This year’s E3 is all done and dusted now and before we head home to lock ourselves in a room and write up our impressions of everything we saw, we spent the last few days lounging around the pool thrashing out our winners for this year’s Best of Show awards - yes, it’s a tough life, but we do it because we care...
While this year’s show lacked the big announcements that we’ve come to know and love, the games as usual delivered and there were plenty of standout titles. New to the awards this year is the Best Rest of Show award, where we award the title that doesn’t fit into the traditional categories that we often celebrate - be it a fighter, sports game or music title. Without further ado, let’s get on with the show.
Best Press Conference of the Show
This year was an interesting year as far as the press conferences go. Microsoft’s was a bit of a letdown, Ubisoft’s was leaps and bounds ahead of last year’s - even with that ridiculous laser tag-esque game - and if we were a multiplatform site, Nintendo would surely have stolen the show. Seeing as we’re not though, it’s EA that takes home the candy this year as their press conference was not only full of stellar games and great live demos, but with Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, a few release dates, the Medal of Honor 24 player online match and the surprise announcement of the Bad Company 2 Vietnam add-on, we couldn’t really give it to anyone else.
Winner – EA
Best Stand of the Show
This category was a no-brainer for us this year and with so much diversity on show, we’re awarding the THQ stand the best stand of the show award. With a mini UFC ring - fresh with ring girls - a cavernous entrance to the Red Faction theatre, a monstrous Red Faction mech, marching Homefront soldiers, huge Warhammer 40K Space Marines and more, the THQ stand was a wonderfully diverse stand with plenty to see, do and play. Whilst everyone else seemed to base their stands on last year’s designs, THQ raised their game and pretty much blew everyone else out the water.
Winner - THQ
Best Looker of the Show
There were some great looking titles at this year’s E3 but the Best Looker award ended up in a closely fought two horse race. Failing to make the top spot, but impressing nevertheless, was id Software and Bethesda’s Rage with its cel-shaded post apocalyptic world, varied environments and incredible draw distances. Taking home the prize though is undoubtedly one of the best looking console games ever: Crysis 2. While we’ve not seen enough of it to see whether the whole title will be as stunning, but watching our Nanosuited hero make his way through downtown New York to Grand Central station to battle a Pinger was enough to completely wow us. Even more impressively was that on a 50” screen behind-closed-doors, the title looked equally amazing.
Winner – Crysis 2
Disappointment of the Show
To be perfectly honest, this was probably the hardest category to choose this year, because whilst at the show we didn’t actually see any really bad titles. We toyed with awarding the award to Kinect and what looks like a load of shovelware, but in the end, we decided on giving our Disappointment of the Show “award” to Splash Damage’s Brink. A title that not only saw a 2011 delay thrown into the mix - it’s probably for the better - but our hands on time left us feeling a little empty. Yes, the controls were responsive and as a shooter, it’s more than competent, but it frankly didn’t look that great running on a PS3 and the action was a little shallow and lacked the excitement you’d expect from a title and a studio that puts so much emphasis on its multiplayer. Hopefully this delay will do the title a world of good and we pray that Brink can raise its game before its release next year.
Winner – Brink
Surprise of the Show
After recovering from the shock that came with the announcement that 2K’s rejuvenation of the XCOM franchise would turn the title from a strategy game to a first person shooter, we were actually surprised at how promising the re-imagination was shaping up to be. Whilst the game seems to be a long way from its original XCOM roots, as a shooter with a huge emphasis on story, its debut was more than we were expecting and as a result, we’ve added 2K Marin’s latest title to our radar. Forget the name. Forget what they’ve done to the franchise. This is XCOM in name only and with that familiar 50s setting and alien invasion scenario, but that didn’t stop it from impressing us with its gadgetry and detective style elements at this year’s show. We’re adding this one to our watch-list, we suggest you do too.
Winner – XCOM
Best Action Title of the Show
Two titles. Both sequels. One award. Both are looking to add more to their already impressive and much loved originals, including multiplayer, but there can only be one winner. Of course, I’m talking about Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Dead Space 2 and it was a hard category to call this one. One that could have gone either way. Fortunately for Ubisoft Montreal, the coin landed on the Assassin’s Creed side and although there was a few noses turned up at the franchise getting multiplayer - admittedly, mine was one of them - the core game is also receiving a ton of new features to make this look like a must have for action-adventure fans the world over. Boasting 15 hours of new single player content in a new city with a new combo system, the ability to throw weapons and the new BAM move (“Brotherhood Assassin Move”), it ultimately meant that Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood just edged ahead of its closest rival.
