Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express, the new collaborative effort of AWE Games and author Lee Sheldon, returning (and learning) from their initial experience with And Then There Were None? Not impressed yet? Well, we also had a tantalizing look at the comic sequels Tony Tough: A Rake's Progress and Ankh: Heart of Osiris, along with the much-anticipated Secret Files: Tunguska. All third-person games, all classic point and click, and all looking pretty darn good in these early stages. If you're still skeptical about the current condition of the genre, just keep in mind this is only day one.

I can just about hear puzzle lovers and first-person explorers giving up the cause as lost, but not just yet! The Secrets of Da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript looks like a wonderful historical adventure that faithfully delves into the life and works of the great artist, scientist, and inventor. Already available in France and gearing up for a North American release, this is definitely not a game that deserves to get lost in confusion with The Da Vinci Code. Then there is Aura 2: The Sacred Rings, the direct sequel to last year's beautiful, puzzle-intensive Fate of Ages. And for those who really don't care if a story ever interferes with their puzzles, get ready to try your hand at another generous set of dastardly safes in the all-new version of Safecracker, which shares a similar premise (and currently an identical name) with the 1997 release, making the new game more of a spiritual successor to the original than a direct sequel.

The Secrets of DaVinci
Aura 2: The Sacred Rings

Too much of the same old thing? (You skipped the paragraph about the Nintendo DS, didn't you?) No worries there, either, as we also saw two more games that stand apart from the rest, if not doing something entirely different. First up was EVIDENCE: The Last Ritual, the sequel to the radically different, love-it-or-hate-it MISSING: Since January (or In Memoriam in Europe). EVIDENCE looks every bit as edgy as its predecessor, and even darker in atmosphere, and will once again feature a unique combination of offline gameplay and online investigation. It also has a few tricks up its sleeve, but we'll save those for the preview to come. And last but not least, but only because it was most surprising, is Dead Reefs. A second game currently in production by the developers of Aura 2, I was expecting a similar style of game to Streko-Graphics' other titles, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Not only is Dead Reefs a third-person game with a strong story focus surrounding an 18th century pirate curse, but the game is also being done in real-time 3D with direct control, a decision that was reached with the game already in production with a classic interface. There aren't many adventures that choose this route, but our early look suggests that it suits the game nicely. And yes, it's adventure through and through.

So there you have our twelve hour day in a nutshell, with heavy emphasis on the "nuts". I realize that in saying a lot, I've managed to tell you very little. But such is the nature of the E3 whirlwind. Of course we'll be back for round two tomorrow, so until then, we sign off from an exhausting but fulfilling day one.

Community Comments

Post a comment

You need to be logged in to post comments. Not a member? Register now!