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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

GamesFirst! Magazine

E3 2001 
PC Best of Show

Age of Mythology
Dungeon Siege
   Empire Earth
   Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising
Max Payne 
Medal of Honor
Neverwinter Nights
Return to Wolfenstein

Warcraft III
Age of Mythology -- The Age of Empires series is one of the most popular gaming franchises ever, but Ensemble's not content to coast on thier laurels. The big move to 3D gets made with Age of Mythology, which features heroes, monsters, and a single-player campaign narrative that will attempt to out-Starcraft Starcraft's. Check out our preview here

Dungeon Siege -- Simple, elegant, and beautiful, Dungeon Siege is yet another title from the Microsoft booth that left us dazed and amazed.  Combining the immersive elements of a role-playing game with over-the-top intensity and non-stop action, Dungeon Siege plunges you into a continuous 3D fantasy world where you face off against an army of evil that has been unleashed. You begin as a humble farmer (or farm girl), and as you travel through the world and gain new skills, you can gather a party of up to eight characters to aid you. Dungeon Siege's fusion of action RPG and RTS controls impels the player into one over-the-top battle after the other as the storyline unfolds and a larger plot begins to reveal itself.  Dungeon Siege incorporates fully animated 3D characters, over-the-top battles, intense special effects and awe-inspiring vertical landscapes. With true 3D environments and an advanced particle system for spells and dungeons that can extend in three dimensions, Dungeon Siege keeps the player focused on the action by providing tools such as drag select, way points and formations.

Empire Earth -- Ever wish you could play a game that combined the excitement and looks of an RTS game like Age of Empires with the depth and grand scale of a turn-based game like Civ II? Well, so did Rick Goodman, the lead designer of the original Age of Empires. But instead of just moaning about it, like we all do, he actually came up  with a game that hopes to bridge those genres. Empire Earth allows you to guide a civilization from the moment it comes out of the trees to the age of nanotechnology.  No more of this punk "just the middle ages" stuff--Empire Earth covers 500,000 years of human history. Of course, that's quite an epic undertaking, so if you just want a quick game, you can choose to limit your contest to one of the 12 different epochs. Like Age of Mythology, this one's coming to you in 3D, and I guarantee players will spend a lot of time just zooming in on the great-looking unit models and terrain during battles. It's close to being finished, and it's at the very top of my list. 

Hostile Waters: 
Antaeus Rising 
Without a doubt, Dan Kingdom's demo for three of us attending the Interplay area was one of the best we'd seen at this year's E3--like a trio of slack jawed yokels, we were mesmerized from the start. The year is 2032. The entire world is at peace for the first time. Together, the human race is moving to become a world civilization--until the bombings start. A cabal of Old World magnates are working together to destabilize the planet and return it to its fractured, hate-ridden war economy past. The cabal organize their forces from a spiral of twenty remote artificial islands in the Pacific...but there is something, moldering at the bed of the ocean. The last of the Adaptive Cruisers, a carrier armed with an onboard nanofactory capable of generating tanks, attack choppers and fighter planes.  To save the world for eternal peace, humanity must learn how to go to war take back the future, they must kill for peace.  Antaeus Rising is due out any time now and will deservedly carry a "Mature" rating, a sign of the uncompromising narrative embedded in this well-crafted tale.   

Max Payne -- Man, this is gonna be a good one!  Developed by Remedy Entertainment and produced by 3D Realms, Max Payne is an uncompromising, story-driven game about a man on the edge, fighting for his justice while uncovering plot-twists and twisted thugs in the gritty bowels of New York during the century's worst blizzard.  It all ripped apart in a New York minute...Max Payne became a man with nothing to lose in the violent, cold urban night. A fugitive undercover cop framed for murder, he's hunted by cops and the mob alike. A man with his back against the wall, fighting a battle he cannot hope to win. Prepare for a new class of intense gameplay with unprecedented cinematic depths of believability.  Max Payne has game-of-the-year written all over it, and we can't wait to get our hands on it--somehow this year's E3 demo was even more fascinating that last year's (and yes, it was on our best-of list in 2000 too!)

Medal of Honor -- The inspired offspring of the Quake III engine and Saving Private Ryan, EA's Medal of Honor is our most-anticipated FPS of the year. You had to stand in a long line to get a glimpse of this one, but it was well worth it. Unlike Activision's Return to Wolfenstein, (which also looks fabulous) this one focuses on "realistic" gameplay--it's got just a dash of Rainbow Six in it. You'll play the role of a WWII Ranger, and fight through several settings, including such Ryan-inspired ones as Omaha Beach and "Snipertown".  

Neverwinter Nights -- (NWN) is a new Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) roleplaying game from BioWare, the developers of Baldur's Gate and Tales of the Sword Coast. Neverwinter Nights has been designed specifically for the online, multiplayer environment and the latest in 3D technology and also allows you to experience all the magic of pen-and-paper Dungeon-Mastering on your home computer! Using Neverwinter Nights' powerful and user-friendly Neverwinter Toolset, you can create and populate entire new modular worlds and stories for others to adventure in. As an all-powerful Dungeon Master (DM), Neverwinter Nights even allows you to alter the plot, possess characters, and manage combat from behind the scenes, all in real-time.  This was yet another fab demo from the Interplay booth that started with Marc Holmes building a level with the Neverwinter toolset.  He made it, he started gameplay, he blew us away!  Using the BioWare Aurora Engine, NWN still looks as good as it did a year ago (remember the falling leaves?)--it's a title we continue to crave. 

Return to Wolfenstein -- My brother still insists that Wolfenstein 3D is id Software's best game. Of course that's just crazy, but I gotta admit that it had some of id's best villains--Nazis. Boy, I hate those guys. With Return to Wolfenstein, Activision and id let you take the role of B.B. Blazkowicz, an allied agent who must undermine an evil Nazi plot to create an army of undead mutant super-soldiers. I'm sold right now. I mean, what could possibly be better than a game featuring undead mutant Nazi super-soldiers? Well, how about one that uses the Quake III engine, looks amazing, and features a dynamic plot? Try to imagine Where Eagles Dare meets Night of the Living Dead. Then try to imagine how big this game is going to be.  

Sigma -- Undoubtedly the winner of "quirkiest title of the year", Microsoft and Relic's Sigma: The Adventures of Rex Chance is an RTS. But it's like no RTS you've ever seen before, as your units are made of animals--uh, mutated animals. In Sigma, you'll be able to crossbreed about 50 different types of animals to create thousands of different unit types. We didn't see much actual gameplay, and the game is about a year away from completion, but we got a tremendous kick out of combining a gorilla and a crab. Even at this early stage the "mutation" interface for Sigma is elegant and frankly a lot of fun. The 3D models look superb and funny, and while Relic (makers of Homeworld) is certain to provide a great single-player campaign and multiplayer, I know I could spend hours just messing with creating new species. In a year when there wasn't a ton of innovation on display at E3, Sigma is a welcome exception.  

Warcraft III -- Of all the games I saw at E3, Warcraft III by Blizzard will, I think, be the next show-stopping title that gets millions of people to gratefully drop fifty bucks.  During the convention, several members of the GamesFirst! crew crowded around the demonstration monitor, and I watched their jaws drop without a booth-babe in sight.  WC III was spectacular to look on, and as the demonstration progressed, I almost bum-rushed the keyboard jockey to get my hands on a little playtime.

--Rick Fehrenbacher & Al Wildey

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