Third Party Mania: What They'll Be Dealing At E3
What tricks do third parties have up their sleeve at the event? We take a look!
Ahh, E3 2006. The spectacle that is one of the biggest gaming press events of the year. Gamers get all drooly at the announcements that reveal themselves from the pre-show press conferences and on the floor, all while checking out the free schwag that lucky editors pick up and booth babe photos that should still surface this year, even with the limitations put into play to hide the skin.
This year, it seems a lot of discussion is going around with the first party companies that have arsenals all their own. Nintendo's showing off their oddly-named Wii console, as well as various titles for the Nintendo DS and GameCube; Microsoft plans to show strong support for the Xbox 360, including a rumored trailer for Halo 3 and Forza Motorsport 2, and Sony has their hands full with plenty of new PSP games, as well as the PlayStation 3 and the forthcoming behemoth God of War II.
But I think in the midst of the strengthened first parties, we're forgetting about the companies that will really shake things up at the event- the third parties. Yep, third party support plays a crucial part for any system, with a number of companies providing innovative (and not so innovative) software to give the consumer more choices than the first-party companies can dish out. Throughout the years, third party companies have come up with a few shockers all their own, and this year looks to be no exception. So, without further ado, let's break down the third party outlook for E3 2006, complete with games we know exist and games we'd like to see.
2K Games did pretty good last year, what with such titles as 24: The Game and Serious Sam II showing great appeal and a number of sports games that managed to put smiles on the faces of the sports fiends out there. This year looks to be a strong year for them, even with the recent dismantling of the development team at Indie Built.
What the company should have on hand: It's a sure bet that we'll get a glimpse at the latest incarnations of NBA 2K, NHL 2K, and College Hoops 2K, as sports games play a big part for this company. On the 2K Games side of things, we'll have a chance to see if The Da Vinci Code is up to par, and get a glimpse at the forthcoming next-gen Bioshock. The Darkness and Prey should also make an appearance, and PC lovers should dig in to the new Dungeon Siege games on the floor, as well as Sid Meier's Railroads! and some new Civilization titles.
What we'd like to see: Well, it was rumored that 2K Games would be going after the franchise for the forthcoming Ghost Rider movie, and, now that it's confirmed, we expect the flaming skullhead to make some kind of appearance at the show. Not in person, mind you. You try to get an autograph from him and your notepad will go up in flames.
The company behind many of Marvel's successful games and a number of sporting titles is back for more at this year's E3, and they should have a successful line of games just waiting to pounce upon the public.
What the company should have on hand: Activision should provide gamers a first glimpse of the forthcoming X3: The Last Stand video game, as well as hints as to how Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is coming along: Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam should make an appearance, capped off by the skater himself; Enemy Territory: Quake Wars should rock a few fillings; and Spider-Man 3 is bound to show up, at least on video.
What we'd like to see: Venom getting his own game probably isn't that bad an idea. And while we're at it, how about a little something more in the Call of Duty line-up?
Stuffed away in a minor room at last year's E3, Atlus still had plenty of great games to show off to the public, and the hardcore RPG publisher should have a few offerings up their sleeve for this year.
What the company should have on hand: Steambot Chronicles for the PS2 (see our recent hands-on report for details) will be shown in near-final form to gain some hype, along with the forthcoming Contact for the Nintendo DS and possibly a new Super Robot Taisen title for the Game Boy Advance.
What we'd like to see: Digital Devil Saga 3 wouldn't hurt, and we'd like to see some more RPG titles announced.
Well, Bethesda did have this one small title cooking up at last year's event, I dunno if anyone remembers it. Oblivion something rather. But this year, their offerings, while a bit more limited, should still appeal.
What the company should have on hand: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow is set to tie in with the forthcoming sequel, due in theaters this July. Don't look for Johnny Depp's voice to make the cut however. Pity. Bethesda should also be doing something with their newly acquired Star Trek license, and maybe showing off early forms of Tactical Assault for the handhelds and Legacy for the 360.
What we'd like to see: It'd be interesting to see how Oblivion is panning out for the PS3 and PSP. I don't see why they'd miss this opportunity, what with the hot sales of the 360 version.
Buena Vista Games
Normally making an example for Disney licensed and family friendly games, Buena Vista Games looks to be heading in a slightly new direction, thanks to a stellar deal with the folks at Q Entertainment and a couple of original titles.
