With so many quality games at E3, I'd like to say that it was a close race, but I'd be lying. Despite going head-to-head with some amazing choices, Portal 2 was chosen for top honors, coming in far ahead of its competition. Taking a little bit of the old (in one blue hole, out the orange hole technology!) with the new (co-op, a whole new set of tricks and puzzle variables), Valve looks to have a winner with its sequel when it hits next year.
A note about how this was decided: staff was asked to choose their top five games (in order of preference) from our nominees. The number-one game was weighted heavier than the number-five title, with the final score tallied to decide our winner.
But the choice didn't come easy, as many staff members felt that certain games -- their personal favorites, even -- weren't properly represented among our nominees. With that in mind, hit the jump to see our individual picks for "E3 Game of the Show."
Halo: Reach (Bungie - Xbox 360)
Yeah, big surprise, right? Truthfully, I can see past the fanboy-ism with this game when needed, and from what I have seen so far, it looks like it's making up for a lot of letdowns from the previous Halo games. The graphics are stunning, your team's AI actually looks competent and the new Firefight is going to be even more addictive than before. The hype for Reach will actually be worth it this time.
Bulletstorm (People Can Fly/Epic Games - PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
What, did you expect me to pick Rock Band 3? Don't get me wrong, I was tempted; as a fan of the series, I'm head-over-heels thinking about all of the stuff Harmonix is cramming into the latest edition to the music title.
But when it comes down to it, thanks to my love of twitch action shooters (and over-the-top, comic violence), the brief time with People Can Fly's and Epic Games' Bulletstorm had me absolutely hooked. It's like Burnout meets Painkiller meets The Club, with a fast-paced skill-shot point system that has you using your head (and twisted wit) to pull of some of the most out-of-control kills seen in a shooter.
And yeah, you can (and I did) kick a motherfucker into a cactus; I simply can't wait to do it again.
Three-way Tie: Donkey Kong Country Returns (Retro Studios/Nintendo - Wii) / Kirby's Epic Yarn (Nintendo - Wii) / PixelJunk Shooter 2 (Q-Games - PlayStation Network)
I know, I know. Declaring a three-way tie is a cop-out ... but I really couldn't decide. At first I was going to pick PixelJunk Shooter 2. I fell in love with that game at E3 and love everything about it.
On the other hand, Donkey Kong Country Returns feels just about perfect, and Kirby's Epic Yarn is one of the most gorgeous, creative 2D platformers I have ever seen.
So, there. They are all my three children and I love them equally. EQUALLY, I SAY!
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Retro Studios/Nintendo - Wii)
I have been hopelessly waiting nearly 15 years for a new installment in the Donkey Kong Country series, and I'm finally getting it in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Not only do I feel like Retro Studios is one of the better candidates to tackle this project, they seem to be going for slight (but impactful!) tweaks to the formula while preserving everything we know and love. Basically, my dreams are coming true and I'm flipping the eff out. SO GOOD!
Child of Eden (Q-Entertainment - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
With absolutely nothing new or fresh among the line-up of first-person shooters, 3D gaming, and other recycled franchises at E3 2010, Tetsuya Mizuguchi's spiritual successor to Rez was the only title that made me jump out of my seat when I got my first glimpse of the trailer.
Being a such a big fan of music, unique games and traditional shooters on rails (e.g., classic SNES Star Fox), Child of Eden got my heart racing. With possibilities of it coming to the PlayStation Move, I can only imagine how great it would be to play Child of Eden in 3D with a magical color-changing orb sticking out at the end of my PlayStation Move wand, guiding me through the game's epic journey. Mizuguchi, take me in your arms, I am yours.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game (Ubisoft - Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network)
If a game can make you laugh out loud, squeal, and grit your teeth, as well as feel like a victim, a bad ass, and a true romantic all in the course of 30 seconds, it gets my full approval. That's what the Scott Pilgrim game did for me, and that was just watching other people play it. I didn't get very much time with the game myself, but I didn't need much time to know that it's got the makings of a true classic.
