At the 2008 edition of the E3 Media and Business Summit, an array of interesting and exciting yet-to-be-released video games were enough to rescue the gaming industry’s biggest annual trade show from mediocrity.
The best was Fallout 3. The game was demo’d by designer and executive producer Todd Howard at last year’s show, but this year we media types each got 30 minutes with the game.
Forthcoming from Bethesda Softworks, which brought us The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion two years ago, Fallout 3 takes the open world from that fantasy game and ratchets up the experience with this role-playing–inspired adventure set in a postnuclear future. Look for it to be on best-of lists at the end of the year. Granted, Fallout 3 is one of a list of titles that are known to gaming fans and are already highly anticipated.
Worthy of attention
> Dead Space (Electronic Arts), an action-horror game that requires the strategic dismemberment of enemy creatures in order to survive
> Fable II (Microsoft), a fantasy title that gives players the choice of being good or evil
> Gears of War 2 (Microsoft), an adrenaline-rush shooter in which the Locust horde is using massive emergence holes to swallow entire cities
> Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (D3), in which the Puzzle Quest hybrid—which marries puzzle gameplay with role-playing elements—gets a sci-fi treatment; the gameplay has been tweaked so that pieces not only drop from the top but come in from the sides
> Resident Evil 5 (Capcom), a survival-horror game set in Africa that pairs up Chris Redfield with a partner, the very able Sheva Alomar
> Resistance 2 (Sony), an action shooter set in the U.S., as the Chimera have abandoned England and spread to the New World
> Tomb Raider: Underworld (Eidos), the latest Lara Croft game, which revolves around the Mayan calendar and mythology
Less known, but still worthy of anticipation
> Borderlands (2K), which has gamers taking on the persona of a fortune hunter on the edge of civilized space, with more than 650,000 weapons to find and fire
> Dark Void (Capcom), set in a place on the other side of the Bermuda Triangle, where humans struggle against alien overlords and the hero learns to use a jet pack, Rocketeer-style, allowing him to commandeer flying saucers
> Dragon Age: Origins (EA), developed by Edmonton’s BioWare, is an epic high-fantasy tale that the developers are calling the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate
> Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero (Konami), in which Kai gets transported to another world also plagued by the electric Elebits, and has to capture the creatures in order to save the day and return home
> Tom Clancy’s End War (Ubisoft), a real-time strategy game that has players delivering commands vocally using robust voice-recognition software built into the game
> Mirror’s Edge (EA), about Faith, a futuristic courier who uses free-running, or parkour, to get from place to place; the game is presented in a disorienting yet satisfying first-person perspective
> Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars (Gamecock), set after a meteorite has hit Earth and animated all the plants, and starring Pax, a mushroom hero who can use his cap to float through the air
> Rise of the Argonauts (Codemasters), a retelling of the story of Jason and his soldiers, who embark on a quest to find the Golden Fleece, and featuring a compendium of characters and creatures from Greek lore
> Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo), which looks to capitalize on the success of the Wii launch title; in this new collection, you’ll be throwing Frisbees on the beach and doing slalom on a Jet Ski.
Bold art direction
> Afro Samurai (Namco Bandai), which is based on the anime series (itself based on the manga) and uses the crazy, hyperextended look of the character design from the television series; as in the anime, Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of Afro
> Prince of Persia (Ubisoft), featuring what the developers are calling an “illustrative” art style—you can almost see the brush strokes in the beautifully rendered backgrounds
> MadWorld (Sega), which is clearly inspired by Frank Miller’s ultra-violent Sin City graphic novels. Presented in black and white, the torrents of blood that are the result of brutal melee attacks appear as dramatic blooms of red
> Lego Batman (Warner Bros.), based on the DC comics rather than the movies, is set in a Gotham City that is dark and industrial, in contrast with the brightly costumed characters of Batman, Robin, and the rogues that have escaped from Arkham Asylum
Despite the lack of big announcements and surprises at E3, there was lots to see, and even more to be excited about. Get your engines running, because the first of the fall releases lands on store shelves in August.