As HL2 fans waited and formed a line about 200 yards long, we, the media got special treatment. We estimate that the regular E3 visitor had to wait at least two hours to view the demo which was about 10 minutes long. We did take digital footage of the demo, and will serve the demo on FS once it is done being compressed. The demo room was a small 2-row seat room, and one row standing area, and can probably fit about 40 people comfortably with a great speaker setup and two large plasma displays, just like last year. This year, though Gabe Newell didnít demo the game.
The demo consisted of 5 or 6 new scenes. From last year, it wasnít a big improvement though. Of course, there is the obligatory close-up of the mystery manís face, showing the great facial animation. Then there is a mini physics demo, where Gordon hacks through some wooden planks and throws tables around. There was one scene in the docks where Gordon took control of a giant cargo-lifter magnet, and picked up an empty container, and dropped it on oncoming thugs. There was the dune-buggy scene with lots of aliens to shoot at. Another scene involves the destruction of barrels.
Ironically what impressed me most was the very first part of the game, when Gordon just arrived, and is walking through a worn down apartment building. Where people have no hope, and Gordon is getting to know everyone in the building. The realism is almost there, as we see Gordon going up stairs, with imperfect walls and great lighting. It felt almost like a movie.
They also gave us a hint of what multi-player gaming would be like if they used the Source engine, and guess what, they remade one famous Counter-Strike levels using the new engine, and it looked great. I could not name it, because I was never into CS that much, but the reaction from some viewers was very noticeable. Terrorists and counter-terrorists never looked so good.
Splinter Cell 3
Getting to see UbiSoftís Splinter Cell 3 demo for the PC was a treat. It was a pretty hefty demo, clocking in at about 20 minutes. Each viewer got a remote control so they can vote for which parts of the demo to see, which was a nice interactive touch on Ubiís part. The demo came in three parts: the first was the actual game demo, the second was the interactive portion (in three segments) in which users can choose what they wanted to see, and the third was the online co-op mode in which two players worked together against the baddies.
They had two level designers on-hand, and one of them played through a level in a Japanese-style home. Sam showed off some new nifty moves, and improved interactivity with the world, such as turning off candles and busting through the paper walls to grab enemies. The engine has been overhauled in SC3, with great water effects on the ground, on Sam himself when it was raining or when the sprinklers were turned on after Sam threw out some smoke bombs. An interesting move was when Sam threw a sticky shock bomb in the water and electrocuted some henchmen who were walking in standing water.
The best part of the demo was seeing the two level designers play it out in co-op mode. In this mode, they were playing online and had mic headsets to communicate with one another. The playing style is still the same, stealth and more stealth, but now you can Ďboostí your buddy to get over a wall. Also, when you are clinging on a ledge, your partner from below can use your body to climb up. In one scene, one player was on top of a tall building and has lowered a rope for the second player to wall-walk up to the first player. On the way, there were windows with baddies on patrol. So, they had to communicate whether to go left or right to avoid detection. Ubi didnít say whether it can have more than two players working together, though.