Location: London, UK.
Article by: Mark Tritschler

If I see DDR one more time...

I may crack up. Yes I'm back from ECTS in London and what a trip back it was: power cut in London, plane delayed... but none of this compares to the chronic Dance Dance Revolution show down at ECTS. The show in general was actually a lot smaller than I imagined it would be, but still all the big names had a fair display going on as well as all the not so big names. But back to DDR, there is now about 4 to choose from, ranging from "Dance UK" which has mainly UK artists as the music to dance with, to a Karaoke version, where you don't dance but sing down a mic and must keep in time, much in the same way you do with DDR.

Entering the great hall!

As you enter the show for real, the first thing you see is a queue. This is for Half-Life 2. Yours truly was the first person in said queue on Wednesday morning, and thus the first person to discover that it was the same basic presentation as E3. It's nice of Valve to adopt this all-for-one and one-for-all attitude and not discriminate on the basis of geographic location, but the fact that it wasn't new material must surely call to question the 30 September release date that's still being quoted for the game.

The games, give me the games

A few games were previewed for the first time at ECTS, with many other games showing brand new movies, levels etc. The new Prince of Persia game is one new preview that was being shown at the show, and I managed to get some shady camera footage of it with my camcorder so you can all see it for yourselves (coming soon. -Editor.). The graphics are great of course, but what got me interested most in this game was the innovative game play which I saw ooze out of the monitor. I have to say I never liked the original, but this is one sequel to watch out for.

Eidos, Activision and Codemasters are all behind closed doors though, probably less to do with the games they have to show than with the fact that they didn't want to shell out on a full-spec stand for a relatively small show - especially when there are no new announcements. Codemasters is putting the final touches to its Club Manager series of soccer games, as well as the ubiquitous Pop Idol, while Eidos is close to completion with Commandos 3. This is a good thing. No sign of Doom III at Activision's stand though.

Table Tennis, Without the table

Sometimes the best place to look for PC games at ECTS is not on publisher stands, but around hardware manufacturers, keen to show how powerful their processors are. Here, Intel and nVidia lead the way, at ECTS anyway. Yet more innovation was held at the Korean Pavilion with Virtual type tennis and pong games using paddles. No Ataris were not on show, but funky wireless table tennis bats where which could "hit" the ball on screen as it came towards you. In a similar type of situation the game Pong was re-created. The force of your hit is also registered in the game making for some interesting two player showdowns!

Mobile Gaming

Nokia's up and coming N-GAGE had a major presence at the show, they are really starting to push this thing. At first glance I found myself thinking: can this sort of device really take off? Well it IS going to be expensive compared to say a Gameboy SP but, it is also a phone , and oh boy what a phone it is! This thing simply rocks: the games are comparable to Sony Playstation graphics wise for some games, such as Tony Hawks Pro Skater and Tomb Raider which is a much higher graphical quality than the Gameboy. And it is a phone, and it's not big. Great! One to watch out for folks...

Babes babes babes

Pervs, the lot of you, gamers that is not me of course, ehe. By comparison with E3 from what I heard, the amount of scantily clad females being used to promote games is quite low at ECTS, unless you happen to bump into the Gangland girls. They're courtesy of Postal 2 publisher Whiptail Interactive to promote a brand new piece of controversial gameplay, they're difficult to miss in high heels, hotpants and rolled up T-shirts. The fact that the hot pants are completely unzipped to reveal bikini bottoms emblazoned with the name of the game also helps recognition. Although I don't think they're natural blondes. The girls in the black leather were better anyway.