NEWS - Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Halo 2 and Splinter Cell 3 Clean Up E3 Awards

Best Console Game Halo 2 (Bungie Studios/Microsoft for Xbox) Beating back every other title in this category for the second year running is no small feat. How did Bungie do it? Simple: It upgraded last year’s single player demo to a multiplayer frag-stravaganza. There was nothing surprising about the Spartans’ obscenely polished visors, or the umpteenth permutation of capture the flag on the Zanzibar map. No, it was the subtleties -- the way it felt to rip through a Covenant Elite with weapons in each hand, or watching a Warthog wobble off course after having a single tire blown off. An obsessive familiarity with the original Halo, while not required, made these nuances even more drool-worthy. And just when you figured out how to ride the fan blade to the top and shoot the latch that drops the platform leading to the killer Plasma Sword, well, the next demolition crew was on deck. And suddenly November 9th seemed like a long time to wait. Best Action Game Halo 2 (Bungie Studios/Microsoft for Xbox) The original Halo not only set a new bar for intelligent, action packed shooters -- it also cast a huge shadow over all of the Xbox games that would follow it. The doubters believed the system would never receive a better game. They were wrong. Halo 2 is loaded with a feature set that makes every gamer weak in the knees. The graphics, sounds and gameplay have all been vastly improved. Want destructible vehicles and environments? You got ‘em. Want to be able to carjack an enemy’s ride? You’re all set. Shoot two weapons at once? Yep. Slice up foes with a Covenant Energy Sword? Done. Best of all, thanks to Xbox Live, there’s no need to share tiny sections of a TV screen, look for online “tunnels,” or find rich friends with an Xbox LAN. Ask yourself this: What other game will you be playing November 9th? Best Online Multiplayer Halo 2 (Bungie Studios/Microsoft for Xbox) Last E3, when Bungie showed us the brilliant single player gameplay of Halo 2, we cheered. This year, after Bungie revealed the much-anticipated multiplayer gameplay, we cheered again. Of all the multiplayer games on the show floor this year, none left an impression on us like Halo 2. Capture the Flag was the name of the game, and the African beachfront of Zanzibar was the location. With Covenant forces taking control of the city, it’s up to the Master Chief and his fellow Marines to go in and conquer. With 16-player support, new weapons, improved graphics and an incredibly complex damage model, Halo 2 multiplayer is everything we’ve come to expect and much more. This is online multiplayer redefined. Best Role Playing Game Jade Empire (Bioware/Microsoft for Xbox) After winning the Best Role Playing Game award for five out of the past seven E3 shows, we think it’s safe to say that BioWare knows what they’re doing when it comes to RPGs. With this year’s winner -- Jade Empire -- the Canadian RPG masters are taking their expertise to the next level by putting a new twist on a venerable genre. That twist is blending the rich storyline and deep character development we’ve come to expect from an RPG with a real-time, twitch-based combat system. Set against a mythological Chinese backdrop, this RPG doesn’t follow the model of every other RPG we’ve played in the past – and that’s why it’s a fitting winner as this year’s Best RPG. See the rest of this years winners at Game Critic Awards


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