E3 2010: What We’re Looking Forward To

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One of our Techland colleagues who shall not be named asked, “Is it bad that I don’t know what E3 is?”

Sigh.

Well, not really. But, it does make Peter and I a bit sad. So, if there’s anyone else out there who needs a quick primer, then you should know that E3 stands for the Electronic Entertainment Expo. For about 15 years, the Entertainment Software Association brought together damn near everyone that matters in video game software and hardware under one roof and let them show their wares. It’s somewhat like a ShoWest or the annual TV upfronts for the game industry. Attendees get a look at all the cool stuff coming out for the next twelve months and enthusiast everywhere set their expectations according to what gets shown during every E3.

So, Peter and I are here in Los Angeles for a week of non-stop button-mashing and arm-waving. There’ll be more on Playstation Move and Project Natal aka Kinect, tons of announcements and hopefully a few surprises. Here’s a look at what we’re both excited to see and touch during E3 2010.

Evan:

Definites

Brink

It’s been a year since E3 2009 and I still haven’t seen Brink. I’ve been hearing for months about the innovative way that the futuristic FPS from Splash Damage fuses parkour-style movement with a dynamic environment. I’ve been thinking lately that FPSes need a shot in the arm in terms of new ideas and it seems that Brink–like Bulletstorm–could have some of the mojo I’m looking for. But I haven’t seen it yet! It was supposed to be at publisher Bethseda’s Las Vegas showcase a few months ago but the volcanic ash from Iceland kept the developers grounded in Europe.

All Points Bulletin

David Jones knows virtual cities. He was the creator of the original Grand Theft Auto and his dev studio Realtime Worlds made Crackdown, the great open-world hybrid of platforming and shooting action. APB, the next step in Jones’ experiements with massive urban environments, has been a long time coming, which makes sense as it’s an MMO with an insane level of customization and emergent gameplay under the hood. I saw it last year during EA’s presentation and am sincerelyhoping I’ll get some hands-on time with it this week.

Infamous 2

Sucker Punch’s open-world superhero action game was one of my favorites on the PS3 in 2008. I really loved the way the gameplay created a bond between electric bad-ass Cole McGrath and Empire City, the burg he was protecting. Bringing power stations and subways back onine made it feel like you were single-handedly bring the city back to life, something that no open-world game has ever made me feel. Infamous 2 takes the action to a new city and it’ll be interesting to see what new twists Sucker Punch brings to the PS3 when Cole returns.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the

Heavenly Sword was a PS3 launch game that I really liked. The dev studio that made it, Ninja Theory, got Andy Serkis to direct (and perform in) the mo-cap sessions and he whole thing had a great cinematic feel and some pretty kick-ass martial-arts action, too. Ninja Theory’s been real quiet since then but Namco’s going to be publishing Enslaved, their next game. It’s based on the classic Chinese myth cycle, Journey to the West and Enslaved’s been purported to be gorgeously animated. We’ll see if Ninja Theory’s stepped up their skills if I get a chance to see it this week.

Batman: Arkham Asylum 2

Batman: Arkham Asylum finally answered the prayers of comic-book geeks like me, who’ve been waiting for a video game that delivers all of the brains and bad-assery of the Dark Knight in a playable experience. AA2 appears to be happening in Gotham City proper and rumors have pegged a role for Nightwing in the game. So, I’m actually hoping there might be some Bat-family co-op in store for the sequel from Rocksteady Studios. It wouldn’t seem tacked on, given the fact that Batman’s got allies aplenty in the comics and online co-op would be a really sticky feature for a new, bigger Bat-game.

Rumors

The Team Ico Collection


Whispers have been circulating that Sony will be releasing an up-rezzed, hi-def 2 disc set of the PS2 classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The Team Ico dev studio–who worked on both those beloved games–will likely be releasing The Last Guardian this year. So it makes sense that Sony would polish the Team Ico back catalogue to get players ready for the studio’s highly-anticipated Playstation 3 debut. I think probability is high on this one, since Sony did the same thing with the God of War series last year to lead into God of War III. Also there’s a whole generation of players who never experienced those games at all, so an HD version of games that nearly everyone thinks are must-haves is kinda a no-brainer.

Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo’s next handheld is supposed to have 3D and some rumors have said that you won’t need glasses to view the games with added depth. The House of Mario’s never been one for jumping on trends, so you figure something must be going on. The big question remains “how are they going to do it?” Also, this’ll be the third new handheld that Nintendo’s rolled out in the last couple of years. The 3DS needs to be something radically different in order to stand out from what they already offer. We’ll see this week.

Hulu on Xbox Live
Could the popular TV streaming service be coming to the Xbox 360? For the last two years, Microsoft’s been building their game console into an increasingly web-connected entertainment device. At 2008’s E3, they announced the addition of Netflix’s Instant Watch catalogue for streaming over Xbox Live. Last year, they unveiled Facebook and Twitter integration, along with Last.fm music streaming service. Looking at past trends, it’d be a smart move that’s in line with the way Microsoft’s been partnering with entertainment providers and Hulu probably likes the reach that the 360’s significant install base would give them. I for one would love it, because every time my DVR messes up or programming gets thrown out of whack, my girlfriend and I have to huddle a comparatively tiny computer screen to see the last five minutes of Glee. Still, Hulu been very wary about allowing access to their content. I’m going to color this one as moderate and wait to be pleasantly surprised.

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