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
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

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.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all