This year’s E3 may have been a tad lighter on big surprises than we were expecting – with the notable exception of Nintendo’s new hardware, which remained totally veiled before the big reveal, remarkably – but AAA software was absolutely everywhere. There was so much great stuff on display this year that this easily could have been a top 20 list. Nevertheless, here is a rundown of our ten favourite titles from this year’s E3…
10. Far Cry 3
Almost everything that’s appealing about Far Cry 3 can be seen first hand in the official E3 Gameplay Trailer, which if you haven’t seen, can be viewed in full by clicking here. Returning to the lush tropical vistas of the first Far Cry, it all looks predictably slick but the script, mo-capped performances and new score-attack friendly nature of the gunplay are what impress most. We also got to see a gameplay demo of the same section behind closed doors, and watched as it was tackled in a quiet, stealthy manner that suggests an experience as open to experimentation and on-the-fly tact as Far Cry 2 was.
The Ace Combat series didn’t really need a reboot, and in many ways, it hasn’t received one. But the new addition of the Close-Range Assault mechanic – an up-close and personal dogfight mode that basically turns everything into a fast and furious FPS – is there to be taken constantly, not at all, or only when the situation demands it. You can still keep combat at arm’s length if that’s how you want to venture into it, but Close-Range assault looked and played phenomenally well, and made for one of the downright freshest experiences available on the E3 show floor. To read our full preview, click here.
Kid Icarus:Uprising could be absolutely huge, and the amount of love lavished on the property is a clear indication of how seriously Nintendo are taking the elfin bantam’s career re-launch. It’s a third-person action game, with intermittent flying segments that owe a sizeable debt to one of the most under-appreciated series going; Treasure’s world-class Sin & Punishment. The combat during the on-foot sections felt somewhat similar in style to the fighting seen in the most recent Zelda games, although Pit is much faster on his feet than Link has ever been, and dealing with multiple enemies at once was the primary order of business. This is just as well; extensive 6-person multiplayer modes are promised.
Whilst some of the hardcore BIA fans kicked off in a big way when that first trailer was unleashed – describing it as an inglorious bastardisation of a series that they’d come to love dearly – Furious 4 already feels like a rambunctious sure thing to us. With humour pushed right to the fore and four-player co-op play emphasised heavily, the game looks both fun to play and extremely funny. If the pitch of the humour doesn’t remain consistent throughout, that could make or break it, but the developers haven’t taken this gamble lightly and are evidently gunning for something joyful and distinctive. For more details, check out our full E3 preview here.
6. Dead Island
A terrific advertising campaign does not a terrific game make, and Dead Island still has its sceptics. After some lengthy hands-on time with the campaign in four player co-op mode though, everyone needs to be aware that this is so much more than just some run-of-the-mill, box-ticking zombie beat ’em up. Like Brothers in Arms: Furious 4, Dead Island has clearly been crafted with four player co-op in mind, and on this score at the very least, it delivers beautifully. It works as a simple multiplayer brawler, sure; but where Dead Island really scores is in its skilful usage of RPG elements like skill trees, customisable weapon sets and character-specific ‘Rage’ abilities. Keep an eye on this. It could be one of the biggest surprises of 2011.
No Predator gameplay. No Alien gameplay. Just a band of charismatic, profane meat-heads going toe-to-toe with a ceaseless army of unstoppable xenomorphs. Because it wants to be nothing more complicated than Aliens: The Videogame, Colonial Marines has a directness of approach that is flat-out gripping, and Randy Pitchford’s enthusiasm (he presented the game behind closed doors and was almost literally bouncing off the walls for the entire duration) was infectious, but it has got so much potential. As well as countless (welcome) nods to the classic 1986 movie. For more info on Colonial Marines at E3 2011, click here.
Our hands-on with Battlefield 3 was limited to a single, brief game of Rush on a new map called ‘Operation Metro’, but that’s all that we needed. A big, ostentatious blockbuster it most certainly is, but DICE have clearly worked just as hard to ensure that the game works even better than previous iterations as a strictly teamwork-based experience. Assault classes have been merged with Medics, Rush games now splinter off into completely singular environments in order to keep things both visually and strategically novel, and a ‘Battlelog’ system will track your stats in ways that may yet prove to be as extensive as Modern Warfare 3‘s much-hyped Elite system. We are counting the seconds, frankly. To check out our pre-E3 Battlefield 3 preview, click here.
Two sequels to two contemporary classics. The reason that they’ve been lumped together is because neither were playable, both are can’t-fail blockbusters and both of them are looking predictably amazing. Everything that their predecessors did, they are doing; only bigger and better. All the surprises are thankfully being left for us to discover when they launch – although Catwoman was unveiled for the first time as a playable character in Arkham City. For more info on EA’s E3 Mass Effect 3 presentation, click here.
Reggie stressed (more than once) during Nintendo’s E3 presentation that these two weren’t finished products, but merely “experiences” designed to show off their new hardware. Despite this, Battle Mii and Chase Mii were easily two of the most richly entertaining videogames on display at this year’s E3; simple, amusing and furiously addictive. Whether these two get bundled together, expanded into full-price games or released as DLC is unknown at this point. But anyone who had any doubts about Nintendo’s new hardware were instantly silenced by these delicious morsels. For more on these two, click here.
A great many gaming magazines and websites listed Rage as their Game of the Show last year, but 2011 was the year in which everyone on the floor got to actually play it. The fundamentals of the gameplay during our hands-on session were remarkably simple – and instantly familiar to anyone who’s played a big-budget FPS over the last five years – but it was so well balanced and executed that it somehow managed to stand head and shoulders apart from everything else. If this isn’t one of the year’s finest videogames, be surprised. And if you missed our full E3 Rage preview, you can still check that out by clicking here.
Watch the Rage trailer here: