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It Came From E3!

Ryan Scott

Nope, we’re not Xbox Gaming World just yet, folks.

If 2003 was the year that calmed everyone down about the supposed death of PC gaming, with more great PC games than you can shake skinny CGW editor Ryan Scott at, 2004 is the year that proves PC gaming is here to stay, with a ton of promising new titles that you’ll find only on the PC. Not that we’re being defensive. There’s no need for that—not anymore. At this year's E3 (Electronic Entertainment Exposition)—gaming's annual coming out party for the year's upcoming titles—PC gaming was as strong as ever. Just look through the following pages and you’ll see what the real problem is: There are too many cool games coming up. But as far as problems go, we’ll take it. So check ’em out and start saving or stealing your brother’s pennies now. You’re gonna need them.

Zoo Tycoon 2

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Developer: Blue Fang Games

Release Date: Fall 2004; Zoo Tycoon 2

They Say: There will be new ways to build your dream zoos, new first-person and zookeeper modes that let you experience and care for animals firsthand, deeper gameplay, and a new sandbox mode.

We Say: Whatever.

Black & White 2

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Lionhead Studios

Release Date: Q4 2004

They Say: City-building and honest-to-god RTS combat fulfill the promise of this wannabe gaming revolutionary.

We Say: The first game let us down, but Lionhead is promising better creature training and pacing. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this time, this moral Rorschach test will succeed and blow us away like the original should have.

Tabula Rasa

Publisher: NCsoft

Developer: Destination Games

Release Date: 2005

They Say: An all-new, original fictional fantasy MMO by gaming pioneer Richard Garriott.

We Say: Garriott and company pretty much created the graphical MMO with Ultima Online, with mixed results. With the lessons learned from that experience and ambitious design goals including real-time combat, voice-over-IP support, and some gameplay innovations, this is a game to watch.

Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: EA LA Studios

Release Date: Q1 2005

They Say: Pacific Assault will knock CGW 2003 Action Game of the Year Call of Duty off its pedestal with squad-supported FPS combat in a graphically rich WWII setting.

We Say: The last Medal of Honor PC game was a legit Game of the Year candidate. Pacific Assault looked great at E3, and we’re betting it will at the very least be another outstanding entry in the series.

Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed

Publisher: LucasArts

Developer: Sony Online Entertainment

Release Date: Q2 2004

They Say: It’s a groundbreaking expansion pack for a groundbreaking MMORPG.

We Say: They may actually be right: Real-time ship-to-ship space combat should redeem the letdown we felt over Galaxies. It’s gorgeous, it’s exciting, and we can’t wait.

Missing

Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive

Developer: Lexis Numerique

Release Date: July 2004

They Say: Silence of the Lambs in an Internet-centric horror/suspense adventure game.

We Say: The last Internet-centric game we played was Majestic, and it sucked. Missing could be better because it looks genuinely creepy, it uses both real and made-up Internet content, the FMV doesn’t look bad, and you can play at your own pace.

Kohan II: Kings of War

Publisher: Gathering

Developer: TimeGate

Release Date: August 2004

They Say: Same innovative Kohan gameplay that won the original a CGW Strategy Game of the Year award, only fully 3D and in a more living, breathing world.

We Say: We loved the first Kohan (duh), and we have faith in TimeGate, but with the game so close to release, why isn’t Gathering trying to generate hype? Should we be worried?

Dungeon Siege 2

Publisher: Microsoft Game

Studios Developer: Gas Powered Games

Release Date: Q4 2004

They Say: This is a big overhaul of what people like about the original Dungeon Siege. More items, the ability to craft your own goods, branching skill trees like in Diablo II, and, apparently, an honest-to-god plot this time around are all on the plate of juicy new offerings.

We Say: Wow. What happened? Even with all these improvements, this game still needs an exorcism.

Dragon Age B

Publisher: TBA

Developer: BioWare

Release Date: 2005

They Say: Don’t think that BioWare forgot its roots. Combining what it learned in Baldur’s Gate and KOTOR, the team is working on a new epic RPG.

We Say: We officially did a spit-take in a behind-closed-doors look at the game. When BioWare is ready to show more and announce a publisher, we’ll be the first ones there.

The Movies

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Lionhead Studios

Release Date: Q3 2004

They Say: This isn’t your typical tycoon game. Not only can you run your movie studio into the ground, but you can also create the world’s worst movies and upload them to the Web.

We Say: We were very skeptical at first, but after seeing it, we see ourselves in pictures.

Ghost Recon 2

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Red Storm

Release Date: Q4 2004

They Say: An updated graphics engine, smarter A.I., and a whole different feel (the ability to switch into third-person mode and voice commands) make this the next step in squad-based warfare.

We Say: Too many gimmicks or the console-ization of the tactical shooter? Who cares? So long as it’s fun!

Advent Rising BA

Publisher: Majesco Games

Developer: Glyphx Games

Release Date: Q3 2004

They Say: Advent is trying to take what’s worked from a bunch of different shooters and bind it together into an epic story that spans three games.

We Say: The concept could be really good if the bugs are removed—and if the game ever gets finished. Hey, you guys at Majesco... stop reading this and get back to work!

Star Wars Republic Commando BD

Publisher: LucasArts

Developer: LucasArts

Release Date: Q3 2004

They Say: Take characters from Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six and suit them up as Clone Wars troopers. Lead a squad of elite soldiers behind enemy lines in the Star Wars universe.

