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GameSpot Presents: Best of E3 2000

Most Potent Action Games

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Max Payne
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Gathering of Developers (G.O.D.)

Max Payne is a third-person action shooter that's been in development for a long time and won't be released "until it's done." However, the build we saw at E3 looked very impressive - it showed an enormous amount of detail, both on the character model of Max (and his enemies) and in the game's gritty New York City environments, which included skycrapers and dingy subway stations. Max Payne won't just be a shallow shooter; the game will record each of Max's exploits in a graphic novel that will include JPEG images of the gunfights and adventures he's survived, as well as a vocal narrative by Max himself.

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Halo
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Bungie

Thanks to newly tweaked graphics, Halo looks amazing. It won a spot in our top action games list more for its huge promise than for actual gameplay. What people saw of Halo at E3 was a real-time technology demo followed by a scripted movie. The real-time demo proved that a midrange machine (by today's standards) could run the game at an acceptable speed in 32-bit color and high resolution. It also demonstrated some remarkable in-game physics, which will be integral to final gameplay. The new movie depicted a very strong multiplayer experience; it showed elaborate vehicle models, aircraft, and individually "skinned" human soldiers.

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Tribes 2
Developer: Dynamix
Publisher: Sierra

Tribes led the way in 1998 for multiplayer-only first-person shooters, focusing on squad-based cooperative team action. We're counting on Tribes 2 to be just as popular this time around when it hits shelves later this year. Featuring an impressive new graphics engine, new environments, improved vehicles, and expanded offline tutorials for beginning players, Tribes 2 reinforces many of the previous game's strengths. Dynamix is also revamping the in-game command interface as well as building instant messaging, chat rooms, and a browser directly into the game to make it easier to recruit and develop online teams.

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Dragon's Lair 3D
Developer: DragonStone Software
Publisher: Blue Byte

Dragon's Lair 3D now looks almost exactly like the 2D animated version, except with a full range of fluid motion. At first sight we thought we were looking at hand-drawn animation, somehow fluidly integrated into an interactive environment. Instead, the developers have kept the polygonal characters and just moved to a new way of rendering them, using flat shading instead of blending colors realistically.

There's much that is both new and old in the game, which incorporates many of the old textures and background details into the new environments, and it will feature new animated cinematics drawn by Don Bluth, the game's original artist. But we did take note of the fact that part of the reason why the game looked so good was the Voodoo5 that was powering it. With full-screen anti-aliasing turned on, the Voodoo5 eliminated jagged edges and helped the polygonal characters blend into the backgrounds.

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Red Faction
Developer: Volition
Publisher: THQ

Red Faction's Geo Mod engine was built from scratch to support geometry deformation and effectively give a rocket launcher the power to blast holes in walls and buildings. But this isn't just a pretty graphical effect. The physics engine and AI react in real time to environmental changes, so guard towers with blown-out support struts will fall and topple naturally, and an enemy who's cover just vanished in a hail of rocket fire will run in search of a new haven.

Red Faction will also expand on conventional combat by offering several different vehicles you can board and drive into battle. We got to see an APC equipped with both a chaingun and rocket grenade launcher. The game will also include flying vehicles, and even a submarine. From what we saw at E3, Red Faction has the potential to leverage some very cool technical features, which should make it a more immersive first-person shooter. After all, there's something truly and viscerally satisfying about leaving your mark on the battlefield.
 
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