IncGamers’ E3 2009 Awards

16 Jun 2009  by   Paul Younger
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If you’ve not been bothered to follow E3 completely, then you might want to have a look at this.  Combining the best games, as well as the most exciting announcements, most disappointing announcements and the biggest surprises, in nice, bite-sized chunks, why not leave your impressions too?Welcome to the IncGamers E3 2009 Awards. Best Games Of E3
Brink

Splash Damage making a new game with Bethesda?  Yes, you can certainly bet your bottom dollar this game will be one to watch. Splash Damage, best known for Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and EnemyTerritory: QUAKE Wars (I’m sure the IncGamers director has more to say on them; being a massive fan), have been working on a not too dissimilar title for the current-gen consoles.  With an exceptionally colourful palette, game mechanics that allow you to fluidly move across the maps with the touch of one button and the ability to make great multiplayer games, Splash Damage’s Brink was one of the unsung heroes of the whole expo.  We’re very excited and can’t wait to get more information and hands on with the game.

Read the IncGamers E3 Preview Watch the IncGamers E3 developer interview

Brutal Legend

If I’d seen so much as a Psychonauts sticker at E3 I’d have nominated that, because Psychonauts is fantastic. As it is, I’ll have to settle for it’s younger brother Brutal Legend, and that’s not a grudging settlement because Brutal Legend looks phenomenal. Combine the writing talents of Tim Schafer with the voice of Jack Black and the world of heavy metal album covers, and you have Brutal Legend. Great characters, great animation, a constant stream of great comedic dialogue, demonic nuns,fun driving, an open world environment, axe-based decapitations, and a whole load of voices supplied by rock greats. It’s a game with Schafer’s incredible imagination and amazing attention to detail which should be enough of a selling point for anyone, but it helps that it’s really, really fun to play.

Read the IncGamers E3 Preview
Global Agenda

It’s not often you don’t hear about a game until an expo, but Global Agenda, out of nowhere, has been seen as one of the most exciting MMOs to come out of this year’s E3.  Hidden away in the corner, Global Agenda managed to gain critical acclaim from our very own Jeff Hollis, MMO Weekly author,as well as attract some big names from the MMO world, such as Jeff Kaplan and Rob Pardo of Blizzard, leading to speculation that they were checking out possible competition with their new MMO in the works. Despite having some of the biggest names in MMOs sniffing around,emphasis should really be made on this FPS MMO’s gameplay.  Not only does the world look amazing, but movement in the world is seamless and easy, and with the additions of jet-packs and set in the era of the Rocketeer, what’s not to like?

Read the IncGamers E3 Preview

Mafia 2

As a big fan of the first Mafia game (on PC at least), I was hoping the 2K guys would show some juicy footage of the sequel during the E3 presentation and I wasn’t disappointed. Narrative and atmosphere look to play a big part in Mafia II and the cinematic story-telling in the demo was very nicely handled. But it was the talk of the evolving sandbox setting that impressed the most as 2K explained how the city’s appearance and atmosphere will change as the game charts Vito Scaletta’s rise from hired goon to made man over a ten year period

Read the IncGamers E3 Mafia 2 Preview
Watch the IncGamers Mafia 2 video interview
Mass Effect 2I’m sure that picking an incredibly high-profile sequel isn’t the thing that all the cool people will be doing, but sod it: Mass Effect 2 looks stunning.The first game was a cinematic stunner with some of the most impressive cutscenes and conversation sections I’ve ever seen (not necessarily the dialogue itself, but half of those conversations could have passed for cutscenes.) This was married with amazing environment design, an entertaining plot, and, uh, slightly average combat and driving  sections. Mass Effect 2 looks to be the same but better: more dynamic conversations, environments that are both more stunning and more numerous, and vastly improved combat, inventory management, and planetary exploration. Combine this with the ability to import your saves from the first game, which actually changes the universe based on your actions in the prequel, and I’m sold. BioWare look to have taken all of the criticism of the first game on board and it really shows.  More sequels like this, please.

Read the IncGamers E3 Preview

Project Cube

Square Enix does Geometry Wars, with gallons upon gallons of blood. Geometry Wars is XBLA crack, and Square Enix’s take, which is still using its working title, does just enough things different that it enthralled me, and can’t simply be dismissed as a copycat. Why is it a surprise? I had no idea it existed, and stopped by to play for ten minutes while waiting for an appointment. Following the appointment, I went back. Who would have thought that Geometry Wars by Square could be so incredible? Or so bloody?

