This year’s E3 has all but wrapped up now. The respective publishers and developers are having their stages packed up and shipped home from the now desolate Los Angeles Convention Centre - the home to more than 40,000 games industry folk this past week. Since the show closed its doors and after we'd seen everything we could possibly see, it came that time where we sat down and thrashed out our winners to give you our "Best of Show" results from E3 2009 - the biggest show in the gaming calendar.
Best Press Conference of the Show
Bit of a no brainer this year for us. Microsoft’s press conference had just what we had asked for which was essentially - no puffs, promises and statistics of how awesome they think they are. Instead, what we had was a bombardment of upcoming games (both exclusive and multi plat), a new high tech peripheral, Metal Gear Solid on the Xbox 360 and even a few Beatles (not of the bug variety) - quite the coup if you ask us. As for everyone else, despite a few new cool trailers and the odd great game announcement, the rest of the publishers’ press conferences just failed to match the impact of Microsoft’s. Note to Ubisoft for next year ... less talk, let your games do the talking.
Winner – Microsoft
Best Stand of the Show
There were many solid stands at the show this year and it was most definitely a battle of the wallets with each publisher trying to outdo its nearest rival. All of the publishers had fantastically crafted stands and whilst Microsoft and Ubisoft lost points for a sheer lack of pods and keeping the best stuff behind closed doors, Activision was losing points for being way too loud with not enough substance on the show floor. It was EA taking home the gold this year as they put out plenty of pods, with plenty of variation and even allowed their premium titles to be seen and sometimes even played, by anyone who was willing to queue for a short period.
Winner - EA
Best Looker of the Show
There were many beautiful looking titles at this year’s E3 but of course, we could only have one winner. Titles like Forza 3, Dirt 2, Fight Night Round 4, Alan Wake and BRINK all looked utterly fantastic, but they were no match for Eidos’ Arkham Asylum. Everything was spot on with the upcoming Rocksteady title from the character rendering and lighting, to the textures and the animations. It was hard to find a fault with the game’s visuals at all and Batman: Arkham Asylum is truly one beautiful looking title and deserving of this year’s Looker award.
Winner – Arkham Asylum
Disappointment of the Show
With the show being full of titles that naturally lived up to their potential and some that went above and beyond that, it was pretty difficult to pick one title out of that and label it with the term disappointment. However, after many hours of musing over a few choice beverages, we came to agree that one title failed to really make an sort of an impact on us - that title being Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII. If the under-whelming Microsoft press conference wasn’t enough of a let-down, the fact that Final Fantasy was only available behind closed doors for select press members and not on the show floor really left us with a bitter taste in our mouths. I mean, would it have hurt to put the more than well received demo that Japan saw recently out on the show floor for the masses? Computer says no. Computer also says ... missed opportunity Square!
Winner – Final Fantasy XIII
Surprise of the Show
We weren’t really sure what to expect from Splash Damage and Bethesda’s behind closed doors showing of their upcoming shooter, BRINK, out 2010. Instead of the usual tech demo of a game so far from release, we were able to see the title in action and boy, were we impressed. The title, considering it’s still over a year off, looks pretty damn beautiful already and seeing the impressive detail and customisation in the character creation aspect was great to see. However, Bethesda didn’t stop there as they showed off the impressive SMART button (a simple Mirror’s Edge style mechanic), the ability to choose what you did to advance your side’s cause and the interesting tactic of trying to blur the distinction between single player, co-op and multiplayer, which was enough to leave us feeling pretty damn happy with BRINK’s first showing at this year’s E3. We look forward to seeing a lot more of it.
Winner – BRINK
Best Action Title of the Show
This was one of the toughest categories to judge this year simply because of all the talent on show. Coming up just behind this year’s winner was Remedy’s Alan "we’re glad to see you’re alive and looking well" Wake, Splinter Cell "how many times are we going to see the same walkthrough" Conviction and Batman "looking hot-as-hell" Arkham Asylum, but they were no match for Assassin’s "we’ve upped the ante" Creed 2. Ubisoft Montreal’s sequel to the impressive selling original is looking to fix all that held the original back from complete greatness. With new weapons, new gadgets and plenty of more variety planned, Assassin’s Creed 2 does just enough to take the prize home this year. November 2009 just can’t come quick enough.
Winner – Assassin’s Creed 2
Best Racer of the Show
Two titles really struck out as being at the tip of the racing genre this year and they were; Forza 3 and Dirt 2. Unfortunately there was no competition from Need For Speed: Shift and Split/Second as they really failed to"wow" us, but against Forza 3 and Dirt 2, you can’t really be surprised. Taking home the gold his year for its sheer amount of content, beautiful visuals, realistic handling and attention to detail is Turn 10’s Forza 3. The title, due to ship this October, will feature 400+ cars featuring 50+ manufacturers, 100 tracks with 60% of those being real world tracks, spread across 2 discs; no other title screams value for money than Forza 3, and is surely a must buy for any racing fan this fall.
Winner – Forza 3
Best RPG Title of the Show
The resounding winner for the Best RPG Title of E3 2009 is BioWare’s hugely impressive Mass Effect 2. It’s no secret that the original was a huge favourite of mine but even I could recognise its drawbacks ... those of which are nowhere in sight for the RPG title, due out 2010. Mass Effect 2 is set to feature an improved inventory system, improved unchartered world navigation and landing procedures with a new vehicle to take advantage of, bigger and better guns, interactive cut scenes, new biotic powers and an all new powerful and dark second act plot. Oh, and Shepard lives, but we kind of already knew that. After seeing 20 minutes of the game in action, we have no hesitations about how fantastic the title will be when it hits in early 2010.
Winner – Mass Effect 2
Best Shooter of the Show
There were some great shooters on show at this year’s E3 but Bad Company 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Bioshock 2 and BRINK failed to match the might of Modern Warfare 2 which seemed to check all the boxes. Behind the hustle and bustle of the show floor we managed to see an extended walkthrough of the same mission that was shown at the Microsoft press conference and we feel like they cut out the best bits for that show, to wow the press. Modern Warfare 2, although not an amazing graphical update to the original Modern Warfare, seems to have nailed down the whole atmosphere, storytelling and adrenaline filled action we’ve come to expect from the guys at Infinity Ward. Early signs point to it matching or even eclipsing the success of its prequel which is no easy feat. Easily one of the breathtaking games of the show.
Winner – Modern Warfare 2
Best of Show – E3 2009
There is no doubting that this year’s E3 was a successful show in terms of amazing titles on show for all to see, which makes this category so difficult to judge. For us though, Mass Effect 2 takes home the cheese this year, but it wasn’t an easy decision. The runners for the big prize this year were made up of sequels and Alan Wake, and for us, Mass Effect 2 has made the biggest leaps and bounds from the original in the series compared to its competitors. Being the only title in the history of gaming to carry decisions across games is an impressive feat, but doing all that whilst at the same time improving the original’s faults and adding a ton of other new features to get you immersed even more. All that means is that Mass Effect 2 is truly above and beyond the impressive original, and more importantly, our Game of the Show for E3 2009.
Winner – Mass Effect 2
Check back over next week and beyond for all the previews and interviews of the hottest games from this year’s E3.