E3 Recap

RPGamer reminisces about and ranks the games they saw at this year's E3.

   Another E3 draws to a close, and this RPGamer reporter, for one, is ready to get some rest. While there weren't any surprise products that completely blew us away, there was a lot of quality software that will satisfy gamers in the months - if not years - to come. RPGamer promised you the most comprehensive RPG coverage at the show, and we'd like to think we delivered. Here, then, is RPGamer's rankings of the RPGs we saw. It may be a top ten, but any one of the games would be well worth picking up. Use your own personal judgement when making decisions.

1. Final Fantasy VIII
   Victor Ireland summed up the feelings of many at the show when he said, "Final Fantasy VIII is the first Final Fantasy to interest me." Why is that? While only shown in two minutes of all-too-brief footage, FFVIII still astounded and impressed the jaded audience - audience members who had seen nearly every Playstation game released or in development. While everything about FFVII shouted "quality," everything about FFVIII shouts "more quality - and now, coherency!" From the FMV to the character designs to the battle engine to the field maps, Final Fantasy VIII appeared to be a world. The consistency and realism (that is, within a fantasy setting) was astounding. Far and away the RPG which RPGamer is most looking forward to - and probably most of you, too.
2. Anachronox
   While still in a pre-alpha stage, this game already looked better than any of Quake II / Unreal engine products at the show. By moving the Quake II engine to outside of the player, Team Anachronox has truly unleashed its full potential. Couple the sheer graphical amazingness with the already excellent character and level designs, toss in Team Anachronox's (and producer Tom Hall's) absolute worship of Chrono Trigger, and you have a game just bursting with potential and promise. This is a project to watch, it's going to be HOT! And did someone say console port?
3. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
   Some may cry foul at this game's ranking higher than Zelda. This is just a judgement call on this reporter's part, and you are welcome to disagree. But Soul Reaver was absolutely mindblowing in its attention to detail. The environments are architecturally astounding, with their gothic columns, stone walls, and torch-lit lighting. The vampire mythology is more than just a gimmick ... vampires must be disposed of as vampires: stab them in the heart, toss them in a fire, lure them into sunlight, etc. The two worlds of the Spectral and the Material plane recount the Dark and Light Worlds of Zelda III. And the promise of Metroid style gameplay with seamless environments is astounding! Add the hardest of the hard-core game design teams and you have a game that screams quality.
4. Zelda 64
   It's been said already, but we'll say it again. Zelda rocks!
5. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
   Compared to the graphical flash of the other titles, Lunar seems to fall short. The promise of an endearing storyline and a classic RPG experience, however, make it a diamond waiting to be discovered amongst the 3-D, anti-aliased glitz.
6. Xenogears
   How did Xenogears get all the way down here? There's just too many quality games coming out, that's how! But Square's traditional RPG offering promises the most in-depth, metaphorical storyline ever. Let's hope it survives translation.
7. Kartia
   On a list of Strategy RPGs, however, this would be number one. Atlus knows their strategy RPGs, and this one shines with quality in every facet. Good graphics, gorgeous music, epic battles, and terrain modifying! Awesome! The only thing cooler could be is if Yoshitaka Amano did the character designs ... he did? AMAZING! If you liked Tactics, you'll love Kartia. Look for it.
9. Brave Fencer Musashi
   From out of nowhere comes Square's endearing and enjoyable platforming / action RPG adventure. Top graphics and play control make this one a winner.
9. Shining Force III
   Sega's final RPG hurrah offers near-tactical levels of control in the battles and fully polygonal environments. If you have a Saturn, this and Panzer Dragoon Saga make it all worthwhile.
10. Parasite Eve
   The FMV is gorgeous. But the game itself is extremely short. Eight to ten hours of gameplay? While otherwise enjoyable and commendable, the too strong emphasis on style over substance hurts this one. Still an excellent 8-10 hours, however.

   Other games we enjoyed at the show were Metal Gear Solid (this game will blow your mind!), Bust-a-Groove (breakdancing action that drew crowds), and Perfect Dark (Goldeneye sequel, need we say more). Stay tuned to RPGamer after E3 for more of the great RPG coverage you love! Ciao now.

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