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RPGDot Best of E3 2002 Awards

by Vincent 'Baff' Austin, 2002-05-27


E3 2002 is history! Not having able to visit myself, I have the feeling that there were a lot less new games announced than in the previous years. In our most favourite RPG genre, actually with Black Isle Studios' Lionheart only 1 fresh title was introduced at E3; other new games like The Matrix MMOPRG and Freedom Force 2 were not presented. But we still have enough interesting games in the pipeline for 2002: Neverwinter Nights, Gothic 2, Divine Divinity, Icewind Dale 2, Sea Dogs...to name only a few.
Concluding our E3 2002 coverage, we now today announce the hottest RPGs from E3 in 5 categories: Best MMORPG, best Multiplayer RPG, best Historic RPG, best Sci-Fi RPG and of course the best Fantasy RPG!

Best MMORPG: Shadowbane

Developer: Wolfpack Studios
Publisher: UbiSoft
Platform: PC/Mac
Release Date: Fall

Shadowbane is looking pretty good. It's taking the MMORPG from a slightly different angle. The focus is on player vs. player, with monsters just being something to fight on the side for exp and loot. Gather together a clan and build your own city and stock it with trainers and smiths, or take over someone elses city if you think you can. It was really something watching the walls of a city get blasted in a siege and the city ending in flames. Some of the races are male only, and some of the classes are female only. The interface is highly customizable. Move, resize, change transparancy, change color (millions) on just about anything. Drag spell icons anywhere for easy casting. Set macros to any quick key.

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Best MMORPG Runner Up: City of Heroes

Developer: Cryptic Studios
Publisher: NC Soft
Platform: PC
Release Date: Early 2003

So, you want to be a super hero? You can develop your hero from a set of 50 different powers and 150 sub-powers. You gain money, experience and fame from completing quests. When you go to the villians hide-out, the game creates a version just for you and your group, so you don't have to compete with random people who wander by. Groups of heroes can join together and build a headquarters. You have over a billion trillion (yes billion trillion) combinations of destinct outfits to choose from, so you can match any vision of your ultimate super hero. Once you've built yourself up, you can test your mettle against other heroes in the Arena. Look for a Beta announcement in the next couple weeks.

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Best Multiplayer RPG: Neverwinter Nights

Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Atari
Platform: PC/Mac
Release Date: Summer?

There has been a ton said about this game and they really didn't tell us any great new secrets. But, they did set up a lan with a Dungeon Master and let 6 of us party together. It only took the mage a few seconds to start practicing his spells...on the rest of us. We managed to survive a few mishaps and finish the scenario Bioware had set up for us. I think we all did pretty well considering we didn't have access to a manual and were only getting a few pointers from Jay. After an hour, they had to turn off the power, rip us out of the chairs and toss us out of their booth. There were a few hiccups and minor issues, but no major bugs or crashes that we saw. No doubt, this game is going to be a huge hit.
But Neverwinter Nights is not just a Multiplayer RPG, it offers a massive Single Player Campaign as well!

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Best Multiplayer RPG Runner Up: Lionheart

Developer: Reflexive
Publisher: Interplay
Platform: PC
Release Date: Christmas 2002

This being one of the few new games announced at E3, everyone wants to know about it. It uses a skill system like Fallout, but the look and feel are comparable to the Baldur's Gate / Icewind Dale games in a magic/science world along the lines of Arcanum. This is an alternate timeline game. In the 3rd century magic came into the world. The game takes place in the 16th century. The two opposing forces are the Inquisition and the Magicians. You start out on the side of the Inquisition, but its up to you where you go from there. There are several historical figures in the game, but with a twist, such as Leonardo Da Vinci is an archmage. You will see lots of his odd inventions scattered about. The game will also support co-op for upto 3 players.
Just like NWN, Lionheart offers a single player adventure as well.

