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21 May 2006 @ 02:39 am
E3 Part 1  
Okay, i don't expect to get through this all in one sitting, so i'll just write till i'm tired and post what i've got and do some more later :)

The first thing we did was check out the Revolution line, which was huge. If i'd been going for the full three days i might have tried it, but it looked like it was going to be a couple hours and that was far too much time to suck out of my single day. The reports i heard later ranged from a wait of two hours up to _six_ hours. I sure hope that last bit was an exaggeration. I also heard that a couple people actually got injured in the rush for the line that morning. I did go back later in the afternoon and found the line was _much_ shorter but about 10 or 15 minutes after i queued up we were told that they were shutting down for a press event and killed the line =P

Anyways, after seeing the state of the line we wandered over to the Sony booth. The first thing we checked out was Guitar Hero 2. I probably would have skipped it if i'd been on my own since at that point i wasn't aware that a Rush song was going to be included in the final release. I tried out one song on a moderate difficulty and did okay. For those who haven't heard anything about the original Guitar Hero you play it with a special guitar shaped controller, or at least that's the way you _should_ play it. It's like DDR in that you are supposed to time your actions to symbols crossing the screen in time to the music. In this case it's little circles coming down the screen towards you. It's slightly more complicated than DDR or Swishy since you have to press buttons on the neck of the guitar to select the columns and then "strum" a switch on the body of the guitar in order to activate whichever buttons you have selected (presuming i was actually playing it right at least.) This is made even more complicated because there are five buttons on the neck, so you need to be constantly moving your hand up and down and can't just rely on memorizing what finger matches which column on the screen.

Next to Guitar Hero 2 was Singstar, which is pretty much just a live action version of Karaoke Revolution. Instead of covers of songs and silly rendered backgrounds it uses real songs with the music video for that song running in the background. I'm not sure that's an actual improvement in my book.

Next we went and took a look at Okami. This is the PS2 game where you play as the goddess Amaterasu who has taken the form of a wolf. The game is cell shaded and the main "gimmick" is that you have to solve a lot of puzzles by painting. Since this is a PS2 game and not a DS in order to paint you have to switch to a different screen where you use the controller to move a paint brush around and paint. I'm not sure what the basic goal of the game is, but it seems to involve at least in part going around collecting spirits of the brush or some such which give you new painting abilities. I didn't actually get the chance to play it myself so i'm not sure what the control is like. It's got a quirky art style and a quirky game concept, i'm not sure if that will actually make it a fun game or not.

So while the rest of the group was playing and watching Okami some more i decided to go check out the FF12 section. It sucked. I've heard that there are options you can set on the release version to mitigate the problems i ran into, but the version i played just sucked. It seemed to be using the same settings as the "active" version of the demo that came with DQ8. The main difference was that you could look at and change the order of the "Gambits," the rules controlling the AI for your characters, but you coudn't actually create new gambits. This really didn't make anything more exciting. You run around as the main character with the other two party members following you, and if you get near an enemy the entire party starts attacking it. You can break in and give your character commands but if you don't they'll go ahead and attack on their own. So pretty much all i had to do was maneuver the group near an ememny and then sit there while they killed it, keeping an eye on HP to see if i needed to use a potion on anyone. Theoretically i could have cast cure instead but the AI made my character use up all their MP almost immediately. At one point i stopped looking at the screen so i could watch the Sony trailers running on a big screen overhead and when i looked back a couple minutes later my party was just fine and there were two or three treasures lying around from monsters they'd killed while i wasn't paying attention. Ironically one of the trailers that was distracting me was the one for FF12, which looked pretty cool since it was all story and no gameplay. So i hope that the claims that you can modify the setup of the retail version to be like a real RPG are true or that someone records all the FMVs and relevant scenes and posts them to the net, like the Xenogears movies i've heard about and the Xenosaga movies that jmpava has.

I joined the others back by Dirge of Cerebus. This is another one of the FF7 side story games. This one features Vincent in a 3rd person/1st person shooter. Most of the time it was like a third person adventure game, but when you saw the enemy you could either lock on to them in 3rd person mode or switch over to 1st person mode. This is another one that i watched but didn't get the chance to play myself, however it looked rather clunky and awkward to me and the person playing it seemed to generally agree with that assessment.

That was pretty much all the games i looked at before lunch, so this seems like a good point to stop for the night.
dolohov on May 21st, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)
Did you get to see Spore?
DonAithnendonaithnen on May 21st, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
No, there was a big line for that too. Some of the other people in our group managed to pull the press badge routine and got to cut in line but i didn't really feel comfortable with doing that.
dolohov on May 21st, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, darn. A friend of mine's working on Spore, and I was curious what their booth was like.
Kirinkirinn on May 21st, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC)
My 2¢, after not being there: ;)

Okami - I've been looking forward to this for a long time, and have heard good things about the gameplay from people who've tried it. I here "Zelda-ish" for the exploration and combat segments. The art style is almost sumi-e traditional brush painting, which is pretty cool.

FF12 - Sounds like they just barely upgraded the demo from last E3, which is pretty lame considering the game's out in Japan. Low marks for the PR/demo people, but I'm still holding out hope for the full game. It may be that tuning the battle system to one's liking just potentially takes more time than they want to give people at a demo kiosk, though.

Dirge - This one, OTOH, I'm not holding out much hope for. The cinemas are delightful, but the actual gameplay of the Japanese release was, by all accounts, compeltely horrible. Apparently they're trying to fix it up a bit for the US release, but it was just so broken to begin with that I'm guessing at best it will come up to "mediocre". *This* one I'm downloading the cut-scenes for (well, I already did actually, though untranslated).
DonAithnendonaithnen on May 21st, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the main changes to the FF12 demo was that there were five areas you could try, rather than two (i only tried one of them, i'm not sure if the two from the demo were repeated although one of the areas i saw someone else playing on looked similar to the dungeon crawl) and the addition of the un-editable gambits. As far as i could tell the area i was playing didn't have a clear cut goal as well, you started out in an empty town and with a single person in it saying they didn't know where everyone else was or something like that, then you wander out to this sandy area and start killing monsters. I don't know about the other four areas but i didn't see anyone else reaching anything that looked like a defined end, they just wandered around killing things for a bit (or getting killed, like the guy who ran into a flying enemy and couldn't figure out how to hit it) and then quit in the middle.

So where did you get the Dirge cut-scenes from?
Kirinkirinn on May 21st, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I don't remember. I'm pretty sure it was a torrent, though. And given that it's a torrent and it comes from Japan, I'd try www.tokyotosho.com and do a search. Of course, you'd need a BitTorrent client if you still don't have one. I use Azureus since it's halfway decent and cross-platform, but I hear good things about microTorrent also.
DonAithnendonaithnen on May 24th, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, and i don't know if you saw this or not, but on GAF some people were claiming that the E3 build _was_ the improved american release, which would kind of scare me. But i haven't heard any definite official word on that.
nonseqmenagerie on May 21st, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
My housemate picked up Guitar Hero (the first one) a while back. I quite like it... it does have a good mix of styles in there, and, unlike some of the other music sim games, what you're playing actually does seem to flow rather nicely with what you're hearing (Taiko Drum Master, I glower at you). So, if I actually manage to get my OWN ps2, I'll probably try to scavenge the cash for a copy of Guitar Heroes 2 as well... supposedly they have more metal tunes (the first one had a lot of classic rock, and some quasi-punk.. and actual punk, I guess), which means more of the bands I listened to when I was younger. And then my housemate and I get to play head to head, since we'll have two of the guitar controllers.