GC 2004 – Day #1 Coverage
by Thomas C.
Microsoft, Fifa and EA
At the Games Convention, the fair halls aren’t open to the general public before 10am but industry members and booth staff are admitted up to one hour early. Microsoft made good use of this and held its SECOND press conference at its booth right at 9am. This was a joint press conference of FIFA, EA and Microsoft. So what was the big news that made a dedicated press conference necessary? Basically: the announcement that all three organizations will deepen their cooperation.
EA’s FIFA 2005 will have an exclusive online game mode on the Microsoft Xbox - the FIFA Interactive World Cup. From October to December 2004, the FIFA Interactive World Cup will be played on all continents, with the finals being held at the FIFA Player of the Year Gala in Zurich in December 2004. Better start training ladies and gentlemen – there are over a million Live subscribers out there...
Finally our first personal appointment of the day was due - Atari. Our beautiful hostess and new contact at Atari, the one and only Sandra Hödl, did such a good job at convincing us that their upcoming hardware product for the PS2, the Gametrak, will revolutionize gameplay so much that we will have a dedicated feature about it in the next weeks.
Just the quick facts: “Gametrak is a patented 3D controller system for videogames systems, which tracks exact position in 3D space, to an accuracy of 1 millimetre anywhere within a 3m cube around the unit, with no processor overhead or time delay.”
Ok, translation: Two gloves that are connected to the Gametrak main unit with wires allow the PS2 to track the movements of your hands way more accurately than what you could achieve with a camera. The first game to make use of this quite exiting new system will be Dark Wind, a bundled fighting game. We were surprised at how accurate and FUN the Gametrak is, so look forward to our video coverage – after all, we even signed up a female tester for you...
Of course we didn’t forget about our non-console players and non-couch-potatoes. RollerCoasterTycoon 3 is coming along fine and whoever feared that giving the classic a 3rd dimension would have the same negative effect as it had on Theme Park was proven wrong. Beside the many beautiful attractions and rides, I especially liked the well thought-out editor that allows you to create beautiful landscapes and even compose your own fireworks at night!
Time was running short already, and we only caught a quick glimpse at Worms: Forts Under Siege but what can I tell you: they are lovely as always.
Because of too much Gametrak chit-chat, we almost arrived late for the next appointment at Nintendo.
Nintendo had two outstanding products to show: Donkey Konga and Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat. Donkey Konga will hit stores first and is a music game using a set of bongo drums and a microphone as a controller. No, seriously. Drumming and clapping your hands (hence the microphone) has never been so much fun, and we are working on full scale preview as we speak.
Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat takes the use of the drums even one step further. In this action adventure scheduled for later this year 1-2 players control Donkey Kong with the Bongo drums. Intriguing and innovative? You bet!
Also shown was Paper Mario 2, the sequel to the unique N64 game. The graphics are crisp and beautiful and the charm of the original is unaltered. Also coming along fine is Mario Tennis but it won’t hit the European Market this year anymore.
While neither the GBA SP itself nor games for it were shown, several upcoming GBA games were shown. Besides the new Pokémon titles that will add another 200 of the little critters for kids to learn by heart, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is an all new Zelda Adventure for the GBA. Our hero Link will have to explore and survive an all-new world because he was shrunk by the Minish Cap. Release date unknown.
The biggest vendor of 3rd party accessories in Europe focused on its newest acquisition for the European market during the show: the ZBoard. We already received a sample of this unique new kind of keyboard and especially FPS fans shouldn’t miss our review.
If you were hoping for news about GTA: San Andreas I have to disappoint you: nothing new revealed. And in case a certain person is reading this: I hope you are having fun with the GTA San Andreas t-shirt you took from my bag while I wasn’t paying attention – because of you a young teen of 17 was VERY disappointed with me...
Though our US readers not even had the chance to take a look at the awesome “Codename: Panzers - Phase One” yet CDV is already working on Phase Two over here. Also their misc. strategy titles like Cossacks 2 or their Zoo Sim are coming along fine.
Halo 2 MP playable, Fable playable and previews and trailers of many more of the promising games upcoming for the Xbox – it was heaven for all Xbox freaks. While you of course can’t judge the gameplay yet those upcoming games show that developers finally grew fond of the Xbox’s technical advantages. Never before have games looked so good on that platform.
And the rest...
The rest of the day we were busy with visiting developers. We will cover those interviews in articles of their own but look forward to what we have to say about some of the titles upcoming from Ubisoft and what we have seen of Heroes of Annihilated Empires from GSC Game World. I know I’m repeating myself but there is only so much one can write in a day so: stay tuned for more...