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Best Historic RPG: Sea Dogs 2

Developer: Akella
Publisher: Bethesda
Platform: PC/XBox
Release Date: before Christmas

It was impossible to get into E3 without seeing an Sea Dogs 2 poster. Last year Bethesda wallpapered the show with Morrowind posters. It was obvious after just a few minutes that SD2 gained more from Bethesda's Morrowind experience than just advertising. You can play as either a man or woman. Both characters have different back stories and whichever one you decide to play, you will run into the other character in the game on occasion. There is an actual crew on the decks now. There are whales, dolphins and sharks in the water. You can get hit by cyclones and lightning strikes. The water and ships look better than ever. Your crew fights along side you now as the battle rages across the deck. You also get pistols to back up your sword. They have added a random quest generator that makes quests based on your current skill levels. There will also be an editor and plug-ins will follow the release. It just gets better and better. I can't wait to get my hands on this one.

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Best Historic RPG Runner Up: Lionheart

Developer: Reflexive
Publisher: Interplay
Platform: PC
Release Date: Christmas 2002

Taking place in medieval Europe, Black Isle takes a new approach to the RPG genre. Lionheart features the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. RPG System introduced in Interplay's highly accalimed Fallout games!

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Best Sci-Fi RPG: Deus Ex 2

Developer: Ion Storm
Publisher: Eidos
Platform: PC/XBox
Release Date: 2003

This is one of the few games that had that "wow" factor for graphics. They are using the Unreal engine, but they have rewritten the code for lighting and shadows. Mostly what was being shown was a tech demo. Knock over a lamp and it will bounce off a wall and spin around on the floor with the beam of light flashing around creating realistic and real-time shadows, not pre-rendered! So what's new in Deus Ex 2? In Deus Ex 1, you were given the impression that you could choose sides, but in 2 you really can choose which faction to work for, so you can play through a second time fighting for the other side. Since the game is also being designed for XBox, the controls are kept from getting too complex.

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Best Sci-Fi RPG Runner Up: Neocron

Developer: Rakktor Media
Publisher: CVD
Platform: PC
Release Date: Summer

Neocron is an action packed 3D MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) set in a post apocalyptic metropolis. Live a virtual life in the exciting world of the 28th century. The user becomes a citizen of Neocron and it`s up to him whether he wants to experience exciting adventures or just live a normal life in this virtual world.

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Best Fantasy RPG: Gothic 2

Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: Fishtank/JoWood
Platform: PC
Release Date: Late 2002

Gothic was one of my favorite games last year, so I can't wait for this one. The world is five times larger than Gothic 1. The AI has been improved, wolves will now attack deer, the deer will run from the wolves, the wolves will run from you if they think you are too tough. The game takes place shortly after the end of Gothic 1, but you are a newbie character, so no importing your awesome character from Gothic 1. A huge earthquake has disrupted society and now its your job to get things back in shape and you can join 1 of 3 factions (Mages, Paladins, Dragon Slayers). Yes there are now dragons in the game, woohoo!

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Best Fantasy RPG 1st Runner Up: Icewind Dale 2

Developer: Black Isle
Publisher: Interplay
Platform: PC
Release Date: Summer 2002

How is IWD2 different from IWD1? Well, its all 3rd edition AD&D now, with all the changes that brings. When you enter an area, the number of creatures it spawns depends on your level. There are several puzzle games to play with, such as a tic-tac-toe where you have to beat on monsters to take a square, and you can set the difficulty of the monsters and you get bigger prizes for the tougher ones. The focus isn't as strongly hack & slash as IWD1, its a bit closer to Baldur's Gate, with multiple ways of reaching your goals. You can fight, talk, or send in your thief, etc. The game takes place 100 years after IWD1, so you won't be importing your old characters.

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Best Fantasy RPG 2nd Runner Up: Divine Divinity

Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: CDV
Platform: PC
Release Date: Summer 2002

If you are looking for an epic RPG in the likes of the old Ultima games, Divine Divinity is your game. The only downside is, that there is no party, you are trravelling on your own! Download the recently released demo to learn more about the game (link from above)!

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Related Links:
E3 2002 Day 1 Report
E3 2002 Day 2 Report
E3 2002 Neocron Gallery
E3 2002 City of Heroes Gallery
E3 2002 Lineage 2 Gallery
E3 2002 Grom Gallery
E3 2002 Archangel Gallery
E3 2002 Gothic 2 Gallery
E3 2002 Mistmare Gallery

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