Top 20 Games of E3 2012
Again, this list reads backwards, with #1 being the worst on the list, and #20 being the best on the list.
Again, this list reads backwards, with #1 being the worst on the list, and #20 being the best on the list.
The only 3DS--or portable, for that matter--game to make the list, Sticker Star seems a natural fit for a handheld. Not much beyond basic tutorial gameplay was showcased, but the potential for the cut-out paper visuals to be enhanced by hardware's 3D have me excited. Half of the appeal of the Paper Mario games have been their unique visuals, and it would be fantastic to see how some added depth can sweeten the deal. The gameplay itself marks a curious departure from the franchise's established norm, but looks fun nonetheless. I have my concerns about some of the mechanics holding up throughout the game, but enough faith that Nintendo knows what it's doing to put this game on the list.
Despite being the eighth(!) installment of the franchise in this generation alone, Black Ops 2 manages to mix things up just enough to warrant a mention. Campaign gameplay footage featuring branching paths and near-future tech was paraded at Microsoft's press conference, but it will undoubtedly be the multiplayer that seals the deal for most gamers. The series may never astound us like it did the first time we landed on Normandy Beach, but it continues to offer a reliable, if somewhat tired, gameplay experience.
Another star of Microsoft's press conference, Blacklist showed off a Sam Fisher that seems to have learned a few tricks from Ezio Auditore. Splinter Cell: Conviction's "mark and execute" mechanic put us in the shoes of a quicker and deadlier killer, and Ubisoft is looking to continue the trend with the "killing in motion" concept that allows you to take out multiple targets while on the move. There is an undeniable "actionization" of niche genres such as stealth and survival horror underway, and hopefully Blacklist will show us what it looks like when it is done right.
Aside from suffering from an atrocious title, Zombi U is looking extremely promising. It is not often that a game's control scheme contributes to its narrative, but ZombiU's innovative uses of the WiiU GamePad seem to accomplish this feat: forcing you to pull your attention from the TV and leaving you vulnerable to surprise attacks. With permanent death as an additional feature, ZombiU may be the system-seller Nintendo needs to rope in the hardcore.
After the introductory scene of the original Borderlands, most people could tell that they were about to play something pretty damn special. The second one seems low on risks, but high on return regardless. Gameplay, and even trailers, have been pretty clear that this is pretty much the same game, but with everything kicked up a few notches: more guns, more explosions, more vehicles, more enemies. But the arcade-RPG-FPS is just so brilliant in its execution, that more of the same is something I am perfectly OK with. I know that it is exactly this kind of complacency that breeds annual sequels, but Borderlands blessed in that it is just quirky enough that that sort of future seems highly unlikely.
Excessive gore, sex minigames, and quick-time events are back, as Kratos gears up for a prequel. But it's the combat system that has gamers consistently returning to the trough for more, and now you get to tear out the eyes and jugulars of friends and strangers online, too. The biggest hurdle Ascension may have to face is its own legacy: how can the series get more epic than murdering titans and gods? Murdering anthropomorphic elephant-men seems to be the answer so far, and that is an answer I will accept.
Continuing with the more character-driven story of Dead Space 2, the third chapter makes several interesting changes to the franchise. With the original hailed for its survival-horror feel, the same can hardly be said for Dead Space 3. Chatty AI partners, bigger guns, and brighter and more organic environments will surely draw the ire of many of the hardcore. However, gameplay at the show assured me that the core feeling of tension that defined the first two games is still intact. I will be buying Dead Space 3 knowing that it is an action game--and those not wanting to be disappointed should do the same.
It is difficult to articulate the glee one feels when watching Shigeru Miyamoto unveil a new game--the man's smile just begs to me mirrored. The long-overdue Pikmin 3 got the honour of this year's Miyamoto announcement, and it looks to be even more colourful, joyful, and addicting than its predecessors. The lack of innovative Wii U functionality was disappointing, but the sheer vibrancy of this game's organic environments more than makes up for it. More than any other game on this list, Pikmin 3 guarantees to make you smile.
A voice in the back of my head is telling me that I will be disappointed by this one, but I don't care; I'm getting excited anyways. The Elder Scrolls World is filled with some fascinating lore and fantastic potential, and the MMORPG format is a natural one for it. I was sad to see that it didn't receive much exposure at E3, but what little I did see assured me that the look and feel of Tamriel, at least, were intact. Whether I will actually purchase it will largely depend on how the actual gameplay looks, and I am really hoping it delivers.
