Xbox 1.5, Age of Empires, and what is that smelll?

Published on Thursday, May 19, 2005 By Brad Wardell In PC Gaming

E3 is such a mad house this year. And for good reason - three huge console announcements competing for our attention.  Microsoft has a bit of an advantage with their Xbox 360 being a little closer to reality than the Nintendo Revolution or Playstation 3.  On the other hand, there was a depressing lack of booth babes.  And what is E3 without booth babes?

XBOX 360 or 1.5?
Xbox 360 is going to be backward compatible with existing Xbox titles which may help make up for the relatively negative impressions that they gave off at the show.  Nearly everyone I talked to was pretty disappointed with the Xbox 360 games being shown.  The term "Xbox 1.5" was used quite often and it was hard not to notice the Mac boxes that were used to power the games.

You could say it's unfair to judge the Xbox 360 based on these demos because the machines used to power the demos are only 1/3rd as powerful as the eventual hardware.  But it's not like Sony used some Jedi mind trick on Microsoft to force them to show the Xbox games before they were ready for prime time.  The reality is, the Xbox 360 games were not impressive. They looked like year old PC games.  Turning on anti-aliasing might have at least helped matters a tad.  Microsoft would have been better off with canned demos I suspect.

Remember when they made games for computers
The good news from E3 is that apparently game developers still make PC games.  Not many PC games but still, there were some.  The PC vs. Console wars go on via Usenet and other Internet sources routinely. But the real status of the war can be felt each year at E3 as the PC games take up less physical space.  In the good old days, the South Hall was devoted mostly to PC games and the West hall to console games.  Now, the South Hall has a lot of console games too.

Mmm. Age of Empires III..
I did manage to find Age of Empires 3.  I had to go to a relatively small two-story booth to find it, but I did.  And at the risk of sounding like a mindless fanboy -- best RTS ever possibly.  But Age of Empires 3 will rock not just because of its graphics, which are impressive, but I think it's the physics engine that will make people drool.  I know I did which was embarrassing as I was wearing a white shirt. Canon balls ripping through a building is a sight to see. I'm so excited to get AOE 3 and it should be out by Christmas.

The funniest canned video was the Civilization IV demo.  It was a video that talks about being addicted to Civilization.  I know that it was playing the original Civilization that I was able to tell my mom back years ago that the birds start singing at exactly 4:45am.  I think there are a lot of people reading this who can relate to being addicted to Civ.  The demo was light on showing the chocolatey goodness of Civilization but from what I did see, it was incredibly cool.  I don't want to build it up too much but it looked better than ten superbowls..

I also got to check out Rise of Legends. That looked pretty cool too. Its graphics aren't quite Age of Empires III quality which may be problematic since it comes out afterwards. But no matter, if its game mechanics are anywhere near as good as Rise of Nations, it'll be heaven.

So even after the second day, I still haven't actually got to check out the Playstation 3 stuff or the Nintendo Revolution. That's mainly because I'm a loser who's not willing to wait in lines.

Below are a few random pictures.  Being on Eastern Time, it's something like 43 o'clock so I'm dead tired.  The problem with being a lazy schlumb like myself is that once the muscles atrophy, it's hard to get around all day.  And tomorrow is going to be even busier.  But stay tuned, lots of goodies then.