Begun, this console war has. The manufacturers of Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation 2, and Nintendo GameCube have all cut prices on their hardware and recently announced ambitious online-gaming plans at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, the annual trade show where videogame developers and publishers hawk their wares. But, as always, the quality and quantity of games will determine the battle’s outcome. Here are a few titles that left us twitching with anticipation:
Blinx Some bad guys have stolen time (yes, you read that right), and as the janitor in the time factory you have to steal it back by collecting tokens that let you rewind, fast-forward, pause, or record. The ability to time-shift during the game — you can literally rewind and re-do a move — makes this Xbox title worth playing, at least for a few minutes, when it comes out this fall. (For Xbox)
Doom III A never-ending line stretched outside the id Software booth, and for good reason: This archetypal first-person shooter has been made over with a new 3-D environment that casts shadows in ever scarier ways. And Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails recorded in-game effects so well realized that players will be able to recognize which level they’re in by the sound alone. (For PC)
The Getaway Easily the best of all the ”Grand Theft Auto III” clones on display. The game dispenses with on-screen meters—the status of everything from mission instructions to your health can be intuitively gauged by merely paying attention to the action. Not only that, but players can seamlessly move in and out of cars and through buildings in a realistically rendered 45-square-mile chunk of London. (For PS2)
Super Mario Sunshine In the latest of his infinitely recurring adventures, Mario’s island vacation is interrupted by pollution-spewing baddies. The resulting gameplay is the most fun you’ll ever have cleaning up. (For GameCube)
The Thing Universal pulled this 1982 movie from its vaults and turned it into a taut and suspense-filled action game. When not gunning down nasty creatures in subzero weather, you’ll have to convince teammates in the game that you’re not infected, lest they kill themselves—or you. (For Xbox, PS2, PC)
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee Utterly campy and engaging, this monster mash lets you pick up and throw buildings at Gigan and Mothra, and tromp around in the sci-fi ToHo universe. (For GameCube)
One thing became increasingly clear as the three-day E3 progressed: While Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo battle for supremacy, gamers are the ones reaping the spoils of their war. Here’s to the winner.