E3: The good stuff

The tide turns towards Sony

Held in Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia Dome, the third E3 not only marked a change of venue but also a power shift in terms of who dominated the show floor. While Nintendo had pretty much hogged the attention at the two previous events, the overwhelming number of PlayStation titles meant that Sony well and truly stole the show.

With no new hardware in the offing, it really was all about the games and Sony's impressive lineup of console war-winning exclusives simply couldn't be avoided: real-life Lara Croft model, Rhona Mitra, was on display to pimp Tomb Raider II, Konami's Metal Gear Solid was voted game of the show despite only being present in the form of a 12 minute video, and Final Fantasy VII (then traditionally a Nintendo series) convinced many that Sony's box was the only choice.

Nintendo's much talked-about 64DD expansion system was nowhere to be seen and the line-up of N64 titles looked positively skinny compared to PlayStation's glut of games. Though it's now now owned by Microsoft, developer Rare then flew the Nintendo flag high with Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Quest (which would eventually become Twelve Tales: Conker 64), while Nintendo's own Star Fox 64 demonstrated the vibrating delights of the N64 Rumble Pak.

Above: Only two years since its launch and Sega's Saturn was showing signs of fatigue in the console war

Sega looked more fragile than ever and - besides Panzer Dragoon Saga and one playable level of the ultimately doomed Sonic X-Treme - had very little to counter the Sony assault. In the run-up to the show it announced further price cuts for Saturn. Sega also used the show to push its new line of PC titles, although many saw this new focus as an indication that the disappointing sales of Saturn were taking their toll.

The 1997 show should also be remembered as the first time Grand Theft Auto appeared, with attendees being proudly told that to drive from one side of the game's city to the other would take players around three minutes.

Good old PC Quake-beater, Prey, also put in its E3 debut this year. The release date was, of course, up in the air.


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