Gran Turismo 5 (Polyphony Digital - PlayStation 3)
Wait, where are you going? I'm serious! No, I know it's been a million years that we've been expecting a release. Delay on top of delay. And I know we've played a ton of demos and half game releases and such, but I'm telling you now that it looks like it was worth the wait. Polyphony Digital's Kazunori Yamauchi told us that what I we saw at E3 was the closest thing to final that they could muster, and that the look and control is mostly there.
I'm here to tell you that I couldn't get enough. I couldn't play it enough. While things don't look that different in its current form, the level of polish -- on every corner and every turn -- is apparent. The game is a beautifully executed racing experience that puts you in this imaginary place where nothing else but the next turn matters. It's that trance-like state that the previous series games put me in, but now in glorious high definition.
What kills me is that I know my playtime hasn't scratched the surface. There's 1,000 cars, online features galore, and some crazy display tech that is just begging to be explored. I did get to try the game with a racing wheel, 3D display and a PlayStation Eye doing headtracking. That short experience was transcendent. When I think of E3, my mind always goes back to that. I want that. So bad.
Dance Central (Harmonix - Xbox 360)
Look, as a dumpy white guy, I'm not exactly the right demographic for breaking it down on the dance floor. It hasn't exactly stopped me in the game sphere, as I've spent many a quarter at Japanese titles like Dance Dance Revolution and Para Para Paradise. Unfortunately, those games don't ever replicate real dancing.
Harmonix's latest title, Dance Central, at least for me, looks like it might change that. Using Kinect in a way that actually sells the device, Dance Central was fun and dynamic, the dancing equivalent of rocking out on a plastic guitar. I must have spent an hour on the game between various parties and demos, and let's be clear, the game is quite fun. Sure, it probably won't teach me how to dance for real, but it certain replicates the feeling of being a dancer, and that, my friends, is when videogames are at their best. Dance Central is much more interesting than anything else Harmonix announced at this E3.
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Retro Studios, Nintendo - Wii)
I have to tip my hat to Donkey Kong Country Returns. More than any other retro revival or old-school throwback present at the show, this is the one that I'm confident can recapture some of the magic that made New Super Mario Bros. Wii the biggest game of 2009. It's a co-op platforming sequel in a series that breathed life back into a lagging SNES. Most of all, it along with the new Kirby cements Nintendo's commitment in keeping the spirit of 2D alive on retail shelves. The downloadable path is nice, but I think that cheapens what are otherwise high-quality titles.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo - Wii)
I'm a Zelda nerd and despite the technical glitches at the show, this looks like a fantastic addition to the series. From what I've heard from those who played it, it seems to work well and be in the fine tradition of Zelda games. The art style is pure win as well.
Rage (id Software - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)
I saw footage from a live demo of id's upcoming first-person, post-apocalyptic, open-world RPG last week, and boy, was it impressive. The comparisons to Fallout 3 remain, but imagine if that game were running at 60 fps on a console, and then you've got an idea of how good Rage looks. Plus, there's car combat, and id has promised environmental variety beyond the arid desert landscapes that we've seen from the game so far. This one's definitely high on my radar for next year.
Kirby's Epic Yarn (Nintendo - Wii)
Honestly, do I need to really say anything else? Kirby. Made out of string. Nintendo's press conference was already kicking ass, but when this was announced, it had won everything that there ever was to win. It's Kirby and he's made out of string. It's like God decided to piss jellybeans directly into my mouth. That's what a winning idea this is. Seriously, Kirby made out of string. How many times do I have to say it? HE IS MADE OUT OF STRING! PINK STRING! OH YEAH, I DIDN'T MENTION THE STRING WAS PINK, DID I? IT'S PINK! IT'S PINK AS FUCK, SON! That is why Kirby's Epic Yarn is my game of E3.
Shank (Klei Entertainment - Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network)
While it was certainly a big year filled with big games, the title that impressed me the most is this modest 2D brawler. Shank is highly accessible, with a simple control scheme that manages to offer a surprising range of attacks that can all fluidly chain together. Leaping through the air to pin an enemy, then turning to shoot his buddies that you jumped past before slicing your prone victim in half with a chainsaw never felt so easy. Featuring a beautiful and unapologetically violent visual design, Shank is the only game I walked away from feeling a physical need to experience more of.
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