Winner – Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Best Racer of the Show
This time last year I never thought I’d be sitting here any time soon telling you that Driver and Need For Speed would be fighting it out for an award - well, not after their last outings: Driver: Parallel Lines and Need For Speed: Shift - but here we are. Regardless of their up and down histories, the two franchises aren’t nominated just because they were all the genre had to offer this year, but because both are looking quite promising indeed. While we’re still not 100% sure on what the purpose of Driver’s “Shift” mechanic is - although we’ve tried it in multiplayer and we can report it does work - the title does mark a return to its roots, although, that being said, it didn’t do quite enough at this year’s show to pip Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit to the winner’s post. With Criterion at the helm and police chases, fast cars and exotic environments back at the forefront, it’s fantastic to see the title return to form... it‘s about time!
Winner – Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
Best RPG of the Show
Although this year’s E3 brought great franchises like Fallout and Fable back into the limelight - although Fable is more action than RPG these days - it was refreshing to see the return of a classic franchise impressing us most: Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Eidos Montreal’s latest title was shown off to the press behind-closed-doors and it didn’t fail to astound. After seeing some of the game’s player choices which relate to conversations and how you go about objectives, the stealth style combat and some really cool augmentations, Eidos Montreal’s Blade Runner-esque action-RPG seems to be ticking all the right boxes. Plus, the gameplay demo shown to the press finished with our main character, Adam Jensen, punching through a wall and snapping someone’s neck… and this was an in-game move!
Winner – Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Best Shooter of the Show
To say E3 2010 was dominated by great shooters is an understatement. It wasn’t a year dominated by Call of Duty, Gears of War and Halo either - although all of them looked great, yes, even Black Ops - but the newer IPs were the ones that stood out the most: XCOM, Spec Ops, Bulletstorm, Vanquish, new console shooter Crysis 2, and our eventual winner, Rage. Spec Ops certainly added a new meaning to the ever-changing playground and made other bleak shooters look like a trip to Disneyland and Vanquish’s outrageously fast pace and gameplay on acid were both enough to leave us with a warm feeling inside. Nevertheless though, neither had the legs to catch up with id’s Rage and although they felt the need to show us the Wellspring again(for the third time now), to see an impressive new section of the shooter in an all new environment, we just had to give the Shooter of the Show award to Bethesda’s 2011 shooter, Rage. It would be rude not to.
Winner – Rage
Best Rest of the Show
New to the awards this year is our Best Rest of Show award, simply because there were so many games that just needed to be heralded but didn’t quite fall into the other categories. Just missing out on the award were two standout titles: Rock Band 3 with its all new keyboard and its impressive barrier-breaking Pro modes (especially Pro-Guitar) and of course, Capcom’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3 whose jaw-dropping visuals and fluent tag-team combat was as addictive to watch as it was to play. Taking home the cheese though was Valve’s Portal 2, whose new puzzle innovations and promise of co-op play had us jumping for joy. Offering a 6-8 hour single player campaign and a similarly lengthy experience from its co-op mode, Portal 2 set out to prove it can standalone as a full retail title. Not only did Valve do that, but they also proved that they can add just as much humour this time around as the short demo was full of laughs, which is frankly awesome.
Winner – Portal 2
Best of Show
Last, but by no means least, is our pinnacle of this year’s awards: the Best of Show award. There was one title and one title alone this year that completely knocked us off our feet. Sure, Crysis 2 and Rage looked pretty damn fantastic and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Gears of War 3 showed that there was still plenty of room for improvement in their respective franchises. However, it was the Warren Spectorless return of the Deus Ex franchise that stood out the most. If there is a game that was made for Sci-Fi fans across the globe, this is it. Set before the events of the previous titles, this prequel not only looked fantastic and offered both impressive action and RPG elements in equal measure, but the augmentations you saw in the Blade Runner-esque CGI trailer are not just smoke and mirrors, but are available in the main game as well. Eidos Montreal have set out to make a living breathing future world with a plot steeped heavily in intrigue and mystery, and it’s clear from this first look that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is shaping up to be one of next year’s shining lights.
Winner – Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Check back next week and throughout the rest of the month for the rest of our E3 coverage and more in-depth looks at all the titles mentioned above and more.