Quantum Dream's Heavy Rain was more of an "interactive experience" than a "game"--sort of like frozen yogurt as opposed to ice cream. But simply put, there was no other medium capable of conveying such a rich narrative. Beyond looks like it is veering closer towards a more traditional gameplay experience, but without sacrificing the atmosphere that defined its spiritual predecessor. And damn, it looks good: a great way to prove the continued relevancy of six-year-old hardware.
Since its debut, Dishonored has been compared to games like BioShock, Thief, Assassin's Creed, and Half-Life. In truth, however, there is nothing quite like it. Offering you multiple manners by which you can dispose of your targets is nothing new, but the toolbox that Dishonored provides you with is so varied that it virtually guarantees that no two players will have the same experience. I have a concern about it being a bit formulaic in the same way the first Assassin's Creed was, but I would still love to get my hands on it to find out for myself.
While I dobut that this game will place this well on any other "Best of E3" lists, it seems that Vigil took everything I loved about the first and then added everything that was missing. A better combat system, a brand-new loot system, and a return to a world that really pulled me in, make this game one I will definitely be buying at launch.
OK, I admit it: at first I didn't think this game was as impressive as some major gaming outlets were letting on. It really took me a while to fully comprehend just how important this game is, though. More than any other game on this list, Watch Dogs is current: a glimpse into a believable near-future in which nothing is sacred. When the weapons in your arsenal are information, technology, and the city itself, the possibilities are endless.
One of the biggest surprises of this year's E3, 1313 stands out amongst the countless other third-person action-adventures. This isn't just thanks to its brand--as fun as it will be to run and gun in the Star Wars universe, the gameplay shown looked genuinely intriguing. Particularly inspiring confidence is LucasArts' decision to exclude lightsabers and the Force in favour of blasters and bounty hunters, showing that they aren't willing to sacrifice a consistent gameplay experience for the sake of fan service.
Resident Evil has had its share of ups and downs over the years, but Capcom's willing to bet that you'll find something in number 6 to keep you happy. By offering three distinct campaigns, Resident Evil 6 is trying to appeal to everyone. So far, it looks promising--but it could just as easily shoot itself in the foot by sitting on the fence and not committing to a single design.
It's interesting to see gameplay footage of the new Lara Croft, complete with the Uncharted-esque cover-based combat and a "one-man army" feel, compared to the sheer helplessness we've seen from her in the trailers, where the emphasis seems to have been on merely surviving. Sure, it comes off as inconsistent, but it looks like a hell of a lot of fun anyways. This reboot may not be as genre-defining as the original outing was, but it is definitely a Tomb Raider that understands the expectations of a modern action gamer.
I adored Gears of Wars 3 for both its gripping story (it made me cry--shut up) and brutal multiplayer, but one thing didn't sit well with me: where was Baird's spotlight moment? Did Epic just forget about him? Silly me. Judgment's most interesting new feature is its Overrun multiplayer mode that combines the best of Horde and Beast to create an asymmetrical, class-based experience that I can't wait to try out.
More than a few journalists are claiming that Ubisoft "won" E3, and much of this can be attributed to the stunning new gameplay footage and trailer for Assassin's Creed 3 showcased at their press conference. The franchise's two most important elements--its combat and parkour--have both received a shot in the arm thanks to the new setting of the American Revolution, and it's hard not to marvel at how seamless it all appears when it truly comes together. A new emphasis on interacting with nature, coupled with an increasingly industrial backdrop, creates a world that is very visually diverse. The closing act of Desmond's trilogy looks to be an even greater step up than the second was to the first--which itself improved upon a great game to make an incredible one.
An epic single-player campaign, industry-grade competitive online multiplayer, and persistent co-operative episodic content: this is Halo 4. After sinking far too many hours into the black hole that was Reach, I am just as excited as I am scared for this one. I don't have any strong feelings in the Call of Duty/Halo rivalry, but I believe that the 17-place difference speaks volumes. 343 is doing a fantastic job of keeping the franchise relevant, and seem intent on keeping Chief miles ahead of the competition.
I had impossibly high expectations for The Last of Us at E3, and I was somehow still absolutely floored by its gameplay debut. Everything manages to just come together so perfectly: the bleak dialogue, the broken beauty of the wasteland, the low-ammo gunfights--they all neatly conform to one common theme of post-apocalyptic survival, creating a wholly believable atmosphere. The gameplay footage looks to be even more gripping and cinematic than its trailer, and I'm confident that this game will be relentlessly engaging from start to finish. It's games like The Last of Us that are truly pushing the industry forward, and for that reason it is my top pick for E3 2012.
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