The irony of putting together a personal list of Top However Many Games Of E3 is that you aren't actually selecting the best of all the games at the show. Since E3 is far too big for any one person to see in its entirety, your sample size is limited by necessity to whichever games you, yourself, managed to get up close and personal with. Ryan's top five, for example, looks very different from mine simply because he saw a pretty different set of games than I did. That's just how we divvy up appointments and such.
Also, I like better games than he does. That's right, I said it. The gauntlet is thrown!
Anyway, you may have noticed we're all about irony around here, so let's proceed with another list of my five personal favorites from the show, shall we?
== TEASER ==
I budget myself one downloadable emo indie darling per year. In 2008 it was Braid. Last year's was Flower. This year, Playdead's gloomy, tactile side-scroller Limbo is the frontrunner for "mopiest game I can get overly enthusiastic about" thanks to its minimal black-and-white art style and array of gruesome death animations. I also like how nobody says anything and there's no music. There's a purity of focus to it, and that focus is "try not to get killed by the million things in the forest trying to kill you."
Here, watch this video. Seeing Limbo in motion communicates more about it than any description, though a large part of understanding the game's appeal is feeling how responsive the controls are. (Seriously; I made Vinny play it right after the Quick Look and he immediately got what I was talking about.)
Come to think of it, the entire Summer of Arcade promotion looks pretty sweet this year; I'm also excited for the DOTA-meets-Team-Fortress-2 multiplayer in Monday Night Combat and (dude!) a whole new 2D Castlevania game that's not on a handheld. But Limbo's the one with the earmarks that tell me I'll probably still be thinking about it in December when we're arguing over the games that mattered most this year.
Good thing Limbo is out this year, because thatgamecompany's next PSN whatchamacallit Journey will probably take the emo crown in 2011. Or whenever it comes out, since the company's head creative guy Jenova Chen said at E3 that the game will "hopefully" be done next year. As promising as the brief snippet looked at the show, I'm willing to wait a while for the team (now all of nine people strong) to get this right.
Journey's art style alone is enough to make you take notice, and it looks as fluid and gorgeous in motion as you'd think it would, looking at still pictures. But the game also appears to be thatgamecompany's first foray into making a real video game--with a character you move around via analog stick and buttons--and not just an experimental think piece. Well, OK, Flower kind of had a narrative and some collectibles, but this one has a vast world to explore, peppered with the last traces of a long-dead desert culture. There are unconventional platforming mechanics, and a strange, accidental multiplayer component that involves... singing?
It's a weird-looking game that I found highly intriguing. Here's all the info about Journey I managed to glean from the game's sole showing at E3, but it wasn't nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity.
Oh, you wanted me to pick a game that comes on a disc? Fine, here it is!
All I can say about InFamous 2 is that it looks like the first game, except better and more. New city, more powers, deeper combat, wider range of bad guys trying to bring you down. Sucker Punch even says the frame rate will be better this time around. The first game was probably my favorite open-world game ever, from a pure gameplay standpoint, and from the little I got to play at E3, none of the important core mechanics are getting messed with. There's just a lot more being layered on top, including, yes, electric tornados.
Like a lot of people, I'm not a huge fan of the new character design for Cole, but frankly I couldn't care less what he looks like, as long as the gameplay is on point. And so far it appears to be. (Sucker Punch says Cole is still subject to change over the next year before release, anyway.)
What's that? You understand I brought a clip setting this game up? That statement is accurate.
Until we play more Mortal Kombat with more new characters, there's probably not much more to say about this that Jeff and I haven't already repeated ad nauseam through every available channel. It's a throwback to everything I loved from the Mortal Kombat II era, but it feels modern enough to hang with Street Fighter IV and all the other recent fighters.
It's got turnaround kicks.
You can uppercut a guy out of the air.
See, I'm repeating myself again. Get back to me when I can play as Raiden. Until then, perhaps you should just listen to the man himself for more.
No, wait, this wasn't at E3. I can't do that just because I really want to be playing it right now, can I?
OK, how about...
Someone explain the widespread ambivalence over this one; I think it looks like everything you'd want out of a Wii Zelda game. The visual style retains just enough of The Wind Waker to keep that sense of whimsy I expect from the Zelda series, and the sword and shield controls feel accurate and responsive, just like you wanted the ones in Twilight Princess to be.
I especially liked the high skill ceiling (at least relatively high, by the series' standards) on the combat that I got to play at the show. You can sort of hack and slash your way through most enemies, but perfect timing on your use of the shield and the way you orient your sword slashes will leave enemies even more vulnerable, letting you take them out faster. It felt really satisfying.
OK, so it doesn't look like they're necessarily going to dispense with the overworld/dungeon/new item/boss format that's propped up every Zelda since the beginning of time, but if enough of the core mechanics feel new and rewarding, I'm not worried if the overall formula feels familiar. Besides, we've barely seen any of Skyward Sword so far. Who knows what else might be in store?