This year’s E3 Expo was probably best characterized by the nearly complete lack of surprises that emerged from the show floor. Nearly every game on display had been announced ahead of time and the ones that weren’t (like Super Smash Bros. 4 for the Wii U) are just words in a press release. And speaking of the Wii U, Nintendo’s next system lost some of its luster after the console’s entire feature set leaked online before E3… but the tablet controller certainly has potential.
And here’s a bunch of other games that have potential too.
Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360)
The long-in-development Aliens: Colonial Marines will finally burst out of Gearbox’s chest next Spring. Colonial Marines is a direct sequel to Aliens and, like the underrated game based on The Thing, tells the story of a group of soldiers who go to rescue the first group of soldiers we met in the movie. Gearbox is promising the most authentic Alien experience yet, and while it may have taken longer than expected, we might just get it.
Brothers In Arms: Furious 4 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Part Borderlands, part Duke Nukem Forever, part Inglourious Basterds, Brothers In Arms: Furious 4 takes Gearbox’s previous work and blends it with the best of Quentin Tarantino to prove that the World War II shooter still has some life in it.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
World War III has exploded in the Modern Warfare universe as the Russians have attacked New York, London, Paris and Berlin simultaneously. Even with the co-developer credit for Sledgehammer Games, Modern Warfare 3 looks to include everything that made the Infinity Ward-developed series a hit. Michael Bay, eat your heart out.
Darksiders II (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360)
The original Darksiders was a surprise hit for THQ last year, and the publisher revealed that a sequel was in the works almost immediately. We now know the game is less of a sequel and more of a side story to the first game, with players taking the role of Death. We also know that it’s being planned as a Wii U launch title.
Fable: The Journey (Xbox 360)
Fable jumps into the first-person with a Kinect-powered game that allows players to don the robes of a sorcerer intent on saving Albion from a “malevolent evil.”
Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Players return to the world of Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII-2, an RPG that Square Enix promises will be much darker than its divisive predecessor. In the sequel, players will control Serah Farron and new character Noel Kreiss in their search for Serah’s older sister, Lightning.
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
Demonstrated on stage by rapper/actor/voracious gamer Ice-T, Gears of War 3 looks to give gamers more Marcus Fenix and more of the intense action the series is known for.
God of War: Origins Collection (PS3)
Kratos’ PSP outings, God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta, will soon make the jump to the PS3 in the God of War: Origins Collection. Available this September, the compilation will bring stereoscopic 3D to the God of War series for the first time.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Xbox 360)
In a surprise to no one, Microsoft announced they’re remaking Halo: Combat Evolved to celebrate the shooter’s tenth anniversary. The game will feature a neat “graphics filter” option that’ll switch between the original look and a new HD redesign. Best of all, Halo Anniversary has been priced at $40, making it a cheaper alternative this November when it launches alongside a ton of other high-priced shooters.
Halo 4/Halo 5/Halo 6 (Xbox 360)
OK, only Halo 4 was actually announced at this year’s E3 Expo, but Microsoft also confirmed it would be the start of a brand new Halo trilogy, picking up right where Halo 3 left off.
Kinect Star Wars (Xbox 360)
Microsoft has sold a ton of Kinect sensors since the peripheral debuted last year, but Kinect Star Wars may be the first killer app for the add-on. The E3 demo showed players using a Lightsaber to take out droids, blocking blaster bolts with Jedi-like concentration and wielding The Force like Yoda. While last year’s teaser made the game seem hokey, it now looks polished and smooth. Developer Terminal Reality is even encouraging players to swing around a plastic Lightsaber while they play to feel like a real Jedi. Intrigued, I am.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
The Wii’s swan song will take players back to the very beginning of Link’s connection to the Master Sword in the first Zelda game built for the Wii from the ground up. Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto said that testing the game’s motion controls left him exhausted, so be prepared to really step into Link’s elf shoes when the game releases later this year.
Mario Kart 3DS (3DS)
Mario Kart 3DS adds gliders to every kart so Mario, Bowswer, Peach and all the rest can float after a big jump. Each kart is also equipped with a propeller, allowing some races to take place underwater. Nintendo has given kart customization an overhaul as players will be able to choose a body and tires for their kart independent of their racer. Even something old is new again as coins are back for the first time since Mario Kart: Super Circuit.
Mass Effect 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Shepard and his crew are back for one final adventure… this time to save Earth from an invasion. PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 gamers will all get a chance to play the trilogy-capper at the same time and it promises to give Mass Effect fans everything they’ve come to expect from the series.
Overstrike (PS3, Xbox 360)
Insomniac’s first multiplatform game attempts to combine the absurdity of the Ratchet & Clank series with a dash the of more serious sci-fi action that you’d find in the Resistance games. Details are still sparse, but we know that the game features an elite anti-terrorist group known as the Overstrike 9 as they attempt to stop an attempt to wipe out humankind… an attempt that includes shape-shifting Terminator-like robots.
Super Mario 3D (3DS)
Called “the first original 3D Mario game for a handheld” by Nintendo, Super Mario 3D dumps some of the series’ hallmarks (the Tanooki Suit, sidescrolling levels, Bowser on the bridge, the Koopalings) into a blender and mixes up an all-new game that looks like a classic Mario adventure. Balancing the new with the old when it comes to the Mario series has been Nintendo’s specialty with the last few games and Super Mario 3D looks to deliver more Mario greatness.
Tomb Raider (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Crystal Dynamics finally gave us a good look at the rebooted Tomb Raider series and it is looking good. In the game, Lara Croft has been shipwrecked on a mysterious island with dangerous terrain, hostile natives and a lot of tombs to explore. The developers described the game as “visceral” and it’s hard to argue with the trailers released so far.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita)
Nathan Drake has made the Vita’s launch the place to be this holiday season. Developed by Sony Bend (who are also responsible for Resistance: Retribution), the first portable entry in the series will retain the impressive graphics and solid level design it’s known for. And as a prequel, it’s even being designed for players who have never played the PS3 games.
According to Sony, Vita means life, and while the name doesn’t roll off the tongue like the PlayStation Portable did, the handheld is shaping up to be an awesome piece of tech. With a second analog stick, a touch screen, gyroscopic tilt controls, the neat pressure-sensitive back panel and a wallet friendly price of $250, Sony is showing that they’re not afraid of the 3DS.
What can you say about the Wii U? A souped-up Wii with a tablet controller and very little in the way of confirmed games, the system is still very much a mystery. Nintendo will no doubt reveal more about the console in the coming months and the third-party support is very strong, but I don’t think we’ll be able to make a real judgment on the Wii U until E3 2012… unless it’s already out.