Hardware at E3 2004 - Paul's Views
The Phantom Console
We got our first look at this controversial system in action. It handled unreal, without any visible lag. The version we saw was pretty large, but it is the third prototype and will mostly go through a size reduction by the time the Phantom hits production.
The Phantom runs PC games. You don't buy them and install them; instead you download them from their network and keep them on your hard drive. We weren't told exactly how much things will cost in the end, but we got a pretty rough sketch. They system is a per month type of deal, and the business model of the Phantom is much like that of a cell phone. The quote for a price per month was $29.99 per month, but that is subject to change. If you sign up for a 2-year contract you get the system itself for free, again much like a cell phone deal.
Many of the games are free downloads, but newer games are expected to have some sort of an extra fee attached. Also, you can essentially rent the games for a limited amount of time if you don't feel like purchasing them.
The control set up was fairly interesting. A PC game needs a keyboard and a mouse set up and there's no other way around that. That sort of set up would be a little too large to comfortably hold in your lap, so the engineers at Phantom have the keyboard set up at an angle with the mouse underneath the keyboard. Sounds strange, but it works.
I've given Phantom a bad rap in the past, but they seem to be pretty damn serious about trying to make this thing work. The demonstrations given were pretty convincing that the machine can do what they say it does. I'm not entirely sure how the public will take this new sort of business model in the end, however. I'm not the least interested in the machine, especially since it only plays PC games. The PC games market is shrinking every year with many of the good games going to the consoles.
I'll admit it, I'm a little more impressed with the Nokia N-Gage than Shawn is. I'm actually a lot more impressed with the new N-Gage than Shawn is. While, I didn't officially go in the booth to get a good look at it... I did kind of sneak over and peek at it while I was passing by. Yes, Shawn its true! The first N-Gage seemed to be designed by retarded monkeys, with the side talking thing, and the need to remove the battery to play games. This new N-Gage was designed by cybernetic monkeys, so the practicality of the system has been improved ten-fold.
One of the do-it-all wonder gadgets of the millennium is the Gizmondo, or their brochure would have you believe.
The theme of the Gizmondo was, edgy and urban. The booth had a DJ, a fake tattoo artist, and those stupid ass low-rider bicycles. In essence it seems to be made for rappers or something. What I found appalling was the game most featured for this product was called Colors. Colors is a shooter where you pick a gangsta or a hillbilly, weapons, clothing, attitude (whatever the hell that means) and go kill stuff. I really don't know much about the game, but it almost seems like a race wars themed game. Even if it isn't, what kind of a game is this to release a system with? I know: a system that tries way too hard to be hip and cool.
The were a ton of gaming accessories at the show, with every other one being a camera or camera software to let you look retarded on your own TV. I still don't know why this is catching on, but hopefully this trend will die soon like the Power Glove.
There were all kinds of goodies, including chairs for racing games with steering wheels and small TVs strapped on. The coolest one of these chairs had hydraulic lifts built into it... I didn't even bother asking for a price on that one. I bet its one of those things if you have to ask, then you can't get one.
One of the cheapest and most practical were things called Case Wraps. They are basically stickers that you put on your video game systems and make them look super cool. The stickers are really professional and donít leave a mark on the system if you take them off. Sweet indeed.
The usual third party junk accessories pretty much rounded up all of the extra junk that you'll only buy because you're too cheap to buy your friends a "good" controller.