Other Game Thoughts – E3 Coverage (2005)

By Socvazius

E3 was freaking insane. I mean, really, flashing lights and scantily-clad women aren’t exactly the best things to experience when you’re trying to cover so many games you can’t even count because the reverberations from the thousands of speakers caused serious damage to your brain. It was impossible to get awesome coverage for every game that I wanted to check out, but I did at least get demos with a number of them. These four were games that I got some exposure to, but not enough to be able to make a fully-fledged preview; I obviously didn’t get a whole lot of new information about them, so this is mostly my assessment of the builds that I saw of each gameā€¦take them as you will.


Spartan: Total Warrior

Spartan: Total Warrior is the latest project from The Creative Assembly, the developers who gave me my beloved Rome: Total War. As excited as I was for a Creative Assembly game about my second favorite ancient civilization (guess what my favorite is), the game didn’t really impress me.

Your warrior has something like 3 different conventional melee attacks with a limited quantity of ranged attacks with his bow. In addition, you can use what I could best figure out to be mana to send bolts of lightning through nearly every enemy in the area or fire extra powerful arrows, depending on your type of attack. Despite the fact that there is a decent variety of attacks, fighting pretty well just degrades into slash, slash, slightly different slash, jump, slash with an occasional lightning attack thrown in…that gets pretty old after a while.

While I may have set my expectations based on RTW and ended up having them too high, and while I’m not exactly a huge fan of hack-and-slash fighters, I am skeptical of how Spartan: Total Warrior will turn out. It looks awesome and I love the setting with an undeniable cool factor, but the replayability just doesn’t appear to be there. If I ever end up getting my hands on a console, I’ll definitely rent it, but it’s not likely that I’ll shell out the 50 bucks or so to buy it.


Star Wars: Empire at War

As what could be expected from a game using a dated engine not even made for its gameplay, I didn’t find Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds that impressive. I didn’t expect much from Empire at War either, but I was pleasantly surprised. It sports a new engine, which allows for a seamless transition from planetary battles to space battles to managing your entire galactic empire…or rebellion, depending on what you fancy.

Seamless transitioning doesn’t just mean it’s simply one command to change levels, it also means that all 3 levels interact with each other just as they would in real life (Star Wars is real life, I swear it.) You can call in tie bomber squadrons from your planetary fleet to help lay waste to a surface army, or use a surface cannon to punch some holds in an enemy fleet orbiting your planet. Furthermore, you can move your fleets from planet to planet on the galactic map. Those fleet battles are especially cool, as capital ships can be damaged at specific spots; destroying a ship’s engines kills its mobility, taking out its shield generators hurts its defenses…you get the idea.

The combination of this seamless transitioning with management of the entire galaxy and detailed fleet battles should make for an accurate – and, if anything, interesting – Star Wars RTS game.


Starcraft: Ghost

The announcement of Starcraft: Ghost disappointed me and a fairly large population of long-time Starcraft fans who expected an RTS: Starcraft 2. The disappointment only continued when the project encountered problems in the form of there being 3 different developers that it’s gone through. However, dedication to the franchise continues, and the demo shown at E3 was pretty fun. Interaction with the environment is to the max, and that’s definitely a plus. Controls are intuitive and it’s always awesome to blow the tar out of a hydralisk, but what’s even cooler is the ability to comandeer just about any vehicle and cause even more destruction.

Starcraft: Ghost should prove to be an adequate addition to the Starcraft franchise, though it could very well prove to be more than just adequate. Here’s hoping that Blizzard’s able to manage that.


Imperator

I found out about Imperator just days before E3, but the concept fascinated me enough to squeeze in an hour of gameplay at the expo. This MMORPG is set in a reality where humans have expanded throughout the galaxy. Thing is, it’s set in the past…how the hell does that work? Well, it’s a reality where the Roman Empire never fell (hence the name, Imperator = Emperor, in Latin); so there were no Dark Ages where technology was lost. Instead, the Romans built upon their existing technology and were able to become a spacefaring civilization far more quickly than we’re doing right now.

However, things weren’t all peachy keen for the Sons of Mars; in this reality, the Mayans survived and became a spacefaring empire as well. They didn’t deal with things like the Romans did, though. Instead, they began a mass exodus from the Earth and left the rest of the planet (namely, the Romans) a gift in the form of a devastating virus. The Romans recovered and never heard from the Mayans again…at least, until the start of this game. You start off as a young’un in Rome’s elite special forces and become increasingly involved with the new conflict with the superadvanced Mesoamericans.

I’ll admit, I have almost 0 experience with MMORPGs and one hour wasn’t quite enough time to familiarize myself with it all, so I can’t make any real assessment of the game’s quality in relation to others in the genre. I can say, however, that I found it an adequately fun game and figure that its unique setting will make for a quality MMORPG.