E3 97
Part One

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Welcome to the Special E3 report from Coming Soon Magazine. This report will be updated daily starting July 12th, and will cover the widest range of games from arcade to reflection through educative titles and new hardware that were presented at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Atlanta from June 19th to June 21st.

Each title presented in the report will be accompanied by a description of its special features as well as a tentative release date (accurate at the time of the trade show). In the following days, new categories and games will be added with links to screen shots and companies' web sites, to provide you with the best information on the hundreds of upcoming games.

Role-Playing Games

Slated for a July release, Fallout: A Post Nuclear Adventure is a new RPG game from Interplay following the likes of Bards Tale and Stonekeep. Set 80 years in the aftermath of a world-wide nuclear war, Fallout is a true RPG game featuring a compelling post-nuclear story line, turn-based combat and hundreds of characters. State-of-the-art SVGA graphics within a 3/4 perspective environment, character building, and character interaction are other key points of this awe-inspiring title developed for PC CD-ROM and Macintosh.

Quest 64 is the working title of the first RPG game ever for the Nintendo 64. Scheduled for 1998, Quest 64 embarks the player into a journey to the Seltland Island, a giant 3-D environment where the player will assume the role of a young adventurer known as Shanjaque. Packed with numerous characters and enemies, puzzles and a dizzying list of magical spells, Quest 64 from THQ seems to be THE RPG game Nintendo 64 players will look for next year.

With The Dark Project, Looking Glass Technologies is back into RPGs. The creators behind the Ultima Underworld series and System Shock are back with a revolutionary title, featuring a unique technology called Act/React. For the first time, players will experience true interactivity with the surrounding environment; wood objects will burn when exposed to fire, cold freezes water and loud actions trigger responses. The 3D engine used in The Dark Project allows unrestricted movement in both directions on all three axes of movements (6 degrees of freedom), and delivers a rapid frame rate. Furthermore, the game features motion capture character animations that obey the law of physics, and a 3D pathfinding/tactical artificial intelligence that lets computer-controlled creatures jump over chasms and climb stairs. Definitely a promising title that RPG fans will eagerly await for until February 98!

Another compelling project is Eidos's Forsaken, which offers real-time 3D characters with a 3D isometric perspective, 65,000 colors and a new lighting engine for striking visual effects. In Forsaken, the player takes the role of Locke in his quest to alter his destiny. Inhabited by supernatural powers that lured the Gods themselves, the player will control Locke in his attempt to avoid being one of the Forsaken. The game showcases realistic combats based on motion character animations, massive 3D world with a total freedom of movements, non-linear story and original system that lets you build your own spells. Action and RPG elements have been combined wisely in Forsaken to deliver an intense challenge.

While waiting for the third installment in "The Elder Scrolls" series (expected for late 1998), TES: Battlespire engulfs the players in a first-person fantasy RPG game with a unique taste of action. Based on the XnGine 3D technology developed internally at Bethesda Softworks, Battlespire achieves stunning visuals with its high resolution graphics and hi-color textures. Additionally, dynamic light sources, transparent water effects and realistic weather conditions will enhance the realism of the detailed 3D environment. TES: Battlespire will also feature a rich character design system (based on TES: Daggerfall character creation scheme) and a dramatic story line (from the fabric of the TES series). But the newest feature is without a doubt the advanced multi-player mode where players will need to cooperate in order to solve the quests and puzzles. Look for this title around September 1997.

The follow-up to the 1993 award-winning hit Betrayal at Krondor has been finally released. Although it isn't the continuation of the original story, Betrayal at Antara offers an enticing game play with a rich and intricate story. Thousands of square miles to explore await adventurers in Sierra's Betrayal at Antara with SVGA graphics and an immersive 3D terrain system. Players will discover cities, castles, taverns, dungeons, temples and more, and embark into a dramatic journey in which they will be confronted to secret societies, assassinations, abductions and other devious plots. Last but not least, turn-based combats will pit the players against dozens of opponents through a dynamic third person view in which they will fight an improved AI using spells and weapons.

It is in the magical land of Silmaria where Quest for Glory: Dragon Fire will take place. The fifth episode of the Quest for Glory series has been under serious improvements, now boasting a super hi-res 3D world with scrolling scenes and changing perspectives, real-time action combats and multi-player support. The 3D rendered characters and landscapes offer great visuals throughout the adventure where the hero will have to prove his valor before he can take the place of the old Patrician who just died. Menacing assassins, mythological creatures such as Hydras and Gargoyles will do their best to stop you in your quest, but armed with your sword or magical spells, you will know how to treat them. If you look for a role playing action/adventure game this holiday season, look no further, Sierra's Quest for Glory: Dragon Fire is probably your best choice.

