One of the biggest problems with events like E3 is the sheer volume of information available. If all the headlines are to be believed there are enough video-gaming exclusives over the week to last the rest of the year.
Of course I’m looking forward to hearing what Nintendo has to announce about the Wii 2, but really it is the new games rather than hardware that I’m most excited about. Which of these stories matter to you depends on the sort of gamer you are, but in an effort to get ahead of the curve for us family gamers I’ve put together the following list of what looks most interesting this year for me:
Star Wars: The Old Republic plans to show us that MMOs can tell a gripping story. While most MMOs focus on combat, exploration and character progression, The Old Republic will have BioWare’s usual focus on narrative.
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath brings the filmic platforming of Oddworld into High Definition. What was once an Microsoft exclusive should now give a new audience the chance to see what they missed.
AfterZoom will follow up the popular Augmented Reality games on the 3DS with a DSi-ware title that pulls off the same trick.
Sesame Street: Ready Set Grover and Sesame Street: Once upon a Monster may sound like a franchise-led games, but in fact promise to be some more nuggets of imaginative genius from Double Fine. The combination of their theatrical storytelling with Kinect-led game play is just as significant as the Sesame Street branding.
Cave Story 3D brings 8-bit platforming to the 3DS. However, an uncertain 3D visual style and the challenge of accommodating touch screen controls still leave a lot to be answered by this darling of old school gamers.
From Dust on 360 and PS3 has created a stunning palette of visuals and mechanics, but I wonder if it can find equally fresh incentives for game play without falling back on the usual gaming memes.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations on 360 and PS3 walks the path of its predecessors. A new setting, fresh game play and Ezio’s concluding story will quickly attract fans of the series. The bigger challenge here is engaging newcomers — both painting a compelling picture of the game and providing easy access to the complex mechanics.
Bit.Trip Saga 3DS will bring the full Bit.Trip family to Nintendo’s new console. Of most interest is how the games accommodate touch screen controls and whether any additional content will be included.
Need for Speed: The Run gives the original developer, EA’s Black Box, a chance to show what they can do with the franchise — with everyone else having had a go, it only seems fair. The biggest risk here is not that it will be a bad game, but that the Need for Speed brand will finally hit its saturation point and evaporate into thin air.
Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games may only be a re-release of the original game, but that in itself is no bad thing. It will be interested to see whether the 3DS version is closer to the Wii or old DS experience — as a sign of things to come for the new handheld system as much as for this game in its own right.
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition may sounds like more of the same, but for aficionados this is a whole new world jetting in from the Japanese arcades.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record expands on the Fortune City outbreak of Dead Rising 2, and brings back Frank West for some zombie slaying action. More than the light DLC expansions of Case Zero and Case West, this will be a full disc-based game.
Wii Play: Motion resolves the Wii’s fiddly pointing mechanic with an update of the launch title that now leverages MotionPlus. It joins Wii-Sports Resort and Wii-Party to create a tour de force of Wii mini-games.
More details emerge as we draw closer to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Not only a re-mastered version of the epic original but it also benefits from a streamlined touch-screen interface that offers some newly implemented motion controls.
Rocksmith turns music games into genuine educational experiences by letting you plug in a real guitar.
Gears of War 3 benefits from a new graphics engine, while also finally delivering on the promise of four-player campaign co-op.
Even with a different pallet and game structure Dark Souls is still the spiritual successor to cult PS3 exclusive Demon’s Souls. Maybe the biggest difference is its arrival on the 360 as well as Sony’s console.
Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion 3DS will let you pit favorite characters against each other in arena brawls.
UFC Personal Trainer: The Ultimate Fitness System turns the mixed martial arts (MMA) license into a fitness game this summer with some high kicking workouts using motion controls on the Wii, PS3 Move and 360 Kinect.
Pac-Man and Galaga Dimensions 3DS will mesh modern and retro gaming with a collection of six games on one cartridge.
The Gunstringer is an upcoming XBLA Wild West revenge story featuring a Kinect-controlled undead sheriff marionette.
Kid Icarus: Uprising will satisfy a long wait, coming 20 year after the series’ last installment. The original Kid Icarus drew from Nintendo’s other popular franchises, featuring Mario’s jumping ability, the item-enhanced abilities of Zelda, and shooting from Metroid. The existing Kid Icarus games for NES and Gameboy are fondly remembered, but didn’t lead to the ongoing sequels of those other classics.
Double Pen Sports 3DS promises some innovative multi-touch controls. Regardless of these novelties though, it looks like an interested set of sporting mini-games on the new handheld.
Sports Island 3DS brings its sporting mini-games to the 3DS. But it will be motion controls, more than 3D visuals, that make or break this game.
SSX Deadly Descents hopes to revive and redefine the popular snowboarding franchise, challenging players to descend some of the world’s most formidable mountain ranges.
Prototype 2 sets right the wrongs of the first game, tasking us as the bringers of retributive violence. More flesh ripping is a given, but more interesting is whether the sequel manages to put this to interesting use.
Mass Effect 3‘s third chapter has finally been announced, and it draws the curtain back on a beleaguered Earth under attack by the Reapers.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception underlines the series’ commanding position in storytelling and action game play. A new location, fresh enemies and all sorts of technical enhancements are mouth watering prospects, but they already had us at “Uncharted 3.”
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim announcement was a pleasant surprise. Promising hours of questing and dank dungeon crawling all built on a new engine. So far Bethesda has merely teased their brilliant new adventure.
Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle 3DS leverages the usual winning formula, only now it’s sprinkled with high fidelity visuals and a genuine depth of field.
I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises alongside the games we already know about. I’ll be reporting back each show day to keep you posted. Roll on, 5th June.