What the company should have on hand: Lumines II, as part of the Q Entertainment deal, will be a big title at the Buena Vista booth, showing off its puzzling genius once again. Lumines Plus is also expected to make an appearance, bringing the hit game to the PlayStation 2. Every Extend Extra, a unique shooter/puzzle game for the PSP, should also be on hand, as well as Meteos: Disney Edition and Spectrobes for the Nintendo DS. It'll be quite the change of pace from usual licensed Disney fare, although the company will still have lots of family offerings on hand.
What we'd like to see: Some kind of glimpse at the new Turok game that the company has been currently working on, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean 3, which is in production for next-gen consoles to coincide with next year's concluding movie chapter. As for Desperate Housewives...meh.
This company seems to have a standout showcase every year, and last year was no exception, as audiences got an initial taste of Okami for the PS2 and Capcom Classics Collection for consoles. This year's line-up looks to be pretty damn hot.
What the company should have on hand: Puh-lenty. Aside from the likes of such PSP games as Capcom Puzzle World, Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded, Monster Hunter Freedom, Power Stone Collection, and Ultimate Ghosts n' Goblins, the Xbox 360 will get some attention with Lost Planet and Dead Rising; Okami will make a return trip as it suits up for its summer release; and Street Fighter Alpha Anthology should bust a few heads. Some surprise new announcements may make the move as well.
What we'd like to see: Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 5, and plenty of them, although we'll probably just get treated to brief trailers again. It'd be great if Mega Man ZX got an announcement for the DS, though, and Capcom Classics Collection II and God Hand would be just dandy.
Crave usually has a smaller booth on hand, but the company is dedicated, as last year they showed off Pinball Hall of Fame and World Championship Poker 2 to thrilled audiences. This year should follow a similar suit.
What the company should have on hand: Expect World Championship Poker: All In to make an appearance, along with those spiffy poker tables; Dave Mirra BMX Challenge for the Sony PSP should be revealed to an expecting audience as well.
What we'd like to see: Intellivision Lives for the Nintendo DS. Yes, we're serious.
D3 Publisher of America
D3 has been growing in pretty good numbers, what with the release of the Naruto games and a few other little titles, such as Chaos Field and Alien Hominid. Their E3 display looks stacked.
What the company should have on hand: Naruto madness aplenty, as Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2 is prepped for GameCube, and Naruto: Ninja Council 2 is coming around for the Game Boy Advance. The company should also give some glimpses to the forthcoming Dark Sector for next-gen consoles, as well as the platforming adventure Flushed Away, based on the upcoming Dreamworks/Aardman animated film.
What we'd like to see: Alien Hominid 2. Wishful thinking, right?
The company's been on an upswing since their acquisition by the folks at SCI, and this year should be particularly strong, as the company's riding a successful wave on their latest release, Tomb Raider: Legend.
What the company should have on hand: A big title that will be on display will be Hitman: Blood Money, the gruesomest and most detailed of the Hitman series, with all new scenarios and a shift onto the Xbox 360. Just Cause will also be introduced to audiences for the first time, and Urban Chaos: Riot Response should also get some attention.
What we'd like to see: It may be a bit much to ask, but a new Fear Effect, perhaps? And a sequel to Total Overdose wouldn't be a bad thing, y'know.
The juggernaut that is EA continues to lumber on with a number of new games on the horizon, both in terms of straight-up action games and sports titles that continue to drive forward on the sports they're emulating.
What the company should have on hand: Battlefield 2142 looks to be an awesome spectacle in its own right; Madden NFL 2007 should make an appearance, although Madden for the Wii is probably the game that will get the most attention from football fans; Crysis from Crytek should leave quite a few dents in the competition; Medal of Honor: Airborne looks rather explosive; and there'll be sports games aplenty, from new NHL and NBA games to the return of Tiger Woods.
What we'd like to see: Burnout, completely redone for next-gen. Revenge was nice but a brand new game would kick heavy amounts of butt.
Last year, Koei made some waves with just a few titles, such as the latest Dynasty Warriors, a yet unnamed PS3 project with smoking visuals, and a couple of other small games. This year, the company's got a stacked deck, based on many of their franchises.
What the company should have on hand: Dynasty Warriors 6, Samurai Warriors 2, and Fatal Inertia will make plenty of waves on next-gen systems and consoles, but the one we're really psyched for is the return of Gitaroo Man in his latest PSP venture, Gitaroo Man Live!. Makes us want to pull out the soundtrack and groove all over again.