Newcomer in the RPG world is Segasoft with Skies. Only expected for release in May 1998, Skies promises an extraordinary game play experience, based on a fantasy world with ever-changing environments and winged characters that visibly develop and grow as the player experience success and failure. Skies can be played as a single player game, but also over LAN or HEAT.NET, SegaSoft's Internet Game Network. Players will interact with hundreds of other characters within dozens of unique environments, and face daunting missions and combat freighting adversaries to acquire new objects, weapons and spells. Unlike other RPG games where developments of your character could only be measured with numerical scores, characters in Skies will visually change as they mature. Cities, towns and other environments of the game will also dynamically reflect the actions of the players during the game. Through the Transactor technology implemented on HEAT.NET, players will be able to buy, sell and collect assets, thus defining an open-market economy within the game. If it stays close to its promises, Skies will deliver a new gaming experience!

Among the best RPG series of all time stands "Wizardry" created by Sir-Tech Software, and not surprisingly, Sir-Tech was showing a version of Wizardry VIII in very early development. Not intended for release before late 1998 or even 1999, Wizardry VIII will extensively use 3D accelerator cards to provide players with immersive and realistic worlds, but won't forget the RPG tradition of the long-time series. The early demo we saw at the show was only created to give an idea of Sir-Tech's vision, but should the designers manage to put in the game every bit of what they want to, Wizardry VIII will be the next title to rave on.

Published by ASCII Entertainment, Shadow Madness is the latest RPG title on the PlayStation from the makers of the King's Field series. Loaded with gorgeous backdrops, fully rendered characters and beautifully rendered SGI artwork, Shadow Madness is a visual treat that will appeal for RPG fans. Many interwoven story lines with multiple endings and a variety of sub-games will keep players busy for weeks. The addition of real-time combats, a multi-party system and an original musical score make this title a potential hit. Don't expect it before the first quarter of 1998.

Among the numerous titles presented by Konami of America at E3, there were two RPG titles for the PlayStation: Suikoden II and Vandal-Hearts. Schedule for release in 1998, Suikoden II will most likely be as successful as its predecessor, featuring beautiful 3D and 2D texture-mapped graphics. As the original, the epic adventure will plunge players into an amazing story line where they will interact with dozens of characters. Now available on the market, Vandal-Hearts, while featuring RPG elements, is more versed into combats, with a 3D isometric view that can rotate horizontally and vertically for multiple 3D customized views. A variety of weapons, magic spells and sneak attacks are available for players in their struggle against the evil foes.

With over 2 millions copies sold in the first 3 days of its release in Japan, Final Fantasy VII will be one of the most sought after PlayStation titles this year. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Final Fantasy VII offers a multitude of revolutionary features with cutting-edge 3D graphics and stunning visuals, a rich story line and hundreds of computer-generated images. Over 50 hours of game play are packed in this title, as well as a full-length soundtrack which stirs players' emotions along the epic adventure. Final Fantasy VII also brings back former characters of the series, while introducing new characters such as Cloud and Aeris to assure the continuity of the saga.

Announced for 1998, Final Fantasy Tactics and SaGa Frontier, both developed by Square Soft and published on PlayStation by Sony Computer Entertainment of America, will take the RPG style by storm on this console. While Final Fantasy Tactics is based on the Final Fantasy universe and introduces a new 4D battle system which incorporates the aspect of "time" in each battle, SaGa Frontier is the fourth and latest episode of the Romancing SaGa series. Offering a rich and deeply textured 3D world with a large cast of main and sub-characters, SaGa Frontier will stay with the series' Free Scenario System that gives players a greater freedom in choosing their own paths of exploration and discovery.

Not at rest, Sega of America will release two RPG titles for the Sega Saturn: Shining the Holy Ark in July 1997 and Panzer Dragoon Saga in January 1998. These next-generation RPG titles will feature visually-stunning 3D graphics with unlimited exploration and real-time battles. Shining the Holy Ark will be the first full-3D RPG game with high resolution graphics for the Sega Saturn. Playing the role of Arthur, a swordsman on a rescue mission, the player will explore beautiful environments, solve puzzles and battle numerous evil forces in real-time combats. In Panzer Dragoon Saga, the player will take over the character of Edge, a young boy hunter saved by a dragon. Edge will explore the 12 action-packed levels on or off the dragon, experiencing full 360 degree flight and freedom of exploration without precalculated paths. As the dragon gains experience throughout the game, he will have the ability to morph into numerous forms, utilize four distinct attacks and use various weapons.

