The whirlwind of E3 is over for another year, leaving us gasping in its wake and picking up the pieces ... but also with a lot to look forward to. Here are our top picks of what's to come.
We'd be lying if we said we thought the Wii U's collection of mini-game demos was overwhelming, but there's no denying how intrigued we are with the console's potential. Our hands-on time with the console had moments of sheer joy as our minds raced to predict what the big N would do with its new tablet controller. For a better idea of how these games played, check out our initial impressions.
The biggest star at Sony's E3 press conference had to be the PS Vita (yes, we know Kobe Bryant was there, too). It's powerful, lightweight and clearly has a bright future, with tons of developers standing behind it. We've had some time with a handful of impressive titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity (working title), Sound Shapes, Super Stardust Delta, Wipeout 2048, Little Deviants, LittleBigPlanet and more. You can check out our hands-on here.
We had first heard about ITSP a few months ago, but our hands-on time with it convinced us that Microsoft's now-annual "Summer of Arcade" event is once again in good hands. A visual triumph, ITSP might look a bit like PixelJunk Shooter, but features tons more varying gameplay and innovative ideas that encourage exploration.
Super Mario 3DS feels like Galaxy, but without the planets and gravity-play. We're really excited to see how clever the level design will be in the game and, judging from our hands-on, we need not worry. Best of all? Super Mario 3DS will see a release before the end of the year.
Another title that has been able to generate some E3 buzz is Far Cry 3. Sure, it won't be out until next year, but the demo we watched had us believing that Ubisoft Montreal is definitely on the right track. Our hands-off time with the game was gripping as we got to meet one of the game's insane villains, a crazy wide-eyed man who simply kills for pleasure. If these performances and action scenes continue, Far Cry 3 could be the best that the franchise has ever produced.
It's a good thing Skyward Sword was on display at E3, because we can't recall another Wii game that made a bang at the show. What's not to love about the next Zelda game? It has a gorgeous art style, inventive controls and looks to create a Zelda adventure unlike any of its predecessors. We'll really need to stretch our play with Skyward Sword because, judging from Nintendo and the show floor, there don't seem to be any more blockbuster Wii titles planned.
Somewhat of a surprise, XCOM really looks like it has potential. The team at 2K Marin has crafted a game that pays homage to the original, but still implements many modern-day elements. It's a sort of action-first-person-shooter-RPG in the way that Mass Effect is, so we're confident that it'll appeal to wide variety of gamers. The game's enemy — an alien race known as the Outsiders — are a geometrical race of cleverly styled beings that can alter terrain and objects as they see fit.
Our favourite 3DS game of the show, Resident Evil Revelations feels like it'll be able to give gamers Resident Evil 4 in their pocket. It's a totally new game with its own storyline, but we think RE4's precedent-setting control style lends itself perfectly to the 3DS. Its graphics were amazing and the 3D effect felt like a seamless implementation. Revelations should hit sometime in 2012.
It's been a long time coming, but Bethesda and id Software's shooter will finally see the light of day with consoles and computers in October. We really like the game's tight control, enemy variation, art direction and implementation of RPG elements. There were no shortages of shooters at E3 2011, but Rage does enough to keep it unique and separate from the rest of the pack.
Sometimes it's a great demo that can really catapult a game into new level of hype. For us, the E3 demo for Saints Row: The Third did just that. It's very clear that the latest title has gone completely off-the-rails bonkers, totally void of any sort of desire to take itself seriously — and we respect that. We're sick and tired of a game trying to claim it's something that it's not, and the farcical anything-goes universe that Saints The Third has crafted is exactly what we're excited to experience.
Modern Warfare 3 currently sits at the top of online multiplayer experience in our book. Our hands-on time with the game at E3 also got us excited for a new survival mode (think zombies but with soldiers) and the demo of the attack on New York easily trumps any Modern Warfare storyline we've ever seen before.
There certainly was no lack of military shooters at E3. Whether or not that genre is getting a bit tired, there's no denying that Battlefield 3 is certainly a technological achievement and one of the E3 show floor's must-see attractions. We're definitely looking forward to seeing how it goes up against Modern Warfare 3 — it has a head start, too, releasing two weeks before Infinity Ward's veteran shooter.
