Atari was easily one of the hottest booths of the show and also one of the most exclusive. Much like the velvet rope lines outside a posh LA club, there was a lengthy line of "guests" seeking admittance and if you didn’t have an appointment you weren’t getting in. I think I even saw Paris Hilton get turned away.
Designed like a heaven and hell set from an Austin Powers movie, the entry way was totally red; red carpet, red walls, red ceiling, and it was that harsh, angry red that burns your retinas if you stay in it too long. The only game on display in this area was the much-touted DRIV3R, and people were lined up three and four deep at each station to take their turn.
Once you met your PR rep and got your hand stamped you were admitted into the “back room”, a soothing environment furnished with white leather furniture, couches, tables, a white bar surrounded with white bar stools, big screen displays showing rolling demos of all the other Atari games headed our way – truly the best booth of the show since GOD had their “Promised Lot” in 1999.
But enough about their booth – how about those games…
Perhaps one of the most long-awaited sequels since Duke Nukem Forever (and this game is really going to ship), DRIV3R is about to making history as the follow-up to two of the best driving games in the history of the PS2, Driver (1999) and Drive 2 (2000). Slated for release on Xbox, PS2 and PC, Atari is making sure that nobody has an excuse for not playing one of the most exciting racing games of the 21st century.
I took my turn at the wheel and this is one amazing game. You can now exit the car and do some on-foot action much like GTA, but the game is still undeniably about driving. The vehicles handle great and the damage model, special effects, and level of detail in the environments is as close to photo-realism as any game to date. You'll never look at driving games the same when DRIV3R ships in June.
- Over 70 playable vehicles, including cars, bikes, boats, artics, and buses.
- 8 different weapons, including handguns, machine guns and grenade launchers.
- Over 30 story integrated missions.
- Over 30 fmv sequences featuring the voice talents of Michael Madsen, Ving Rhames, Michelle Rodriguez and Mickey Rourke.
- 3 highly detail cities: Miami, Nice, Istanbul.
- 12 licensed music tracks.
- Driving games.
- Innovative Thrill Cam.
- Director Mode, now with slow mo effect.
Shadow Ops: Red Mercury (Xbox)
Race against time and terrorism as a member of the elite Delta Force in this all-out first person shooter. From the hostile streets of the middle-east, where danger can come from any direction, to the landmarks of a major European city. Your duty is to hunt down a terrorist overlord carrying a nuclear device before untold disaster is unleashed.
Sure, there are a lot of combat games out there but Shadow Ops is one of the most realistic and immersive games I have seen on a console to date. Join other elite forces from the US and Europe as you hunt down international terrorists either solo or in split-screen or Xbox Live multiplayer. Full support for the Live Headset allows you to issue orders and work cooperatively as a squad and taunt your enemies. Using the Unreal engine, the graphics have never looked better and the multiplayer support is highly optimized. Get ready to enlist June 2004.
- The most realistic, immersive, shell-shocked battlefield experience ever!
- Full multiplayer experience with split-screen and Xbox Live support (modes include: plant the bomb, VIP escort, capture the flag and more)
- Mix all-out assault with stealth infiltration in your mission to prevent disaster
- Incredible plot that sees YOU on the trail of lethal terrorists
- Join forces with other elite fighting units from the USA and Europe
- Makes use of enhanced Unreal® engine technology for unparalleled graphical realism
- Places and sounds modeled on real-world locations for total immersion
- Use the Xbox Live headset to communicate with teammates and taunt the enemy
- Hollywood production values – music, sound and scanning technology as used by the biggest blockbusters
- Motion capture moves provided by ex-Special Forces operatives
Sid Meier's Pirates! (PC)
Originally released in 1987, Sid Meier and Firaxis Games is about to introduce the pioneering action-adventure game, Pirates! into the 21st century. An entirely new game engine will deliver updated gameplay, stunning new features, spectacular 3D graphics and enhanced sound effects, so players can fully experience the intrigue, adventure and danger of life as a pirate on the Spanish Main.
In Pirates! you take the leading role of a Pirate Captain in the 17th century Caribbean amassing fortune and fame in an attempt to seize your rightful place as one of the most revered (and feared!) pirates in history. Test your skills as a sea captain exploring the high seas and exotic ports in a richly detailed 3D world. Overtake the enemy and seize valuable booty. Exchange plank-shattering broadsides in fierce naval battles, and engage in duels with worthy opposing captains.
The new Pirates! carries on with the great gameplay and design simplicity tradition of the award-winning original, while adding more challenging and exciting battle options. It offers a deeper and more varied role-playing experience that includes multiple paths to a wealthy retirement. This and many other features and additions make this gaming classic one of the most highly anticipated releases of this century!
- Experience an all-new story built upon the most fun and compelling features of the original Pirates! game
- Live out multiple quests through a non-linear, open life timeline where every decision poses distinct challenges and possibilities
- Witness the consequences of your actions in current events throughout the Pirates! world
- Battle, overtake and command 27 different ship types, enhanced with assorted ammo, cannon and other upgrades
- Take on various foes including merchant and military captains, ferocious pirates, evil gentry and even rival suitors — each with different skills and abilities
- Confront enemies on board ships, in seedy taverns, on the ramparts and even at the Governor’s mansion
- Wield weapons — or anything within your reach — as you fence against foes
- Engage in fierce naval battles fighting single enemies or multiple ships
- Sneak into towns, escape out of prisons, navigate around adversaries and surprise unsuspecting vessels
- Dispatch landing parties of buccaneers in strategic battles to take over entire cities
- Increase your riches and impress the governor’s daughter with your charm, fame, heroism — even your dancing abilities
- Collect items (swords, spyglasses, armor, hats, coats, etc.) that improve skills or provide other new benefits and view them in a new inventory system
- Enhance your gameplay experience with downloadable content including flags, sail emblems, character skins and more
Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (PS2/Xbox)
Other than DRIV3R, this was the only other game viewable to those without an appointment. It was being shown in a private theater, actually outside of the convention center on a back patio. There was nothing playable, only a movie that was shown in a performance art setting with fancy lighting, artistic paintings on the wall, and plenty of urban style to go with the game concept.
From what little I could gather from the movie, the gamer will play as a lone graffiti artist trying to overthrow a corrupt military presence through the use of graffiti. Don't think for a second that this is a rehash of Jet Grind Radio. This game looks very dark with a ultra-cool visual style and violent gameplay you would expect from a GTA game. Of course this is all speculation since the game won't ship until 2005 and I can't even be sure the movie was representative of the gameplay.
During the movie we get to see our unnamed hero in stylish urban garb jumping across moving trains, tagging the cars and walls of the subway station. A rival gang approaches while he paints and in a smooth motion he swirls around drawing a lighter and igniting the spraypaint creating an impromptu flamethrower stunning his foes and allowing him to get in a few good punches and kicks. The rest of the movie showed scenes of our hero running from the military and using his urban art to post anti-propaganda messages by altering existing billboards.
The only thing more interesting than the game's concept and the original artistic style is the fact that this title is the brainchild of Marc Ecko, a fashion pioneer of urban lifestyle apparel". Whether he plans to use this video game to launch his next big fashion line or is just branching out into new creative outlets, everyone should benefit with Getting Up arrives sometime in 2005.
No screens are available at this time, but we'll be watching this title closely throughout the year and have more information at next year's E3 show.