Expected for release in 1998, Nintendo's Zelda 64 and Mischief Makers will bring RPG style to new heights on the Nintendo 64. Chronicling the continuing adventures of Link in the lands of Hyrule, Zelda 64 will feature beautiful 3D graphics and is claimed to be simply breathtaking. Developed by Enix, Mischief Makers will offer robotic mayhem and a unique combat system through 60 different stages using pre-rendered 3D graphics. It will be the first RPG title for the Nintendo 64.

Reflection/Puzzle Games

Shanghai: Dynasty is the newest addition to the critically acclaimed Shanghai game series. Activision will bring the series to new heights this winter by adding network and Internet multi-player capabilities. Offering three distinct games in one - Classic Shanghai, Battle Shanghai and Mah-Jongg - Shanghai: Dynasty, with its high-resolution 3D graphics and player-customizable tile sets, will offer the best Shanghai experience ever!

Fans of the Magic the Gathering card and computer game will be delighted when MicroProse launches two expansion sets for Magic the Gathering this fall. The first expansion will feature over 100 rare cards from Unlimited, Arabian Nights and Antiquities trading card sets, a new Sealed Deck Generator, and 60 prefabricated new decks. The Sealed Deck Generator feature will allow players to compete in tournament style using a random set of new cards from which they must build the best possible deck. The second expansion, in addition to offer 200 new cards, will add multi-player support to the game through modem, serial, network, and Internet connections.

Gametek is hard at work in converting the two popular game shows, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! for the Nintendo 64. Available this fall, both games will feature 3D rendered sets and high-quality audio to make you feel as if you were part of the show! Over 4,000 answers with 650 different categories taken from the TV show have been included in Jeopardy! to challenge your mind. And what more, Vanna White from Wheel of Fortune and Alex Trebek from Jeopardy! will join you as hosts of their respective shows for a brand new entertainment experience on the Nintendo 64.

This fall, Sierra will add two new titles in the Hoyle series: Hoyle Classic Games 2.0 and Hoyle Classic Board Games. With Hoyle Classic Games 2.0, the entire family will enjoy playing with bridge, crazy eights, hearts, solitaire, poker or another game among the ten entertaining card games offered. New to the Hoyle series is Hoyle Classic Board Games featuring ten classic board games such as backgammon, chess, dominoes, checkers and more! Both games include animated characters and helpful tutorials, and are "season smart", which backgrounds and other interactions during the game will relate to the time of the year users are playing.

Power Chess will be back this November with an updated version logically called Power Chess 98. A new and easier to manipulate user interface, as well as dramatically enhanced Internet play will once again assure a strong success to Sierra's title. Additional sets and boards are also included with a new version of WChess that features advanced opening book and mid-game tuning, and custom modes for fun chess variant play. Power Chess 98 will continue the tradition of the original title by providing players with an adaptive opponent who automatically adjusts to each player's skill level.

Now a division of Sierra, Berkeley Systems will add two new titles to the You Don't Know Jack series in October. Eight hundred new questions will be included in You Don't Know Jack Volume 3 with new features and question types including Threesomes, Impossible Questions and Fiber Optic Field Trips To The Dead. After sports and movies, it is television's turn to enter in the hilarious series. You Don't Know Jack Television covers 50 years of the boob tube from Fantasy Island to the X-Files through famous TV events. Recreating the swift pacing of a TV game show and the sarcastic musings of a game show host, the You Don't Know Jack series has known a tremendous success since its introduction in the fall of 1995.

Yet to be named officially, Empire Interactive's Chess game is expected to be a serious contender in the chess arena next year. Over 600 animation sequences using 32-bit alpha channelled graphics (for effects such as glass, anti-aliased edge and shadows) and super scaling in real time will be included in Chess. As if playing with living battling characters was not enough, Chess will also present players with the challenge of their life with a 32-bit chess engine designed by the current champion chess programmer. AI level will be customizable to match each player's skill level, and for those who prefer playing against humans, multi-player support will be available.

Created by famous designer Alexey Pajitnov for Microsoft Games, Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection includes 10 graphically-oriented games for users of varying preferences and skill levels. Compatible with Windows 95 and Windows NT operating systems, Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection is the perfect way to relieve stress, with games easy to play with, but hard to master.

For trivia games aficionados, Sir-Tech Software will release Pathe News 20th Century Challenge later this year. Based on over 500 historical footage recorded by Pathe News along this century, the new trivia game will offer over 3,000 questions covering subjects as diverse as the moon landing or the O.J. Simpson trial. Pathe News 20th Century Challenge can be played as a solo game or in team play mode, and includes three different types of quizzes.

Last updated July 12th

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