Loading: XLR8R's Videogames and Tech Roundup

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God of War: Who wouldn't want to wait in line for ages to fight this dude?

Last year, the Entertainment Software Association announced that the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo would no longer feature loud music, models (and I use that term loosely) in booty shorts, or extravagant presentations by the industries top players. Instead, it would simply be a series of meetings in various hotels, closed-door demos, and a small show floor held in an airplane hanger, with a relative handful of titles that wouldn’t be swamped by sweaty nerdlingers hogging the hottest joints.

At E3 2006 I recall seeing, in addition to dozens of latex-clad chicks in pancake makeup, about twenty kiosks that had a playable demo of God of War 2, and there was a ridiculously long wait to play the game for just a few minutes. This year there were only two kiosks with the new God of War for PSP. TWO! And I simply walked up and played for as long as I wanted with no one sweating me.

The Dankman and his shenanigans were sadly absent from this year's summit.

Now, about this year's “show floor.” Being held in an overly-warm, mostly dude-filled (at least it smelled that way) airplane hanger kind of lent a somewhat high-school gym/dance feel to the whole shebang. But even with all the industry people there, it still seemed sparsely attended, with big names like Square-Enix packing its bags as early as Thursday night, not even bothering to show up Friday. Ouch.

But enough lamentation about E3, let’s get to what WAS awesome about this year’s event. Das games! Here are our top 10 picks, based either on gameplay we were shown or actually got to play ourselves. There were plenty more that seemed awesome that we just didn’t get enough of a look at to judge–but check out those we did.

Heavenly Sword

WiiFit (Nintendo, Wii)
One of the biggest announcements of the show was Nintendo’s introduction of a balance board peripheral, for its WiiFit exercise game, that you stand on for such activities as yoga and hula-hooping. Seriously.

Heavenly Sword (Sony, PS3)
Kind of like God of War, but with a smoking-hot chick, a giant sword that comes apart into various implements of death, and maybe a little more brutality–if that’s possible. Snapping a man’s neck has rarely been more gratifying.

God of War: Chains of Olympus (Sony, PSP)
Also like God of War but, you know, smaller. It looks so amazing that you wouldn’t believe this was on the PSP if it weren’t in your hot little hands.

Turok (Buena Vista Games, PS3, Xbox 360)
Turok was one of the first (and best) N64 titles that somehow got turned into garbage with subsequent sequels. This bloody rebirthing (from Disney no less!) of the dino-hunter series is both welcome and awesome.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Activision, PS3, Xbox 360)
Ditching the 40’s puts more technology in player’s hands, and more shit flying everywhere on screen. Just watching soldiers getting dropped into a Middle East war zone as missiles and bullets screamed by for five minutes gave me Gulf War Syndrome.

Halo 3

Halo 3 (Microsoft, Xbox 360)
Another contender for the year’s best game, Halo 3 appears to live up to every bit of hype and then some. A full video editor mode is sure to revolutionize machinima (movies made from game content) and create countless YouTube videos of shit getting blown up real good. 

Mass Effect (Microsoft, Xbox 360)
Wow. This sci-fi action-RPG features the best graphics we’ve seen on the 360 yet, along with gameplay that ensures each decision you make will gut-wrenchingly affect the story. Could be Game of the Year.

Dewey’s Adventure (Konami, Wii)
As much as I hate to admit that I had fun with a smiling drop of water, I did. A lot. The Wii control allows you to manipulate Dewey’s world as you watch him slip and slide around, freeing his wet ‘lil buddies. Not nearly as homoerotic as it sounds.

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja (Ubisoft, Xbox 360)
Seriously one of the best-looking games we saw at the show. Based on the anime, Naruto featured highly stylized graphics, tons of open ended, GTA-esque missions, a fairly deep fighting engine, and tons of mini-games. We were impressed with something we had not given a single thought to prior.

Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo, Wii)
We were worried about how the latest Mario would play with new Wii controls. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t doubt Shigeru Miyamoto, and this new version definitely makes us want to party with him. Watching the titular plumber zip through the galaxy, turn into a bumblebee, and jump on mushrooms does not come from the mind of a man who hasn’t spent some time throwing up.