Read the IncGamers E3 Preview

 

Best Games of E3

Splinter Cell: Conviction

It was a hard choice this year, there were so many games on offer which proved to me more engaging once you sat down and played them, or even watched them being played.  Of course there were others that weren’t as impressive, or were complete disappointments.  But for me this year it was all about Splinter Cell: Conviction.  Sam Fisher is back, and this time he’s not pulling any punches.Not only did the game look visually impressive, it did what fans of the franchise hoped it would, and drive the story and the character to a darker place and really taking advantage of this hard-ass character.  Using Fishers abilities, acquired with his time at the agency, and the drive to find his daughter, Splinter Cell is a game which promises to re-vitalise the franchise and introduce you to a Fisher you’ve always wanted to play.

Watch the IncGamers Video Interview

Star Wars: The Old Republic

While the stunning CGI trailer – shown during EA’s pre-E3 press conference whet my appetite for TOR, the behind-closed doors gameplay demonstration induced quite the nerdy lob-on. Not content just to talk about making the narrative the “central pillar” of the game, the Bioware guys showed us exactly how they are going to achieve it, demonstrating the fully-voiced cast of NPCs and a great action“flashpoint.” The assembled press were even asked to make an in-game decision, whether to kill orspare the captain of a ship who had disobeyed an order. Despite my protestations that we should smoke the fool, the Yoda-loving lentil jockeys won out and he was spared. WWVD?

Read the IncGamers E3 Preview

Best Pre-E3 Conference

Microsoft

The Beatles were the opener, and that set the stage for a conference that surprised and elated with almost every turn. While we don’t really care about our 360s being able to connect to Facebook and a possible sting in the tail with that Sky partnership, we care very much for the games. Crackdown 2, Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2 (which no-one but Paul could possibly have predicted), The Beatles: Rock Band, and, of course, Project Natal, which blew pretty much everyone away the instant it appeared on stage. A lot of what was displayed didn’t have too much of a presence at the show, but after Microsoft’s, the rest of the conferences seemed limp. – Tim McDonald

Microsoft showed the competition how it’s done this year and it just kept giving. You want games, here’s Modern Warfare II, Metal Gear, Forza 3. You want apps, here’s Netflix, Facebook, Sky TV. You want the Beatles, here’s McCartney and Starr. Sure, we would have preferred Lennon and Harrison but what can you do? The presentation had pretty much everything you could ask for, barring a midget cowboy riding a unicycle but they can’t cater for everyone’s tastes (next year, guys?) And if that wasn’t enough, Microsoft threw in one hell of a tech demo at the end.  In our section of the theatre, there was even a collective “no fucking way!” as the Lionhead lady handed the piece of paper to Milo.  Home run. – Andy Alderson

There really wasn’t much to it.  If Project Natal didn’t get you excited then Steven Spielberg would have done.  If Spielberg didn’t get you excited, then Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr would have done.  If they didn’t excite you, then the appearance of Hideo Kojima announcing a MGS exclusively for the 360 should have done.  And if none of those guests did anything for you, then the game announcements alone will have made up for them, ten times over.  Unfortunately, setting the bar so high; and being the first conference of E3, meant that nothing the competitors had planned was going to top the Microsoft conference. Was it a good conference, or was it just because it was first?  It was definitely the best conference.  Ask Milo. – Tamer Asfahani

Watch the Microsoft conferenceRead the IncGamers Microsoft conference analysis

Best BoothsUbisoftYou know, I’m going to sound a little bit like a fanboy saying this,but the Ubisoft booths were, in my humble opinion, the best booths there.  Not only did they have beautiful and modest looking, hot-pants wearing girls (yes, I did try to relieve one of the ladies of her hot-pants), but I loved the way each big title had its own room while the rest of Ubisoft’s presenting area was open for everyone to view. With accessible pods to play on and really friendly staff at all of the booths, regardless of game (plus the actual RUSE table was on show), I loved staring at games and legs and gamesand legs.  Soft carpets too…! – Tamer Asfahani

Square Enix

Okay, so there were no booth babes on display, but there were a large number of pretty PR people floating around, and everyone there was especially lovely and eager to help. The fact that it was so spacious that I never had to fight through crowds was much appreciated considering the number of appointments I had there, too. And they even had the foresight to put seats (again, nicely spaced out) in front of the gigantic screen displaying trailers! Heaven. All of the games on display were scattered around so there wasn’t a huge cluster of people in one area, and there was a lot on display, the majority of which was of great interest, with a roster spanning from Final Fantasy to Supreme Commander. Most impressive, Square Enix.- Tim McDonald

