Today was the first day of E3 proper and we pounded the halls trudging through massess of games (and the odd booth babe) in search of the hottest games on the planet. We battled the perrenial flashing lights, the undying thumping of game audio, hordes of sweaty game industry employees and the occassional nerd for a full 8 hours. Unfortunately with so many games to actually see and play there's been little time for writing (our heads are still spinning and no guesses as to what we'll be dreaming about tonight!). We'll have more in-depth game reports and stand reports over the coming week, but for now, here's some initial impressions of the games that stood out from the crowd today. Need sleeeeppp... need sleeeeeeeeep.



Mario Kart: Double Dash (GC)

Nintendo’s biggest game of E3 in terms of floor space and crowds is, without a doubt, Mario Kart: Double Dash. A small area was set up in the corner of Nintendo’s floor space with a constant queue of people lining up to participate in a multi-player match of the upcoming racer. It is very much a party-favourable title and holds a great deal of fun for those indulging in multi-player gaming sessions. The best feature is that you can have up to eight players playing on a LAN of GameCubes at once! Yeah baby yeah! We'll find time to head back over to this area of the Nintendo stand and have more of a thrash that's for sure...

Key Features:

* Double the fun! Each kart holds two racers that can switch places at any time. Choose from a huge cast of favorites, like: Luigi, Peach, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Wario and many more, and pair them up in any combination. The character in front handles the driving duties, while the character in the rear doles out damage with six different items plus eight special items that only specific characters can use.

* Reach new levels of frenzy with four-player mayhem, as each player controls two characters as they speed through Mushroom Kingdom courses.

* Place first in racing circuits to open up progressively more difficult circuits. Of course, you can have multiplayer races on any open courses or battle in arenas.

* Link the game with eight other players using a broadband adapter and race each other side-by-side using multiple game systems and multiple televisions!

James Bond: Everything or Nothing (Multi)

Just before the show started EA announced their new deal with MGM that will see them churn out Bond games until 2010! No surprise really - it is a bit of a cash cow for them now with EA revealing that Nightfire was in the top 10 selling games last year on both the PS2 and Xbox! Anyway, the latest game in the series is Everything or Nothing and the good thing is that it looks set to continue the same action-packed style of gameplay that Nightfire provided us with not-so-long ago. The first difference for those familiar with the last couple of Bond games is that Everything or Nothing is played from a third-person view rather than first-person. Car chases, abseiling down burning buildings and taking out bad-guys with varying methods are still all in a day’s work for the charismatic spy. We were very impressed with the latest Bond adventure, and if there weren't so many other games to check out we would have spent some more quality time with it.

Key Features:

* New third person perspective that showcases Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

    * Multiple ways to complete missions, with player rewards for completing objectives with Bond style by using disguise to temporarily take the identity of a defeated foe, misdirection, and other spy tactics rather than brute force.

      * New over the top hand-to-hand fighting that includes the use of environmental objects such as bottles, chairs, tools, boards, etc.

        * Original single player storyline that immerses the player in the world of James Bond with classic villains, exotic locations, beautiful girls, fast cars, and high-tech gadgetry.

          * Missions that span exotic locales in four continents, including the French Quarter of New Orleans, a mountain fortress in Peru, a secret facility in Egypt, and Red Square in Moscow.

            * Seamless transitions from on-foot exploration to piloting interactive vehicles including cars, motorcycles, helicopters, and tanks.

              * Over 20 weapons and gadgets including the ability to rappel up or down any wall.

                * New third person multiplayer modes including two-player co-op missions and arena-style combat with up to four players.

                  StarWars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox,PC)

                  Set around 4,000 years before Star Wars: Episode 1, BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic is nearing completion and is looking very strong as the first Star Wars RPG. Battles can be fought in real-time or using a turn-based system and the developers are promising at least 40-50 hours of gameplay and apparently up to around 200 hours for those who take on all the side-quests. We played through some of Tatooine (one of the six planets in the game) and are happy to report that aside from some minor frame-rate issues, everything about the game - graphics, sound, presentation - just everything, is absolutely top-notch. This already is in our top five games for the show - it can't come out soon enough.

                  Key Features:

                  * Immersive, action-packed Star Wars role playing experience with customizable and evolving playable characters.

                    * Your group, comprised of up to 3 characters, can include humans, droids, Twi'leks, Wookiees and more.

                      * Fast paced mini-games -- such as racing swoop bikes, or manning turret guns.

                        * Journey spans ten different worlds ranging from the familiar to the new.

                          * Locations include Tatooine, Sith world of Korriban, Jedi Academy on Dantooine and Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk.

                            Sonic Heroes (Multi)

                            Sonic is set to appear on all three major consoles for the first time with Sonic Heroes. Those who have played any of the Sonic Adventure titles on the Dreamcast and GameCube will be instantly familiar with the environment, although some new additions are present. The most notable is that you play the game as a team – we got to see “Team Sonic”, consisting of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. The three party members are able to change formation and leader to combat different situations – for example, Tails can fly (with Sonic and Knuckles dangling beneath), Knuckles can break rocks and Sonic is your general all-purpose character. Sonic is most definitely back and better than ever and this is one game we'll be watching with more interest.

                            Key Features:

                            * Play as one of four teams for a total of 12 playable characters - Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose, or Team Chaotix - each with their own unique signature moves and story line

                            * Each team boasts multiple specialized stages with unique missions and CG movies driving each "team" story forward

                            * Experiment with team formations to learn the best way to defeat enemies, solve puzzles, and navigate massive environment

                            * Each stage contains multiple paths and missions for maximum replayability

                            Otogi: Myth of Demons (Xbox)

                            Otogi is a great looking action-RPG from Sega for the Xbox. Try to picture a cross between Shinobi and Gun Valkyrie and you should see something close to Otogi. Weilding a sword and an array of magic, our protagonist can jump rather high and has the ability to cause devastating damage to weak foes – and wooden buildings, for that matter, which we did not hesitate in smashing up simply because we could. Otogi's graphics are really amazing, and although the gameplay seems as though it could get a bit repetitive, it is definitely going on our wish list.

                            Key Features:

                            * More than 25 levels - face down hordes of demons, destroy mammoth bosses, and set the world right as an undead warrior in search of peace

                            * Collect and customize more than 30 weapons, 12 varieties of magic and more than10 special demon slaying item

                            * Deep story based on classic Japanese mythologie

                            * More than 15 hours of gameplay

                            For some more random pics from the show, check out the thread in the Gameplanet General Forum. There will be plenty more added here throughout the show so check often!