E3 has come and gone, and this year happened to have an exceptional showcase of new hardware, games and ideas. There was a ton of quality on offer, from new IPs to familiar sequels that helped to create a memorable show. Here’s our best of selection for 2013.
Biggest Surprise – Murdered: Soul Suspect
See that game? It has you killing that! See that other game? You kill stuff in there as well! Too often we focus on the “shoot it right f$%^ng now aspect of gaming, and not the cause and effect. Murdered: Soul Suspect on the other hand, is less action and more investigation as players look into their own murder.
It looks great, and it flies in the face of the demographics that most high budget games these days pander to. And that’s a mystery that is worth solving.
Best Shooter – Destiny
Bungie has kept their Destiny a closely guarded secret for years now, something that in itself deserves an award in this day and age of internet leaks and hacks. But the reveal was worth it. It’s not enough that the game looks simply gorgeous, but the idea of really connecting with friends online to explore a brave new world is something that looks to be a part of the game that will be welcomed.
Chuck in an artistic vision that is incredible to behold, a variety of enemies spread across our galaxy and a ton more options to really craft your own legend, and we might have the biggest shooter of 2014 on the way.
Most Ambitious – Disney Infinity
Has Disney taken more than just a wee pinch of inspiration from Skylanders for their big budget Infinity project? Without a doubt, yes. But it’s the execution of this idea that really matters, not the figures and accessories that will destroy your bank balance.
Infinity the game itself is in no way like that Activision project. It’s all about creating your own game, with a little help from Disney, and the scale of it all is simply massive. Infinity may be a potential money-maker for Disney, but for consumers, it’ll be money well spent.
Best Sandbox – Saints Row IV
When it came to the game that was pure fun at E3, the decision was obvious. Saints Row IV may not be a massive departure from the third game in terms of locale, visuals or the fact that the development staff clearly has a budget set aside for mind-altering drugs, but it was certainly one of the most fun games at E3.
And when you combine that with attitude of not giving a damn, and throwing everything possible into the blender for this game, from superpowers to dubstep guns, you’ve got one of the most ludicrous showings at E3 possible. And in this case, it was a breath of fresh air from the more serious fare that was on offer.
Best Sequel – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
The original Lords of Shadow was an underrated gem of a game, bringing the Castlevania series in to the modern era. It had it’s problems though. This new tale of Gabriel Belmont’s demise promises, and largely succeeds, in fixing them – giving players more weapons, tighter combat and more fruitful exploration.
Best Cross Generation Game – Watch Dogs
Stealing last year’s E3, open-world hack-centric Watch dogs from Ubisoft was shown a little more in-depth at this year’s E3 and it’s just as amazing as it first appeared. Coming to current and next-generation systems, Watch Dogs promises to be a thinking man’s action game.
In Watch Dogs, you don’t just explore the world; you actively control it, by hacking just about everything. With clever use of second-screen gaming and an intriguing take on multiplayer, it’s a sure-fire winner.
Best Xbox One Game – Dead Rising 3
Sure, Forza 5 is pretty, Ryse looks nearly like a film and Titanfall could revolutionise multiplayer – but the one game that had us wishing we could have an Xbox One right now was Capcom’s Dead Rising 3 – which might have the veneer of being a boring, generic, far too serious take on the series, but it’s anything but.
Retaining the trademark silliness, Dead Rising 3 is a technical bit of wizardry, with great graphics, great gameplay and a giant open world – without a load screen in sight.
Best Driving Game – Forza 5
If there’s one genre that is really going to benefit from a new generation of consoles, it’s driving games. The big guns all have something up their sleeves, but it’s the reliable nature of Forza that makes the fifth core game so exciting, as it makes drifting around a corner even more gorgeous than before.
And with a gameplay engine that is accessible to anyone from petrolheads to kids who just got their driving licenses, it looks to be some damn good fun behind the wheel as well.
Best PlayStation 4 Game - InFAMOUS: Second Son
It might not be revolutionary, but it’s filled with so much character and detail that it was hard not to be taken aback by InFamous: Second Son and its impressive open world.
With an array of new super-powered abilities and some impressive emotive motion capture, InFamous: Second Son is our pick for the best PS4 game – and could well be one of the best superhero games ever made.
Best Strategy Game – Command and Conquer
It’s been a long time, Command and Conquer. The franchise has been eclipsed in recent years, thanks to less than stellar performances from entries such as Red Alert 3 and Command and Conquer 4. But with a new focus, a new direction and an eye towards free to play, the latest Command and Conquer looks like it might restore some balance to the force.
Nostalgic and yet somehow fresh at the same time, the latest game in the Generals universe is the Command and Conquer that fans have been waiting for, a gorgeous strategy game that requires players to not just think and fight hard, but to do so with a sense of urgency as well. Welcome back Commander.
Best Nintendo Game – The Wonderful 101
There’s no denying the Pikmin and Viewtiful Joe inspiration, but when it comes to that oddball charm and crazy irreverence, nobody delivers like Platinum Games, and they’ve done it again with Wonderful 101, which left both of us smiling like goofy idiots.
It’s unique, colourful and beautiful – and with Hideki Kamija behind it all, you can rest assured that it’ll be a blast to play.
Best Portable game – Tearaway
Sony’s PlayStation Vita is a wonderful little system, but it’s missing its killer app right now; the one game that’s capable of convincing people to buy it. That game could well be LittleBigPlanet purveyor Media Molecule’s Tearaway, a game so charming that it nearly caused us to miss a few E3 meetings.
Tearaway and its paper world possess an almost indescribable beauty, and is the first game to really take advantage of the Vita’s unique controls without coming across as being gimmicky. It’s bursting at the seams with inventive ideas, with charm to match.
Best Multiplayer – Titanfall
Yes, it could probably be easily described as as a hybrid of Call of Duty and Halo with giant Hawken-like Mechs thrown in, but there’s something to it all. With a new perks system, and an attempt to give multiplayer the same cinematic feeling of single-player games, Respawn’s Titanfall really is special.
It all comes down to its scope and map design, with huge levels that are insanely fun to play despite their size.
Best New IP – The Division
As they did at E3 the year before with Watch Dogs, Ubisoft surprised us again with their end-of-conference reveal – only this time with a tactical, online multiplayer survival shooter set in the Tom Clancy universe, The Division.
With the single best use of companion, tablet-gaming, this online shooter/RPG not only looks but also plays like a next-generation game.
Best of Show – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This year was a hard choice when it came to the best game of E3. We fought about this for ages, nearly deciding to award two games with the accolade. Eventually though, after much, much deliberation, we finally decided upon the one.
The bits of The Witcher 3 that we saw was simply amazing. CD Projekt Red improved on the original game by leaps and bounds for The Witcher 2, and the third game looks set to do the same. It’s gorgeous, insanely detailed and the world itself looks set to take full advantage of the new tech on offer, creating an entirely new dynamic environment within which to explore and hunt. And that’s the kind of progress that all sequels should aspire to.