Activision

While some of my esteemed colleagues will undoubtedly judge the best booth on ass-ratio alone, some of us look beyond that. Not far beyond admittedly, and there were some high-end ladies at the Activision booth. But, not only did Activision have a great array of games on display, they also had some big names drop in to keep the crowd busy. Tony Hawk showed up to demonstrate the new Ride peripheral but the DJ Hero stage stole the show with live sets from DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist attracting huge crowds to the booth (sadly as they performed on different days my hopes of a Brainfreeze reunion came to nothing, and my guts remained disappointingly intact). – Andy Alderson

Best New Hardware

Project Natal

See, it was clear something big was coming at the end of the Microsoft presentation but I was not prepared for Project Natal. Sure, there had been rumours that both Microsoft and Sony would unveil motion-sensing controllers at E3 but I at least expected something akin to the Wiimote. I’ll be honest; I expected waggling of some description. But no, what we got instead was something much more interesting. Motion control with no controller? Voice recognition with no headset? Stephen bloody Speilberg? And, of course, it was all topped off with Molyneux’s intriguing Milo demonstration which, smoke and mirrors or not, showed us just how high Microsoft is aiming with Natal.

Watch the Microsoft conferenceRead the IncGamers Microsoft conference analysis Watch the Project Natal trailer

Biggest Disappointments

Nintendo Conference and Announcements

My biggest disappointment nomination is split between Nintendo for the lack of Zelda footage and E3 in general for failing to realise that games journos do in fact come in sizes other than Large, Extra-Large and Holy Shit Have You Seen a Doctor? Medium and small T-shirts next year, please? Anyway, Nintendo’s Pre-E3 conference started out well enough and it seemed like the company had a learned a few lessons from last year. Cammie Dunaway toned down the soccer-mom and prepared us for some big announcements and, while Mario and Metroid were welcomed, we were expecting to see some footage or at least a trailer for a new Zelda title, especially after last year’s confirmation that the Zelda team are hard at work.  But nothing. Next time Miyamoto, next time. – AndyNintendo conference.  I’m not going to go on about this, but Nintendo.  If you really want to know why, then read my colleague’s assessment above, otherwise read the Nintendo conference transcript and see for yourself.  I needn’t say any more. – Tamer

Watch the Nintendo conference
Dragon Age: Origin

As it’s BioWare, I’m going to give this the benefit of the doubt andhope that everything I’ve seen is some sort of cynical marketing ploy –because if this is all they have, they’re in trouble. The use of a Marilyn Manson track in the trailer raised an eyebrow, the emphasis onsex and violence is embarrassing, the voice acting was cringeworthy,and the dialogue was frequently juvenile. While it’s got some niceideas, like your relationships with your party members granting buffs,right now it looks to be shaping up as a version of The Witcher only without the tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top attitude which made that game endearing. Considering that Dragon Age was conceived as the return to aproper Baldur’s Gate-style RPG, these apparent attempts to pander to a teenage audience are contemptible and deeply, deeply worrying. I don’thave a problem with dark fantasy. I have a problem with dark fantasy done wrong.

Read the IncGamers E3 preview.

The Awards

Best Games:Brink (Bethesda) (Official website)
Read the IncGamers E3 Preview

Brutal Legend (EA) (Official website)
Read the IncGamers E3 Preview

Global Agenda (Official website)
Read the IncGamers E3 Preview

Mafia 2 (2K Games) (Official website)
Read the IncGamers E3 Mafia 2 Preview Watch the IncGamers Mafia 2 video interview

Mass Effect 2 (EA) (Official website)
Read the IncGamers E3 Preview Project Cube (Square Enix)
Read the IncGamers E3 Preview

Splinter Cell Conviction (UbiSoft) (Official website)
Watch the IncGamers Video Interview Watch the E3 Trailer

StarWars: The Old Republic (Bioware)
(Official website)Read the IncGamers E3 Preview Watch the Trailer 

Best Pre-E3 Conference:

Microsoft
Watch the Microsoft conference
Read the IncGamers Microsoft conference analysis
Watch the Project Natal trailer

Best Booth

Activision
Ubisoft
Square Enix

Best New Hardware:

Project Natal (Microsoft)
Read the IncGamers Microsoft conference analysis
Watch the Project Natal trailer

Biggest Disappointment

Dragon Age Origins
Read the IncGamers E3 preview

Nintendo generally.
Watch the Nintendo conference

Don’t forget to listen to our special E3 Podcasts which give a good overview of each day at the show. All the E3 2009 coverage which includes articles, shots, interviews and video are available in our E3 section.

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