What we'd like to see: A Dynasty Warriors with some new gameplay touches. Something built for next-gen. Oh, and more Pocky sticks. Delish.
So, last year, Konami had lots of software on hand to please the audiences, as well as a press conference loaded with liveliness and crazy stuff, like dancing Ninja Turtles and such. And meeting Kojima-san in person is always a pleasure.
What the company should have on hand: It's all about Metal Gear Solid 4, and Konami should have plenty of footage to feed the fans. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin should please fans of the long-running series; some new Dance Dance Revolution and Karaoke Revolution titles will be revealed; Silent Hill: Original Sin should pop up; and there's nothing wrong with another Winning Eleven.
What we'd like to see: This new Kojima project for the Wii sounds intriguing; and how about a Konami Classics Collection with the original Contra and Castlevania games? We'd buy that in a heartbeat.
Last year, LucasArts was tucked away in an invite-only booth, and passed on releasing the mega-successful Lego Star Wars game themselves, turning the duties to Eidos. This year, however, looks a bit more interesting, although their booth is likely to be invite-only yet again.
What the company should have on hand: Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy should be a big hit, as it brings back the classic films in all new platforming (and shooting) glory; new Darth Vader and Indiana Jones games should make their debut in trailer form; and an Empire At War expansion can't be far behind.
What we'd like to see: Another Battlefront, with even more Ewoks and Jar Jars to wipe out. A Lego Battlefront might even be a novel idea, you think?
Midway usually houses themselves in a cozy spot right outside of West Hall, and it's been that way for quite a few years. This year should be even cozier than before, thanks to a number of high-profile projects that'll be waiting to be shown off.
What the company should have on hand: Spy Hunter: Nowhere To Run should have fans of the Rock and the classic game franchise doing barrel rolls; Stranglehold brings the talents of Chow Yun-Fat and John Woo to the video game scene; Rush goes portable for the PSP and should hopefully find greater success; Mortal Kombat: Armageddon should definitely be getting some attention in its final go-around for this generation; Unreal Tournament 2007 will be back, possibly in playable form, to grab its own set of fans; MLB Slugfest 2006 should hit a few out of the park; Happy Feet, Ant Bully, and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy should be pleasers for family gamers; and Mortal Kombat: Unchained should bring the game series to the PSP with style.
What we'd like to see: How about a new Midway Arcade Treasures compilation with a few more racers and shooters? And while we're at it, a glimpse of the new Lord of the Rings Online would be killer.
Between wrestling, kids' games, and racing games, THQ seems to have a lot of bases covered with each coming year, and this year should definitely be no exception, as the company comes out of the woodwork with all sorts of digital beauty.
What the company should have on hand: WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2007 should leave a dent in the next-gen market, even if it's by a steel chair; Moto GP 2006 looks to be exciting enough to garner sweat from your teeth; and a number of Nickelodeon licensed games should be available to play, including a new Spongebob Squarepants game and Danny Phantom. The Barnyard, based on the forthcoming animated film, should be on hand as well.
What we'd like to see: Stacy Keibler. But, hey, we won't knock Maria aside either. And while we're at it, how about a next-gen MX Vs. ATV? If we had to choose, though, Maria. Definitely Maria.
And the Ubisoft train continues to roll on with a number of concentrated games for the current and next generation. The company had a good set-up last year between some key titles, and this year, while a little smaller on the release list, should still have plenty to go around.
What the company should have on hand: Splinter Cell: Double Agent should make a phenomenal debut for all the consoles across the board; Red Steel should intrigue plenty of gamers who want to test out the Wii's true powers; and the latest Brothers In Arms should confirm that war continues to be hell.
What we'd like to see: A next-gen Prince of Persia title would be just the ticket, and seeing this next Rayman in action would make us all jump around in limbless delight. Oh, and they'll have the Frag Dolls to kill us. Yay!
Vivendi Universal, now under the moniker of Vivendi Games, struck hard last year, what with a number of releases that struck out to the mainstream and the promise of big things ahead. This year's line-up is slightly limited, but power-packed anyway.
What the company should have on hand: Gamers on the go will be able to cause damage with Fitty Cent in Bulletproof for the PSP; Scarface: The World Is Yours will give you control over the notorious drug king Tony Montana in next-gen fashion; and Crash Bandicoot will be back with a number of new games to his credit, along with his cohort, Spyro the Dragon.
What we'd like to see: Fight Club II. HA! I kid, I kid. No, how about another Riddick?