We Say: The context-sensitive interface seems a little too console-ish, but it looks pretty and we’re still optimistic. It all boils down to how tight your squadmates’ A.I. is.

Tribes: Vengeance BD

Publisher: Vivendi Universal

Developer: Irrational Games

Release Date: Q4 2004

They Say: A complete overhaul of everyone’s favorite jetpack-oriented multiplayer v xshooter franchise.

We Say: Looks like some pretty good level design, as well as a lot of refreshing and somewhat quirky new gameplay concepts, like—wait for it—a meaningful single- player game.

EverQuest II BD

Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment

Developer: Sony Online Entertainment

Release Date: September 2004

They Say: The sequel to the most popular massively multiplayer game ever created.

We Say: Even EQ2 will get a run for its money from games such as City of Heroes and World of WarCraft.

The Matrix Online D

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Monolith Productions

Release Date: October 2004

They Say: A massively multiplayer experience that takes players into the world of the Matrix film trilogy.

We Say: Despite Monolith’s excellent pedigree, we can’t help being a bit skeptical after those last two movies and the increasingly crowded MMO space.

Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude B

Publisher: Vivendi Universal

Developer: High Voltage Software

Release Date: October 2004

They Say: A new Larry, new gameplay, and the same brand of risqué adult humor that made the classic Larry games, well, classics.

We Say: Drop-dead hilarious. We’re eager to get our hands on this one.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War BD

Publisher: THQ

Developer: Relic

Release Date: September 2004

They Say: An RTS with rocking action and animation, like a giant orc puppy snatching up enemies in its mouth and crunching away.

We Say: The game has personality, but only the final will tell if it has the “play” to match. v

Pariah D

Publisher: Groove Games

Developer: Digital Extremes

Release Date: 2005

They Say: A new story-driven FPS from the good folks who brought us Unreal.

We Say: It’s really too early to tell. The environments aren’t quite there, and the enemies were oddly sidestepping. The visual warping effects did look sharp, though.

Call of Duty: United Offensive B

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Grey Matter

Release: Q4 2004

They Say: Fight once more in the military campaigns against the Axis. Plus, new on-rail–style stages.

We Say: It’ll follow the footsteps of the original Call of Duty, but will that be enough against the slew of new military titles? Probably.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 D

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Frontier Developments

Release: November 2004

They Say: All the amusement-park high jinks and more of the original, but now in full 3D.

We Say: It looks like fun, but we play these Tycoon-style games endlessly. Will this Tycoon be as fresh as the original?

Guild Wars BD

Publisher: NCsoft

Developer: ArenaNet

Release: Late 2004

They Say: From the people who designed Blizzard’s network back end, Battle.net, comes this MMORPG Diablo-style game with a dose of strategy.

We Say: It looks great and has no monthly charge. If only all MMORPGs offered this kind of “free”-dom.

Evil Genius

Publisher: Vivendi Universal

Developer: Elixir Studios

Release: September 2004

They Say: Be a classic villain in the Bond mold, control your evil island empire, and take over the world! Mua-ha-ha!

We Say: Chaining traps together to kill secret agents is wicked, but here’s hoping the simulation-management core of Evil Genius will be fun, not work. We’d feel better if you were constantly building v xfresh bases à la Dungeon Keeper instead of being stuck with one ever-growing base for the whole game.

World of WarCraft BD

Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Release Date: Q4 2004

They Say: Blizzard takes its flagship strategy-game franchise into the crowded realm of online RPGs, hoping to apply its magic touch to a genre that has yet to win over mainstream gamers.

We Say: The ongoing beta test has shown this to be as fun, slick, and addictive as Blizzard fans had hoped. But City of Heroes is out now—and it rules. Orcs versus superheroes? Tough call.

The Witcher D

Publisher: TBA

Developer: CDProjekt

Release Date: 2005

They Say: Straight outta Poland, The Witcher is an action-RPG based on the works of fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, using BioWare’s Aurora (Neverwinter Nights) engine.

We Say: This game is about a monster slayer, so you get to slay lots of monsters. Yay! Scary-looking and pretty, it was one of the nicest surprises at E3. Now all it needs is a publisher.

The Lord of the Rings: D The Battle for Middle-earth

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: EA LA Studios

Release Date: Q4 2004

They Say: The Lord of the Rings goes RTS, courtesy of the folks behind Command & Conquer: Generals. Stunning graphics evoke Peter Jackson’s triumphant trilogy.

We Say: The E3 demo was awesome—but suspiciously canned. Sure, it’s pretty as hell and features that great movie music, but how will it really play?

Sid Meier’s Pirates! B

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Firaxis Games

Release Date: Q4 2004

They Say: This remake of Sid Meier’s classic 1987 game is a genre-bending collision of strategy, combat, adventure, and more while you sail the high seas as a 17th- century pirate captain in the Caribbean.

We Say: Who knew “courtly dancing” ranked so highly among pirates’ antics? That alone makes this game look a bit more swishbuckly than swashbuckly, but it’s Sid Meier we’re talking about, so keep hope alive.

Myst IV Revelation D

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Ubisoft

Release Date: Q4 2004

They Say: The fourth entry in the Godzilla of adventure-game franchises promises to finally reveal the fate of the brothers Sirrus and Achenar, imprisoned by their dad way back in the first game. Also, you’ll get to pull lots of levers.

We Say: We’ve bagged on the Myst games a lot because we’re mean that way, but Myst IV looks like it goes a long way toward fixing some of our main complaints. Like making puzzles we can actually solve. O

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Computer Gaming World.





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