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E3 2011 preview

Next week the eyes of the video game world turn to Los Angeles like the Eye of Sauron hunting down hobbits, as E3 2011  gets under way. Beginning on Monday, when Microsoft kicks things off with a press event, until the doors close Thursday evening, it will be a time for game fans to revel in the future of the industry and see what it is that they will be playing in the coming months and years.

While you can be sure to anticipate several unannounced titles that will leave us muttering about the unfair nature of time that forces us to wait for their launch, here are a few of the biggest games that we are excited to see at E3.

[Warning: Many of these trailers may be unsuitable for all ages]

Batman-Arkham-City-coverBatman: Arkham City

The first Batman game from Rocksteady, Batman: Arkham Asylum surprised a lot of people by doing something few video games based on comics had done: It didn’t suck. In fact, it was actually very good, and became one of the best games of 2009. Arkham appealed to both Batman fans and gaming fans in general, and the second Batman title looks to build on that with a bigger world, more bad guys, and Catwoman.

Fans of Batman will have to wait until next summer for the next Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight Rises, but until then this should help keep the Batman tremors at bay for those that need their fix.

(Batman: Arkham City is due out for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on October 18)

Battlefield-3-coverBattlefield 3

If there is any first-person shooter that can give Call of Duty a run for its money — or perhaps a run for your money — it is Battlefield 3. Actually, it probably can’t come close to reaching the audience that Call of Duty can, but for those who are a little burned out by the gameplay of Call of Duty, or maybe they are just tired of some of the foul mouthed swine that play CoD, or perhaps they just want a new online shooter, they may be drawn to Battlefield 3. And EA is always happy to take money from Activision.

Last year, EA tried to push the new Medal of Honor, but multiple glitches and a dumb controversy over the inclusion of the Taliban stole the momentum from that game. With Battlefield 3, EA knows that it has a winner and is preparing to let loose the dogs of PR on the world. So far, there is still a lot to be revealed about Battlefield 3, especially more on the online multiplayer. It’s easy to make a few guesses based on the past games and the handful of details released, but hopefully E3 will satiate our curiosity. Then the battle for the hearts and minds of foul-mouthed preteens begins, as both BF3 and CoD: MW3 are released in November.

(Battlefield 3 is due out for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 sometime in November)

Assassins-Creed-Revelations-coverAssassin’s Creed: Revelations

Ubisoft has decided that it likes money, and to that end, it has declared that we can expect a new Assassin’s Creed every year. Multiple teams are working on multiple Assassin’s Creed games, so hopefully they can get it together. It will be harder on them to keep the story linear with multiple developers all having a go, but time will tell if it works out.

The real question is what’s new with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations? The last game introduced the brotherhood (your pet assassins), as well as a multiplayer mode. It was also a new city and an original story. It’ll be interesting to see how Ubisoft can keep the series fresh. A lot of people were hoping for a new character and time period — not that Ezio isn’t boss, but the change between characters in the first and second game opened up so many possibilities that haven’t yet been exploited. A new city to explore, new missions to try and a new plot to unravel could make up for that, as long as the game is well polished.

(Assassin’s Creed Revelations is due out for the PC, Mac, PS3 and Xbox 360 sometime in November)

BioShock Infinite

Although it isn’t due until sometime next year-ish, BioShock Infinite is easily one of the most anticipated games of this year’s E3. Irrational Games, which created the original BioShock before going walkies and leaving the sequel to 2K Marin, is back with a new story, a new setting and a new enemy. Set in 1912 in the floating city of Columbia, Irrational decided to take all the work they did on the underwater city of Rapture and throw it out, then head in an entirely different direction. In an industry where sequels and franchises rule (9 out of 10 games on this list are sequels), BioShock Infinite is basically an entirely new game that just happens to use the same name. There will probably be some plot connections between the games, but for the most part, BioShock Infinite is something totally new.

And what more do you need? You have a floating city, a warped look at American expansionism and a 20-foot tall abusive bird that wants to eat you and steal your lady. That probably isn’t exactly what the back of the box will say when it is released, but the ideas are the same. A decent amount of gameplay footage has been released already, so there should be plenty of stuff to see at E3.

(BioShock Infinite is due out for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2012)

Call-of-Duty-Modern-Warfare-3-coverCall of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

To be honest, Modern Warfare 3 could be a steaming pile of poo and it would still make a billion dollars. And that’s not a rhetoric-filled “billion” like Dr. Evil might say when demanding a ransom of the world, it is literally one billion dollars in sales. At least.

The game has a lot of drama wrapped around it. The original Infinity Ward heads were fired, lawsuits were bandied about, feelings were hurt, blah, blah, blah. While it is a shame that the Infinity Ward founders aren’t working on Modern Warfare 3, once the game is on shelves, all of the behind-the-scenes stuff will be forgotten as long as the game is good. If it isn’t, expect plenty of people to bemoan the loss of Jason West and Vince Zampella. If it is good, expect the dollars to flow.

(Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is due out for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 8)

Elder-Scrolls-V-Skyrim-coverElder Scrolls V: Skyrim

While Elder scrolls V: Skyrim won’t have the jaw-dropping sales figures that Modern Warfare 3 will collect, it probably will have a fan base that is equally rabid, maybe more so. Since the series began in 1994, the Elder Scrolls games have grabbed the fantasy fan by the throat and kept the pressure on until gamers passed out with glee. Not literally, of course, but the world is immersive, and each game has pushed the limits of what an open-world game can be.  Sure, it is cool to be able to go anywhere in a city that is a clone of Manhattan like you do in Grand Theft Auto IV, but Skyrim (like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion) will be roughly 16 square miles. It will also feature five major cities and 130 dungeons. This game will end relationships, as your significant other packs their stuff and moves out. But you will be busy fighting dragons, so you might not even notice.

One thing that may be working against Skyrim is its release date of November 11, just three days after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is released. In fact, November is shaping up to be the biggest month of the year for releases.  So while the longtime Elder scrolls fan will probably be waiting in line at midnight to pick up their copy, the casual fan will have a tough choice.

(Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is due out for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 11)

Gears of War 3

With Bungie having completed its work on Halo for good, and leaving the exclusive bosom of Microsoft to pursue the artistic dream of making a ton of money, the Gears of War franchise has become the flagship game among the Xbox 360 exclusives. There will be more Halo games in the future, but for now the 360 belongs to Gears of War.

Gears 3 marks the finale of the current trilogy. There will be more Gears games in the future, but Gears 3 will end the current storyline and bring to completion a story that began in 2007. Finally. It is something of a surprise to see Gears 3 at E3 once again, as it was originally due out in April of this year. But unlike movies, when a game is delayed, it is usually for the best. So we wait, patiently observing the trailers, keeping an eye on the betas and pre-ordering our copies. If you own a 360, this game is almost a must have. Not only because it is a good series, but so you can finally taunt your PlayStation-3-owning friends and have something to hold up against their impressive collection of exclusive titles.

(Gears of War 3 is due out as an Xbox 360 exclusive on September 20)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword is the 98th game in the Zelda franchise (roughly), but the first designed for the Wii. But wait, what about Twilight Princess you ask? That title was actually developed for the Gamecube, then ported over to the Wii. So basically, it just confirms that the timing of the team behind the Zelda games suck, as it will be released after the Wii 2 will have been announced. That probably won’t stop the close to 90 million Wii owners from considering picking it up though.

This will be the third E3 where Skyward Sword has been featured. It’s becoming tradition. It will almost be sad when it is released, because then it won’t be at E3 2012. But by then maybe they will announce another Zelda for the Wii 2 that will be out in three to five years. Here’s hoping. And speaking of hoping, with luck Nintendo will announce a release date for the game. Maybe it will be released in November along with all the other games.

(The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is due out as a Wii exclusive later this year)


RAGE is the weirdo of this list, as it carries the distinction of being the only original intellectual property on this list. Every other game is either a sequel, or at least part of a long-running franchise. RAGE is a freak, but it should not be shunned. Who are you to judge it because it is different? You are a terrible person! Anyway, the creators Doom and the developers that created first-person shooters (we look forward to your corrections, readers) are back with a new FPS.

Last year, RAGE stole the show at E3, and there is no reason to believe that it won’t do so again this year. With the game due out in September, there should be plenty of gameplay footage, playable demos and videos galore. Without the lucrative “Call of Duty” tag on this, or any other signs that RAGE is part of a series or a sequel, it will have to earn street cred the old fashion way—by being a good game. If any game on this list has the potential to become a hit based on its merits, it is RAGE.

(RAGE is due out for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on September 13)

Uncharted-3-Drake-Deception-coverUncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

One of the best franchises around right now (and an excellent reason to shell out the cash for a PlayStation 3), the third game in the Uncharted series will be showing off a bunch of new details at E3. The story has already been teased, and it will likely follow the pattern set by Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, where the game feels like you are playing a movie. And if the movie-like nature of the game wasn’t clear, having Sony show the game in the “Uncharted Theater” should end that discussion.

Without cheating and looking down, go ahead and guess when Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception will be released. Here’s a hint, half of the biggest games of the year will be its direct competitors. With a November release, that makes five games all due out on the same month. To put that in perspective, if you bought all five, you would be out $300, and that is before tax. It is an expensive month to be a gamer. On the bright side, Christmas will be interesting this year.

(Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is due out as a PlayStation 3 exclusive on November 1)

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