It's sort of funny to watch people debate about who "won" E3 based on the press conferences or put together some kind of definitive-sounding "BESTEST GAMES OF SHOW" list. I mean, the core concept isn't flawed or anything, but it all has to be taken in the appropriate context, right?
The games we see during E3 aren't finished. Oftentimes they aren't even playable... and even when they are, they're usually carefully selected and polished sections of a game. So we have no guarantee that something that looks good at E3 will be any good or not. Heck, we don't even really know if the stuff they're showing at E3 will end up in the final product.
But we're only human, and if you don't come out of E3 with a list of games that you're excited about, you probably don't have a pulse. I ended up getting excited about a variety of things during E3, so with all of the above in mind, here's a smattering of what I'm still thinking about one week later.
If I had to narrow this list down to one game, Borderlands would be the one left standing. Gearbox certainly took a risk by going back and redoing all of the game's art, and it's really paid off, from what I've seen. The core concepts behind the action? Well, those sounded great back at E3 2008. So now the game's look matches the ambition of the game behind it.
I've already written up something with a bit more detail on what I saw, so be sure to check that out.
I almost forgot to include Modern Warfare 2 on this list. Why? Because it seems like such a sure thing that no one's really talking about it. Everyone saw the trailer leading up to E3. Well, during the show, it looked like that. Only someone was playing it. I already know that I want to play it. So I almost felt like I was taking it for granted or something.
I wrote more about exactly what I saw right about here.
It was Forza Motorsport 2 that got me to a point where I could appreciate simulation-style driving. Specifically, the mix of the driving assists and the lure of the game's livery editor was more than enough to get me into the game in a way that no other driving sim ever has before. Since then, I've gone on to play Gran Turismo games and actually enjoy them--something that wouldn't have been possible without all the time I spent with Forza 2's driving line. Forza 3 has all that stuff but it's grander in scope and better-looking. I still won't use their fancy new cockpit view, but that doesn't mean I won't play the game at all.
I always feel bad when I boil games down to equations or explain them by way of comparison. It feels like I'm short-changing the game in question. But the shorthand description for Alpha Protocol is "Mass Effect But With Spies." If you go deeper, you could say that the shooting looks more action-oriented than Mass Effect. Or that the dialogue trees are done in a really cool way. But I've already written all that stuff, so instead I'll just say that I hope this game turns out great. It looks really interesting.
Look, we're all human. We all have some sort of preconceived notions about the Way of Things. When I first saw the DJ Hero controller and heard about the way it was going to use mash-ups, I believe my first reaction was to shit all over it like it was some kind of cheap cash-in on the "Hero" name. Why? Because that's exactly what it looked and sounded like. Then I saw it at E3. Totally surprised. Practically blown away. Super excited about the final product. Watch the video I shot and see if it hits you the same way.
Every time I see Dark Void I get a little more excited about Dark Void. Watching the enemies hide behind traditional cover and then have to react once I use my rocket pack to hover above their cover and blow them to bits is satisfying every single time I've done it. And the story of Will and Tesla and the Bermuda Triangle seems like it could be pretty cool, too. That said, it's a little too easy to just run around and melee all the enemies right now. Hopefully that'll get a lot harder before the game comes out.
Brink's class-based approach to its campaign and the way you navigate your way around obstacles makes it look like a very cool first-person shooter. And I only toss the genre in there because the teaser trailer that got released doesn't really say what, exactly, Brink is. It's one of the games that has me thinking about what sort of co-op team I'll have to form when all these great-looking co-op games start coming out.
I thoroughly enjoyed my own personal sci-fi adventure when playing through the original Mass Effect, though that game was certainly not without fault. Hearing and seeing that those faults--like the bland side planets, the load times, and texture pop-in--are being corrected is enough to make me excited about an adventure that I already knew I was going to continue.
This is one of those games that I didn't really get excited for until seeing it first-hand. All o the trailers and demo videos with the weird crying woman did absolutely nothing for me. Hearing that it was essentially a string of intense Quick Time Events did even less. But actually playing it puts a lot of it in perspective. It looks amazing and has some interesting control mechanics, too. Even though a lot of the game seems to be a series of extremely stylized QTEs, they're seriously intense. Killing Mad Jack before he could kill me was an edge-of-my-seat experience that left me absolutely wanting to see more.
Apparently I'm excited about the future of first-person shooting. This list is thick with FPS gaming. Anyway, Singularity is a time-based first-person shooter that doesn't just give you dopey VCR controls and set you loose. By flipping back and forth between two set time periods, the game gets to set two tones and play around with a lot of cool stuff. Seeing a group of guys caught in a time loop, forever reliving the same mistake again and again, was especially cool. It seems to be mechanically sound (I didn't get to play it), it appears to be very atmospheric, and something about it sort of reminded me of BioShock.
As a quick aside, E3's a big show, and it's impossible for one person to see it all. So there's always at least one thing you hear a lot about coming out of the show without seeing it for yourself. For me, this year, that game was Scribblenauts. That game seems like it picked up a ton of positive word of mouth coming out of the show, and I hope I'll get to see it sometime in the near future. Personally, I hope it's more than just a bunch of Internet memes stuffed into a game. Don't get me wrong, I love Keyboard Cat and all, but that alone isn't enough to make a game great.