Network: Everything to play for

They came, they saw and they tried to conquer the competition at Europe's giant computer trade show. But does the games industry have anything new to offer?

September is the starting gate to Christmas for the video game industry: 30,000 movers, shakers and freeloaders headed to London's Olympia for the European Computer Trade Show (ECTS) last weekend to see the latest moves in a $10bn plus market.

Despite the imminent arrival of their make-or-break Dreamcast console, Sega opted not to exhibit at the show, except for a spectacular launch party on the opening evening. Few were surprised - Dreamcast's launch has already been well publicised, and Sega had nothing new to show. Cost must also have been an issue - a stand the size of Sony's and Nintendo's would have cost six-figures, and Sega's reserves must be running low after its huge Dreamcast advertising spend.

Though there was no official presence, there were many third-party titles dotted about. Many were lacklustre PC ports or tepid arcade conversions (such as the execrable Hydro Thunder), but amid the dross were real gems. Besides Dreamcast Game of the Show, Ready to Rumble, excellent futuristic racer Trickstyle and innovative 3D fighter PowerStone were two highlights.

Sony's stand did not bear the marks of a company unduly worried - or even particularly concerned - by Dreamcast. Its line-up of new games was typically strong, emphasising a firm commitment to its aging console. Particularly impressive was Dino Crisis - an atmospheric retread of Resident Evil in a Jurassic Park-style environment.

Of course, many of the other top titles were sequels, but the superbly executed likes of Gran Turismo 2 and Wipeout 3 will draw little complaint from the Playstation-owners this Christmas. The inimitable Lara Croft was back (again), but Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation looked just like the other three: four words summed it up: "same old, same old".

Even Ms Croft's escapades could not distract attention from the main attraction of the Sony stand. Running on grainy video in a back room were the first demos of the much-hyped Playstation 2. Updated versions of Gran Turismo and Tekken and some breathtaking technical demos (clouds of feathers, skeletal armies, beautifully animated water) pointed towards Sony's continued dominance of the console market.

However, by the time Playstation 2 makes it to the UK (Christmas 2000 at the earliest) such graphical trickery will be within the reach of most PCs. Time will tell if the games designers actively exploit such technology, or merely hide behind it.

One designer able to fashion definitive games from any generation of technology is Nintendo's legendary Shigeru Miyamoto, who appeared at ECTS for the first time. Acclaimed as a genius by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, as well as his game-industry peers, Mario creator Miyamoto's presence was an indication that Nintendo is finally taking an interest in the European market. This is due in part to the efforts of its UK subsidiary, Rare, which, Miyamoto aside, has produced the best games for the Nintendo N64 console. Three of Rare's new titles were on display: Donkey Kong 64 and Jet Force Gemini proved worthy additions to the Rare canon, but it was Perfect Dark, sequel to the illustrious Goldeneye, that attracted the most praise, with enthusiastic gamers proclaiming it "the absolute business".

Elsewhere on Nintendo's sprawling stand the main attraction was all-conquering Pokemon (Pocket Mon- ster) brand, that's currently Nintendo's main moneyspinner. Two GameBoy tiles, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue , will be released before Christmas, with a Star Wars-style merchandising avalanche to follow - you have been warned!

Many of the more interesting game ideas were found on the PC, with innovative God-game Black or White, bank-robbery sim Heist, and the self-explanatory Hitman, all looking promising.

The big PC sequels were also out in force: Quake 3, which eschews any pretence at storyline in favour of a deathmatch-style blastfest; and PC Game of the Show, Grand Prix 3. Both seem set to clean up this Christmas. Other standout titles were Team Fortress 2 (from the makers of Half Life) and Command and Conquer: Renegade - both 3D shoot-em ups designed to be played collaboratively over the Internet.

Of course, such gaming delights demand 3D graphics power and rival hardware manufacturers displayed their kit. The dream configuration for a PC was a 600MHz Pentium III combined with the new Guillemot 3D Prophet graphics card and a cinema-style surround system - should be enough for the next six months.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'