Though some might say that the Gears of War franchise has outworn its welcome, we couldn't find too many longer lines for a game at E3. The newly revamped Horde Mode is totally insane, and the series still continues to be one of the best-looking pieces of software on any platform.
At EA's E3 press conference, developer BioWare said Mass Effect had been planned as a trilogy all along. The third iteration looks smoother than ever, and conveys a sense of size that few titles can match. Now that the battle has been brought to Earth, players must once again take on the role of Commander Shepard to defend the home planet.
We were really impressed with Uncharted 3 at Sony's E3 press conference, and after having played a few multiplayer rounds, we're really excited for the added value that the game will pack in. At a show packed to the brim with sequels, Uncharted 3 is easily one of the few we still can't get enough of.
Bethesda Softworks knows how to create addictive action-RPG games, and Skyrim looks to improve on an already winning formula. Our hands-off demo with the game showed off some epic battles with dragons, tons of combinable spells and a landscape that oozed with character and detail.
The new Tomb Raider game is not only much more brutal, but also highly dramatic. Behind the wheel is once again Crystal Dynamics — the team responsible for every Raider title since Tomb Raider: Legend — which is attempting to retell the origin of Lara Croft. In the game, a young and inexperienced Croft must take on her first trip abroad without the know-how of the Croft we're used to playing.
It's gritty, dark, gorgeous and five times the size. Batman: Arkham City is shaping up to be an untouchable superhero game that will easily surpass the stellar original. The team at Rocksteady has turned Batman's combat system into an art form. We love the introduction of alternating play with Catwoman and new villains like Two-Face and The Penguin.
For more on Batman: Arkham City, visit our sneak peek.
Due out: October 2011
For PC, PS3 and Xbox 360; Wii U in 2012
Updated:Caption:GameSpot StaffPhoto:Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Final Fantasy XIII-2
The Final Fantasy franchise has been running for a long time. XIII-2 is the second direct sequel in the series, the first being the oh-so-frilly X-2. XIII-2 doesn't look quite so frilly, pink promotional material notwithstanding, but it sure looks pretty.
The Witcher 2 has arrived for PC to critical acclaim — it is richly textured and stuffed with memorable moments, and a marvel among role-playing games. Xbox owners have a bit of a wait, but have something truly wonderful ahead.
DmC is the next instalment in the Devil May Cry series, a reboot set in the present day, with new weapons and a new setting for Dante. Curiously, though, it's the back-story of Dante, who appears younger, more arrogant and certainly a hell of a lot sulkier. The opinion seems to be unpopular, but we love the new look.
Dead Island, the upcoming zombie-themed action game, is the latest example of how the zombie apocalypse is already upon us. Dead Island takes place on a tropical paradise that has turned into a living nightmare after the local populace starts chowing down one another. Deep Silver wowed us last year with its cinematic teaser trailer (found on its official website), and the more we see, the better it looks.
Revelations might not be the final game in the Assassin's Creed franchise, but it certainly pulls the storylines together. It will feature all three protagonists, Altair, Ezio and Desmond, in a sweeping tale that spans the world and time. We look forward particularly to the multiplayer component, and Ezio's new hook blade looks like great fun.
Microsoft was pretty close-mouthed about Halo 4. We saw a teaser trailer (which you can view on Bungie's website) that revealed the story is a continuation of Halo 3, picking up where the latter left off, and we know that it's due out sometime in 2012. Still, even these scant details have Halo fans frothing with excitement.
All eyes are on Star Wars: The Old Republic. The massively multiplayer online game from Dragon Age and Mass Effect developer BioWare will attempt to offer a fully story-driven experience. The game will offer a huge story-based experience for each of its eight professions, along with PVP, raiding, crafting, romanceable companions, housing (in the form of your character's persistent ship) and space combat, so The Old Republic will have a ton of stuff to offer when the game launches later this year.
Without a doubt the most talked-about, inventive, silky smooth and generally impressive piece of software of the show was BioShock Infinite. This high-concept and story-driven title literally had us going back for seconds. Watch the game's latest trailer and then read why we cannot wait until 2012.